By Melissa Minners
Spoiler Alert: If you have not watched the entire Game of Thrones series through to the last episode of Season 8, don’t read this commentary as it will spoil the ending!
Okay, spoiler alert out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. I know I am late to the game, but I have just finished watching the Game of Thrones series finale and I struggle to understand what all of the fuss was about. When this episode hit the air, people were freaking out. Fans of the show demanded a rewrite of the ending, citing that the television series was a farce and that George R.R. Martin would have done a better job. They even dared to say that this was not the ending that Mr. Martin would have wanted for his characters.
First of all, how would they know what sort of ending Mr. Martin wanted for his characters? The only ending that Martin was certain of was that Brandon Stark would be King. He never truly stated what Brandon would be king of and he still has yet to publish any Game of Thrones novels past A Dance with Dragons. Sure, he published a prequel, now being made into a television series, but we’ll get to that later. So, without any input from Martin on the subject for two to three seasons, why would anyone presume that the series would have been better handled by him. In fact, if those very same people had read any of the novels the series was based on, they would realize that the series did not always hold true to the novels.
Now, before we get to the moment that everyone was jeering about, let’s discuss the ending of the other characters, shall we? Though I found it sad that Jaime Lannister could not find happiness in the arms of Brienne of Tarth, it was utterly consistent of his character to want to be at Cersei’s side in the end. Maybe he initially went there to talk sense into her, but the truth of the matter was that with Jaime, love trumped duty and he would always love his sister/lover, putting her first over most things. Sansa Stark was not acting out of character in this final season, though many would like to say so. In fact, if you were paying attention from the beginning, you would see it was well within Sansa’s character to want power. Initially, she wanted to gain that power at a man’s side, but after having suffered at a men’s sides for so long, she has finally decided to take that power into her own hands, sans a male companion who could abuse or disrespect her.
Arya Stark did break with character, right? No, she did not. Child Arya always dreamed of adventure and adult Arya has had many adventures thanks to her search for revenge. But Arya has always been a fast learner and she has learned of the repercussions of a life lived in search of revenge. When Sandor Clegane points to himself and tells her that he is the result of living one’s life in search of revenge, Arya has something of an epiphany. What, after all, is the point of living one’s life to see others die. Of all the people Arya has killed, none of their deaths have brought her joy. Sure, she has been on an adventure, but when exactly did she get to enjoy such adventures? As for Sandor, I actually cheered when he got his final revenge on his brother. He had always said he would be the instrument of the Mountain’s death and he truly was, ending his own life in the process. This was as it should be – when you spend your life seeking revenge on the one person who has been perceived to have destroyed yours, the ending is somewhat anticlimactic. When that person is taken out, what do you have left? Sandor would have suffered an emptiness in his life and would have wanted death to take him anyway.
Brandon Stark is weird. Yup, sure is. But he can see the world and every possible conception of it, past, present and future. You’d be weird, too.
Okay, let’s get to it – did Daenerys Targaryen appear out of character in Season 8? Were her actions against what she would have been known to do in the past to her enemy? I would say that anyone who read Fire and Blood, the prequel story of the House Targaryen, you would say that this was not the case. As the Targaryen’s interbred, it was likely that we would have issues with the genes of that line. Thus, the Mad King. This has happened in the timelines of Britain’s and France’s royalties and not so uncommon as one would think. Plus, understanding how certain psychosis might work, it is not out of the question that this sort of thing might be inherited by the daughter of the Mad King.
Now, that being said, let us think about all that has happened to Daenerys since the seventh season. She has seen one of her children killed, brought back to life, and used against her and her people. Tyrion Lannister, her Hand, has made serious tactical mistakes that have depleted her armies and caused her losses in battle, something she is definitely not used to. Daenerys lost the one man who would love her despite anything she might have done in Jorah Mormont, who died protecting her just as he wanted to. He says something to her as he dies, and though we may never know what that is, we know that it has had a profound effect on her. She has learned that another man she has fallen for is actually her uncle and that he is not one for marrying family. She has lost another of her children to Euron Greyjoy, the pirate champion of Cersei. She has witnessed the beheading of her best friend Missandei, who, if you remember, told Daenerys to burn it all just before she was beheaded.
With all of this, Daenerys’ sanity has been hanging by a thread. When she hears the bells toll, she knows that it means she cannot avenge those she has lost thanks to Cersei Lannister and that causes her to snap. She is no longer content to simply destroy Cersei, she feels she must now destroy all Cersei and the people who killed her father, mother and siblings have strived to build. Sure, many innocents will die, but she will not allow Cersei to use her love of the innocent to stop her from taking revenge for the House Targaryen, something she has dreamed of all her life.
But that snap is not the only moment in Daenerys’ loss of sanity. That snap is just the beginning. If you listen to her speech, you realize that Daenerys has become exactly what she riled against her entire life. She hated slavery, yet she was prepared to enslave the world’s people to her own way of thinking. As she told Jon Snow, if there are people who think their rule is wise and just, it doesn’t matter. Under her rule, those people’s opinions won’t mean a thing, because they don’t get to choose what is right and just. Only their Queen gets to do this. And that is why Jon must kill her. Having always been one who did what he thought was the right think for all, this was the only thing he could do. Even Tyrion knew this.
Sure, everyone wanted to see Jon and Daenerys rule together in the finale, but that wouldn’t have been possible. The moment Sansa told her that Winterfell would not be a part of Daenerys’ kingdom, Winterfell would have been destroyed and we all know Jon would not stand by idol for that. We saw that Jon was a principled man when he left the love of his life, Ygritte, to fight with the Night’s Watch against the Wildlings, her own people and a people that Jon had grown to love. He did so, because he felt it was the right thing to do, and I don’t think he ever regretted that decision. Thus, Jon Snow certainly stayed true to character in spite of all he had been through.
And so, I say that the series finale of Game of Thrones was just about perfect. It followed the storyline set into motion by the very people who created the television series in the first place. It even followed some of the storyline set in motion by the novels upon which the series was based. Now, George R.R. Martin is free to end the series the way he likes novel-wise, but I think he would be foolish to veer to far from the path chosen by the series writers. Some of the fans may not like it, but most of those fans haven’t read any of the books upon which the series is based and just want things to end in their own romantic way.