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'Game of Thrones' series finale: And now our watch has ended

The show may have gone out with a sizzle instead of a bang, but the pop culture-defining series wrapped up in ways viewers never expected.
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Spoiler alert: Do not read if you haven’t yet seen the series finale of Game of Thrones.

Eight seasons and 73 episodes later, Game of Thrones finally ended with a new ruler on the throne.

The genre-defying and popular culture-defining series wrapped up in ways longtime viewers probably never expected. 

Oh, and that Iron Throne that literally everyone has been fighting for since season 1? It doesn’t exist any more thanks to a certain heartbroken dragon.

Game of Thrones may not have ended exactly how we wanted it to, but its finale is what we deserved.

The finale is aptly named, “The Iron Throne.” 

Long may he reign

Bran the Broken was chosen to rule Westeros.

Mark Bergin: The reason I follow gambling odds as closely as I do is they are a strong indicator of what is likely to happen. Entering Sunday night’s finale, Bran was the overwhelming favorite to rule Westeros.

Choosing Bran to rule Westeros has enraged fans for a few reasons:

  1. What better way to unite the seven kingdoms than choosing Bran and Sansa – both Starks – to lead them?

Bran was chosen to rule the SIX kingdoms and Sansa to rule Winterfell as an independent kingdom. What a power move by Sansa to make this last-minute declaration too! No one else opposed choosing leadership from the same family for both positions?

Perhaps Ser Davos and Samwell Tarly were too busy drinking bottled water and privately discussing the initial concepts of democracy.

Who knew that the Iron Throne was a wheelchair this entire time? So much for Bran, a character who earlier this season claimed he wanted nothing.

2. Is there anyone else out there who would have rather have seen the Night King take the Iron Throne instead of Bran? I’m asking for a friend.

3. I have no problem with the Thrones creators choosing to rely heavily on Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Tyrion Lannister in the series finale. There’s no debate Tyrion is one of the show’s best characters.

However, Tyrion pretty much decides who gets to rule Westeros when he appears in front of the council. It’s important to point out Grey Worm and the Unsullied continued to hold him as a prisoner after he defiantly quit his position as Daenerys Targaryen’s hand of the queen.

Has a prisoner ever wielded more power?

Chelsea Tatham: I think I actually went through the five stages of grief when I realized Tyrion Lannister was pitching Bran Stark to be the next king of Westeros. Sure, I love the idea of leaders now not being born but chosen. I also appreciate the fact that Bran doesn’t technically have a claim to the throne nor does he want it.

But I’m sure I’m not alone in my belief that Bran “winning” the throne felt like a rushed puzzle that was still missing an essential piece. Sure, Bran has an amazing life story, but he’s also been out of touch with reality for too long.

At least Cersei – or any other Lannister – didn’t win in the end.

Also, Sam Tarley proposing a democratic Westeros and trying to invent the Electoral College was adorable.

The Queen in the North

Bergin: My favorite part was when Sansa told Edmure Tully, “Uncle, please sit.”

Tatham: This was, hands down, the best part of the series finale. 

I loved that she was like, “sure, Bran, you can be king of the SIX kingdoms of Westeros, but the North will be independent and I will be its queen. Okay, cool bye.”

Also, the symbolism and power shown during her coronation scene were chilling. Like other prominent women in the series, Sansa has sent many messages with her hairstyles. If you remember back in the first season, she changed up her hairstyle to a more Southern style to please who she thought would be her future husband and mother-in-law. She wanted so badly to not be seen as a silly, ignorant Northern girl.

Sansa’s choice to not only become the Queen in the North but also to wear her hair fully down and loose during her coronation was a message about her triumphs and independence. 

England’s Queen Elizabeth I reportedly wore her hair down during her coronation as a sort of middle finger to critics who tried to define her as sexually impure. Her long, red hair flowing down her frame showed that the abuse she suffered didn’t define her.

And then there was Sansa Stark, crowned bright red hair flowing over a steel gray gown and showing she was never meant to be somebody else’s queen.

The Queenslayer

Bergin: Fans figured Dany was going to die, but I did not think Jon Snow would have the fortitude to kill her.

Count me among the ones who thought it would happen the other way around. I thought another character would kill Dany.

I also thought it was cheesy that Drogon melted the Iron Throne with fire after Dany’s death. Somehow, the Iron Throne survived the devastation Drogon exerted upon King’s Landing in last week’s episode.

Where does Drogon fly to with Dany’s body grasped in his claw? Is Drogon joining the Night’s Watch too?

Tatham: RIP the Iron Throne.

Also, RIP Aegon Targaryen. It turns out learning Jon’s true parentage and supposed “destiny” was anti-climactic and kind of sad. 

He’s going to do great, and probably be pretty happy, as a part of the Night’s Watch again, especially with Tormund and Ghost there. 

Dany did have to die, and we all knew she was going to die in this finale. But dang, having her be knifed by the man she loved was cold. Just like Game of Thrones.

The last of the Lannisters

Bergin: While Thrones viewers knew there was virtually no chance Jaime and Cersei survived, Tyrion didn’t know until he found his siblings buried in the rubble.

I’m surprised Tyrion or anyone would be able to distinguish who the people were, but it fits conveniently in the plotline.

As the only surviving Lannister, Tyrion is also now the tallest member of his family.

Tatham: Were we supposed to be sad that Tyrion was sad about finding his two siblings crushed to death by a pile of bricks and their own evil and cruelty? 

There and back again

Bergin: Say what you want about the finale, at least we got to see Jon Snow and Ghost share a moment.

Also, when did Westeros restore the Night’s Watch and when did they rebuild the wall? These are two completely neglected plotlines, but what are their purposes? The White Walkers were defeated.

I know several fans want to see an Arya Stark spinoff entitled something like “West of Westeros.” However, I’d want to watch a Tormund and Ghost spinoff too.

Tatham: First of all, the spinoff should be called “Arya the Explorer.”

Second, I was hoping Ghost would bite Jon in the face for leaving him behind in the first place without so much as a head pat or a “goodbye, Ghost.”

That sweet boy lost a whole ear for you, Jon.

Anyway, the entire wall wasn’t destroyed. The undead just busted a huge hole in it. There was a scene or two in the series finale showing some temporary wooden gates and closures to patch up that hole.

But now that the undead are supposedly gone for good, what’s the purpose of the wall now? 

Final thoughts

Tatham: Despite a rushed, anti-climactic final season that saw plot twists that ruined some characters and went against everything the series has stood for, Game of Thrones will always be one of my favorite TV series. It outgrew its epic fantasy stereotypes, drew in viewers that never would have watched a show like it and infiltrated people's daily lives beyond the comfort of their couches.

How lucky we are to be alive to experience such history? 

I'm going to re-read the books now.

Bergin: The final season of Game of Thrones was entertaining, but the plotline lost me about midway through “The Battle of Winterfell.”

Despite an underwhelming final season, it's one of the best shows in the history of television. Who knows when a TV show will generate this much interest again?

'Game of Thrones' Season 8

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