[Please note, this article contains spoilers]
Well, the dynasty is over. We have all been on the journey and now finally, there is peace in Westeros. The wise and humble Bran is King of the Six Kingdoms via democratic vote. Sansa Stark is Queen of the North, just like she wanted. And Jon Snow, sent to resume his watch on The Wall, seems to have all but abandoned his post, the closing scene depicting him walking away to be ‘free’ with the Free Folk. Perhaps this too was what Jon really wanted.
But many don’t agree that justice has indeed been delivered. In fact, my Facebook feed has been ablaze in criticism of not only the last episode but the last season. If it’s not the coffee cup and the drink bottle left on set by accident, it’s gripes that the final season was rushed, and did not reward loyal and patient fans who have waited two years for it. There is even a Change.org petition with more than 1.4 million signatures, demanding the last season be remade with ‘competent writers’.
If, let’s say, the last season was rushed, then an explanation might be that the production did not have to try as hard as it did in earlier seasons where it was trying to build an audience. Having a two year gap between seasons has essentially created an avalanche of a fan base (I, myself only started watching in the last two years) to the point where it felt like almost the entire planet was hanging off the GoT cliff waiting for what would be the most epic seasons of them all.
However, it wasn’t. And I think that’s okay. To expect anything other than that, I think, is misguided. This is a story after all. One with a beginning, middle and end. Overall, as a series, the one element that GoT has pulled off successfully — apart from the character development, the creativity that has gone into creating the world and its languages, the story and plot — is its ability to repeatedly lull audiences into a false sense of security and then to literally behead that security in the blink of an eye. This roller-coaster of human emotion and drama was omnipresent throughout the entire series, beginning with the beheading of Ned Stark.
But just like the start that was slow building, so too did the ending have to peter off. What goes up, must come down, and it wouldn’t make sense to the story, if the last season operated at that very high level of drama. Another factor that may have contributed to your level of enjoyment of the last season may have been whether or not you binge watched it. I did, and I think that would have kept me in the world as opposed to being drip fed episodes and then having to hang on another week for the next one.
The viewers anticipating this kind of high action and drama would have been the most disappointed. To me, the ending gently eased us out of the world of Westeros lyrically and poetically. Love is the death of duty, and duty is the death of love. It was Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister that discussed this concept, but it is Jon who played it out, plunging a knife into his love for the greater good.
To have Daenerys die this way, after her years and years of battling to get to the Iron Throne — she could have died in so many different ways — but to die like this, to be killed by love itself, is a beautifully poetic way to end the story. I loved her too, but after what she did, I as the viewer, could not forgive her. She murdered innocent people all in the name of freedom, something we see all too often in the reality of our own world, and so, in a way, Jon did for us, what he knew everyone wanted him to do. It was almost like something out of a Greek tragedy, or Shakespearean play.
And it didn’t matter if he had a claim to the Iron Throne or not. He didn’t want it. All Jon ever wanted was peace. And he achieved that by murdering the biggest threat to peace — Daenerys. He was not, after killing her, going to take the Iron Throne. Jon was not that kind of man. Killing her would have made him not want it even more. That’s why he didn’t fight being taken prisoner. That’s why he never objected being sent to The Wall.
Perhaps all this anger is misdirected. Maybe who we are really angry with is Daenerys. Had she not been consumed by her anger we would have all got our happily ever after. Our Queen would have been sitting on the Iron Throne, maybe hand-in-hand with the man we love, Jon. But instead she is dead and he is gone and we are sad. She could not fight her ancestry. She became her father’s daughter, and because of this, we all have to live with the consequences of the anger and madness that eventually became her.