TV

What The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Finale Got Right

HBO

As I wrote last week, the final season of Game Of Thrones morphed from “a celebration and the return of an unrivaled pop culture unifier” to a “loveless marriage yearning to be put out of its misery.” That landscape was never going to allow for a switchback to mass positivity and acceptance of the choices made during the series finale no matter what David Benioff and D.B. Weiss did. But while I also count myself among the masses of people who had problems with the finale, I’m going to take a cue from words spoken by AJ Soprano at the end of another much maligned HBO series finale (which has won people over upon reflection) and “focus on the good times.” Not just from the series (though that’s also important), but from the finale. Because while some (or many) things may have seemed rushed or as though they came out of nowhere, there were clear standout moments. And we’re going to highlight those here.

Visual Symbolism

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Were this any other episode, I might have rolled my eyes at the sight of Dany walking in front of Drogon’s spread wings to create the brief illusion that she had gone full dragon after burning the city. The same can be said of the moment where Tyrion passes by the cracked and fallen bell that had been at the heart of his obliterated effort to have a bloodless (and fireless) transfer of power. But in a series finale, especially one that didn’t allow for much in the way of exposition, the use of obvious symbolism feels right.

Tyrion’s Walk Of Remembrance And Sad Discovery

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The action was so fiery, intense, and shocking last week that viewers weren’t fully afforded the chance to mourn the near full destruction of King’s Landing, a setting for much of the show’s most important moments and, really, a character unto itself. Tyrion’s slow walk through the rubble gave him and us a chance to have those feels as he visited the decimated Red Keep. But, of course, nothing compares to his discovery of Jaime and Cersei under a pile of bricks.

I’m still conflicted over Cersei’s death and the execution of it. By the weight of some of the choices made for the character in later years, Jaime had earned the right to be mourned in the way that his tragic end demands. But the same can’t be said for Cersei, whose cruelty was on display right up to the end as she executed Missandei. She probably deserved death by Dragon breath, but the emotional impact of seeing Jaime and Cersei’s bodies together in death is poetic. It’s also just a really beautiful shot and a scene that adds to Tyrion’s sense of loss and failure. It also sparked his brave moment of confrontation with Dany.
Drogon Melts The Iron Throne

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We were all shorted by the Cliff’s Notes version of Dany’s descent into murderous madness; one that traded nuance for crazy eyes and a quick plan to spread dark justice across the world. With that choice and the ticking clock came the inevitable conclusion, but like it or loathe it, you have to admit that Benioff and Weiss did at least half of the Mother Of Dragons story right.

The maternal bond between Dany and her dragons fell by the wayside at times as they became more her weapons than her children. Both she and they paid a price for that, but the connection was still strong (strongest) between her and Drogon, and at the end, when Dany’s last dragon finds her lifeless body in the broken throne room beside Jon Snow, we see his vulnerability and heartache. And then we see his rage as he melts the Iron Throne.

It would have made absolute sense for Drogon to burn Jon alive, but its understandable why Benioff and Weiss turned the dragon’s fire toward the throne. For one thing, it helps to bolster the decision to heel turn Dany into a full villain, but it also speaks to a larger theme about war and the endless quest for these power perches that bring about bloodshed and carry us far away from love and peace.

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