Oh, that Game of Thrones finale. It needed to be so many things, it tried all of them, and it even succeeded at a few, including almost all of the visuals -- especially that shot of Drogon waking up from under a pile of snowy ashes to stare down Jon. Also Sansa got crowned Queen in the North! And Arya went to sail off to parts that the map hasn't covered yet. And Jon and Tormund went back north of the wall to live their life together with their adopted pet direwolf Ghost. All good things.
There was also Bran getting crowned king of the now-six kingdoms, all because Tyrion made the case that it would make a better story. Which, aside from feeling like weird back-patting on the part of the showrunners, was also pretty unsatisfying since Bran's been a predominantly passive character since the show took him off the board entirely for Season 5. He's spent most of his time since then travelogging through memories training to be the Three-Eyed Raven, before becoming the Three-Eyed Raven and speaking entirely in riddles. Meanwhile, Sansa's sitting right there as the obvious choice: strong, smart, and with the will to lead. But, okay, fine. Bran.
Luckily, in order to butter the audience up for the dynasty of Bran the Broken, we got a couple welcome moments of comic relief at the summit, including Samwell Tarly making the case for direct democracy in Westeros before getting laughed off the stage by the lords and ladies in attendance; and also Edmure Tully doing all mediocre white men proud by having the gall to assume that he should be the new king of the seven kingdoms because he has "experience in statecraft." Sansa barely stifling a guffaw while asking him to please sit was for all of us.
The real silver lining, though, came during Tyrion's first Small Council meeting, where the brain trust behind Bran the Broken was revealed. And while they'd yet to appoint a Master of War or a Master of Whispers (good luck filling Varys's comfortable slip-on clogs), the team as constituted felt like a full and capable unit. Mostly because for five minutes there, Game of Thrones did their very best version of The West Wing.
Think about it! Why else did that scene feel like it was airlifted from not even a different season of this show but a different show altogether? Game of Thrones hasn't dabbled in the mundane politics of running a realm since at least Season 3. Hell, the Small Council itself was disbanded by Cersei a while back. But now that normalcy is returning to Westeros and the rebuilding process has begun, we get a few minutes to enjoy this vision of King's Landing as a West Wing-esque political procedural, complete with every member of the Small Council corresponding to a specific West Wing character:
Tyrion = Leo McGarry: The Hand of the King is essentially a Chief of Staff merely by another name. Tyrion warily tries to get his team all working on the same page, and both characters used to be a bit too fond of the drink.
Ser Davos = Toby Ziegler: I mean, mostly it's the beards. But also, our beloved former Onion Knight and current Master of Ships is an unlikely survivor of this Song of Ice and Fire, just as Toby was an unlikely choice for an ace political operative. Just as Davos had a rocky beginning, having supported Stannis's claim to the throne unsuccessfully, remember that Toby had also never worked on a winning campaign before Bartlet. Did I mention the beards? Also they're both the most idealistic!
Bronn = Josh Lyman: Not only did Bronn get gifted Highgarden, as Tyrion had promised, but now he's also Master of Coin. The biggest similarity to Josh is that they're both the fuckboys of their particular group. Josh dated around, distracted the female callers, and amassed something of a cult following among the single ladies of D.C. Let's just say that if Westeros ever got the internet, Bronn would be a prime candidate for a Lemon/Lyman-style fan site.
Brienne of Tarth = C.J. Cregg: The only women with a seat at the table. Tall as hell. And honestly, even though it seems her position in Bran's administration will be Lord Commander of his Kingsguard, Brienne wrote a pretty good press release clearing up Jaime's full record of service.
Samwell Tarly = Sam Seaborn: The idealist. The one who gets to represent goodness and pure-heartedness. Samwell gets to serve as the Grand Maester to King's Landing, and stands to do a hell of a lot better job than that rat Pycelle who preceded him. Also Sam's Season 1 relationship with a call girl is not entirely dissimilar to Sam hooking up with Gilly.
We may not have gotten a walk-and-talk with our new King's Landing inner circle, but we did get Tyrion stressing that his new cabinet serves "at the pleasure" of King Bran. Sounds like a familiar oath of service to me.
For more Game of Thrones, join the conversation in our forums.