TV REVIEW: “The Iron Throne” – Game of Thrones 8×06 (Contains Spoiler)
It was Erin Hanson who once said, “It’s not the endings that will haunt you but the space where they should lie, the things that simply faded without one final wave goodbye.” Going into the final episode of the groundbreaking drama Game of Thrones, many longtime fans may opine that the show they supported from the very beginning through thick and through thin did them a disservice this past Sunday evening by simply fading away in a most anticlimactic manner that did not seem to live up to everything that had come before. Over the last few weeks, a growing rumble of displeased GOT fans have cried foul, insisting that the showrunners had done them and George R. R. Martin dirt, that they were not sticking the landing with their final story beats and character exits. Heck, a petition for a so-called do-over for the final season was actually produced and quickly far exceeded the number of signatures originally aimed for. Fan outrage was potent: “How dare they take the story in this direction! Martin would never have written such a thing!” Or “What have they done to our characters and our show?”
This fan outrage is, of course, not a new thing at all: The beloved show Seinfeld presented a pre-social media world with a finale that left people scratching their collective heads in a time before they could reason it out with a field of emoji’s or Facebook and Twitter outrage. The Sopranos exited the building not with a hail of bullets and gallons of blood but rather an ambiguously quiet moment shared between its surviving principals in a diner that left everyone wanting to know what just happened spelled out for them, ambiguity be damned. Lost, too, had its share of fan outrage over its ending, millions of fans wanting to know why the show had to end the way it did, why it couldn’t have been more in keeping with the tone of Season (fill in your favorite Lost season). The real answer to all of the angst and angry waving of fists (or keyboards to be more era appropriate) is simply that, as fans of a particular episodic television show, we often feel as if we enter into a pact with the creatives behind the scenes and that pact, unwritten, usually goes like this in our head-cannon: “We will follow you Creative Types to some very dark places along with the light ones, and for this loyalty you shall never betray what we feel is tonally correct for these fictional characters that we have taken as our own. The End.” We do take these characters as our own and we can get awfully upset if we think our imaginary contract has been violated. And that’s alright; fan outrage can sometimes just be our own reluctance to say goodbye to something that has so captured our hearts and imaginations. Writers, directors, producers and major studios probably only really need worry when there is no reaction from their audience.
Keeping all of the above in mind, it is with only the heaviest of hearts that this reviewer bids farewell to Game of Thrones. Last night, we bid a not surprising goodbye to Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys who was killed by none other than Jon just as she began her ascent as Queen, marveling at the throne room where she would rule. Or not. Embracing the maddened Dany, Jon kisses her before dispatching her to Valhalla by plunging his dagger into her chest. Ouch.
Drogon has his final moment with his beloved Dany when, after lighting the throne room up in a wall of fire, he picks up her dead body and flies away, never to be seen again. The moment might seem unfulfilled to some, but it works emotionally by perhaps commenting on the futility of it all and how everything that once seemed so epic and over the top now seems so futile and pointless. There’s more heart and soul to poor Drogon than perhaps anyone ever gave him credit for.
The final drumbeats of the show fall into a rhythm of showing us the final fates of the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion, who is now locked up with Dany’s dispatcher Jon, makes a convincing argument for Bran to become ruler of the Seven, which promptly becomes Six Kingdoms after Sansa bows out and goes for a reinstatement of the North as its own separate kingdom. Tyrion is picked by Bran to be his Hand and one more door on our story closes.
Outrage among Grey Worm and Dany’s surviving forces still lingers over Jon’s actions and so he is sent a-packing to the Night’s Watch, a fate they deem worthy of his treason. The verdict is actually a fitting character end for Jon who is reunited with Ghost (YAY – Ghost finally gets some love from Jon!) and Tormund. The Starks become like the veritable wheat grass spread about by the backdraft of war, former though it may be. Arya embarks on a quest to discover what unknown lands await adventure while Sansa assumes the mantle of Queen of the North.
Doors close and open all throughout this finale for Game of Thrones and there are moments we do and do not agree with. But never-mind that. One of the most bittersweet things about going on a voyage of imagination with someone else’s vision is that we rarely, if ever, can affect the path the journey takes us on. And I think that’s right at the end of the day. Art and fiction by committee and consensus offers us no surprises good or bad, simply just what we feel makes for the better story. With their ending of HBO’s The Game of Thrones, and sans whatever Martin has in store for these characters, the writers of this noble and gallant effort in the world of imagination and make believe gave us an ending on their own terms and you have to respect them for that singlemindedness of vision, if nothing else.
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