A Binge Guide for Season 8, Episode 6: “The Iron Throne”
by Greg Enslen
Episode Number: S08E06
Original Air Date: May 19, 2019
Time: 78 minutes
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the devastating attack on King's Landing, Daenerys must face the survivors.
The updated animated map during the credits shows a few important locations: the Wall, Last Hearth, Winterfell, and King’s Landing. Updated in this episode: parts of King’s Landing are ruined, including the gates and walls, there’s a crack in the blue map room floor (just as in the show), and there is no Lannister sigil over the Iron Throne.
Tyrion Lannister walks with Jon Snow and Ser Davos Seaworth through the ruins of King’s Landing, passing burned bodies and the ruins of a bell tower. A burnt victim shuffles mindlessly past him. There are too many dead to count as ash and snow combine, falling on everything. Jon wants someone to go with Tyrion, but he wants to search alone. Above him, the Red Keep still stands but it’s been damaged—the entire Tower of the Hand has been destroyed, blasted into the sea.
Grey Worm prepares to execute captured Lannister soldiers. Jon tries to convince him not to, but Grey Worm isn’t listening. At the Red Keep, Tyrion descends into the dungeons and finds the way out blocked. Worried, he digs in the rubble and finds Jaime’s golden hand—and the bodies of his brother and sister, united in death.
Notes: Tyrion cannot serve at Dany’s hand anymore—literally, the offices and apartments of his position have been destroyed. With their deaths confirmed, Tyrion “The Imp” is now the last remaining member of House Lannister.
Goofs: Grey Worm tells Jon to go speak to the queen to prevent more executions. When Jon gets to Dany, Grey Worm is already there.
Arya Stark walks through another ruined area of King’s Landing and sees the Dothraki on horseback. Jon Snow passes them, not seeing her, and makes his way to the Red Keep. He passes the gathered Dothraki and up the stairs, where Daenerys Targaryen emerges, looking triumphant, with her dragon Drogon behind her. She speaks to her army, congratulating them on the sack of King’s Landing and promising to take the fight to “all the lands of Westeros.” She makes Grey Worm the commander of all of her forces.
Tyrion climbs the steps as well, Arya watching from below, but he’s not interested in being Dany’s Hand anymore and throws the symbol away. Gray Worm arrests Tyrion, taking him away to a cell. Dany and her troops leave, and Jon watches, knowing he’s made a terrible mistake. Arya appears next to him. “I came to kill Cersei. Your queen got there first.” Arya warns Jon—he’s always be a threat to Dany, now that she knows he has a claim on the throne.
Notes: The scene with Dany walking toward the steps has Drogon lined up perfectly behind her, giving the momentary illusion that Dany herself has grown dragon wings. Killing the men in their “iron suits” is something Dany asked the Dothraki to do for her in S06E06 when giving them to speech to follow her to Westeros.
Quotes: Jon Snow: “She's everyone's queen now.” Arya Stark: “Try telling Sansa.”
Jon goes to visit Tyrion in the room where he’s being held. Tyrion tells Jon he must kill Dany and take her place for the sake of everyone in Westeros. He understands that Dany cannot be controlled and may have doomed them all because she’s will to do anything—and kill anyone—to “break the wheel.” Jon says he can’t do it: “Love is the Death of Duty,” but Tyrion doesn’t agree. It’s up to Jon to save them all.
Notes: When Jon says that “love is the death of duty,” he’s quoting Maester Aemon from Castle Black.
Quotes: Tyrion Lannister: “Did you bring any wine?” Jon Snow: “No.” Tyrion: “Well, thank you for coming to see me. Your queen doesn't keep prisoners for long.”
Jon goes to see Dany in the throne room, passing a Drogon covered with snow. Dany is looking at the Iron Throne, gently touching it. Jon joins her, chastising her for the turn of events. He can’t believe she attacked the city, killing the citizens instead of liberating them, but for Dany, it’s all part of the greater good. They embrace, Dany trying to convince Jon to see things her way, but instead he STABS her through the heart, killing her. Drogon lands, nudging his fallen mother, then turns and MELTS the iron throne with dragonfire before turning, picking up Dany in one hand, and flying away.
