With our usual "big spoilers" ahead warning, we finally have the answer to the most-awaited question on Game of Thrones: Who will sit upon the Iron Throne? That would be … no one, because Drogon incinerated it in the series finale. The HBO show drew its last breath Sunday night, meaning finally, per Jennifer Vineyard of the New York Times, "the game is over." And Vineyard thinks it's probably for the best, as "no longer will it beckon to those who want to play the dangerous game of thrones, even if it corrupts or kills them." She adds, "Perhaps it was a good judge of character. Or at least a good judge of cruelty." More farewell analysis:
- She called it. Alyssa Rosenberg says that she always anticipated the show's protagonists ultimately "must be destroyed by the systems they've attempted to transcend or give way to something entirely new." And that's exactly what happened, she notes in the Washington Post, though "I just didn't expect that it would be this goofy." Still, "it's absolutely the case that Game of Thrones ends on a note that is as fantastical and optimistic as anything that happens in the high fantasy it ostensibly critiqued."
- A historical look back. Joanna Robinson writes for Vanity Fair that "literally no one thought it would end this way," going back to when creators DB Weiss and David Benioff first introduced the concept for the show, promising "when we give [viewers] this show, they will lose their f---ing minds." Robinson isn't so sure they pulled it off as a whole, noting, that "for those of us who have been there from the start, it's been a puzzling—and not entirely welcome—transformation." One of the main beefs, per a podcaster she cites: "Thrones has become a victim of its own hype. The pursuit of spectacle has come at the expense of something that was sacred to the show."
- Not having it. Kerry Lawler is even more brutal, proclaiming in USA Today that "this isn't what we signed up for." Lawler calls the final episode "hacky" and "cliched," leaving every surviving character with a "saccharine coda. Closure is one thing, but pandering is entirely another."
- Here's one finale fan. Steve Greene was more complimentary, writing for IndieWire that the "fitting" finale delivered a "season-redeeming" conclusion. "A punctuation of sorts to one of TV's most massive installments, it cut through the myriad expectations and offered up an impressive closing chapter, balancing a litany of character sendoffs with a parting thematic statement on the nature of power," he writes.
- Heart-stopping snippets. Will Thorne documents the eight most "shocking moments" for Variety, including what he calls the "most heartwarming" one of the episode: Jon Snow's reunion with Ghost, his long-lost direwolf.
- The good and … the not-so-good. Tasha Robinson and Chaim Gartenberg get similarly granular, detailing all of the highs and lows of the episode for the Verge. One big high: the "appropriately nihilistic" destruction of the Iron Throne following the not-entirely-surprising death of Daenerys Targaryen at the hands of Jon Snow. One notable low, at least for Robinson: the choosing of Bran as king: "I question how useful his ability to foretell the future is when he so clearly doesn't act on it, except in the broadest cases."
- Everything left unanswered. It's rare that a TV series ties up every loose end, and Vineyard notes for the New York Times that GOT follows suit, leaving many questions unanswered. So why don't we fully know why there's still a Night's Watch, or what ever happened to Arya's mentor Jaqen H'ghar, or what's west of Westeros? Vineyard thinks it may have something to do with any planned spinoffs.
- A dragon mystery. One of those unanswered questions involves Drogon when he flies away with his bloodied "mother" after she's stabbed by Jon Snow. Matt Miller thinks he's figured out where Drogon was headed, writing for Esquire that there was a "subtle answer" later on in the episode. It lies in the dragon's flight direction (East), but Miller makes another observation that's just as interesting as Drogon's destination: He may still be able to lay eggs, which means it's not the end of the line for dragons in Westeros.
- From JavaGate to H2OGate. The production team's anachronism unit apparently failed at its one job again, except this time instead of an errant coffee cup, sharp-eyed viewers spotted something else: a couple of plastic water bottles. The Verge reports that the "misplaced" containers can be seen in two different scenes toward the end of the episode, at the meeting in which Bran is deemed king. "LMAOOO I CAN'T BREATHE THEY DID IT AGAIN," one viewer gasped online. Click here for a peek.
- Strong symbolism. One five-second shot in the show earned a communal "wow," with one viewer noting, "Hats off to the cinematographers." Check it out here.
- A gradual withdrawal. For those already panicking about what they're going to do next Sunday night, ET Online has some good news. Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, a two-hour documentary on the making of the series, will air in the show's usual time slot, diving "deep into the mud and blood to reveal the tears and triumphs involved in the challenge of bringing the fantasy world of Westeros to life in the very real studios, fields, and car-parks of Northern Ireland," per HBO. Supposedly, there's a lot of sobbing by the stars.
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