First of all, the problem with finales are the writers have to tie up all the lose ends in virtually one episode. Who is going to wind up with whom, or not? Who is going to get their final revenge, or not? Who is going to survive, or not? And, in the case of GOT, who is going to sit on the Iron throne…or not. In typical GOT fashion they got a lot of “or nots” in the finale. But no matter what happens, final episodes often end up looking somewhat contrived and some people are always going to be disappointed. After all, you realize when it’s all done that you invested quite a bit of time in this tale (more about that later). The essential question becomes, did the writers succeed?
When I say writers, I am no longer talking about George R. R. Martin, of course, although I am one of the few people I know who read all the books as far as they went (to season 5). I know George was completely exhausted at writing the book series and was happy to let TV writers, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (and any writers they hired), take the reins, but GRRM was no doubt consulted, especially for this ending.
From the perspective of a writer, writing teacher and writing student, there is only one thing I care about, did the character’s stay true to themselves? If their character changes radically or just doesn’t feel right, if their final actions are too much of a surprise, it won’t be authentic. The audience won’t buy it.
NOW COMES A FINAL SPOILER ALERT.
IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE GOT FINALE YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THE ANALYSIS THAT FOLLOWS.
ALSO NOTE THIS IS DETAILED ENOUGH IT GOES OVER THE NEXT BLOG.
Please add your comments!
What did you buy or didn’t buy as the authentic final actions from each character in the last episode of GOT?
Here are the biggies I will try to unpack:
1) Did Daenerys go crazy or was the crazy and corruption of absolute power always there? Was she pushed to it? Did her slaughter of King’s Landing ring true?
2) Would Jon have killed Daenerys, did that fit with who you have come to know of him?
3) Was it fitting that Jaime went back for Cersei?
4) Fitting that Tyrion ends up The Hand again and agrees to it?
5) Fitting that Sansa becomes Queen of the North?
6) Fitting that Bran becomes King?
7) That the Iron Throne itself was destroyed and how?
8) That the Hound kills his brother and himself?
9) That Arya doesn’t kill Cersei but goes exploring what’s West of Westeros?
10) That Jon is able to live after murdering the Queen, and the justifications of how? That he has to serve at the Night’s Watch, again?
11) That Grey Worm and the unsullied are okay with Jon living after he knows he killed Daenerys?
12) Did Vaharys the Master of Whispers need to be sacrificed? (This question also involves whether Tyrion would have turned him in).
BTW: The big winner, is Bronn of the Blackwater and deservedly so. He’s the one always truthful, that just wants to be a lord with a castle and a wife. Throughout, he keeps his eye on the ball and gets it by keeping his wits, his loyalties and just out and out surviving.
There is also a 13) note of a “mystery character” I will reserve at the end.
That’s a lot to get to so I will spread this over a couple blogs. But, let’s start with…
1) The Dragon Queen herself. The writers want us to believe, it would seem, that witnessing the beheading of her closest female advisor and servant, Missandei, AND seeing one of her Dragons killed, AND, learning that Jon is really a Targaryon and her nephew, and entitled to the throne before her, was enough to push her over the edge and kill thousands of innocent people and destroy the city. It certainly isn’t fair or new that they go with Patriarchy and male lineage in Westeros, and that makes Daenerys supposed craziness seem even more cliche. A woman just can’t rule, ends up being the unsatisfactory message. BUT, politics aside, did we buy her going over the edge. Maybe, we did see her kill the Tarleys, but she also gave them a choice, it wasn’t slaughter. Other than that, we don’t see her acting crazy, in fact she spares Jaime, the Kingslayer who killed her father. And, when Jon tells her he will serve her and won’t seek the throne himself, true, she isn’t satisfied with that, but suddenly ruthless? His words surely are not enough to bring a madness.
Someone told me that seeing Missandei murdered was enough to send her over? But was it? Were they that close? She had seen servants and others of her acquaintance die before. Revenge yes, she can get that on Cersei, but the whole city? Dubious. The only straw the writers seem to cling to is that her father was “the mad king.” That, and the old idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely. If the writers were relying on that, they did not either sow it enough throughout the previous seasons, nor sell it enough in the final season. It was asking too much of the audience.
2) Would Jon kill her? Did that ring true? That’s a maybe and a yes. He believes she will keep killing, he believes she’s gone too far. He believes Tyrion is right. But to murder your lover? That’s harsh, which also makes it classic GOT. We believe it because his remorse and wondering if he did the right thing appears so great after. He will never know if he did the right thing. He is willing to weigh the consequences and do the right thing for others. That makes Jon, Jon. I, personally, would have liked something she does at the end, maybe even a small gesture to bring him to the conclusion BUT this is where relationships between characters are a delicate eco system. When one character’s action (Dany’s) are not fully justified, another’s (Jon’s) are also not justified.
