We made it, friends.
After ten years, eight seasons, seventy-one episodes, hundreds of deaths, and countless tears, we’ve made it to the series finale of Game of Thrones. It’s a weird feeling, one I haven’t really come to terms with yet but will undoubtedly read a thousand think pieces about over the coming days. The battle for the Iron Throne has come to a close, and we’re left to sit and analyze every single second of it until the next show comes around that dominates our collective psyche for years at a time.
I like to think I’ve researched my fair share of fan theories and Reddit threads and general hysteria around this show, and yet I was still unprepared for Bran the Broken to end up King of the Six Kingdoms. That shady, psychic bird-loving bitch knew what was coming all along, but he let them all think otherwise. I can’t help but respect it.
There will be many complaints and gripes to come over the next couple days and all of them pale in comparison to mine which is this: where the hell was Daario Naharis? The man just never thought to show up? Too busy f*cking around in his haunted Hill house to come see Dany burn the world down? I demand closure.
Anyways, let’s dive in.
The episode opens on Tyrion, Jon, and Davos walking through the ash-covered remains of King’s Landing. In case you managed to forget last week—it doesn’t look good. While none of the three of them seem especially happy with the way things played out, Tyrion is taking it the hardest. I would imagine his inner monologue at this moment is just an endless loop for Varys saying “I f*cking told you so.”
Tyrion makes his way to the Red Keep alone, denying Jon’s offer of men to accompany him. He’s searching for confirmation of his worst fears and finds it almost immediately—Jaime and Cersei dead amongst the rubble in the underground cavern they tried to escape from. The internet almost tricked me into believing that Jaime Lannister was still alive, and like a fool I fell for it.
Out on the streets, Greyworm is rounding up and executing Lannister prisoners in the “name of the one true queen.” When Jon tries to intervene, the Unsullied react in a way that makes it clear that no dissent will be tolerated, even from the Queen’s nephew/boyfriend. Jon and Davos head off to try and talk some sense into Dany, a truly lost cause.
They come across the square in front of the Sept, where the Dothraki and the Unsullied have gathered for a post-siege pep talk from their Khaleesi. She wasted literally zero time in redecorating, evident by the twenty foot Targaryen banner hanging from the blown-out walls of the Sept. Where has that been stored this entire time? When did she have it made? What poor solider had the job of carrying around the giant team flag just in case they needed to make a statement? I need answers.
Arya is amongst the Dothraki watching this scene unfold, no mystical white horse in sight. No explanation there? Cool. Also worth noting that there’s about 100% more Dothraki present than you would expect after watching them fly face first into a black wall of zombies.
Jon makes his way up the many stairs of the sept as Drogon and Dany fly over. There’s a really great shot of her walking forward while Drogon’s wings unfurl behind her, a nice visual cue for anyone who maybe hadn’t picked up on the fact that Dany is in fact the Dragon now.
After naming Greyworm Master of War, she steps forward and delivers a speech to her troops that can effectively be summed up in a single statement: we’re not done yet, mofos.
Dany: My Unsullied, you have freed the people of King’s Landing from the grip of a tyrant.
Tyrion: More like freed them from life in general, but sure.
To the obvious surprise of Jon and Tyrion, Dany announces that their battle is far from done, because there are still people to “liberate” in the rest of the world. King’s Landing was merely a starting point, and Winterfell is named as being one of the next stops. The look on Arya’s face at the mention of anyone traveling North in the name of “liberation” can be found in the dictionary next to the word “murder.”
Tyrion steps forward at this point and delivers his resignation by taking off his hand pin and tossing it down the steps in front of them. He was going to be roasted for treason anyway, but it was a nice statement. The guy is nothing if not prone to dramatics. He’s carried away by guards under Dany’s orders but manages one last look at Jon on his way out that says “fix this.”
