‘Game of Thrones’ finale review: Enthralling series comes to a satisfying end

The episode surrounds Daenerys with beauty as she defends her evil deeds.

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Tyrion (Peter Dinklage)


“Blood of my blood. You kept all your promises to me. You killed my enemies. … You tore down their stone houses. … You gave me the Seven Kingdoms!” –Daenerys Targaryen addressing her troops in the series finale of “Game of Thrones.”

We bend the knee, and tip the cap.

After some eight seasons, 73 episodes, nearly 600 major award nominations and 308 wins (including three best drama Emmys), one of the most beloved and acclaimed television shows of all-time closed the curtain Sunday night with a melancholy, bittersweet, twist-filled and at times surprisingly humorous send-off.



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As we learned way back in Season One, when Ned Stark lost his head, no one is immune from sudden, shocking death on “Game of Thrones,” and did that ever hold true in the series finale.

I mean, WHOA.

(We won’t get into too many particulars, out of respect for those of you who couldn’t watch the finale in real time.)

In the penultimate episode, titled “The Bells,” the destruction of King’s Landing included shots reminiscent of 9/11, with innocent victims dying fiery deaths, while survivors were covered with soot and ash.

The finale picked up in the immediate aftermath, with Tyrion, Jon Snow and Davos walking through the fallen kingdom and finding Grey Worm and his men about to execute captured Lannister soldiers.

A short while later, Tyrion sees Jamie’s golden hand poking out from the rubble, and discovers Jamie and Cersei are dead.

(We knew that from last week’s episode — but it was wise for the filmmakers to confirm it, lest the conspiracy theorists go wild.)

As was the case with every single episode of “GoT” — well, ALMOST every episode, cough-cough — the cinematography in the finale was breathtakingly gorgeous. When we first see the triumphant Dany, about to address her troops, Drogon the dragon is directly behind her, so Drogon’s wings appear to be Dany’s wings, just as Drogon’s fire is really Dany’s fire.

She is the Mad Queen.


A triumphant Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) addresses her troops during the finale of “Game of Thrones” that aired Sunday night.


Later in the episode, as Dany approaches the ash-covered Iron Throne, her long-ago vision coming to fruition, a look of pure power-lust in his eyes, we were treated to yet another stunningly spectacular piece of photography, shaded in hues of blues and grays and whites.

It made for a beautiful backdrop — even as Jon confronted his queen about the ugly things she’s done.

“You can’t hide behind small mercies,” says the cold-blooded queen.

Another highlight was a dialogue-rich sequence featuring Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion and Kit Harrington’s Jon Snow.

Jailed by Daenerys for freeing his brother, Tyrion receives a visit from Jon, who is STILL blind to the changes in his queen, STILL defending her actions.

“It’s easy to judge when you’re standing far from the battlefield,” exclaims Snow.

“Would you have done it?” says Tyrion. “Would you have burned the city down?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yes you do. You don’t want to say it because you don’t want to betray her. But you know.”

To the end, Tyrion Lannister is the smartest man in any room — even a prison cell. And Peter Dinklage was one of the main reasons we were so invested in this show for so many years.

Later in the episode, the surviving lords and ladies and leaders found themselves sitting around like remaining contestants on “Survivor,” fumbling about as they try to decide who should be their leader.

When Samwell Tarly suggests they let the people have a voice — you know, like a vote — the others on the council burst into laughter, with one suggesting they might as well let the dogs have a say in the matter as well.

Many a major character found her or his true destiny in the finale. Others found themselves in situations they couldn’t have imagined as recently as a few weeks prior.

I found some of the plot machinations arbitrary and a bit forced — but I won’t join the chorus of haters who are no doubt already lighting up the Twitter-sphere with their wailing about how it all turned out.

The scenes featuring Bran Stark were underwhelming — but then again, he’s always been one of my least favorite characters. I know the kid’s been through a lot, but compared to Tyrion and Arya and all those dearly departed, he’s kind of a bore and a drip, don’t you think?

Over all, though, it was a solid and largely satisfying wrap-up to one of the most exciting and enthralling TV series ever.

Over the last 25+ years, I’ve reviewed thousands of movies and dozens of TV shows, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the level of fan (and to a lesser degree, critical) vitriol leveled at “GoT” in recent weeks.

Then again, we didn’t have Twitter and In-Your-Facebook and Insta-Complain when the widely criticized “Seinfeld” finale aired in 1998, and social media was still in a relatively nascent stage when “The Sopranos” ended on what many perceived to be a flat note in the summer of 2007.

The “GoT” backlash reached new levels of silliness in recent days, with more than 1 million fans signing a petition “demanding” HBO remake Season 8.

Huh? So you want HBO to invest $100 million or so, find a new team of showrunners, reassemble hundreds of actors and crew who have scattered to the winds and taken other jobs, set up location shoots in Spain and Croatia and Iceland and Ireland et al., and do six “mulligans”? Sure, no problem!

But even in a fantasy-land where something like that could actually happen, how do we know the disgruntled fans would be satisfied with the new ending?

The great Stephen King put it in perspective when he tweeted, “I’ve loved this last season of GoT, including Dan[y] going bug---- all over King’s Landing. There’s a lot of negativity about the windup, but I think it’s just because people don’t want ANY ending. But you know what they say: All good things …”

Farewell to this particular very good thing.

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