Precap: Thoughts Before My Recap

Emilia-Clarke-finale-got-unsullied

Emilia Clarke as Queen Daenerys before her triumphant army. (c) HBO

I wanted to enjoy the series finale without the pressure of having to write a recap, so I didn’t even attempt to start a recap last night. And because this is last recap I will ever write about Game of Thrones, I don’t want to rush it. This is precap: a pre recap post.

A few initial thoughts…

Ultimately, I liked the series finale of Game of Thrones. I might even grow to love it. But it’s the end of an era for me, and I’m sad.

Although I’ve long believed that ASOIAF would never have a “happy” ending, in my heart, I still hoped for one. And this isn’t it.

Well, I guess in some ways, the ending was happy. Initially, however, I was too upset about Jon Snow’s fate and couldn’t feel much joy in it. He sacrificed so much; his fate feels bittersweet.

Jon was the unproclaimed hero of the Battle of Winterfell – he united armies and ensured the Living had enough men by sacrificing his sovereignty as King in the North to get Daenerys on side. Before that, he gave his life to get the Free Folk south of the Wall before the Army of the Dead arrived.

I get what GRRM is doing, but I kind of wanted Jon to get his happy ending. <sob>

I’ve watched the ending quite a few times now, and it has really grown on me. It works. I’m still sad about Jon Snow, but it really does work.

The showrunners or GRRM managed to surprise me with Gendry not ending up on the Iron Throne with Arya: I fell for their red herring.

Sansa’s turn as Queen of the North delighted me; I loved her beautiful Viking-esque crown and weirwood-stitched coronation gown.

I did like the Shakespearean turn of Daenerys dying in her moment of greatest joy.

Crowning Bran 6 Kingdom Regnant was a bit of a shocker I have to admit. It works though.

I’m still a bit stunned from the whole thing.

What did other people think of Game of Thrones last episode?

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

17 Comments

  • Reply May 21, 2019

    Shelagh

    I don’t have much of a problem with Bran getting the throne, mainly because I’m not sitting here thinking, “It should have been x.” I was most on board with Sam’s idea of a democracy 🙂 Does anyone realise that Bran could live for a very, very long time? He’s very detached and objective, which could be a good thing – no burning down cities because he’s in a bad mood – but he’s detached almost to the point of indifference, which is worrying.

    I think Jon did get his happy ending. He never sought power or leadership, so I don’t think he’s going to feel cheated. It’s more obvious in the books but when he was undercover, north of the wall, he liked their way of life. I thought this was the perfect ending for him.

    Overall, I thought the last episode was good apart from (again) feeling rushed. There were aspects I wanted more detail on. Especially, how did Jon even survive once it was discovered what he’d done? It felt like there was a story to be told there.

  • Reply May 21, 2019

    Piers

    I think Jon looked unhappy because he killed the woman he loved, and after several series of donning that pained brooding expression, the wind changed (a warm southerly breeze?) and it stuck. 🙂
    But it was a happy ending for him; Tormund had said he belonged North of the Wall, and part of his heart was always there with his beloved Ygritte.
    And he’ll get to take care of people, which is what he does. The true king of the true North.

  • Reply May 21, 2019

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    I think the books end (hopefully if they are published) will be similar to the TV show end. I had thought Sansa might be the younger MBQ but in the event I was only partially right as she became Queen in the North. In my interior happy fantasy land Sansa and Tyrion would have got back together (but then it’s possible book Tyrion reunites with his first wife). If Bran as king could get in touch with his weir wood network (I know there aren’t really any in the vicinity of Kings Landing anymore – maybe he could have some cuttings brought down from the North) to find out if any plots are going on in the realm. I’ve heard somewhere (but must admit this is hearsay so I can’t be entirely sure it is right) that GRRM had said the ending would in part resemble the end of LoftR and someone has said recently that Jon and the Wildlings leaving Castle Black was a little like that.

    We never got the malevolent unicorns that have been mentioned though not detailed in the books.

    Of course, Jon has never been a good liar. As Drogon flew off with Dany’s body Jon could have said that she fell in the ash and banged her head on the iron throne which was why Drogon became so enraged with the throne (he’d have had to sweep some ash over where her blood had spilled though).

    On a lighter note, somebody had parodied in a comment on a video about episode 5 what some of the 9/11 “truther” people say about “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” and said “dragon fire can’t melt steel beams”. I thought that was quite funny – though I am aware there wouldn’t be steel beams in medieval European homes). I don’t think so anyway but I’m not an architect so if an architect reads this and knows better than I, please feel free to correct me.