Dany marches past Jon next, looking at him with nothing but disdain on her face. Good to know that’s where they stand. Arya appears next to Jon, really making the most out of her super assassin sleuthing skills to warn him that he’s 100% next on the list of executions now that his aunt/girlfriend knows who he really is.
Arya: I came here to kill Cersei but your queen got there first.
Jon: She’s everyone’s queen, actually.
Arya: Sansa isn’t here but she’d want me to tell you to pull your head out of your ass.
Jon heads to see Tyrion in captivity, and they have a long, tense conversation about the fact that Dany is now certifiably insane. Tyrion is 100% on team Varys, but Jon is still in total denial.
Jon: I can’t justify what just happened, but at least the war is over now.
Tyrion: Wow I suddenly understand why you got murdered the first time around.
Listening to Jon defend Dany is giving me war flashbacks to having to watch half of Twitter defend do the same thing all week. Yes—she’s been through some sh*t. No one is arguing that point. But you know who else has been through some sh*t? Literally every single person on this show. Most of Sansa’s family was murdered and she spent her entire adolescence being mentally and physically tortured, but she has yet to murder a million innocent people because of it. It’s almost like experiencing trauma isn’t a justification for inciting a bunch more trauma.
Jon: She saw her friend beheaded!
When it becomes clear that subtleties and allusion aren’t getting them anywhere, Tyrion pretty much asks Jon to murder Dany in order to save the rest of Westeros, echoing Arya’s earlier sentiment that the true heir to the Iron Throne is likely next to be killed in the new regime. But Tyrion should have known better; the only thing Jon loves more than doing the wrong thing under the guise of being honorable is risking his life in the process.
In a last-ditch attempt at swaying him, Tyrion plays the family card. Even an idiot like Jon can predict what happens when Dany flies North: Sansa refuses to bend the knee, Winterfell is reduced to rubble, no white horse arrives to save Arya this time. Jon still doesn’t waver and instead apologizes to Tyrion before storming out to find Dany. He is surprised by an ash-covered Drogon who is guarding the door to the throne room and ultimately lets Jon pass. Big mistake, bud.
At this point I truly think Jon was hellbent on following Dany at all costs. He had yet to be confronted by her madness face to face and was still under the mistaken impression that we could talk her off the ledge. But when he finds Dany in standing in front of the Iron Throne, looking truly happy for the first time in months, ranting about building a new world together, the realization slowly starts to creep in. She’s past the point of no return.
Dany: When I was a little girl I heard stories about the throne and how it was made of 1,000—
Jon: Cute anecdote, but there are dead children littering the streets.
Jon begs Dany to forgive Tyrion, to forgive everyone and maybe not take her death tour any further than King’s Landing, and it’s a testament to how much she must love him that she actually looks conflicted for a second. But then Dany starts in on her speech about how the two of them were born for this—destined to build a new world together, deciders of what is Right and what is Wrong—and Jon knows. You can actually see him realize that Tyrion was right, that Dany truly believes she is saving the world and will burn it down to see it happen. Nothing can stop her, except him.
He tells her that she is his queen, now and always, and then stabs her in the chest during their last incestuous impassioned make out. She dies quickly and Jon proceeds to weep over her body while Drogon, who has clearly sensed some mischief in the atmosphere, starts screeching and arrives at the scene of the crime. He proceeds to nudge Dany’s lifeless body like a sad puppy in a Pixar movie and then, upon realizing that his mother is dead, turns and rains fire right past Jon and onto the Iron Throne, melting it down to nothing.
I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that Drogon understands the magnitude of this gesture. I am willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief for this ridiculous show, but this has gone too far. You’re trying to come in at the series finale and tell me that the dragon can grasp metaphors? Did Drogon take his season-long hiatus to pick up a poli-sci degree with an emphasis on democratic power structures? Nah. Absolutely not. We all blindly accepted the fact that Arya murdered a 1,000-year-old zombie king with some cheeky knife play, but this is where I draw the line.
