My Extremely Timely and Relevant Reactions to Game of Thrones

Photo by Catherine Heath on Unsplash

I have been harboring two epically dark, shameful secrets — I never finished reading Harry Potter, and until very recently I had never seen Game of Thrones (GOT).

I know, right? Who am I!?

When my hypothetical future children eagerly look up at me and ask where I was when Harry Potter or the GOT finale came out, I have no idea what I’ll say to their chubby, sad faces. Maybe I should be honest? I was reading for school. And probably still will be.

I just finished GOT and finally located our family’s trove of Harry Potter books. So there is hope! But here’s the thing about GOT and all-consuming, complex emotional dramas. I didn’t avoid this show due to lack of interest. Quite the opposite — I knew I’d LOVE it. I’d love it so much and so hard that I’d go face down in it only to resurface months later not having made any PhD progress, worked on any of my creative endeavors, texted any friends back, nor seen the light of day. In fact, it’s only recently that I’ve indulged in the major dramas of my lifetime while trying (and failing) to implement some serious ground rules. For example, no watching Netflix on the toilet!

I guess I succumbed to the ever-present “binge watching” phenomenon, which is hard for me to accept. I’ve consciously avoided this term because of my binge-eating disorder background. For me, bingeing is a gravely serious word. But now that I’ve swung on the pendulum of going off the deep end, resurfacing, giving up television, and tip toeing back in search of a healthy balance, I concede this term is indeed appropriate. To be clear, binge-watching is not a healthy way of life. But sometimes we do it and enjoy it and sometimes we do it and regret it. Hopefully we arrive at something that feels right for us.

So now I’ve come out alive on the other side of GOT and I have A LOT of feelings. People had so many smart and interesting things to say about the finale and I’m sad to have missed out on that cultural moment in real time! But I thank you, internet, for allowing even the latest voice to be heard.

My Thoughts on the Final Season

I was going to organize my thoughts into Strengths (i.e., what was done well) and Weaknesses (i.e., what made me scream at my iPhone while on the elliptical). I then quickly realized there were no overarching strengths nor weaknesses. It was more like aspects I LOVED, aspects I HATED, aspects I debated, and aspects that almost made me pass out from the emotional intensity.

Euron Greyjoy is a dirty, dirty bird. His words oozed out of that cunning, lustful, get-off-on-power, egomaniacal mouth and made me feel like I needed to take a shower immediately. The moment he seized Yara’s ship was one of the scariest moments of the series for me. His blood-soaked face shone in the moonlight, his eyes wild and giddy with murderous rapture — that’s when I realized Euron is one of the WORST dudes on this show, and that Pilou Asbæk

is a phenomenal actor. The only solace I have is that Jaime somehow held out to be crushed by rocks instead of falling at the feet of that icky creep.

This. Battle. Was. Epic.

I was wiped out and physically sore by the end of the battle between the living and dead.

Some moments were absolutely stunning, and some left me wanting more explanation.

There’s a moment between Deanerys and the Night King in which she issues a “Dracarys” and tries to burn the Night King alive. He stands completely unconcerned and unscathed by the flames and slowly breaks into a sinister smile. I LOVE moments like this in entertainment — when you learn what they learn in real time, and the consequences are clear without having to say a word.

There’s also a moment in which Brienne feverishly looks around thinking they have finally killed the last of the wights after fighting them for hours. The Hound then utters one of the best lines of the season — “We’re fighting death! We can’t beat death.” And all the previously slain wights slowly come back to life (or whatever possessed state these mobile dead corpses are in). A physically battered and drained Brienne lets out a crazed scream as she forces her body back into fighting stance. Just like me when my alarm goes off at 5:30am.

Arya ends the Long Night by basically matrix-flying out of nowhere to attack the Night King, delivering the fatal blow. This marathon of bloodshed comes to a climactic, but abruptly confusing end. I guess you could say this was a Stark ending???

OK…so, how did Arya ninja-creep past a sea of White Walkers? Who is the Night King exactly? What is his motivation? Arya is without question a badass survivor who physically battled her way through temporary blindness, the terrifying stabby Waif girl, the longest night, and Dany’s scorched earth campaign. But we can’t squeeze in ANY backstory on the Night King?? Not cool — even for a White Walker.

I am scared to admit this, but here it goes.

When Dany heard the ringing of the Bells that signified the Red Keep’s surrender, I saw a decision-point flash across her face. I held my breath — is she going do it!? Will she burn this city to the ground the way she wants to, or heed Tyrion’s plea to accept the surrender? You can see her wrestling with her own anger, and then her eyes become intensely focused as she locks into the decision. She’s going for it.

For a split second, I was right there with her. The adrenaline pulsed through my veins and I felt a cheer rise up inside my chest. I thought about how amazing it would feel to punish the symbols of everything and everyone who has ever hurt you. DO IT, DANY.

But then I felt sick, and heavy, and scared. Innocent people (and kiddos) are about to be burned alive because one person feels she has the right to. That’s the scariest part about vengeance — someone always feels in the right.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Dany during the entire series. I hurrahed during her rise to power in the first few seasons as the Khaleesi and Mhysa (Mother). But then I noticed a few things. First — this chick has crazy eyes, and we all know that is a reliable indicator of something deep and dysfunctional below the surface. In short, she cray. Second — why do I buy her claim to the throne? Do I believe in the sanctity of monarchy? Absolutely not. Do I think she would make an effective ruler? I have no idea. She is inspirational, she is charismatic, she is ambitious — and those are actually all great qualities in a leader. The issue I have with Dany is she is fragile. She is fragile because she wants something SO badly and believes it is her right, but she dismisses criticism and punishes those her challenge her. Fragile, self-important, insecure power is the worst attribute a leader can have. And you know who this reminds you of.

I straight up bawled when Jaime left Brienne. “Noooo,” I yelled! Don’t go back to Cersei! You’re growing and evolving and becoming a better man! You’re HAPPY. And Brienne loves all of you!

But I guess the pull of his old patterns and was just too strong. So, if you’re going to choose dysfunction (and incest) over being truly known and seen and loved, you might as well die in each other’s arms as your world literally comes crashing down around you.

I also teared up when Cersei knew it was all over. I straight up felt bad for her. I fully understand she is a terrible person and a selfish, manipulating killer. But my feelings toward her were complicated. I think Sansa, whom I adore, learned a lot about power from Cersei, but they use it in completely different ways. The complexities of powerful women is definitely a conceptual through-line in this series that I appreciate wrestling with.

The Hound was such an interesting, angering, sympathetic, painful dude. Part of me was hoping he would adopt Arya and they could be best buddies, but companionship isn’t what fed him even though I’m glad he got some of it.

I have to commend my friend, Elise, for this UTTERLY PERFECT description of Tyrion’s pitch for Bran the Broken becoming king. Also, when did that become Bran’s name? Right then and there? No idea.

Tyrion is by far one of my favorite characters in the series, and I felt so let down that his last few lines were an unconvincing, surface-level argument for why Bran should be King. It felt like one of those articles you read in school where the humanist author is trying to extol the value of a dying academic discipline and it’s painful to watch. Our stories are what unite us — is that actually true? I don’t know because Tyrion did not elaborate AT ALL. I may not have won all my high school debates, but I at least know you need supporting arguments to bolster your position. Tyrion, the philosopher of the series, decided to stop talking at thiscrucial moment? I’m not buying it.

By now we’re no stranger to Jon’s brooding and pensive facial expressions, but his eyes reveal a deeper conflict when he arrives upon Castle Black for the last time. I can’t tell if he’s reluctantly coming home after adventures on the outside, or if he is accepting this is where he belongs and is saying goodbye to a tiny part of himself that knows would have made an incredible King, even though he doesn’t want it.

His cool stare immediately warms upon seeing the gorgeous, lecherous, loyal Tormund. At least they can bro-out together.

To be completely honest, I knew it was going to be Bran before the finale. My wonderful friend, Sarah, had forgotten I had never seen a single GOT episode and texted me in disbelief at the end of the finale. Oops.

I have RAGED against Bran’s storyline ever since he became the three-eyed Raven. I guess knowing the secrets and misdeeds of every single person in the universe is so stressful that it doesn’t leave much room for emotion or gratitude. My detest for his new personality reached its pinnacle when he parted ways with Meera after arriving at Winterfell with a sullen “thank you.” THAT’S IT!? This chick just dragged you through the freezing woods while you were warging-out to prevent your being eaten alive and Hodor literally DIED for you. But all you have to say is thank you!?

I startled a swarm of gym-goers when I yelled at my cellphone for Bran to hug his damn sisters and stop being so dramatically emo. I would have surely exploded had it not been for my friend, Susan, who blew my socks off with a poignant counterpoint. Bran is gone. So, we shouldn’t expect him to be Bran in those moments. And maybe I was reacting so strongly to his distanced demeanor because I was thinking of what Arya and Sansa probably needed in a reunion with their brother. Susan is a genius.

Did They Break the Wheel?

The season finale ends with Tyrion, Brienne, my beloved Bronn, and the rest of the Small Council debating urban planning while Bran excuses himself to look for Drogon (I’m assuming through warging?) Tyrion begins a riddle, Bronn wants a brothel, and Brienne deftly deflects any riff raff.

So, what have we achieved through all this? Maybe the wheel is broken in that decisions are being made through banter and discussion by a trustworthy team. Maybe it keeps on turning because Sam’s plea for democracy was met with incredulous laughter.

I think the real takeaway here is that Bronn is still alive (thank god), Brienne is leaning in, Arya is doing Arya, Jon is free, and Sansa runs the North. That’s good enough for me.



I write about joyful moments and lessons learned from challenging life experiences.

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Emily Warren

I write about joyful moments and lessons learned from challenging life experiences.