Game of Thrones, Series Finale, The Iron Throne Review: A Disappointing End.

two-and-a-half-stars
A few weeks before the series finale of Game of Thrones, “The Iron Throne”, aired, I learned that the ending of the show had been leaked.
I did not listen to these spoilers but I heard that those who had were disappointed with the ending, some even outright hating it.
This left me concerned, especially given that I was already disliking where the series was heading, having seen the incredibly underwhelming third episode, “The Long Night.”
So, coming into the final episode of Game of Thrones, I had my fingers crossed that the leaks were wrong and “The Iron Throne”, directed by David Benioff and D. B Weiss, would end the series right.
And you know what?
I thought the first half of this episode was pretty good.
It is not spectacular or anything, but I did like most of the things that happened here.
“The Iron Throne” picks up after Dany (Emilia Clarke) burned down King’s Landing, killing thousands of innocent civilians, including children.
We get to see a lot of characters dealing with the reality that Dany is not the benign ruler they all thought she was.
The best reaction of all of them, though, came from Tyrion who discovered Jamie and Cersei’s bodies in the crypts.
In the best case of acting in the episode, Tyrion completely breaks down in a very moving performance from Peter Dinklage.
I was very scared for Tyrion this episode, especially when he confronted Dany because I thought she might burn him then and there.
Thankfully, she just has him arrested, which leads to Jon (Kit Harrington) visiting him where they discuss the morality of what Dany has done in another great scene.
Conflicted, Jon goes to see her in the big moment of the finale.
As Dany touches the Iron Throne, Jon interrupts her and asks how she can justify her actions and what she plans to do next.
It is clear from Dany’s response that she is too far gone and, with no other choice, Jon stabs her after sharing a passionate kiss.
And so the mad queen falls, in a tragic end to her journey of reclaiming her family’s crown.

Jon kills Dany.jpg
Dany’s death is tragic… too bad they undercut it with jokes not ten minutes later.

However, it is not over yet because Drogon arrives and, in a heartbreaking moment, tries to awaken Dany, before burning the Iron Throne to the ground.
He then grabs Dany’s body and flies off into the unknown.
This first half of the episode is very well done in my opinion.
Is it perfect?
No, there are quite a few writing problems.
For example, Jon tells Tyrion he will not try to justify what Dany did only for him to attempt to justify it not a minute later.
But, overall, this first half is satisfying.
The second half, however, takes a trip to crazy land with all of its bad writing.
Everything goes downhill as soon as this second half starts.
In what has to be the worst scene of the entire episode, Tyrion is brought before the lords and ladies of Westeroes to decide what is to be done with Jon and who should be King now.
And who does Tyrion choose?
Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright).
That’s right, the guy who did literally nothing this season wins the game of thrones and becomes king.
It is not that this scene was not built up because there have been numerous scenes of Tyrion with Bran, as I pointed out in earlier reviews.
However, as I said, Bran has done nothing to earn becoming king.
What is more, it makes absolutely no sense that everyone agrees to crown him.
Half the people there do not even know him, or about his ability to see into the future.
And that is another thing, why did Bran not warn anyone that Dany was going to go crazy and burn down King’s Landing?
It makes him seem more like a villain than someone you would choose to be king.

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Bran becoming king could have worked if he actually did something instead of just sitting around acting more important than he is.

Sadly, these are not the only plot holes this scene presents because there is so much more.
Why did Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) not kill Jon after learning he murdered Dany?
Why does he allow Tyrion to speak?
Why does everyone listen to Tyrion when he is a prisoner, and only a few people like him?
The list goes on.
Even worse, there are water bottles just sitting around.
They seriously left their beverages out for people to see twice, and nobody noticed?
And then they have the nerve to try and add comedy here.
Not only do these jokes fall flat, but they completely undermine the tragic death of Dany we saw earlier.
Imagine if after the Red Wedding someone made a joke about the reception being bland.
That would have killed all of the emotion that came with the shocking moment.
Sadly, this “comedy” continues throughout the episode, with each joke being worse than the last.
Thankfully, we do get one good scene with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) where she writes down all of Jamie’s good deeds in the book he wanted to fill.
I am not sure she is qualified to do this but it at least gave me some closure surrounding Jamie’s badly written death.
A lot of the other character endings had potential too.
Jon is banished to the Night’s Watch but goes to live with the Wildlings, Arya (Maisie Williams) leaves Westeroes to explore the world, and Sansa (Sophie Turner) becomes Queen in the North.
Even Bran ending up as king had the potential to be good.
All of these endings are in character.
I can honestly see George R. R. Martin having these be where his characters end up at the end of his books, if he ever completes them that is.
The problem with all of these endings, though, is that they are either badly written or too rushed.
As I said, Bran did nothing the entire season, Jon being Aegon Targaryen meant literally nothing, Arya did nothing after the King’s Landing massacre, which makes her being there seem pointless, and Sansa declaring the North’s independence makes me wonder why the rest of the six kingdoms did not just do that?

