Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones S8 E6 ahead.
It has all led to this. It has been just over 8 years since season one made us all addicts to the world of Westeros (and Essos), the adage “Winter is coming”, and the mother of dragons. The last episode completely annihilated audiences for good and bad, setting up what might be one of the most watched TV episodes of all time. I thought the last episode was just okay, with some serious issues I won’t go over here, but I’m hopeful a satisfying conclusion can come from episode 6. It’s the finale of finales where the name of the show may find a winner!
No matter who your favorite character was in this show it’s safe to say there’s only a handful left alive or in the narrative to focus on. That makes this episode particularly honed down since characters like Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and The Hound (Rory McCann) died in the last episode. It has come down to whether Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) will return from her evil killing streak and be the great queen we know she can be, or if Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will do what he knows is right and take the seat on the Iron Throne. There is, of course, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) who is more alone than ever now that Varys (Conleth Hill) and his brother are dead forever.
Considering the blockbuster level of action in the last episode it’s not a surprise this finale opens with a slower pace. Characters are still taking in the destruction Danny leveled on the city and it’s likely the same day a mere hour or two after the fires subsided.
The episode opens with Tyrion walking amongst the dead and ashes which now comprise King’s Landing. It’s a sorrowful reminder he may have backed the wrong horse or at the very least the side of the baddies. Make no mistake Tyrion is one of the truly good-hearted characters in this show and he’s bent over backward to save friends, innocent strangers, and anyone willing to bend the knee. It’s a sad opening as it confirms he has failed. Considering he is supposed to be a master tactician he should have avoided this, but instead, Dany arrived with her dragon and leveled the city. His emotions only get more worked up later when he finds Jaime’s body (an impossible feat but suspension of disbelief is long gone with this show).
Then you have Jon, who is clearly a bit worked up over all this. He’s still staying strong with his allegiance but you can tell it’s bothering him how it all went down. Davos (Liam Cunningham) is by his side and clearly knows this was a terrible massacre as well. Who would have thought Davos would have made it this far? Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) is certainly still seeking revenge and in a tense scene with Jon he proves he’ll kill forever if it meant feeling something after losing his love. Certainly, this little confrontation is going to screw Jon later.
The most badass mother of dragons ever has quite an entrance with her dragon spreading its wings behind her as if she has wings herself. Angel of death anyone? She’s also wearing all black leather and the way her army is displayed before her it’s as if she’s running a fascist organization these days. It’s telling she gives a speech to her Dothraki people, then the Unsullied as Jon watches. It’s yet another sign he may have made the wrong call as he’s let foreign powers infiltrate his homeland and take it all. The speech she gives, masterfully acted by Clarke, is a frightening one. She speaks of freeing the entire world and “breaking the wheel” but as we know from history it’s a speech similar to those told by dictators and those who crave ultimate power. She doesn’t want to free anyone but instead spread her power across all lands. The way this scene ends, however, it appears her reign of death isn’t quite over yet.
This is an episode that balances doing the right thing versus letting those in power make the decisions. Dany is queen therefore she gets the final say — this is the core of an argument of sorts between Tyrion and Jon. You can see Dinklage’s fantastic acting do the heavy lifting in this scene as it shows us a Tyrion who has lost everything but is still trying to his mind to move the needle and influence. Jon is still being stubborn about letting Dany do as she wants, and the show continues to show Harington look concerned and not know what to do, but you have to imagine all the nudging this season has done to make Jon wake up already will change his mind.
In the following scene, it’s all about Dany and Jon confronting one another. You get the sense the showrunners are giving audiences exactly what they want. As if they asked themselves after the last episode, “They’re going to want a one on one convo between these two in private right?” Jon comes off as quite childlike in this scene which I’m sure is going to piss folks off. He asks Dany what she’ll do when someone else thinks she’s wrong and matter of factly she alludes she’ll kill them too. One can imagine he’s emotional because what he does next might shock many.
Dany dies after Jon stabs her during a kiss! At least she got to stand by the Throne for a bit, right? Plus, Jon does shed tears for her. One might question Dany’s ability to trust Jon at this moment considering she flipped out at him last episode when he refused to kiss her back, but that’s love, right folks?! At any rate, this leads to Drogon melting the Iron Throne, rendering it useless. Guess these whole killing millions, traveling across oceans, and defeating a Night King to get what you want is for naught. It’s also unfortunate Clarke only got a few scenes in this episode when she was such a highly important character in this series. Much of the rest of the episode feels like an epilogue with her death, which is unfortunate since it felt like it was building to something when really it was simply building towards wrapping up where the characters go from here.
At any rate, possibly the best scene in the episode involves Tyrion standing before Arya (Maisie Williams), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Davos, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), Sam (John Bradley), and others. It soon comes up that a king (or queen) needs to be found. In a somewhat comedic moment, a character offers himself embarrassingly, and then it comes to Sam who offers up democracy as an option to laughs as well. In a slightly forced moment, Davos suggests Tyrion should decide, which seems absurd since he’s in chains and will be judged by the person he chooses as king. Little problems like this permeate the season so it has been normalized, but it’s still odd. Anyway, the man he decides on is Bran, which seems fitting since he’s sort of stood back and been quiet this whole time. Plus he won’t be sleeping around and over drinking. The dude knew he’d be king the whole time! He’s kind of a dick about it when he says, “Why did you think I came all this way?” There’s a twist on his becoming king thanks to Sansa but it’s a fun wrinkle to postulate on after it’s all over. Ned Stark ended up doing the right thing apparently!
Since much of this episode feels like an epilogue there are “endings” that feel good and some that seem quite bad. Arya, for instance, gets to travel west into uncharted waters. Awesome. Grey Worm gets to take all the Unsullied back to Naath (his former lover Missandei’s homeland) which means his people can at least have some peace, one might imagine. Jon, well he gets to go back to the north and join the Night’s Watch. Wait, what!? For a man who just wants to follow orders, I guess that makes sense. We also get a check in with Tyrion who, as the hand of the king, gets to divvy out duties to quite a few familiar faces. It’s a fun wrinkle since it pays off following all these characters for so long many of which were nobodies when the show began.
The episode ends with various characters sheathing swords, rolling up maps, those in power getting dressed and all of which preparing for the day ahead. It’s a nice way for the show to remind us these characters will continue to live on when it’s over. They have duties to uphold, adventures to go on, and their own destinies yet to be fulfilled. I’m a sucker for stories that remind us it’s about the journey, not the destination and this episode ends emphatically saying as such. Bravo to the show for finishing in a way that’ll keep our imaginations running even if nearly everyone isn’t entirely happy with how it ended.