The dust is just now starting to settle from Game of Thrones‘ highly divisive series finale, an episode full of plot points perfectly fine in theory but highly flawed in execution.
“The Iron Throne” was not the disaster it could have been to be sure, nor was it a triumph. Instead, it’s the kind of hit-and-miss final outing we should have come to expect from a hit-and-miss season.
Let’s take a look at the Game of Thrones series finale’s biggest stumbles.
1. Dany’s continued unearned villainy – The residual effects of Dany’s unearned turn to the Dark Side continued to be felt in this episode, in which we see her for the first time since she made the decision to murder innocent women and children in King’s Landing. We still barely understand where she was coming from when she decided to do so after Cersei had already surrendered, and this episode makes little effort to explain it. The fact that we end the series still not entirely connecting with one of the show’s biggest turns is a stunning failure.
2. Jon’s reluctance – After Jon’s utter horror at the death of hundreds of innocents in “The Bells,” his turmoil over whether to remain loyal to Daenerys in “The Iron Throne” — which includes a scene in which he says it’s “easy to judge” murdering innocent people from the sidelines and isn’t sure whether he’d do the same — rings utterly hollow. It might make sense for Jon to doubt whether to actually assassinate Dany, but after he already seemed to be growing distant from her, would he really even entertain the idea that burning a city when the enemy has already surrendered was acceptable?
3. The fallout of Dany’s death – The death of Daenerys Targaryen is one of the most tragic turns in the entire series, and it should be up there with the Red Wedding in terms of its devastating impact. Yet immediately after Jon kills her, the episode is quickly moving on to other business, leaving the audience little time to greive since we see absolutely none of the immediate fallout. Daenerys’ death could have ended an episode, followed by the characters picking up the pieces the following week. But coming in the middle of one makes it feel like just another plot point the show is eager to move on from.
4. Still a Night’s Watch? – After Tyrion informs Jon that he’ll be sent to the Night’s Watch, Jon responds, “There’s still a Night’s Watch?” The moment is played as a joke, but that’s seriously a good question, and we don’t get a satisfying answer. Now that the White Walkers have been defeated and the Wall partially destroyed, what, exactly, is the Night’s Watch’s purpose at this point? Considering this concerns the fate of one of the show’s main characters, an explanation is far more important that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss apparently thought.
5. That council scene – Bran becoming king is once again an example of a plot point that actually does make some sense on paper, but because it’s so rushed and comes during a ridiculously-paced and uncharacteristically simplistic council sequence, it doesn’t quite work.
Tyrion randomly suggests Bran become king because stories are good, and everyone is immediately on board with almost no pushback? Huh? It doesn’t help that this is a character who barely even seems like a human anymore and who is among the show’s most underdeveloped.
This council sequence also featuring the bafflingly unanimous proposal to make the North into its own kingdom, resulting in the Seven Kingdoms being downgraded into the Six Kingdoms in literally a few sentences. Yet again, the decision to wrap things up with just six episodes rather than the usual 10 proves to be a disastrous choice from which the finale is ultimately unable to fully recover.