Game of Thrones officially joins The Sopranos as a great television show with an absolutely terrible ending. HBO must have a contractual obligation to disappoint and infuriate fans. The Iron Throne was a stinker from start to finish. It was an anti-climactic, saccharine finale that may be the poorest written and directed episode of the entire series. The Starks end up ruling Westeros from the north and the south. Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Lady of Dragonstone, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons, dies with a melodramatic whimper. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), now deemed Bran the Broken, is the last man standing, awful pun intended. His ascendance to The Iron Throne is not unexpected, just poorly done in every possible way.
The Iron Throne opens with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) walking through the decimated rubble of King's Landing. Ash and snow fall on the rubble and burnt corpses. A survivor with melted skin trudges by him. Jon (Kit Harington) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) follow behind Tyrion with a contingent of men. He sees the ash corpses of the woman and child. Tyrion tells Jon, "He will find them later." Jon offers to send men with him, but he's "going alone."
Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and his Unsullied have a bunch of Lannister soldiers on their knees. He sentences them to death in Daenerys' name. Grey Worm tells Jon that the followers of Cersei have been ordered executed. Jon puts his hand on Grey Worm to stop the execution. The Unsullied and north men draw arms. Davos steps in to diffuse the situation. He begs Jon to speak with the queen. Grey Worm slits the Lannister soldiers throats as they walk away.
Tyrion enters the remains of the Red Keep. He walks through the destroyed courtyard. He picks up a torch, lights it, and proceeds to the catacombs. He sees a light shine through the top of the rubble blocking the entrance. He climbs through the crack to continue his search. At the exit, he sees Jaime's golden hand sticking out from a pile of rubble. He uncovers the bodies of Jaime and Cersei. Tyrion weeps bitterly for his dead siblings.
Arya (Maisie Williams) heads toward a growing crowd of cheering Dothraki on horseback. She sees Jon walking through them. As ash and snow continues to fall, he walks through the Unsullied soldiers standing at attention. They line the steps into the remaining castle. Daenerys' three-headed dragon sigil hangs on a huge banner on the castle wall. Daenerys, atop the staircase, is greeted with a wave of loud approval from the Dothraki. Jon stands behind her, as does Grey Worm.
"Blood of my blood. You have kept your promises to me. You gave me the Seven Kingdoms!" Daenerys exclaims to the victorious Dothraki. Drogon lands on the wall and accompanies with a shriek of approval. Daenerys turns to Grey Worm, "You are my most loyal of soldiers. I name you commander of all my forces, the Queen's Master of War." The Unsullied stamp their spears three times in his honor. Tyrion stands beside Jon as she continues her fiery speech. Daenerys brands her army liberators, but tells them the war is not over. "From Winterfell to Dorne, from Lannisport to Qarth, from Summer Isles to the Jade Sea, men, women, and children have suffered too long beneath the wheel. Will you break the wheel with me?" The Unsullied stamp their spears as the Dothraki howl. Arya looks on with contempt. Jon's face is aghast as Tyrion approaches her.
Daenerys says, "You freed your brother. You committed treason." Tyrion agrees, then replies, "And you slaughtered a city." Tyrion stares her in the eyes as he rips the pin of "The Hand" off his chest, then throws it down the stairs. The crowd becomes deathly silent. Daenerys orders her guards to "take him." As Tyrion is led away, Jon looks at Daenerys sadly. She follows Tyrion into the castle. Arya appears at Jon's side. He's stunned to see her. Jon calls Daenerys his queen. Arya counters that Sansa will never accept her. Arya continues, "She knows who you really are. You will always be a threat to her. I know a killer when I see one."
Jon Snow visits Tyrion in his prison. Tyrion believes he has met his crude justice. He asks Jon if there's life after death. "Not that I've seen," Jon replies. Tyrion chose his fate, the people of King's Landing did not. Tyrion tells him the war is not over. Daenerys is not done fighting. She will "liberate" until she rules the world. Varys was right. The queen's nature "is fire and blood." Daenerys killed countless more in a single day than Tywin or Cersei did in a lifetime.
Jon tries to defend Daenerys and justify her actions. Tyrion implores Jon, he rode on a dragon's back. He would never have burned the city. She believes in her destiny. She will "kill everyone who stands between her and paradise." They both loved Daenerys, believed in her with all their hearts. But love blinds reason, "it is the death of duty" as Jon remembers. Tyrion reminds Jon that "he is the shield that guards the realm of men...no matter the cost. Who is the greatest threat to the people now? Who is more dangerous than the rightful heir to the iron throne?" As Jon walks away, Tyrion warns him of one more truth. His sisters will not bend the knee.
Jon trudges past the Unsullied guard, through the snow and ash to the throne room. Drogon, protecting the entrance under covered snow, lets him pass. The throne room has been opened to the outside during the attack. Daenerys gingerly approaches the snow covered Iron Throne. Her eyes wide at finally achieving her lifelong goal. Jon appears in the doorway behind her.
