What The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Finale Got Right


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


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


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


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.

As for the visual impact, it’s clear that the sight of Drogon melting the throne — this show’s most enduring symbol — was supposed to be iconic, and it hits that mark. Powerful and unforgettable, a fitting last bit of pyrotechnic wow from a show that consistently delivered while doubtlessly broadening the scale of what TV can do.

Sansa’s Defiance


I wanted Sansa to have the Iron Throne but I can see how doing that might have betrayed that character’s evolution. The North lost too much, specifically the Stark family, due to naive loyalties and high minded ideals. After all Sansa endured, she knows that weariness needs to replace trust when it comes to the relationship between the North and the throne. Even if her brother, Bran, is serving as King. Plus, she got a kick ass coronation. Let’s not forget that.

Arya’s Journey


Was there a more perfect sendoff for Arya? Her rejection of Gendry’s offer of marriage made it clear that she wasn’t interested in a lesser dynamic and less dangerous life. Why not return to the seas in search of adventure in an undiscovered part of the world? It’s a setup that is pitch perfect for a spinoff in a few years, but even if that never happens it’s nice to imagine Arya out there being her truest self.

Briene’s Ceaseless Loyalty To The Memory Of Jaime


Briene and Jaime had a complicated relationship that took a controversial turn after he broke her heart by leaving her in the North to return to Cersei after they had made love. It was a move that, to many, undid a lot of the good the writer’s had done to make Jaime a more redeemable (and interesting) character. Worse, it seemed like there was a real possibility that Briene’s last scene on the show might be one where the towering and powerful knight was left in tears, jilted by a lover she had long pined for. We know now that that wasn’t the case as Briene returned to King’s Landing and her loyalty to Jaime remained. Despite any lingering hard feelings, Briene felt a sense of duty to make sure that, in the eyes of history, Jaime’s story contained the acts of bravery that might be easily forgotten if not committed to paper. A nice touch that feels like a good fit for Briene.

Jon And Tormund’s Reunion


Another amazing spinoff possibility, but really, I don’t have much to add to a moment that was perfect, wordless, and a nice offering to Game Of Bros fans. Shame that there wasn’t a cool ’80s guitar riff inserted when Jon and Tormund locked eyes, though. Missed opportunity to make it clear that these boys are gonna get into some trouble north of the wall.

A Very Good Boy


I was happy to defend Jon as a responsible pet owner for sending Ghost to live with Tormund instead of trudging off to the war zone that King’s Landing would become. But I’m f*cking ecstatic that the two got a chance to reunite and that Ghost, at long last, got all the pets. Because he’s a VERY good boy.

Anyway, those are the positives from the finale, as I see them. The absence of other moments doesn’t necessarily mean the show got them wrong, but… I mean, kinda? You may agree or disagree and let us know in the comments because that is how the internet works.