    Jamie is right, there is something tragic about how Dany ultimately turned out – and I think she did start out with good motives but in the end she couldn’t escape the darker side of the Targaryen genes legacy. AVERT YOUR EYES FOR THE NEXT COUPLE SENTENCE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOKS AND PLAN ON DOING SO. It’s a long time since I listened to the audio books but if I recall rightly Dany did plead for Viserys not to be killed and book Doreah died of an illness and Dany tended her while she (Doreah) was dying. Rhaegar had married outside the family both times so his children (albeit the first two were brutally murdered) would have had a better chance of evading the family madness. But would the noble Rhaegar have gone “bananas” if he had lived long enough?

    Perhaps Bran as king in the future would change the laws so that maesters and men of the Night’s Watch could marry and Jon could eventually find a Wilding lady to fill the Ygritte/Dany shaped hole in his heart.

  • Reply May 21, 2019

    Eber

    The showrunners surely chosed a quick end. In the previous seasons, there was a lot of intrigues and dialogues that showed the reasons of the upcoming events (like the Red Wedding). At the end, they put a lot of action and kinda leave to us the speculation about why things happened that way. Why did Daenerys died in such a silly way? Why did Drogon melted the iron throne, instead of avenge his mother immediately? Why did the army of the unsullied accepted so easy the fate of the queenslayer? And the dothraki, where did they go (since they hate the sea)? Did they were granted with territories in westeros? Some of the plot holes can be filled with our immagination, which is good… others, not so much.

    My guess is that Daenerys realized, before the throne, that the toll was too high for something that, in the end, she didn’t wanted that much — she wanted to be loved by the people, like in Mereen. But she was already committed with her position of power, there was no turning back. So she kinda asked to be stopped; the small smile after her last breath tells me that. So yes, it’s a Shakespearean cliche. I think her pet felt that and decided to not punish Jon, who is also a Targaryen.

    The unsullied were so tired of wars and battles that they didn’t wanted to take their chances against northmen in a foreign city without walls. For the first time, they could be wherever they wanted, without masters, totally free. But justice must be delivered and the exile of the queenslayer was acceptable (Tyrion also made a good point by proposing a new political system and Bran as the king: “that’s the wheel our queen wanted to break”). For their sacrifices, i believe that Westeros paid them with money, ships and supplies.

    The Dothraki felt no sympathy for Daenerys, but followed her because she was strong. I guess that a lot of them stayed in Westeros as mercenaries and did not take their chances against the sea.

    The biggest hole that i saw was between Sansa and Asha Greyjoy. The last were a sworn ally of Daenerys and she surely didn’t see a problem with her queen burning a city to the ground. With the north independent once again, the Iron Islands became vassals of Winterfell. These two houses were enemies for a long time and stayed on opposite grounds during the Robert’s War. She should not take so easily the independence of the north (and a son of Winterfell in the throne). So there must have been a difficult negotiation afterwards or the iron people would have become a permanent problem, practicing piracy and smuggling (i think this is what happened anyway).

    The fate of Jon was too good for him. I think he had a wish to die (he was there before). He always charged in the front of his army and put himself in unnecessary dangerous situations. He yelled in front of a crazy dragon. It was more than plain stupidity. He spent his life think it was a bastard, Ned’s wife hated him, he went to the wall at a very young age (only convicted criminals and dishonored lords were there), he saw dead people raising, he saw loved people dieing (he kind of killed two of his lovers) and find out he was the rightful heir to the throne. In modern days, he would have been diagnosed with depression. He couldn’t handle a kingdom nor his own name. The exile with his friends was the only (and happiest) alternative to a suicide in prison (that would be dramatic).

    Besides that, he was not very smart and used to trust mostly on his fighting and tactic skills. As a king he wouldn’t have been much better than Robert. Eventually, the alcoholism and luxury of the capitol city would destroy him.

    The election of Bran was smart. If we remember the conversation between Varys and Little Finger, where the last one says that a kingdom relies only in stories (or lies), it makes perfect sense. In the case of Bran, the story is true, so the kingdom now has a solid foundation. And better, no crazy heirs to the throne. A good closing to the main plot.

  • Reply May 22, 2019

    Mihaela

    It is very sad to remember that the story is over. I need some more time to put everything behind me. If I ever be able to do that. But. It was a good episode. I had impression that they gathered all the pieces of the puzzle in order to make order in that troubled universe they created from the beginning. I was also happy because it was, from my point of view at least, a happy ending, you know, the classical happy ending. The good wins over evil. The children of an honest, and good, an brave, and loving man will reign in all Westeros. After so much death, and power fight and treason some decency was necessary in ruling. It is a kind of happy ending for me and yes, I must say that I wasn’t sure Martin and the rest of the team would chose such an end afterall. It is rather a Tolkien ending. But maybe it is another message Martin sends us. No matter what we do, no matter our desires, our feelings, there is a balance in this world, an invisible hand which bring order and peace. It was a good ending. Thank you for your wonderful blog, it was very important for me, it helped me a lot to understand so many things, it makes me read history books, think of so many connections and theories from political science…it was and it is very helpful. Thank you for sharing so much with us.

