Let’s talk Game of Thrones: HBO Series Wrap up

For all of you Game of Throne fans who’ve spent the last decade of your life infatuated with the worlds of Westeros & Essos and the lives of the characters within it, then like me, you may be in a bit of shock and denial that the show series has come to an end.

It had certainly been an emotional 6 weeks leading up to season finale. Now that the show series has concluded, and I’ve had a couple of weeks to process the different ways my favorite characters lives have ended, and I’ve had time to process how the writers wrapped-up the storyline in general, I can genuinely say that I am content with how some things ended, but I am also feeling a bit let down by some of the quick plot turns, along with the overall pacing when it comes to certain character arcs.

Game of Thrones had always felt like a carefully plotted, detailed packed story – a story that had once felt so thought-out. I had always assumed the writers of the show would follow through and complete each storyline to its entirely. Sadly, for me, it did not feel that way.

I am going to start by breaking down the parts of the show’s conclusions that I am content and happy with. Following that, I will get into my disappointments, wrapping the discussion up with a final thought. Because there are so many different layers within this story to discuss, after my concluding thought, I have circled back to the parts of the character endings that I am pleased with.

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Let’s get right to it.

Arya killing the Night King was by far the highlight of the series for me.

In episode two of this past season, when Melisandre appears out the forest and walks onto the battle field to meet the Dothraki and lights their swords with fire, I was astounded. We knew Mel was going to show back up at some point in the season – like she said she would when she told Varys “I have to die in this strange country. Just like you.” And I was thrilled to see Mel appear at this particular battle and felt her role in this fight was remarkable.

But the thing is, I had always assumed that when Mel did show back up, it would be for Jon.

A big part of me always thought that because Jon had died once, he may die again in The Great War, which would be the reason for Mel’s return – to bring Jon back from the dead for the second time.

But to my surprise, Mel was there for Arya not Jon. 

Back in season 3 when Mel had first met Arya, before taking Gendry back to Dragon Stone for his king’s blood, she looked Arya in the eyes and told her that “she has a darkness to her.” Mel tells Arya that she sees brown eyes, green eyes & blue eyes, eyes that Arya will shut forever. At the time, we didn’t know where Arya’s path would take her because she hadn’t yet gone to Bravos to start her training as a faceless man. Then later in the seasons, when Arya arrives in Bravos and finds Jaqen H’ghar, it was safe to assume the different color eyes Mel had talked about, had to do with the many different faces Arya would wear, along with all the faces, eye colors and people Arya would kill.

I am blown away with Arya being the one to kill the Night King. We always knew Arya’s narrative was building up to something spectacular. I am pleased that all the training and development in regard to Arya’s storyline has paid off. I couldn’t have been happier with her being the one who puts an end to the long night.

Jorah Mormont.  

From the start of the series, we learn that Jorah is a dishonored Knight who’d been stripped of his title as former head of House Mormont and had been thrown into exile. We know he has fought alongside the Golden Company – a group of mercenary knights & fighters, most who have also been exiled from their families and homes.

At the beginning of season 1, Jorah’s only goal is to get back home, and so, he becomes a spy for King Robert Baratheon in hopes to get pardoned for his wrongdoings. Robert agrees to let Jorah sale home, but first he must kill Daenerys Targaryen – the rightful heir to the throne that Robert Baratheon had usurped. But we learn, and quickly, that when Dany loses Khal Drogo and steps into his fiery funeral pyre, and is “reborn amidst smoke and salt,” and, has woken “dragons out of stone,” Jorah has a change of heart and believes Dany is the true heir to the iron throne; he also falls in love with her. Going home no longer matters to Jorah. All that matters is sticking by Dany’s side as a loyal adviser and protector.

Later in the series, Dany ends up learning about Jorah’s original intention and has him banished from her site. Jorah returns to Dany over and over again, seeking forgiveness, but it is only when Jorah shows back up in season 6, offering Tyrion over as a peace offering, along with hopes to save her from the Dothraki – although Dany didn’t need the help – has he redeemed himself in her eyes.

We all know the story.

My point is: Jorah defending Dany to his death in the war against the dead was one of the greatest moments for me. During the battle, Jorah gets stabbed more than once. There is one part towards the end when he gets stabbed so badly in the chest, he falls to his knees and you can see a slight cry of pain in his eyes. But Jorah stands back up. He is tall and brave on his feet, swinging his sword, determined to achieve the one goal he had set out to accomplish all those years back, despite the obstacles in his way – he fights until his last breath to protect Dany.

Jorah is everything I want in a hero; he is everything I want in a man who loves a woman. He died protecting his queen, and I will forever be grateful for Jorah’s devotion to his word and to the one he loved. 

