First off: I am not a Game of Thrones fan, so this is very much a review by somebody who, while he has sat on the throne, barely knows the series. Nevertheless, here goes.
PLEASE READ NO FURTHER IF YOU’VE BANKED BUT NOT YET SEEN THE FINALE.
Sunday’s much-anticipated series finale of TV’s No. 1 drama came after an explosive, and highly controversial, penultimate episode. It seemed, and was, a post script, in all ways the term applies. The writers of the series went off book to sum up author George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy of wars and dragons. What was left to resolve was who would claim the throne. What was delivered was a lot of heavy on the talk, low on the action.
After all the battles, back-stabbing and bloodshed, as well as the flaming hell of the episode before, it seemed odd to me that the whole thing was settled by a Survivor-like tribal council meeting — only without the drama.
It took nearly an hour of the episode’s 85 minutes, however, to get to that part. Before that, we saw Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), fresh after wiping out much of her kingdom from her perch atop her Godzilla-like flying flame child, stand before an army of computer-generated survivors and claim victory. It was a somber, grey occasion, shot like a sinister Nazi rally. Dressed all in black, she made quite an entrance, silhouetted from behind by her giant winged beast.
The troops out front pounded their weapons like it was a rock concert. She told them there would be more wars to come, an odd way to appease a lot of war weary warriors. She appointed a minister of war.
She was joined on stage by Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who had just confirmed the worst: his brother and sister Cersei and Jamie (Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) were indeed killed the episode before in the fiery battle. They were found in a battered cave, locked in a sleepy embrace under three or four rocks. Really? That’s all it took to kill them? In any event, back on stage, Tyrion faced his new Queen; she let him know he’d soon be dragon meat.
Next was a heart-to-heart in a dark jail cell. Jon Snow (Kit Harington), went through both of his facial expressions in trying to find a way out for Tyrion. Tyrion tells Snow he’d better, as the rightful heir to the throne and thus a threat to Daenerys, watch out for his own ass. The suggestion was: kill her before she kills you first.
That led directly to the dumbest scene in the finale: Snow passed the dragon guard sniff test and finds the Queen all alone by the throne she has yet to sit upon. There are no royal guards anywhere. Where is the new strongman she just appointed? Anyway, the two talk and she has no remorse for the horrifying way she took the throne. They kiss; he stabs her through the heart, and she dies.
Then Dino wakes up, sees what has happened, rears back to smote Snow boy — and takes it out on this iron throne instead, melting it like butter in a microwave. Talk about a hot seat! This all a few feet from Jon Snow, who doesn’t even singe an eyelash. Then the dragon gingerly picks mom up and flies away. As Bugs Bunny would say, ‘Wot a maroon. Wot a gull-a-bull.”
Then comes tribal council as the leaders of the seven fiefdoms meet under a tent. Tyrion is let out of jail in cuffs just in time to morph into Jeff Probst. The question is asked: how to now pick a leader? Hapless Lord Tully (Tobias Menzies) tries to built a case for himself and is quickly shushed. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) suggests the people should decide; as it is in politics today, this notion is quickly laughed off.
Tyrion tells them that the Lords must decide who will sit on the throne from this time forward. Then he tells them who to pick: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead), the wheelchair-bound survivor flung out a castle window in the very first episode of the series. Tyrion asks the lad if he’s up to the task. “It’s why I came back,” is the confident reply, read off the TelePrompTer right behind him.
Then there’s a board meeting, and I do mean bored. A meeting of HBO executives immediately after this episode aired would have held much higher drama. The minister of ships will need more money. The minister of coin might give it to him. Tyrion, we see, will be the power behind the throne, just like before.
The dragon is gone, but the episode never stops dragon. We see things leisurely play out for the other main characters. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) sets sail for worlds unknown. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) rejects the new alliance and will go back to ruling the north. You can almost hear them typing up the inevitable feature film script.
As for Jon Snow, he is sent packing back to his old job, to a chilly, northerly place where a frozen expression makes the most sense. There his favourite doggie is happy to see him. The music swells. The end.
The best that could be said for the episode is that, unlike the earlier war hour, it was well lit. It was also an ending; most loose ends seemed to be tied up (although where did dragon boy and mom go?)
Dinklage emerged as the finale’s strongest presence by far for me. He remained the wise-but-conflicted right-hand man. It will be fun to see him in civies in his next series.
This pedestrian ending, however, is what you get when you don’t wait for the author to finish his novel. George R.R. Martin may have ended things the exact same way, but he would have brought some much needed poetry and epic language to the final episodes. If you’re going to go out talking, make sure you choose your words carefully.