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Why ‘Game of Thrones’ denied us a fairytale ending

"Game of Thrones": Readers share their stories

  • CNN Opinion asked critics and readers to share their stories about the ending of iconic series
  • “Game of Thrones” concluded after 8 seasons on Sunday night
  • What commentators said: Read more from CNN Opinion about “Game of Thrones
  • The views expressed here are those of the authors. Some entries have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.
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13 Posts

“Game of Thrones” finale charted the path of least resistance 

In elementary schools, they teach the first rule of storytelling: “show, don’t tell.” If you’re a 10-year old child, and you’re writing a story about a prisoner named Jon, you’re old enough to depict the fate of Jon being negotiated in real time by his friends and foes. You’ll get a failing grade if, instead, you summarize your narrative by having a complex off-stage trial explained to Jon in two minutes by his friend. (Let’s call him Tyrion.) Show us events – don’t just tell us they happened. 

“Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss broke this most basic of storytelling rule over and over again in Sunday’s finale. It was as if, having decided where each character would end up, they charted the path of least resistance from each narrative point to the next. The quickest route from A to B. 

For plot purposes, Jon had to kill Daenerys: so, one conversation with an imprisoned Tyrion later and the next thing we knew Jon was in the King’s Landing throne room drawing his dagger. (An empty throne room to which Daenerys had conveniently retired without the tight bodyguard surrounding her earlier.) Westeros needed a new king by the end of the episode, so one blink and a council of leading nobles had gathered in the Dragonpit. (No word on how they all got there, or what authority any of them have left over the political constituencies of their war-ravaged homelands. Who invites Edmure Tully to Great Councils nowadays? Has anyone in the Stormlands even heard of Gendry Baratheon’s claim to be their ruler?) Then the turgid exposition between Tyrion and Jon. Eight years of storytelling reduced to plot narration as executive summary. 

There’ll be many feminist and progressive arguments written about why “Game of Thrones’” finale sticks in the craw. I’m sure I’ll agree with many of them – having written previously on those issues. (Greyworm as a generic “angry black man?” Brienne burnishing the legacy of the man who shagged, dumped and demeaned her? Not cool.)

But the social politics aren’t really the problem. With the careful, slow-burn character development that marked the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones, Benioff and Wise could have made us accept any outcome. As Nick Cohen writes in London’s The Observer, the writers can explain the clues laid to their plot as intelligently as they like, but the outcome of a literary narrative “is not right or wrong but true or false, and if a story feels false to a large enough section of the audience, the artistic project collapses.”

Bran might be the “correct” king to rule Westeros, but does anyone believe in him as a character?

Perhaps Benioff and Weiss do know better than the rest of us how their adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novels should end. Given the ripped-from-Star-Wars-debate between Jon and a black-tunicked Daenerys – “join me, and we shall rule the Westeros Galaxy together!” – I suspect they believe they’ve written a great defense of liberalism against populist dictators. Certainly our times demand such a liberal defense. But ultimately, writers can’t unilaterally tell us the logical outcome of their narratives, or the political conclusions we should have drawn. They can only show us, scene by subtle scene, so that we get there for ourselves. That is where Benioff and Weiss lost their touch.

Kate Maltby is a broadcaster and columnist in the United Kingdom on issues of culture and politics, and a theater critic for The Guardian. She is also completing a doctorate in Renaissance literature.

The one thing “Game of Thrones” got right in its last season

In a largely botched final season, “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss may have salvaged their legacy by doing one thing right – pushing one message that an American audience desperately needs to hear. That message? Don’t ever trust politicians who promise “humanitarian intervention.” 

To recap: in this season we saw the transformation of Daenerys Targaryen, once the show’s slave-freeing, tyrant-defying hero, into a power-hungry monster – most vividly, in the penultimate episode, when her dragon burns an entire city of innocent people alive, well after her enemy’s forces have already surrendered.

“Game of Thrones” has long offered a welcome critique of war, but the series finale took it one step further. Early in the episode, Daenerys addresses her army amid the carnage of the now-exterminated city, promising that the war is not over – not until she has “liberated” all of the world. 

For fighting horrific, unjustified and criminal wars in the name of so-called humanitarian intervention is as American as apple pie. But despite the long history of innocents dying purportedly in the name of expanding American freedom, our country continues to fall for politicians who promise justice while killing civilians with drones that would make a dragon blush.

