5 questions about the last episode of Game of Thrones
Religion & Liberty Online

5 questions about the last episode of Game of Thrones

After eight seasons, fans of the series that became a pop culture icon could see the long-awaited final episode on Sunday and finally find out who sat on the Iron Throne.

Below are some of my observations about the last episode of Game of Thrones and what one can learn from the final unfolding of the series.

1) Is Daenerys a neoconservative? She was, for many, the heroine of the story until the last episode. Many saw her as an example of how to face the worst of adversities and ultimately triumph. The mother of the Dragons freed entire peoples from oppression and promised to govern justly. Throughout the series, she was pragmatic and realistic, determined to take back the throne that had been stolen from her family. To accomplish her goal, she surrounded herself with able allies and counselors and forgave many of those who had failed her.

However, in the penultimate episode all that has changed. Daenerys killed one of the best political minds of all Westeros and beyond — Lord Varys, a.k.a. the Spider — and, in an act of revenge, decided to reduce King’s Land and the 1 million inhabitants of it to ashes, even after the city had surrendered itself. Till then, she had been able to balance common sense, good intentions, and unmerciful demeanor — qualities necessary for a good government — but she had never gone mad in that way.

Finally, in the last episode, she explained her reasons. The goal, in fact, was not only to conquer the Iron Throne but to bring peace and freedom to the whole world. Crushing everyone who dared to stand in her way, Daenerys would reduce the old order to ashes and recreate a perfect world. Driven by madness, the mother of the dragoons turned herself into a kind of Max Boot wearing a blonde wig and riding a dragon while destroying King’s Land for a greater good.

2) Is aristocracy the best form of government? As was shown in the last episode, to prevent the cycle of tragedies from repeating itself, the lords of Westeros decided that there would no longer be an absolute and hereditary monarch. On the contrary, the “protector of the Kingdom” would be elected by an assembly of lords and would govern until his death, when a new king would be elected.

Tyrion — who proposed this solution — said he spent weeks meditating on the problem of good government. Finally, he came to the same conclusion that Aristotle and medieval political theorists had reached: Aristocracy is the superior form of government and perhaps the best regime to prevent power to corrupt absolutely.

3) Politics is always the same thing, right? Proving that politics is always the same regardless of dragoons, and sorceresses; one of the last scenes of the last episode showed a debate among the members of the Small Council — the cabinet that serves the king. No matter how insignificant the topic in debate is, people will always be taken by personal vanities and desire for more power. At such times, the figure of the statesman — Tyrion Lannister — becomes fundamental and ensures that good government’s goals will never be out of sight.

4) Wasn’t the Night King a revolutionary? The Czech anti-communist writer Milan Kundera famously defined “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” There are no better words to explain why the army of the dead created by the Night King to bring the long night — defined by Bran Stark as the erasure of the collective memory of mankind — should be fought as the struggle of the human species against its own extinction. Memory is what turns man special and, ultimately, free; rather than a selvage animal enslaved by its instincts.

5) And is Bran Stark a conservative? Bran Stark, a.k.a. the three-eyed crow, represented the collective memory that the Night King aimed to destroy. As he himself said, he is someone who lives in the past or, in other words, contemplates the problems of the present through the wisdom accumulated by the ancients. In the end, he was chosen to be king not because he did not care for power, but because he knew the deleterious effects power has on the human soul. The best person to govern is the one who understands and distrusts power, not the hallucinated idealist.

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Silvio Simonetti

Silvio Simonetti is a Brazilian lawyer, graduated in international affairs from the Bush School at Texas A & M University. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute. Silvio loves history and the Catholic Church.