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By Daniel Arkin
This article contains major spoilers about the series finale of “Game of Thrones.” If you’re still catching up on the season or haven’t watched the final episode yet, bookmark this page and come back another time.
“Game of Thrones,” the 73-episode fantasy saga that has swallowed up more cultural oxygen than just about any other modern television series, said farewell Sunday night. The final 80-minute installment threw a few narrative curveballs, wrapped up some loose ends, killed off one last pivotal character and — surprise, surprise! — divided the internet.
Here’s a look at the early reaction to the key moments in “The Iron Throne.”
WE HAVE A WINNER
The oddsmakers were right.
In the end, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) was named ruler of Westeros, just as the Las Vegas gambling world predicted.
The dark horse pick by a council of lords and ladies made sense to some long-time viewers, including Vox television critic Todd VanDerWerff, who argued in part that the ending was foreshadowed in George R.R. Martin’s books.
But others on Twitter jeered Bran’s ascent to power, poking fun at the character’s ethereal aloofness and relatively minimal role in recent seasons — not to mention the narrative left-turn that led to his rise.
DAGGER TO THE HEART
Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) may know nothing, but he’s certainly crafty with a blade.
In a (literally) gut-wrenching moment roughly 40 minutes into “The Iron Throne,” Jon fatally stabbed Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) during a kiss — a deed that ultimately results in the stoic warrior being banished to the Night’s Watch.
Twitter mourned the loss of Dany, whose late-series descent into genocidal madness stirred intense debate. (Clarke, for her part, weighed in on the backlash in an interview with The New Yorker published soon after the finale ended.)
In the hours after the last episode hit the airwaves, some critics lamented how “Thrones” handled Dany’s departure.
“Daenerys, once the show’s ostensible hero, ended up feeling like a plot point to be dispensed with, rather than a great and tragic figure to be truly mourned and reckoned with,” The Washington Post opinion writer Alyssa Rosenberg wrote in her review of the finale.
ICE CREAM THRONE
It’s not entirely accurate to say Bran claimed the Iron Throne in “The Iron Throne” because, well … the Iron Throne doesn’t exist anymore.
The hulking dragon Drogon, devastated over the death of Daenerys, torched the royal seat and melted it into nothingness. (Here’s an appreciation of that brutal heap of steel.)
“Leave it to a dragon to make the sensible and humane political decision,” New York Times op-ed contributor Wajahat Ali tweeted.
The political symbolism was not lost on many viewers, and some mocked what they saw as a heavy-handed storytelling device.
But others thought the fiery destruction of the throne was an apt callback to the portentous words of Dany’s ill-fated older brother, Viserys Targaryen: “The breath of the greatest dragon forged the Iron Throne … the swords of the vanquished, a thousand of them, melted together like so many candles.”