Notes: Dany walks through the ruins of the throne room and regards the Iron Throne just as she did in her vision in S02E10. As in her vision, the walls and ceiling are damaged, and snow is falling from the sky, but now we see it’s mixed with ash from her destruction of much of the city. Jon kills his love, holding her as she dies just as he held Ygritte, the other love of his life, as she died in S04E09. With Dany’s death, Jon Snow becomes the last known living member of House Targaryen. Drogon lets Jon pass into the throne room because he’s part Targaryen. This means he’s literally the only person on the planet who can get close enough to Dany to kill her who also has a motivation to do so. It also might explain why the Lord of Light allowed Jon to be resurrected—he’s the only person who could stop Dany’s murderous future. Drogon melts the Iron Throne, which was created with dragonfire when Aegon Targaryen used his dragon Balerion the Black Dread to forge the Iron Throne from the swords of those he’d vanquished.
Quotes: Jon Snow: “How do you know it will be good?” Daenerys Targaryen: “Because I know what is good.”
Goofs: I’m not sure why Grey Worm didn’t protect his queen a little better, or come running into the room when Drogon started scorching everything. Speaking of that, it’s not logical that Drogon wouldn’t kill Jon Snow or at least try to burn him.
Some weeks later, a meeting is held in the Dragonpit. Grey Worm leads Tyrion before a council of Westerosi lords and ladies to determine the future of the realm.
Assembled here are Samwell Tarly, Edmure Tully, Arya Stark, Brandon Stark, Sansa Stark, Ser Brienne of Tarth, Ser Davos Seaworth, Gendry Baratheon, Yara Greyjoy, the new prince of Dorne, Robin Arryn, Yohn Royce and others. Sansa asks after Jon Snow, but Grey Worm says that he is a prisoner and will not be brought forth. Yara argues that Jon should be executed for killing Dany, but Arya disagrees. Ser Davos stands to calm the meeting—they need to come to some kind of agreement on the future of the realm.
Tyrion says they need to select a new leader, and Grey Worm tells them to make their choice. Edmure stands to begin explaining why he should be the new leader, but Sansa asks him to sit down. Samwell suggests that everyone in the realm be allowed to “vote” for their new leader in open elections, sending everyone into laughter.
Tyrion suggests there is only one person who could serve as the new King: Bran the Broken. Explaining that Bran is their collected memory, Tyrion says he can best lead them into the future. Bran can’t have children—Tyrion says that from now on, leaders will be chosen by the lords and ladies of Westeros to serve the realm. Tyrion asks him if he would serve. “Why do you think I came all this way?” The others vote, approving Bran as the new King—until they get to Sansa, who refuses. She demands that the North remain a free realm, and Bran agrees. Tyrion hails Bran the Broken as the new King, and Bran requires that Tyrion be his new Hand. Grey Worm disagrees, and Bran explains that Tyrion has made many mistakes and will “spend the rest of his life fixing them.”
Notes: This is the first appearance of Edmure Tully since S06E08 and Robin Arryn since S06E04.
Quotes: Bran Stark: Lord Tyrion, you will be my Hand.” Tyrion Lannister: “No, I don't want it.” Bran: “And I don't want to be king.”
Goofs: During the original broadcast, two plastic water bottles were visible in the Dragonpit scenes. One was behind Samwell Tarly’s left foot, another behind Ser Davos’ foot. They were subsequently removed digitally.
Tyrion visits Jon in prison, explaining the situation. Grey Worm and the Unsullied want his head for killing Dany, but the Northmen outside the city would attack. Tyrion suggests Jon take the black and join the Night’s Watch again, serving a penance for what he did. Jon agrees. Later, he leaves and walks the dock of King’s Landing, saying farewell to Sansa, Arya and King Brandon. The Unsullied are also leaving, boarding ships for Naath. Jon boards a ship, heading for Castle Black and the Wall.
