The results are in. The people have spoken. After last week’s poll, I have gathered your results and pulled some of my favorite quotes from you, the very readers and commenters we love. One of my promises was that I would “scaveng[e] the comments like a raccoon in the night, selecting my favorite defenses and sharing them in a soon-to-be follow up to this post.” And I’m nothing if not a man of my word. As mentioned, if you followed my cold, hard directions on how to post, this gave you your likeliest chance of being showcased in this, here post. Most of you followed directions pretty well, so thank you! The rest of you? Well, let’s just say it’s been a while since Ser Ilyn has seen any action, and his blade is getting rusty…So! What did the people have to say about their favorite GoT season finales? Who won the coveted Iron Throne? Read on and find out!
Well, voters. You have made your decision crystal clear. If the featured picture wasn’t your first indication, let it be said that Season 6’s ‘The Winds of Winter’ is the far and away the overwhelming favorite, winning a whopping 61.77% of the 3,633 total voters.
What did the voters think? A myriad of things! Some really liked the ‘reveal’ that R+L = J. I say ‘reveal’ in quotes because at this time we only really confirmed that Lyanna was Jon’s mom:
Maddison: “Almost all of the big characters had big moments in that episode…Daenerys sailing to Westeros to claim the Iron Throne, Cersei blowing up the Sept of Baelor, Tommen, Jon becoming King in the North with that look between Sansa & Littlefinger, & of course Arya gets her revenge on the Freys, & finally R+L=J is confirmed.”
The voters absolutely loved the opening sequence, with the introduction of composer Ramin Djwadi’s magnum opus, Light of the Seven:
weirwoodtreehugger: “…perhaps the best episode of the entire series. Everything about Cersei’s revenge was perfect. It was the most suspenseful sequence in the whole series, the acting was great, the pacing was spot on and the score beautiful.”
nefromaway: “IMO there was so much movement forward in that episode and as a viewer it was a rich delight of music, acting, editing, cinematography, and more.”
Really though, people just…liked it. A lot:
Roast: “…as a book reader I knew most of the huge plot points of seasons 1-5. Those seasons I was watching and enjoying, but half the enjoyment was watching my unsullied wife and friends and seeing what they thought. Season 6 however, was a far different experience for me. Just about everything was beyond the books at that point. The finale episode had the hard task of following the battle of the bastards, and it did it amazingly. I was on the edge of my seat that whole season, and for the first time really felt the rush of being an unsullied, and that final episode was in my opinion the best of the season.”
Jon Snowed: “For me this is the most perfect hour of television I have ever seen”
Rika: “I like it because it was perfect. Perfect score. Perfect plot. Perfect twists. Perfect death (Walder Frey’s). Confirmed R+L=J. And was a perfect contrast from where that season started.”
tmoe: “I didn’t anticipate what Cersei was up to, so she blew up my mind alongside her enemies. Plus Jon’s parentage being revealed was a moment we’ve all been waiting for for years. Both scenes matched with their musical scores just made that episode one of the greatest ever and left me in awe and suspension while waiting for season 7.”
In a very distant second place with 13.07% of the vote, ranked season 4’s ‘The Children.’ Some people thought it was emotional and unpredictable:
Cazaril: “Probably because I haven’t read the books by that time and what happened totally took me off guard”
Arkash: “The culmination and apotheosis of Act I. A non stop succession of powerfwul dialogues, intense emotional moments and stunning set-pieces tying up a lot of things while opening so much more for the road to come.”
The common thread that people seemed to really like here is that several chapters of GoT appeared to come to a close (the Hound, Tywin, etc.) while others perfectly segued into the next chapters of their stories (Arya, Tyrion, Bran, etc.):
Dorian: “From Stannis’ arrival at the Wall (a wonderful sequence), Bran meeting the Three-Eyed Raven, Tyrion’s escape and attack on Shae and Tywin (some of the best acting he’s ever done is with Charles Dance on that toilet) and the brutal Hound vs Brienne fight, it was just perfect for me.”
Lorie: “Arya on the ship to Braavos was thrilling! And the epic “Brienne vs the Hound” fight scene was awesome and probably my second-fav scene in the whole series thus far.”
