I'm a bit late to the party, I know, because I saved it to watch all at once, which I have done over a couple of nights.
I've read that many fans were extremely disappointed; yes, it did feel a bit rushed through in places and I've seen the pictures of the Starbucks cup, but I found myself pleasantly surprised, after all I had heard. Some bits I loved, and I thought it had a satisfactory ending. Shall we do bullet points?
What I liked:
- Jon's reunion with Ghost. Can't beat a tear-jerking dog scene!
- The Long Night: the final battle with the White Walkers. Thrilling, and I loved that Arya killed the Night King, though I do have some reservations about this episode (see below).
- That Daenerys was shown to be every bit as tyrannical as Cersei and Joffrey, if not more so; I started to go off her quite early on, back as far as Slavers' Bay; power seemed to be all that mattered to her. I love that her true colours began to show as soon as she arrived at Winterfell, and discovered that no one in the North gave much of a stuff who she was, or were any more willing to bend the knee than they had been to the Lannisters. I thought it was a great bit of character development, how she became increasingly ruthless and delusional about her 'destiny'. And how she killed Varys - he had been the one who kept her safe, since she was a child. She deserved to die for that alone!
- The ending; it was perfect. Sansa as Queen of the newly independent North (how proud Ned would have been!), Arya the adventurer setting off again.... and Jon back to the wall, as though he never left. Perhaps there might be another Ygritte, one day....
- That right back at the start of Season 1, when Jon parted from Ned for the last time and asked him who his mother was, I said, 'I bet he's really a Targaryen.' Smug, not.
- How we heard an echo of Viserys's 'Don't wake the dragon' at the beginning of Daenerys's fiery rampage...
- The genuine good feeling between Sansa and Tyrion.
- What the White Walkers did to Lord Umber. Horrendous, but.... crikey.
- How Bran said to Jaime that if he had not pushed him off the tower, he would not have become the better man he did...and what Sansa said to the Hound about still being the 'little bird' if all the terrible things had not happened to her. Love that domino effect/alternate possible lives stuff.
What surprised me:
- That Jon didn't turn against Daenerys the moment she murdered the population of Kings Landing. I thought he was less of a wuss than that.
- That he wasn't more perturbed at having shagged his auntie. 😆
- Bran as King. A lovely development :)
- Jaime and Cersei's deaths. I thought there would have been more drama, rather than just seeing them alive one minute, together again as they had been since the womb, and dead the next. I thought Arya would get to 'do' the last one on her 'list'! (see Georgia's comment, below - exactly!)
- That not everyone found out about Jon's true identity.
- Sandor Clegane's death. I hoped he might find some peace.
What I was a bit 'hmm' about:
- The swift conclusion of the whole White Walkers storyline. It's been with us since the prologue of the first episode, then one quick stab, and it's over. And now that that the people of Westeros are pals with the Wildlings, what are the Night's Watch going to actually do all day?
- Only a few weeks after the devastation of Kings Landing, we saw Jon standing on the beach, with a backdrop of the Red Keep looking decidedly un-devastated....
- The way Grey Worm accepted Tyrion's words so quickly, and left without further ado.
- I would have liked to see more memories of those they had lost, like Robb, Caitlin, Rickon, Stannis, etc; the two dead Stark brothers were never even mentioned.
What made me sad:
- Varys's death. One of my favourite characters; he knew, everything.
- Jorah's death.
- Theon's death (but lovely that he redeemed himself)
- Beric Dondarrion's death.
- Jaime leaving Brienne (though, really, it was never going to happen....)
- Oddly, Jaime and Cersei's death.
- That the Starks will not be seeing very much of each other now....
What I didn't like
- That it got a bit schmaltzy in places. The characters and situations are emotive enough without any help; they don't need to become gooey.
- That during The Long Night, not much use seemed to be made of the dragonstone or the dragons' fire, after all that preparation. And it was too dark and cloudy, all the time; it was hard to see what was going on.
- Not much else, really... yes, if felt a bit raced through, but I really enjoyed it. One day I will watch the whole thing again, from the beginning!
To sum up, I like this, by Vox's Andrew Prokop:
"If Game of Thrones ended with a triumphant Daenerys Targaryen heroically taking the Iron Throne, it wouldn't be Game of Thrones. This is the show of Ned Stark's death. This is the show of the Red Wedding. This is the ending it was headed toward all along."