WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES.
Game of Thrones is over. The final 82-minute episode of the eight-season epic finished around midday (AEST) on Monday, with a bloody moment revealing to viewers who ended up on the Iron Throne.
The show has copped a lot of flak in recent weeks, with more than a million fans demanding a complete remake of season eight from HBO, and the season becoming the least popular in the show's history on Rotten Tomatoes. After so much build-up and fanfare around the final episode, did the series stick the landing?
It seems, once again, that fans are divided.
"All hail King Bran the Broken, who was left out of an entire season (season 5) of the show cause the writers felt he didn't have a compelling storyline, yet became King cause 'no one had a better life story than Bran' according to Tyrion. Great work HBO," wrote one disappointed fan.
Another viewer said "everything about the last season was disappointing, except the ending of Jon Snow", commending Kit Harington's character for staying morally sound till the end.
All Hail King Bran the Broken, who was left out of an entire season (season 5) of the show cause the writers felt he didn’t have a compelling storyline, yet became King cause “no one had a better life story than Bran” according to Tyrion. Great work HBO 🙄 #GameOfThronespic.twitter.com/RNtj1qWIHd— David Rivera (@DRiveraTX) May 20, 2019
Everything about the last season was disappointing except the ending of John Snow, the righteous foolish hero always trying to do the right thing, not hurting and taking advantage of anyone, ending up alone and unappreciated by even his family and fans. Accurate! #got#gotfinalepic.twitter.com/hQnxbfMPQb— Mostafa (@Mos_Taf_Aaa) May 20, 2019
But among the many negative reactions, there were plenty of viewers who liked the way it all came to a close. One fan even said described a scene as one of the most "heartbreaking" of the entire series.
"Loved the end of Game of Thrones," wrote one viewer. "Wasn't what I was expecting but I think it was a satisfying conclusion (although the last two seasons were so rushed and could have been spread out to flesh out the story better). I look forward to rewatching yet again."
"I honestly loved the ending," said another.
No spoilers. Loved the end of Game of Thrones. Wasn’t what I was expecting but I think it was a satisfying conclusion (although the last two seasons were so rushed and could have been spread out to flesh out the story better). I look forward to rewatching yet again— It's not me! (@dazm73) May 20, 2019
For the actors, the show has been a monumental chapter in their careers and lives. Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark in the show, was just 13 when the series first started filming. She took to Instagram to thank production staff and fans "for falling in love with these characters and supporting this show right through till the end".
Emilia Clarke, who played Daenerys, wrote on social media, "Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor and as a human being. I just wish my darling dad was here now to see how far we've flown.
"Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me," she wrote on social media.
She also thanked fans for their "steady gaze" and said, "Without you there is no us. And now our watch has ended."
Clark revealed in an interview with The New Yorker, released after the finale, that her character's arc was written similar to that of Lawrence of Arabia.
"He [Lawrence of Arabia] is brought in as a saviour," Clarke said. "He goes in and fights for the people, but then, ultimately, it's a story about how power corrupts absolutely. You see power turn this man wild and mad. He can't see anymore through the haze, the giddy highs, of being in charge. And that's what Daenerys experiences."
Like fans, critics have also had strong reactions to the series finale.
"Bran is in some ways a fitting choice," Egner wrote. "On a show frequently about how those who forget history are doomed to repeat it - in dynastic revenge cycles, conquering tyrants, sacks of King's Landing - Bran can access all of history. In a tale in which pride and ego can lead to travesty, Bran has neither."
It was hacky; it was cliched. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda.USA Today TV critic Kelly Lawler
Meanwhile Alyssa Rosenberg, writing for The Washington Post, wasn't shocked when Jon Snow killed Daenerys Targaryen.
"If Daenerys follows in the tradition of her ancestors and goes mad; Jon has to kill her; or if the messy mass of humanity can't stand against the implacable, snowy discipline of the White Walkers, the repudiation of the dream that one good person can save us that Game of Thrones began in its first season will be complete," Rosenberg wrote.
USA Todaytelevision critic Kelly Lawler labelled the finale a "disaster ending".
"It was hacky; it was cliched. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda. It was all too simple, too clean, even with a major death and a surprise contender for the Iron Throne," Lawler wrote. "Closure is one thing, but pandering is entirely another."
The Guardian's television critic Lucy Mangan wrote that the finale "just about delivered" after a rushed final season. "Whether the million signatories to the petition to remake the entire final season, or the majority of the estimated 45 million around the world due to watch the last episode, will agree - who knows.
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Overall, I think, it won."
- SMH/The Age