Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Game of Thrones is a dark-ass show. That much is obvious. Blood, guts, murder, patricide, incest, sexual assault, zombies, political intrigue—it’s all there.
In some ways, that means Sunday night’s finale was right on brand. What could be darker than a man killing his lover/aunt because she’s murdered thousands of innocent people, or a dragon torching a throne that represented generations of tyranny before flying away with a corpse…or a man discovering his brother and sister, who were twins, dead in each other’s embrace? Please give me some candy, I need it after watching this heinousness.
But there were some less obvious aspects of the finale that were just as dark. If anything, they felt even more depressing because they were recognisable even to us real-life, non-Westerosi viewers. Twitter took note of these similarities between the Thrones power struggle and how white men always seem to succeed IRL, no matter what. Here are four of the reasons the GoT finale felt like a no-fun-house mirror.
A man ended up on the throne.
In a classic “tricked you” move, Game of Thrones put Bran Stark on the throne. All this time, we’d been foolishly thinking about things like “political experience” and “proven leadership,” but instead we should have been thinking about “came out of nowhere to take the ultimate prize for no apparent reason.”
This hurts because it’s far too similar to what happens in real life: Rando white guys get power not necessarily because they have the best experience, but because they seem to know everything. But you know what? We have no idea whether Bran is benevolent or not. As the Three-Eyed Raven, he seemed to be right all along in terms of recommending what people should do, that’s true. But was he just picking the path that would lead to him winning? Will he be a good ruler? NOBODY KNOWS. “I know you don’t want it. I know you don’t care about power,” says Tyrion to Bran. Can he confirm that for sure? LMAO, no.
Dany was killed off because she had proven to be bloodthirsty and vengeful. I can live with that. But there were other candidates who would have been better kings (or queens). Bran has proved nothing except that he’s capable of manipulating a situation so that he is #1.
By putting Bran on the throne, Game of Thrones reveals the show, or at least Westeros, has a huge bias against women. When suggesting Bran should rule, Tyrion says, “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story…and who has a better story than Bran the Broken?” Cue Arya, Sansa, and Daenerys all making WTF faces. Sure, Bran’s story is interesting, and he’s a survivor with unique skills. But is it better than Arya’s (literally learning how to take SOMEONE’S FACE, can kill anyone, including zombies) or Sansa’s (manoeuvring through treacherous political waters and surviving abuse to become a tactical genius) or Daenerys’ (DRAGONS)? Nope.
His council is full of mediocre white men. There’s only one woman.
The final scene depicting a meeting of the King’s council is so depressing for its sheer boneheadedness. There’s Bronn, of all people, whose loyalty swung to wherever the money was. There’s Sam, who’s still so meek that he gets cut off by Bronn at the meeting. There’s Ser Davos, who at least seems decent, but he’s the definition of middle management. And then Tyrion is the Hand, even though he seemed to lose all his capacity for smart decisions this whole season. Thank goodness for Brienne, though she might be too busy love-bloggingto be effective as a royal counsellor.
Very few women were left in the finale, and their endings were mostly weird.
All hail Sansa Stark, the Queen in the North, the only person who received a satisfying end to her arc. (Don’t you wish Yara had been on the council?) As noted, Brienne may be a knight but she’s also now been relegated to Jaime Lannister’s historian, Arya looks like she’s going to become Christopher Columbus, and we all know what happened to Dany. WTF.
The one major remaining character of color didn’t get a role on the council or really even a say in…anything.
Grey Worm was loyal to Daenerys until the end—perhaps to a fault, as we saw with him wanting to execute Cersei’s men, even after they’d surrendered. But he didn’t end up having a role on the council, and neither did he seem to stick with his resolve to punish Jon Snow. He simply up and left. Grey Worm might not be a noble who’d expect an advisory role, but, hello, Gendry and Bronn didn’t have titles either until about two minutes ago! Why can’t Grey Worm get some credit?
Representation has always been a weak point for Game of Thrones. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t stick around either if I were Grey Worm, and his final exit to Naath was a beautiful tribute to his lost love Missandei. But his character’s resolve and importance crumbling into dust is yet another example of GoT not seeming to give a toss about Westeros’ new leadership being yet another white sausagefest.
This article first appeared on ELLE.