RECAP | GAME OF THRONES season eight episode six - “The Iron Throne”
It will take time to come to terms with the final ever episode of Game of Thrones and the way the story played out. After a decade of casting news, episode dissections and fan theories, it will be hard to ‘let it all go’.
There will be many who will feel ‘cheated’ by the ending and there’s bound to be some level of disappointment. Let’s face it, we can’t all get our way.
But like with the ‘black-screen’ ending to The Sopranos, HBO has ensured we’ll be talking about ‘The Iron Throne’ for a long time to come.
Before we get into it, a word of warning. There will be spoilers ahead. Plenty of them.
The episode has two distinct parts: the aftermath of the battle for King’s Landing and what come afterwards. And it’s Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, who delivers the goods with one of his best performances.
Tyrion stumbles through the smouldering ruins of King’s Landing, shocked by the dragon-wrought devastation. After making his way into what remains of the Red Keep, his worst fears are realised when he finds Jaime’s golden hand.
He removes the rubble to reveal his brother and sister in their final embrace. His grief is palpable and his wrenching sobs are heartbreaking.
As he deals with his loss and prepares for what lies ahead as a ‘traitor’, Jon and Devos are confronted by the ruthlessness of Grey Worm.
With several Lannister soldiers on their knees, the leader of the Unsullied passes judgement. The Mother of Dragons has declared no ‘enemy’ should be left breathing.
Try as he might, there’s very little Jon can do without triggering more bloodshed. It goes against his moral code, but he has to walk away. And as he does, Grey Worm calmly slits throats.
Jon and Davos set off to find the Queen as Drogon flies overhead and for a moment, Daenerys is framed by his wings. She has become the Dragon Queen.
With the Unsullied and Dothraki arrayed in front of her like a scene from the Nuremberg rallies, she delivers a not so veiled threat.
“You have freed the people of King’s Landing from the grip of the tyrant. But the war is not over. We will not lay down our spears until we have liberated all the people of the world.”
And she specifically names Winterfell for ‘liberating’. The North is no longer an ally, but a foe. More specifically, it’s Sansa who is the perceived threat.
Will Jon ‘grow a pair’ and finally do something about it? Um, not yet because it’s Tyrion, who confronts her.
“You freed your brother. You committed treason.”
“I freed my brother and you slaughtered a city.”
With that, he takes off his Hand of the Queen insignia and casts it aside. As he’s marched away to wait his fate, he locks eyes with Jon.
Now, Jon! Do something now! But he doesn’t. We know he loves ‘his Queen’, but this is starting to get ridiculous.
As the last of the Lannisters is led away, it’s Arya’s turn to try to talk some sense into him. She heard Dany’s address and knows what it means, even if Jon can’t admit it. He’s a target as much as Sansa is.
“She knows who you are, who you really are. You’ll always be a threat to her. I know a killer when I see one.”
Jon should listen to Arya. But he doesn’t.
Instead, he visits Tyrion on death-row. Jon tries to defend Daenerys: she’s not her father, she saw her friend beheaded, her dragon was shot out of the sky, blah blah blah.
Tyrion throws everything at him and appeals to Jon’s sense of duty, sacrifice and family. It finally cuts through and Jon leaves tormented and conflicted.
He makes his way to the Queen and encounters Drogon, who allows him to pass. In the ruins of the throne room, Dany is looking at the Iron Throne almost tenderly.
In walks Jon. She tries to distract him with talk of her childhood, but he cuts to the chase and calls her out on the slaughter of the innocents.
What tips him over is her belief in what she’s done is right and justified and her conviction that only she can bring about a new world order.
“It’s not easy to see something that’s never been seen before. A good world.”
“How do you know it’ll be good?”
“Because I know what is good and so do you.”
There is no remorse or contrition. She cares not for the thousands who have perished: the men, women and children of King’s Landing.
The madness will continue until ‘someone’ does ‘something’. That someone is Jon and that something is a knife in her heart. She collapses to the ground and she’s dead.
