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“Love is more powerful than reason. We all know that,” said Tyrion Lannister, captive prisoner of Daenerys Targaryen, as he tried to persuade Jon Snow to kill Daenerys, newly installed as queen, and save the Realm. As "Game of Thrones" wrapped up its eight-season run on Sunday night, Tyrion’s bit of wisdom explains quite a bit about both the highly divided reception to the show’s final season — and a little something about our divided politics.
Prior to Sunday night’s show, I had been deeply let down by season 8’s “The Bells,” the episode which both provided the audience with unbelievable spectacle and with the divisive choice to have Daenerys snap at the moment of her total victory, needlessly burning hundreds of thousands of innocent residents of King’s Landing. For me, despite seasons of establishing Daenerys as capable of both great kindness and tough leadership, the choice to suddenly turn her rage onto completely innocent people en masse felt rushed, without a proper precipitating trigger to send her over the edge at the very moment she had won. Emotionally, it didn’t work for me.
It worked for my friend Nicole. It worked a lot. Over the course of the next week, we each tried to persuade each other that the episode was either an achievement or a disaster. “But Dany just lost all of her advisers!” (I don’t care.) “But she’s been burning stuff since season 1!” (I don’t care.) “She’s always been kind of crazy!” (I don’t care.) Absolutely no attempts to reason with me could persuade me that, well, actually showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff had properly executed Daenerys' turn to the Mad Queen, and none of my complaints worked for her.
Fast forward to this week’s finale: It worked for me. It worked a lot. The execution of the scene where Jon Snow dispatches his (aunt? ex-girlfriend?) Queen Daenerys in the destroyed throne room? Grief-stricken Drogon melting the throne and then picking up his mother’s body? It worked for me on every level.
Once I was emotionally won by the episode, I was more than willing to ignore the many issues with the rest of the episode. “But why does Sansa get independence for the North but Dorne and the Iron Islands don’t ask for it?” Sure, you’re right, but I don’t care. “Why does literally no one bring up the fact that Jon is an actual Targaryen and that winds up having no real purpose?” Sure, you’re right, but I don’t care. “Why are these people even invited to this meeting?” Look, I got Sansa shutting down Edmure Tully, so I don’t care.
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