Perhaps I lack nuance.
Perhaps I’m naive.
Perhaps I’m uncouth.
I assumed the Game of Thrones finale was good.
I assumed the entire season was good. Flawed. But good.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been studying the books for almost 20 years, spent countless hours debating the potential ending with associates when R+L=J was just a far-fetched fan concept. We went by way of every inevitability, every attainable end result. So, when Dany burned King’s Landing, I wasn’t stunned. Her aim has by no means been peace or justice, it’s been violence and dying. When Bran took the crown, I wasn’t stunned. He’s the inheritor to the Stark family, who readers and viewers have been informed because the very first episode are a family of truthful and (stupidly) just rulers. When Arya killed the Night time King, I wasn’t stunned. She’s educated for years to be able to kill these no one else can. When Sansa refused Bran’s rule and declared herself Queen within the North, I wasn’t stunned. She’s all the time been destined to rule.
Nothing stunned me.
And that’s okay.
Arya and Sansa each had good endings, and their complete story arcs over the course of the eight seasons have been among the greatest on the present. I LOVED seeing Sansa stick with her guns, even when her brother was topped king, to keep the north unbiased. At first I assumed it was unusual that Arya spent most of the last two episodes operating and hiding, fairly than chasing Cersei down or killing Dany, but the extra I watched, the more I liked the best way she chose her life over her record. She might have turn into the Hound, however she didn’t. She noticed a lot tragedy in her brief life, identical to Sansa, however she’s not a lot of one for stillness, and I really like the best way she threw off the shackles of her previous life and embraced new opportunity. I really like the best way she rejected Gendry. I really like that she sailed beneath the Stark banner. Like her ancestor earlier than her, Bran the Builder, she represents the longer term. I simply hope she’s kinder to the natives of Westereros (as I saw it affectionally referred to as on Twitter) in comparison with the European settlers who “discovered” North and South America.
Also, please, please, please HBO give me a present about Arya exploring the world.
My largest disappointment was with Jaime Lannister’s backslide via the ultimate three episodes. He’s all the time been my favorite character, and his journey via A Storm of Swords is one of probably the most profound I’ve ever read. His journey on the show, alongside Brienne’s, couldn’t touch the nuance of the guide—but, with sensible, complicated, and flawlessly executing portrayals by Coster-Waldau and Christie, they turned one of the highlights of your complete collection. For me, a extra simply end for Jaime would have involved him turning on Cersei for good, maybe taking the black, in the long run, as atonement for all his sins towards the realm. Cersei didn’t deserve her moment of peace on the end, in Jaime’s arms, however the show has all the time needed us to empathize together with her as a scared mother—that’ll never be sufficient to justify her actions or make me overlook about them, although.
I gained’t speculate on why followers have been so upset with the final season—I feel the explanations are as numerous, complicated, and various as there are dissatisfied viewers—but this essay from Scientific America, “The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones,” does a very good job of exploring how the present’s shift from sociological to psychological storytelling affected fan reactions.
On Dany’s heel flip, I gained’t say an excessive amount of—it’s been coated to demise already. I will say, nevertheless, that I was behind on the present, simply at the start of S7 once I heard the spoiler about her ravaging of King’s Touchdown, and so I was capable of meet up with all of the foreknowledge of what happened, and I felt that the present did a very good job of telegraphing Dany’s actions. It’s all there, proper within the script. Might the dealing with of it have been a bit better in “The Bells?” Yeah. Positive. Saving her second dragon’s demise for that moment would’ve worked. A random civilian throwing a rock at her in defiance would’ve worked. It’s not good, nevertheless it’s wholly justifiable and backed up by Dany’s past actions and the considerations of her counsel. Missandei’s demise, on the heels of her two lifeless dragons, clearly rattled Dany, however I don’t assume that’s what really motivated her to raze King’s Landing. Dany talked rather a lot about justice and peace, however that’s never been her objective. Not in Westeros. She has all the time led with violence and demise. All the time—all the time—Dany picks warfare over peace. It’s who she’s been raised to be. As King’s Touchdown sat there, its gates open, its troopers dropping their swords, she saw a future she did not need: peace, governance, acceptance, healing, renewal. These have been by no means her objectives. As we came upon within the last episode, she was not a ruler who would sit idly on her throne. Already, with King’s Touchdown nonetheless smouldering, she needed more. More enemies. More dying. Extra blood on her palms. If she needed peace and stability, she would have deferred to Aegon Targaryen. This may have achieved her said objectives: the Seven Kingdoms ruled by a robust, beloved, revered, and secure chief; peace; justice for her family. However her said objectives weren’t her real objectives. I knew a very long time in the past reading the books that Dany was an antagonist just as a lot as Cersei or the Others, so I wasn’t stunned by anything Dany did. I feel the most important flaw, and why many individuals have been stunned/upset, was as a result of they selected Dany’s penultimate moments to introduce her to Jon Snow and lastly present viewers her weak aspect. For seven seasons, we noticed who she was, but how straightforward was it to overlook once we noticed her by way of Jon’s eyes. In a method, it’s intelligent writing. We have been fooled, identical to Jon.
