Monday, May 20, 2019

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: Series Finale

Are you not entertained?
This episode was written and directed by the showrunners, Benioff and Weiss. In the aftermath of the sack and burning of King's Landing. Tyrion walks through the ashes, followed by at a distance by Davos and Jon Snow. There are dead bodies all over the place. It looks like a napalm bomb hit the place which is pretty much what occurred. Tyrion's face expresses disbelief, rage, and pain all at once. Tyrion leaves for what remains of the Red Keep. He doesn't want any escort from Jon or Davos.

Reaching the Red Keep Tyrion finds that his small stature helps him negotiate some otherwise blocked passageways. He finds his brother's and sister's bodies. He starts to dig them out but breaks down. This is some strong acting here. The lack of dialog here and in the introduction sets the stage for how the audience feels about things. We may not care that Cersei and Jaime are dead. One or both of them probably deserved it. But we do care that their deaths have had a devastating impact on Tyrion.

Strolling through the city, Jon, Davos and a small contingent of their men come across Grey Worm and a much larger contingent of Unsullied preparing to execute Lannister prisoners. Obviously Jon disagrees with this and expresses his opinion. Grey Worm retorts that these are orders from Queen Daenerys so back the f*** up off of him!!! Jon grabs Grey Worm's arm but that wasn't the move as the Unsullied immediately direct scores of spear points at Jon and his crew. Not wanting to die that day Davos talks Jon down and suggests speaking to Daenerys. Jon stalks off in that direction as Grey Worm slits throats. Later we see Arya following Jon, but keeping her distance.

Daenerys is at the ruins of the Red Keep. She is dressed all in black in what appears to be a blatant reference to the sartorial choices of a certain group of 20th century fascists. 

Just in case the SS chic clothing is not enough of a hint to you of what she's become, she addresses her massed ranks of Dothraki and Unsullied, looking just like the stormtroopers in 1938 Nuremberg. Jon watches her. Daenerys thanks everyone for their service and reminds them of the great things they've accomplished. 

But the war for liberation is not over. Daenerys intends not only to mop up any resistance in Westeros but also to impose her will throughout the entire known world. Everyone deserves her leadership. Whether they know it or not. The black and red Targaryen banner flutters in the wind.  

Daenerys' troops respond with cheers and spear stomps. It's apparent that Daenerys is high on adulation. She almost has a facial expression like she just--well let's just say she's having a good time. Tyrion appears behind Daenerys, staring at her for a minute before walking next to her. Daenerys tells Tyrion that he betrayed her by releasing Jaime. Tyrion replies that Daenerys slaughtered a city. And that is a greater harm than anything he's ever done.

Looking right into her eyes the whole time, Tyrion takes off his Hand badge and throws it down the steps. Daenerys has Tyrion arrested. Tyrion gives a meaningful look to Jon before he's hauled off. Providing some Captain Obvious exposition Arya appears next to Jon and tells him that he'll always be a threat to Daenerys and that she (Arya) knows a killer when she sees one.

Going to see Tyrion in an improvised jail cell, Jon says he can't justify what Daenerys did but that she is still their Queen. Tyrion says that is bs and that Varys was right. Tyrion shoots down Jon's attempts at deflection by pointing out that as horrible as Cersei and Tywin were, Daenerys is worse. 

Referencing events that were raised on this blog and elsewhere Tyrion argues that Daenerys has always preferred fire and blood for her enemies. And anyone who isn't 100% submissive is an enemy. It's just that now she's in Westeros and not burning slavers or foreigners that people can see that she's despotic.  She hasn't changed; our reactions have.

Understanding what Tyrion is asking him to do, Jon recites what he was taught in the Night's Watch, that "Love is the death of duty". Tyrion responds that sometimes duty is the death of love. Tyrion says he won't be the last man Daenerys executes. But Jon still can't imagine doing what Tyrion is asking, even if Daenerys turns on him. In a nice callback to Season One when Varys and Ned had a similar conversation in prison, Tyrion tells Jon ok if you don't care about yourself then fine but what about your sisters?

Daenerys has entered the blasted throne room of the Red Keep.The ceiling is half gone. There is either snow or ash still falling. But the Iron Throne stands. Her eyes get really big. The throne is finally hers. She touches it and is just about to sit on it.

Jon also enters. He asks her what about the prisoner executions, city destroyed, and children burned. 

Daenerys shrugs, saying you can't build an omelette without breaking some eggs in the process. She is also dismissive of Jon's pleas to forgive Tyrion, saying that rulers can't hide behind small mercies. Daenerys is building a new world, one that will justify all the violence up until now. 

It will be one with her in charge of course because she knows what is good. To Jon's expressed doubts on this moral outlook she replies that others don't get to choose. Duh! Her megalomania is in full effect. But she still wants Jon at her side. The aunt and nephew embrace and kiss. Jon tells her that she is his queen for now and always.

And he stabs her in the heart.

Daenerys dies in Jon's arms, a shocked look on her face, as Jon cries. Drogon knows something is up. Drogon flies up to the throne room and sniffs Daenerys' corpse. Drogon tries to get her up. Drogon becomes more and more agitated. 

The dragon menaces Jon but strangely doesn't devour him or incinerate him. Drogon does melt down the Iron Throne. Drogon gently scoops up Daenerys' body and flies off, not to be seen again. Later on, Grey Worm and Unsullied march Tyrion to the dragonpit where the most of the representatives of the Seven Kingdoms are gathered, including the three surviving Stark children. Grey Worm wants to kill both Jon Snow and Tyrion. But without a ruler, who will give the order. There is no ruler. There must be a ruler. 

