It’s been eight years since Game of Thrones first hit our screens. Ten years of filming and production. Eight seasons. Countless tense moments. Approximately ten million heartbreaks. Probably oceans of blood. At least one Starbucks coffee.
Will Daenerys destroy everything? Will Jon brood for 90% of the episode? Will Sansa reign over the entire Seven Kingdoms and take her rightful place as the best character in the series (you know she is)? Will a bunch of people die?
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We open on Tyrion’s sombre face as he steps through the rubble of what is left of King’s Landing. It’s silent, save for the faint echo of his footsteps. There are bodies everywhere, burned and lying still on the ground. Those who haven’t succumbed to death’s grasp just yet are staggering through the streets - naked and burned to the skin.
Jon and Ser Davos trail a short distance behind him, watching as Tyrion surveys the intensity and totality of the damage. He tells them he’s going to go on alone, and despite Jon wanting to send men with him, Tyrion refuses and he makes his way towards the empty fragments of the Red Keep.
Outside, Jon and Ser Davos walk along the streets further and stumble across Grey Worm and the Unsullied preparing to execute the kneeling men who remain from the Lannister army. Grey Worm sentences them to die, and at the last second Jon interrupts.
“It’s over,” he tells Grey Worm. But old mate doesn’t really seem to give a shit about Jon’s words because he retorts, “It’s not over until the Queen’s enemies are defeated”.
Moving to slice the waiting neck of the Lannister soldier, Grey Worm is stopped at the last second by Jon gripping his arm. The movement cues the surrounding Unsullied to draw their weapons to Jon in an instant.
Desperate to avoid further bloodshed, Ser Davos talks Jon away from Grey Worm, telling him they need to speak with the queen. As they walk off, Grey Worm slices the Lannister throats in the background.
Below, Tyrion clutches a weak torch as he slowly walks to where he’d directed his brother to escape, praying they made it out and fearing the worst.
He ventures further, deep into the rubble. Knowing what he’s going to find there is heartbreaking, and I’m already trying to brace myself.
The room is covered with fallen bricks, so it’s a miracle that Tyrion can see it at all, but deep within the depths of the room is a gold glint.
It’s Jaime’s golden hand.
Already Tyrion is struggling to hold it together. He desperately removes brick after brick, only to reveal the cold, still faces of his brother and sister, dead in each other’s arms.
The body of the only man who ever truly accepted him, and the body of the sister who despised him so deeply that she had bounties out for his death.
Tyrion is officially the last surviving Lannister.
Outside, Arya spots Jon striding through the Unsullied forces towards the centre, where he knows Daenerys will arrive at any moment. She watches, both approaching from different angles.
The front of the city’s walls is surrounded by factions of Unsullied and Dothraki forces, chomping at the bit for a sight of their bloody Queen. A gigantic Targaryen flag hangs over the wall (and honestly, who brought that with them? Imagine the laundering).
Jon reaches the steps, and as he slowly climbs above we see that Grey Worm is already at the top waiting for him. We hear Drogon screech overhead, presumably with Daenerys having a quick post-battle joyride atop him.
They land out of sight, and as Daenerys walks into frame we see Drogon’s wings unfurl behind her, giving off the appearance that she herself is the true dragon.
It’s an ominous look, as she steps out to address her armies. In Dothraki, she bellows at them - they’ve delivered her the Iron Throne and kept all their promises, but there’s so much more to be done. She’s not finished - not even close.
She turns to Grey Worm, showering him with praise in his devoted efforts towards the overthrowing of King’s Landing and naming him her Master of War. Then, she addresses the Unsullied, telling them there is more to be liberated.
From Winterfell to Dorne, she says, as Jon and Tyrion react to her words in a concerned surprise. Below, the Unsullied beat their spears into the ground rhythmically, echoing Orcs before Saruman (hell yeah, the last Lord of the Rings reference is here - and Daenerys even has his white-grey hair).
Tyrion walks towards her as the Unsullied continue to make noise. She comments to him, “You freed your brother. You committed treason.”
