Game of Thrones: Recap of Season 8 Episode 6 – The Iron Throne
After eight seasons, Game of Thrones has come to an end. The Iron Throne is no more. A new power and leader of Westeros rose. For now, in this article, I will focus on the recap (and my thoughts, as always) on the series finale. In a subsequent post, I will discuss the series and its ending as a whole.
The episode begins with Tyrion walking through the rubble of King’s Landing in the aftermath of Dany’s decimation. The air is filled with smoke and ash and the viewer gets a sense of the carnage inflicted upon its city and its survivors as Tyrion silently walks amongst burnt survivors, burnt corpses and destroyed buildings. He sets his sights on two things: 1. Trying to find what happened to his siblings and 2. Figuring out what the hell do we do now.
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Jon and Grey Worm get in to a near skirmish before Davos cools the air as Grey Worm commands the Unsullied to kill more Lannister soldier prisoners of war. It has been clear since Episode 5 that these two have been teetering on the edge of battle, and I was frankly hoping for a Jon vs. Grey Worm showdown at some point during this episode.
Later, we find Tyrion managing his way through the remains of the Red Keep’s cellars. It is a little (and by little, I mean a lot) unbelievable that he had to move maybe two bricks to find the surprisingly not-destroyed remains of his two siblings, Jaime and Cersei as he cries out in what did end up to be one of the more emotional scenes of the episode.
Outside, Dany’s Targaryen banner hangs on the Red Keep’s remains as her always-multiplying Unsullied and Dothraki forces await her entrance. In what was easily one of my favorite shots of the entire series (likely right behind the Dothraki’s fiery charge into the Long Night outside the walls of Winterfell), Daenerys approaches her army as Drogon’s wings unfurl behind her, creating an incredible but eerie illusion.
Jon is approached by Arya, who mysteriously is now horse-less and exclaims that she “knows a killer when she sees one.” We’re left with wondering if it will be Arya who kills the Queen, since she was robbed of her chance to kill the last name on her list, Cersei. Meanwhile, Dany exclaims thanks and admiration for her Unsullied and Dothraki forces in their conquest of the city, and vows to continue liberating all of the world, from Dorne to Winterfell, and all across the Narrow Sea.
As she finishes her exuberant speech, her Hand, Tyrion approaches, and clearly, he is none too happy (as expected) with what his Queen has done. He admits to freeing Jaime, but he also rightfully accuses Dany of slaughtering a city. He tosses the Hand’s pendant to show his disdain and is quickly taken into custody by the Unsullied forces.
Now imprisoned yet again, Tyrion is visited by Jon in his cell, who is still clearly distraught over the events that have transpired in King’s Landings as thousands of innocents have suffered and perished. I felt that this scene, and the one immediately following, might have been one of the first times that I felt that Jon truly loved Dany. In the previous two seasons, their connection always seemed a bit forced on me (clearly due to the rushed pacing of the show, but more on that another time). In speaking with Tyrion, it is clear that Jon is trying to come up with any justification for the atrocities that the woman he loves just committed.
It’s also apparent that Tyrion is still struggling with the aftermath of these events, as he did truly believe in what Dany was trying to accomplish. But he points out the many other incidents (i.e. in Astapor, Meereen, Vaes Dothrak) where Dany has committed violent acts, and perhaps her warped views of what is done for the greater good is more destructive than beneficial. In the end, it does appear that Tyrion has convinced Jon what is needed to be done. Tyrion is able to persuade him by reminding Jon of his Night’s Watch words, that he is the shield that guards the realms of man. Jon remembers Maester Aemon’s wise words from many years ago that “love is the death of duty.”