Voter Legolas captured it best: “A Finale has to capture the “finally” moments, and yet with a multi-season opus like GoT it has to build expectation towards the next season. Season 4 did that for me like none other. Arya’s final scene was a refreshing change to Danaerys or the Whitewalkers closing out the season. She finally moves on to potentially exciting unforeseen prospects. And her final scene with the Hound after the brilliant fight scene is a jewel. Tyrion makes a similar move escaping Westeros to set up an exciting storyline for the next season, while leaving the chess board open in King’s Landing. Bran finally reached the Three-Eyed-Raven. It was all starting to look very exciting indeed for the future. The elements added by the surprising sweep of Stannis’ forces to help Jon and the beautiful farewell to Ygritte were great.”
Not too far behind season 4 was the recent season 7’s ‘The Dragon and the Wolf,’ with 11.62% of the vote. Could it be recency bias that has pushed season 6 and 7 to occupy two of the top three spots? We’ll never know without a
Bran Three-Eyed Raven to send us through space and time and find out! Here are some of my favorite quotes about the season 7 finale:
Syrio 2: “The Wall came down in a fittingly climatic sequence. After seven seasons of impenetrability and in a way that was not foreseen. The wight attacking Cersei and then the subsequent dialogue between Cersei and Tyrion back in her chambers was intense and edge of the seat stuff. Then the demise of Littlefinger. Hoist by his own petard when his schemes over reached and rebounded on him. And did I mention the Wall came down. Epic!”
While he didn’t exactly stick to the one paragraph rule I put in place, voter Thronetender practically heeled my calling, dubbing me the legendary Raccoon Boy:
“I started to write this way earlier on Thursday, then had other pressing business, and was almost going to skip writing anything, until I reread what David wrote: “I will be scavenging the comments like a raccoon in the night, selecting my favorite defenses and sharing them in a soon-to-be follow up to this post.” Ok, Racoon Boy, I offer the following as fare for you to scavenge.
We got definitive answers! We got characters finally doing what we, for years, hoped they would do. The Wall fell! We got unprecedented occurances, yet there is still enough suspense that the wait until we next see Game of Thrones seems particularly cruel.
Without a doubt, even the most casual viewer now knows that Jon Snow is really Aegon Targaryen, the true-born, legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark Targaryen, with even greater right to the Iron Throne than his beloved (Aunt) Daenerys. Jon (he shall remain Jon to me until such time that he, himself, knows his true name and parentage.) found the courage to love again, and with a very worthy partner…”
He had quite a bit more to say, and it’s all very worthwhile, so I’ll recommend you head over to the original post and check it out. Meanwhile, the famed Raccoon Boy has more comments to scavenge.
Next up was season 1’s ‘Fire and Blood,’ commanding 8.06% of the vote. Being the culmination to the first season of TV’s (at the time) burgeoning phenomenon, it had a lot of expectations, and many were happy to share why they thought it delivered. For those Unsullied at the time, some shared their memories of watching the season 1 conclusion:
fdr: “…the birth of the dragons (and the false narrative of the King in the North revenging his family). It’s obvious in hindsight, but I didn’t know anything about Thrones then and I hadn’t completely expected that the dragons would hatch after all, especially because the previous episodes already changed my expectations (Viserys dead, Robert dead, Ned dead, Drogo dead). At this point, Jon was just a side character and Daenerys took the lead.”
m3shwerks: “After Ned’s beheading I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show (I was unsullied). Rob being declared the King in the North gave us hope for the Starks and we feared for Arya and her new path. The birth of the dragons was a game changer and I love the music as Dany emerges from the pyre. Finally, Mormont’s speech as Jon ventures beyond the wall set the tone for the looming Others. It was a great set-up for the next season and confirmed that a larger story was still unfolding. It also reaffirmed that this was not your typical fantasy show.”
LadyGoodman: “I liked it because I was a sweet summer child then, unsullied in the ways of ASOIAF and completely enthralled by the plot juggernaut that blew past Ned’s execution so fearlessly. I knew that it was a show I could trust to entertain me without pandering, obvious plot devices and maudlin romance.”