  • Reply May 25, 2019

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    Eber has a point in that the season (8) could have benefited from more episodes.

    Something I’ve noted (and I’m not a musician) was that when Daenerys took over Astapor and then took back Mereen is that the Daenerys theme was scored in the major key and intended to be glorious. When she attacked the iron fleet the music was in a minor* key so even though Dany had not wholly embraced her inner Targaryen at that stage of the episode, the minor key music set up a feeling of unease which became more noticeable when Dany flew from the tower towards the Red Keep.

    * If anyone who really is a musician knows that it was a different musical effect than a minor key please feel free to enlighten me.

  • Reply June 10, 2019

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    Belatedly, I thought that in a sense Jon’s killing of Dany is a mercy killing – not unlike at the end of season 1 Dany’s killing of Drogo was a mercy killing (when she still had all her marbles). I thought there was something tragic about Dany in the end.

    I always like reading everyone’s comments but I’m glad to see Jun has visited this site again. I know she has not found the continuation of the series from where the books left off to be to her taste (and possibly it wasn’t to her taste some time before that).

    • Reply June 11, 2019

      Jun

      Thanks, Watcher. Yes, I skipped many episodes in the last 3 seasons and watched only the action-filled episodes for the spectacles. I appreciate the difficulty of finishing the story under such circumstances and I do place most of the blame on GRRM. It’s awkward for everyone.

      Anyway I really hope to see Jamie write a history blog some time.

      • Reply June 27, 2019

        Jamie Adair

        I am somewhat suspicious that Winds of Winter is done and they will release it next year. I think that releasing it at the same time as GoT would cannibalize HBO and vice versa. The related release is more lucrative.

        I know GRRM denies this so I don’t mean any disrespect to him by saying it, but what is going to say if the did hold WoW back? He could never admit they held it back: people would go ballistic.

        Conversely, if the book isn’t done, I’m truly sympathetic to GRRM because the pressure and scrutiny he’s under must be insane. The only other book release that comes to mind that was this high profile was Harry Potter but the audience wasn’t as sharp tongued or critical (and had many children in it).

      • Reply June 27, 2019

        Jamie Adair

        I’m hoping to write a book. I don’t know if this will happen for a few months because my life is a bit insane now. I’d always assumed that I would write a book that combined GoT or ASOIAF and history (like this blog does), but just the other day I found myself wondering whether I should try s straight history book — this is because the last season was so poorly received. Would people even care about a book on GoT or ASOIAF after that?

        • Reply June 27, 2019

          Jun

          I do think a straight history book would be fabulous, as it would give you space to focus on what you feel most interested in. Of course it would be a bit harder to sell without direct ties to GoT. I have not read Dan Jones’ book, but I think that is also more or less a straight history book with a bit of overlap with ASOIAF.

          I have been interested in reading up on French history a bit, given GRRM’s mentions. The medieval history is too dominated by the English perspective. I would love to see the conflicts between England and France from the French point of view.

          • June 27, 2019

            WATCHER ON THE COUCH

            Jun,

            Have you ever read Maurice Druon’s “Accursed Kings” – which has been mentioned on this blog. It’s mainly about the decline of the house of Capet – though Philippe Le Bel’s daughter was married to English King Edward II and it was through her that Edward III put forward a claim to the French throne. Of course, some of what is now France was under English suzerainty at one time (at one time Normandy because a Norman duke, William the Conqueror took the English throne but still had lands in Normandy and then after the Plantagenets became rulers of England for a time they had holdings of land back in France also. But then France (which was originally the area around “Ile de France”) expanded and when England and France fought for the parts of what is now France that were at one time controlled by the English kings, France was ultimately successful. That’s only the bare bones of it of course.

            GRRM did say he partly took inspiration for ASOIAF from “The Accursed Kings” though one couldn’t read the Accursed Kings novels and directly match a character from there with one from ASOIAF. There is a character Robert of Artois who gets up to shenanigans with the aim of helping himself – so there might be a parallel with Littlefinger there, though Artois is probably more highly born than Littlefinger.

  • Reply June 12, 2019

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    I suppose in adapting a story, especially one as vast as GoT/ASOIAF there are difficult choices to be made. I wasn’t that enamoured of Book Euron though some people think he (book E) is “awesome”. Maybe in the books

    SPOILERS FOR NON-BOOK READERS

    The dragon binder horn will come into play in defeating (some) of the dragons – and there was something in the Masters/Oldtown subplot in the books that hinted the Faceless Men wanted to defeat the dragons but that subplot was cut out.