In what remains of the throne room, Dany discovers the Iron Throne and touches it, and even with all of the horrible acts she has committed, you can sense her pride and happiness in accomplishing her life-long goal. And then Jon arrives. Jon interrupts her as he demands answers for her war crimes and her burning and destruction of the innocent in King’s Landing. He asks her to forgive Tyrion, he wants to hear some sort of forgiveness or reasoning behind what Dany has just done, but she is unable to do so. We finally see what I consider one of the first instances of her “madness” as she mentions that she will be the ultimate arbiter of what is right and good and wrong and bad in the world. Jon wants to believe her and make amends, but with this last proclamation, Jon knows that she (and they as a couple) are past the point of no return. As they embrace, Jon sticks her with the pointy end.
As Jon is filled with emotion as Dany dies in his arms, Drogon flies in to the throne room and we really see the dragon’s personality (aside from fire-breathing powers) for the first time in many seasons, as he desperately tries to wake up his mother. Jon senses the end as Drogon rears up to incinerate him, only to turn his head and melt the Iron Throne, the metaphorical and literal cause of this eternal power struggle of the game of thrones. Drogon gently carries Dany’s body and flies away as the screen turns black.
And in my opinion, here’s where the episode gets straight up fucking loopy. The second half of this episode almost comes off as a parody to me with some abjectly bad dialogue. Aside from the smallest of quibbles in the first half of the episode, I really enjoyed it; the cinematography and the tone were phenomenal. You could feel the dread of some of the characters after Dany’s destruction, as you could with the struggle of Jon as he contemplated, and ultimately succeeded in ending Dany’s life.
But now we head back to the Dragonpit, where it has been several weeks since the killing of the Queen. Tyrion is brought to trial by Grey Worm in front of what is to be considered the new leadership of Westeros: Bran, Arya, Sansa; Davos, Brienne, Samwell; Gendry, a post-puberty Robin Arryn, Yohn Royce; Yara Greyjoy, the new Prince of Dorne, Edmure Tully; a few other lords that will forever be nameless.
And yet, it wasn’t really a trial at all? Because the defendant, Tyrion, somehow completely changes the point of their meeting and persuades the new leadership that they need to determine a new king to rule over them. Sam tries to bring up the idea of democracy only to be mocked and laughed at. Edmure Tully, always the fool, tries to throw his name in to the ring only to be quickly shut down by Lady Sansa. Finally, Tyrion presents the surprise candidate, the one with a great story, Bran the Three-Eyed – err Broken. He suggests to the other lords that future councils of noble leadership will elect future kings, in the hopes that familial rulers based on inheritance will cease to exist. Bran notes “why do you think I came all this way” if it wasn’t to be nominated as the King, which leads me to believe he knew everything that would happen up until this point happened, which is certainly a frightening thought. Surprisingly, every lord goes along with Tyrion’s nomination of Bran with little resistance. Only Sansa announces that the North will not kneel (to a Stark…) and will remain an independent nation. And surprisingly again, it seems that no one has any qualms about the matter. Bran names Tyrion his Hand after he is proclaimed King Bran the Broken.
Coming full circle and despite literally not needing a Night’s Watch, Bran sentences Jon to the Wall as a compromise to Grey Worm and the Unsullied. Switching roles from previously in the episode, Tyrion visits Jon in the cell as they wonder if Jon did the right thing in killing Dany. He will have his whole life to ponder this choice he made. He heads to the docks to say goodbye to his Stark family as we learn Grey Worm and the Unsullied are headed to the Isle of Naath, in a touching tribute to Missandei (good luck with those killer butterflies).
We learn that the Starks are again parting ways, and likely for good. Bran will rule in the capital; Arya is heading out to discover what is west of Westeros; Sansa is heading home to rule as Queen of the North in Winterfell.
After another time jump, we see Brienne of the Kingsguard sifting through the White Book that notes all of the accomplishments of previous Kingsguard members. In a touching tribute, she writes the multitude of Jaime Lannister’s heroic deeds, ending with a note that he “died protecting his Queen.”
