"Game of Thrones" will always be remembered for the strength and complexity of its female characters, flawed and fascinating women like Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, who were beautifully portrayed even when the writing by showrunners D.B Weiss and David Benioff failed them.
And Sunday's series finale, "The Iron Throne," did just that. The 80-minute episode illustrated in microcosm the gender blind spots that have bedeviled the show from its beginning, unfolding almost completely from the perspective of two men, Tyrion and Jon, while pushing its remaining female characters -- Daenerys, Arya, Sansa and Brienne -- to the sidelines.
In the end Bran, a young man with few accomplishments other than his impressively creepy stare, ascends to power and becomes the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms ... make that Six Kingdoms: Sansa declares independence for her people, is met with strangely little resistance and becomes Queen in the North, in what feels like a bitter consolation prize for the women of Westeros.
Fans have found many reasons to object to "The Iron Throne," from Jon's exile to Castle Black to a pair of anachronistic plastic water bottles. But here is a look at how the final episode of "Game of Thrones" -- a series that has had just one female director and two female writers in eight seasons -- wronged its remarkable women.
KILLING OFF THE GREATEST VILLAIN EVER WITH ... A BUNCH OF BRICKS
So technically she died in last week's episode, but "The Iron Throne" confirmed the galling truth: Cersei Lannister, the most delightfully wicked character in Westeros -- and possibly all of television history -- was killed not by a fire-breathing dragon or a girl with a taste for revenge, but by a lousy pile of bricks. This, after a season in which she had virtually nothing to do but look out from balconies while sipping wine and occasionally clutching her stomach in a soapy pregnancy story line that never went anywhere. The show spent more time watching the Clegane brothers murder each other in gruesome fashion than it did bringing her story to a fitting conclusion. Love her or hate her, Cersei deserved more.
JON MANSPLAINS DAENERYS' MOTIVATION
What made Daenerys turn from the Breaker of Chains into the Mad Queen in seemingly less time than it takes to braid her hair? Some of us would like to know! A concerted effort to portray Dany's point of view might have been useful. Instead, we never even glimpsed her face in "The Bells" after she decided to ignore Cersei's surrender and firebomb King's Landing. And in "The Iron Throne," Jon does most of the explaining for her in a long conversation with Tyrion that's heavy on expository dialogue. "She saw her friend beheaded. She saw her dragons shot out of the sky!" Jon says. OK! But it would have been a lot more powerful hearing this from Daenerys herself.
DAENERYS ISN'T JUST A GENOCIDAL MANIAC; SHE'S ALSO BAD AT MATH
Jon tricks his aunt/lover Daenerys into a kiss and then stabs her like a sucker. Her heartbreaking death feels even more tragic because in the moment she seems like the Dany of old, not the despotic maniac who laid waste to King's Landing. Alas, to drive this point home, she tells him not once, but twice, that as a girl she couldn't count to 20, much less imagine a throne made out of a thousand swords. There were many other ways to remind viewers of how innocent and wide-eyed Dany used to be -- thousands, probably, but I can't count that high.