Game of Thrones season 8 finale: The final details you might have missed – CNET
Warning: Spoilers aplenty below.
If you've seen it, you probably have strong feelings about it. It saw the death of Daenerys Targaryen and the ascent of Bran the Broken. It saw Sansa Stark become the Queen of the North and Tyrion Lannister the Hand of the new King. It saw Jon Snow pat Ghost.
Over a million people have signed a petition to have the last season be remade, although such petitions are all the rage these days, so it's very much a "love it or hate it" affair. But with nearly 20 million viewers, it was among the biggest events in episodic TV history. Here are some of the details and callbacks to previous seasons you may have missed.
Now playing: Watch this: Game of Thrones season 8 finale: Our watch has ended
Targaryens in the Keep
One of the two big moments of the episode was the death of Daenerys. Tyrion, imprisoned by Daenerys, convinces Jon that she's officially mad, and that Jon and his sisters are sure to incur her wrath sooner rather than later. Jon confronts Daenerys and, gauging her to be insufficiently repentant about massacring an entire city, stabs her right in the heart.
This scene, apart from being one of the best in season 8 and arguably the whole show, featured many callbacks to moments in previous seasons.
Before Jon confronts her, we see Daenerys ascending the steps to the Iron Throne. She gazes upon it covetously and grasps a hilt of one of the many blades that comprise it. This is a direct throwback to the vision she sees in Qarth back in season 2. The vision, also referenced in The Bells, shows Daenerys wandering into a snow-blanketed, ransacked Red Keep. In it, she walks to the Throne and begins to reach for it, but at the last moment she shies away from touching it.
It of course turns out that the Red Keep wouldn't be blanketed in snow, but rather ash. Daenerys did make her grasp for power, grabbing onto the Throne, so I guess the Targaryen coin had yet to land in her vision.
In her vision she's distracted by the cries of a dragon. In episode 6, her attention goes to Jon Snow, who enters The Great Hall.
Daenerys is notably less crazed here than in The Bells, but she won't free Tyrion and she said she had to kill all of those innocent civilians to prove Cersei wrong. Or… something. Jon sweet talks her, says she's his queen forever, and then stabs her right in the heart.
The last Targaryen to rule, Aerys II, was famously stabbed in the same spot by Jaime Lannister during Robert's Rebellion. There was similar treachery afoot there: Aerys' Hand of the King was Tywin Lannister, who requested King's Landing's gates open so that his army could protect the crown. Aerys opened the gates but Tywin's army turned on Aerys and sacked the city, similar to Daenerys razing the city even after the bells rang in surrender.
Aerys died in front of the Iron Throne when Kingsguard head Jaime Lannister, appalled by the Mad King's demands that the whole city be engulfed in wildfire, impaled him from behind. Daenerys died when her most trusted ally, appalled by her engulfing the city in dragonfire, impaled her from the front. ("Tell me," Jaime Lannister asked Ned Stark in season 1, "if I had stabbed the Mad King in the belly instead of the back, would you admire me more?")
Jaime told Brienne back in season 3 about how little he enjoyed killing the man he was sworn to protect. Jon was naturally even more conflicted about what he had to do. He cried as he lowered Daenery's body to the floor. She is the second partner to die in his hands; Ygritte, his wildling lover, would also die while looking into the eyes of Jon Snow.
And finally, Daenerys' death roused Drogon, who flew into the Great Hall. Drogon, presumably in a rage against the symbol of the power that corrupted his mother, burned down the Iron Throne. Fittingly, the Throne was forged by Balerion, the first dragon the Targaryens used to conquer the Seven Kingdoms, and melted by Drogon, the final (?) dragon used by a Targaryen to conquer, well, anything.
Ser Jaime Lannister
During The Iron Throne's extended epilogue, we see Ser Brienne of Tarth detailing the full story of Jaime's exploits in a book. This is The Book of Brothers, which records the deeds of all the Knights to have ever served in the Kingsguard.
The Book of Brothers previously appeared twice, both times in season 4. In the first episode of that season — the best season in the series, might I add — Jaime is being reprimanded by his son/nephew, Jofrrey Lannister/Baratheon. Joffrey dunks on Jaime pretty hard, perusing the book and noting that Ser Duncan the Tall was decorated enough to take up four pages, yet Jaime doesn't even have a full page to his name.
Jaime says there's still time, but Joffrey questions that. "Is there?" asks a bemused Joffrey. "For a 40-year-old knight with one hand?" Damn, roasted.
Three episodes later, Brienne reads out Jaime's underwhelming entry. "It's the duty of the Lord Commander to fill out those pages. And there's still room left in mine."
Well, that's where Brienne comes in. In the finale, Brienne, now the Lord Commander, jots down the following tales under Jaime's name:
"Captured in the field at the Whispering Wood: Set free by Lady Catelyn Stark in return for an oath to find and return her two daughters." (Seasons 1-3)
"Took Riverrun from the Tully rebels, without loss of life." (Season 6)
"Lured the Unsullied into attacking Casterly Rock, sacrificing his childhood home in service to a greater strategy. Outwitted the Targaryen forces to seize Highgarden." (Season 7)
"Fought at the Battle of the Goldroad bravely, narrowly escaping death by dragonfire. Pledged himself to the forces of men and rode north to join them at Winterfell, alone." (Season 7)
"Faced the Army of the Dead, and defended the castle against impossible odds until the defeat of the Night King. Escaped imprisonment and rode south in an attempt to save the capital from destruction." (Season 8)
Died protecting his Queen." (Season 8)
So it was Jaime who knighted Brienne in season 8 episode 2, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, but it was Brienne who ultimately gave Jaime a dignified legacy. (Also note that the sigil on Brienne's chestplate is that of a raven, for Bran the Broken.)
Flashbacks and foreshadows
Love and duty: There was another substantial throwback earlier in the episode, when Jon goes to see an imprisoned Tyrion. Tyrion, in the process of convincing Jon to put an end to Daenerys, says he loves her just like Jon does. "Love is the death of duty," Jon says. He mentions that it was something Maester Aemon told him.
Maester Aemon did indeed tell him this, back in episode 9 of the first season after Ned Stark's head had been chopped off. (Aemon also said it to Sam in season 4.) "We all do our duty when there's no cost to it," he said. "Honor comes easy then. Sooner or later, in every man's life, there comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose."
This sentiment was echoed by Tyrion moments later. Tyrion tells Jon that Sansa told him about Jon's true identity because she doesn't want Daenerys to be Queen. "She doesn't get to choose," Jon says.
"No, but you do, and you have to choose now," Tyrion powerfully replies.
Aemon didn't know how prescient he was, and how Jon's hardest decision would not be whether to bail from The Night's Watch to join his brother Robb Stark, but whether or not he should betray his Queen — who happened to be Aemon's great niece.
Intro tidbits: Each episode of season 8 has aired with slightly tweaked opening credits. This week, for the finale, the Lannister Lion did not appear above the Iron Throne and the Map Room of the Red Keep had a fission line through it, the former representing the fall of Queen Cersei and the latter the destruction of the city. (Plus, the actual Map Room had a fission through it.)