Jon riding a dragon and learning about his true identity.

Jon’s storyline in the early seasons was always a bit unsettling to me. He never felt like he belonged in Winterfell – thanks to Catelyn. Jon had many questions as to who his mother was and after Ned died, he felt like he would never get the answers he needed, meaning, he would have no choice but to live out the rest of his life not knowing who he was, or where he came from. So finally, when Jon learns the truth about who his parents are, I am relieved knowing Jon can shed this undeserving bastard tag that had been placed upon him.

During this last season, every time Jon rode Rhaegal it felt as if my wildest dreams were unfolding right before my very eyes. We have seen Jon achieve so many things – to see him ride atop a dragon, alongside Dany, to me, is a true depiction of how far Jon had fought and climbed to prove that with the right courage and will, title or not, anyone can accomplish anything. Even though I was rewarded with Jon learning the truth about his identity, it seemed, he no longer needed the answers he had once sought out to verify his meaning and purpose.

Jon had already learned the truth about who he was through all he’d experienced at Castle Black; he discovered the strength of his character through his explorations beyond the wall. Jon never allowed a label to stop him from doing what he believed was right for himself and for the people, even if it meant sacrificing himself, or the one he loved for the greater good.

Jaime and Cersei

Jaime’s love for Cersei has always pulled at my heart strings. I know you must think I am crazy or even repulsed with me for feeling this way, but within this world and story, Jaime and Cersei being siblings in-love never bothered me.

Perhaps this is due to the books, which better reveals Jaime’s inner-thoughts and feelings for Cersei. He is constantly going on about all the ways he loves her, and it’s clear that he’ll go to any extent to please her. Perhaps the way Jaime loves Cersei is an idealistic version of a love I have dreamed of for myself. You know, the type of fantasy love that doesn’t exist in the real world.

However, I should mention that my favorite love stories in books and movies are the ones that end in heartbreak. I’m talking about the Anakin Skywalker and Padme type of love. The Frederick Henry, Katherine Barkley type of love-catastrophe where someone winds-up dead in the end.

To me, a great love story is never about two people ending up together. It’s about the extent a person goes to be with the one they love. It’s about two people loving each other so much that it consumes their mind and logic, and nothing and no one else in the world matters to them.

Two people fall in love and maybe the only way they can be together is to disgrace their country, desert the war, risk their lives and sneak across the Swiss border so they can hide out together, knowing they’ll never see their families again. It’s about loving someone so much that getting stabbed in the stomach and bleeding out doesn’t stop them from climbing a burning building that is tumbling to the ground for a small chance of finding the one person they can’t live without.

And although, I can think of a few different ways I would have written the ending of Jaime and Cersei Lannister, in terms of the show, I can live with them leaving the world the same way they entered it.

Arya going west of Westeros.

I was hoping to see Arya perform one last act as a faceless man. Although, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed when this did not happen in the finale like I thought it might have. I keep thinking about Arya’s last words to Jaqen H’ghar. Before she leaves Bravos to head back to Westeros, she looks Jaqen H’ghar in the eyes and says, “I am not nobody. I am Arya Stark.” I think it is important to keep that in mind when wrapping up Arya’s storyline. At one point in the series, Arya may have been uncertain of where the road would take her, but she’s always had a list of names of people who harmed the ones she loved, and since creating that list, it has always been her goal to seek out each person and kill them.

When Arya leaves Bravos, she does so as a highly skilled trained assassin.

The next time we her, she takes revenge on House Frey, then sets off to Kings Landing with intent to kill Cersei. But when Arya hears about Sansa and Jon returning to Winterfell, she goes home instead. It is at Winterfell where we see Arya soften. She is home now, amongst her siblings where she can let her guard down a little. It is during the Great War when Arya is frightened. It is Melisandre’s words and prophecy that gives Arya the courage to go after the Night King. I think the one thing to remember is Arya is still a kid.

Arya became a fighter and assassin because she had to in order to survive. However, when leaving Jaqen H’ghar that day, she not only reclaimed her true identity, but she also made the decision to not solely take on the responsibilities of a faceless man. Arya left Bravos with the magic ability to disguise herself and trick anyone she pleases. She now has the tools and knowledge to go off on her own again – like she always intended to do, but she will do so as herself – Arya Stark. And, when the time comes where she needs to defend herself, she can, and she will.