Tyrion looks up at her solemnly. He responds, “I freed my brother and you slaughtered a city,” casting aside his Hand of the Queen pin in a resigned but determined punctuation of his words.
In High Valyrian, Daenerys coldly tells her Unsullied guards to take him.
Jon and Daenerys make eyes as he watches her follow Tyrion into the depths of the keep, and as Daenerys breaks contact first, Arya steps up beside Jon and they watch together.
Asking her WTF she’s doing there (fair play, she didn’t exactly announce her arrival to him), she says, “I came to kill Cersei. Your queen got there first.”
He insists that Daenerys is everyone’s queen now, and Arya knocks that back down pretty swiftly with the retort that Sansa ain’t gonna support that (hell yeah my ginger queen). Jon bids her to meet him outside the city gates, but she stops him.
“She knows who you are, who you really are,” she says. “You’ll always be a threat to her. And I know a killer when I see one.”
Jon heads down to the makeshift cell where Tyrion sits in chains. Naturally, Tyrion’s first question is whether or not Jon brought any wine with him, because priorities.
But nope, Jon is a straighty one eighty and didn’t bring any grog, shockingly enough, so they simply get to talking - and they start off on a super light and easy breezy topic: what happens after death?
Given that Jon has carked it before and was brought back to life to brood a bit more, he’s the expert. But unluckily for Tyrion he remembers nothing of it (very on brand, to know nothing).
Or apparently not so unluckily, because Tyrion is pretty confident that he’d be heading somewhere dodgy if the Westeros edition of heaven and hell actually existed.
“Oblivion is the best I could hope for,” he says, before warning Jon about Daenerys’ growing threat. She’s mad with power and believes herself to be in the right - a dangerous combo.
Jon keeps making excuses, trying his best to remain a broody ignorant country boy who just happens to be in love with a big murdery gal with pretty hair braids. He cites Missandei’s death as just enough cause for Daenerys’ retribution but Tyrion is having none of it.
“Would you have done it? You’ve been up there on a dragon’s back,” he says. “You had that power. Would you have burned the city down?”
He knows Jon won’t admit that he wouldn’t have done it, but he has to try and convince him of the truth. He talks of how she’s been conditioned by experience and destiny to believe that she truly is doing good, despite the bloodshed.
“Everywhere she goes, evil men die and we cheer for it,” he says. “She grows more powerful and more sure that she is good and right.”
Growing softer in tone, Tyrion approaches Jon. “I know you love her. I love her too. Not as successfully as you. But I believed in her, with all my heart. Love is more powerful than reason, we all know that. Look at my brother.”
And still, Tyrion persists in trying to persuade Jon of the right thing to do. To persuade him that Daenerys is truly the hellish evil that people are starting to see (and that I noticed way back, just sayin’).
“Who is the greatest threat to the people now?” he asks. “It’s a terrible thing I’m asking. It’s also the right thing. Do you think I’m the last man she’ll execute? Who is more dangerous than the rightful heir to the Iron Throne?”
Jon visibly is trying to stay true to his queen, despite his loyalty wavering and his duty to the realm rising. Broody boy dunno want to do, sad times for broody boy.
“That’s her decision,” he says, finally. “She is the Queen.” He motions to walk out, but Tyrion’s words stop him as he asks what his sisters will do.
Jon’s convinced they’ll be loyal to the crown but Tyrion rightfully points out that Sansa told Tyrion about Jon’s parentage for a reason (because she’s the smartest among them, no shit, girl knows what she’s doing).
“She doesn’t get to choose-,” starts Jon, but Tyrion interrupts. “No, but you do, and you have to choose now.”
Quietened, Jon walks out into the snow.
Ahead and alone, Daenerys walks towards the throne room. Despite the carnage and rubble, the Iron Throne still stands strong at the top of the room, and she approaches slowly.
It really does take open-air living to a whole new level, and as she lays her hand upon the hilt of one of the many swords, Jon appears behind her in the shadows of the chamber.
She tells him of how her brother told her stories about the throne, how she’d been led to believe it was so much bigger than she could’ve pictured. A mountain of swords too high to climb, and yet here it stands: a pretty average sized chair.
