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Editor’s note: Spoilers follow for the final episode of Game of Thrones.
The best scene from Game of Thrones’ series finale didn’t involve dragons, shocking deaths, or messianic rulers sitting on the Iron Throne making all things new. It came from a ragtag group of **** and broken things (to paraphrase an episode from Season 1) hoping to do some good in the world with whatever time they had left.
Scene - End - Episode - Westeros - Council
The scene comes near the end of the episode, as Westeros’ new high council meets for the first time: Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Davos (Liam Cunningham), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), and Sam (John Bradley). As they settle in to business, they bicker over how to fix the war-ravaged six kingdoms they oversee. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) may be the new king, but he isn’t beloved like Jon (Kit Harington) or a freedom fighter like Dany (Emilia Clarke). Instead, Westeros’ fate lies in the hands of these largely unremarkable characters who (Bronn excluded) are committed to the hard work of daily goodness. That, Game of Thrones dares to suggest, might be enough.
It’s a shocking resolution that perfectly resolves Game of Thrones as a whole, even as it sits in painful contrast to the episodes that immediately preceded it. Game of Thrones has recently featured some of television’s most epic moments—Zombie fights! Dragons! So many swords!—but those moments have progressively felt like they were gilding a show with nothing left to say. In its initial five seasons, Game of Thrones had a thesis statement about power, evil, and good. It wasn’t always easy to see, but occasionally the show’s moral fog would dissipate just enough for us to believe it was leading toward something. Game of Thrones’ execution wasn’t always perfect—the excessive nudity, handling of sexual consent, and depictions of rape smacked of...
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