That was a pretty satisfying ending, at least on balance.
Daeny had to go. Her story is a reminder that all tyrants view themselves as righteous. Many have viewed themselves as liberators. Tyrion, in his jail cell conversation with Jon, laid out how many people watching the show have felt about Khaleesi. When she was killing bad men, we cheered. She was being brutal, but because it felt good to our primal brains, we saw justice in it. There was never real justice there. Remember the woman she burned to hatch the dragons. When asked why she killed Khal Drogo, she pointed out that Daenerys hadn’t REALLY saved her, because she’d already been raped. And the Dothraki had destroyed her entire tribe, and would do it to the next tribe. So killing Drogo was a way to slow that down. The Dothraki were never the good guys, but Daenerys had become connected to them and saw any action they took as justified. Besides, they were there to help further her ambition to take the throne, which was always based on vengeance and loyalty to family line. She was never breaking the wheel, she was the was the wheel incarnate.
She got delayed by actually freeing slaves. But, in the end, she gave up that good work to go conquer Westeros. Tyrion and others (and some viewers) assumed that she would conquer differently. Responsibly. But that is never the way with conquerors. Even with good intentions, they waste a lot of innocents. And so with her.
Now that we see the full arc of the story, it’s a pretty insightful tale of the politics of brutality. And the difficulty in shaking free of those tendencies for all involved. But also, a story about the resiliency of nations, no matter who is in charge.
It wasn’t all destroying tyrants and rebuilding what’s been lost. There was also some pretty hamfisted dialogue. My personal “favorite” was Sam’s little pitch for democracy getting laughed at. I mean, powerful people don’t tend to give up power, so of course they weren’t going to go for it, but everything about that scene felt like you let a 10th grader write the dialogue.
Really, though, most people ended up more or less where it felt right. A few things left me scratching my head, though.
- Drogon’s reaction to her death. I have no problem with him picking her up and getting out of Dodge, and I rather enjoyed him melting the throne. But why didn’t he attack Jon? Had he burned him, Jon probably would have survived (a nice beefcake shot for the ladies, amiright?), but I don’t think his Targaryen blood would have withstood a dragon bite. That would have seemed a more fitting end for Mr. Targaryen than simply wandering off to the North.
- Who was at that meeting? Last I checked, Sam and Brienne are not members of powerful houses. They’re from small houses that wouldn’t be anywhere near that meeting. Winterfell, Casterly Rock, Riverrun, the Vale, Dorne, Highgarden, yes. Tarly, Tarth and Seaworth? Not so much.
- What was Bran doing during the battle against the Night King? Now that we’ve come to the end, that now feels like lazy writing. There has been some suggestion in things that Bran said that he has been the one moving the pieces all along. But they didn’t show us ANY of that, and so we’re just left wondering what happened there.
There were two telling bits about the ending for me. One was all the Northmen hailing their new queen who had freed them and made them an independent nation. Is not that blind devotion to a ruler what got us into this mess in the first place? Given Deanery’s arc, their treatment of Sansa is actually a little chilling.
Then, there’s the small council. Bran notes that there was no Master of Whisperers and no Master of War. Wouldn’t it be nice if there just…weren’t anyone in those two chairs? Besides, Bran doesn’t really need a Master of Whisperers, does he? But then Bran leaves and the conversation sounds pretty much the same as a Small Council meeting before all this went down. Which I think is the point. Those who rule do so based on their own prejudices and selfish desires. And that pattern cannot be broken so easily. Will they rule well? For a time. But what happens when that group meets to choose Bran’s successor? The wheel rolls on.
Let’s talk about this season. A lot of people have really hated it. I am not one of those. However, this season has been at once too short and too long.
They made a decision to push us to the end quickly, so stuff that should take time, like Arya deciding to forgo her revenge and let The Hound chase Cersei without her, got pushed through too fast. Maybe if they had made a ten episode season, we would have had a more satisfying sense of character development. But maybe not, as they also can’t write dialogue for shit.
However, each episode was too long. Too much load was carried by each of the six episodes, and they cracked a bit under the weight of all that plot. Which had me looking to see how much time was left in a few of them. In the early seasons, the episode would end and I would wonder where the hour had gone. Not so much this season.
If you are a person who finds themselves angered by season 8, my honest question is this: Where would you have wanted it to go?
Personally, I would have preferred that Jon die at the hands of Drogon right before he melted the Iron Throne, and I would have liked more insight into what Bran was doing. Also, they really didn’t handle Arya properly for the last two seasons, so her story is pretty jacked up. But Daenerys was always going to burn King’s Landing, and Bran was always headed to the throne. And Sam was always going to be Grand Maester.
I was not always happy with the journey, but they docked the ship where it needed to be. At least, in my opinion they did.