Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Even if you yourself don't watch Game of Thrones, you've likely heard that the series finale aired this month and fans are severely disappointed with the end result.
I'm not one of those fans.
Now, before I face the backlash of being the odd-woman-out on this, let me clarify: yes, I agree that this season has had its faults, more so than any of the other seasons, and I can understand why people are enraged. However, I also think that there was no way to end this show that would appease millions of fans and that many viewers are overlooking some of the satisfying conclusions to a show we've devoted nearly a decade of our lives to.
On a very basic level, season 8 of Game of Thrones followed through with some of our, again very basic, expectations of the series:
Hopefully you've seen the entire eighth season because we're entering into spoiler territory here.
This is a weird thing to celebrate, but I'm going to celebrate it anyways: hooray for all of the deaths this season! So many great, inspiring, terrible, heroic, and villainous characters died this season, I don't even know where to start.
Big-name deaths have become a crux of Game of Thrones. After Ned's death in season 1, I think fans knew to start expecting some table-turning deaths for the rest of the show. The final season did not come up shorthanded.
We got Beric Dondarrion, Jorah Mormont, Lady Lyanna, the Night King, all those pesky the white walkers, Melisandre, Rhaegar, Varys, Euron Greyjoy, Cersei and Jaime Lannister, The Mountain and The Hound, and, let us not leave out the biggest death of all: Daenerys Targaryen.
But what's more important than all the people dying?
Characters We Loved Didn't Die
Do you have any idea what it's like to watch a series that has no regard for your favorite characters? Well, you probably do if you're reading this post because you've hopefully watched Game of Thrones, so sadly, you too have had many of your favorite characters ripped away from you without warning. I'm not even going to mention a certain wedding that will go down in history as the most horrific and surprising scene in television...
So when season 8 rolls around and your top three—or maybe even top five—favorite characters survive, that's a victory!
For me, I still can't believe that Jon Snow, Arya and Sansa Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and Ghost and Drogon all made it out alive this season! I can finally stop fearing that one of them is going to be harpooned, or backstabbed, or die by execution.
For many viewers, Daenerys was a favorite character, so a lot of fans are in mourning over her death and her "rapid" decline into villain-hood. Although I can empathize and will gladly hand you a tissue box if you need one, I personally was pleased that she was removed from the throne, though, "why" brings me to my next point:
The Kingdoms are No Longer Ruled by a Tyrant
At many points in the series, Varys, Master of Whisperers, reminds the key players of the series that their greatest duty is to ensure the safety and prosperity of the kingdoms. "For the realm," would've made for some especially poignant final words, but I think most viewers started to appreciate the sentiment when Dany commanded Drogon to set King's Landing ablaze.
So here's the thing for me: Daenerys wasn't fit to lead. Maybe in the earlier seasons, but when she launched her attack on the innocent people of King's Landing—I mean, she was serpentining up and down streets, blasting fleeing families, rather than just charging the Red Keep where she knew Cersei was—she lost the right to the throne.
I've thought a lot about this, as I'm sure many viewers have. I've asked myself, after that moment, how else could the show have ended? The options were to overthrow her or assassinate her.
With a dothraki horde and the unsullied army at her back, overthrowing her would've only started another war and, as much as we're all sad to see the series end, I think we can all agree that this wouldn't have been good television. The only viable option at that point was to kill her, and the only person who could get close enough to do it was Jon.
But as fans are mourning the loss of the woman who had been their champion for seasons, the Mother of Dragons, the Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targeryen, viewers are also disenchanted by the newly declared King, Brandon Stark. I think there are a few things happening here.
The first is that many viewers are still kind of confused and put-off by Bran and his storyline. Admittedly, Bran's a little weird! He's the Three-Eyed Raven now, and with his new inherent knowledge of all that was and all that is to come, he's become an unfeeling, cryptic character that fans have a difficult time relating to. I think it's more than just that though.
Mostly, I think it was an ending that people didn't see coming, and that always makes something difficult to accept. The writers had done a great job over the last seven seasons bringing all of the key players to the table. In the final moments of the show, viewers had their eyes on just a few who they thought were potential future Kings and Queens: Jon Snow, Daenerys Targeryen, Tyrion Lannister, for example. But seeing Bran take the throne almost felt like Gendry Baratheon had taken it. It was a little anticlimactic to watch something that the main characters had fought so hard for be given to a second tier character (sorry Bran).
All that said, once you grapple with the remaining choices the Lords and Ladies of the Seven Kingdoms had, and once you analyze the type of person Bran is—wise, patient, devoted—it becomes a no-brainer that he will actually make a great King and was better than any of the options we'd ever considered.
Granted, The Final Season Wasn't Perfect
None of this post is to suggest that there weren't things that enraged me about how the writers wrapped-up the series. I, like most viewers, believe that the series finale's biggest issue was pacing. Had they gone forward with two seasons of ten episodes each like the other seasons had been, I think most of fans' complaints would've corrected themselves.
Instead, we got one super short season, and it had it's faults:
-"The Long Night" visuals made the fight a little less enjoyable to view, but still rather epic.
- No one got to actually kill Cersei? She's been the villain for like the entire show!
- Speaking of Cersei and terrible endings for characters, after all the character development for Jaime, the writers really just brought him back together with his sister? Really?
- "Bran the Broken" was really the best name they could come up with?
Most disappointingly, I think the biggest plot thread they didn't tie-up was the fact that Jon Snow is the rightful heir to the throne. And how is he thanked? By getting sentenced to serve life at the Night's Watch.
But even that isn't depressing to me. The way I see it, Jon got what he wanted: no commitments to the throne, and instead he gets to live a free life beyond the wall with Ghost.
Our other surviving main characters all got mostly happy endings as well: Tyrion is Hand to the King, Sansa is Queen of the North, Arya is off exploring uncharted realms, Bran is King of the Six Kingdoms, even Bronne made it out on top. For a show that has done nothing but murdered all the best characters and made the remaining folks miserable, I'd say this was the best ending we could've hoped for.
Enough about what I think though. What did you think of the series finale? Comment below what you enjoyed about the final season of Game of Thrones and what you wished would've been different!
author of The Awakened series