(For a radical take a look at Dany’s heel flip and every little thing that led as much as it, I recommend Beth Elderkin’s That ‘Sudden’ Game of Thrones Turn Was Truly a Lengthy Time Approaching io9.)
Okay, so perhaps I did have lots to say about Dany.
If I’ve one major criticism of the present, it’s the best way the Dothraki and the Unsullied, and, actually, all of Essos, turned little greater than pieces of a chessboard by the top of the collection. Gray Worm stepping up and threatening Westeros in the wake of Dany’s demise—earlier than finally in search of catharsis by travelling to Naath in memory of Missandei—was a step, however so much time was taken creating these individuals, and to have them thrown apart and lowered to an invading overseas military representing all of Dany’s bloodthirst diminished the trouble and time that went into creating them. Game of Thrones is a very white present, and it’s disappointing that, in the long run, the coloured people are the dangerous guys.
One factor that all the time bothered me reading A Track of Ice and Hearth was that each Dany and Jon, for different reasons, have been clearly unfit for rule. I’m glad to see the show handle this in the long run, quite than falling again on the straightforward ending, which might have seen both Dany or Jon (or each, hand-in-hand) on the Iron Throne with so much of their brief falls and sins absolved for convenience sake. That’s the ending I anticipated from the present, because, once it departed Martin’s unique work, it typically lacked nuance and I feel the top we obtained for each of them—villain and tragic hero—was fitting. On Twitter, John Horner Jacobs, who has so much of the identical opinions as me concerning the show, wrote something fascinating whereas speculating how the books’ ending may differ from the show’s:
It’s a robust hypothesis, and I feel John’s right, but that Jon’s cost isn’t demise, it’s a lifetime of being pressured into being a pacesetter when all he needs is relaxation and quiet. I feel the show’s ending is perfect. He flees the shackles of his bloodline, wanting nothing more than rest, however, upon reaching the north, he’s welcomed by the wildlings and, from atop his horse, leads them back into their homeland. In this means, he’s the other of Dany—detest to rule, however doomed eternally to steer.
The present’s masterful cinematography and visible storytelling was above and past within the remaining season. A morning after watching the finale, I can’t stop occupied with the ash falling on King’s Touchdown. From a cinematic perspective, it was lovely, haunting. From a storytelling perspective, the best way it mirrored the snow falling throughout The Lengthy Night time, tying Dany’s actions to these of the Night time King’s, was sensible. As somebody who simply wrote a guide that features outstanding ash falls, I’ll be revisiting the finale for visual inspiration.
In all, as the ultimate scene ended, Jon leaving the North behind, once once more a pacesetter, regardless of his needs, I felt glad. I’ve been following this story for almost 20 years. I’ve grown up alongside the Stark youngsters. Finally, it was the characters I stuck round for. Not the fate of Westeros—I feel we know at this level, wanting again at humanity’s long history that even completely happy endings (maybe particularly completely satisfied endings) are only brief lived.
For my part, each good story the dimensions of Game of Thrones’ should depart unanswered questions and new prospects in its wake. I don’t need a comprehensive, exhaustive reckoning. Life isn’t like that. I additionally assume the reader has a spot inside the narrative, and daydreaming about these unfastened strings, making an attempt to tie them together with buddies, or writing fanfic to discover the chances is a large, integral half of enjoying this type of work.
In the long run, Game of Thrones was exactly what I anticipated it to be: a smaller, condensed retelling of Martin’s A Music of Ice and Hearth. It was the story of the Stark youngsters, and they all ended up in the appropriate place. Jon was not a fit ruler. Arya was not meant for stillness. Sansa was her mother’s daughter, not her father’s, and will rule with fierce intelligence. Bran is a logo of learning from the previous. This was a narrative about family, about bloodlines, and, with appropriate complexity, Game of Thrones exhibits us that typically blood runs thick, and typically it runs like snowmelt.