3) Jaime and Cersei. Jaime takes a new lover and we think there may be redemption for him. But, he leaves his new lover, Brienne, and goes back to Cersei. Totally believable to me. We see this in real life. People return to people they shouldn’t love. He is obsessed. He knows it. He can’t help it. The heart wants what the heart wants. It is his fate and them dying together has that ironic romance that screams GOT. Could they have come up with a better line that he says to Brienne before he leaves her (he said, “You think I’m a good man? I pushed a boy out a tower window and crippled him for life, for Cersei. I strangled my cousin with my own hands, just to get back to Cersei. I would’ve murdered every man, woman and child in Riverrun, for Cersei. She’s hateful. But so am I.”), maybe, but Jaime, though a bright guy, never had the wit of Tyrion nor had the bald faced and humourous truth of Bronn, so we are okay with it. Give it a B versus an A grading. (SPECIAL BONUS POINTS FOR COMING UP WITH A BETTER EXIT LINE IN THE COMMENTS). As for Cersei, was anyone else thinking she might pull one last destructive act out of her arsenal, so to speak? But, she did have the baby to worry about, so not too destructive. Or perhaps a clever escape? She is a survivor, it doesn’t seem quite up to her spirit that Jaime has the escape plan (given to him by Tyrion) and Cersei isn’t already on that. The fact that they die together in that attempted escape, however, fits for me.
4) That Tyrion agrees to being The Hand again. Seems ironic that he will do it again after everything, but also right on. He is the one character, rather like Claudius of the Roman Empire (also a gimp like the imp), who we are sure can bring the empire back to order. Tyrion just has to do it. It is his fate, whether he wants it or not, and we see it in his sad eyes. He knows he’s the only one. But should he have been King? What do you think?
5) That Sansa becomes Queen of the North, I have no problem with EXCEPT she is the one who suddenly decides she will not “bend the knee” and keep the North free. They all go along with it with no resistance at all. Ha, ha, ha. What? Why? Because her brother is now the king? They laugh when Sam suggests a democratic style of governing, but have no issue with her independence? Just weird. At least one of the story lines has to not tie up in a neat bow but instead suggest future struggles. Since she is the only female leader left I had higher hopes for her. THIS IS THE STORY LINE I MIGHT HAVE KEPT OPEN AND INTRIGUING. The most important part of the ending is that the Stark’s stay true to one another. The family divided at the beginning of the tale, now resolves in some way. So why would she refuse to bow to her brother? In fact, the scene at the end where the big players from the seven kingdoms all sit around and decide things by voting, seems a little too comical and easy, which brings me to Bran.
6) That Bran becomes King by vote. Do not buy it at all. Hate that we got rid of some capable women rulers ready for a cat fight and instead go to a Spiritual figure who keeps saying earlier he doesn’t want to lead. He says he is now The Three Eyed Raven, not a leader. Huh? Totally off character here. Strangely, like the character in I Claudius there is a parallel that both Bran and Tyrion, the crippled, gimped twosome leads them. Perhaps the patriarchal idea is a crippled or half man is a better choice for a leader of all the kingdoms than any woman. But why two of them? Why not cut to Tyrion and let him be King. No, what they do is go back to Patriarchal lineage again. He is Ned Stark’s true son. What happened to Jon Snow’s claim to the throne through blood then? Or Tyrion’s. In this, not only does the end not suit the characters but nothing in the Seven kingdoms really changes. Ho hum. Could we not come up with something better? If Sansa can claim independence, why not all of them, and then divide up some collective governing while retaining control over their own kingdoms. The one ruler idea could go out the window. And should because…
7) The Iron throne itself is destroyed. It is melted by Dragon’s fire. Almost as if the Dragon knows it’s time to get rid of the pursuit of this stupid throne. I liked this part. It fit and should have signaled greater change. It revealed the throne is just a symbol, and yet, one people are unwilling to let go of. The greater change was not to come. Could whole countries rule without single leaders? Guess not. Great opportunity missed by writers. I often say your characters leave you clues. This time the character of the Dragon had a big one that should have shown the writers a better way. I can imagine Tyrion giving a profound speech on this and forming a council to lead with no king.
At this point, I will pause and put the rest, the seven other characters including the mystery character, in my next GOT finale blog post HERE.
It leaves seven more questions of what did happen and what could have happened. Including the mystery character (no it isn’t Sam) as no one is surprised that Sam becomes a Meister. That one was too easy that I didn’t even put it on my list. He fulfills his destiny. The mystery character is something we should all be thinking about, so tune in to our next blog next week, and PLEASE WRITE COMMENTS. WE LOVE YOUR INSIGHTS AS WRITERS and READERS!