Game of Thrones Season 8 ended just as it began: with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) spouting off a bit of crude dialogue. That was a rare spot of consistency in the HBO epic's final stretch. Otherwise, nearly everything changed over the course of those all-too-brief six episodes, and not for the better.
As it stands now, the six kingdoms are being spearheaded by a group of almost all men, many of whom are selfish, ill equipped, or just plain uninterested in leadership, and there's just one woman on board to stymie the stupidest ideas of the rest. We only get to see a few minutes of what's in store for this new reign in the series finale, but it looks like things are already starting to fall apart as a result of the piss-poor small council selections — and perhaps even the low-key malevolence of the new king himself.
Bronn of the Blackwater (Jerome Flynn), for example, might've been a fan favorite of the series for his sharp tongue and brutal honesty, but making the former cutthroat-for-hire the Master of Coin? Well, that's like letting a vampire manage a blood bank. And the proof is in the pudding, as one of his first official suggestions is to invest in the reopening of King's Landing's best brothels. Bronn now has pursestrings over everyone else at the table. Why?
Meanwhile, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) has never met a king or queen he could say no to, Tyrion has proven that he's a terrible Hand time and time again, Sam (John Bradley) is just there to write title-winking books, and everyone's already refusing to take Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) seriously. Brienne has taken over as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, not that we get to hear her title in this exchange.
On day one, these people are already bickering over grammar and digressing into stupid stories about literal jackasses, so yeah, this is just an ace setup. Way better than if any of those pesky queens got to take the helm, right?
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) was chosen to be a benevolent and selfless ruler, but there are signs that he'll be anything but. Earlier in the final season, he'd claimed not to "want" anymore — speaking to Tyrion, of course, which seems strategic in hindsight — and to be driven by something other than human impulses. But when offered the crown, he insists it's the very reason he's come so far in the first place. Say what? Since when has he ever aspired to this? We also get a glimpse at his priorities as a new king, and it definitely doesn't look like the wheel has been broken. If anything, it's been fortified with another, so that this new king can roll all over everyone with his new built-in surveillance state.
Upon arriving to his first small council meeting, the first thing Bran does is bemoan the lack of weapons on his team. "We appear to be missing a Master of Whisperers and a Master of Laws and a Master of War," he says. Does ordering up a personal spy, lawmaker, and warmonger first thing sound like the prioritization of a peaceful ruler? Bran then immediately sets his sights on the one potential threat to his rule: Drogon. "Perhaps I can find him," he says eerily. And that's it. Bran then peaces out of the small council meeting, showing no regard for any political issues that won't shore up his place of power. He leaves the rest of his squad to squabble over the rest, like whether to invest in trade ports or prostitutes first.
And this clown car of a regime is supposed to be better than any of the options that were on the table coming into the season.
We had to watch Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) turn into an irredeemable monster after seven seasons of (mostly) benevolent behavior because her thirst for power was just too dangerous. Then, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) had to dishonor himself by betraying his queen so he could live in exile all over again. Cersei (Lena Headey) was turned into a feckless piece of window dressing so she could die under a pile of bricks, despite how many artful ways she deserved to go out after such a cruel and cunning arc. Sansa (Sophie Turner) displayed endlessly shrewd and passionate leadership skills, only to be completely overlooked by the Lords and Ladies of Westeros while picking their ruler. Sansa was smart enough to demand independence for the North so she could still wear a crown, but she deserved more. These characters were all railroaded in favor of a ragtag group with exactly zero vision for the Realm and a king who can't even make it through his first council meeting without displaying tyrannical tendencies.
We're not just back to square one here. We're worse off. At least Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) had the good sense to recognize he didn't know how to rule and tried to hire people who knew what they were doing. This ending is like one of Saturday Night Live's ridiculous Game of Thrones spin-off ideas, only worse. There's no discernible point to any of this.
Arya (Maisie Williams) is right to set sail for the great unknown right now, because what's behind seems poised to be a complete mess. She might need to be out of the Three-Eyed Raven's sight range — unless she wants to end up like most of the other powerful women on this show.