Jon doesn’t want a bar of this furniture chat though, and he bursts out his concerns about the executions on the street, about Tyrion’s imprisonment, about why it can’t just stop now.
Daenerys is still thinking big picture though, and wants him to see it too - to see a world where everyone is liberated (but somehow also bending the knee to her, which is literally the opposite of liberated but look, whatevs).
“It’s not easy to see something that’s never been before,” she insists.
Unconvinced, Jon asks her how she knows it’ll be good, this new world. How could she possibly tell? She responds, “Because I know what is good, and so do you.”
As for everyone else? According to Daenerys, “They don’t get to choose”
She clutches at him, begging him to be a part of this revolution with her. To be with her. To break the wheel together and rule in this new, good world that she foresees.
“You are my queen,” he tells her. “Now and always”. He pulls her into a deep kiss, and they embrace passionately, until suddenly we hear the unsheathing of a knife.
COOL AS A CUCUMBER AND STILL KISSING, OUR BROODY BOY PLUNGES THE BLADE DEEP INTO HER HEART.
Sobbing, he cradles her dying body as blood drips from her mouth and nose. Drogon alights onto the platform, seeing the woman who is essentially his mother cradled in the arms of her nephew, who was also her lover, who was also her killer, who is also the rightful heir, who is also a Targaryen.
It’s a confusing time to be a dragon, okay.
The dragon nudged Daenerys’ dead body, and oh god why am I getting Simba and Mufasa vibes here? Nope, moving on, I cannot deal with that memory, BIG NOPE.
Drogon handles Daenerys’ death exactly how you’d imagine a dragon to - by screaming in pain and bursting out flames. His dragonfire is directed at the Iron Throne for some reason, perhaps proving that dragons are a lot more canny than people thought and that he’d understood that this was the reason for all the fighting.
Or, it was there and he was angry. Either way, big fiery sad boy.
The Iron Throne melts down into rivulets of dragonglass, and as the flames clear we see Drogon delicately pick up Daenerys in his claw, before kicking off and flying away with her into the distance.
Tyrion has been stuck in his cell for a long time now, and we revisit him as he lays there in silence, only to be brought before a council by a very sullen Grey Worm.
The council consists of all the great Lords and Ladies of Westeros, from Yara Greyjoy in the Iron Islands through to Edmure Tully - and even a seriously glowed-up Robin Arryn from the Reach.
Inevitably there’s discussion about Daenerys’ death, and Yara is pissed that Jon Snow stuck his knife in her (ahem), despite Sansa reminding her that Daenerys had turned into a tyrant.
The bickering continues until Ser Davos finally has it. “We’ve had enough war. Thousands of you, thousands of them. We know how it ends.”
The decision is left open, and Tyrion reminds them that it’s not for any of them to decide on Jon’s fate. It’s down to the King or Queen to decide.
Only one problem: there isn’t one at the moment. “You’re the most powerful people in Westeros,” Tyrion says incredulously. “Choose one.”
Edmure Tully, known best for being the wimpy survivor of the Red Wedding and for being eternally soured in my mind after his actor played the worst character in the world on Outlander, wants to chuck his hat in the ring.
Sansa, my angel, interrupts him in the nicest pseudo ‘shut the fuck up’ statement one could ask for. “Uncle,” she says. “Please sit.” And with a frankly impressive display of manspreading, he does.
Sam perks up, suggesting democracy, but is quickly laughed away by the other lords and ladies - big yikes.
Tyrion is asked if he wants the crown, and honestly he doesn’t but he’s been prepping for one of his Big Ol’ Speeches (™) and hoo boy, here it comes.
“I’ve had nothing to do but think these past few weeks about our bloody history, about the mistakes we’ve made. What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags?” He shakes his head.
“Stories,” he says. “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the wall, a crippled boy, and became the Three-Eyed Raven. He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories.”
“Who better to lead us into the future?”
First of all, Bran the Broken is a shitty nickname and I for one would not be a fan. They’ve had Bran the Builder - surely the need for alliteration doesn’t mean they can be a bunch of dickbags about it?