That’s the end of Daenerys.
Drogon, her last remaining ‘child’ loses it. He nudges her body and ‘cries’ before unleashing dragon fire.
At first, it seems Jon is the target but no, it’s the Iron Throne and it’s destroyed. There’s nothing left but molten metal. No one will sit upon Iron Throne.
Then gently, Drogon reaches out, gathers up her body and flies away.
End of Act 1.
Until now, most fans would be pretty happy with how things are playing out. Daenerys is dead. Arya is safe. Tyrion lives and Jon can be King of the Seven Kingdoms. Yay!!
Not so fast. Here comes Act 2.
Tyrion is led from his cell to the Dragon Pit. Does execution await him? Nope. It’s a council meeting of the remaining ‘great houses.’
The first order of business? How to bring Westeros together again. The Unsullied are offered lands of their own far enough away so they won’t cause trouble. But Grey Worm won’t go until they deal with Jon Snow.
“We don’t want payment. We want justice. Jon Snow cannot go free.”
So, Jon didn’t claim the throne. This is NOT what we wanted.
Edmure Tully steps up and begins to outline his credentials until he’s shut down by Sansa. Samwell proposes a general election. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
The crown is offered to Tyrion, who refuses and instead has another suggestion. Are you ready for it? It was one of the pre-season posters. It was staring us in the face all season.
It’s Bran. He suggests Bran the Broken because he has a good story.
“He is our memory. The keeper of all stories. Who better to lead us into the future?”
Bran can’t have kids, but that’s OK. It won’t be a hereditary title anymore. They’ll decide by a vote who’ll take over when the time comes. And does he accept the crown?
“Why do you think I came all this way.”
They’re all for it. Except for Sansa. The North is to split from the Seven Kingdoms and become independent. With Sansa ‘Queen of the North’.
Well, that’s all rather convenient isn’t it? It seems the Starks, Samwell and Tyrion haven’t revealed Jon’s true identity. That’s a secret they’ll keep to themselves.
But what do we do with Jon?
What else, but send him back to the Wall to once again become a Brother of the Night’s Watch. He’s been treated like a common criminal for doing what needed to be done (at Tyrion’s insistence).
So, he returns to Castle Black where he’s met by Tormund, the Free Folk and Ghost. Tormund had told Jon he had the ‘real North’ inside him and maybe it’s a kind of homecoming.
The last we see of Jon, he’s leading them north through the snow, but there are sprigs of green. Spring is Coming.
What of everyone else?
Arya isn’t going home to Winterfell. She’s going to sail west beyond Westeros with the dire wolf on the sail.
Sansa is now Queen in the North while Tyrion is Hand to Bran the Broken. Samwell Tarly is now Grand Maester of King’s Landing.
He presents Tyrion with a history of the conflict and it’s called A Song of Ice and Fire. A nice nod to George RR Martin.
As for Brienne, she’s now leader of the King’s Guard and adds a new entry to Jaime’s page in the book of guards:
“Lost his hand….pledged to Winterfell… Died protecting his Queen.”
Poignant and perfect. My heart aches for Brienne and what could have been between her and Ser Jaime.
On the whole, ‘The Iron Throne’ was solid TV but with a split personality perhaps thanks to having two directors: David Benioff and Dan Weiss (writers, executive producers, tea makers)
It answered many questions but provided a few disappointments:
Why did we invest so much time in Arya as a ‘Faceless Man’ if she didn’t get to use her abilities to sort this mess out?
Why did Bran abandon his ‘I’m the Three Eyed Raven and not interested in the world of men’ stance?
Was Bran really ‘the Prince who was promised’?
WHY did they make Jon so pathetic in the end?
Why did Samwell show no loyalty or concern for Jon?
Like millions around the world, I will always be a fan of Game of Thrones the TV series. I love the characters and the actors who’ve played them.
But now, ‘our watch is over’ and I wait (im)patiently for the books.