Thoughts on the Game of Thrones Finale (Spoilers)

by Jonah Goldberg

So what has two thumbs and dug last night’s finale? This guy (I’m pointing my thumbs towards me, which makes it hard to type). I haven’t read the books, and at this point I have no intention to until the series is over. I know, I know. The books are always better. But they’re always better if you read them first. At this point, I know the TV versions of the characters and too much about what’s happened already to jump in. And I just like the show too much.

In order to protect against spoilers, everything else will be below the fold.

Some observations about the series and the finale in no particular order:

I generally think this season has been fantastic. It has had some of the best acting of the whole series, particularly from Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister). 

I find the killing-off of popular characters to be a little exhausting at this point. I will miss the hound.

As for Tywin, I was really sorry to see him go. But I think if forced to choose between him killing Tyrion or vice versa, I’ll take vice versa. 

Related to both points, I thought that the whole sequence with Tyrion was so unbelievable — in both the good and bad sense — that I was sure they were screwing with the audience. I was thinking that after that whole thing, we would discover it was all just Tyrion’s hopeful fantasy right before the axe came down, a la an “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”

I’m delighted that the Half-Man lives and I thought Varys’s decision to go into exile as well was brilliantly subtle.

I was shocked we didn’t ever get a fuller airing of Shae’s thinking behind her betrayal of Tyrion. I didn’t think it was entirely believable that he didn’t say “What the hell?” But it was a really powerful scene. (According to this interview, Shae’s betrayal of Tyrion is no great mystery. Cersei Lannister gets what she wants and Shae is a whore who does what she has to do to survive. I guess I just thought there was more to her).

I thought the huge twist with the Wildling army was a bit too sudden and victory was too easy. A hundred thousand Wildlings and no one saw them coming? The fight’s over in a few minutes? I’m not really buying it. 

I loved Mance Rayder: “We don’t bow.”

The thing I hated the most — by far! — was that whole bit with the elven “children” who can throw fire and the walking skeletons. The skeletons moved about as well as you can get skeletons to move these days, but they still reminded me of the old Ray Harryhausen stiffs from the Sinbad movies. Animated skeletons always look cheesy. With the exception of the dragons which are badass, I really dislike any and all of the magic stuff in Game of Thrones. I understand these elements are part of the story, but they feel like shortcuts, dodges and/or pandering to fantasy genre clichés.