WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” season 8, episode 6: “The Iron Throne”
It’s taken me a while to collect my thoughts on the last season of “Game of Thrones.” I didn’t want to form an opinion about its trajectory before seeing how it ended, but trying to maintain a singular opinion amid all the backlash, action and speed of this season has been challenging. There are so many intelligent takes on how these last six weeks have shaped up that you kind of just want to throw your hands up and say, “It is what it is!”
And that’s kind of what you have to come to terms with when analyzing the final events of a 10-year show that both united and divided the masses, a pendulum that kept on (and will keep on, I’m sure) swinging in extreme directions. A lot of viewers are unhappy with where Daenerys’ storyline landed, but others stand by the Mother of Dragons’ arc no matter how it ended. Many fans are dumbfounded by “Bran the Broken” ending up King of the Six Kingdoms, but others are joyously celebrating the success and happiness (mostly) of the Starks.
What it ultimately came down to was the timing of season 8; showrunners decided early on that the season would be limited to six episodes (for a seemingly arbitrary reason, which is what makes it upsetting), and that choice became the show’s pitfall.
Had it been given more time, Daenerys’s descent from unapologetic liberator to severe tyrant (even though the line she crossed was faint to begin with) would have made more sense to the viewer, probably resulting in less outrage and more understanding and justification. The Breaker of Chains was always meant to become the Mad Queen, but her characterization dip was rushed, leaving no time for fans to readjust. Instead, her eventual slaying was more than a little tragic.
All that being said, the showrunners did good by the characters for their final episode. In a way, things are back to the status quo: The Small Council meets to discuss infrastructure budgets, the king putters about, there aren’t any dragons flying around. But, of course, everyone’s storylines wrap up in a neat little bow. Sansa is Queen of the North, having successfully reinstated the kingdom as an independent one. Arya fulfills her dream of jetting off to explore what lies west of Westeros, where all the maps end. Sam is the freakin’ Archmaester! And Jon Snow goes and does what he should have from the first episode of this season: peaced out to North of the Wall to live a nomadic, drama-free life.
“Thrones” ended the way “Thrones” had to end, and even amid all the heartbreak and accomplishment, they stayed true to their nature and fit in enough comic relief to keep us all breathing as we said good-bye to influential characters, storylines that kept us up at night and, ultimately, the magic of a such a unifying entity.