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Game of Thrones Review: Season 8, Episode 6 - The Iron Throne

19 May 19

As satisfying an ending as can be expected to the underwhelming conclusion of Game of Thrones that does the remaining characters justice...

Much like winter, we knew the end was coming but didn’t think it ever would. This is a true cultural event; the defining TV show of our times has come to an end. Many may be happy about this, whether that’s because much of this season has underwhelmed or because you no longer have to listen to that one mate brag about how he doesn’t watch Game of Thrones.

Daenerys is finally Queen of the Ashes, standing above the rubble of Kings Landing she gives a speech to her army, which has seemingly multiplied. Regardless she unironically gives a speech about freeing the world of tyrants as she stands as a tyrant. Emilia Clarke this episode does a great job of conveying Daenerys blissful insanity.

An uneasy Jon Snow is convinced by Tyrion and Arya – location of her ambiguous white horse is unknown – to dispatch of Daenerys. In a tender scene between the two, Jon reluctantly and poetically stabs her in the heart. Whilst the scene is acted well between the two and shot well to leave a moment of unease and curiosity as you hear, but do not see the stabbing, the fact their relationship has not been given the breathing room it needed in these shortened seasons takes away from the emotional weight of the moment.

There is a lot to be said that the nudging from a CGI dragon is the most heart-breaking element of the scene. Drogon continues his vendetta against furniture by destroying the Iron Throne, in a moment that would be symbolic of something, but an awkward time jump later means we end up with a monarch anyway.

The Unsullied control the city and the High lords of Westeros gather of discuss the fate of Jon Snow. Tyrion suggests the idea of selecting a new system where kings are chosen, selecting Bran, which everyone agrees with. I suppose it makes sense for Bran to sit on the Throne, after all “perhaps the best person to Rule is the person who does not want it.” However, it can’t help but rub many the wrong way, as Bran has had objectively the least engaging story since season three, with fabled season six episode The Door being an exception.

Another awkward time jump later, and Jon is going to the nights watch. I suppose the Unsullied were just ok with that then? Greyworm and the Unsullied fittingly and sweetly honour Missande by going to Narth, however this left field conflict resolution feels like a cop out. Greyworm seems to have gotten the “Poochie died on the way back to his home planet” treatment here.

The stark Children end where they should. Bran is king, Arya is of to explore the world. Sansa is Queen in the North. Jon Snow goes north of the wall linking up with Tormund and finally petting Ghost. Justice has been served for dog lovers. Jon particularly has the perfect bittersweet fate, finally being free of his duty after being plagued by it for years, off to be where he loves.

The Kings Landing cast also get a great send off, with Hand of the King Tyrion and his small council giving us a nice reminder of that early Thrones petty politicking. Episode highlight has to go to Brienne’s tribute to Jamie, a touching call back to season 4 and the perfect bittersweet ending for her character.

A rather nice conclusion to everything really. For a show that is built to rebel against fantasy tropes, it sure did feel like a “and they all lived happily ever after.” I think the best way to summarise the episode is “that’s fine I guess.”

Whilst there have been some clear pacing issues this episode through obscure time jumps that make you wonder why this wasn’t longer or simply two episodes, everyone gets a satisfactory conclusion. However, it did feel very ordinary for a show that’s anything but.

As a singular episode, they capped of the season well. However, Season 8 as whole did not conclude Game of Thrones well. It’s not so much where the characters ended up that is at fault, but the rushed way in which they got there. The Iron Throne as an episode is a clear-cut example of the importance of pacing in this show and how those early seasons benefitted from the 10-episode format.

From the network that gave us the ending of The Sopranos, maybe The Iron Throne doesn’t seem so bad after all.