Why the ‘Game of Thrones’ ending was more Henri Nouwen than George R.R. Martin

Religion News Service | 5/20/2019 | Staff
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Editor’s note: This column includes spoilers from the finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series.

(RNS) — HBO’s “Game of Thrones” — the television phenomenon that for eight years has dominated Sunday night routines for millions of people around the globe — drew to a close with a deeply satisfying, spiritually intriguing finale that might have sprung from the imagination of Henri Nouwen instead of George R.R. Martin.

End - One - Iron - Throne - Westeros

In the end, the one who ascends the iron throne of Westeros is neither the mightiest nor the most victorious. Instead he is a broken boy — a merciful, wounded healer who comes to reign with the help of a wise fool and the unquantifiable, mysterious power of the spiritual realm.

“Game of Thrones,” which debuted in April 2011 and ran for 73 episodes, set television ratings records around the world. The penultimate episode of Season 8 on May 12 drew a record 18.4 million viewers (a number that includes live, same-night replay and streaming viewers).

Series - Finale - May - Viewers - Number

The series finale May 19 drew a record-breaking 19.3 million viewers (a number that includes live, same-night replay and streaming viewers) — the largest audience in the 47-year-old network’s history, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In other words, people were seriously invested in the outcome of this show — the television iteration of Martin’s fantasy epic “A Song of Ice and Fire,” (which mercifully ended in neither).

Seasons - Game - Thrones - Millions - Fans

Eight seasons of “Game of Thrones” have served millions of fans, whose appetites for sex, violence and revenge should have been well sated after years of bodice-ripping and backstabbing throughout the realm of Seven Kingdoms, a last meal of hearty theological ideas.

As it turns out, the game of thrones isn’t won by anybody.

Throne - Question - Grief - Dragon

Rather, the throne in question is destroyed — melted by the white-hot grief of an orphaned dragon.

And in a choice that turns the...
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