And so “Game of Thrones” concludes its run with a message that we as a nation shouldn’t have to hear again, but desperately need to: never trust those who promise freedom through war.

When a politician promotes an attack by claiming to be a liberator – a “breaker of chains,” if you will – it serves as moral cover for the terrible atrocities to follow. We can’t save people by bombing them.

Soon after her call to arms, Daenerys is killed by her own lover, Jon Snow, who recognizes that war fought in the name of freedom can be some of the most horrific of all. Americans would do well to understand that, too – now more than ever.

Aaron Freedman is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter at @freedaaron.

Game of governments: “Thrones” ending confronts same problem that has vexed humanity

There are, more or less, three ways to become a ruler:

You kill all the other rulers.  You’re the child of the previous ruler. People choose you to be their ruler. 

Arguably, 5,000 years of recorded history has been spent examining the pros and cons of each system. “Game of Thrones” gets through them all in eight seasons. 

Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne in the traditional, war-mongering way. Joffrey Baratheon and Tomen Baratheon were born to it. Cersei Lannister murdered her way to power. Daenerys Targaryen was born to it, but was denied, then she was chosen but denied ultimate popular support, so she burned the populace.

Finally Bran Stark was chosen, not directly by the people but by an “electoral college” of sorts. I guess “Bran Stark Knows What You Did Last Summer,” makes a pretty good bumper sticker.

Putting aside our preferences for individual people, is there any system that we actually like? Is there any system that we feel will consistently produce the “right” rulers? 

Of course not. They’re all terribly flawed. “Game of Thrones 2” is probably about a con-man who gets rich “redeveloping” King’s Landing and grifts his way into succeeding Bran the Broken despite losing the popular King’s Moot.

No matter the system, those who “deserve” to rule rarely end up ruling. No matter our preferred form of government, we’re always within random chance of Euron Greyjoy being in charge.

The writers of “Game of Thrones” were no better at coming up with a sustainable way to pick leaders than Plato or Machiavelli or Thomas Jefferson.

There is no foolproof solution to this problem. No system consistently promotes the best people to leadership. Usually we’re led just as “Game of Thrones” tells us we are, by whoever happens to survive long enough.

Elie Mystal is the executive editor of Above the Law and a contributor at the Nation.

Why "Game of Thrones" didn't give us a fairytale ending

On some level, anybody who expected a typical fantasy ending for “Game of Thrones” was both misguided – and not paying close attention for seven and 5/6th seasons. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, not to mention original creator George R.R. Martin, repeatedly asserted that the show is a series focused on subverting expectations – not fulfilling hopes.

And hope for a fairytale finale was erased as soon as the episode began: The iconic, almost excessively-on-the-nose fascist imagery in the scene where Daenerys Targaryen addressed her victorious troops and announced her intent to “liberate” the world with fire and iron and mass murder made it clear that the Mad Queen theories were always correct – and that she was doomed to die, likely at the hands of a Stark. (The Lucifer-like superposition of Drogon’s wings behind Dany’s ethereal form on her arrival was a nice visual touch, I’ll admit.) 

Her actual killing by Jon Snow, her onetime lover and the rightful heir, was nearly anticlimactic as a result – in part since it wasn’t the “climax” of the episode. 

That’s because the remainder of the episode was spent exploring a rarely-seen in epic fantasy reality that must occur in the aftermath of a king-slaying – that is to say, deciding who has the best, or least dangerous, claim to the crown (not to “the throne,” since the Iron Throne had already been dragon-flamed into a puddle of hot magma).

That the hastily assembled council would pick Bran Stark (with his sister Sansa demanding an independent queendom for herself) is not what any of us wanted, but more or less what we deserved, for daring to dream of a “Jonaerys” pair ruling with grace and wisdom over a peaceful realm. 

And even those of us who hoped for a Westerosi Republic to emerge from the ashes had our hopes squelched, when Samwell Tarly’s proposal for, um, elections was stingily dismissed. 

In the end, we are reminded that reality is not a fable, that no one truly lives happily ever after and that the end of a tale is just the beginning of many others. And while a million fans are stewing in rage, a silver lining does exist for some: A couple dozen bottom-dwelling Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination are feverishly pulling together “Just Call Me Bran” memes as we speak.

