Onscreen Game of Thrones Recap: The Iron Throne

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  • Brittany Strelluf

This article is dark and full of spoilers.

We open on a city of ashes. Tyrion walks in disbelief through the ruins of King’s Landing with Davos and Jon.  It’s quiet and tense, with only the occasional shocked citizen wandering around aimlessly. The production team did an excellent job creating the atmosphere and tension here.

Jon and Davos find Grey Worm executing Lannister men. Jon and Davos try to put a stop to the premeditated murder, but Grey Worm is pretty much off the deep end at this point. Tyrion finds his way to the cellars under the Red Keep. He is holding out hope that some member of his family is still alive. He sees his beloved brother’s gold hand and he breaks. Tyrion mourns his beloved brother and less beloved sister beneath the rubble of what was his childhood home. Peter Dinklage gives an absolutely heartbreaking performance in this scene. Peter Dinklage was stellar throughout the entire episode. His performances in this episode were nuanced, complex, and perfect.

Dany and Drogon arrive at the ruins of the Red Keep. She steps out to address the troops and creates a very cool effect as dragon wings open behind her.  She looks both like a dragon and like a demon. Dany makes it clear that she is in no way finished with her conquest. She names Grey Worm as the Queen’s Master of War.  Props to Emilia Clarke for performing in three languages in this one scene.  Tyrion knows enough High Valyrian to get the idea of what she is saying. The last Lannister goes to his queen’s side. Dany is still calling betrayal on Tyrion for freeing Jaime. Tyrion then removes his Hand of the Queen badge and discards it. This is a powerful moment for Tyrion. He loved Dany and followed her because he believed in her.  Dany had gifted him this badge and the title. She acknowledged his wisdom, intelligence, and valued him as a person.  He was also afraid of Dany and her wrath. He made a choice to not be at the right hand of a devil. Tyrion is taken into captivity.

Arya appears out of nowhere and tells Jon she knows a killer when she sees one. Jon goes to a now captive Tyrion, who is being held in a spare kitchen.  They discuss at great length the dilemma before them.  Tyrion asks Jon if there is anything after death. Tyrion outlines the Dragon Queen’s fall from grace in a way that is more streamlined. Tyrion also reminds Jon that he has family to protect.

Jon is visibly torn during the first act of this episode. At the of end “The Bells” Jon had seemed to an extent to have come to a decision in the heat of battle.  He spent the whole episode in the heat of battle. He saw the damage Dany was doing first hand. Yet now, Jon is debating with himself on what is right. Jon still loves Dany regardless of the destruction she had done at that point. He was brought up by Ned Stark, and he wants to do what is right always.

Jon finally finds Dany alone inside the decimated throne room.  The scene is parallel to the vision Dany had in the House of the Undying back in Qarth years ago in season 2.  She finally touches the throne she has sought after her whole life.  Dany has a pretty great bit of dialog where she describes the throne as her brother had described it to her. Which is actually the vision of the Iron Throne in the novels.  Jon begs Dany to forgive Tyrion. Jon really doesn’t want to hurt Dany, he tries to give her every benefit of the doubt. Jon tells her she will always be his queen. He kisses her passionately before he drives a dagger through her chest, killing her. This harkens back to the Azor Ahai and Nyssa-Nyssa imagery, therefore giving substance to the lore from the novel. 

Drogon shows up and melts the Iron Throne, destroying it for good. He scoops up his mother like a velociraptor opening a kitchen door and flies off with her. Since the throne was originally forged with dragon fire in the past, it’s a very fitting end to the throne.

A few weeks pass, and Tyrion and Jon are being held hostage by the late queen’s forces. Tyrion is taken to the Dragon pit where we find a council of great houses. Arya, Bran and Sansa are all there to represent Winterfell and the North. We also find Ser Brienne, Ser Davos, Robin Arryn of the Vale, Yara Greyjoy, Gendry Baratheon, Edmure Tully, Maester Wolken, and Yohn Royce. We also have a guy from Dorne that was definitely not Doran Martell. Or Arianne.

