Game of Thrones: End of Series Review
Written by Aesthel
Note: This article has major plot spoilers for the final season.
After eight years, Game of Thrones has officially come to an end. With the airing of Season 8 Episode 6 the long running show has reached its conclusion, and seemingly to mixed reactions. While the episodes of the final season were of a much longer length than episodes of past seasons, many fans still felt that the final season was rushed. This final season has been the lowest rated season of the show’s entire run.
Episode 1 of the final season put things into action, giving us some great character reunions and interactions. With this episode we set up the quickly approaching army of the dead. In a private moment, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) revealed to Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) his true lineage, being a descendant of the Targaryen family. In Episode 2 the northerners with the help of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) formulate a plan to deal with the Night King. This episode surprised viewers with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)’s first sex scene in the show. We also got some more character interactions before the big final battle.
Episode 3 is when things started to get more intense for the season. This episode was the big battle of Winterfell against the army of the dead. The series main antagonist to the entire realm came to an end in this episode after he was lured by Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), the killing blow being dealt by Arya. This episode saw the deaths of many characters including much of Dany’s army of Dothraki and Unsullied, Edd, Beric, Jorah Mormont, Theon Greyjoy, Mellisandre and Lyanna Mormont. Some fans took issue with this episode because of it’s dark imagery (like literal dark, a lot of the episode was hard to see without turning your brightness up), and the speed that the thread of White Walkers was dealt with.
Episode 4 of this season, titled “The Last of the Starks”, started with the survivors of the battle burning their dead. The beginning of this episode held possibly one of the biggest goofs in television, as fans spotted a cup of Starbucks coffee in the dining hall of Winterfell. Despite the fact that Daenerys pleaded with Jon not to, he revealed his parentage to his sisters. This starts a sort of game of telephone as Jon tells Sansa who tells Tyrion who then tells Varys. A controversial moment of the episode came when Jon said goodbye to Wilding ally Tormund and told him to take his pet direwolf, Ghost, back to the north. In this episode, Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth sleep together, seemingly to become a couple. Not long after however, Jamie leaves, telling Brienne that he is going to be with his sister. Many fans speculated at this time that Jamie was going to King’s Landing to kill his sister. Soon the troops begin their trek to the south to deal with Cersei and her threat in Kings Landing. As Daenerys and her troops return to Dragonstone, Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet are there waiting for them. This starts another fight, again with a bit of a controversial moment as Euron takes down the dragon Rhaegal. In the fighting, Daenerys’ advisor Missandei was taken captive. Tyrion tries to convince Daenerys to handle things peacefully with Cersei, but their meeting to talk things over ended with the beheading of Missandei.
At the time of airing, Episode 5 had been one of the most controversial episodes of the season. In fact, it is the lowest rated episode in the entire series. This episode started with Daenerys finding out how many people knew of Jon’s lineage, punishing Varys to death for his crime of treason as he was working to make Jon take the throne instead of her. Dany’s troops caught Jamie on his way to the south, apprehending him. Tyrion eventually freed his brother, telling him to get their sister out of King’s Landing and to ring the bells to sound the city’s surrender. The attack is launched and as the troops fight on the ground, Daenerys burns the walls and weaponry, eventually leading the city to surrender. Ignoring the surrender, Daenerys continues to burn the city to the ground, killing thousands of innocents and destroying most of it. We see the fight on the ground from the perspective of Jon and Arya, who try to pull of the troops and rescue civilians. Sandor Clegane, The Hound, and his brother Gregor Clegane, The Mountain, engage in a battle, both of them dying in the process. Jamie fights with Euron, killing Euron but getting wounded on his way to find Cersei. As Jamie and Cersei try to escape, the castle collapses above them, crushing them both to death.