In what is easily the worst scene of the entire episode for me, the new Small Council meets and it back to the day to day ruling over the vast Six Kingdoms. Tyrion is joined by the new Master of Coin Bronn (who did not know how a simple loaning of money worked just four seasons ago), new Master of Ships Davos, new Kingsguard Brienne and new Archmaester Sam (who never actually finished his maester studies at the Citadel). The tone of this entire scene is entirely off from the rest of the episode and plays more like a skit, as it begins with Tyrion arranging chairs (in a callback to Season 3) only for them to be rearranged as soon as everyone joins him. Sam presents the not-so-subtle nod of A Song of Ice and Fire book to Tyrion, only for him to realize there is no mention of the imp who has had such an impact on the story of the last several years (including being the Hand to 3 monarchs, being framed as the kingslayer of Joffrey Baratheon and literally killing his own father, the great Tywin Lanniser. Ugh.). King Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven who is omnipotent and all-seeing, asks his Small Council when they will hire a new Master of Whisperers, completely forgetting about his incredible power. The final conversation of the entire series ends in a back-and-forth about money, brothels and other nonsense.
I enjoyed what can be considered the final scene of the Game of Thrones saga as it shifted from Jon’s arrival at the Wall, to Arya sailing on her new ship, to Sansa back at Winterfell. We see Jon reunite with Tormund and Ghost while Arya looks over her ship, emblazoned the direwolf Stark sigil. Sansa is crowned Queen in the North as she sits on her direwolf throne. The series ends with Jon Snow; the Bastard of Winterfell, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, the King in the North, the Resurrected, the Prince That Was Promised; leading his wildling people past the Wall and back in to the true North.
1) I’ve been saying this ad nauseum for weeks now, but the rushed pacing of this season (and retrospectively, season seven) continues to hurt my feeling on the end of this saga. I really am looking that much more forward to the final two books of George RR Martin’s tale as I would expect a lot of the stories to be further fleshed out and explained. This season’s saving grace for me was the acting, the cinematography, Ramin Djawadi’s score, and the special effects.
2) I don’t hate the idea of Bran becoming King, but that scene had so, so many issues with it. Not only that a prisoner was able to convince the lords of Westeros to go along with it, but also that no one, especially Yara and the Iron Islands (or Dorne who has a long history of independence), had any issues with the North remaining independent (or even that Sansa wouldn’t accept rule from the last trueborn son of Eddard Stark, Bran). I’m also surprised that Varys writing letters to the lords of Westeros in the previous episode served literally no purpose as no one suggested Jon to become King, even if he was a prisoner. He was still likely beloved by the Northmen and potentially others (i.e. King’s Landing) since he “ended” the quick, destructing rule of Daenerys.
3) I was waiting for it all season long, but it appears that Arya’s Faceless Man training was all for naught. She did not use it at all this year.
4) I only had a few minor issues with the first half of the episode: Grey Worm and Jon facing off and then Jon walks away to immediately see Grey Worm at the top of the stairs waiting for Dany? Haha. I also am indifferent or maybe even unsupportive of Drogon not roasting Jon and instead melting the Iron Throne. We also got no outcome of Arya’s savior white horse from the prior episode which just shows how pointless it was.
5) We got a Ghost pat! I am fully convinced this was added post-production after all of the criticism a few weeks ago.
6) Prophecies smrophecies. We’ll see if GRRM has the same thoughts, but practically every prophecy turned out to be a dud, none more so than the Prince That Was Promised and Jon’s heritage being a total non-factor, other than a device to drive Dany to the point of her going ballistic on King’s Landing.
7) I really cannot believe it’s over. More thoughts on that in the coming days/weeks.
A graduate of Xavier University, Chris began his writing career as a Xavier Musketeers Athletic Communications Intern where he wrote previews and post-game recaps for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and other Olympic sports. He has worked in the sports industry in various capacities for over 5 years. Chris is a fan of the Xavier Musketeers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. Other hobbies and passions includes Game of Thrones and, as an Eagle Scout, volunteering as a Boy Scout Troop Assistant Scoutmaster. Chris was born in Baltimore, raised in Baltimore County and currently resides in Canton.