The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones)

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"The Iron Throne"
Game of Thrones episode
Episode no.Season 8
Episode 6
Directed by
Written by
  • David Benioff
  • D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byJonathan Freeman
Editing byKatie Weiland
Original air dateMay 19, 2019 (2019-05-19)
Running time79 minutes[1]
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Bells"
Next →
Game of Thrones (season 8)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"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 the series creators 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.

"The Iron Throne" features the characters dealing with the aftermath of Queen Daenerys Targaryen's devastation of King's Landing and determining who will finally rule Westeros.

Plot[edit]

Jon and Davos survey the damage that Daenerys Targaryen wrought on King's Landing after she took the city from Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion goes off on his own and finds Cersei and their brother Jaime's corpses in the ruins of the Red Keep and mourns them. Grey Worm executes Lannister soldiers, telling Jon Daenerys ordered it. Daenerys declares to the Unsullied and Dothraki armies that she will liberate the entire world. Tyrion publicly resigns as Daenerys's Hand (chief advisor) in protest, and is arrested for treason.

Jon's adoptive sister, Arya tells him 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 his love for Daenerys, it is Jon's duty to kill her for being the people's greatest threat. Tyrion also warns that Arya and her sister Sansa will not bend the knee to Daenerys.

In the throne room, Jon confronts Daenerys, who blames the deaths of civilians on Cersei for using them as human shields. She 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 her, a conflicted Jon reaffirms his fealty to her and kisses her, but then stabs her to death. As he grieves, Drogon arrives. After discovering that Daenerys has been murdered, Drogon melts the Iron Throne and carries Daenerys' body away.

Some time later, the most powerful lords in the Seven Kingdoms convene to discuss Tyrion and Jon's fate. Tyrion, still held prisoner by Grey Worm, suggests that future monarchs be chosen by a council instead of inheriting the crown. He nominates Bran; the rest agree, except for Sansa, who declares the North's independence from the Seven Kingdoms. Bran accepts, appoints Tyrion his Hand and sentences Jon to rejoin the Night's Watch for murdering Daenerys. Grey Worm and the Unsullied depart for Naath, Missandei's (Grey Worm's dead lover) homeland.

Tyrion convenes the Small Council; Bronn (now Lord of Highgarden), Brienne, Davos, and Sam. As they begin planning to rebuild King's Landing, Bran briefly meets with the Council and tasks himself with finding Drogon.

Arya sets sail to explore the uncharted seas west of Westeros. Sansa is crowned Queen in the North by the other Northern lords. Jon returns to Castle Black and reunites with Tormund, Ghost and the rest of the Wildlings, leading them to return to the lands beyond the Wall.

Production[edit]

Writing[edit]

The episode was written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Isaac Hempstead-Wright stated that Benioff and Weiss told him Bran becoming king came from George R. R. Martin's outline for future novels.[2]

Filming[edit]

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.[3][4] In the same scene, two plastic water bottles were spotted by the audience behind John Bradley and Liam Cunningham's feet.[5][6]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

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.[7][8]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the episode has an approval rating of 49% based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 6.39 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."[9]

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".[10] 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."[11] 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."[12]

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".[13] 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."[14] 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."[15] Soumya Srivastava of Hindustan Times wrote that the episode was the second-worst of the series (behind the prior episode "The Bells"), felt like a "hurry to get to the finish line", and left her wondering how Daenerys did not realize Jon was a threat, and whether there was a point to his royal parentage. Despite her personal confusion and disappointment, she felt "happy for Jon" at the end, thought Drogon had "a good send-off" and that "Ghost got the goodbye he deserved."[16]

Conversely, TV Guide's consensus concluded that the Game of Thrones finale "finished strong," ranking it #33 on the list of all 73 episodes.[17][18] 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." [19] 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.[20] 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."[21] 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."[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
2019 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series David Benioff & D. B. Weiss Pending [23]
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Pending
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Jonathan Freeman Pending
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Katie Weiland Pending

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/season-8/6-the-iron-throne
  2. ^ Isaac Hempstead Wright Sees Bran’s Ending as a 'Real Victory'. Making Game of Thrones. 29 May 2019.
  3. ^ Hempstead Wright, Isaac (May 20, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' Star Isaac Hempstead Wright on His Path to That "Extraordinary" Ending (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  4. ^ Cupin, Bea (May 27, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' finale: Kit Harington flew to Spain 'as decoy'". Rappler. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  5. ^ Picheta, Rob (May 20, 2019). "A Song of Coffee and Water: 'Game of Thrones' leaves plastic bottle in shot during finale". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Betz, Bradford (May 20, 2019). "Fans spot apparent water bottle gaffe in 'Game of Thrones' series finale: report". Fox News. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  7. ^ "'Game of Thrones' finale sets new viewership record". CNN. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  8. ^ "GAME OF THRONES Concludes with All-Time HBO Record; BARRY Quadruples Prior Season Finale". HBO PR Medium. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  9. ^ "The Iron Throne". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  10. ^ Poniewozik, James (May 21, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' Comes in for a Crash Landing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  11. ^ Stuever, Hank. "The 'Game of Thrones' finale, while lacking, goes out on an important note: Stories matter". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  12. ^ Prudom, Laura. "Game of Thrones Episode 6 Review". IGN. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Sims, David; Kornhaber, Spencer; Cruz, Lenika. "Did Viewers Win or Lose in the Game of Thrones?". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  14. ^ Lawler, Kelly. "'Game of Thrones' series finale recap: A disaster ending that fans didn't deserve". USA Today. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  15. ^ Kang, Inkoo. "Game of Thrones' Ending Betrayed the Show's Lofty Ambitions". Slate. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  16. ^ Srivastava, Soumya. "Game of Thrones finale review The Iron Throne: A disappointing end as all prophecies, secrets, plotlines are set on fire". Hindustan Times. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  17. ^ "Here's Where Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 6 'The Iron Throne' Falls in Our Ranking | TV Guide". TV Guide. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  18. ^ "Game of Thrones: Every Episode Ranked From Worst to Best : 33. "The Iron Throne" (S8E6) | TV Guide". TV Guide. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  19. ^ Roeper, Richard. "'Game of Thrones' finale review: Enthralling series comes to a satisfying end". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Montgomery, Hugh. "How good is the Game of Thrones finale?". BBC. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  21. ^ Quinn, Karl (May 20, 2019). "Why that Game of Thrones finale made perfect sense (but yes, it was rushed)". The Age. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  22. ^ Mangan, Lucy. "Game of Thrones review – epic final episode corrects some major wrongs". The Guardian. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  23. ^ "2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Nomination Press Release" (PDF). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. July 16, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2019.

External links[edit]