Tyrion not dying.                                                                                             

Like Jon, Tyrion has always been somewhat of a tragic character to me. Because of his physical differences in contrast to his siblings, he is treated like an outsider in his family, and in the first several seasons, he is never taken seriously by his father and sister. Tyrion has spent a great deal of his family’s money on booze and women, but, we begin to see a change in him after Tywin names him hand of King Joffrey, which further reveals Tyrion’s wit and clever mind, preparing us for what’s to come later in the series when Dany names Tyrion her hand, which at that point, we know, he is capable of handling this task.

It saddened me to see Dany become angry with his advice and guidance this past season. Yes, Tyrion has misguided her a bit here and there, but his intentions were always good and in the last episodes it became clear that no matter how Dany felt about him, and despite Tyrion going behind Dany’s back to break Jaime free, he had remained loyal to Dany and believed she would make the best decisions for the people of the realm.

In the opening scene of the last episode, when Tyrion learns he had been wrong about Dany, he stands up to her and says “yes, I freed my brother, and you slaughtered an entire city,” then throws his “hand pin” down the steps – this was a great moment for me because it reminded me that Tyrion will stand up for what he believes in despite it possibly getting him killed. I was surprised that Dany didn’t burn him alive right then and there. She had him taken away instead, which seemed a bit out of character for her in that moment, especially since at that point in the story, Dany wasn’t thinking twice about ending people’s lives. According to her, Tyrion committed treason, so even though I don’t buy that Dany wouldn’t have killed Tyrion on the spot at that very moment, I am happy she decided to hold him as a prisoner instead. 

I am glad that Tyrion is the last Lannister to live, and when, or if, he has a family, he will certainly be able to represent a better name and more honorable reputation for his House.

I was also happy when Bran named Tyrion his hand. Since being a hand to Joffrey, I have always seen him as a counsel and advisor to a ruler in some way. It is great to know his wisdom will come in use for this new system that’s been set in place for the remaining kingdoms.

            Dany’s climb throughout the series.

Dany’s narrative this past season has thrown me in a loop, which I will get into in more detail next. It has taken me some time to work through my thoughts and unpack the sequence of actions that led to the completion of Dany’s storyline. Before I get into my disappointments, I wanted to take a moment to remember Dany for the great conqueror she was.

We have seen Deanery’s Targaryen walk into Drogo’s funeral pyre with dragon eggs and remain unscathed by the fire. We have witnessed her hatch three dragon eggs, which prior to, dragons hadn’t existed for nearly three hundred years.

Dany then travels to Quarth, frees the Unsullied and grows her first army. She marches on towards Slavers Bay to free the last remaining slave cities. It is in Yunkai where she meets Daario Naharis, a highly skilled warrior and lieutenant of the Second Sons. He’d been hired to take Dany down, but instead, forms an alliance with her and helps her crush the forces of Yunkai.

Daario Naharis, along with a numbering army of 10,000 + move on and defeat the city of Astapor, and then they conquer the largest and greatest slave city, Meereen, where Dany stays to rule over Slaver’s Bay for the next 2-3 years. Slaver’s Bay is renamed Bay of Dragons in Dany’s honor.

Dany is taken prisoner by the Dothraki where she burns the Khals and their hut to the ground in order to escape with her life. Dany, yet again emerges from fire unharmed. By doing so, she has gained the trust and loyalty of the Dothraki army.

Dany conquers Meereen for the second time. Has access to ships. Sales to Westeros with three dragons and an army of more than 100,000 men.

Dany settles on Dragonstone, and despite going straight to King’s Landing like she’d originally planned, she takes her armies and two remaining dragons North to help Jon fight in the Great War, where Dany herself, picks up a sword and fights like the brave, badass she is.

My disappointments:

The transition in which Dany’s demeanor flipped to the evil side of the coin happened way too quick.

We spent 7 ½ seasons loving Dany and watching her do more good than evil. The saying: “whenever a Targaryen is born, they flip a coin and hold their breath” – feels so much like the writers are telling us that this is what happened to Dany, rather than taking the time to show us her transformation.

Throughout these last seasons, we have really only seen one side of the coin for Dany, the good/honorable side. There are a few allusions within the story that suggest Dany turning into this “mad conqueror” that we see in episode 5 and 6, yet ultimately, the other side of the coin – the part where Dany burns an entire city, innocents, children and all, was unexpected and unconvincing to me.

Yes, Dany has previously murdered people through means of dragon fire, but they have been slave owners and/or people with evil intent. Dany’s malicious, wicked side of the coin that the writers kept hitting us over the head with this past season, did not measure up in equal value to all the virtuous, noble deeds Dany has done.

I would have liked there to have been two final seasons for this series.