After singlehandedly dismantling the bourgeois, Drogon picks up Dany’s corpse and flies away with her over the ocean and into the horizon, which means there’s now a roaming, mourning, vindictive dragon on the loose. I’d be worried but he’s probably just going to post up somewhere and start his master’s thesis on Nietzsche.
Flash forward an undisclosed amount of time later, Tyrion is summoned from his cell by Greyworm, and marched outside to stand before a council of the great houses of Westeros made up of the Stark siblings, Brienne of Tarth, Davos, Sam, Gendry, Yara Greyjoy, Edmure Tully, the unnamed Prince of Dorne and a few others. This entire scene was important for a few major reasons, but first and foremost, because we got the greatest reveal in this show’s history: a suddenly hot Robyn Arryn. I’m not happy about it either, but lying about it doesn’t get us anywhere. Perhaps we should all reconsider our stance on late-adolescence breast feeding. But, I digress.
It appears that a few weeks have passed since Jon assassinated Daenerys. In that time the Unsullied have taken control of King’s Landing, and the noble families of Westeros have come together for peace negotiations. Considering the fact that Drogon literally flew into the sunset with the evidence of any crime, this means that Jon confessed to murdering his Queen/aunt/girlfriend. It’s almost impressive how obstinately dumb he remains after all this time.
The Starks demand Jon’s safe release, and Sansa has rallied an army of 1,000 Northmen outside the walls of King’s Landing who are prepared to fight if need be. The Unsullied want Jon to pay for what he did, and Yara agrees with them. Davos, ever the great mediator, offers Greyworm all of the Reach for the Unsullied to take as their own to build their house. The offer falls on deaf ears.
Tyrion has been brought forth for reasons unknown, but he suggests that only a King or Queen of Westeros can decide how to move forward, and that the families gathered should elect a new one. Edmure Tully, the most useless man in this entire show, steps forward to nominate himself before being owned by Sansa in front of all his peers. Just give her the throne already.
Sam: Hey what if we let the common people vote?
Everyone else: Poor people?? Having opinions?? What’s next, dragons grappling with complex physical metaphors??
Once it becomes clear that no one is going to make a decision, Tyrion steps forward and nominates truly the last person I expected him to: Bran. He goes on to explain that the only thing that can truly unite people after all this are stories, and that Bran has the best story of them all. Arya, who spent her entire childhood on the run and lying about her identity while training beside assassins, only to save all their lives by murdering the greatest villain Westeros has ever known, does a really good job of not choking at that statement.
Bran the Broken is potentially the worst name in a show made up almost exclusively of bad names. Like, remember that traumatic childhood event that shaped your entire life? It’s going to define you in the annals of history, you weird bird child. As if that wasn’t insulting enough, Sansa stands up and reminds everyone that Bran’s dick doesn’t even work. Like wow, maybe the kid deserves to be king after suffering all this indignity.
But Bran’s inability to produce an heir is his greatest draw, because from this moment forward the nobles of Westeros are going to start electing their leader. Can you believe that? After all this, democracy wins the Iron Throne. Somewhere in the sky, Drogon lets loose a single tear.
Tyrion: So you down or what?
Bran: Why do you think I rolled my ass all the way down here?
The council votes to make Bran king, all except for Sansa who abstains and declares that the North has dealt with enough Southern nonsense and will remain an independent state. I think the fact that Bran is king now is the only reason the rest of the houses let this fly, knowing that Sansa and Bran wouldn’t war against each other. Or the people have finally recognized that Sansa is the only person on this show who knows what she’s doing. Either way, we love it.
Bran names Tyrion his hand, who immediately attempts to refuse because the man hasn’t exactly had a successful run at it in the past.
Greyworm: Not sure if you forgot but the guy is a war criminal and needs to be punished.
Bran: His punishment will be a lifetime of trying to fix the mistakes he’s made.
Greyworm: Yeah that sounds cool but not exactly what we had in mind.