Jonny boy
Jon living with the Wildlings is a fitting ending for him but what was the point of making him Aegon Targaryen? He could have just been Ned Stark’s bastard and nothing would have changed.

This all goes to show how rushed and badly written the final season is.
In this one episode alone there are dozens of plot holes, some of which I have not even talked about.
Again, the acting, cinematography and music are all fantastic but that does not mean much if there is not good writing to accompany them.
The second half of “The Iron Throne” did not just end the episode disappointingly, but the entire  Game of Thrones series as well.
Honestly, the last two seasons have really dragged down my opinion of the show.
Seasons 1-4 are still master pieces, and seasons 5-6 have some writing issues but are still great overall.
However, seasons 7-8 completely dropped the ball.
The ending could have worked but the writing just kills it.
I hope that if Martin ever finishes his books that the writing will be good enough to bring a satisfying conclusion that we are missing from the show.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Five, The Bells Review: As One Mad Queen Falls, Another Rises.

3 stars
Well, this was a controversial episode.
You only need look at the numerous scathing reviews fans have given Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode, “The Bells”, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, to see how they think the story is going.
By far the biggest point of contention with the episode is where the writing took Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) character.
After defeating Cersei’s (Lena Headey)  army and the Golden Company with very little effort, she suddenly goes insane and burns down most of Kings Landing, killing thousands of innocent people
Many fans are saying that this horrendous act is completely out of character for Dany,
however, in my opinion, that is not the case.
I still think the writing is bad here but for a different reason.
It has been hinted at on numerous occasions that Dany would become like her father.
In fact, it was quite obvious to me this was going to be where they took her character because I literally titled my review for the previous episode, “The Beginning of the Mad Queen.”

burning King's Landing
I think it was pretty obvious that Dany was going to go full Mad Queen after last week’s episode. 

So, if I think Dany doing this is in character, why do I think this is bad writing?
Well, that comes down to how unconvincing the scene where Dany decides to do this is.
After the city surrenders, showing they are no threat, Dany glares at the Red Keep, before heading off towards it.
As a result, it makes it appear that she is going to kill Cersei for all she has done… only for her to burn thousands of innocent civilians instead.
Why she decided to target these people instead of her ultimate enemy first is beyond me.
What is worse, I feel they could have easily made this scene work.
Remember when Rhaegal was killed out of nowhere by the Scorpion last episode?
Well, since it made absolutely no sense for Dany to make such quick work of them after losing her other dragon so easily, maybe this could be her reason for burning down Kings Landing.
In this version Rhaegal is helping Dany take King’s Landing when the bells sound.
Dany halts her attack, only for a trigger happy soldier, or maybe someone acting on Cersei’s orders, to shoot Rhaegal down with a hidden Scorpion where all the civilians are.
Enraged and paranoid about where other Scorpions may be, Dany resolves to destroy the city no matter the cost.
This would help her actions make more sense I feel.
But, as I said, I do think her turning mad was setup well.
It is just the scene itself that I feel is poorly written.
So, I do not hate this bit as much as other people.
No, the thing I hate most about this episode is what they did to Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), throwing all of his development out the window, just like he did Bran.

Jamie dies
Jaime’s death in this episode is very underwhelming and feels like a contradiction to his character.

First of all, the fight between him and Euron is absolutely stupid.
There is little to no build up and no satisfaction in this fight, due to Euron (Pilou Asbaek) being such a terrible character.
Then there is Jamie’s loving reunion with Cersei, which is weird considering she ordered Bronn to kill him for some reason.
The two then try to flee King’s Landing, only to be trapped underground and crushed by rocks while holding onto each other.
Now, while this was somewhat satisfying for Cersei, it did not feel that way for Jamie.
What did he even do this season?
He just ran off to help in a fight he was not needed in and returned to Cersei just do die.
What happened to all that buildup with him getting his good deeds book fulfilled?
All in all, it felt like they really dropped the ball with Jaime’s writing this episode.
Even the best scene of the episode, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie say their final goodbye, does not ring true to Jamie’s character because he says he does not care if innocent people die, which goes against what we know about him.
It is a shame too because, like I said, this scene is great, with both actors giving a great performance, especially Dinklage.
Sadly, Varys (Conleth Hill) also feels badly written in this episode because he is captured and killed pretty easily.
The Varys of previous seasons would have left long before he was arrested.
Then there is Arya (Maisie Williams) who I am pretty sure has infinite plot armor because of how many unsurvivable things she somehow lived through this episode.
Again, I know I am complaining a lot about the writing of the episode, but the cinematography, action, and acting are all superb.
The scene between Tyrion and Jamie is the most touching of the season.
We finally got Cleganebowl in all of its epic glory, with both Sandor (Rory McCann) and Gregor fittingly dying in fire.
Although Dany’s reasoning for burning down King’s Landing is badly written, her actually doing it is horrifying to watch and well filmed.
Then there is Emilia Clarke who gives a great performance as Dany, really selling the madness.

