Game of Thrones – “The Iron Throne”: The real throne is the games we made along the way
Season 8, Episode 6
Aired: May 19, 2019
Directors: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Writers: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
There was a brief sweet spot in the middle of the episode – right after all those tedious shots of people walking – when Jon Snow stabbed Daenerys and left her to die just feet away from the throne she’s been seeking her whole life that I thought, “Maybe this could actually be a good finale.”
Then, the dragon flew in, melted the Iron Throne and took Dany away. Unfortunately, it took all logic and good storytelling with it.
I was initially willing to give that moment the benefit of the doubt. I thought the episode would eventually reveal that Bran had worged into Drogon and was controlling him, which is why the beast went from nudging its “mother” to see if she was still alive to somehow making the decision to symbolically melt the seat of power our heroes have been fighting over for these past eight seasons. Because otherwise, it’s just so silly that the dragon got mad and melted the chair. But apparently, that’s what the show is going with. Because, why not at this point?
As silly as the anthropomorphic dragon was, it wasn’t nearly as silly as the meeting that followed. We’re supposed to accept that Jon Snow and Tyrion have been kept alive as prisoners of Grey Worm, an unstable military leader grieving the loss of the two women who meant the most to him in this world, and that even though this guy has control of King’s Landing with a massive army loyal to him and he has no qualms slitting throats of people who were threats to his queen, that he is just deferring to whatever decision the lords and ladies of Westeros make about Jon and Tyrion’s fates. The dude is controlling the city through martial law. I’m pretty sure he’s the new King of Westeros. Stop listening to these gaslighting lords and ladies, Grey Worm, the city is yours.
Making matters worse, Tyrion apparently gets to decide who the new king will be. Sure, the guy is a prisoner and, by his own count, they entire kingdom hates him for either supporting Dany or betraying her, but he talks for a while about stories and pretends that everyone will have a say in who is named king going forward. Then, he just steamrolls everyone into picking Bran, which they all are on board with even though he’s a terrible choice. And Grey Worm, the guy controlling the city who no one there has enough power to stop, is just like, “Sounds fair to me.”
Bran is, of course, a horrible choice to lead. He’s basically an emotionless computer at this point that is probably a week or two away from realizing that humanity is actually the problem and that Night King was right to want to wipe everyone out. By his own admission, he’s not Bran Stark anymore. He’s a dude who sits by trees in his family’s castle and watches historical events all day. That’s got to be the Westeros equivalent of smoking pot and playing video games in your parents’ basement.
Tyrion’s logic is that Bran has the best story of anyone there, but he doesn’t. Arya is a trained assassin who murdered the Night King. I’m pretty sure that trumps “can be a bird sometimes.” She saved humanity from a supernatural army, which everyone seems to have just forgotten about. Also, like Bran, she doesn’t want to rule, which, according to Tyrion, makes her a good choice.
The best choice though is Sansa, which I feel like the writers ignored because they went for a surprise over someone that would actually make sense. Sansa also has a good story that involves overcoming adversity and rebuilding herself. Plus, she has the added benefit of being good at the job. She’s been running Winterfell for multiple seasons. Plus, she’s been invested in being a lady since season one when she was betrothed to Joffery. She’s been training for the job her entire life. But nope, Bran is the right choice, apparently.
Never mind how terrible the optics are on this. I’m not saying you have to make Sansa the queen to make up for having both Cersi and Dany be unfit, tyrannical rulers, but giving it to the unqualified white guy who doesn’t even want it is not the best look for Game of Thrones. Especially when the show has been trying to convince us for weeks now that the other unqualified white guy who doesn’t want the job was going to be king.
Still, nothing made me roll my eyes harder than when Sam showed up with A Song of Ice and Fire. Get it? That’s the name of the far superior series of books this show is based on. They wrote the book into the show. But Tyrion’s not in it. Which is funny? Sure. Because it’s totally not a lazy, hack trope to end your story by having the people in the story write down the story because it’s such a good story.
(I actually would have respected them if, instead of the joke about Tyrion not being in it, they made a joke about A Song of Ice and Fire not being finished yet.)
I did enjoy the scene where Brienne filled in the rest of Jaime Lannister’s story. In an otherwise underwhelming finale, it was a really great character moment for her and a sweet sendoff for him. Choosing to frame his demise as dying “protecting his queen” was such a wonderful act of love on her part. It also was a very kind way to reframe the narrative of a man branded kingslayer.
Speaking of king slaying, I really wish the show hadn’t just forgotten about that aspect of Jaime’s character. There could have been a really great parallel between his choice to kill Aerys and Jon’s choice to kill Dany. (I actually would have loved to see them open this episode by showing us Robert’s Rebellion, which could have given us one final glimpse of Jaime, Ned and Robert and could have showed how things have come full circle at the end as Jon must now kill Dany, but alas, it’s just one of many missed opportunities in this rushed final season.)
I’m sad to see things end on such an underwhelming note. This was a show capable of greatness; though it was just as often frustrating. It was fun to speculate on and discuss with friends. I’ll definitely miss that. And I’ll miss this world.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on the show every week. If, like me, you didn’t love the finale, just try to remember that the real throne was the games we made along the way.
Written by Joel Murphy. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org