Jeff Yang is a frequent contributor to CNN Opinion, a featured writer for Quartz and other publications and the co-host of the podcast “They Call Us Bruce.” He co-wrote Jackie Chan’s best-selling autobiography, “I Am Jackie Chan,” and is the editor of three graphic novels: “Secret Identities,” “Shattered” and the forthcoming “New Frontiers.”

“Game of Thrones" stands as a unique form of 21st century media

For a show that spent eight seasons concerned with the ways that power corrupts, the ending of “Game of Thrones” removed its major players from the seat of Westeros’s government and took some steps toward distributing authority across more people. The tension between love of family and serving the greater good, a preoccupation of the show since its first episode, influenced the story to the end. Almost all of the ruling Houses have been destroyed, and the Stark siblings have gone their separate ways.

The show didn’t exactly “break the wheel,” and many will find the ending unsatisfying (Bran? Really??), but parts of it struck the bittersweet tone George R. R. Martin claimed to be aiming for. 

Fans will spend the next few days processing their feelings over who lived and died, and what systems will govern Westeros going forward. But these processing sessions will peter out over the next week or so until talk of the show settles into a quiet hum, almost imperceptible to all but the show’s most devoted followers. 

We’re saying goodbye to some of our favorite characters and theories, just as audiences of any epic narrative would. But “Game of Thrones” stands as a unique form of 21st century media – in an era of streaming and DVR, it fostered a watercooler community. Fans must now mourn not only the end of the show, but also the end of the Monday morning therapy sessions, the vigorous debates regarding the narrative’s many prophesies, and the passionate analysis of the show’s connections to real-world politics. For the past six Sundays, watch parties across the world have brought communities of friends and strangers together; next Sunday, we all must find something else to fill out time (thank god for “Killing Eve”).

The conclusion of long-running stories parallels the end of a romantic relationship; both emotional journeys involve a sense of loss, a need to revisit the most painful and sublime moments, and a commitment to keeping alive the memory of what you shared. Fans will re-watch the series and introduce newcomers to the show’s compelling combination of magic and harsh political realities. And HBO seems poised to help alleviate withdrawal by proceeding with spin-offs.

But for now, our watch has ended.

Lindsey Mantoan is an assistant professor of theatre at Linfield College. She is the co-editor with Sara Brady of “Vying for the Iron Throne: Essays on Power, Gender, Death, and Performance in HBO’s Game of Thrones” and the author of “War as Performance: Conflict in Iraq and Political Theatricality.”  

I was right -- sort of

The “Game” is over. And I was right – sort of.

You may remember that a couple weeks back, a few of us at were asked to handicap what amounted to a “Race for the Iron Throne” and the right to rule over the seven kingdoms of Westeros. 

Except, as of Sunday night, there are now six kingdoms to rule by a single king – yes, king – and there’s no longer an Iron Throne to race for.

All will be explained, but let’s end the suspense.

Bran Stark is king. Yup. The same hapless kid who at the very start of all this mess looked in on an illicit act between Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime, who pushed Bran out of a tower in the belief that the little busybody would be silenced forever – the first of what would be a grand cavalcade of mistakes in judgment on this show by somebody whose last name was Lannister.

I called Bran the “darkest of dark horses” when compared with such candidates as, well, Cersei, who had connived, murdered and betrayed her way to the Iron Throne. Or Daenerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons, who in last week’s episode went from being the breaker of chains to ravager of innocents. Or Jon Snow, once the noble outlier and presumptive “bastard” son of the martyred Ned Stark, ruler of the North, who it turned out had the most rightful claim to the throne by birth. Or one of Ned’s daughters – either Anya, slayer of the Night King and family ninja, or Sansa, who forged by brutal travail and tragically bad relationships, became a formidable successor to her dead dad. 

Jon didn’t want to be king, and I figured Bran…how did I put it? Ah: “Bran’s comfortable enough in an alternate world. Why would he want to rule this one?”

Well I was wrong, even though I was right. Apparently, Bran’s okay with it – and so, it seems, is everybody else in Westeros, even though there’s no longer an Iron Throne to sit on because Drogon, the last of Dany’s three dragons, melted it to a puddle of molten lava after Jon, in a move even more shocking than Bran’s ascension, assassinated his aunt and lover Daenerys.

Dragon’s logic being something like: if she can’t sit there, nobody can, so buh-bye, and don’t call me unless I call you.

In the meantime, Bran, being the consensus choice of all seven kingdoms – six, actually, with Sansa insisting that her northern realm retain its independence from Westeros – appears to have been one of the few ideas of Tyrion Lannister’s that’s working out.