She tells Jon how she imagined the throne as a child. Jon breaks her reverie, "The Unsullied were executing Lannister men on the streets. They were acting on your orders." Jon excoriates her for the burning of children. He begs her to forgive Tyrion. She refuses. He continues to beg her for mercy. "I can't hide behind small mercies," Daenerys responds. Jon asks her how she knows the world will be good. Her reply, "I know what is good." Everyone else, "They do not get to choose." Daenerys embraces Jon with a promise of "breaking the wheel together." "You are my queen, now and always," Jon quietly says. They kiss passionately, then he stabs her through the heart with a dagger.
Blood trickles from Daenerys' mouth and nose as Jon cradles her body weeping. A shrieking Drogon lands in the throne room. Jon steps back as the dragon sniffs the corpse of its dead mother. Drogon nudges Daenerys, then bares its fangs at Jon. As fire shimmers in its throat, Jon prepares for death. But Drogon does not kill him. The dragon screams and flares its wings. Then unleashes flame around the throne room, before concentrating its fury on the throne itself. The Iron Throne is melted to a puddle at Jon's feet. Drogon carefully grasps Daenerys in its claws, then flies away over the darkened sea. Jon is left standing beside a red stain in the snow.
We next see Tyrion lying shackled on the floor in his cell. His beard has grown significantly. Tyrion is led by Grey Worm and the Unsullied to a meeting in the dragon pit. The remaining houses leaders have gathered. Sansa (Sophie Turner) demands to know where is Jon. He was supposed to be brought with Tyrion. Grey Worm replies, he is their prisoner. This is their city now. Sansa acidly states that "their city" is surrounded by the north army. Harming Jon Snow is "not in your interest." Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) is not quick to "forget Daenerys." "Let the Unsullied give him what he deserves." Arya warns her, "Say another word about killing my brother and I'll cut your throat."
Davos stands up again to diffuse tensions. He thanks Grey Worm and his men for saving Westeros. He offers them fertile land in the Reach. "Start your own house with the Unsullied as your banner men. We've had enough war." Grey Worm does not want payment. He wants justice. Jon Snow cannot go free. As Tyrion begins to talk, Grey Worm cuts him off, "Everyone has heard enough words from you." But Tyrion continues, "It's not for you to decide. His fate is for our king or queen to decide." Lord Royce (Rupert Vansittart) speaks up, "We don't have a king or queen." Tyrion's simple response, "You are the most powerful people in Westeros...choose one." Grey Worm agrees, "Make your choice."
Lord Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) stands up to pitifully make his case. The others laugh as Sansa orders him to sit down. Sam (John Bradley) stands up next, "Why just us?" Why not let everyone have a vote. The group erupts in bigger laughter. He sits down sheepishly. Edmure wonders if Tyrion wants the crown. Tyrion can't think of a worst choice, but he has been contemplating the decision during his capture. He walks forward slowly, "What unites people? Armies, gold, flags...stories, there's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story." He stops in front of Bran, "Who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he could never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the wall. He is the Three-Eyed Raven, our memory, the keeper of all our stories. Who better to lead us into the future?"
Sansa speaks up, "Bran has no interest and he can't father children." "Good" Tyrion says, "Sons of kings can be cruel and stupid. As you well know. His will never torment us." Tyrion faces Grey Worm. That is the wheel our queen wanted to break. Tyrion continues, "From now on, rulers will be chosen, not born, on this spot, by the lords and ladies of Westeros to serve the realm." He faces Bran, "I know you don't want it...but will you wear the crown? To rule the seven kingdoms with your best abilities, from this day to your last day. Bran's stoic as usual response, "Why do you think I came all this way?"
"To Brandon of House Stark, I say aye," Tyrion votes. Samwell Tarly "aye", Edmure "aye", Royce "aye", Robin Arryn "aye", Gendry (Joe Dempsie) "aye", Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) "aye", everyone votes yes, even Davos, who's surprised he has a vote. Sansa makes a demand, she loves her brother, but the north lost ten thousand men in the Great War. The north will remain an independent kingdom, as it was for thousands of years. Bran nods in agreement, as does Sansa. Tyrion crowns, "All hail Bran the Broken, the first of his name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, and protector of the realm." Everyone stands to hail Bran the Broken.
As Tyrion begins to walk away, Bran issues his first order, "Lord Tyrion, you will be my hand." Tyrion does not want it. He begs Bran to choose someone else. Grey Worm speaks, "This man is a criminal. You cannot do this. He deserves justice." Bran responds with authority, "He just got it. Yes, I can. I am king. He's made many terrible mistakes. He's going to spend the rest of his life fixing them." Grey Worm shakes his head, "It is not enough."
