48 thoughts on “And Now Our Watching Is Done

  1. I just now watched it.

    I thought they did everything that needed to be done, though of course everything they did would have been better if there had been more episodes in which to do it right.

    I was surprised at how many of the various predictions I read from last week ghearq bhg gb or pbeerpg.

  2. I was mostly happy with the finale, at least as an ending to where they had brought things in the course of the last season.

    Having said which, I don’t have any great desire to rewatch the episode, except when I eventually get the season on physical media and then probably rewatch the entire series.

  3. Look, considering the current rate of media consolidation, it’s highly likely there will be an HBO/Disney merger, which will mean a) a Marvel/Westeros crossover and b) Arya Stark becoming the killingest Disney princess ever.

  4. Is it kind to put Endgame spoilers in a thread marked for spoilers for an entirely different fandom..?

  5. @rcade: a friend of mine only got to see it thanks to being gifted a pass, because right now she’s literally so broke she’s buying gasoline a gallon at a time.

  6. I don’t feel like I saw enough to explain Daenerys burning thousands of innocents to death. She ended up more evil than Ramsey Snow. We got to see episode of episode of his sadism and cruelty to explain the kind of person he was. For Dany in the final season, we got two painful deaths of her confidants and hurt looks at a dinner party because people liked her nephew/boyfriend better than her.

    When Dany flew into a murderous rage, Cersei was still high up in the Red Keep. Dany could have attacked her and brought that building down without the massace of people on the streets.

  7. @rcade

    That’s an interesting assumption you’re making about a universal ability to get to the cinema within just over two weeks.

  8. That’s an interesting assumption you’re making about a universal ability to get to the cinema within just over two weeks.

    Tell me your assumption. After how much time is it universally fair to reference a major plot point in a blockbuster movie without worrying that somebody who wanted to see it hasn’t seen it yet?

    Because of work and other responsibilities, I miss a lot of movies I was eager to see in the theater. I didn’t get a chance to see Avengers: Infinity War until recently. That film’s ending was spoiled for me a few weeks after it hit theaters. I figured, as I generally do in that circumstance, that I should see something quicker if spoilage is an issue for me.

  9. @rcade —

    For Dany in the final season, we got two painful deaths of her confidants and hurt looks at a dinner party because people liked her nephew/boyfriend better than her.

    We got much more than that. Aside from her family history, Dany burned (and/or crucified) tons of people to death over several seasons whenever they dared to get in her way. I agree that there was no rational reason for her to burn the city last week, but that was kind of the point. She had slipped over the edge from reason to mania.

  10. Oh, P.S. — I loved seeing Bronn ng gur pbhapvy gnoyr. Gung tnir zr n ovt ynhtu. 🙂

  11. We got much more than that. Aside from her family history, Dany burned (and/or crucified) tons of people to death over several seasons whenever they dared to get in her way.

    We saw her take those acts when freeing enslaved and suffering people across Essos. If she was going to commit the most monstrous act against a populace in the entire run of the show I wanted more signs she was headed there. It didn’t feel earned.

    When Cersei did her worst nobody could’ve been surprised at her capacity for slaughter. Many of us were surprised by what Dany did. While it’s certainly possible we all saw what we wanted to see, I bet GRRM does a better job selling this outcome if that’s where his books are headed.

  12. @rcade

    Without a spoiler warning? Keep it under wraps until it has a home release, at least. With a spoiler warning? Discuss all you like, whenever and wherever you like, as soon as you like. We routinely rot13 spoilers for fiction that came out years ago; either putting a text warning so people can stop reading or rot13ing a spoiler for a film that was released less than a month ago doesn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation to me.

    Note, for example, how I’m not objecting to the existence of this thread. Clearly marked for spoilers. People can avoid it if they haven’t seen the finale yet and want to see it fresh. It doesn’t really take much effort to both have the discussion and meta and provide spoiler-proofing, so long as you put a little thought into it first.

    Re: Dany, I think the Tarly’s were the intended clue that she was starting to be okay with crispy fried enemies even when there wasn’t a really good justification for it.

    (ETA: But yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re right that it will be better built up to when GRRM gets to writing it.)

  13. Murderous rage has been Dany’s preferred approach to problem solving since the end of season 1. Her go-to threat to anyone standing in her way has been “Imma burn your city to the ground” since before her dragons were big enough to light a campfire. We just let it slide previously as we were assured that all the people she killed were “bad” (though we never got to meet many of them to see for ourselves).

    If she does intend to continue conquering, demonstrating that human shields won’t hold her back any more than city walls could speed things up. It’s like nuking Hiroshima. You know that she can and will destroy you so you had better surrender.