Still though – Sullied or not, people just seemed to really love them dragons:
Boromir: “…ends the “prologue” and sets up the main story in an incredibly powerful way, with the one-two-three punch of Robb declared King in the North, Jon heading beyond the wall, and the birth of the dragons.”
Stormborn: “…Dany rising from the ashes with 3 baby dragons. It was potent, majestic and completely mesmerising; rounding off one of the better seasons of GoT.”
Sam: “I liked this because… of the last scene, Dany shows everyone she is a true force to be reckoned with and gives life to dragons after being extinct for years. It gives me goosebumps the same I had when reading the book. It ties a knot in my chest seeing her rise and everyone bow down as “for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.” Granted it was dawn in the show, and it looked beautiful too.
moonpeas: “Season 1 is my favorite finale because when the Daenerys and baby dragons scene (and Jorah, don’t forget him), when that went to black my husband and I, on the edge of the sofa, turned to each other. And you know our expressions, I’m sure.”
With 3.94% of the vote, one brave voter stood tall for season 5’s ‘Mother’s Mercy’:
Pat: “I am surprised there is not more love for season 5. To me it was the most heartbreaking and terrifying episode of entire series. I still remember how scared i felt the first time watching it. The fact that a tv show is capable of making me feel such a way is why i love this show so much. Stannis final moments… Just wow.”
No one vocally made the case for season 2’s ‘Valar Morghulis’ or season 3’s ‘Mhysa,’ although each contributed 1.07% and .047% of the vote, respectively. For good measure, I’ll throw in my two cents:
As far as overall television season finales go, I think season 2 is exceptional, and I love the decision to tack on the ‘Sam meets The Walking Dead’ to the end of the episode. It’s a great hour of TV, and this scene capped off the season fittingly. However, compared to the other GoT seasons, I’d agree with the voters that this finale doesn’t remotely compare.
Season 3 is just a lackluster finale. By choosing to cut the novels’ Lady Stoneheart storyline, there was clearly a struggle over what would be the most impactful way to end the season. While David and Dan ultimately chose to end with Daenerys’ freeing of Yunkai, I do not believe this choice was wise. Colonialist implications aside, this scene does not have a strong narrative tug because we already saw this done earlier in the season when Daenerys Dracarys’d her way to victory in Astapor. Many will disagree with me, but I have always said that season 3 should have ended with Jaime arriving home in King’s Landing. I still remember Cersei’s and Jaime’s shared glances as he opens her door. Is it ‘The Wall falls’ or ‘Dragons are born’ capital E Epic? No, of course not. But this is a show about people, and this was a season largely built around Jaime’s redemption. Ending it there would have been far more narratively satisfying from a character perspective rather than watching Daenerys’ liberation of a second city.
As for my personal favorite finale? It’s season 4 hand’s down, with ne’er a second place in sight. I firmly believe Season 4 of GoT is one of the strongest seasons any television show has ever had, which was solidified with its exceptional finale, The Children. Over the course of an hour, Shae and Tywin meet their deaths at their hands of a bloodlusting, at-wit’s-end Tyrion, Tyrion (with a reluctant Varys in tow) sets off for a new start, Bran finally reaches the Three-Eyed Raven (give or take a few undead bomb-throwing skeletons) and is told he would fly, and Arya sails off towards Braavos along to the gorgeous and haunting children’s chorus of the main theme. Yes, all this and more happens in one episode – it was a finale that had it all…but it didn’t stop there. My favorite scene in all of GoT is the entirety of Brienne vs. The Hound, including the incredibly tense dialogue leading up to the fight, which also includes Arya and Podrick. As a longtime Sullied book reader, when I first saw this scene, I was on edge with every single line of dialogue, every facial expression, every hand on every sword. I believe that TV/film adaptations should be as different from the books as the writers feel they need to be. In the books, the Hound was left terribly wounded in a scuffle with minor characters. In the show, a terrifically exciting fight breaks out between two characters we care about, resulting in the Hound being terribly wounded all the same. This is drama. This is perfection. This is Game of Thrones. I agree with one of our voters:
Rygritte: “Season 4 no contest”