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.