Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones.
One of the biggest shows that has ever graced our television screens has ended its watch, and the final episode had a little bit of everything that’s made Game of Thrones a must-watch for nearly a decade: death, dragons, and second chances.
Following Daenerys’s reign of fire, Tyrion walks through what’s left of King’s Landing, now covered in ash and the dead bodies of innocent men, women, and children. But the killing, it seems, was not over; Jon and Davos find Grey Worm and the Unsullied in the streets getting ready to kill Lannister soldiers (who have surrendered) by order of their queen. Jon tells Grey Worm to stop, but he doesn’t and it’s evident in that moment that Dany is nowhere near done with the fire and blood.
Meanwhile, Tyrion makes his way through what’s left of the Red Keep and spots Jaime’s golden hand mixed in with a pile of rubble. There he weeps over both Cersei’s and Jaime’s bodies. And in that moment he makes a decision: He can no longer stand by Daenerys as her Hand seeing the carnage she’s inflicted.
But the Queen doesn’t see anything wrong with her strategy. Speaking to the Unsullied and Dothraki, she promises that "we will not lay down our spears until we have liberated" everyone enslaved around the world. "Will you break the wheel with me?" she asks.
The whole scene is rather ominous and gives us some insight into Daenerys’s future plans of freeing the rest of the world just as she freed those in King’s Landing: with fire and blood. Tyrion approaches and is appalled. "You freed your brother. You committed treason," Dany says. "I freed my brother, and you slaughtered a city," he replies, before tossing his Hand pin down the steps. Daenerys orders the Unsullied to take Tyrion away, most likely to his imminent death.
Jon visits Tyrion where he’s being held and in his own roundabout way the Lannister suggests that it’s time for Jon to put an end to Daenerys. "She’ll go on liberating until the people of the world are free, and she rules them all," he says, adding: "Everywhere she goes, evil men die, and we cheer for it. And she grows more powerful and more sure that she is good, and right. She believes her destiny is to build a better world for everyone. If you believed that, if you truly believed it, wouldn’t you kill whoever stood between you and paradise?"
Meanwhile, Daenerys enters the Throne Room — which is covered in ash just like the vision back in Season 2 — and sets her sights on the one thing she’s been pining after all these years: the Iron Throne. Jon, however, is lurking in the doorway. He asks for his Queen to show mercy — to the Lannister soldiers who surrendered, to Tyrion — but Dany doesn’t agree. "We can’t hide behind small mercies. The world we need won’t be built by men loyal to the world we had," she says. "We break the wheel together," she adds, embracing Jon. "You are my queen, now and always," he replies, before kissing her and sliding a dagger into her ribs. Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, dies in Jon Snow’s arms.
Enter Drogon, who goes completely berserk and sets the Throne Room on fire, melting the Iron Throne to molten steel. He flies off with his mother’s body clutched in one of his massive talons.
And then, a time jump! A few weeks pass and we see Grey Worm lead a captured Tyrion to the Dragonpit, where the remaining lords and ladies of Westeros — Bran, Sansa, Arya, Brienne, Gendry, Davos, Yara, Sam, the new Dorne prince, Edmure Tully, and more — wait. Jon, it appears, is also being held prisoner by the Unsullied following Daenerys’s death. But the decision to keep Jon Snow in chains is not Grey Worm’s to make, according to Tyrion. The embattled lion suggests that the council of lords and ladies should decide on a new king or queen of the Six Kingdoms so that they can decide what to do with Jon.
Tyrion already has someone in mind: Bran Stark.
"Who has a better story than Bran the Broken?” Tyrion says. “The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. Who knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly... From now on, rulers will not be born, they will be chosen on this spot by the lords and ladies of Westeros, to serve the realm."
But does Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven, even want to rule? "Why do you think I came all this way?" the Stark says, which makes you wonder if he’s been after the throne this entire time.
They all vote unanimously for Bran to be king, except for Sansa who fights for the North to remain a sovereign land — something that not even her brother Robb Stark was able to accomplish. Bran grants Sansa’s wish; the North is now free. And he also appoints Tyrion his new Hand, ensuring that Tyrion will now spend the rest of his life fixing "many terrible mistakes" he made. (Meanwhile, Ser Brienne of Tarth finishes writing Jaime’s story in The Book of Brothers. "He died protecting his queen," she writes.)
In order to maintain peace with the Unsullied, who crave justice for their fallen queen, Jon must suffer the harshest fate: a lifetime served in the Night’s Watch. He’ll have no wife, no kids, and no lands, which is enough to please Grey Worm. "Is it right, what I did? It doesn’t feel right," Jon asks Tyrion, still wrestling with his actions. "Ask me again in 10 years," Tyrion replies.
With Bran the Broken on the Throne, Jon’s fate sealed in the Night’s Watch, and Sansa claiming her rightful place as the Queen in the North, Arya Stark is ready for her own adventure — and she sets off for the unknown lands west of Westeros, with Needle at her side and the Stark sigil adorning her sails. In many ways, this song of ice and fire ended as it began: with the Starks. Ned Stark would be proud.
Game of Thrones ultimately concludes with Jon, Tormund, and Ghost (now reunited with his Stark!) leading a group of Free Folk further North, beyond the Wall and into the forest. And it seems as though Jon Snow is exactly where he needs to be, as King Bran himself would say.