Cersei Lannister once famously said that “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” Ever since then, viewers have been captivated by the TV series that saw contenders fight for the ultimate prize. Now, as the dust settles on the Season 8 finale of Game of Thrones, fans now know who won this epic battle.
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episode 6 (titled “The Iron Throne”) of HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 8. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
The entire premise of HBO’s Game of Thrones is the deadly battle to claim the iron throne. By doing so, it gave whoever resided there to power over seven kingdoms. Over the course of eight seasons, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), his sons Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), as well as his wife, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), have all had their turn on the iron throne.
However, during this time, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was also competing for the iron throne. Her family, the Targaryens, had ruled over Westeros prior to Robert Baratheon’s reign. So, Daenerys felt that she was the one true heir to the iron throne. Over the span of the epic fantasy series, she rose from nothing to become a powerful leader in her own right and finally laid claim to the iron throne in last week’s episode of Game of Thrones when Cersei was defeated.
However, in the Season 8 finale of Game of Thrones, Daenerys lost her life after Jon Snow (Kit Harington), another contender for the iron throne and someone with more of a claim to it than she had due to his secret Targaryen heritage, killed Daenerys. Jon finally took Dany’s life after she razed King’s Landing after Cersei had surrendered, descending into the madness that the Targaryens are so well known for.
While this act should place Jon atop the iron throne, other events also came into play. Daenerys’ dragon, Drogon, melted the physical iron throne with dragon fire. Then, because Jon was arrested for murdering Daenerys, a gathering of the highest-placed Houses in Westeros decided that the ruler of the seven kingdoms should be voted in rather than being able to claim it by birthright. However, while democracy was set up for six of the kingdoms, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) decided that the North would be excluded from this new democracy and is now considered Queen in the North.
As for the position of ruler of the remaining six kingdoms, as Polygon points out, this position has been democratically elected to Brandon Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), which means that the rule of the seven kingdoms now falls to a person that was neither expected due to his injury sustained in Season 1, nor one who actually wanted to rule.
However, in the end, the real winners are the people of Southern Westeros who now get to choose their leader rather than having to rely on a royal heir.
Episode 6 was the final episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 8 and the series overall. HBO is currently in production on a prequel series set in the same universe as Game of Thrones. However, no release date has been announced for this new series.