Fire and blood, or a dream in the spring?
This review of the Thrones series game contains spoilers for GoT S8, Ep 6, "The Iron Throne." For more on the series finale, why is it that a song of ice and aging is so meaningful, the importance of Naath, and which all these mysteries were in the great council scene.
Although we warned long ago that "if you think this has a happy ending, you have not been attentive," most of the time, played the Thrones Final, subsidized Ramsay Bolton's evil words, and gave a conclusion that was like " bittersweet "as George RR Martin always promised, but one that still promised a hopeful dream in the spring for many of our favorite characters.
It was a nicer one than any of us might have predicted. Apart from Daenery's, there were no major accidents (RIP-nameless Lannister soldiers) ̵
Finally, it came down to the ailments, the bastards and the broken things with Bran wisdom – and more importantly is his knowledge of the past – which turns out to be more qualified for rule than violence or blood; return to Tywin Lannister's lesson to Tommen about what makes a good king – someone who listens to his advisers and does not try to make his own decision on his own. And it is a relief that after Jonas seasons insisted that he had no desire or ambition to rule, it was not forced upon him because of something as arbitrary as who his parents were.
Sansa became Queen of the North, presiding over an independent kingdom that will undoubtedly benefit from her strong sense of strategy and care for her people; Arya sat up for a perfect spinoff and set sail to explore anything west of Westeros and live like the wild, untamed creature she has always been; Tyrion became Hand to a ruler who is basically happy to let him rule instead; And despite all the nonsense about being wiped out for the Night Watch again, it is obvious that Jon intends to go up in Genuine North with Tormund and Ghost and the rest of Wildlings to find the kind of simple, peaceful life that He might have had with Ygritte if people had stopped trying to drive a big fate on him years ago.
"Iron Throne" followed the long-standing tradition of the show to go big in every season's second-last episode and use the finals to tie up loose ends, which felt a little more anti-climatic here than usual, because we have had eight seasons of construction to come forward. to this point. And I'm not happier about Daenery's poorly-performing swap now than I was after "The Bells", especially when we finally got to hear her justify herself. This was clearly no psychotic break or revenge against the King's Landing people for any perceived crime against her, just an illusion that Cersei used "their virginity as a weapon" against Dany to try and make her hesitate to take what she wanted, Although she did not need to attack them at all to claim the throne.
No one challenged Dany that she could have gone straight to Red Keep and still won, as it was quite clear (even from the back of a dragon) that Cersei was not in the streets and the Lannister soldiers mainly defended the wall she and Drogon had already destroyed. Nothing about Daenery's character up to this time has meant that she would consider the unnecessary slaughter of women or children – she actually stressed to Dothraki and the Injured that they had "liberated the king's landing" and that her priority from now on was to liberate Westeros men, women and children from the "wheel" without traces of irony. Her lack of remorse in this section did not come across as a dictator's ravages that were prepared to win at no cost, as one might have expected with all the "Mad King" comparisons – it just played as if the showrunners had decided what Daenery's did was the most effective way to get Jon and Tyrion to switch from supporting her to betraying her, caring if there was no narrative logic or justification.
Just as the show did a major assault to Cersei this season, turning Lena Headey into just 25 minutes of screen 8 season and giving us no insight into her mental state or motivation (except subtly touching her stomach or staring sadly one window), Thrones likewise plays Daenery's Anakin Skywalker-esque descent to the villain. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss said they deliberately avoided showing us Dany expressions as she began to fold to King's Landing in "The Bells" but by keeping us from a distance it was impossible for us to follow Daenery's reasoning or empathy with her, something that is important when trying to pass a beloved hero into a villain.
Walter White's path in Breaking Bad was so effective and so heartbreaking as we witnessed the slow but stable erosion of his morals and boundaries over several seasons – positioning history from a point of view to help motivate his decisions (something like Benioff and Weiss could definitely have done with Dany this season, and as George R. R Martin will hopefully achieve in his novels, while allowing other characters to react to and be discouraged by his behavior. But by deliberately keeping the audience out of Daenery's head and showing her only through the lens of how others saw her, the last season missed an important opportunity to offer context on why she made the choices she made, reducing one previously nuanced and fascinating character to a one-dimensional shadow of her former self. Both Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey deserved better after taking such a thoughtful work in Dany and Cersei over the past decade.
But despite how viscerally I responded to "The Bells" (enough to write a 3000+ word rant about it) at least it made me feel something, and the most disappointing part of "The Iron Throne "is that I didn't feel much about anything. I did not cry, I was not shocked by Jon's decision to support Dany in the heart (one of many callbacks in the final, reflects Jon's own treason of Olly) and the most poignant moment of the episode came from Drogon who saddened his fallen mother, Lion King Style and Jon finally touches Ghost after three seasons – something that would not even have affected emotionally or resonance primarily if the show had not been so weird to keep the dirwwolf separated from its master for all this time. Brienne finally got a chance to fill in the rest of Jaime Lannister's great deeds in Kingsguard's white book, a delightful and beautiful call-back, but it was a little sour of how rude and hasty he left her – again and gave no real insight into his feelings for either Cersei or Brienne.
But for the most part, the final was incredibly flat. For a show I have invested countless hours, both professionally and as a fan of Martin's books, I thought I would at least tear about the opportunity to say goodbye to these characters. But as I discussed last week's review, it's the problem of expectation of reality,
And while the episode was beautifully directed and shot by Benioff and Weiss (the vision of Daenery's with Drogon's wings stretched out behind her may be the most indelible image in the show history, while the moment when Drogon melted Iron Throne was the only scene in the episode to really give me revelation) it felt like many other episodes have this season, as if we check boxes instead of looking at moments and character choices evolving organically . And while Ramin Djawadi's score once again increased the episode's most meaningful moments, it was the most potent when it was absent – the episode opened with almost 10 minutes of stretching without musical accompaniment at all, increasing the horror and shock in the wake of the Daenery's destruction until Tyrion discovered Jaime and Cerseis bodies, a powerful representation for Peter Dinklage's consistently excellent performance, but one that was once again undermined by the zeal of Jaime and Cersei's demise.
"Iron Throne" was certainly not a disastrous final, or one that will weaken the legacy of the show (more than the response to "The Bells" already has for some fans) and by allowing some of our favorite characters to survive and thrive ( the season impossible to waste Bronn, but to see "The Lord of Lofty Titles" at the small council, back and forth with Tyrion again, was glorious), it offered a note of hope that last week seemed almost unimaginable. But compared to all the potential that existed in previous seasons, it is impossible not to wonder what could have been if Benioff and Weiss agreed on more episodes and more breathing space to allow these conflicts to develop in a way that these characters deserved.
At least we will get Martin's last books to give more insight into how we came here and why, if they ever come forward.