Season 8 being the Great Battle with the Night King and the dead. It felt like the entire series was leading up to this battle. Yet we only have one episode of the battle, and in the end, the dead are wiped off the face of the planet for good? The Night King has been around for 1,000 years. And now he’s just gone? What happened to the children of the forest?

I wished the writers had more time to delve deeper into the Night King and more of the super natural storyline in general. It would have been great to see Bran further develop his skills as the three-eyed raven. I felt there was so much build-up to Bran’s storyline and then it kind of falls a little flat. Bran says, “I spend most my time in the past now,” which led me to believe that Bran would use something he learned from the past in a grand way to help free the people of Dany’s tyranny. I was hoping to see Bran fly – not just as a raven but a dragon!

We could have also spent a little more time on Mel and her prophecy on the Prince who was Promised. We spent two seasons + with her following Stannis around, believing he was “the one.” And then later in the series, she has us believing Jon was “the one” and then she dies and talk of the prophecy dies along with her – more on this later.

Season 9 should have been the last and final season that led up to Dany’s battle with Cersei, along with Dany’s internal conflict with her emotions. If we had an entire season to watch Dany struggle with her feelings – if we had time to see Dany’s moral/conscious thoughts, aka angel on one side of her shoulder, verse her thoughts of temptation to burn the entire city with the devil on the other side of her shoulder – if we had a full season to see both sides of this coin measure up, then that scene in episode 5, when Dany is sitting on Drogon, staring at the bell tower after the surrender, would have had us all on the edges of our seats, wondering, holy shit! The coin has been tossed – what is she going to do?!! 

I can’t help but think about Star Wars here. Anakin Skywalker’s transition from good to evil – his shift from Jedi Knight to Darth Vador was devastating and was done so brilliantly because we actually got to see him dabble with the dark side. Throughout episode 3, we constantly see the Sith Lord in Ani’s ear, tempting him with power. Ani only wants one thing – just like Dany, Ani wants to save Padme, and Dany wants the iron throne. In the end, Anakin turns fully evil and becomes Darth Vader, the greatest villain of all times. And sadly, to me, Dany’s shift to the dark side did not measure up. If it had, the impact of her deciding to scorch the entire city of Kings Landing – innocents and all – would have felt more believable. And because Dany’s quick conversion to the “mad queen” felt rushed, the moment of her death did not affect me in the way it should have.

Jon’s ending.

I always knew Jon would be the one to kill Dany. Especially after episode 5, I knew he would have to be the one to stop Dany from destroying Winterfell and the rest. I can honestly say, I thought the last episode of The Game of Thrones was going to be this grand battle. I pictured something along the lines of Robert’s Rebellion. I thought Jon would rally the soldiers from the North, Sansa would gather the armies of the Vale, Bran would warg into Drogon to either tame him, and/or turn him against Dany, Arya would use her powers as a faceless man and cause some sort of disruption, and then together, they would defeat Dany and her armies. Jon would kill Dany. Then either Jon would rule, or someone else like Bran would rule in his place. I expected the closing scene to zoom in on Jon fading out into the horizon on Drogon’s back. 

But none of that happened.

Jon kills Dany and is sentenced to go back to the Night’s Watch.

I get that Greyworm would hold Jon prisoner after – I’m assuming – Jon turns himself in. I get that Yara and some other Lords who hadn’t witnessed Dany’s destruction to King’s Landing, would stay loyal to Dany, their queen. I get that Jon needed some sort of consequence.

I was okay with Jon going back North. I never actually saw him sitting on the iron throne.

I had assumed that he may have taken over the realm out of obligation to do the right thing, and/or because he is the rightful heir to the throne. But I’ve always felt that Jon is his true self in the North. After all, the North is where he learned the most about himself, his character and where he’d first applied Ned Stark’s code of honor to his own life. Nevertheless, I would have rather seen Jon go North on his own accord, rather than to have him sentenced to go back to the Night’s Watch, where he’s not allowed to marry or have kids – as if he’s some sort of prisoner.

Part of me feels though, that when Tyrion is breaking this news to Jon, he is doing so in a mild-ish manner. Jon asks Tyrion if there is still a Night’s Watch? We all know that no, there isn’t really a need for the night’s guard anymore. Which leaves me to think that Jon’s judgement may be more of a show to keep Greyworm and the other Lords happy (the Lords who did not fight in the Great War and don’t really know much about the north, or the changes at the wall).

I am also disappointed that they kind of just dropped the Prince who was Promised prophecy. Especially since Melisandre does mention this throughout the series. She was wrong about it being Stannis, but in one point of the series, she tells him, “you will betray the one’s you love, you will betray yourself, but it will all be worth it, because you will be King.”