    I guess Dany’s Targaryen genes with the inbreeding were just too strong in the end. So the third twist (after the burning of Shireen and “Hold the Door”) may have been Queen Dany losing her marbles. I may have mentioned before that I had wondered if she might ultimately have a different father than the Mad King – I still can’t guess what the importance of the “lemon tree” was/is. If and when (hopefully) the books appear maybe all will be revealed. I think it’s possible Tyrion may re-unite with Tysha – and I seem to remember reading a theory that the prostitute in Bravos (not in the show) who made her clients marry her for a day may have been Tysha.

    • Reply June 27, 2019

      Jun

      I very much doubt that Dany will burn King’s Landing because of madness or impulse. On the contrary, I think GRRM will give her a plausible reason to do it, just like every other conqueror or invader in history who have sacked, burned, and massacred. In fact, King’s Landing was sacked and people were massacred once already before the first book: Tywin Lannister sacked the city and killed a lot of citizens after King Aerys opened the door for him. But of course what people remember the most is how Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch slaughtered Queen Elia and her children. (Tywin’s cruelty was the reason why Ned Stark despised the Lannisters, who had no direct conflict with him.)

      • Reply June 28, 2019

        Jun

        Correction, Elia Martell was a princess, not queen, yet, and would never be. Lorch is the knight who killed Yoren (one of my favorite characters).

  • Reply June 28, 2019

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    I’ve probably said this before but I came to the books via the show so maybe I am inclined to cut the show runners more slack than people who had loved the books for a long time and were hoping for an adaptation closer to the novels. I read somewhere (can’t remember where and I can’t verify it) that HBO were willing to extend the run of GoT but not to commit proportionately more money to it. I haven’t felt the loathing and disdain that some viewers obviously have for the “off book” seasons of the show. I preferred the book Sand Snakes and I may be unusual in that I preferred Jeyne (Westering) in the books to sassy nursie Talisa. No disrespect to Oona Chaplin but what female travelling alone in a medieval country would have cheeked a king like Talisa did Robb when she didn’t even know Robb. If she’d done it to Joffrey she’d likely have been killed. So I’m not saying everything was hunky-dorey in the show. Some former fans seem to be of the opinion that Messrs B&W deliberately wrote the last season in the manner they did to annoy the fans. I doubt that is the case – after all if they pitch for future work their past efforts will be scrutinised and although most of the seasons of GoT were well received I can’t see that it would be beneficial to them to have a badly received final season in the minds of people who might be able to put work their way. The reception of the end by some of the fandom won’t stop GoT from being financially successful of course. I didn’t personally hate the ending but no disrespect to people who did. I hope they would be willing to show me the same courtesy though and not imply that if I saw anything of merit in the ending I must be somewhat deficient in grey matter.

    That said, I sometimes visit a (quite small) history website (nothing in size compared to Historum) and it has one thread about fidelity in adapting historical happenings to the screen which sort of spilled over into adaptations of fiction (or fictional versions of history). Some people have said that if they have read a book (series of books) which is (are) adapted they don’t watch adaptations for TV or film and vice versa.

    The site is Res Historica – as I say it’s quite a small site – it probably wouldn’t take a genius to guess what my alias is over there if anybody did take a look.

    • Reply June 28, 2019

      Jun

      I am probably in the same camp as you, Watcher. I certainly sympathize with the writers who had to adapt the books … including the nonexistent ones! Yikes. One thing that I am always grateful to the TV show is the amazing cast. Nearly every main character is cast nearly perfectly. I don’t much like the book Jon Snow and I don’t much like Kit Harrington either. Even the inexperienced actors turned in fabulous work on the show. So many spot-on characters. The looks and personalities are occasionally even better than the books’ description (e.g., Asha/Yara Greyjoy).

      It has been pointed out that episodes written by Bryan Cogman are better in quality and closer to the novels in spirit. I do not think Weiss and Benioff were intentionally sabotaging the scripts — they can’t be that cunning — but they are good at other things of showrunning. Regardless of my allegiance to the novels, I have many problems with some basic writing errors in the last 3 seasons (e.g., broken strands and dead ends, characters lacking internal consistency, blatant logical flaws). I wish they had taken more liberty with the story arc and made up their own stories. Perhaps they were trying too hard to maintain links to the source materials.

      The only thing that truly bothers me about the series is a faint whiff of less-than-enlightened attitude toward women and “colored” people from the very start. (I have to say this is something GRRM was able to mostly avoid, even though he is also a white American man and even older than the showrunners.) But … that cannot be helped … I’m sure it’s all subconscious and unintentional.

Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply.

Leave a Reply to Piers Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.