So just to summarize, Tyrion convinced someone else to assassinate the queen on his behalf, installed a half-sentient bird boy as King, is now the second most powerful man in the kingdom, and will live out a comfortable life, full of wine, without the abuse of his family constantly following him. Not sure about you guys, but I think I know who won this show.
All that’s left is to decide Jon’s fate, and it’s truly the most tragic thing to happen all episode. Tyrion visits Jon in his own captivity to tell him that council came to a compromise. After all of that—constantly risking his life to convince the world of the danger of the White Walkers, fighting countless battles and actually getting assassinated in the process, all in the name of saving Westeros—Jon is being sent back to the Night’s Watch. He will live out his days without the one thing he’s wanted his entire life: a family.
Tyrion: If it makes you feel better, no one is very happy about it.
Jon: That’s the theme of my whole life, so it checks out.
Jon is released and heads to the docks to say goodbye to his family before being shipped North. Sansa asks for his forgiveness for not being able to negotiate his freedom. Arya tells him that she’ll be leaving Westeros to sail west and discover new lands. Gendry is RIGHT THERE in his new fancy leather suits, but sure. Jon cries. Sansa cries. Arya cries. Bran does what he does best: offers up a cryptic farewell.
Jon: I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.
Bran: You were exactly where you needed to be.
Jon: …. Goodbye to you too, I guess?
The rest of the episode wraps up all of our characters while giving us a preview into life in this new Westeros. Brienne stops by the library to finish Jaime’s entry in the book of Knights. She writes his story—their story, really—and ends it very generously by not mentioning that he spent his whole life banging his sister. She’s a better scorned woman than I could ever hope to be.
Tyrion leads the first meeting of Bran’s new small council. He’s joined by Davos; Master of Ships, Sam; Archmaester, Brienne; Captain of the Kingsguard; and Bronn, Master of Coin. Bronn is also Lord of the Reach and Highgarden, which means Tyrion came through on his promise to reward him for not assassinating them. Sam arrives with A Song of Ice and Fire, the written history of the wars after King Robert’s death. I see what you all did there. The camera pans out as the new council bickers about rebuilding the city, and the priority of brothels vs. actual infrastructure. It’s a glimpse into a hopeful future, even if Bronn is somehow meant to keep them from going bankrupt.
The episode ends with parallel shots of Jon, Sansa, and Arya embarking on their new lives set to a choral reprise of the theme song. It’s beautiful and sad and poetic and the only part of the episode that truly felt like a finale.
Arya sets sail aboard a ship under the Stark banner, because apparently the only way to come down from saving humanity is a semester abroad. Here’s hoping she spends the next six months drunk on a beach.
Sansa is crowned Queen in the North, which is all the she deserves a more. Our girl fought her way back home, fought for her people, fought for independence, and now gets to live a long happy life of peace amongst the people who adore her. I love her more than anything.
Jon arrives at the wall to be greeted by none other than Tormund and Ghost, who he actually deigns to recognize this time around. The three of them turn and immediately make their way North of the wall, leading the wildlings back to their now zombie-free homes. I’m really hoping that Jon decides to completely ignore the council’s ruling and just settles down with a nice Wildling wife in the wilderness. Or with Tormund. I’m happy either way.
And that’s it. That’s the end of Game of Thrones.
We’ve had our ups. We’ve had our downs. But through it all there’s no denying the indelible mark this show left on culture. It captivated us all, week after week, year over year, to the point that we’re now circulating unnecessary petitions about the way it’s ended. Hundreds of recaps have been written, thousands of comments have been left, and memes have truly never been stronger than during the course of Game of Thrones. For better or worse, it’s been a wild ride, and I’ve had the time of my life embarking on it with all of you.
All Time MVB: Sansa Stark
She kept her head down, suffered in silence, learned the game, stayed alive, and then came for what was rightfully hers in the end. She is the undisputed winner of this show and also my heart. Sansa Stark forever.
Until next time.
Images: Giphy (4)