*** First of all, I want to apologise for the extreme tardiness of the Thronedown. A pesky and ill-timed house move deprived me of TV and internet privileges for a week or so, prolonging my agony at not watching the finale. Without the internet, life feels every bit as dark, cynical and un-technologically advanced as Westeros… However, with my Sky and internet safely installed, all the whizz-bang magic happening in my new place rivals that of the House of the Undying… Annnnnnnyway, without further ado, here is the final Thronedown for this season… ***
So, GOT, it has come to this. We all knew the ending had to come some day, and now we have seen it. Endings are notoriously hard to get right, often the best films and works of literature’s weakest parts are cited as being their endings. TV series have a real balancing act to maintain in their finales, wanting to keep people watching, coming back for the next series, without resorting to the potentially alienating climax. In tying up most of the plot strands (although not tying them too tightly), we can safely feel that there was a satisfying story there, but with our first good look at the White Walkers, the dragons and the continuing war, there are plenty of reasons to tune your TV to Westorsi-vision, next series.
It was good to know that Tyrion survived, with only a nasty scar to show for his unappreciated heroics. Although it has to be said that his marginalisation during this episode is a slight worry. As the de facto star of the series, we don’t want him to be pushed to the sidelines, groaning in bed all series long next time around. I’m also very conscious of the Bran and Rickon story strand, as it will be fascinating to see how that relates to the main story. I was slightly disappointed that Theon didn’t die, because although I weirdly sympathise with him, for his betrayal, surely the writers can’t spare us his death? (God, what has this series done to me?). Seeing more of Jaquin H’Gar will be welcome, as he has retained an air of genuine mystery (and who doesn’t love a good assassin?).
Structurally, this series was interesting. Keeping up the intrigue as well as weaving all the story-lines together is tricky, and I think they just about managed it, even if they did drop the ball where maintaining tension was concerned. Making such a conscientious effort to visit more or less every key character in each episode was admirable, as it developed all the parts of the story at once. But it meant that valuable screen time was swallowed up by Jon Snow and Danaerys wandering around, when perhaps a more focused approach would have allowed the writers to maintain tension and prioritise more interesting plots a bit more. I would have gladly condensed the Jon and Dany stories into two or three episodes of detailed attention in order to spend more time with the brothers Baratheon, or the Tyrells (and it’s not just because Margaery refuses to wear much in the way of clothes, she’s a genuinely interesting character!). Put it this way (and it might be unfair to say this): but the penultimate episode at Blackwater was the highlight of the series, is it a coincidence that it is also the most narrow in terms of its focus?
I only criticise because I love. Hopefully the writers can learn from this, or improve upon this approach, because the flaws don’t detract from what is a rich, dark and fascinating story. The ruthless cynicism that is rapidly becoming this series’ calling card gives it a fresh feel (is there anything else out there that is more ruthless?).
One of the interesting things about the first series was the way that dragons and magic had near-mythic status within the world, with much doubt over their existence. I quite liked that, as it mirrored our own attitude towards such things. This series slightly disappointed some by turning that on its head. ‘Game of Thrones’ is fantasy though, and the impending emergence of the dragons and the increasingly more common magic should be seen as fully intentional and thought-out. It sure has changed the plot dynamic though. So far, I’m not wild on the magic (although the dragons will be one hell of a wildcard at some point). I think that, because magic is potentially so infinitely powerful, strongly-defined limits need to be emplaced, so as to stop it becoming a crutch for lazy writers who are stuck on a plot point (you know who you are).
Still, once again the writers have kept us guessing. Seeing where they take it from here will be fascinating, and I particularly want to see what will happen with the White Walkers. How will we fill our lives, now that GOT season 2 has finished? Well, we’ll have to find something else to amuse ourselves, and remember that it’s a big, wide world out there. Until season 3, Throners, goodbye.