The final episode of the series had us see the reactions of many characters to the total destruction of King’s Landing, a city now completely covered in ash and the remains of it’s citizens. Tyrion explored the city on his own, eventually going under the red keep and finding the bodies of his siblings Cersei and Jamie. Daenerys gave a speech to her remaining troops of unsullied and dothraki, telling them that they would continue to free people from the entire world, from the north to Dorne. Daenerys then has Tyrion locked up for treason for the crime of freeing Jamie. When Jon Snow tried to confront her about it and tried to convince her otherwise, she would not listen. In a beautifully shot moment together, Jon pledges his loyalty to her in a kiss, seconds before stabbing her and killing her. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the episode was when Drogon flew up, nudging his nose against his dead mother. Many fans jokingly compared this to the scene in The Lion King with Simba and Mufasa. After Dany’s death there was a bit of a time skip, and the next we see is a council of the highest lords and ladies of Westeros meeting to decide who will lead them now. After a speech from Tyrion, they decide on having Bran be the king. They also decided that instead of lineage, the title will be decided upon by the lords and ladies at the end of every king’s rule. After the announcement of “Bran the Broken” as king, the remainder of the episode is mostly an epilogue, showing where each of the characters ends up. Sansa is named Queen of Winterfell, a scene that many Sansa fans loved. Finally, Arya decides to leave Westeros, saying she wants to find “what is west of Westeros”, and the last we see of her is her ship sailing away. Jon is sent back to the north to man the wall as punishment for his crime of killing Daenerys. When he arrives he meets with Tormund and the other Wildlings. Most importantly though, Ghost finally gets his pats. Jon and the Wildlings then go beyond the wall to live in the north.
This season has much in it to praise. The actors all did a phenomenal job as they always do. The cinematography of the season has been beautiful, a few shots in particular were really breathtaking. The season also does a wonderful job with it’s music and sound design and visual effects. In almost every technical way, this season was perfect.
Some of our favorite cinematic shots from the final season of Game of Thrones
The problem most fans have had with the show is the writing. Many people felt that the show had hit a gradual downturn since they had passed the books storyline, but this season in particular upset many. An overwhelming majority felt that this entire season was rushed. Many people also noted characters acting very out of character for themselves.
This was very particular in the case of Daenerys Targaryen. Some fans were upset that the story went in the “mad queen” direction. While hints of the Targaryen “madness” can be found in Daenerys through the story, we can also equally find as much examples of her fighting it. Daenerys’ entire storyline has been based upon saving and helping others. She had spent her entire life freeing slaves, giving positions of power to women, and restructuring societies. While she did have violent acts in the past, most if not all of the people she acted that way to were the people causing harm to others. Because of these things, many fans felt that the series was not leading in a way where Dany would succumb to the madness.
Some noted the problematic implications of Daenerys’ turn in the fifth episode. Lindsey Romain wrote for the Nerdist saying “There is a world where Daenerys going rogue makes sense, but this isn’t it. This was an irresponsible, irrevocable undoing of an arc that enthralled and empowered a generation. And it sends a dangerous message: That women who seek power will piss it away the second their emotions kick in.” Check out her full article here, we really recommend checking it out!
At the same time, there were other fans who thought it likely that Dany could have the madness take her over, but were still upset with the handling of her character in this season. This gripe is mainly related to the pacing of the show. If the character was going to end up in this place, we should have seen a descend into the madness. What we got instead was direct counters to things she had said not even a season earlier. This incredibly fast flip flop of Daenerys’ main character traits without much lead up into it at all left many fans on this side of thought upset with the writers.
Another character that many fans were upset with was the treatment given to Jamie Lannister. Jamie’s entire character arc revolved around him realizing that his sister Cersei was pretty terrible, and slowly escaping her grip and living his own life. The show seemed so close to getting this with Jamie’s and Brienne’s relationship developing to the point it did. With the place his character was in earlier in the season, most fans assumed he was going to fight Cersei when he left the north. However when he showed up only to have a loving reunion with her, many fans were surprised. Many were upset with the death these characters got, as Cersei has been an overarching negative and cruel force in the show, most people wanted her death to be equally cruel or rewarding in some way. When comparing her death to that of her son Joffrey, it felt to many that Cersei got off too easy.
Despite many fans anger and frustration to the final season, many were still sad to see the show come to a close after 8 years. Game of Thrones has meant so much to so many people, and many fans were taking the time to thank the show for all it has done for them. Characters in Game of Thrones have taught people to be strong and resilient and their stories have helped inspire people of all kinds. Like any fandom, Game of Thrones gave people a community. It gave people a way to make friends, to form lasting bonds, and relate to others. It inspired cosplayers to create the beautifully intricate details of the costumes featured in the show and it inspired artists to make paintings, drawings, and writing of their own. Despite any dissatisfaction that fans found with the finale of the show, it is hard to deny the lasting cultural impact that this show has left on it’s fans and on society as a whole. And that is something to still be celebrated.