There was never a bigger or greater TV show in history. Originally airing in 2011, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” spanned eight seasons and helped transform the fantasy genre through its human-centered drama, complex characters and a captivating plot. With the series ending Sunday night, most fans, including myself, were extremely disappointed with how it ended.
The final episode, boringly titled, “The Iron Throne,” was an absolute failure and was painful to watch. Not only was this episode terribly rushed, but it left us with more questions than answers and many underwhelming and unsatisfying endings for the remaining characters. For instance, what was the Night King’s goal? What made the Mad King go mad? What was the point of Jon’s lineage? Who is Azor Ahai? What was Bran’s purpose? Where did Drogon go? What or who is the Lord of Light? What happened to the remaining Direwolves?
After the destruction that Daenerys brought to King’s Landing, Tyrion, imprisoned for defying Daenerys due to her actions, persuades Jon to kill her. The sequence in which Jon does the deed was so horribly written, so poorly executed, and so cheesily directed that it felt almost like a spoof. Once Daenerys is killed in the Throne room, Drogon burns the Iron Throne, flying away with Dany’s corpse and never to be seen again. Not only was Dany killed way too quickly, but the scene had no emotional impact due to the lack of chemistry and emotion in Jon and Dany’s relationship.
The Iron Throne, like the Ring from “The Lord of the Rings,” is a metaphor for evil, greed, selfishness, etc. Both burned by fire, it was a bit too obvious what the writers wanted us to take away metaphorically from the destruction of the Throne. In all honesty, it was a rip off of what Tolkien came up with.
Jon is imprisoned for murdering Dany, leading the remaining lords of Westeros to decide on the future of the realm. Sansa, Tyrion, Davos, Samwell, Arya, Gendry, Bran, Brienne, Grey Worm, Edmure Tully, Robyn Arryn, Yohn Royce, Yara Greyjoy and the new prince of Dorne end up meeting in the Dragonpit, where they decide to pick a new ruler based on their merit, not their name. This was a terribly weak scene considering how important it was. The character who will end up with the Throne, the pivotal motivation for the story, had zero chemistry or nuance. Tyrion proposes Bran become the new king, to which everyone agrees. Sansa, however, insists the North remain a separate kingdom, to which Bran agrees. Basically, the scene came down to:
“Bran, want to be king?”
Not only was the scene poorly executed, but most of the characters involved had no right to choose the new King. Grey Worm, Yara Greyjoy, Edmure Tully, and Robyn Arryn were completely useless and should have died seasons ago. Don’t get me started on how Grey Worm, arguably the most one-dimensional and boring characters in the entire show, didn’t end up dying.
Bran becoming king was a huge disappointment. Bran was always the main driver of the supernatural element to the show, not the political. Having no twist or revelation about his warging abilities as the Three-Eyed-Raven or his relationship to the Night King was a huge blow to the years of building up this intriguing story and a huge miscalculation plot-wise.
Because many are angered by Jon murdering Dany, Bran and the others agree to compromise, allowing Jon to live at Castle Black to once again be a Brother of the Night’s Watch. Jon bids farewell to Sansa, Arya and Bran, returning to the far north and reuniting with Tormund and his direwolf Ghost, who he finally pets.
Jon and the Wildlings go beyond the wall, Jon escaping Castle Black and starting a new life with the people he freed, similar to Mance Rayder. Jon embraces his identity as a true Northerner, not a Targaryen or a Stark, but rather a heroic and independent man of the north. Jon venturing out into the once occupied lands of the Night King signifies his accomplishment of saving the North, yet this was a very unfitting ending for Jon.
Jon did not deserve to be outed for killing Daenerys, and Daenerys shouldn't have even become evil in the first place. This ending betrayed Daenerys as a character by impulsively making her become evil, which led to Jon’s character receiving an unfulfilling end in the middle of the frozen wilderness with no one but a group of Wildlings. Jon having to kill Daenerys for other reasons, such as fulfilling the Azor Ahai prophecy in which the chosen hero has to stick his sword through his lover’s heart in order to defeat the night, would have been much more fitting. Bran being connected to the Night King and dying due to this would have also offered a bittersweet shock.
As king, Bran has Tyrion as his hand, Davos as his Master of Ships, Bronn as his Master of Coin, Brienne and Podrick as his Kingsguard and Samwell as his Grand Maester. Sansa is Queen in the North, while Arya sails West of Westeros to explore.
Sansa always belonged as a northern Queen, yet Arya’s conclusion is a bit bland. There was nothing poetic or thoughtful by having her randomly sail the seas and it did nothing as a conclusion to her character arc.
This episode was horribly paced, for it randomly wrapped up conclusions without any satisfying full-circles, shocking twists or character arcs. Ever since the Night King was killed by Arya in episode 3, the direction of this show was absolutely atrocious. The Night King was not only killed too quickly, but he received no backstory and had no motivations. Bran did not contribute at all with his Three-Eyed-Raven abilities and did nothing at all to deserve to be king. Jaime’s character arc ended up being regressed when he ran back to Cersei and ended on a tragic note with Brienne instead of killing Cersei. Daenerys had absolutely no reason to kill thousands of innocent people, and it was a betrayal of her character arc and the journey she endured on.
I would have preferred that the Night King destroyed Winterfell and the remaining survivors flee to King’s Landing, where the Night King would eventually attack. Jaime should have killed Cersei, Daenerys should have died in a sacrificial manner, and Jon should have become king. Additionally, there should have been a huge twist and shock with Bran’s relation to the Night King and the Night King should have had a shocking motivation for his atrocities.
Jon going back to where he started at the Night’s Watch is a betrayal of everything he went through as well. Jon should have been the King in the end, and as King end the monarchy so that each king could rule separately.
The eighth season of “Game of Thrones” will go down as perhaps the single greatest disappointment in entertainment history. A show that was grounded in rich imagination and compelling, fascinating, and genuine characters became a rushed action movie that cared more about ending everything and displaying CGI than telling a creative, thoughtful story that paid tribute to the characters we’ve followed for years. After investing so much for so long, fans can’t help but feel betrayed due to an empty-feeling ending that didn’t incorporate anything surprising or emotionally stimulating.
As one of the biggest “Thrones” fan, I am mortified and heartbroken by how stupidly executed and unsatisfying the end was and how lazy George R.R. Martin was in crafting a thoughtful and poetic ending. Most of all, David Benioff and Dan Weiss should be ashamed by how many fans they let down through their horrendous Hollywood writing and misdirection.
Never did I think a story this incredible would be drowned in such storytelling horrors. What a disappointment and what a waste.
Dominic LeRose is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.