The hugely successful HBO series Game Of Thrones has finally come to a, for some, unsatisfying end; but was it in keeping with the rest of the series?
Game Of Thrones was based on author George R. R. Martin’s hugely successful series of books A Song Of Ice And Fire, which by the way, he has yet to complete writing. So for fans who weren’t satisfied with the TV show, unfortunately, there’s not much solace to find in the books, as they’re not done yet. I have never read the books, so my opinion of the series is based on the series itself, and not at all due to any comparison with the books.
The series ended with Season 8, and the reactions from most hardcore fans, have been polarizing, to say the least. But let’s be clear: this isn’t an article where I’ll be bitching about everything I didn’t like about the ending or my personal problems with it. Well, maybe a little. But after a few weeks of sitting with the finale, discussing with others, and understanding a bit more about the behind the scenes of it all… my reaction to it has changed, considerably.
Crazy Dragon Lady
Originally, I was planning a massive article about how the depiction of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) during the entire Game Of Thrones series, has been fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions. I personally never liked the character, despite the show constantly trying to get me to root for her. Even up until the third episode of Season 8, I was getting very frustrated with how the writers, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, were treating the character who, for all intents and purposes is one of the strongest in the entire show.
After the finale, on the other hand, I get it. My very same complaints proved to be laying the groundwork of years of the character’s personality that culminated in a massive moment of tragedy and fury. It was a turn that only made sense once you stop looking at Dany as the hero that we’ve been told she was supposed to be for eight seasons.
But the rest of the Game Of Thrones finale didn’t make nearly as much sense as the tragic tale of Daenerys Targaryen.
The Boy Who Would Be King
Let’s jump right into the biggest resolutions of the series, one that the entire show was hinging on. The series explicitly portrayed the events of the show as a competition to see who would sit on the Iron Throne, the symbolic seat that governs Seven Kingdoms.
Ultimately, a council, after an impassioned speech from, now criminal, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) decided that Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) should be king, as he is the most objective and partial person, given his disassociative condition as the Three
Sure. Except for the fact that the show, and the writers, seemingly took Bran out of the running in an earlier episode, when he was refused to be the Lord of Winterfell, due to his more… supernatural inclinations as the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran himself expressed the reason for this as being due to some vague-ness whereby could no longer hold a title, due to being the Three-Eyed Raven. Whatever that means.
But somehow, he seems perfectly qualified to be King of Seven Kingdoms instead? Even Bran’s acceptance of Tyrion’s nomination didn’t come with any reluctance or hesitation, which seems inconsistent with his ‘I have no stake in your problems’ attitude that he’s adopted near the end of the show. All of a sudden he’s willing to, not just be invested in, but be responsible for all of everyone’s problems in all of the civilized world?
It feels intentionally misleading and a resolution that was more an after-thought than an intentionally planned journey for the character. Unless, of course, we’re led to believe that Bran didn’t want to be Lord Of Winterfell just so he could be King of Westeros. But that would mean that he’s just as manipulative as Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) which would be a helluva lot more upsetting than what we ended up with.
A Puppet King?
It’s also very difficult for me to reconcile the fact that the placing of Bran in power seems very much like a move to have a puppet King, who, it’s been established, could care less about the goings on in the mortal realm, just so others behind the scenes would be the ones truly in power. Tyrion and his rag-tag council of misfits in the last scene feel like the ones who’ll end up doing most of the ruling, over any direct involvement from Bran himself… which also puts the Lannister in a negative light.
So our choices are to accept that either Bran, the kid from Season 1, or Tyrion, the only true hero of the series, are actually self-serving manipulative men doing whatever they can for power?
Abandoning Of Concepts Already Established
Game Of Thrones spent a significant amount of time establishing its world and the rules with which people function within it. Sure, the incest thing at first took a while to get used to. But when you consider this world of backstabbing politics, wars, actual savages, witches, and dragons, inbreeding seems less of a concern.
The history of Game Of Thrones establishes that while kings can rule by birthright, forcefully dethroning and taking over is also allowed, as happened with Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy).
The first season of Game Of Thrones tells us that Robert, with the help of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), led a revolt against the King at the time, Aerys Targaryen, Dany’s dad, a.k.a. the Mad King. Robert won and installed himself as King, marrying Cersei who became Queen.
However, when in the finale, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) murders Dany… somehow, his claims to the throne, which at this time is both by birthright and by having deposed the current Queen, is not even brought up. Sure, the pressures from the Unsullied, loyal to Dany warrants him being imprisoned. But no one else in the Seven Kingdoms, including Sansa and Tyrion, who were all up for him being King… even bring up his lineage or his claim to the throne.
And while Jon doesn’t want the throne, it feels incredibly ridiculous that no one even suggests that he should be King, despite establishing that overthrowing the current ruler is definitely a way to take over the throne. And in Jon’s case, he’s also the King by blood, which, combined with the strength of his character, and the loyalty he’s gained in Westeros, could easily have caused the Seven Kingdoms to rally against the Unsullied.
Especially considering that the pressure from a united Seven Kingdoms could have forced the Unsullied to abandon their cause in Westeros and just go about their own way, (which is what they end up doing anyway), leaving Westeros citizens to decide their own ruler, without their influence.
It fails like a huge letdown, given that Jon being King is something that has been hinted at for years, and the moment it comes to fruition, no one seems even willing to fight for it, despite arguing for the same the episode before.
Why Only The North?
Another strange aspect of the ending was how Winterfell, for all intents and purposes, seceded from Westeros, without so much as a raised eyebrow from anyone. If secession was an option, wouldn’t any of the other kingdoms want the same for themselves? Sure. Maybe not the smaller kingdoms who are unable to defend themselves without alli
Or even the Iron Islands? Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) wasn’t too happy with how events played out anyways. So why wouldn’t she want to separate from the rest of the Kingdom and do their own thing?
Better question: Since Winterfell will be its own separate thing now, why don’t the houses loyal to Winterfell from the get-go, just pledge allegiance to the new, official Queen, whom they were willing to follow before anyways? Why stay with the old Kingdom, whom they just fought against, when one of their leaders just chose to go off and run a kingdom on her own?
The End Of The Ending
Ultimately, despite all my gripes against it, I didn’t hate Season 8. Game Of Thrones is and will always remain one of my favorite series of all time. But the behind the scenes of it all also makes me wonder why the tying up of all the plots felt so rushed and so improper?
It’s not like the series was being cancelled and was given a short time to wrap everything up. It’s not like interest was waning or that ratings were poor. There didn’t seem to have been any pressure for a shortened season. The stars weren’t going anywhere. Could it have anything to with the fact that D. B. Weiss and David Benioff have been announced as getting their own Star Wars franchise to play with?
We could conjecture for days. But at the end of the day, we got what we got. Despite my issues with it, I enjoyed the final season for what it was. Now on to rewatch the entire thing from Season 1!