Crazy Dany
Even though the scene where Dany decides to burn King’s Landing down did not work from a writing standpoint, Emilia Clarke still did a magnificent job.

The shot of her face as she decides to go on her mass killing spree is chilling.
She looks set to be the villain of the final episode, with Jon, Tyrion, Arya and Davos about to probably face off against her.
It will be interesting to see if this final episode is enough to earn back the fans’ good will.
But, with all the hate this final season is getting, I doubt it.

Game of Thrones Season Eight, Episode Four, The Last of the Starks Review: The Beginning of the Mad Queen.

3 and a half stars
After the disappointing episode of “The Long Night”, the final season of Game of Thrones follows it up with a decent episode in “The Last of the Starks”, which is hopefully a sign that the show can present two fantastic final episodes.
I do have my doubts, but hopefully the writers can pull it off.
In any case, “The Last of the Starks”, like the first two episodes of the season, is mostly build-up for an inevitable battle between Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei (Lena Headey).
Before all of this though, we are given the aftermath of the battle with the Night King where we see all of those who were lost given a funeral.
Sam lights Edd’s pyre, Jon lights Lyanna’s, Arya lights Beric’s, Sansa lights Theon’s, and Dany lights Jorah.
The loss of these characters is palpable with all of the cast doing a great job at showing their grief, especially Dany who is the highlight of the episode with the series seeming to begin her transition into the Mad Queen.

Dany is pissed.jpg
Dany’s journey towards becoming more ruthless is great in “The Last of the Starks” with Emilia Clarke doing a great job.

This transition is featured throughout the episode, from how we see her interact with others at the feast, to her argument with Jon (Kit Harrington), and, finally,  the grief of her losing another dragon, Rhaegal, along with her close friend Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
However, one of these deaths is better than the other.
While Missandei’s death at the end of the episode is tragic, Rhaegal’s feels forced and once again reliant on the tropes George R. R. Martin tries to avoid.
He is shot out of the sky by Euron (Pilou Asbaek) in what feels like a complete shock value moment.
Not only this, but the scene has a ton of plot holes.
Where did Euron and his ships come from, how did Dany not see them, why did Euron not aim for Dany first and end the entire war?
Not only this, but a dragon being killed by one of series’ worst characters is hardly flattering.
Coming back to Missandei though, her death is handled well for the most part.
Sure, there are pacing and structural issues with her capture, but her death scene is incredibly strong, with her going out on the memorable line of “Dracarys!”
The performances of Emilia Clarke and Jacob Anderson, who plays Grey Worm, at this moment also help greatly to deliver an emotional gutpunch.
Both do a magnificent job, with it being clear through the final shot of Dany’s face that she is going to go on a rampage next episode.
Missandei’s death is very shocking and feels like a return to the old, unpredictable plot of Game of Thrones.

Missandei.png
Missandei’s death was very surprising to me because I thought Grey Worm would die before her.

Another scene that continues this feeling of a return to form is the conversation between Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill), which is my favourite scene of the episode.
The two discuss Dany’s recent volatile actions, leading Varys suggesting they overthrow her in favor of Jon.
This felt like a return to the gripping political drama of the first few seasons and, while Tyrion is still dumbed down compared to how he was in those seasons, it really like the old Varys has returned.
It will be interesting to see how Varys attempts to put Jon into power, as information about his true lineage is quickly spreading.

Varys and Tyrion
The conversation between Varys and Tyrion about what to do with Dany was very intriguing. I cannot wait to learn what Varys has planned.