Notes: Grey Worm mentions that they are traveling to Naath—it is likely he is returning Missandei’s remains to the island where she was born. It’s not explained why the Night’s Watch still exists if the white walkers have all been destroyed and there is no longer the threat of a “long night.” Jon even seems surprised that the organization still exists.
Brienne of Tarth, now the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, opens the Book of Brothers, the history of the Kingsguard, and completes Jaime Lannister’s entry, adding how he swore an oath to protect Lady Catelyn Starks daughters, fought the Night King at Winterfell and died protecting his queen.
Tyrion prepares for the first meeting of the new Small Council, which includes him as the Hand; Ser Bronn of the Blackwater as Master of Coin, Samwell Tarly as the new Grandmaester, Ser Davos as the Master of Ships, and Brienne as the Lord Commander. Samwell presents a book that Archmaester Ebrose and Samwell have been working on: “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which recounts the history of Westeros following the death of King Robert. King Brandon joins them and asks them to manage things while he searches for Drogon. Ser Podrick Payne wheels Bran away as they discuss rebuilding the navy and making repairs to the city—and Bronn suggests they start rebuilding the brothels.
Notes: Jaime told Brienne about the Book of Brothers, showing it to her in So4E04, the same episode where he gave her the sword “Oathkeeper.” It is not explicitly stated that she is, in fact, the Lord Commander, but updating the Book is one of their duties, as is attending meetings of the Small Council. This is also a callback to S04E01, when Joffrey mocks Jaime’s meager Book of Brothers entry. Ser Davos corrects Bronn’s grammar, a habit he picked from Stannis Baratheon. Tyrion mentions the sewers of Casterly Rock, which have been mentioned several times before. Tyrion has told the first part of this “jackass and honeycomb” joke twice before, once in the Eyrie during his “confession” to Lysa Arryn in S01E06 and once while trying awkward small talk with Missandei and Grey Worm in S06E08.
Quotes: Tyrion Lannister: “Lord Davos, we have an armada to rebuild and ports to repair.” Davos Seaworth: “We have. These projects will begin as soon as the Master of Coin and Lord of Lofty Titles provides funding.” Bronn: “The Master of Coin looks forward to helping the Master of Ships, but first he has to ensure we're not wasting coin, or soon there won't be no more coin.” Davos: “Any more.” Bronn: “You Master of Grammar now too?”
The West and the North
Jon arrives at Castle Black and is greeted by Tormund, Ghost and a group of wildlings. In Winterfell, Sansa is sworn in as the Queen in the North. Arya sets sail for parts unknown on a ship traveling west from Westeros. And Jon leaves Castle Black, passes under the Wall, and begin a new adventure with Tormund, Ghost and a large group of Free Folk, heading north.
Notes: Arya talking about what’s “west of Westeros” is a callback to her conversation with Lady Crane in S06E08, when Arya was considering her future. Jon Snow and his party passing under the Wall and heading north echoes the opening scene of the series in S01E01 when members of the Night’s Watch sallied forth from the Wall. A plant grows from the snow, signaling the end of winter and the approach of spring.
Well, it’s the final episode, so I’ll try to keep this brief so we can all get on with our lives.
I went into this episode filled with trepidation, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? But they wrapped up many of my favorite storylines well, added some great callbacks and shout-outs, and did the best they could trying to navigate out of the corner they’d painted themselves into.
Having decided to take Dany to FULL MAD QUEEN status with only one episode left, this one starts out as you would expect—people stumbling through the ashes of King’s Landing, stunned and burned and amazed at the destruction. Dany has done her worst and it shows as she’s reduced this city she once wanted to rule to a shell. Tyrion, Jon and Ser Davos wonder at what she’s done—and what they have done by allowing it to happen.
Tyrion finds his brother and sister dead, caught in the collapse of the Red Keep basements. Jon can’t keep Grey Worm from indulging in their bloodthirsty drive for revenge, and Dany takes center stage to deliver a speech of Hitler-level ambition and cold, calculated madness.