Tyrion addresses a dirty, ragged Jon in his cell. Releasing him would start a war. Giving him to the Unsullied would start a war. Jon will be sent back to the Night's Watch. Tyrion tells him, "The world will always need a home for bastards and broken men." Jon will take no wife, have no lands, and father no children. No one is happy with his fate, therefore it was a good compromise. Jon asks Tyrion if what he did was right. Tyrion's response, "Ask me again in ten years."
Jon is taken down to the docks. As he walks through King's Landing, life has returned as Dothraki are seen mingling with street merchants. Grey Worm is on a ship, watching as Jon goes by. He is taking the Unsullied to Naath, the home of his beloved Missandei. On the last stretch, Jon says goodbye to his family. A teary-eyed Sansa wishes "there had been another way." Jon reminds her that the north is free because of her, "Ned Stark's daughter is the best they could ask for." Arya tells him she is not going back north, "What's west of Westeros. That's where the maps stop. That's where I'm going." Jon kneels before Bran. He apologizes for not being there when he needed him. Bran, unemotional as ever, "You were exactly where you were supposed to be." The Stark siblings watch as their cousin sails away.
At the castle, Brienne is now head of the King's Guard. She opens the Book of Brothers and updates the entry of Ser Jaime Lannister. His story does not end as the Kingslayer. Brienne writes of his valiant deeds at Riverrun and Winterfell, ending on his heroic death, protecting his queen.
Tyrion, with "The Hand" pin back on his chest, chairs his first small council of the new king. Sam, now the Grand Maester with his chains, presents Tyrion "A Song of Ice and Fire", Archmaester Ebrose's history of the wars after King Robert. Tyrion is annoyed to learn that he's never mentioned. Davos is now Master of Ships, tasked with the rebuilding effort. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) was given Highgarden as promised, now the Master of Coin. Brienne and Ser Podrick (Daniel Portman) wheel King Bran into the meeting.
Bran wonders, "We appear to be missing a Master of Whisperers, Master of Laws, and a Master of War." Tyrion assures him suitable prospects will be brought before him soon. He then inquires about Drogon. Last seen flying east. "Perhaps I can find him," King Bran remarks before leaving with Podrick's assistance. Everyone stands to a chorus of "long may he reign." They get down to the business of feeding hungry people, repairing ports, and getting clean water. Bronn pipes up that all the best brothels burned down. They argue about brothels as the door closes on the meeting.
Jon arrives at the Wall and Castle Black. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and the Free Folk are waiting for him. Jon reunites with his dire wolf, Ghost, who has lost an ear in the Great War. A montage follows of Arya on her ship, sailing into the unknown. Sansa is fitted in a regal gown and walks through the gathered north lords. A crown is placed on her head, as swords are raised to the Queen of the North. Jon leads the Free Folk beyond the Wall. A green plant is seen sprouting at their feet. The Game of Thrones theme rises to a crescendo as they enter the woods. The screen fades to black.
Game of Thrones eight seasons of brilliant writing and epic television production ends with a thud. I had to watch twice to truly experience the letdown. Showrunners and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss directed the finale. I wish they had let Miguel Sapochnik or David Nutter finish the show. The script may have been garbage, but it would have at least been cinematic garbage. The Iron Throne had no flow whatsoever. It felt mundane, forced; like Benioff and Weiss were racing out the door. It boggles the mind that this limp noodle attempt followed "The Long Night" and "The Bells". Fans have a right to be upset. We deserved better than this.
Bran Stark ending up King of Westeros doesn't bother me. Sansa ending up Queen of the North I can handle. It's disgraceful how easily Daenerys was killed without retribution. Her army and dragon crushed King's Landing like a bug. Maybe Drogon would never kill a Targaryen, so Jon left alive is plausible for a time. I find it impossible to believe that Grey Worm would let Jon and Tyrion walk away. He was Daenerys' most loyal soldier. The fact that he and the Unsullied pack up for Naath is ridiculous. The writing here is sloppy and contrived. It's puzzling that George R.R. Martin didn't have issues with how Daenerys died. Grey Worm, who has proven from season two to be pretty much unstoppable on the battlefield, would not have been so forgiving. "Fire and blood" should have rained on Daenerys' killers. It's a ridiculous, baffling, and uncharacteristic resolve.
Game of Thrones didn't really have an ending. Multiple sequel possibilities were opened. Where the hell is Arya sailing? What's Grey Worm going to do in Naath? Are Sansa and Bran going to rule successfully? Where's Jon heading beyond the Wall? The Iron Throne seems like a springboard for future series. HBO didn't pull this nonsense for The Sopranos, but they can see the long-term economic viability of sequels. The forthcoming Age of Heroes takes place thousands of years before this storyline, but I'd bet they're going to pick back up the story on these characters in the future. Hopefully my anger and disgust will have abated. I can't waste eight years watching another show that ends so horribly.