Warning: This story contains spoilers for the finale of "Game of Thrones."
The biggest trick "Game of Thrones" played on its audience was not the two-season buildup to a battle with the Night King that lasted only one episode or the survival of way more Dothraki than seemed possible after that big "lights out" scene.
It wasn't the earned/not-earned moment when the Dragon Queen decided to torch King's Landing or even the surprisingly immediate agreement of everyone that Bran Stark should be king of Westeros.
The biggest trick "Game of Thrones" played on its audience didn't even happen in the final season; it happened in the first.
When Sean Bean's Ned Stark was beheaded in the penultimate episode of Season 1, the world gasped -- how could a show survive the sacrifice of its star?
But Bean was never the star of "Game of Thrones." Peter Dinklage was, and he carried the series from beginning to end.
As Tyrion "The Imp" Lannister, Dinklage entered the story as the truth teller disguised as the fool. Hated by his powerful father and seen by most others as an object of curiosity and/or derision -- the Imp -- Tyrion was the ultimate insider-outsider. His name gave him front-row access to the game of thrones; his stature kept him from ever being taken seriously as a player.
But player he was, and for all his mistakes, a master player played by a master.
Having brokered the original deal between fire and ice, it was Tyrion who ended Daenerys' brief reign by persuading Jon Snow to kill her. It was Tyrion who chose Bran as king, Tyrion who, as Bran's Hand, will effectively rule Westeros, from its sewers to its navy.
All without looking like he was an evil-genius mastermind.