It could be tentative. Even he admits he’s made more errors than a major league infield with stone hands and multiple hangovers. But Bran contends: Tyrion made the mess; he should be condemned to clean it up. Just the sort of thing a wise ruler would say.

You know what? I’ll just claim this from here on: I called it. Bran wins. The story ends, if not happily ever after, at least somewhat wiser, sadder – and, let’s just say it, better than expected.

As Tyrion himself put it, few things are ultimately more powerful than a good story.

Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @GeneSeymour.

How “Game of Thrones” changed you

Rachel Barnes of Lost Creek, WV writes:

Many people especially feminists have complained about the show using rape as a way to make the female characters stronger. As a feminist and domestic violence survivor myself, I have grown stronger and more at ease watching their storylines with my own past.

The show has shown me that being hurt doesn’t end a person. I will miss that, but having watched the show, it shows me scars make us strong.

Jack Connolly of Coal Township, PA writes:

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”–Tyrion Lannister.

To George R.R. Martin and Peter Dinklage: Every English teacher in America thanks you for that memorable line.

Tyrion, easily the most intelligent character on television today, has made reading cool. I even have a poster with that line and Peter’s face tacked up in my classroom. Thank you for helping me do my job.

Jon Snow of Killeen, TX writes:

I have mixed feelings about the end of GOT. My name is Jon Snow and I have grown tired of people saying, “You Know Nothing, Jon Snow” when they meet me for the first time.

On the other hand, I have developed a few lasting friendships because of the name connection.

Jaaziel Pickel of Harrison, AR writes:

I still remember the advertisements for the first season. I am a extreme fan of Tolkien and Sean Bean so I talked my boyfriend into letting me watch it as his house as a date night since I did not have HBO and he did.

We were both single parents at the time with four kids between us so having something we could watch and just chill became our Sunday night date.

I ended up buying the books because I am one to rather read. 9 years later we are still together and will be celebrating 8 years of marriage in October. We look forward to the new seasons, and always make it our time, sending the kids to bed early.

We went through a separation during season 6 and both of us watched 2 or 3 episodes without each other, only realizing we couldn’t continue. I’m proud to say we were able to come back together and get caught back up.

It has been a great show from day one. I enjoy watching them over and over, and now for this final season we have opened up our living room to some friends for “watch parties.” Due to scheduling conflicts between my husband’s job and my own, we now have to avoid our other GoT fan friends on Facebook because we don’t get to do our watching until Wednesdays.

This is a show I am awaiting to find out who will sit on the Throne at last – if anyone – and I will be sad to see it end.

“Game of Thrones” was your community

Henry Martinez of Ennis, TX writes:

I have my wife to thank for introducing me to “Game of Thrones.” She was already mired in the world of Westeros through the George R.R. Martin novels, and I was quickly hooked.

As a bit of a TV historian myself, GoT stands apart to me from any series prior because of its grand scale and epic storytelling. But at its core, this story is about family. The Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens aren’t all that different from the Corleones, the Whites or the Sopranos.

It’s about choices made and their consequences, both intended and unintended. Anyone with a family, like me, can surely empathize. I don’t know if “Game of Thrones” will end up being the greatest television show of all time, but it almost certainly will have the crown of most visceral and impactful.

Linda M. of Winthrop, MA writes:

I did not watch the first seasons of GOT when it originally aired. But my son, Anthony did. And so did his friends. Our house became “the spot.” I would cook for anyone who was hungry, it was a casual open house for whomever was available to join. Dinner, fresh baked cookies and we could have anywhere from 5-12 people.

It became the modern-day equivalent of the Sunday dinner that I so enjoyed growing up. Family and/or good friends catching up on the prior week.

It was great fun, but now Anthony lives in LA. We all miss enjoying it together, but catching up on the latest storylines is still an additional impetus to call one another.

Elizabeth Pachus of Needham, MA writes:

Every Sunday night a large group from my dorm watches together and then we debrief afterwards. We are devastated that school ends before the finale and we will all have to watch who ends up on the Iron Throne (fingers crossed for a Stark) from our respective households.

Renee Aubuchon of San Francisco, CA writes:

I remember when the TV series “Lost” ended a number of years ago. I felt somewhat set adrift. Where will I go for great, engaging storylines and characters now? Eventually “Game of Thrones” came along, and I have been enchanted.