This causes me to believe that Jon is Azor Ahai – the Prince who was Promised. He does kill Dany, which technically “brings a new dawn” – Dany’s death means saving the other Kingdoms from death and destruction. And theoretically Dany did “break the wheel,” she just had to die in order to do it.

In the last scene, we see Jon leave the wall with Ghost, Tormund and the rest of the wildlings. Jon leaving the wall, rather than complying to his “sentence,” suggests that he is not a prisoner. He leads the people away from the wall while riding atop a horse, and we even see that Tormund is riding a horse a little behind him. For a moment, we get a clear picture of Jon leading the people away from the wall, which makes me believe that Jon is the King beyond the wall, just like Mance Raydar had once been.

Although it may not be how I imagined, Jon is a King.

Final thoughts:

I am not sure why the writers blew through the plot this last season. Whether it was due to the actor’s contracts being up, or because they had to pay the actors more money than they intended, or because making the show itself was a ginormous expense, or because the writers have picked up the next trilogy for Star Wars and now they’re focused on writing that story instead. However, I can rest assure, knowing that George R.R. Martin’s ending will be different from the show series, knowing that Martin will give us the details and complete the series in a manner in which this story deserves, and knowing that the show-series ending is not the actual end of The Game of Thrones.

Read more of my favorite great moments in the final season below.

Theon’s arch of redemption.

Theon’s death was another emotional loss for me. Although Theon had redeemed himself in my eyes when saving Sansa and escaping from Ramsey, he has also proven to be a coward time and time again, especially when he jumps ship in season seven, leaving his sister behind. However, at the end of the season, Theon yet again seeks redemption when he kills one of his own men and takes a bad beaten in hopes to rally a crew to sail off and find Yara. Theon has made so many terrible mistakes, which he has paid for and has lived with.

I am beyond pleased with Theon’s final act of redemption. He chose to protect Bran during the Great Battle and he does so admirably, fighting the dead to the very end. In the last seconds of Theon’s life, he charges at the Night King, knowing very well he will die, yet this time he faces death with honor, rather than running away from it.

Brienne getting Knighted.

I was always a big fan of Brienne and Jaime’s friendship. I was happy to see their bond grow stronger throughout the series. (I was not pleased when the show placed them together as lovers – so I’m going to ignore that part of the story and pretend it never happen).

Brienne has proven to be a Knight through and through. She is noble, courageous and true to her word, which she demonstrates when she persistently tries to save the Stark girls, honoring her vow to Catelyn.

Brienne had always wanted to become a Knight, but felt she would never get the opportunity, due to being a woman.

I was thrilled to see Brienne get Knighted and by no other than Jaime Lannister.  

      Brienne writing the rest of Jaime’s story in the Kingsguard book.

Leaving a legacy behind was something Jaime had always wanted. The last piece of history written about Jaime in the Kingsguard book was about him being the Kingslayer. We all know how he got the name, and we know the truth behind the reason for it. I am pleased that in the end, all of Jaime’s heroic acts and all the battles he fought and commanded were written in the Kingsguard book like he had hoped for.

            The Hound and The Mountain’s final fight.

This fight had been building up the entire series. I thought the scene, along with the cinematography to The Hound’s battle with his brother was well done and well worth the wait.  I also thought there is something heroic about Sir Gregor falling several hundred feet into a pit of fire and dying in the face of his worst fear.

Sansa crowned Queen of the North.

Although, I never truly understood why Sansa despised Dany – to me Sansa simply having a “gut feeling” about Dany, and/or Sansa wanting the North to stand alone as its own Kingdom and Dany not yet compiling to that wish, was never a just cause for Sansa to hate Dany to the extent that she did. Especially after Dany, her dragons and her armies helped them in the Great War. However, in the end, I was happy to see the North stand alone as its own kingdom. The North, did save the rest of the world from a war with the dead. And the North had originally been its own standalone kingdom thousands of years back when Brandon the Builder of the Stark bloodline had founded Winterfell and took a seat on the throne becoming the very first King of the North. It was only after Aegon Targaryen invaded Westeros, riding in on the last three dragons with his two sister wives and conquered all the Kingdoms during the War of Conquest that the North became united into one realm under Aegon’s rule of the seven Kingdoms. Prior to that, the North had always been an independent region and now, it is again.

That is all for now. It has been quite an exhausting couple of months. I am going to put my mind to rest when it comes to GOT for a while. And remember, this write-up is just one viewpoint. I would love to hear what you have to say so feel free to leave your thoughts below. Thanks again for reading! I look forward to connecting with you again soon.  

Very truly yours,

Britt DiGiacomo