Yes, Jon told Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) this episode about his true parentage which, as Dany said, may have not been the right call because, once it gets out, it is going to create a storm.
One minor gripe I did have with the scene where Jon tells Arya and Sansa is that it does not actually show him telling them.
Yeah, I get they did not want to repeat the explanation about his parentage again, but I would have liked to see Arya and Sansa’s reactions.
Speaking of Arya though, it looks like she and the Hound (Rory McCann) are on a suicide mission to kill Cersei and the Mountain.
While I think is likely that the Hound will die, it will be interesting to see what happens to Arya.
She has a very nice conclusion for her relationship with Gendry (Jon Dempsie) this episode, where she refuses his proposal of marriage because it is not who she is, which is in character.
Whatever happens to her though, Jamie will most likely get involved as well, with him leaving to either help or kill Cersei, abandoning Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who he gets together with in the episode.
I felt this is a nice coupling, and the scene where Jamie (Nickolaj Conster-Waldau) explains to Brienne why he is leaving has a very tragic feel to it.
And, with Brienne, Sam, Gilly, little Sam, Tormund and Ghost all left behind at Winterfell, I think it is very likely all six of these characters are going to survive the series.
The final battle will be in King’s Landing and these characters are far away from it.
I just hope the series can end on a high note in its final two episodes.
Overall, “The Last of the Starks was a good episodes with a few flaws that held it back.
Still, it is better than “The Long Night” so that is something.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode One, Winterfell Review: The End Begins.

4 stars
After a long wait, the final season of Game of Thrones has finally begun with its premiere episode, “Winterfell.”
Anticipation has been building for months now to see how what is arguably one of the greatest TV series of all time will conclude, and the first episode of this conclusion does not disappoint.
If there is any single word to sum up this episode then it would be reunions, because there is a bulk load of them.
Jon and Arya, Jon and Sam, Tyrion and Sansa, Arya and the Hound, Arya and Gendry, Jamie and Bran, the list goes on.
As a result, “Winterfell” is a set-up episode to the coming battle with the Night King and his undead army, and we will probably have to wait another episode to get that battle.
Still, what we get in this episode is nothing short of great and really shows how fantastic Game of Thrones is with character drama.
All of the reunions and meetings that happen in this episode are well done, with many of them being reminiscent of the very first episode of the series.
I found the best of all the reunions to be the one between Sam and Jon, where both Kit Harrington and John Bradley gave magnificent performances.
Bradley is touchingly sympathetic as Sam in the scene where he learns his father and brother were murdered by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), which leads him to tell Jon his true parentage.
Jon takes it as well as can, learning that not only had his father lied to him his entire life and that he is the true heir to the Iron Throne but also that he slept with his aunt.
Kit Harrington sells the conflict, anger and sadness Jon is feeling in this scene brilliantly.

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The scene between Jon and Sam is the best of “Winterfell,” with both Harrington and Bradley giving great performances.

Unfortunately, this scene and others in “Winterfell” seem to be highly hinting at Jon and Dany being at odds later.
This is nowhere more apparent than when Sam asks Jon, “you gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Only time will tell if Jon and Dany will stay united in the same cause, but I sense a tragedy coming, what with the Night King approaching and Cersi (Lena Headey) scheming.
Speaking of her, Cersi’s scenes in this episode continue to show how conniving she is, with her having Euron (Pilou Asbaek) fetch the Golden Company to deal with Jon and Dany’s army after they are finished fighting the dead.
In a small twist she even has sex with Euron to ensure his loyalty, and even goes as far to send Bronn (Jerome Flynn) to murder Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau).
However, this last act does seem to go a bit against her character.
While her wanting Tyrion dead is nothing new, the idea that she would want to kill Jamie just feels weird to me because, although they are on opposite sides now, I never got the sense she wanted him dead before.

Cersi.jpg
Cersei is unlikable as ever in the season premiere, even if her wanting Jamie dead does not make sense.

Sadly, this is not the only flaw I had with the episode because Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to rescue Yara (Gemma Whelan) from Euron’s clutches.
This scene felt a little rushed and odd, given that Theon somehow knew where Yara was, and it felt like Theon’s mission of the final season was going to be to rescue her, but now that is done.
Other than this though, “Winterfell” is still a great episode that also delivers on a few tense scenes to remind the audience of what is at stake.
After escaping from the Wall, Tormund (Krisofer Hivu) and Beric (Richard Dormer) run into Edd (Ben Crompton) and, after a pretty good comedic moment between them, find the horrifying scene of a young lord brutally murdered by the Night King and placed up in a display as a warning.
The night is certainly coming to Game of Thrones.

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The scene where Tormund, Beric and Edd discover the killed boy, who comes back as a Wight and attacks them, reminds the viewer of the horror that is to come.

The episode ends with Jamie arriving at Winterfell and seeing Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), in what will probably be the most awkward reunion of the final season.
In all seriousness though, I doubt Bran hates Jamie now because he is the Three Eyed Raven and seems more emotionless.
In the trailer for next episode we see Jamie being put on trial, in a sense, but I believe Brienne will speak up for him by maybe convincing him to tell the truth about why he killed the Mad King.
Although, we did not actually see Brienne this episode from what I can recall so we will have to wait and see.
Either way, “Winterfell” was a great way to kick off the season and sets up a lot of the relationships and conflicts that will be sure to come to a head in the great war with the Night King in the next few episodes.