Game of Thrones Finale Reviews: 'The Iron Throne' Ends Epic Fantasy Series with a Whimper

Episode 6 represents a modest rebound, but it was still not enough to lift season 8 back into Certified Fresh territory.

by | May 20, 2019 | Comments

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Despite stirring speechifying by the Seven Kingdom’s newly crowned despot, her death at the hands of the man she loved, and a dragon’s moving lament, Game of Thrones went out with a whimper, according to critics. Season 8, Episode 6: "The Iron Throne" 48% is not the worst episode of the series, but it is in the bottom three based on the first reviews of the series finale.

With this final entry, the season’s current score is well below the 75% score needed to be Certified Fresh, marking the first season in the series’ history that will not receive the honor. The season is, in fact, now Rotten (updated May 23), which is just stunning given the series’ track record.

Here’s what critics had to say about the episode.

It Was the Best of Finales…

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

“It’s almost impossible to imagine it ending any other way.” — Steve Greene, indieWire

“After showing us a nightmare for eight seasons, Game of Thrones finally dares to dream of spring.” — Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone

“A stupendous end that the series deserved.” — Mikel Zorrilla, Espinof

“The series finale, proved largely satisfying after eight seasons of incredible drama.” — Todd Gilchrist, Birth.Movies.Death.

Read more: 
Game of Thrones
’ Series Finale Best Moments: Breaking the Wheel and a Dragon’s Choice

It Was the Worst of Finales

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

“As a fan of the TV show, I felt battered into submission. This season has been the same story over and over again: a lot of tin-eared writing trying to justify some of the most drastic story developments imaginable, as quickly as possible.” — David Sims, The Atlantic

“Game of Thrones has lulled us into believing that its women would end up in charge. In the end, it’s only Sansa, by sheer force of will, who wears a lesser crown. The wheel hasn’t broken; the patriarchy is still alive and well in Westeros.” — Anne Cohen, Refinery29

“The kindest thing I can say about the Games of Thrones series finale is that it might have satisfied Plato.” — Judy Berman, TIME Magazine

“Gotta say this episode felt more like a season finale than the series finale it was, if only because this last season seemed so isolated from what went before.” — Glen Weldon, NPR

“It’s hardly an exit cry of triumph.” — Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune

How Was the Writing and Pacing of the Final Episode?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

“The ending got rushed to the point of a fantasy even greater than the story told given all we had grown to know and love over six seasons (or seven, depending on your view) got torn asunder in the space of six episodes.” — Carissa Pavlica, TV Fanatic

“I liked this episode, and at times I thought it was truly brilliant… But the lords and ladies of Westeros picked a new king in five minutes, when we’ve spent eight seasons fighting a bloody war over who would sit on the Iron Throne.” — Erik Kain, Forbes

“It was hacky; it was cliched. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda. It was all too simple, too clean, even with a major death and a surprise contender for the Iron Throne. Closure is one thing, but pandering is entirely another.” — Kelly Lawler, USA Today

“Like most of Season 8, it felt like a Wikipedia summary more than a full story being told, with only Arya, Sansa, Sam, and Brienne getting endings I can halfway believe.” — Gina Carbone,

“But the pacing and the hurry to get to the finish line are not the only issues. There are large, gaping holes in the fabric of logic that one just cannot ignore anymore.” — Soumya Srivastava, Hindustan Times

“In dramatic terms, it may have resolved itself with something like indecent haste. But thematically, it made perfect sense.” — Karl Quinn, The Age (Australia)

“In this last season there was too little surprise, too many high-dollar digital theatrics, and less drive to really drill down into the essence of what made Westeros a place where so many people wanted to spend their Sunday nights.” — Hillary Kelly, New York Magazine/Vulture

Read more: Game of Thrones’ Final Season Is Officially Its Worst, According to the Tomatometer

Who Were the MVPs?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

“That finale was a mixed bag for me. I’m not sure how much it made ACTUAL SENSE in terms of how we’ve seen this world to work, but Jon ending up back at the Wall with Ghost actually felt to me like one of the best endings for his character.” — Huw Fullerton, Radio Times

“Wow. Drogon understood more about the geopolitical power struggle and human weakness than I would’ve thought he did.” — Kimberly Roots, TV Line

“Bran was the king of least resistance, with the added bonus of some superpowers that definitely are real, but which are dubiously useful at best.” — Kathryn VanArendonk, New York Magazine/Vulture

Read more: All Game of Thrones Episodes, Ranked by Tomatometer

Final Verdict?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by (Helen Sloan/HBO)

“This was a largely satisfying conclusion. One could quibble over a couple of plot points, and argue about the reassertion of the show’s regressive gender politics. But a piece of entertainment as complex as this was always going to involve some compromise.” — Nick Curtis, London Evening Standard

“Over all, though, it was a solid and largely satisfying wrap-up to one of the most exciting and enthralling TV series ever.” — Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

“So, yeah, it all worked out in the end, really. Was it perfect? No, because it couldn’t be. Was it enough to course-correct some of the more truncated story decisions from this season? Yes, I believe it was.” — Tim Goodman, Hollywood Reporter

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

“Because the Game of Thrones finale is really a bunch of different endings rolled into one. All the outcomes combined add up to a finale that’s sort of … bittersweet, just as author George R.R. Martin has been saying all these years.” — James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly

“After showing us a nightmare for eight seasons, Game of Thrones finally dares to dream of spring.” — Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone

“It’s not quite the dream of spring we might’ve hoped for, but it’s not a disaster either. And now our watch has ended.” — Laura Prudom, IGN Movies

Did you agree with the critics? Tell us in the comments!

Game of Thrones season 8 is available to stream on demand, on HBO Go, and on HBO Now.

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