Edmure Tully stands up and starts to give a convoluted halting introduction as to why he's the best choice before his niece Sansa politely asks him to sit down. Sam argues that since the ruler's decisions impact everyone shouldn't everyone get a say. That makes just about everyone bust a gut laughing. The nobles would just as soon as dogs or horses their views on politics as they would the commoner. Yara wants to kill Jon but Arya calmly says she'll kill Yara if she says that again.

Tyrion suggests that Bran be the next ruler because he has the best story to tell and an opportunity to unite people around it. Sansa disagrees because Bran can't do the do and produce heirs. Tyrion responds that then that is an excellent reason to not have hereditary rulers any more but ones chosen by the Lords and Ladies of the land-like those gathered here today.

Bran says why do you think I came all this way. Bran is chosen by all gathered there, even by Davos who mumbles that he's not sure that he gets a vote. Sansa says nothing personal little brother but the North has been through too much. The North is going to be independent. Bran chooses Tyrion as his Hand.

Grey Worm doesn't like this and still wants to kill Jon. The compromise is that Jon will be sent to the Night's Watch. It's unclear as to whether Grey Worm is aware that in some aspects the Night's Watch doesn't exist, or at least its purpose doesn't. In any event we get the final montage of events. The Unsullied are leaving for Naarth--Missandei's homeland.
Jon says goodbye to his siblings/cousins.

Sansa wants forgiveness from Jon which he gives. Arya says she's going to explore the unknown to the west of Westeros. Bran tells Jon that Jon was exactly where he was supposed to be. Brienne looks through the Kingsguard Book of Deeds and updates Jaime's entry with a quite positive list of accomplishments.

Tyrion oversees the Small Council meeting which now includes Davos and Bronn, who did get Highgarden. In a bit of humor Bronn is Master of Coin and is very interested in rebuilding brothels. Sam has helped edit a recent history of events which leaves Tyrion out of the story, much to Tyrion's annoyance. Arya is on a ship heading west. Sansa is crowned Queen of the North. Jon reaches Castle Black where Tormund and Ghost are waiting. Jon pets Ghost and gets a nuzzle/lick in return. Jon, Tormund and various Free Folk head north of the Wall. So is Jon the new King-Beyond-The Wall? I think so. There's a certain circular pattern to Jon's life which is comforting in some aspects.

And that's all folks...


Is that it? Hmmh. Wake me when you're done. I guess you'll be the only one having fun.
I've said it before and I'll say it one final time. The showrunners did themselves a disservice by shortening the story so drastically. Everything felt rushed this season. Everything. It was a little too obvious that the showrunners wanted to move on to other things. We should have have a better ending season without so many things being dropped on the viewer's head like an anvil.

I figured that Sansa was going to end up ruling the North. Her training in manipulation under Littlefinger and Cersei paid off, even if you can argue that it was put to good use here. Jon never wanted to lead, even when he was good at it, as he was briefly as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. It is ironic to say the last that Jon saves Westeros and perhaps the world from a dictator and is rewarded by being exiled. It didn't seem like the show lived up to the R+L =J reveal and all that it meant.

The permanent revolution that Daenerys was advocating was not that different from similar bloody minded people like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, or Trotsky. Whether people think such rulers good or not often depends on if they win and who writes the history books.

I don't recall the exact numbers or even if the showrunners actually laid them out but there are thousands of fanatically devoted Unsullied and Dothraki surrounding Jon when he murders Daenerys. Even if a particularly cool headed Unsullied leader saw some value in imprisoning Jon that probably wouldn't happen. You assassinate someone while you're surrounded by her enforcers, you're not getting out alive. They would have killed Jon, torn him limb from limb and put his head on a pike. There would have been continuing battle in King's Landing.

I guess that the book prophecy that Azor Ahai would save the world by killing his beloved came true.

People in the Stormlands were presumably living their lives just fine before Gendry arrived and told everyone he's their new ruler. Maybe, as Sam suggested, it would have been useful to see what life without noble rule looked like.

There is really no reason (that shortened season again) why the other Houses would accept not only a Stark as an overall ruler but also an independent North. All of the regions were independent before the Targaryen conquest 300 years prior. It isn't just the North who would want that again. Human nature says that if I see someone get cake then I am going to want some cake too, even if I wasn't thinking about it before. If the North gets independence, why not the Vale or Dorne or The Iron Islands. The idea of people accepting a ruler because he has a good story seems, well odd, off and a little out of character.

I liked the nobles' derision of democracy. In the books, Tyrion has a similar response when he hears about an area which practices it. The elites may want freedom of action and choice for themselves, but they rarely want or tolerate that for everyone else.

Again the Dothraki and Unsullied just kicked a$$ and took names. Even without a dragon to back them up why would they leave. Or are the Dothraki staying? Although the Unsullied can't enjoy what most conquerors enjoy the Dothraki certainly can. Seemed like there should have been some of both groups remaining in Westeros and taking lands and titles for themselves. I mean, who's going to stop them? Also again if the Unsullied want to kill Jon and Tyrion right there in front of everyone who is going to stop them?

Did Drogon recognize Jon as the "rightful" king? Because I don't get why Drogon, who will barbecue anyone who looks funny at Daenerys, didn't kill Jon. Instead he just melts the throne and flies off? If that is not plot armor I don't know what is. That part really stunk I thought.

I felt that Clarke and Harrington really sold the surprise and grief, respectively, at the final betrayal of Daenerys. You can see why it had to be done and yet be sad that it was done.

Anyhow, that's it. Thanks for reading.
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