Like many others, I found myself rather disappointed in the unfolding of the eighth-and-final season of Game of Thrones. But, like many others, I wasn’t about to walk away after ten years and 70+ episodes, and miss out on the long-awaited reveal as to the winner of the Game.

Unlike many others, I actually liked the final episode. Sure, it suffered from the same pacing problems and misjudgments that have plagued the entire season, but thankfully it didn’t have the “you’ve got to be kidding me” battle-tactics mistakes and idiocies that drew heaps of well-deserved scorn from the rabid fan base. And, even though it was a very mundane denouement to a series of high thrills and endless “holy shit” moments, it wrapped up the story in a reasonable and palatable (at least in broad-brush) fashion. It also made some important political points, which I suspect many viewers will, sadly, miss.

The episode opens with the various protagonists wandering around a scorched and ruined Kings Landing, looking eerily like a winter wasteland as ash continues to clog the air, in shock after their queen went batshit-crazy-bitch because some other evil bitch had her best gal-pal’s head lopped off. Tyrion the Imp manages, with little difficulty, to find the dead-and-buried bodies of his incestuous brother and sister, killed in a building collapse that somehow wasn’t all that, that somehow left Jamie’s golden hand exposed like a shining beacon of sadness, and that covered them in barely a single layer of easily moved bricks instead of under a giant building’s worth of debris. Yeah, sure.

Cut to Crazy Queen, who finally finished her multi-episode wardrobe conversion from vestal whites to dominatrix black leathers, telling a horde of Dothraki, that somehow went from being extinguished by an army of Undead back to full-strength ranks, and a seemingly endless number of Unsullied, also miraculously recovered from a near-rout at Winterfell, about how they were going to liberate the entire kingdom by killing everyone. She declares Tyrion a traitor because he freed his brother, and has him locked up.

Our hero-by-attrition, the hirsute, smelly-fur-clad, block-headedly earnest, and lucky-as-fuck Jon Snow, remains dumbstruck by what the Queen he pledged eternal allegiance to did, and how her armies just fell right into massacring innocents along with her. Still, as he talks with the twice-failed and now-captive Hand of the Queen Tyrion, who nutted up and tossed his badge of office aside a day too late and many dollars too short, he continues to pretzel-twist himself into standing with her. Tyrion tells him he’s got to kill her, because she’s going to kill his sisters if he doesn’t.

Jon then finds Crazy Queen in a shattered and now alfresco throne room, her face glowing beatifically at the unmarred Iron Throne she’s spent her life pursuing. He asks, nay begs, her to forgive those who stood against her. Here, Daenerys Targaryen declares the rationale and justification offered up by every well-meaning tyrant in human history: the presumption of benevolent omniscience, enacted through ruthless omnipotence.

Daenerys: We can’t hide behind small mercies. The world we need won’t be built by men loyal to the world we have.
Jon: The world we need is a world of mercy, it has to be.
Daenerys: And it will be. It’s not easy to see something that’s never been before. A good world.
Jon: How do you know? How do you know it’ll be good?
Daenerys: Because I know what is good. And so do you.
Jon: I don’t.
Daenerys: You do. You do. You’ve always known.
Jon: What about everyone else? All the other people who think they know what’s good?
Daenerys: They don’t get to choose.

Lenin, Stalin, and a clown-car full of American socialist wannabes nod in agreement.

Daenerys: Be with me. Build the new world with me. This is our reason. It has been from the beginning, ever since you were a little boy with a bastard’s name, and I was a little girl who couldn’t count to twenty. We do it together. We break the wheel, together.
Jon: You are my queen. Now, and always.

They kiss, and as they kiss, Jon slides a dagger into her heart, saving the lives of millions and saving the kingdom from a ruthless tyrant. We might safely conclude that Dany’s “they don’t get to choose” informed Jon that there was no redemption for Crazy Queen, and that Tyrion’s logic won out.

The last dragon, obviously connected via some psychic/magic means to Crazy Queen, flies on over to the open-air throne room, nudges Momma’s corpse a couple times, sky-screams like a good and proper tyrant’s minion, and gives a thought to slagging the guy who did Momma in. Instead, and for reasons that only devoted fanbois will be able to contort into something passable, he doesn’t. But, a slagger’s got to slag, so he turns his ire on the Iron Throne. If Momma ain’t gonna get to sit on it, no one will.

And, now we know that dragon fire melts steel. Take that, truthers and wall-explosion skeptics.

Somehow, Jon Snow, after not getting the dragon’s breath treatment that so many others, deserving and not, got this season, manages to cower a mere 20 feet from a billowing flame that exceeds 2500 °F without so much as a hair-singe. Did I mention lucky-as-fuck?

The dragon then picks up Momma’s corpse, dagger still protruding, and flies off to who-knows-where, presumably never to be seen again.

Jump to a gathering of the various Lords and Ladies of Westeros, under an open-air-tent, where they contemplate the future of the kingdom. Sansa’s clearly in charge, as she quashes a fumfering attempt by Lord Tully to assert his kingly bona fides with two words, “please sit.” Anna Wintour could have done no better.

Tyrion, standing before them in manacles, nevertheless still manages to proffer advice, and guides them to choosing the wheelchair-bound (and unable to procreate) Bran Stark as King of Westeros, because Bran knows everything (literally, not in the “I’m smarter than everyone” pretense of modern big-government wannabes), but not before Samwell Tarly offers up the suggestion that the King be chosen by popular vote of the masses, to guffaws and derision. Clearly, the peers of Westeros aren’t ready to move on from their feudal system to representative government.

The infertile King, who will produce no heir, decides to ship the legitimate-claimant-to-the-Throne Jon Snow, aka Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys’ brother – boy what a pairing she and her nephew Jon would have made), off to the Night’s Watch (watching who or what, one wonders, since the White Walkers went Thanos-snap-poof when Arya gut-knifed the Night King, and working a wall that’s got a giant undead-ice-dragon-hole in it), where he is never to take a wife nor bear children. This also helps “break the wheel,” although later we see Jon bugger off north of the wall in the company of his redheaded Wildling buddy Tormund Giantsbane, who, denied the requitement of his lust for the big blond broad, seems to settle for a bromance (and who knows what else) with a guy who isn’t smart enough to wear a hat in the winter. Oh, and somehow, the dagger Jon jammed into his Queen and lover finds its way back into the scabbard at his waist.

Meanwhile, the lords of Westeros are all cool with the wheelchair weirdo being their king… except for his sister, the tall redhead who basically said “fuck all y’all, I’m going indie” and decided the North would be a stand-alone kingdom. Why no one offered even the slightest sniff of objection will remain one of those eternal mysteries, unless perhaps they all had enough of winter and the cold, and figured that Big Red would be less trouble if she weren’t involved in Westeros politics any more.

Little sister Arya, who, after using her ninja-skills to save the world in Episode 3, got to do a whole lot of nothing in the finale, became, as one Twitter commenter put it, Christopher Columbus, and set sail west for lands unknown.

And, finally, the Imp got another Hand job (h/t Twitter, again), because the last few had gone so well. Proving, as we all know, that being a political failure is often no impediment to continued employment in the public sphere.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of the episode was the first meeting of the Small Council, the equivalent of our Presidential cabinet, where the mundane realities of running a nation/kingdom/empire reared their inevitable heads. In the end, the Game of Thrones was about little more than becoming the top dog in a bureaucracy.

I wonder how many will pick up on the anti-autocratic message of Game of Thrones, and translate it into skepticism of those who lust for power in order to implement their grand visions of how the world should be. Power corrupts, and absolute power (i.e. someone convinced of destiny, atop a fire breathing dragon, who finally learned how to wield the unique weapon it is) a tyrant makes. C.S. Lewis’ quote, oft-cited on this blog, evokes itself again:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.

The series ended with a whimper, and join other culturally significant shows like Lost and Dexter in the “they fucked it up” category. This is a shame, because it’ll likely harm HBO’s future revenues from GoT, and possibly reverberate into reticence towards doing something this grandiose again. Still, to reiterate, I liked it, in the context of what they did and how they boxed themselves this season. But, oh, what might have been.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

2+

Like this post?