It’s been great, because multiple generations of my family have watched the show and then discussed our reactions. I never have been a fan of the graphic sex and violence. I have tolerated that so I can continue to experience the lives of the characters.

Sandra Burgess of Herndon, VA writes:

“Game of Thrones” has been the first topic where my friends, family, and coworkers – all whom are vastly different – will discuss and have deep conversations about actions, meanings, hopes, and perspectives. Similar to sports, we all are rooting for someone completely different and have our own reasons why.

The show has opened up doorways of deep communication with individuals I’ve never had the experience with previously. Similar to real life and unlike other television shows, in “Game of Thrones” anything can happen at any time. You love the main character that’s in every episode? HA. They die the next week. Excited to think you’ve figured out a particular even that’ll occur next? Nope. A new event occurs, crumbling your outlook.

The characters are relatable, both the seemingly “nice” and the seemingly “bad.” The spins, twists, and turns of “Game of Thrones” has been an amazing ride and I’ll miss the opportunities for camaraderie it allowed us to build as fans.

As far as my prediction for who will ‘win’ – I believe Bran will eventually sit upon the Throne, with Jon going back to the “true north.”

David Chatfield of Los Angeles, CA writes:

The show has just been such a source of excitement and enjoyment for me. I host a weekly “Game of Thrones” viewing party with friends (we’ve been meeting since season 2), and I can honestly say that I look forward to new seasons more than any film release (including “Avengers” and “Star Wars.”) Additionally, the show has become a favorite of my eldest daughter’s, so it gives us so much to talk and theorize about. I’ll miss the show tremendously!

The real meaning of “Game of Thrones”

Thea Lewis of Burlington, VT writes:

I can’t name another show that does a better job of illustrating the benefits of having a moral compass, and the pitfalls of lacking one. The way you carry yourself and the way you treat others has far reaching consequences, and that lesson is portrayed in “Game of Thrones” with smarts, warmth, and humor at a time our nation sorely needs the model.

The scenes of love, revenge, faith, and family, the pageantry, the mystery – and importantly, the nod to histor, and what happens when we accept or deny its repeating itself – are themes I won’t soon forget. I’ve been so touched by Jon Snow’s loyalty, Brienne’s strength, Arya’s courage – the list goes on and on.

This is a show for the ages. I will miss it dreadfully, and look forward to seeing where a prequel might take us.

David Remer of Issaquah, WA writes:

I resent the fact that we’re going to see the end of this story from a rushed TV writing team rather than the author of the book series. And yet I will watch it, and hope the last two books are eventually published so I can continue on with the true narrative.

Of course how can George R.R. Martin’s vision not already be tainted by his work on the TV series? It’s great television no doubt, but it bothers me to learn huge plot points from these episodes rather than from the man himself. It feels unearned ever since the show progressed beyond the novels.

Luka Murro of Annandale-on-Hudson writes:

If you stop and account all the episodes up to season six (arguably the best season) it takes 60 hours to watch it all. Sixty. Many have willfully embarked on this two and a half day (in accumulation) experience. I have too. This show is deeply complex and emotionally very intense but also is a “soap opera with a budget.”

That’s the key to “Game of Thrones.” It walks the line perfectly between melodrama and subtlety and shows anyone who likes a story that you can afford such theatrics only if it has a backbone of true poetic virtue and value.

Jon Snow will win, but...

Terry Dossey of Austin, TX writes:

I think Jon Snow will win. I think that because several years ago Game of Thrones changed from a spellbinding, nuanced, masterfully written story of human conflict to a predictable, feel good, simplified morality fable like nearly everything else on TV. This of course happened when the books ran out and the competent but uninspired show writers had to take on writing plot and dialog. Despite that, GOT has changed TV forever. It’s proved that people all over the world will watch something fresh, realistic, and unpredictable - something that speaks to the core of human nature and the human condition.

For me, it’s rekindled my hope that people want something more than disposable, comic book quality art / writing despite the success of mindless big screen productions like “The Avengers.” Art is important, not just entertainment! The mythical world of Westeros is not so different from the real life “Game of Thrones” being played out in our headlines today.

Holding up a mirror to humanity is always a good thing. Millions of people all over the world just looked. Well done, George RR Martin. And well done HBO for taking such a huge, expensive chance.

