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Game of Thrones: It all ends with a shocking twist no one saw coming
In the series finale of Game of Thrones, we see the future of Westeros unfold before our eyes.
**SPOILER WARNING: This story contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 6.**
With Cersei dead and King’s Landing burned to ash, the final episode of Game of Thrones opens with Tyrion taking in the destruction he so desperately tried to stop. We’re right where we left off. Ash floats on the wind like snow, and the burned bodies of King’s Landing citizens pave the roads. Davos and Jon follow in Tyrion’s wake and, along their way, they find the odd survivor, but the skeletons and scorched corpses are far more numerous.
Tyrion informs Jon that he’s “going alone,” presumably to find Cersei and/or Jaime. He denies Jon’s offer to send some men with him for protection. Tyrion only finds more destruction along the way.
Jon finds Grey Worm preparing to execute Cersei’s men. When Jon tries to stop him, there’s a tense standoff between Jon and Grey Worm’s men. Davos suggests that Jon should speak with Daenerys, since she was the one who gave the order to kill all of Cersei’s followers. Grey Worm goes about executing the soldiers as Jon walks away.
Tyrion finds his way to the castle and walks a similar path to the one Jaime and Cersei did not long ago, through the council chambers. He finds a torch and heads into the dungeons, the last place we saw Cersei and Jaime last week before they were supposedly crushed by falling stone. Tyrion comes across a pile of stone with a mere gap of light at the top, which he climbs up to in an attempt to get through. Once through, he finds more cave-ins and, finally, Jaime’s metal hand. Tyrion falls to his knees and begins moving the stones to unearth his siblings’ bodies. In tears, he finds them side by side. (Tyrion is now, for what it's worth, the last remaining member of his family.)
We join Arya still in King’s Landing. She’s found her way to the edge and discovered the remainder of Dany’s Dothraki forces. She sees Jon as he walks forward, past the Dothraki and the gathered Unsullied, up to where Daenerys’ men have hung an enormous Targaryen flag. Arya follows along at the edges, watching her brother/cousin. Jon walks up the steps lined with Unsullied. In the distance, Drogon roars.
Drogon arrives, flying over her men as they cheer. Jon goes after her, moving past Grey Worm to meet with Daenerys. Drogon’s wings unfurl behind her in dramatic fashion as she looks out over the destruction she’s caused with a satisfied look. She addresses them in Dothraki, praising them for keeping their promise to help her defeat her enemies.
Then she switches to Valyrian, addressing Grey Worm and thanking him and the Unsullied, as well as making Grey Worm the commander of all her forces. Tyrion approaches from behind as Dany promises to free all the people in the world, even beyond the Seven Kingdoms.
Dany smiles to herself as her soldiers cheer. Tyrion steps forward, eyes lowered, to stand at Dany’s side. Dany tells Tyrion she knows he freed Jaime, committing treason.
“Freed my brother? And you slaughtered a city,” Tyrion responds before removing the pin that marks him as the Hand of the Queen. Daenerys orders the Unsullied to take Tyrion into custody.
Jon and Daenerys' eyes finally meet before she walks away. Arya approaches Jon out of nowhere, and the two look on as Dany walks away. Arya tells Jon that she’ll always see him as a threat, “and I know a killer when I see one.”
Jon goes to meet Tyrion, who immediately asks for wine and says he probably deserves death after allowing Dany to kill Varys. Tyrion begins listing his crimes, including betraying Daenerys, which he says he’d do again after seeing what she’s capable of. When Jon tries to say the war is over, Tyrion demands to know if she “sounds like someone who’s done fighting … she’ll go on liberating till the people of the world are free and she rules them all … Varys was right, I was wrong.”
Jon tries to defend Daenerys, but comes up short when Tyrion asks if Jon would have burned the city down if given the choice. When Tyrion calls Jon on his bulls**t and tells him he knows exactly what he’d do, Jon still tries to run from his legacy.
Tyrion starts listing off Dany’s wins, the evil men she’s killed, and says that Dany believes herself to be right no matter what because of the good things she’s done in the past. Essentially, he says, Daenerys can’t believe she’s capable of making a bad decision.
“I know you love her. I love her too. Not as successfully as you, but I believe in her with all my heart,” Tyrion says. “Love is more powerful than reason. We all know that. Look at my brother.”
“‘Love is the death of duty,’” Jon quotes. “Maestor Aemon said it long ago.”
“Sometimes, duty is the death of love,” Tyrion responds. He says Jon’s always tried to protect the people. “Who’s the greatest threat to the people now?
“It’s a terrible thing I’m asking. It’s also the right thing,” Tyrion continues, saying Jon really is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
And, again, Jon says Dany is the queen and apologizes to Tyrion. Tyrion then asks if Jon thinks his sisters would bend the knee. He tries to get Jon to see that Arya and Sansa would never bow to Dany, which, of course, means they’d die. Jon leaves as Tyrion begs him to make the right choice now.
As it begins to snow, Drogon appears from the wreckage and approaches Jon, giving him a sniff before settling back in for a nap.
Daenerys is in the Throne Room. Miraculously, the Iron Throne still stands despite the rest of the room being destroyed. She approaches slowly, placing a hand on one of the hilts. As the music swells, she turns and finds Jon in the background. He approaches her, and she begins telling him a story her brother told her about how large the Iron Throne was. Jon tells her about the destruction she’s caused, demands an answer, and she begins to reason with him.
“We can’t hide behind small mercies,” she says.
“The world we need is a world of mercy,” he responds. She promises that, one day, there will be a good world. She knows what a good world is. When Jon asks about the other people, she says they don’t get to choose. She asks Jon to build a new world with her, to break the wheel with her.
