HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones ended on Sunday night with a finale that tied together many loose ends – we now know the fate of doltish Edmure Tully, for instance – and left many still hanging.
One thing we learned is that in this world of Ice and Fire, a dragon is not a beast, but a passionate, intelligent participant in the world around him. Drogon chose not to burn Jon Snow, despite the fact that he killed its mother. Book readers will love that touch.
The critics are still weighing in with their verdict on “The Iron Throne,” but an early count of reviews, shows them split roughly down the middle, which gave the series finale an early Rotten score. (We should know in the next 24 hours where the score will settle.)
Until then, let’s look at some of the biggest moments of the episode.
Despite actress Lena Headey’s Instagram goodbye last week, we were unable to believe Cersei and Jaime were dead until Tyrion dug them out of the rubble on Sunday night.
The dead lovers are entwined and still beautiful in death. Considering that they were crushed by the Red Keep, that is something.
It just got all Hunger Games up in here. The scene has a fascist aesthetic – very Triumph of the Will, the 1935 Nazi propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Or – another way of looking at it – like any Star Wars Stormtrooper assembly ever.
The Mother of Dragons first thanks her Dothraki bloodriders for defeating the men in the iron suits, tearing down their stone houses, and delivering the Seven Kingdoms to her. She names Grey Worm the Master of War.
She addresses the Unsullied in Old Valyrian, congratulating them on being “liberators.” One person in the audience who may understand her is Arya, and she does not look happy.
Tyrion sidles up to Daenerys, who accuses him of treason. He throws down his Hand of the Queen pin, and she promptly has him detained.
Arya sneaks up on Jon: “You’ll always be a threat to her. I know a killer when I see one.”
Tyrion argues that Daenerys has gone beyond her initial purpose, now intending to recut the world under her rule.
“Love is more powerful than reason,” Tyrion says.
“Love is the death of duty,” Jon says, quoting Maester Aemon.
“You are the shield that guards the realms of men,” Tyrion reminds Jon. “Who is the greatest threat to the people now? … Do you think I’m the last man she’ll execute? Who is more dangerous than the rightful heir to the Iron Throne?”
The clincher? Tyrion reminds Jon that Sansa and Arya won’t bend the knee.
First, Drogon emerging from under a pile of ash to greet/inspect Jon was spectacular – the effects are, of course, perfect this episode.
Daenerys lives the moment she dreamed about: her death.
Jon begs for mercy for Tyrion and the people who followed Cersei, but Daenerys refuses, painting a picture of an entirely new world order: “I know what is good. And so do you.”
After her pitch/proposal, she and Jon kiss.
“You are my queen – now and always,” he says, as he stabs her.
Be comforted: Drogo and Daenerys’ son are waiting for her.
Drogon senses something is amiss and touches down behind Jon. The dragon grieving for his mother is both fearsome and moving. At his full height, he resembles Maleficent in Disney classic Sleeping Beauty.
After seriously threatening Jon, Drogon melts the Iron Throne, picks up Daenerys, and flies away. We’re hoping not to a red priestess of R’hllor for some resurrection ritual.
Grey Worm brings prisoner Tyrion before a council of lords and ladies of the realm. Among them: Samwell Tarly; Lord Edmure Tully; Arya, Bran, and Sansa Stark; Brienne of Tarth; Ser Davos Seaworth; Gendry Baratheon, apparently still Lord of Storm’s End; Yara Greyjoy; a Dornish lord; inexplicably hot Robin Arryn, lord of the Eyrie; and Lord Arryn’s bannerman Lord Yohn Royce.
They are here to decide the fate of Tyrion, Jon Snow, and the realm overall. Davos offers Grey Worm the Reach (Highgarden, former home of the Tyrells), but Grey Worm is being stubborn and just wants “justice.”
Arya almost steals the scene entirely, threatening to cut Yara’s throat for suggesting that Jon should die.
Tyrion argues that the gathering should choose a new king to decide everyone’s fate. Looks like Edmure returned simply to make an ass of himself again, but Sansa stops him before he finishes nominating himself for king. Sam suggests an open election and is laughed back into his seat.
Tyrion denies that he wants the throne and suggests “Bran the Broken” – and so it is. When Sansa notes that Bran can’t have children, Tyrion says it’s for the best.
“That is the wheel the queen wanted to break. From now on rulers will not be born. They will be chosen – on this spot – by the lords and ladies of Westeros to serve the realm,” Tyrion suggests.
Sansa breaks the North off to be an independent kingdom. Because: Sansa.
Bran names Tyrion his Hand.
Tyrion informs Jon that his cousin has ordered him back to the Night’s Watch. Grim, but not death.
Grey Worm heads for Naath; presumably, he and the Unsullied will protect the people who cannot protect themselves.
“What’s west of Westeros? … No one knows. That’s where all the maps stop. That’s where I’m going,” a remarkably emotional Arya informs her family while saying goodbye to Jon.
Brienne becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and fills in Jaime Lannister’s pages with brave deeds.
Bran the Broken’s small council includes Ser Davos (Master of Ships), Ser Bronn (Master of Coin – this is another bad idea, Tyrion), and Grandmaester Tarly. Bran notes that they’re missing a master of whisperers, a master of law, and a master of war. While Tyrion addresses those vacancies, Bran is going to “search” for Drogon. We really wanted to see him warg into a dragon this season – alas, it was not to be.
The final words of the series are a chant for Sansa: “Queen in the North!” The final image: men, women, and children following Tormund and Jon into the frozen north, as we end where we began, heading into the wilds Beyond the Wall.
What was your favorite moment of the finale? What about the series overall? Tell us in the comments!