These nobles are gathered to select the new leader of the free world. For a hot second, we think Samwell has just created democracy, but he is laughed down.  Edmure makes a grab for power but is laughed down as well. It is now that Tyrion recommends Bran to be king, and gives him the very cringey nickname of Bran the Broken. Bran is named king unanimously except for Sansa. Sansa is keeping the North an independent nation. Bran immediately names Tyrion as his hand.

Brienne finishes Jaime’s chapter in the Book of Brothers. It’s a great callback to a previous episode where Joffrey mocks his uncle for not having any great deeds in the king’s guard history.  This was actually quite a lovely moment. Brienne could have been petty, but her nobility and loyalty wins out and she preserves Jaime’s memory and life with kindness and admiration. She turns the page to start her own chapter.

It has also been decided that Jon Snow is to be sent back to the Wall. At first, it is a little frustrating that Jon has come so far. Literally died and come back to life, to be sent back to where he began. However, in a way it is fitting. Jon never wanted to be king. He didn’t want to rule the North or the Seven Kingdoms.

 Jon’s fate also interestingly enough echoes Maester Aemon’s story. Jon was the steward for Maester Aemon back at Castle Black. At a moment when Jon wants to leave the Wall and take up arms with Robb, Aemon reveals to Jon that he is actually Aemon Targaryan.  Aemon had the chance to be a king, but he didn’t take it. Maester Aemon lived a good life and died peacefully of old age.  Hopefully this will happen to Jon as well.  In addition, it was at the Wall where Jon stepped out from the shadow of bastardization. Jon fell in love. He became a Lord Commander. He found, unbeknownst to him, his great-great uncle. He found friends, a family, and a purpose.

The Stark children say their goodbyes to one another.  Sansa is going back to Winterfell, Arya is going beyond the west of Westeros, and Jon is headed back to the Wall. It is here that he is reunited with Tormund and the free folk. More importantly, Jon is reunited with his direwolf Ghost.  Jon and the free folk leave beyond the Wall to start a new life.

Grey Worm and the Unsullied are on the way to Naath. It’s a sweet tribute to his lost love, but Little does he know what awaits him in the peaceful tropical island paradise of Naath is a swarm of butterflies that infect foreigners with a terrible illness. No place in the world of ice and fire is truly peaceful.

We come to a small council meeting of Tyrion, King Bran, Bronn, Brienne, and Davos. (He seriously came to murder Tyrion and he became one of the most powerful men in Westeros?) Bronn is Lord of Highgarden, which must be awkward for Sam. Ser Davos Seaworth is now the Master of Ships, Ser Brienne is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.  Newly cloistered Grandmaester Samwell Tarly presents Tyrion with A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the account of events that have taken place since the death of King Robert, meaning the events of the series. Sam then tells him he’s not in it. Tyrion literally picked the leader of the free world, he’s been Hand of the King twice, Hand of the Queen,  and is the last member of House Lannister, but okay leave Tyrion out.

The Starks all have a place in this new world now. Jon is now King of the Beyond the Wall, Sansa is the Queen of the North, Bran is the King of the Six Kingdom and Arya is the queen of the New World. 

Tyrion says about the events that occurred in this episode: “No one is very happy which means it’s a good compromise, I suppose.”  Not all fans are happy about the ending of the show. However, the ending could only be bittersweet. While fans will not agree on every detail, overall, the strings were tied up pretty nicely. There is no way that this could have a truly happy or perfect ending for every single one of our characters. However, the characters who we still have gain a role that they are best suited for.  For the viewers, the story is over, but for our heroes, they are only beginning to live.

Game of Thrones has raised the standards of television to higher levels. This show has united and inspired people from all around the world. It’s been a decade in the making and has been a joy to watch.

And now our watch has ended.