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UNPOPULAR OPINION: The Game of Thrones finale was actually perfect storytelling in action.

All good stories must come to an end, but it doesn’t mean all endings are good stories.

TV finales are a particularly difficult feat for showrunners and writers to pull off due to the fact that the ending to so many characters’ journeys must be woven together in a way that gives satisfying closure to both them and series as a whole. All while sticking as closely as they can to the storytelling parameters they have previously set in place.

Game of Thrones’ last episode, The Iron Throne, may have left a sour taste in many viewers’ mouths after the final credits had rolled, but for me, it actually managed to tick every box I expect in a series finale when it comes to storytelling.

It gave me a sense of closure around how each character was feeling at the end of their story (regardless of how I personally felt they should be feeling) and stayed true to the storytelling elements set in place since the day of the premiere. It was like watching a dozen puzzle pieces finally fit together.

The Game of Thrones endgame was finally on show for the world to see.

One of the biggest gripes from fans about the final two episodes of Game of Thrones was the fate of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) with the twins and lovers crushed to death between the crumbling rocks of the Red Keep.

Many Game of Thrones fans have since voiced their displeasure that Cersei did not meet a more brutal end as she “deserved”, but for me, the sight of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) weeping over the broken bodies of his siblings who had failed to escape despite his best attempts, was a fitting end for House Lannister.

In the end, Cersei was really killed by the collapse of the empire she had craved and the power she had given up everything for, and Jaime was killed by his love for her, the one aspect of his character both he and the show never wanted him to be redeemed from.

Tyrion’s tears over their deaths, both the sibling he’d loved and the one he’d hated, were as much about his own failings and bad decisions as they were about his dead family members.

This was a character whose whole purpose on the show had been about subverting expectations, relying on his wits and smarts above all else and adjusting his own moral compass to point towards what will lead to the greater good.

In this scene, we see all these elements fall away, which along with the burnt bodies of children littering the streets of King’s Landing, is the catalyst for his choice to publicly defy Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and effectively sign what could have been his own death warrant.

In the same vein, the death of Daenerys at the hands of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) also felt like an inevitable conclusion to this story and these characters.

While Daenerys’ descent into madness felt incredibly rushed for something that should have been more of a complex and slow burn feat of storytelling, it also made good on the idea that neither of these characters were ever going to be granted a happy ending, an idea that had been sprinkled throughout the show from the very beginning.

For Daenerys, the real tragedy of her story has always been the way it was shaped, brutalised and effectively ended by the men in her life who were also her family. Her father’s actions led to her exile, her brother assaulted and sold her, her husband raped her and then was the source of her first taste of power and finally her lover/nephew Jon killed her. We were given a taste of an avenging and powerful Queen, but just like everything else in the world of Game of Thrones, it all came back full circle in the end.

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Need to debrief on the Game of Thrones finale? Mamamia’s Holly Wainwright and Clare Stephens unpack every confusing, surprising and infuriating detail on The Recap podcast below. Post continues after audio.

Which leads us to the final page in the Game of Thrones story, which is the fate of the Stark children.

Since the premiere of Game of Thrones, for me and for so many other viewers, the endgame has been less about which character will eventually sit on the Iron Throne and more about where these specific characters will end up.

The destruction of the Iron Throne midway through the episode was a perfect nod to fans that this belief was the one we should have been holding onto all along.

The fate of the Starks was also a perfect feat of storytelling.

I always like to think stories that centre on sprawling groups of characters should abide by what I like to call the ‘shattered vase’ method of narrative.

At first, you have the whole vase in all its pristine glory, then when the vase is shattered the majority of your time is spent gathering up the broken pieces and working out how you can glue them back together. Then at the conclusion of the exercise, the vase is whole again, but it will never look as it did before.

This is what happened with the Starks, they came back together but the payoff for their stories over the years was that their “pack” could never look now as it did before and suddenly it was clear that all their pasts had been leading to these final chapters all along.

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is now ruler of The North, a place she was once desperate to escape and then fought to regain.

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) whose years of training and survival had finally allowed her to fulfil her sense of duty to her home (by taking out The Night King), had found peace from her vengeance and now knew that her future lay far away from Westeros.

For  Jon Snow, his sense of duty and reluctance to lead or seek power was always going to place him in a no man’s land and we now know the real tragedy of his story was never about his name.

For Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), his ending was not just about his character, but acted more as a final nod of change to what the entire show had been leading up to.

To just place another victorious and ambitious character on the throne would have felt like the resetting the entire ride all over again and making everyone line up for another turn. By breaking the cycle of power-mad kings and the ascension of their heirs, the audience was able to see the payoff for all the years of storytelling we had journeyed through.

In the end, the Game of Thrones finale stayed true to the world it had built, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here). 

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