  14. @rcade – I (we) haven’t seen Endgame yet. Yes, it’s playing in several nearby theaters. Yeah, I’d planning to see it RSN (Real Soon Now), in a theater, rather than wait till it comes to the TV screen chez nous. So if, somewhere, Suzanne Pleshette is waking up next to what turns out to be Thanos, keep it under your hat, thanks.

  15. @rcade —

    We saw her take those acts when freeing enslaved and suffering people across Essos.

    She also fried the Tarlys and Varys, remember.

    Also what Mister Dalliard said.

    And remember Tyrion’s fcrrpu gb Wba sebz guvf jrrx’f rcvfbqr.

    I bet GRRM does a better job selling this outcome if that’s where his books are headed.

    Well, that goes without saying. He gets as many hundreds of pages as he wants — these guys only had six episodes!

  16. @Contrarius

    I’m not sure if it’s been confirmed but the rumour I’ve seen flying around has it that HBO would have let them have as many episodes as they wanted and they opted for just six by their own free will, which if true means they only have themselves to blame for people thinking it was a wee bit rushed.

  17. Honestly, although I can understand the motivation behind “and YOU get a happy ending, and YOU get a happy ending and… everyone look under your chairs; you ALL get happy endings….” I’d’ve been happier if Drogon had killed Jon before flying into the sunset. Don’t get me wrong; I *like* Jon. But I see no narrative reason why Drogon would have spared him. And even if Drogon spared him (perhaps he’s fireproof, too?), I see absolutely no narrative reason why Grayworm would have done so.

    Not killing Jon felt like a cop-out to me. (But I was glad Arya sailed west. I vaguely remembering her wanting to know what was west of the known world several seasons ago, so that was a satisfying Chekov’s gun. Ship. Whatever.)

  18. Is there really anyone left who cares about the movie being spoiled and hasn’t seen it?

    Personally, I don’t care about being spoiled, but I haven’t yet seen the movie because I don’t like going to packed theaters. I always wait until a blockbuster is nearly at the end of its run. When I finally saw Captain Marvel, there was only me and two or three other people in the theater, and no one sitting next to me, and that’s the way I like it.

    So please don’t assume that all of us a) can afford to see a movie quickly; or b) want to see a movie quickly. I think rot-13 and/or spoiler warnings can at least be used until the movie comes out on DVD.

  19. Well, that goes without saying. He gets as many hundreds of pages as he wants — these guys only had six episodes!

    Considering how long the final season episodes were, I think they had enough time to tell the story of Daenerys to better set up what she was going to do.

  20. Cassy B.: I’d’ve been happier if Drogon had killed Jon before flying into the sunset. Don’t get me wrong; I *like* Jon. But I see no narrative reason why Drogon would have spared him… Not killing Jon felt like a cop-out to me.

    Well, Jon is a Targaryen, and that family are the dragon-masters, so Drogon probably recognizes his bloodline from his smell.

  21. Is there really anyone left who cares about the movie being spoiled and hasn’t seen it?

    I haven’t seen it yet because I’m having back & hip problems and I can’t sit for 3 hours straight, especially in some crappy theater seat with no lumbar support. If there was a theater that would insert a few intermissions so I could get up & walk around occasionally, I’d do that; as it is, I have to wait for the blu-ray.

    I don’t care so much about reading spoilers for GoT because the ending is probably at least a decade away from being published in print form, and by then I’ll have forgotten most of what I read here. But I would prefer to avoid spoilers for a movie that I’ll be watching before the year is over.

  22. So, let me ask y’all something?
    Because I haven’t been watching the TV show, but I sure do remember the books, and there’s just this glaring gap in all the discussion I’ve been seeing about the show wrapping up.

    As I remember the books, one of the constant threads and themes is the basic contradiction between being a principled enough person to lead well, and being a ruthless enough bastard to actually grab power and hang on to it.

    That’s what gets Ned Stark killed. It’s why guarding against Westeros’s greatest threat is a brutal punishment left to criminals and outcasts. It’s Sansa getting disillusioned from the pretty way things are supposed to work; it’s Arya vowing to be strong enough to mete out justice; it’s Tyrion’s cynicism as someone who’s both immensely powerful and absolutely loathed.

    I think I can sum it up as “Nice Guys Finish Last, and This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”

    And I can’t imagine the story ending without some kind of conclusion. Whether it’s a completely tragic one (the bastards win; good guys only win by becoming bastards), or a more hopeful one (with some kind of hope for a better power dynamic).

