The Throne Room

5 thoughts on the final episode of Game of Thrones

So I went back and watched every episode of this season so I could have full context for the finale. Were there some soft spots? Yes. But overall I think the criticism is over the top. It's become cool to say how much this season sucked. I think it is more a product of social media and the fact so many people watched the series. All in all, I found it satisfying. Here are five thoughts on the finale:

1) Wow. What acting

Peter Dinklage is the best actor on the show. The first 30 minutes were about him. (Until we saw evil Dany). She has plans to burn the world. And now we see the opponents. Tyrion walked away from Dany, angering her and setting him up as a bad guy, but he also convinced Jon as to the right path. Dinklage was at his best in the final episode. Throughout the series, he, Jon and Dany had the best characters. He went out in style.

2) Bran?

The three-eyed raven wound up on the throne, elected by a group of nobles. He allowed Sansa to keep the north as her own realm. It almost felt phony seeing the north men cheer her on as "Queen in the North," but it was a solid finish.

3) You know nothing, Jon Snow

It was perhaps the most fitting ending to any character to have Jon return north of the wall with the wildlings, ghost and Tormund. His story arc ended with a perfect finish. That was always where he belonged. I know a lot of people were upset that the Targaryen reveal amounted to nothing, but I always hoped for this ending for Jon.

4) Crazy Dany

Dany's ending was unfortunate. The hope was she would bounce back from last week and try to make amends. Instead she planned on burning more of the world, and Jon had to stop her. It was a shame, but no one else could have done it. Her story seemed to end fairly abruptly. If there is one criticism here, it is that she went out with a whimper, not a bang. Her death came off as maudlin, and the dragon flying away with her was a bit much. But it was a poignant moment when Jon finally killed her.

5) And now my watch is ended

Did anyone feel like there were too many perfect endings? That the show put a bow on everything? Tyrion is hand of the king. Sansa is Queen in the North. Arya is traveling West of Westeros. Jon winds up home, All in all, I liked this finish and liked this season. Was it perfect? No. But was it better that people give it credit for? Absolutely. We have devoted almost 10 years to these characters, and the goodbyes were bittersweet. Time will tell how the show will be judged, but I don't think the ending was as bad as most people.

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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