Sansa piles on, reminding everyone that ol’ broken Bran here can’t actually father children so he can’t successfully uphold the kingly tradition of firing off sprogs.
But that’s all a-okay if you ask Tyrion, who’s still keen on breaking the wheel that Daenerys waffled on about for so long - albeit with slightly less bloodshed.
“From now on rulers will not be born, they will be chosen,” he declares. “On this spot, by the lords and ladies of Westeros, to serve the realm.”
And so it’s time to see if Bran will even accept the duty if they bestow it upon him - probably should’ve been asked already in fairness, but better late than never.
Tyrion asks: “If we choose you, will you wear the crown? Will you lead the Seven Kingdoms to the best of your ability from this day until your last day”
Turns out Bran can be a bit sassy too, which bodes well, as he responds, “Why do you think I came all this way?”
It’s time for agreement, and a chorus of “aye”s erupts. Even Ser Davos, who admittedly says that even he doesn’t know if he gets a vote, says aye.
All except Sansa and Arya. Gotta love when a dude gets the top job because everyone has a ‘good feeling’ about it even though Sansa’s been doing the job well for ages, right?
But Sansa still has her moment, because she turns to Bran and says, with respect, that the North will remain an independent kingdom (and god help me this better mean my girl gets to be a Queen after all because if not I WILL BREAK SOMETHING).
But it’s agreed, and Bran is declared the King of the (now) Six Kingdoms. His first act? Declaring Tyrion his Hand of the King, despite the latter not wanting it at all and Grey Worm very stubbornly refusing to consider the prospect.
Tyrion actively pushes back on the decision, but it’s Bran’s form of punishment for the only remaining Lannister. “He’s made many terrible mistakes,” declares King Bran. “He will spend the rest of his life fixing them.”
What of Jon? Funnily enough, he doesn’t have a bunch of fans given that he stabbed the queen mid-snog. It’s left to Tyrion to let Jon know that’s he’s to be sent to the Night’s Watch, again.
Nobody is really happy with this call, which (as Tyrion says) means it’s a good compromise after all.
Jon’s less preoccupied with where he’s going though, and more concerned that he did the right thing by ending Daenerys’ tyrannical reign prematurely.
“Ask me again in ten years,” says Tyrion.
As Jon walks out to start the journey north to the Wall, he’s met by Night Watchmen at the entrance of his cell. They walk together through the port, now bustling with life again as the remaining citizens of King’s Landing rebuild.
Brushing past stink eyes from Grey Worm, he meets with Sansa, Arya and Bran on the docks.
Sansa begs his forgiveness, wishing there’d been another way instead of his exile, but Jon isn’t concerned. He reminds her that the North is free thanks to her, and that’s what matters.
“But they lost their king,” she says.
With a hug, he responds that, “Ned Stark’s daughter will speak for them. She’s the best they could ask for.” AND HE’S ABSOLUTELY GODDAMN RIGHT.
Next is Arya, who tells him of her plan to skip out on heading back home. She wants to explore, wondering, “What’s west of Westeros?”
I smell a spinoff.
She has her needle, and she’s the most skilled assassin in the entire show, so presumably Jon’s not too worried. If you can kill the Night King you can probably handle some rough waves as you head out onto the boats.
Finally, Jon kneels before Bran. The new king. He apologises that he wasn’t there for him, but it’s not a problem. “You were exactly where you were supposed to be,” says Bran.
And now he’s off to join the Night’s Watch.
Back in the keep, Brienne flips through the book of knights. Technically she’s earned herself a page in the book now, but that’s not why she’s there.
Despite absolutely doing her the dirty and treating her like the most extreme of fuckboys, she turns to Jaime Lannister’s page and begins filling in the gaps of what’s happened since they stopped keeping records.
She finishes the page: Died protecting his queen.
BRIENNE OF TARTH DESERVED BETTER.
Elsewhere Tyrion walks into the King’s chambers, his eyes alighting on the Hand of the King’s rightful seat - a seat that Daddy Lannister once took up back in the day, prior to his mid-shit shooting.