    And: I haven’t seen the show, but I’m not seeing people talking about this at all.

    There’s lots about Dany snapping. Which would make sense to me if it were in the context of “listen, the idea of saviors, or being forged for leadership, doesn’t work“, which is kind of undercut if it’s just “Oh yeah Targeryens are crazy, dontcha know,” which all smells to me of a pretty classic “GRRM had some good ideas, but the show kind of shallowed it out”.

    But: what about everything else? Does the rest of the conclusion actually address “Hey, power dynamics are really really bad”? At all?

    I keep seeing mention of which Stark gets to be king and what happens to Jon, but that… that all feels like there’s just been a big war, or a sports game, and we want to check who won.
    What about what the story’s about? About what makes a good leader, whether good leadership is even possible, what you do about the world being full of ruthless assholes?
    Does the show’s conclusion offer up any answer or thought on these? Explicitly, implicitly, what have you?
    Or did they forget there’s even a question?

  23. A couple of things I haven’t seen mentioned in the comments on the inter webs
    1) no one seems bothered that Big Brother Bran is watching you? He’s been watching for a while but having the king watching you is a little different from a random guy in the woods, isn’t it?
    2) did Cersei kill every single septon? Is that why there isn’t one on the council?

  24. @rcade: I’m another Filer who hasn’t seen Endgame yet; some of us have crowded end-of-school-year schedules even if we haven’t been connected to school for decades. (If nothing else blows up, I’ll run the Infinity Wars DVD tonight and see the new one tomorrow.)

    The BBC sums up How the women of Westeros took centre stage — not posted elsewhere because it’s loaded with spoilers.

  25. What’s saddest here about the anti-spoilers folks is that, with just a little creativity, you could have spun it so nobody would know for sure if it was a spoiler or just a crossover joke.

    If I hadn’t already seen Endgame, the joke would have had the benefit of the doubt.

  26. I’m currently listening to the S8 soundtrack on Spotify and wow, this series has had some really great music over the years.

  27. @Standback —

    What about what the story’s about?

    Hmmm. Now I’m soooo confused about whether it’s okay to spoil details or not. 😉

    Here’s a few thoughts about what I think the finale is saying:

    1. The guys who do the most to bring about the results don’t get to enjoy them. Qnal, jub pbadhrerq gur jbeyq, vf qrnq; Wba, jub xvyyrq ure, vf fuvccrq bss; Neln, jub xvyyrq gur Avtug Xvat, vf bss gb rkcyber.

    2. Power is not always obvious — you always have to remember the sneaky, underhanded guys while you’re worrying about the guy coming at you with a hammer. Oena vf “oebxra”, ohg ur onfvpnyyl xabjf rirelguvat; naq gubhtu ur frrzrq gb or trggvat ebcrq vagb gur ebyr bs xvat, ur gryyf Glevba “Jul qb lbh guvax V pnzr nyy guvf jnl?” — ur nyernql xarj jung jnf tbvat gb unccra, naq irel yvxryl znqr fher gb znavchyngr riragf gb znxr vg unccra.

    3. Power corrupts, etc. Qnal fgnegf bhg vqrnyvfgvp, ohg gur zber cbjre fur trgf, gur zber fur trgf pbaivaprq bs ure bja tbqubbq.

    4. Also, don’t get too comfortable being optimistic about the future. Oena znl frrz nyy oraribyrag naq nyy, ohg arne gur raq ur fnlf znlor ur pna svaq Qebtba — naq jr’ir nyernql frra ubj pbageby bs gur qentbaf nssrpgrq Qnal. Naq Oebaa va punetr bs gur gernfhel! Naq, bs pbhefr, lbhe ybire znl xavsr lbh jura lbh yrnfg rkcrpg vg.

  28. Data points:

    Haven’t seen Endgame yet. I’m taking the attitude that any plot reveals I see on Twitter or elsewhere are just people shitposting to try and rile people up.

    Only saw The Last Jedi a few weeks ago. (Avoided blog posts and articles about the film. Twitter was actually pretty good about avoiding spoilers for TLJ, but they’ve been really awful about the GoT finale.)

    It’s okay to post spoilers in a thread marked Here There Be Spoilers, but not spoilers for a completely different property than the one up for discussion.

    Nyfb, Yvggyr Aryy qvrq.

  29. Of the women who are supposed to have taken center (or centre, per the BBC) stage, two (Cersei and Dany) showed they were unfit to lead, one (Lyanna Mormont) died, one (Melisandre) died and also showed she was unfit to lead, and one (Brienne) turned from seasoned knight to weepy girlfriend in about ten seconds. Sansa and Arya got fitting endings, but of the women only Sansa became anything like a decent leader.

