More baffling moments than hard-won truths in Game of Thrones finale

After eight seasons filled with epic battles, twisted romance and tangled family trees, HBO’s Game of Thrones came to an end on Sunday night with an episode that raised more questions than the blackout ending of The Sopranos and inspired takes hotter than a grieving dragon’s breath.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/05/2019 (1357 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After eight seasons filled with epic battles, twisted romance and tangled family trees, HBO’s Game of Thrones came to an end on Sunday night with an episode that raised more questions than the blackout ending of The Sopranos and inspired takes hotter than a grieving dragon’s breath.

The Free Press panel of fans didn’t come to a consensus on the awfulness of this finale, but they did agree it wasn’t a satisfying end to the series based on George R. R. Martin’s books, with more baffling moments than hard-won truths. It’s unlikely to hold a treasured place in viewers’ heart alongside such beloved goodbyes as M*A*S*H* or Breaking Bad.

Jill Wilson: I really, really hoped I wouldn’t find myself among the haters for this season finale, but oy vey. What a mess — a boring, nonsensical, unsatisfying, WTF mess. I mean, Bran? BRAN? And we’re really going with “Bran the Broken”? What about “Bran the Omniscient But Weirdly Ineffective”?

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: Bran the bland? Bran flake?

Alan Small: The more I saw of Bran this season he reminded me of the MAGA-hat wearing high school student who confronted the Indigenous elder at a rally in Washington, D.C., in January. Bran’s blank stare disrespects all the viewers of Game of Thrones and the decision to make him king at the end — when he does nothing to help Westeros — will classify this finale episode as among the worst in television history.

Erin Lebar: Bran ending up on the throne was a curveball for me; I definitely did not expect that. I have a hard time believing all those lords and ladies would be so quick to bend the knee to him, but I find that if you just shrug and say, “OK, sure,” it helps keep the rage at bay. Also, through much of this scene, all I could think was, “Did Tyrion just invent democracy?”


Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), left, and Jon Snow (Kit Harington). (Helen Sloan photos / HBO)


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: And then Sam suggested something similar as well, and got resoundingly laughed at.

Jill Wilson: I feel like all semblance of internal logic for the series went out the window. Why didn’t Arya put on Jaime’s face to get to Cersei? Why didn’t Bran use his abilities to help in some way? If Jon Snow is the true heir to the Iron Throne, why would it matter that he killed Dany — isn’t that how Robert Baratheon ascended to the throne, by killing Rhaegar Targaryen?

Erin Lebar: This part confused me the most. Like, by all accounts, using the precedent of the way things have played out for the last eight seasons, Jon should have just taken the throne by birthright and that would be that. Sorry, Jon, back to the frozen wasteland for you!

Alan Small: The big shots of Westeros just couldn’t handle an actual leader in a position of leadership. Jon always took on the dirty work, whether dealing with the wildlings or the Army of the Dead at Castle Black, fighting Ramsay Bolton, convincing Danaerys to fight the Night King, and eventually, dealing with Danaerys. At least there could have been a speech in which he says couldn’t forgive himself and accepts his exile. Like so much in the final season, viewers are left to assume that’s what happened.

Jill Wilson: How are the Unsullied supposed to start a new life as farmers? They have no knowledge of anything other than combat and all of a sudden they’re going to be growing canola and raising livestock? Also, aren’t they all castrated? That new society is going to be mighty short-lived.

Erin Lebar: I enjoyed how hilarious that suggestion was. Farm some grain until you all die off because you can’t produce children. Sounds great.


Danaerys (Emilia Clarke)


Jill Wilson: Brienne filling in Jaime’s entry in the Book of Brothers was a bit nauseating. Once again, her accomplishments were overshadowed by his. She’s in the Kingsguard, too — where’s her page in the book?

Alan Small: Maybe she could have written something like, “Marched around aimlessly for seven years, fought for the living, and now returns to more aimlessness.”

Erin Lebar: See, I thought she was going to turn the page and her name would be at the top, but that definitely did not happen.

Jill Wilson: If all it takes is saying “the North will be free again” to remove it from the Seven Kingdoms, why wouldn’t all the other kingdoms have done the same thing? Why would the Iron Islands or Dorne want to be ruled by a creepy, silent teenager?

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: Yeah, Sansa just declares the North would be independent, and good old Bran just gives a little milquetoast nod, and it is so. Tyrion, as usual, was the most memorable character in this episode. I loved when he took the pin off his… tunic (?) and tossed it on the ground. Ooh, and I’ll pat myself on the back for a second here; I called him seeing Jaime’s golden hand poking out from the rubble just before it happened. I imagine some pawn shop in King’s Landing is now home to that appendage.

Jill Wilson: Are we supposed to feel happy for Arya, sailing off to an uncertain fate in the West? Was this something she always had a yen to do?

Erin Lebar: Jill just firing out the questions today! I was disappointed at Arya’s ending; just sending her off into the abyss. At the very least I thought she would say she was heading back to Braavos, since she has been tied to that spot numerous times throughout the series rather than just… West.


Drogon melts the Iron Throne in a fit of dragon rage. (HBO)


Alan Small: It was a sad episode for Game of Thrones’ best characters. The writers obviously had no idea what to do with Arya, so put her on a ship and let their problems sail away. Maybe she forges a new list in a faraway land. Same goes for Jon Snow. And Tyrion, you just know he will spiral away into a life of drunkenness and despair.

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: Where did Arya go on that horse she rode off on in the last episode, and why?

Erin Lebar: She couldn’t have gone far, she was back in the rubble of King’s Landing with Jon on what I assume was the next day!

Jill Wilson: At least Jon made up for his callous farewell to his direwolf earlier in the season — I think the moment when they reconnected was the only moving part of the episode.

Erin Lebar: I actually got a bit emotional when Dany’s dragon, now an only child and an orphan, came to her side after she was killed and then proceeded to melt the Iron Throne in a fit of dragon rage. Something about the relationship between animals and humans gets me every time!

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: The best shot was when Dany was approaching her legions of followers and Drogon’s wings appeared on either side of her. One of the few memorable takeaways from this episode for me…

Erin Lebar: Totally, that was a great moment! All in all, I didn’t actually hate this episode. There were a lot of loose ends to tie and largely, I don’t feel like I’m starving for closure. All the people who I thought should be dead are dead, all the people who I thought should carry on are carrying on. Was it the best? No. But it almost feels like anything the creators did wouldn’t have been good enough. I’m fine with it and ready to move on with life… though I did start re-watching the series from the beginning on the holiday Monday.

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: Yeah, I was interested to see how they were going to tie things up (or leave them untied, as it were). I liked the previous couple of episodes, and while I didn’t particularly like the finale it didn’t rile me up to the point of feeling like I wasted a bunch of time watching the series. It was just sort of… there. I felt a Bran-like void of emotions about the finale.

Alan Small: Oh yeah, I’ll watch a spinoff with Bran the Broken… right after I watch all my reruns of Petticoat Junction.


Arya, Bran and Sansa Stark

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This image released by HBO shows Emilia Clarke in a scene from the series finale of "Game of Thrones." (HBO via AP)
This image released by HBO shows a scene from the series finale of "Game of Thrones." (HBO via AP)
Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar spends her time thinking of, and implementing, ways to improve the interaction and connection between the Free Press newsroom and its readership.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
Senior copy editor

Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.

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