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Review: 'Game Of Thrones' Fails To Deliver Epic Ending


A lot of people last night made sure to be in front of their televisions in time to hear this theme.


INSKEEP: After eight seasons, many beheadings and a lot of dragon fire, "Game Of Thrones" aired its series finale. It was among the most popular shows on TV, even though it was so complicated that fans said they could hardly explain it. Or maybe it was popular because of that.

Our TV critic Eric Deggans is here to tell us how it all ended. Hi there, Eric.


INSKEEP: OK. So I want to note that Noel literally left the studio so as not to hear any spoilers, and we should tell people at home, this is your chance to turn down the radio if you don't want to hear spoilers. But having given them a couple of seconds, a little bit of warning, how did it end?

DEGGANS: OK. So I guess what I'd say is that TV's most epic series kind of failed to deliver an epic ending. Good - a good ending. Not a great one. For the record, Bran Stark, a young man who lost the use of his legs when he was pushed out of a window in the first season, won the game of thrones. He was crowned king. We saw big moments, like the death of heroine-turned-despite Daenerys Targaryen. They happened quickly, and they kind of seemed anticlimactic. Let's remember last week's episode, where Daenerys used her dragon to burn down the town of King's Landing.

INSKEEP: As one does from time to time. Yes. Good...

DEGGANS: As you have to do sometimes, especially when they behead your best friend. And (laughter) on Sunday, her lover and supporter, Jon Snow, had an argument with her adviser Tyrion Lannister. And they're back and forth - kind of sounded like two fans arguing over whether that dragon attack made any sense at all.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

DEGGANS: So let's check it out. Tyrion, who's played by Peter Dinklage, speaks first.


PETER DINKLAGE: (As Tyrion) The moment the gates fell, the battle was over. She saw her friend beheaded. She saw her dragon shot out of the sky.

KIT HARINGTON: (As Jon) And she burned down a city for it. Would you have done it?

DEGGANS: Now, Jon knows he wouldn't have done it. So he decides that Dany is a dangerous tyrant who must be killed, and he does the deed.

INSKEEP: When you tell me that there was - just, everything seemed rushed, are you following up on any number of critics who've said that these series are just - these episodes are just too crowded, too much plot?

DEGGANS: Well, I had a theory. You know, the last two seasons have had fewer episodes than the usual 10 that we saw before that. They had seven. And they aired seven in 2017, and then these final six came almost two years later. So I think one reason it feels rushed is because the setup episodes happened so long ago, and then we get the wrap-up of this complex story in a shortened number of episodes.

I also think people expected to see the story of this heroine rising up to free the oppressed, and instead, they saw the story of this rebel who became a brutal dictator and was killed. And that may have thrown fans off a little bit.

INSKEEP: Best and worst moments for you, Eric?

DEGGANS: Well, best was summed up in two words, Peter Dinklage. This guy is an amazing actor, and he gave Tyrion Lannister this passionate power right up until his final scenes. Now, the worst thing for me was the subtext of this last story because Dany saw herself as this freedom fighter who was liberating the oppressed in their kingdoms. And in a show with almost no characters of color, her followers, some of them who were former slaves, were the closest thing to that. She was killed by a son of the people who originally ran things.

And then when all the lords and ladies get together to decide who's going to be king, they even start laughing about the idea of letting everybody vote. (Laughter). And that seemed like a weird message, to show these wealthy and powerful people laughing about the idea that you could have a vote to choose a leader.

INSKEEP: Wow. Imagine that. Eric, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

DEGGANS: Always a pleasure.

INSKEEP: That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans on the season finale of "Game Of Thrones." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.