It’s almost a weird ‘empty chairs at empty tables’ kind of moment, and Tyrion painstakingly straightens each of the seats, making sure to have everything in line when the new King arrives. So naturally, when Bronn, Sam and Ser Davos walk in, they all mess them up immediately with the kind of unceremonial scraping that you’d expect from a Year 9 general maths class after lunchtime.
Now, any time the name of an episode or a show is actually said out loud in the show, it usually elicits either a groan or an open mouthed ‘ayyyy’ smile. As all the new Masters take their seats, newly appointed Grand Maester Sam presents Tyrion with ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, and yep, we’re going with groan.
It’s a big ol’ tome with the story of the realm. There’s a bit of vaguely amusing ribbing as Tyrion asks whether he’s mentioned fondly or with negativity, only to find out that he didn’t get mentioned at all.
Luckily to take the weight off Tyrion’s crushed ego, Brienne and Pod wheel Bran in. Ahem, King Bran the Broken, in. Dude mustn’t be too chuffed with that nickname out of all the possible choices.
With his entry though, the meeting of the Masters can begin. He rightfully notices that they’re missing a Master of Whisperers (RIP Varys, you chrome-domed blessing), Master of Laws (probably necessary for y’know, a kingdom) and Master of War (maybe let’s not fill this post?), and Tyrion assures him that they’ll be looking for appropriate candidates.
Excuse me while I push the image of a Westeros job ad out of my mind. Entry-level Master job, requires fifty years of experience.
Meanwhile, they’re still on the hunt for big ol’ Drogon, who was last seen early in the episode cradling Daenerys’ dead body in his claw as he flew off into the distance.
Apparently it’s actually quite difficult to find a gigantic winged beast that just so happens to be the only one left of its kind in the entire world. Bran suggests he can find him, presumably with his magic warging powers and ‘Halle Berry as Storm’ cloudy contacts.
“Do carry on with the rest,” he says, as Ser Podrick leads him away. It seems ‘the rest’ is simply dealing with all the humdrum of regular palace life, and with Ser Davos as Master of Ships, Bronn as Master of Coin, Sam as Grand Maester and Brienne presumably as head of the King’s Guard, they’re in good hands.
Until naturally, the subject turns to brothels.
In one of the most moving montages of the season, we follow each of the elder Stark children as they prepare for their new lives.
Jon has ridden north, ready to take his place in the Night’s Watch. He’s reunited with my favourite ginger, Tormund, and AT LONG LAST, Ghost gets a big pat and hug from Jon (and my heart burst into pieces, dogs need more love okay).
Arya is on a ship, preparing for her journey west with an eyeglass and map, her gaze fixed on the horizon as she stands on the bow of the ship.
And Sansa, my beautiful angel and MVP of the entire series, is crowned Queen in the North as her Northmen salute, bellowing their support for her. This is my proudest moment, I love her with all my soul and YOU ALL DOUBTED HER, HOW DARE YOU.
We end with Jon and Tormund braving the chill as they lead their horses and the remaining Wildlings north of the wall. They trudge deep into the nearby forest, ready to explore what the true North has in store for them.
As they do, the Game of Thrones theme plays overhead.
And so, that brings to a close one of the biggest and longest running fantasy television shows the world has ever seen. It had the biggest battles, specially constructed languages, a cast of literal thousands and a captive audience worldwide. And now it’s over.
All in all, the leaks were true. It’s a bit of a bitter ending to be honest, because even as the leaks were first found online, people discounted them because the idea of them being accurate was largely unimpressive.
Would people have liked the episode better if it was sprung on them without people being spoiled? Maybe. Would there still inevitably be a bunch of people petitioning to have it changed? Probably.
Should we sit here and simply appreciate that some shows won’t finish the way you hope them to and just enjoy it as a piece of pop culture that won’t ever be forgotten? Absolutely.
We’ll be seeing spin-offs crop up soon enough, but for now we should all just be appreciating Game of Thrones for the extremely game-changing television it created.
But for now, for real, our watch has ended.