I had no plans to write about the Game Of Thrones series finale. It feels like I’m poaching on Milady Athenae’s territory but some of the more overwrought reactions to the final season compelled me to write. Some of the agita was caused by the showrunners’ willingness to engage in “fan servicing,” a dreadful term that I’m loathe to use but what can I tell ya? When some Sopranos fans demanded “less yakking and more whacking,” David Chase didn’t give a shit. Pandering to one’s dumbest and most bloodthirsty viewers is folly.
I’m a casual fan who hasn’t read the books. I don’t bleed GOT dragon blood or even fire and ice. Here’s my verdict: season 8 was erratic. It had one of the best episodes of the series, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, and one of the murkiest, The Long Night. And I’m not 100% certain that I found the finale 100% satisfying but I never expected perfection. The show has always been messy and uneven: don’t get me started about Arya and the faceless whozit story line, which was the GOT equivalent of Vito in New Hampshire on The Sopranos.
The reaction I’ve found most annoying is the notion that the Khaleesi’s fiery atrocities came out of nowhere. I’ll let Vulture’s Hillary Kelly do the heavy lifting in her recap of the penultimate episode:
In the days to come the battle among viewers will revolve around one big idea: Daenerys the Mad Queen giving in to her worst impulses and torching an entire city and its people to the ground. How can they drag a good woman down? the Twitterverse will wail. Crowds of angry viewers are going to revolt against the fact that this single woman isn’t keeping their feminist fantasies alive, that the showrunners would dare do something so complex as have a woman with rather questionable DNA, a devout belief in her divine rights, a propensity for crucifixion, a long storied history of being talked out of vicious acts by her advisers, and a savior complex the size of Wun Wun actually do the logical thing and go HAM. If you’re wondering how long this has been building, go back and rewatch Daenerys burn Mirri Maz Dur in season one, watch her burn Pyat Pree in season two, watch her burn Astapor in season three, watch her crucify the Masters in season four, watch her burn the slave owners of Meereen in season five, Vaes Dothrak in season six, the loot train and the Tarlys in season seven.
If anything, this squabble has intensified after the finale. But I think everyone dug Drogon melting the iron throne, which was reminiscent of the death of Danny’s brother, Viserys, at the hands of Khal Drogo back in season one; before America had its own version of the Mad King.
Yeah, I know that I mocked bloodthirsty viewers but that was wicked awesome.
I am less mystified than many by the series ending since it seems to be based on history. The Council was the Westerosi version of the conclave that produced the Magna Carta in 1215. The British lords met and came up with a way to limit the so-called divine rights of kings. That’s a concept that would work quite well in a fictional landscape plagued by endless and endlessly violent power struggles. Westeros would do better as a confederation of principalities than a centralized monarchy. Think Germany before it was Prussianized by Bismarck and the Hohenzollern dynasty. That did not end well.
As to the installation of Bran the Broken as fictional monarch of the fictional seven kingdoms, it’s not entirely satisfying. I would have preferred his sister, Sansa. BUT it’s based on a venerable notion that the reluctant ruler is the best ruler. It’s part of America’s founding myth that George Washington did not want to be the first president and had to be talked into it by, among others, Alexander Hamilton. I guess that makes Tyrion the diminutive Hamilton. I can’t wait for the musical.
In a show about power, there was never going to be a happy ending. This is as close to that as Team GOT was likely to get. It was their creative choice, which pleases some people and outrages others. So it goes.
In the end, some perspective is called for. It’s just a teevee show.
The last word goes to Peter Gabriel whose position on GOT is unknown to me: