The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones)
|"The Iron Throne"|
|Game of Thrones episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8|
|Featured music||Ramin Djawadi|
|Cinematography by||Jonathan Freeman|
|Editing by||Katie Weiland|
|Original air date||May 19, 2019|
|Running time||79 minutes|
"The Iron Throne" is the series finale of the American fantasy drama television series Game of Thrones. It is the sixth episode of the eighth season and the 73rd overall episode of the series. Written and directed by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, it aired on HBO in the United States and Canada on May 19, 2019. This is the only episode of the season that does not feature the "Game Revealed" and "Inside the Episode" behind-the-scenes specials, which were recorded, yet unreleased for unknown reasons; however, a featurette on the making of the episode was included with the home media release of Season 8.
The episode garnered mixed responses; some critics took issue with the episode's story arcs, pacing and tone, while others deemed it a satisfying conclusion to the series. Benioff and Weiss received directing and writing nominations for the episode at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, whilst Kit Harington and Peter Dinklage selected the episodes to support their nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, respectively. Dinklage won in his category.
Jon and Davos survey the destruction that Daenerys wrought on King's Landing. Tyrion finds the crushed corpses of Cersei and Jaime in the ruins of the Red Keep and mourns them. Grey Worm and his men are executing Lannister soldiers; when Jon attempts to intervene, he responds that he is acting on Daenerys' orders. Daenerys declares to the Unsullied and Dothraki that they "liberated" the people of King's Landing, and she will "liberate" the entire world. Tyrion publicly resigns as Daenerys' Hand in protest, and she has him arrested for treason.
Arya warns Jon that because of his Targaryen heritage, Daenerys will kill him as a threat to her rule. Jon visits Tyrion in captivity, who tells Jon that despite the love they both have for Daenerys, it is Jon's duty to kill her for being the people's greatest threat. Tyrion also warns Jon that Arya and Sansa will not bend the knee to Daenerys, putting all of House Stark in danger.
Jon confronts Daenerys in the destroyed throne room. Daenerys blames Cersei for the deaths of the civilians for using them as human shields, and refuses to forgive Tyrion or the Lannister prisoners, arguing that their executions – and a continued "liberation" campaign – are necessary to establish her vision of a good world. Unable to dissuade Daenerys, a conflicted Jon reaffirms his fealty to her, then fatally stabs her as they kiss. As Jon grieves, Drogon arrives. After discovering that Daenerys has been murdered, an anguished Drogon melts the Iron Throne, and then carries her body away to the east.
Weeks later, the lords and ladies of the Seven Kingdoms convene to discuss the fates of Tyrion and Jon, still imprisoned by Grey Worm. Tyrion suggests that future monarchs be chosen by a council, instead of inheriting the crown. This suggestion is agreed upon by the lords and ladies present, and Tyrion nominates Bran to be the new king of the Seven Kingdoms, dubbing him Bran the Broken. Everyone agrees with the nomination except for Sansa, who declares the North's independence from the Seven Kingdoms. Now king, Bran accepts the North's secession and appoints Tyrion as his Hand so that Tyrion can make amends for his various wrongs. Bran sentences Jon to rejoin the Night's Watch for life to appease Grey Worm. He and the Unsullied then depart with the Dothraki for Missandei's homeland Naath.
A short time later, Tyrion convenes a new Small Council consisting of Bronn (Lord of Highgarden and Master of Coin), Brienne (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard), Davos (Master of Ships), and Sam (Grand Maester). As they begin planning to rebuild King's Landing, Bran, attended by a newly knighted Podrick Payne, briefly meets with the council before departing to find Drogon with his warging abilities. Brienne, in her duties as Lord Commander, completes Jaime's entry in the Book of Brothers.
Arya decides to set sail and explore the uncharted Sunset Sea west of Westeros. Sansa returns to Winterfell and is crowned Queen in the North. Jon returns to Castle Black and reunites with Tormund, his direwolf Ghost and the rest of the wildlings. Jon leads them to return to the lands beyond the Wall, as the millenia-long winter begins to thaw.
The episode was written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. It contains original content not found in George R. R. Martin's novels, but also contains content planned for future novels: Isaac Hempstead-Wright stated that Benioff and Weiss told him Bran becoming king was an idea presented to them directly from Martin.
The episode was directed by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.
During filming of the Dragonpit scene in Seville, Spain, actors Vladimir Furdik (The Night King), Faye Marsay (The Waif), Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H'ghar), and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) were brought by HBO to the city as decoys to hide plot points. In the same scene, two plastic water bottles were spotted by the audience behind John Bradley and Liam Cunningham's feet.
The episode was viewed by 13.61 million viewers on its initial live broadcast on HBO, making it the most watched episode of the series, surpassing the preceding episode "The Bells", as well as the most-watched HBO telecast ever, surpassing the 13.4 million viewers of The Sopranos episode "For All Debts Public and Private". An additional 5.7 million viewers watched on streaming platforms, for a total of 19.3 million viewers.
In the UK, the episode was watched by 5.12 million on Sky Atlantic, according to the British Audience Research Board.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the episode has an approval rating of 48% based on 134 reviews, with an average rating of 6.32 out of 10. The website's critical consensus reads: "If nothing else, 'The Iron Throne' is a bittersweet – if unfortunately bland – series finale that ensures Game of Thrones fans will linger on the fate of their favorite characters for some time. Will they ever be satisfied by the show's conclusions? Ask us again in 10 years." As of August 9, 2019[update], it is the lowest-rated episode of the series on the website.
James Poniewozik of The New York Times felt the story insufficiently explained why Daenerys burned King's Landing and how she arrived at her final character point, stating that "a woman, abused and traded like chattel, becomes so caught up in her zeal to do good that she sees anything but blind adoration as evil" was a solid idea, but that viewers were not taken "inside her perspective to make that change seem real and inevitable." Poniewozik said "small character moments" like Tyrion straightening chairs, Arya sailing west and Jon rejoining the Wildlings "made emotional sense". Hank Stuever of The Washington Post, who watched with lowered expectations, said the series "sailed (and trotted) off to a noble and perhaps anticlimactic end...It was everything nobody wanted, but it was still quite a thing: adequately just, narratively symmetrical and sufficiently poignant. It went long on swelling imagery and somewhat short on dialogue." Laura Prudom of IGN wrote that the finale was "not a disaster", but also "not quite the dream of spring we might've hoped for", "struggling to resolve many of the show's lingering plot threads in a satisfying and coherent conclusion, and once again falling victim to the season's needlessly truncated episode order."
Critics took issue with the episode's pacing and final revelations. Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic wrote that the finale was "tonally odd, logically strained, and emotionally thin" and a "drama turned into a sitcom". Lenika Cruz, also writing for The Atlantic, wrote that the episode had "pacing issues, rushed character development, tonal dissonance, the lack of attention to detail, unexplained reversals, and weak dialogue". Kelly Lawler of USA Today wrote, "Tragedy and injustice were as baked into the series' identity as dragons and battles," but the finale was "unrecognizable. It was hacky; it was cliched. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda...It didn't gracefully swerve into another lane, it careened off a cliff." Inkoo Kang of Slate wrote that "We know governance is complicated, and the show’s depiction of those complications is one of the reasons why it initially felt so refreshingly relatable – but the finale’s argument that an abdication of responsibility is the best we can hope for in a leader – feels lazy and false."
Conversely, TV Guide's consensus concluded that the Game of Thrones finale "finished strong," ranking it #33 on the list of all 73 episodes. Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote that "over all, the finale was a solid and largely satisfying wrap-up to one of the most exciting and enthralling TV series ever," and was "melancholy, bittersweet, twist-filled and at times surprisingly humorous."  Hugh Montgomery of BBC also rated the episode 4/5, writing that the finale largely satisfies "on the terms the creators have [previously] set out" in the "ruinous" penultimate episode. Bran becoming king was "true to the show’s sense of realpolitik" as a "contingently happy ending", whereas the show "provides an efficient, if disappointingly uncontroversial, ending" for Jon, Arya and Sansa. Karl Quinn of The Age wrote that the show "may have resolved itself" too quickly in dramatic terms, but Bran's ascension "made perfect sense" thematically according to the show's "anti-war and anti-despot themes...After all the bloodshed, butchery and burning, Game of Thrones ended not with a bang but with a ballot." Lucy Mangan of The Guardian gave a 4/5 rating, stating that "the finale just about delivered. It was true to the series' overall subject – war, and the pity of war – and, after doing a lot of wrong to several protagonists last week, did right by those left standing."
Awards and nominations
|2019||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series||David Benioff and D. B. Weiss||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Kit Harington||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Peter Dinklage||Won|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||David Benioff and D. B. Weiss||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)||Jonathan Freeman||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series||Katie Weiland||Nominated|
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