Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, May 20, 2019

Some final thoughts about the final season of Game of Thrones

Last night, I joined in with the rest of the faithful viewers for the very last episode of Game of Thrones, a series that has gone beyond the five books written so far by G.R.R. Martin as it's source material.

Yes, it was an episode to remember and despite the numerous cries of disappointment  and for some, resignation, I have to say that this was as fitting a finale as we could get.

Should this season have been longer, in order to establish more firmly certain plot twists? Absolutely and I think that many of the disheartened out there might have been able to deal better with those developments if they had made this a ten or even twelve episode run instead of the six we got.

However, this is what was given to us and unlike a video game, there are no do-overs here. When the last books in the Ice and Fire saga are at last published, a stronger sense of closure might be gained. Having read the books and enjoyed the HBO adaptation, for better and for worse, I have a few parting thoughts that I will try to keep brief at best(fingers crossed):

THE DEATH OF CERSEI: One of the big takeaways from the next to last episode,"The Bells", was how despised Queen Cersei Lannister met her fatal end.

True, I would've liked her to have been blasted by dragon fire or cut down by Arya or a number of other payback scenarios yet this was the fate she deserved. To be abandoned by the few lackeys she had left,along with an army that had no real love or loyalty for her and to die no better than one of the smallfolk she ruled over with only her tormented twin brother Jamie to join her.

Cersei would have preferred to be captured or taken down publicly to further cement her image as a powerful figure instead of a resentful ,entitled person who worked within the very system she hated but was never as smart as she thought she was.

That whole High Sparrow takeover a couple of seasons back was due in part to her foolishly giving away power and responsibilities that didn't directly interest her and once the fallout personally affected Cersei, she went full nuclear option via Wildfire,which is bad governance any way you slice it.

What Cersei really hated was being a cog in the machine, a mere spoke on the wheel as it were. Yet, that is how she went out , living her own worst nightmare of her own making. She should have known better than trying to make an escape(as should have Jaime and Tyrion) at that point because as she once told a doomed Ned Stark, there are two options when playing the Game of Thrones and neither of them allow for a safe exit:

DANEARYS JOINS THE DARK SIDE: What truly troubled fans much more in that episode was seeing the beloved Mother of Dragons turn her fire power upon the innocent residents of Kings Landing, especially when it was well established that victory was hers.

If we had a couple of prior episodes to develop Dany's growing despair, that move might have seemed inevitable  but as it is, I can sadly understand it. Her whole life has become a quest to reclaim her family's dynasty and while she was able to break free from her terrible brother(who so got what he deserved) and the many along the way who tried to control and/or destroy her, Dany has kept a steadfast pace towards that damned Iron Throne.

Once she finally arrived at Westeros, the reception was chilly and even though an alliance was made in order to defeat the mutual enemy that was the Night King and company, Dany sensed rightly that her ascendancy wasn't a sure thing.

 Between losing two of her dragons and longtime loyal allies Jorah Mormont and Missandei, not to mention her own nephew/love interest of the moment Jon Snow having a more solid claim to the throne than her, Dany most likely felt "Why should I do all of this liberating for people who will be quick to toss me aside for a local boy?"

That doesn't excuse such mass slaughter but you do have to consider that she learned most of her battle strategy from conquerors such as the Dothraki and the Unsullied, social orders that rarely settled in more than one place.

Oddly enough, Dany had something in common with the late king Robert Baratheon; they both prefer the battlefield to the board room.  Her reign in Meereen was a total disaster because while her intentions were good, Dany had no real ideas about how to govern people. Tyrion arrived far too late to guide her towards a more moderate approach.

Once she burned down Kings Landing, I knew that she was going to die by someone's hand(and it took quite a bit of talking to get through to Jon Snow, seriously!) and while I did want her to be a benevolent warrior queen, Daenerys was too much of a warrior to transition into a peaceful ruler. That vision she received in the House of the Undying(and yes, it wasn't same as the one from the book) showed where her heart was always going to be and like she once told Jorah, hers was not a gentle one:

THE FATE OF TYRION: From season one, I chose only three characters to root for until the very end; Dany, Ayra and Tyrion. Turns out I did pretty well there in terms of survival time.

Tyrion's long journey has certainly been a hell of a ride, taking this at surface level snarky underdog and raising his strengths and weaknesses to their best and worst levels yet never making him a one note personality. Rather, he's one of the most nuanced characters in this story who used what skills he has to not only keep him alive but to make him a most valuable player in the game.

Realizing his fatal error with Dany, Tyrion did what he could to make that right but even that power talk with Jon Snow wasn't enough to redeem him and he's smart enough to know that. When he put up Bran as the new king and said that Bran has "the best story", he wasn't talking about what we the audience know , he meant the story to be told to the remaining citizens of Westeros and after the various wars they've been through, a back from the dead young man with a mild mannered touch of mysticism would go over better than any of those remnants of the nobility assembled in that council.

Keeping Tyrion as the Hand of the King was the right choice as it's a role he was born to play. Tyrion enjoys solving problems and getting folks to make suitable compromises as we saw in the second season when his own father gave him that task(and begrudged him for doing it so well). Also, it gives him a chance to repair the damage done to Kings Landing and while they're a long way from the democracy that Samwell Tarly suggested, Tyrion's notion of future rulers being chosen by group decision rather than birthright is a small step in the right direction.

All in all, Tyrion is finally where he ought to be and I have no doubt that Westeros will thrive under his influence. I also have no doubt that when he told Jon Snow that he was to be sent to the Night's Watch as punishment for killing Dany, Tyrion knew that Jon was going to rejoin the Wildings. He and Jon always managed to understand each other and this was the right parting gift indeed:

To wrap things up, I know full well that many of the fans feel that the female characters, particularly Dany this season, got shafted in terms of being power holders.

Instead of debating that, let us focus on the success stories of the sisters Stark. While I may not have been fond of Sansa in the beginning, she has grown by leaps and bounds over these past seasons, turning the tragedies of her life into triumphs.

No longer a pawn on someone else's sadistic game board, Sansa has claimed her own realm and will be a great Queen of the North, forging her own legacy for others to follow. As for Arya, she became the queen of her own destiny, no longer bound to seek revenge for the dead. Unlike the rest of her family, Arya has seen what life is like beyond the shores of Westeros and is setting sail to know more. She might still be an assassin but one that will more than likely seek justice for those in need rather than kill for the thrill or for cold hard coin.

Combined that with Yara Greyjoy ruling the Iron Islands and Brienne as head of the Kingsguard, we do have some wins on that side of the board. No, it's far from perfect but since Arya was one of my favorites from day one, I am willing to take comfort in that.

One thing that we can all agree on is that Game of Thrones was a game changer for both television and the fantasy genre, redefining both mediums and highlighting what needs to be changed for the better in future pop culture endeavors. I am happy to have been part of this audience and despite how you may feel about where things ended up, I hope that you are as well.

As for the next big show, I recommend a look back at a miniseries that helped to pave the way for this one. I,Claudius is also based on books(just two, and it's historical fiction) and like GOT, displays the results of where a pursuit of power can take a family. There's a ton of great performances, shocking moments and hints of the dark divine that makes this series just as gripping, even without dragons in play:

No comments: