I never thought there would ever be a day I would give a low ranking to anything “Game of Thrones” related, but here we are.
Season 8 of “Game of Thrones" was the most awaited release of the spring. Admittedly, the six-episode season had thrilling and chilling moments, from Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) knighting Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) to Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) defeating the Night King (Vladimír Furdík) and becoming “The Hero of Winterfell.” But the ending went so very wrong.
The very last episode of the show, “The Iron Throne,” picks up in the aftermath of the previous episode, “The Bells.” Dany (Emilia Clarke) and Drogon have burned King’s Landing to ruins and ashes, killing most of its otherwise blameless and poor inhabitants. Despite Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) opposition, the Unsullied continue killing the surrendered Golden Company soldiers.
Dany faces her massive armies to give them a pep talk that insinuates she’s not done fighting. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is arrested for releasing Jaime so he could return to Cersei (Lena Headey) and persuade her to escape to Essos, leading Tyrion to a fateful conversation with Jon. Still reeling from it, Jon meets Dany in the throne room. He realizes that Tyrion might be correct after all, so he plunges a dagger into her heart.
Dany dies and Drogon flies away with her body in a heart-wrenching moment, Jon is incarcerated, and the surviving Lords and Ladies of the Seven Kingdoms including Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) and his massive glow up hold a meeting where Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is appointed King. I’m really glad Edmure (Tobias Menzies) is finally out of his cell.
Bran, now king, grants the North its freedom, demands Tyrion become Hand to the King and sends Jon back to the Night’s Watch to please the Unsullied. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) rules as the Queen in the North, Arya leaves Westeros to explore the unknown West, Jon returns to the Night’s Watch and is reunited with Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Ghost.
King Bran leaves ruling to his advising committee comprised of Tyrion, Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Samwell (John Bradley), and Ser Brienne, and the Unsullied – led by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) – head to the island of Naath to protect its people and he had told Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) he would. A time for wolves, indeed.
I doubt fans were expecting a happy ending. Showrunners and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (D&D) were very generous by their definition in giving fans plotlines the battle against the dead, Cersei’s death, Brienne and Jaime’s relationship and more. But they didn’t tie up many loose ends and made important details immaterial in the finale.
Season 8 made the extensive character development of previous seasons seem useless. Dany was the underdog we were all rooting for — we saw her rise from a helpless girl sold like a horse by her brother in a political trade to the Mother of Dragons. Dany, having experienced abuse, fought to free all the cities in Slaver’s Bay. D&D took that and threw it in the trash along with the relevance of Jon’s Targaryen roots.
I understand she was lonely at such a crucial point. Cersei had brutally killed Missandei and Jon would not be with her because he wasn’t raised in the incestuous Targaryen ways. Dany destroying King’s Landing was more than vengeance – she was letting out all her anger. But how can viewers reconcile that madness with the Dany who freed Slaver’s Bay?
From the very first episode, viewers wondered about Jon’s mother. It was the big mystery surrounding seasons 5 and 6 when Bran traveled to the tower with the previous Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow). Conspiracy theories were proven correct when Ned Stark found a dying Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi) on the birthing bed and a newborn Jon. The finale proved this was all irrelevant.
The show did end in a novel note for Westerosi politics – the committee of Lords and Ladies prompted by Tyrion invented democracy. We really had only seen a leader be appointed by the people in the Night’s Watch. Everywhere else in Westeros, leadership came with a birthright title. So, if you really think about it, that was a new concept for the show.
Maybe we were all expecting more dragons, for Jon to be the hero and for him and Dany to end up in the Iron Throne together — with many silver-haired Targaryen babies running around. We all grew up watching Disney Channel, after all. D&D burned those expectations with fire, blood and nine years out of everyone’s lives.
Six spectacular seasons were almost overshadowed by two mediocre ones. The show will always be worth the watch, even if just for the Red Wedding and Oberyn Martell. Just remember, you might be displeased with how it ends.