    As other people are saying, probably GRRM will flesh these stories out and we can see Dany’s progression to Mad Queen Targaryen, but the show just left me grumbly.

  30. But: what about everything else? Does the rest of the conclusion actually address “Hey, power dynamics are really really bad”? At all?

    Yes. The scene where the leader is chosen is a discussion of how to choose, who it should be and what processes are so harmful they should be abandoned (primogeniture) or so funny they should be mocked (democracy). The last two episodes had several conversations about wanting the throne making you a bad choice and not wanting it making you a good one.

  31. Standback – I disgree with you that ‘Nice Guys Finish Last etc’ is the theme. The theme is it doesn’t matter if you’re naughty or nice, when you’re engaged in acts of great or small historical moment, anything at alll can come along to either trip you up or save you. Sometimes you trip yourself up, sometimes someone or something else does it for you, and entire courses of history shift into new channels for good and ill.

    I never had any sense that Dany was ‘crazy.’ She embraced a megalomaniacal heritage of royal entitlement from the very start, bolstered and developed through a heady mix of white saviour complex, devoted followers and magical nuclear weaponry. The only reason her actions came as a surprise to the other characters and the viewers is because they were 1. besotted by her beauty and sincerity, 2. could see that she knew the difference between right and wrong and 3. the people she’d slaughtered so far had moslty been unsympathetic foreigners.

    Dany made a cold choice to show what happens when you reject her and defy her and insult her and murder someone she loves. With her the personal and the political are completely inextricable. She didn’t snap, she supressed her sense of right and wrong in the name of the greater good, and she IS the greater good. When that happened the show finally became a coherent piece of work – however falwed up and down in all sorts of ways – and acquired a moral weight it has often seemed to come close to outright rejecting.

    The final episode papered over a lot of cracks but was perfect in its bittersweet tone, as if The Scouring Of The Shire had been Frodo versus Aragorn.

    Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll ever rewatch it again, but if I do it’ll be despite a lot of maddening flaws and because the last two episodes were a right and proper ending.

    Edited to add – the idea that Dany went mad really annoys me. Nothing she does is inconsistent with the way power has been exercised throughout the series by others who were not thought of as mad but merely effective, except for the scale and her messianic mission – the latter which must have made her seem mad to a lot of people but not the viewers, certainly.

  32. @Nigel —

    Edited to add – the idea that Dany went mad really annoys me.

    I think it was made pretty clear in her last conversation with Jon that she had succumbed to a sort of messianic madness at the very least. She was intent on “saving” and “liberating” the world, but only her standards, definitions, and desires mattered — nobody else’s, even those of the people she was supposedly saving.

    Oh, also —

    @Cassy from an earlier comment about Grayworm —

    I’m okay with Grayworm not killing Jon. Grayworm was all about following orders. Even when his men started killing all the King’s Landing soldiers last week, he didn’t start doing that until after he saw Dany and Drogon starting to destroy the city; and he was executing prisoners in the last episode only because Dany had ordered him to. Once Dany was dead, there was nobody to give Grayworm an order about Jon, so I can see him waiting until a new leader could be chosen.

  33. @Contrarius – yeah, but that was Dany’s subtext being made text – it was there all along. Perhaps it reached a kind of apotheosis for her at that moment, an ultimate justification, and as with most events in the show, perhaps things could have been diverted down a different path at any number of moments before that point, but at that moment she acheived what she had set out to do and felt unstoppable. Enter Dramatic Irony, stage left, pursued by a dragon.

  34. Not the finale, but the penultimate episode: Naomi Novik isn’t too thrilled with how the season has gone but she did have Thoughts on the Jaime&Brienne storyline which people might be interested in. (She ships them, so it’s her primary focus. She’s written roughly 150k words of various different “and what if I changed this one thing—“ fics revolving around them.)

    @Lenora Rose

    That’s an interesting idea, but the problem with it is that I haven’t seen Endgame yet. Although I will put some thought into how I could have creatively covered up the spoiler from myself, it’s quite a funny exercise. 🙂

    @Contrarius

    I mean, you can still rot13 GOT spoilers if you want to, but this whole thread is spoiler warning’d for GOT so it does seem a little redundant! 🙂

  35. @Meredith —

    I mean, you can still rot13 GOT spoilers if you want to, but this whole thread is spoiler warning’d for GOT so it does seem a little redundant!

    When people say something like “BEWARE SPOILERS!”, I never know whether they mean “beware of posting spoilers” or “there’s gonna be spoilers here, so beware”.

