Please note: This article is dark and full of spoilers
After nine years, eight seasons and more character deaths than J.K. Rowling can shake a wand at, Game of Thrones has finally come to an end.
After so much waiting for this season’s epic conclusion: THE RESULTS ARE IN AND THEY ARE . . . . . . . eh, okay I guess.
Don’t get me wrong; tying up a story of this magnitude in just one season is a Herculean task, let alone finishing the story in just one episode. There were always going to be flaws, ones that we just have to move on and accept. Some decisions have stuck with me more than others, (WHY ARE ALL THE MORMONT’S GONE!!!!!), but overall, I’m leaving Game of Thrones behind feeling underwhelmed, but still somewhat contented.
Unfortunately, the show has met its fair share of criticisms, the failure to create coherent character arcs, the dispassionate way the show treats its female characters, the sheer amount of extended story that was completely bypassed in attempt to cram everything into seven measly hours, (yeah, Benioff and Weiss ‘kind of forgot,’ a lot of things). However, most viewers are absolutely furious at the unfulfilling death scenes of the two main antagonists. Nope, not the Night King. He’s ancient history compared to Cersei Lannister and surprise villain Daenerys Targaryan.I have to admit, while I do think being crushed under a pile of bricks is a bit of a boring ending for one of the most devious characters ever created, I still have a certain amount of respect for the scene. Explaining my reasoning allows for putting a few things in perspective, and that’s where a lovely thing called “poetic justice” comes in.
Cersei Lannister’s death could have been bold and bombastic. We could have seen her pushed to her death, stabbed in the back or dracarys’d when Dany obliterated King’s Landing. Considering Dany’s newly emerged madness, death by dragonfire would’ve be fun, but would it have been right? Dany is known for using Drogon as her preferred method of execution and has never swung the sword herself (the mantra that the noble Ned Stark lived by). Cersei dying at the hands of Drogon would likely metamorphose into just another long line of burn victims, leading all the way back to Astapor. There would be no substance if Daenerys just cremated the Queen, the same way she would barbecue the odd Lannister soldier or the innocent Kings Landing citizens.
As for death at the hands of her brother, well, that plotline is a little juicier. Cersei being killed by either Jaime or Tyrion would be a likely nod to the Valanquar prophecy from “A Song of Ice and Fire,” in which Cersei learns she will be murdered by her “little brother, a term that applies to both Tyrion and her twin Jaime. But despite everything Cersei has put him through, I don’t see Tyrion as the murderous type. His famous quote, “And your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth,” has been paid many times over with the poisoning of Joffrey, the murder of Tywin Lannister, the death of Myracella and Tommen’s eventual suicide. Tyrion has shown nothing but remorse for the death of his family members, (apart from Tywin, cause fuck Tywin!). Heck, Tyrion spends the last episode of Season 7 and the majority of Season 8 begging for mercy for his pregnant sister’s life, realizing that family is far more important than vindication and revenge. Dany’s murderous nature has already been forged in the fires left by her many massacres, so her snap at the end of Episode 5 wasn’t too jarring. But Tyrion has always fought for life. He could never have killed his sister.
But what about Jaime? It depends on how you view the character. Oathslayer shippers would argue in favour of his full redemption arc over the last season, with him fighting alongside Brienne, Davos and Jorah, who were all champions of honesty, loyalty and honour. His quick fling with Brienne seemed to indicate he was on the path to good. But just like Dany, Jaime has left a long line of corpses in his wake. His monologue at the end of Episode 4 blatantly acknowledges the sheer amount of blood on his hands; all of this, for the love of the most hateful woman in Westeros. This is what makes Jaime a tragic character. However way you slice it, Jaime is irredeemable. Maybe he could have learned to love Brienne, but the toxic power that Cersei holds over him is punishment enough for all his crimes. Which makes dying in the arms of his sister a fitting end for his character. There is a sense of melancholic sadness, an aura of “what might have been.” Game of Thrones viewers have known for years, “if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
Now onto the final death of the season, Jon takes Jaime’s mantle off his cold, crushed shoulders and becomes the “Queenslayer.” Quite honestly, hadn’t we all seen this coming? Dany has exhibited signs of “The Mad Queen,” ever since the murder of Mirri Maz Durr in Season 1. She may be a kind, compassionate, strong and idealistic character, determined to do what is right for the downtrodden of Essos, but to coin a phrase from The Handmaid’s Tale, “better for some never means better for everyone.” Dany may believe what she is doing is right, but so does every tyrant. Thanos snapped away half the universe, so the rest could prosper. To prevent Dany from “liberating” the Seven Kingdoms, someone had to draw the sword and slay the Mad Queen. Arya would have been a crowd-pleasing choice, but Jon as the Queenslayer makes for a bittersweet ending, instead of a triumphant ending. Considering the icky, incestuous love-hate nature of their relationship, it was highly unlikely that they were going to end up as an official couple on the show. Jon, like Tyrion, has always fought for life, never killing unless he needed to. His constant battle for duty over his own desires has led to him becoming one of the strongest characters on the entire show, but he still has to “kill the boy, to let the man emerge.” In this final episode, Jon has to make the hardest decision and shelve his loyalty, and in the process, end this long and bloody game.
By Rachel Denham-White