Brian Johnson of Brodheadsville, PA writes:

I’ve read all the books and seen all the episodes. It’s a great story about human conditions especially given its historical roots in the War of the Roses. The undead posed a great threat and I think it’s an allegory for the human condition. Instead of facing an existential threat like an army of undead things (climate change?) we cling to division and ruthlessness and see these existential issues as one to bludgeon our political opponents with.

That being said, I believe Jon Snow will win and then abdicate the throne to Sansa. Sansa has shown herself to be a thoughtful and capable leader. She is also the opposite of the fantasy trope of women with power being insane or crazy.

Judith T. of New York City writes:

The physical resemblance of Sansa Stark to the young Elizabeth Tudor has been cultivated in stages, and has become more striking, indeed irresistible, in the course of this season. Just as Elizabeth’s character was shaped by her experience of violence (including a beheaded parent), court intrigue, endless war, and the vicious internecine struggles for succession in the sixteenth century, particularly with a female rival–Mary Queen of Scots–so has Sansa’s been. Elizabeth’s ruthless but expedient decision to dispatch Mary may prefigure Sansa’s dispatch of Dany, although it seems likely that Arya will do the deed. They are not called House Stark for nothing. The reality of power is, and has always been, stark.

Jon will, with profound regret, sanction Dany’s elimination, probably not without a struggle, internal and otherwise, and some effort to spare her, which will be thwarted by some unambiguously cruel act of Dany’s, perhaps the execution of Tyrion. (Brienne may save Sansa from Dany, and die doing so.) His horror at the genocide in Kings Landing has planted that seed.

But my prediction is that he will abdicate to Sansa, and go North. They will certainly not marry. Sansa will marry no one. GoT, for that matter, will not end romantically for anyone.

She can hardly claim to be a virgin Queen, but she will be a celibate and childless Queen, because, as Elizabeth knew, motherhood, and submission to a male consort, who has the droit du seigneur over her body, would weaken her mythos, and her power, and her primary maternal connection: to her people.

I have always felt that the series is moving towards the end of – a shutting of the gates to –a fantastical mythical world mediated by magic forces, good and evil ones, toward a modern world devoid of them, and superficially, at least, governed by rationality. (And, of course, the deep irrationality of human nature.) The old gods must die; the dragon, of course, must die; sorcery, face-changing, resurrections–all that will become the stuff of folklore–or scripture. Bran, I predict, takes root as a sacred tree – the last vestige of nature worship.

GoT has been a great distraction from the actual violence, genocide, ecocide, murderous intrigue, superstition, fanaticism, barbarism, partisanship, factionalism, raw hatreds, testosterone poisoning, and, not to put too fine a point to it, horror, playing out in the news. Martin is a wonderful storyteller, the show runners are gifted and epic filmmakers, but for “human complexity,” one should read Homer. What one takes away from Homer, and from GoT, is the same “bittersweet” understanding concisely expressed in the old French proverb: all that changes is the same.

For all his faults, Tyrion is the hero of this story

Jean-Pierre Ducasse of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan writes:

Tyrion Lannister shall sit upon the Iron Throne.

In a strange sort of way, I, too, am a misshapen imp. I have multiple sclerosis. I walk with difficulty. I like to think. I like to write. I like the character of Tyrion. When he suffered, I did too. When I almost died in real life from complications with a prescribed drug, I asked myself, how would Tyrion have behaved? I hope to always have the courage to marshal all my strength and be as thoughtful and courageous as he was. We all fight our secret battles. How we conduct ourselves in crisis determines our outcomes in the end.

Tyrion, for all his many faults, is the hero of this story.

Gene Dillman of Louisburg, NC writes:

I have been a huge fan of HBO’s, Game of Thrones since Season 1, Episode 1. I did previously read the mega-tome George R.R. Martin’s novels (5 of them and 4,273 total pages) so already had some idea of what the TV version ought to be. I have not been disappointed. The show is stunning. I readily agree with people who say that both the books and the TV version are not for everyone. However, if you can overcome stark (no pun intended; wink, wink) and raw images and brutal scenes which make the tough squeamish then perhaps you might find these books and TV entertaining. This is not a romp in political correctness and the producers make no apology for their vision. On top of its raw elements is an intensely rich story, actually a number of rich stories, unpredictable and deeply woven together. HBO has run beyond where the books conclude, which means I have had no idea how this is going to end.  