    Why yes, I’m a very persnickety editor, why do you ask?

    😉

  36. @Standback
    I viewed the finale as a reminder that power corrupts and even good intentions can lead to mass slaughter and genocide.

    And while Westeros obviously isn’t read for democracy yet, though the idea is briefly suggested, they’ve at least grasped that heriditary monarchy and primogeniture are not great ideas, because the risk of ending up with an unfit ruler is too great. So they basically come to the conclusion that the next king after the person who sits on the throne at the end will be elected by an assembly of nobles. Which is basically the prince elector system that the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation had from the 14th century until its dissolution in 1806, i.e. it worked for more than 400 years, which isn’t too bad. It’s baby steps progress.

    Nf sbe Oena orvat xvat, ur’f abg gur jbefg pubvpr sbe gur wbo, orpnhfr ur’f abg cbjre uhatel, uvf novyvgvrf gb frr guebhtu gvzr zvtug pbzr va hfrshy naq ur’f bss sybngvat ba n pybhq zbfg bs gur gvzr naljnl, yrnivat gur qnl gb qnl wbo bs ehaavat Jrfgrebf gb Glevba, jub vf cebonoyl gur crefba zbfg fhvgrq gb gur wbo, naq gur fznyy pbhapvy. Naq zbfg bs gur zrzoref bs gur fznyy pbhapvy (Oevraar, Fnz, Qnibf) ner qrprag crbcyr naq Glevba jvyy xrrc Oebaa va yvar.

    Zrnajuvyr, Fnafn qrpynerf vaqrcraqrapr naq jvyy orpbzr dhrra bs gur Abegu. Fur cebonoyl jba’g qb gbb onqyl rvgure.

  37. Thanks, Mike, for creating this thread!

    Maybe it needed a note like “It’s okay to post spoilers here, so don’t read this thread if you’re still waiting to watch the Game of Thrones finale.”

    There are several problems with the way the series ended, but the one that bothered me the most was that I simply didn’t believe Dany would burn King’s Landing despite the city’s surrender. That was totally inconsistent with the Dany we’d watched for eight years. She had her fights with the upper classes, but she always wanted the people to love her.

    With another couple of episodes, I could easily see how she might have gotten determined to do something like this, particularly if she talked about it. E.g. “Kings Landing is the source of the rot in the kingdom, and it’s full of people opposed to me. Burning them all now could be a long-term kindness to everyone else.” If we’d just known she was toying with the idea–getting talked out of it but then bringing it up again–we’d have all been on the edge of our seats when the bells rang, watching her sitting there, maybe shouting “don’t do it!” We’d still have been upset when she torched the city, but at least we’d have understood.

    That’s such a serious flaw that all the other things to complain about (e.g. I can’t believe anyone would vote for Bran as king–including Bran) seem pretty small by comparison.

    On the other hand, Eric and I watched the last two episodes with such rapt attention that we were surprised it was over; the time flew by so fast. So it’s not like it was actually bad. It’s just that it had the potential to be a five-star ending (so much of the series delivered that), but they only delivered a three-star product. What makes it worse is that it appears that they just got in a hurry to wrap it up and cut too many corners.

  38. @Contrarius @Nigel @Cora: Thanks for the thoughts, and the focused recap 😀

    I will be honest: I am expecting more of SOIAF than for the final chapter to be “Hmmm, let’s mull over and debate what we have learned about wise and stable leadership.” I want to see a narrative thrust. Show, don’t tell — if Bran hasn’t shown us that he’s somehow going to be a better and more capable ruler than his predecessors, I’m just kinda going to assume that he probably won’t be.

    But I think I’ve reached the limit of what I can glean and guess and dolorously pronounce, without actually watching the series. 😛 Many thanks for the discussion and the insights!

  39. The big problem with the ending is that it is, in many ways, absolutely perfect – but unearned. If this were the ending in the books, every beat and twist and wrinkle would be accounted for and built towards. Everything about this season was taking short-circuits, telling not showing, glossing things over, and fatally neglecting the fundamentals of worldbuilding and character development to get to that ending, relying on thematic rather than narrative momentum. It’s like they were able to project the high overarching structures of a George RR Martin fantasy epic out to an ending, but negelcted the deep foundations that hold them up.

  40. One bit I liked is how it harks back to the famous line, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

    Of the ones who went for the throne, how many survived?

  41. I think the moral, for Tyrion at least, is “A political advisor can consistently give terrible advice that leads to death and ruin, and STILL land at the top after betraying one’s former master.” Truly an inspiring vision for all mediocre white men.

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