What kind of ending could have worked for something as long-winded and hyped as 'Game of Thrones' that would have satisfied everyone?
'The Iron Throne' picks up right after 'The Bells', in which we see the remaining survivors of the sacking of King's Landing picking through the rubble - metaphorically and literally. Tyrion calmly makes his way down to the crypts beneath the Red Keep to find the broken bodies of his two remaining siblings, embracing one another in death.
Jon, meanwhile, has to reckon with the fact that yes, Daenerys the Queen is also Daenerys the Tyrant. Argue all you want, but the lesson that the story is trying to impart is that villains always think they're doing the right thing. Dany, for all her talk about "breaking the wheel" and liberating people, sounds exactly like any conqueror across the ages and right up to today. Did she deserve a better death than the one she got? Absolutely. Could it have been done better in the one final episode? Probably not.
The simple fact of it was that Jon Snow couldn't openly attack her, nor could anyone else. She had the Unsullied, the Dothraki horde and - of course - Drogon on her side. Another long-winded but beautifully-choreographed battle wouldn't have done anything. Such as it was, the imagery of Drogon burning the Iron Throne to molten lava provided an interesting launch into the remainder of the episode - that the old ways are done, and they're not coming back.
From there, it's on to the business of finding a leader to rule Westeros, now that Dany is dead and neither the Unsullied nor the rest of the lords and ladies of Westeros will accept Jon Snow. Tyrion's speech in shackles about the power of stories is a fitting one, and probably plays into why we all watched 'Game of Thrones' so religiously. Nothing unites a people better than a good story - but an ending like this? Maybe not.
Like 'Lord of the Rings', there are plenty of logical and more fitting ends than the one we saw, but it slots together with what's there. Jon Snow, stripped of his titles and forced to return to the Night's Watch. Sansa Stark, now the independent Queen of the North. Arya Stark, now the explorer and probable Queen of the Seas. And, of course, Bran the Broken as King of the Six Kingsoms of Westeros.
That the lords and ladies of Westeros laughed at the very mention of democracy - which, to be fair, probably would have been the best option - speaks to a lot of the problems of 'Game of Thrones'. In other words, the logic and reason that exists in our world doesn't exist in this world. For all of the problems with 'Game of Thrones' and the eighth season, the beats and the progression lead to this.
It's that the season was spread too thick over six episodes, when at least eight or ten episodes might have given it some room to breathe. As it stands, all of it - 'The Iron Throne', indeed the whole ending of the entire series, feels rushed and abbreviated. The character arcs have, admittedly, had eight seasons to get to where they are, but even now, you just get the sense that four more episodes would have helped immeasurably rather than compacting what was there.
- Bronn as Master of Coin and Davos as Master of Ships is a sitcom waiting to happen.
- Ser Podrick! At long last!
- Bringing back Edmure Tully, just to make him punchline, was a genius move.
- Jon finally got to pet Ghost like he should have. Guess that CG budget came through in the very end.