It is canon here at The Wandering Lostie that a series finale will always show you the true story its writers intended to tell. The End revealed Lost was about the journey its characters took together, not numbers or mysteries or any of that. Fringe gave us touching closure to the relationship between Walter and Peter that we didn’t always realize carried the series. The Americans stripped away the Cold War to bare the painful difficulty its two central characters are forever destined to face together.
I am struggling to come to grips with the Game of Thrones finale through that lens. “The Iron Throne” was an unequivocal win for the Stark family. Bran rules the six kingdoms and Sansa the seventh—their ancestral home. Arya is sailing her own course and Jon is with the people he feels most comfortable with in the place he feels most comfortable. All their enemies are vanquished.
But can anyone really believe this show was always supposed to be about the Starks? Am I to believe that the Lannisters, the Targaryens and the White Walkers all entered this saga to support a journey of change for this one family?
I suppose looking at it this way strips out too much of the nuance that necessarily makes up eight seasons of television. They weren’t “just the Lannisters” because Jamie and Cersei died in the penultimate episode anymore than Dany was a bit player because she died one-third of the way through the finale. But if Game of Thrones was truly about them, wouldn’t they have figured more prominently in the ultimate ending?
My view of the series heading into the final season was we had tow primary storylines: The battle for the Iron Throne and the threat from the White Walkers. They traveled mostly on their own until starting to bend in the same direction during season seven. Season eight, I reasoned, must be when they finally and epically collide.
Wronnnnnnnnnng. They dispensed with the Night King halfway through the season, and I was okay with that. Let’s go ahead and have Dany and Cersei throw down for the throne with Jon there to step in if things go really wrong. The way that unfolded felt anti-climactic. Dany and Cersei never got closer than staring at each other at the edge of Kings Landing…two episodes before the finale. When the real fight came, Cersei died without any of her trademark scheming or maneuvering to even try countering Dany’s attack. The full impact of her death even felt muted because we were so thrown by Dany burning an innocent city alive.
That brought us to the finale where Dany’s fate was addressed decisively fast. Jon’s fatal stab pivoted the finale’s big reveal from “Would it be Dany or Jon?” to “Which Stark will rule Westeros?”
Which is where it lost me. Game of Thrones was never about which Stark sits on the Iron Throne because it was never a foregone conclusion that it would even be a Stark. For that to be how the series ended, and to have that ending decided entirely based on a speech from Tyrion, doesn’t mesh with how the story was told for the prior seven seasons.