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Monday, 20 May 2019

REVIEW: Game of Thrones delivers disappointing finale.

It’s a day we’ve long contemplated about, and yet it’s one that we dreaded arriving. But it’s here. Game Of Thrones is over. I’ve said it out loud and I still can’t quite believe it. The final season has received polarising reactions, with many complaining about the pacing, weak writing and abandonment of particular characters’ development in favour of delivering shocking moments. However, with years of speculation under fans’ belts — and thousands of theories about how it would end having done the rounds on Reddit, Twitter and other internet forums — it’s safe to say that, regardless of the eighth season, the anticipation was very high. Unfortunately, the damage that the previous two instalments had done to the narrative ensured that the final outing couldn’t deliver the ending we deserved.


After incinerating all those poor souls in King’s Landing — for literally no apparent reason — Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) dismounts her dragon in what is destined to become one of television’s most iconic scenes in history, as the winged beast flew off behind her. It was a clever moment — one that was clearly trying to insinuate that the Khaleesi’s inner dragon had finally been awoken. She addresses her Unsullied soldiers and Dothraki screamers, thanking them for their efforts and telling them that because of their assistance she was able to liberate those in King’s Landing. Another ‘huh?’ moment for sure, considering she’d murdered almost all of the residents of the once great city. So much of Dany’s characterisation this season has been off, and that very much continues into the final episode. In some moments, we see a flash of the Dany we watched evolve over eight seasons — the real Dany — and in others we’re subjected to the tyrant who was invented no less than two episodes ago. However, while David Benioff and D.B Weiss don’t deliver in the writing department, the duo do a spectacular job with the direction — and Dany’s address is quite possibly their finest work from this outing.

He was once an incredibly smart man, but Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is reduced to an expositional plot device in ‘The Iron Throne’. Yes, he did little more than try and explain to Jon Snow (Kit Harington) why Dany went mad. 

Of course, if the writers felt the need to explain it — not to mention demonstrate it via metaphors such as the one seen during the dragon dismount scene — then they didn’t execute it very well, did they? I mean, we knew that already, but having Tyrion become a walking Dany Wikipedia page was a little frustrating — especially when you consider the fact that he’s committed atrocities of a similar nature.

One of the only satisfying things to come out of this episode is Daenerys’ brief moment of glory as she heads over to the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, however, her death at the hands of Jon moments later ruined that too. Don’t get me wrong, I cried like a baby – specifically when Drogon repeatedly attempted to wake her up — but I couldn’t help thinking what a total waste it was of an eight-year arc. Although the writing in the final part of her journey was questionable, she’d finally reached the throne — only to be killed before she actually got to sit on it. What could’ve been, eh?

Perhaps the most ludicrous thing was Drogon’s decision not to kill Jon. Let’s reflect on a particular moment from the third season when Dany is confronted by the Slave Masters of Yunkai. During this scene, the masters threaten the Dragon Queen, which results in Drogon growing angry. Dany tells the men that she cannot possibly guarantee the master’s safety because he’d just threatened the dragon’s mother. If Drogon was willing to incinerate on the basis of a threat, then why wouldn’t the fire-breathing beast burn Jon to a crisp after he’d killed Dany? Plot armour, much?  It literally makes no sense.  

Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) becoming King of the Seven Six Kingdoms is an odd narrative decision, as it paints the Three-Eyed Raven in a different sort of light. Did he always know that he would become King? If so, then does that mean he refrained from telling Jon about Dany’s impending massacre simply so that he could ensure both potential rulers would be taken out of the picture, thus paving the way for him to rule? What’s more, what was the point in him having the ability to somewhat time-travel if he literally never used it?


If I’m being honest, I’ve thought that Bran’s character is highly problematic for quite some time now. Surely if he knew of all of the hurt that was due to arrive he would’ve imparted his wisdom so that the people could prevent it from happening? On a similar note, couldn’t he have gone back and stopped Ned Stark (Sean Bean) from losing his head? This would’ve put a stop to the war once and for all. Having a character with as much power as Bran creates a lot of narrative issues, as he could literally put a stop to every threat before it even occurs. And yet he did absolutely nothing in the eighth season. Perhaps George R.R. Martin’s books will be able to give us more information on Bran’s abilities because the show severely neglected them this season.

Jon ending up back at Castle Black is also such a cop-out, as it defeats the entire purpose of his Targaryen parentage reveal. I mean, other than perhaps creating another source of conflict for Daenerys, what actually was the point of Jon being a Targaryen? The series spent six seasons building up to this reveal, after repeatedly insinuating that his lineage was important. Unless I’m missing something, I honestly don’t get what the point of this central storyline was, as it literally went nowhere. Furthermore, why didn't Jon become King? The reason given was pretty much that him taking the throne would leave Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), the Unsullied and Dothraki upset, but if they were departing from King's Landing what would it matter? Another contrived source of conflict. 


Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Tyrion all achieved a happy-ish ending, which is about the only good thing to come from this episode. Mind you, I’m still not wholly convinced that Sansa isn’t chasing power — but we’ll never know now.
I guess my biggest gripe is that ‘The Iron Throne’ feels more like like an epilogue than a series finale. The big threat-that-wasn’t-a-threat-until-five-minutes-ago was dealt with within the first 25 minutes or so, and the remaining hour was then devoted to setting up the new world.  For a show that once thrived on big battles and a lot of action, this one had far too much dialogue — a lot of which verged on exposition. Moreover, due to the length of the instalment, there’s next to no episodic structure with this one, so there are instances when the narrative is hitting its crescendos at random timecodes, which means we had next to no time to mourn Dany before the leaders of the new world were choosing their new king. It was all too jarring, and it ultimately ruined the enjoyment — and melancholia — of the whole thing.

It wasn’t an awful ending, but it was far from a good one — it was bland, to say the least, and not at all satisfying. 

With the exception of one or two scenes, it wasn’t an overly emotional farewell either, and I found myself feeling numb for most of it. Had there been more episodes this season, then Weiss and Benioff might’ve been able to pull off a worthy ending for such an ambitious tale, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Much like all of the eighth season, the final episode is a huge letdown. The finale might’ve left a lot to be desired, the narrative, however, — and much of the series’ first seven seasons — remains nothing short of spectacular. Our watch is ended folks. 

Contributed by Stephen Patterson

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