Regardless, I will be in front of my big screen TV on Sunday to see how this complex story is finalized: they all lived happily ever after….or they really don’t. I am not sure that if who sits on the Iron Throne in the final minute of the show really matters at this point. What has mattered to me is that many people may have the exact same lofty goal, but few will ever obtain that goal. There is something to be said for how you play the “Game” maybe being as important as winning the “Game.” Perhaps Tyrion Lannister can be a giant among men? It does seem that he is standing in the center of chaos and he is now the head of whatever Lannister clan remains (and he is the last relative of Cersei Lannister, the last occupant of the Iron Throne). Sunday we shall see….

“The Education of Sansa Stark”

Ashley Norton of Wildomar, CA writes:

“Game of Thrones” has given us a full sense of the complexities of what it is to be human in a wildly magical, entertaining way. It’s been a pleasure escaping into a world of dragons, miracles and white walkers all the while seeing the parallels that exist between the characters of Westeros and society of our own reality. Much of the story is all the same, here and there, just the setting is different. It’s not your typical good vs. evil plotline that we see over and over again. Sure, you have characters with more heroic attributes than others, like Dany and Jon, but they have also shown us their downfalls and bad judgment. There isn’t a single character who encompasses perfection, making them all relatable.

We root for these characters because we ARE these characters.

Even someone as despicable as Cersei Lannister can make someone feel empathy for her. The soft spot she has for her children and the loyalty she has to her family and their well-being is a shared trait with many.  

With our real-life nation and politics so distinctly divided it is a good reminder to us all that we do have a few important commonalities.We are all human, shaped differently by our genetics and experiences, we all live and we all die.

The threat of the White Walkers and “death” was only neutralized because many people from many backgrounds and ways of thinking came together. If only it were so easy for us. However, it is nice to see this ideal played out on screen, even if it only lasts for a little while. Who will take the throne at the end of it all?

My bet is on Sansa Stark. She is the one character who has had some sort of relationship with almost every other character in the show for the past eight seasons.

She has learned a lot, little by little from everyone she has encountered along the way. Cersei taught her to be smart. Tyrion taught her kindness. Littlefinger taught her manipulation. Brienne taught her how to trust. Jon taught her loyalty. Arya taught her bravery. She started off as such a naive, one-dimensional character and has truly transformed and become the most knowledgeable character in the Game of Thrones. Her journey is very reflective of life in general. We live, we try to survive and we learn from it all until the end.

Holly Bowers of Denver, CO writes:

One of the many subtitles of this series could be, “The Education of Sansa Stark.” As she said when she became Lady of Winterfell, “I’m a slow learner, it’s true, but I do learn.” Her evolution has been fascinating … from a lovesick teenager to perhaps the Queen of the 7 kingdoms with Tyrion as her Hand.

“Thrones” has been the most brilliantly cast and filmed show ever … I have watched it twice, once to enjoy the story and another time to take in the incredible performances, costumes and lighting. The lighting alone is a work of art each and every time.

Another theory: No one will win the Iron Throne

Jason Perrone of Schenectady, NY writes:

I think no one should win the throne.

I think the throne should be permanently destroyed and Jon, Sansa and Tyrion should create a new form of government, one that will be for the good of the people for the first time in Westeros.

I was not interested in this show when it first started airing. The person who told me to watch was my mother. Season 1 was nearly 8 episodes in when I watched the first episode, kind of disinterested. Then I saw Jaime and Cersei and I was like “hmm?”. Then Jaime pushed Bran off a tower. I knew I was onto something different.

With each episode I was more enthralled. I am now famously the biggest GoT fan in my circle of family, friends and associates. Everyone comes to me with their GoT questions. I’ve binged the series at least 6 complete times, hooked countless other people on it, and nearly every drinking glass, coffee cup, shirt and sweatshirt I own is GoT related, and the Stark banner proudly flies in my office.

In fact, the only way I would propose to my wife-to-be was she had to watch the series with me from the beginning and bless her heart, she did it.

Being a GoT fan (and even reading three of the books) has definitely defined much of the past decade for me. I will feel lost without it, but thankfully HBO will help fill the hole with spin offs! 

Steve Dow of San Diego, CA writes:

Best TV show of all time.

I think there will be no one on the Iron Throne at the end. In real life, sometimes people can’t de-escalate… and the result is destruction. If Game of Thrones has been anything, it has been real (at least if you don’t consider the dragons or zombies)… ;)