It is hard to believe that George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy yarn has come to a conclusion, but it has. Of course, the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is still a couple of books away from being published, but the HBO series it inspired, Game of Thrones, aired its last episode in an appropriate way. Ever since Game of Thrones debuted back in 2011 it has been a source of controversy in terms of how its story arcs developed and this final season and episode weren’t any different.
Before going further, a fair warning must be stated that spoilers will follow. With that out of the way, the final episode of Game of Thrones, “The Iron Throne”, concluded long-running character arcs that already left many fans reeling or feeling satisfied. But that is typical with this fantasy show. Game of Thrones stood out from normal fantasy fare with its brutally graphic and grounded depiction of its world. The good guys more often than not did not win the day, honor and duty were burdens and life was not fair, just like reality. We’ve seen this time and time again with incidents like the death of lead character Ned Stark, the infamous Red Wedding or the rape of Sansa Stark.
The final season was eagerly awaited as it promised to conclude many story lines but many fans were disappointed, which is natural given all the hype and anticipation Game of Thrones has received. Careful and observant viewers should not have been surprised or dismayed too much by how the arcs and characters developed. For instance, a major source of contention is with how Daenerys Targaryen descended into savagery in her quest for the Iron Throne and her birthright. We’ve followed Daenerys’ story from the first season where she was a timid princess in exile who overcame her inhibitions and rose to power by becoming a savior of people in the lands of Essos. She and her followers liberated slaves and vanquished evil people throughout the show and we all were eager for her to take on the evil forces holding the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, Westeros, namely the Lannister family who killed her father during a rebellion. But as viewers cheered her journey, many overlooked the clear signs that Daenerys had a dark side that was kept in check by close advisers and friends. When she and her forces finally stormed King’s Landing and slaughtered its innocent citizens, Daenerys was largely alone. Most of her confidants were dead or driven away, sometimes by her doing. This applied to her Queen’s Hand, Tyrion Lannister, who was appalled by her behavior. Even though the forces defending King’s Landing surrendered, a blood lust overtook Daenerys and she laid waste to the city with her magnificent dragon, Drogon and her army. This was too much for many people who realized she was beyond redemption.
So too, did her lover, the popular Jon Snow, who turned out to be the true heir to the Iron Throne. Seeing that she had no intent of ending her war to unite the Seven Kingdoms under her bloody rule and the threat she posed to his adopted sisters, Sansa and Arya Stark, Jon Snow was forced to kill Daenerys. With her death, Drogon angrily melted down the Iron Throne and the political wheel that Daenerys wanted to break since it brought so much injustice to the world was finally broken. Drogon, mourning his “mother”, takes her body and flies off to the east. His goal is unknown, perhaps he means to find some way to resurrect her since he is a fire breather and in the show a mentioned god of light is associated with fire and has resurrected people.
Westeros is now leaderless and after some debate the remaining lords of Westeros settled on having Bran Stark, the last surviving son of Ned, become the king. This development left some disappointed because they hoped Jon would have ascended to the throne and become a fair and just ruler. But he had no desire for this and his actions angered Daenerys’ followers and his imprisonment enraged his northern followers. In the end, Jon was exiled to the Night’s Watch in the Wall separating Westeros from savage lands of the wintry north. This area is where he spent most of the series and is actually a fitting end for Jon Snow.
Yes, he would have been a noble king who could have brought justice and honor to the Seven Kingdoms but his brother Bron Stark will be able to do this as well, perhaps better. Why? As the enigmatic Three-Eyed Raven, Bran is now detached from worldly manners, already deferring day-to-day operations in the capable hands of his King’s Hand, Tyrion Lannister. This detachment makes him seem a cold, emotionless person, but Bran is now also impartial and a good compromise. Perhaps peace and prosperity will finally come to the lands, including the northern regions ruled by his sister Sansa, the newly crowned Queen of the North.
As for Jon Snow, when we last see him, he apparently abandons his post in the Wall and leads the Wildlings northern people back to their frozen wilderness home. Now that the Night King and his undead white walker army are vanquished, they can reclaim the land. We also see the first hopeful signs of spring as vegetation is shown sprouting from the snow. In many ways, this concluding scene of Jon and the Wildlings disappearing into the north echoes the opening scenes of the pilot episode. Except in the pilot, people were fleeing away from the north in fear of the white walkers. Now, humans are headed back into it with Jon now their de facto leader, which is his actual destiny.