Jon and Tyrion know the right thing to do, and even then, Jon finds it hard to kill Dany. He does, though, saving the people of Westeros. Drogon doesn’t kill him for it—instead, the dragon seems to sense that the titular Iron Throne is the main problem—and the source of Dany’s pain—and destroys it instead. Jon looked like he was ready for Drogon to torch him; maybe Jon wanted his judgment immediately.
Arya was useless in this episode to the point where I forgot she was even in it until she snuck up on Jon early on and reminded him that Jon would always be a threat to Dany’s rule. Why the show spent eight seasons setting her to up be the best assassin ever, then sent her to King’s Landing and did nothing with her, I’ll never know. She could easily have shown up wearing Petyr Belushi’s face or some random guard and gotten close to Dany. They could have made it interesting—would Jon kill Dany, or would the cold and heartless (at least up until last episode) Arya Stark get to kill her first? As it was, she only reacted to other characters in this episode until the final moments.
Jon hugs Dany and then slides a knife into her chest, killing her. Okay, that’s fine—he was the only one who could do it and the only one that she trusted. But it seemed so sad and pointless and that everything that had led up to it was sad and pointless. Why have Dany suffer for eight seasons—and highlight every action she took as that of a hero and a saint—and then turn her evil in the last two episodes? They should have done a better job of showing her slide to madness. Even on a second viewing, it still seems sudden. Yes, they laid all the groundwork for the Mad Queen, but they also had her playing along and cracking jokes and smiling up until Season 8 Episode 3.
After Dany is dead, they hold a council to determine the new leader. I loved all the fun interaction and all the new and old faces. But Tyrion's speech and the underlying reasons for picking King Brandon I still seem, at least to me, a little thin. Yes, he’s not interested in ruling or holding power. He also “disappears” for long periods of time and it’s hard to get him to concentrate on anything important for long periods of time. Do they really want a King with the worst case of A.D.D. in history? But seeing everyone at the council meeting was fun: Robin Arryn grew up a bit, Yara Ironborn is still supporting Dany even though she’s long dead, and Edmure is...well, he’s looking for himself. Who can blame him?
Bran is chosen to be King, Tyrion is selected as his Hand, and Bran’s first act is to cede the North to his sister Sansa, fulfilling her interest from the very first episode of becoming a Queen.
Jon ends up at the Wall, back in the Night’s Watch. Why do they need one now? Not sure. Sansa ends up “Queen in DA Nor” and Arya sets sail for the unknown lands “west” of Westeros. Now THAT’S A SPIN OFF ID Like to see.
Overall, a great ending to an excellent and epic show. Could they have done better with the final few seasons? Of course. Did parts of the story feel rushed after they left the steady guidance of George R. R. Martin’s base texts? Yes, surely. But the ending is satisfying (unless you were rooting for Dany) and most of the characters are treated with a respectful wrap-up. Seeing Arya and Jon traveling away from Westeros, each with a gleam in their eyes, reminds me of the sweeping stories and limitless adventures that made this series one of the best television shows in history.
The title refers to the Iron Throne, the seat of the King and the “prize” for all that have fought and squabbled and killed to play the “game” of thrones. The melting of the throne by Drogon signals that this particular “game” has ended. Gilly is the only remaining member of the “main” cast to not appear on this episode. According to IMDB, Jaqen H’ghar and The Waif also visited the set in full costume but were not included in any scenes that made it into the final broadcast.
NOTE: All sites accessed on accessed May 28, 2019. As of May 28, 2019, there was no official Game of Thrones episode synopsis posted by HBO.
Den of Geek, “Season 8 Episode 6 Review.” https://www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/game-of-thrones/281222/game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-6-review-the-iron-throne
Game of Thrones Wiki, several pages. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_Wiki
New Rockstars, “Game of Thrones 8x06 Breakdown.” https://youtu.be/jZwa_Su-2yo
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