Better to burn out or fade away? Saying farewell to Westeros

As Game of Thrones comes to an end, our in-house afficionados select their highlights and favourite characters from the past eight seasons

ED POWER

  • Favourite character:
  • Tywin Lannister — because of Charles Dance’s performance but also because Game of Thrones was at its peak during his tenure on the series.

    Tywin’s death —and this also applies to Joffrey — coincided with Thrones beginning to outpace the books, after which its quality nosedived faster than a dragon with three huge crossbows sticking out of its neck.

    A special word, too, for Ser Pounce, first of his name.

  • Show crush:
  • Obviously Stannis Baratheon — the King that was promised.

    But aside from him, Daenerys in her pre-Mad Queen phase, largely on account of having met Emilia Clarke in Mother of Dragons costume (her, not me) on the Game of Throne set in Belfast in 2011.

    She’d flown in for a photo-shoot and was in all her Khaleesi splendour. A motley assemblage of journalists were led to meet her in a room where she was trying to warm herself with a sputtering threebar heater.

    She was gracious and depreciating — all the more remarkable given that we later learned she had recently suffered an aneurysm.

  • Which character would you have killed off earlier?
  • Cersei, who was fantastic just made no sense repositioned as the big bad.

    In the novels, it is likely that the Young Griff/Fake Aegon character will be Jon and Daenerys’s foe when they march on King’s Landing, rather than Cersei.

    And you can tell that the show runners were trying to bung her into a role to which she is ill suited — requiring Lena Headey to spend the past several seasons gawping from a window grumbling about elephants.

  • Lowlights:
  • The entirety of season eight — and specifically every second of screen-time involving sweary Jack Sparrow, Euron Greyjoy.

    Also Sansa and Arya’s preposterous “outsmarting” of Littlefinger in season seven. We should have known, then, what a shambles series eight was going to be.

  • Highlights:
  • The Battle of the Blackwater in season two was Game of Thrones at its finest, with its blend of politics and spectacle.

    And obviously the Red Wedding — which, when you rewatch season three, was an inevitable consequence of Robb Stark’s naivety and his repudiation of his commitments to Walder Frey.

    Take note showrunners Benioff and Weiss — this is how you “subvert expectations”.

    COLETTE KEANE

  • Favourite character:
  • Tyrion Lannister: In the early years he had the best lines and was involved in one of the best death scenes when he pinned his father Tywin to the privy with a crossbow arrow and formed unlikely comic duos with Varys and Bronn. The rush to get us to the end has seen his wit whittled back to next to nothing. He doesn’t drink or know much any more. Pity.

  • Show crush:
  • Tormund Gianstbane: With his unlikely friendship with Jon Snow, his willingness to put his people’s survival above all else and his fearlessness in battle, what’s not to love? But it was Tormund’s unrequited love for Brienne of Tarth that made this man giant even more lovable. Maybe there’s a spinoff in Tormand and Ghost, the Wildling Years.

  • Which character would you have killed off earlier?
  • Jaime Lannister should have died heroically in the Battle of Winterfell, and spared us all that awful fumble under the Ikea rugs with Brienne.

    After knighting her, he should have been allowed a glorious death that would be written about in the annals of the Kingsguard instead of being crushed (literally) by the weight of Cersei’s folly.

    She too, as villianelle in chief, deserved a better death than that.

  • Lowlights:
  • Pretty much all of season eight, particularly the Battle of Winterfell.

    We were told the war against the army of the dead was all we should care about for pretty much 10 years, so when it was over so quickly and then all eyes turned back to the chase for the Iron Throne, I found my own eyes glazing over.

  • Highlights:
  • Joffrey’s death, the Red Wedding, pretty much any scene with Ramsey Bolton who was delicious in his evilness are all noteworthy, but the Battle of the Bastards is one of the most spectacular sequences ever put on screen.

    EOGHAN O’SULLIVAN

  • Favourite character:
  • Kudos to all the characters who’ve made it this far, all deserving of a Tormund-organised afterparty. Arya’s arc seems the most fully formed come series end. Daenarys held the middle but I’m here for the little assassin who’s seen, heard and survived it all. And got Gendry too.

  • Show crush:
  • While you’ve got to admire Bronn’s devious ability to stick around, his final scene this season, threatening Jaime and Tyrion in their reminiscing revelry, was a disappointing, perplexing exit.

    Compare that to Hodor’s death in ‘The Door’, which makes me well up just thinking about it. He may not have been GOT’s most complex of characters, but loyalty goes a long way. Hold the door!

  • Which character would you have killed off earlier?
  • Jaime Lannister, from the very first episode of the show, was among its most undeserving — and yet I could understand the redemptive narrative, helped along the way by Brienne of Tarth. But his death in the arms of his sister in the penultimate episode, as their kingdom crumbled around them, was a meh way to go out.

    ‘The Spoils of War’ in season seven, as the Lannister army battled with Daenarys, should have been his swansong, in a sea of dragonfire. That it wasn’t was emplematic of lateseries GOT’s frustrations.

  • Lowlights:
  • Everything with Ramsey and his torturing of Theon. Gratuitous and seemingly never ending. And unlike Joffrey’s death, it was more relief that Ramsey’s storyline was over rather than glee at his comeuppance.

  • Highlights:
  • I loved this season’s ‘The Long Night’. It may have been literally too dark for some, but the show was at its most ambitious in the toolong battle scenes. If I was wearing a Fitbit, it would have thought I was having an 82-minute heart attack.

    I believed in Robb Stark, I thought he was the hero of our story. At least he got to go out in the pinnacle of the series, the Red Wedding.

    Any scene with Tyrion and Vaerys plotting and bitching and gossiping was a highlight.

    And their final glances and backstabbing in the penultimate episode was *kisses fingers*

    DES O’DRISCOLL

  • Favourite character:
  • Tyrion Lannister. The gods of Tellyland really did align the planets to have Peter Dinklage available for the role of the funniest and wisest person in Westeros.

    Without getting all PC about it, it must also have been quite an experience for somebody with dwarfism to get to articulate the prejudice associated with the condition, and then for both the character and the actor to overcome it all so that his physical height becomes the secondary feature it always should have been.

  • Show crush:
  • Cersei, in the seasons before her walk of shame. Nasty magnificence.

  • Which character would you have killed off earlier?

    I’ve had a list as long as Arya Stark’s, topped by Euron Greyjoy, Brienne of Tarth and Samwell Tarley.

  • Highlights:
  • The Red Wedding is an obvious one, but the shock effect of that scene in 2013 brought many people’s bond with the show to a new level.

    After the previous season’s beheading of Ned Stark, we knew GoT wasn’t afraid to shed main characters, but the butchering of Robb Stark, his pregnant wife Talisa, and his mother Catelyn was jaw-dropping stuff. So brilliantly done — the tension building until the big reveal when Catelyn realises Bolton is wearing chainmail under his sleeve, her doomed efforts to bargain for her son, the final throat-slitting... on the next day, it made for busy water-coolers all over the world.

  • Lowlights:
  • Arya’s time with the Many-Faced God brigade in series six had a payoff in later seasons, but it was a yawn to watch. And we’re all still coming to terms with how the final season has fizzled out. So much time wasted in the opening two episodes, and then the mad rush to the end, with its shark-jumping character collapses. Mind-boggling.

    Iron Throne, who cares... our fickle minds are already looking for a new hit.

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