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Bran ending up as king was the only big thing where I was like... huh.... but the more I think about it, I think the headline is really that Bran is a different kind of king and this council of lords (House of Lords?) will have more power, so moving one more step toward a type of modern government. And I think the more meaningful placement is actually Tyrion as Hand, more meaningful for his character with a better payoff for the audience, and more meaningful to the story (if you were to imagine the extension of this story and its next chapters). The fact that Tyrion basically named the king and no one argued says a lot more about Tyrion's power than Bran's power. And even thought Tyrion makes some bad decisions, I see him as a strong character who has good intentions. So I am kind of OK with it now.
So, on the topic of the negative criticism-
I have a B.A. and an M.A. in English and part of the reason I didn't keep going to the PhD level was that criticism becomes a political game and I didn't want to play in that particular game. (Game of Tomes? LOL IDK) Especially when the prizes are not that spectacular, ha! And the same thing exists in literary criticism where people adopt a certain line of thinking and judge works along that line of thinking, with almost blatant disregard to what was going on in the work, or what the author was doing. I have written book reviews from time to time but I no longer do that professionally ("professionally" haha) because it kind of becomes a drag to pick apart other people's work without having them in front of you to talk about it with and understand it. But I still do like to analyze stuff like TV, books, movies etc on a kind of "fun" level, which is why I participate in this forum.
So I thought that kind of thinking was what @cdrive was getting at... if you get mired too deeply in the criticism of a piece, it diminishes the enjoyment of the piece and seems to take the creator out of the equation and put the critic up on a pedestal. I myself have had things sort of ruined by Jim and Aron before. Season 2 of Mr Robot is the biggest one, when they (like many internet people) just kept hacking away at it episode after episode, and I liked it and thought I saw where it was going. After that I decided not to listen to their Mr Robot coverage any more. It becomes difficult to watch with your own point of view when you have someone with as strong a point of view as Aron in your headspace.
But that's not Aron's fault. Critics do what critics do; part of the job is getting wrapped up in and being confident about their opinions, and regardless of my opinion of their opinions, they have the right to them just as I have the right not to listen. It's incredibly difficult to avoid a constant onslaught of "content" about Game of Thrones, most of which is garbage, and at least their content is well researched and thoughtfully considered. Personally I did not listen to the Bald move coverage of GoT this season because i wanted to have my own experience, and I don't love Aron's tone all the time on a lot of levels. But I do believe that they both thoughtfully craft their opinions based on a lot of thinking, reading and of course show watching, and that's why I listened to all the other seasons of their podcast for GoT, I actually learned a lot from it (I would always get characters and storylines confused and forget them year after year etc, and I didn't read the books so when the books were more of a factor that was interesting to hear about it too).
Oh man. I am emotional. First off let me say my two big things about this finale were-and 2 others.
I wanted Sansa to somehow become queen. And I thought Daenerys would end up being the queen because GoT doesn't really seem to do happy endings.
Jon killing Daenerys, for some reason I did not see that coming even though all you guys apparently did. When he started to kiss her, I was like, really Jon?
I thought it was a classic GoT episode with all the ups and downs, laughs, emotions, violence, ridiculous decisions and a little bit of honor and logic. Like Edmure Tully's speech - For real, yo. You're the John Hickenlooper of this primary. Sit down. So funny.
When Bran became king- that was the worst part for me, I was like seriously... Just because I thought it MIGHT actually happen that Sansa would become queen. But then she became queen of the North! Fantastic. And the idea of Bran being king grew on me after a while, although I thought he was a little bit useless in the meeting they had.
Tyrion rearranging the chairs- At this point I had tears in my eyes. Just that little scene of him making sure everything was lined up for that first meeting, that he survived, that they get to go back to politics and relative peace, although who knows how long that's going to last with the ragamuffin crew they have going.
Sam got to be the head maester!
When they were going through the three Starks (Jon, Arya and Sansa) I was seriously bawling my eyes out. I didn't think the show would give us a happy ending, and this is the happiest you can imagine for them, given everything they've gone through. And the last scene being Jon and the Wildlings heading north into the woods that played in the first scene of the first season with the Night's Watch guys encountering the White Walker.. really good ending IMO.