“You are my queen, now and always,” he says. They kiss. And he stabs her.
Dany falls to the ground, shocked. Blood trickles out of her mouth and she takes her final breath in Jon’s arms as he cries.
In the distance, Drogon roars. He flies over and lands at the edge of the Throne Room, approaching his mother and Jon. Jon turns to face Drogon, who checks on Daenerys, nuzzles her in an attempt to wake her. He cries, growls, and bares his teeth at Jon before screaming out in pain and anger. Jon looks on and ducks just as Drogon lets out a blast of flames that misses Jon entirely. He burns the Iron Throne, melting it to nothing.
Drogon then picks Daenerys’ body up and flies off into the winter storm.
In his cell, Tyrion lies on the floor, unkempt. Grey Worm and the Unsullied come to fetch him and lead him out to face the remaining rulers of Westeros. We learn that Jon has been taken prisoner and the remaining lords of the realm are bickering among themselves about what to do with Jon and what to do with the Seven Kingdoms.
Davos offers land to the Unsullied and begs for the Unsullied to stop this war. Tyrion says Jon’s fate is for the king or queen of Westeros to decide. When told there isn’t one, he says: “You are the most powerful people in Westeros. Choose one.”
Sam makes the valiant suggestion to make Westeros a democracy. After a beat of silence, everyone starts laughing.
When Tyrion’s asked if he wants the crown, he says he couldn’t think of a worse choice. He goes on to say he’s had nothing to do but think for the past three weeks in captivity (hint: it’s been three weeks since Daenerys died). He asks what unites people. Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories, he finally says. “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. Who has a better story than Bran the Broken?”
Tyrion goes on to say Bran is Westeros’ memory, keeper of their stories due to his position as the Three-Eyed Raven. “Who better to lead us into the future?”
Sansa says Bran has no interest in ruling, and Tyrion says that’s a good thing.
“From now on, rulers will not be born,” Tyrion says. “They will be chosen by the lords and ladies of Westeros on this spot to serve the realm.”
Tyrion approaches Bran and asks him if he’ll wear the crown and lead Westeros.
“Why do you think I came all this way?” Bran asks.
Tyrion opens the vote, and everyone begins to chime in with “aye.” Finally, we come to Sansa, who takes the longest. She turns to her brother, and tells him she loves him and that he’ll be a good king. She then announces the North will remain an independent kingdom. Bran nods in agreement.
Bran the Broken is the new King of the Six Kingdoms — with 30 minutes left in the episode.
Bran says Tyrion will be his Hand. Grey Worm says Tyrion shouldn’t be the Hand because he’s a criminal, and Bran says that doesn’t matter. “He’s made many terrible mistakes. He’s going to spend the rest of his life fixing them,” Bran says.
Tyrion joins Jon in his cell, where he tells Jon that Bran is sending him to join the Night’s Watch. Jon, torturing himself as always, asks Tyrion if he did the right thing.
“Ask me again in ten years,” Tyrion says. And he all but promises Jon that he’ll see him again.
Jon, freshly shaven and donning a new fur cloak, goes to the docks with a couple of Night’s Watch brothers at his side. There we see Grey Worm and the Unsullied boarding ships for the Isle of Naath.
Sansa meets up with Jon and asks for his forgiveness. He tells her that the North is free thanks to her. “Ned Stark’s daughter will speak for them,” he says. “She’s the best they could have asked for.” They hug.
Jon approaches Arya and says she can come visit him at any time. She tells him she’s not going back North. She asks what’s west of Westeros. “It’s where all the maps stop,” she says. “That’s where I’m going.” He asks if she has Needle with her. They hug, crying.
Jon bends the knee to Bran, calling him “Your Grace.” Bran looks on and Jon apologizes for not being there when he needed him.
“You were exactly where you were supposed to be,” Bran says.
Jon stands, looks at his siblings/cousins and heads off.
Meanwhile, Ser Brienne flips through an ornate book and finds an entry for Ser Jaime Lannister. Most of the entry is empty, and she goes to fill in the rest of his story. The final line reads, “Died protecting his Queen.”
Tyrion, finally all cleaned up, approaches the chair for the Hand of the King and takes a seat. Upon noticing the chairs are all wonky, he straightens them out just before the rest of the Council enters: Davos, Grand Maester Sam, and Bronn.
Sam presents Tyrion with “A Song of Ice and Fire,” a book that holds the entire story of Westeros post-King Robert. Sam says he doesn’t believe Tyrion is mentioned.
Bran, King of the “Six Kingdoms,” enters the room with Ser Brienne, who also takes a seat at the table. He says they need to fill in a few council seats and then offers to go find Drogon. He tells the others to carry on.
Tyrion begins the meeting and Bronn and Davos immediately begin bickering. They all begin figuring out how best to fix King’s Landing and make Westeros a better place for its people.
At the Wall (or what remains of it), Jon finally approaches on horseback. Waiting for him is Tormund, and the gates close behind Jon as he enters.
Finally, Arya prepares for her great journey west, Sansa dons a new dress to serve as Queen in the North, and Jon looks out over the Night’s Watch and the gathered Wildlings. Ghost approaches Jon, who pets his loyal direwolf.
Arya stands at the bow of a ship and looks out toward her new future with the Stark direwolf emblazoned on the ship’s sails. Sansa is officially crowned Queen in the North. Jon and Tormund are ready to lead their people north of the Wall. Oddly, we see a small plant poking through the snow. Jon pauses to watch the gates close, and as the Game of Thrones theme plays, he continues to ride north.