We recently did our GoT character anthology, which included predictions on how Season 8 played out, so with the final episode just airing, we wanted to look back and give our thoughts on the final season. No matter how this last season played out, show runners David Benioff & D.B. Wiess have succeeded in creating a television phenomenon that lands the show in the top 10 shows of all time. Of course, when you see the online pundit and fanboy reaction to this last season, you may question that statement, but there was 0% chance the conclusion of the series was going to please everyone. Here are our final takes, with spoilers of course.
I’ll admit, having felt burned by the “resolution” of Lost, another grand concept, sprawling-cast show that built to a big conclusion, I had some wariness going into season 8 of GoT. When I heard it was only six episodes, that instinctively felt too little time to plot out the Night King war and final Iron Throne battle in a satisfying way. Turns out my concern was warranted, and not doing a full 10 shows (or more) made for a flawed final season. Nevertheless, I was still entertained by all the episodes, even the Mad Queen shocker that gave me a fitful nights’ sleep after. I have a friend who called the first two episodes “Game of Talking”, but I really enjoyed seeing all the characters together, yes – talking, as the final pieces moved into place for the epic battles. It reminded me how great these characters had become, and the actors playing them, and how much I would miss them. I heard complaints that the Night King died too easily, the battle was too dark to see anything, etc., but I was on the edge of my seat for the whole episode, so it was great TV watching for me. I’ll admit, I was surprised I was never brought to tears for any of the climactic deaths of some of my favorite characters (Jorah, The Hound, Jaime, even Daenerys), so there was definitely something missing. Again, I blame the frantic 6-episode pace for not giving us time to fully appreciate and feel those moments.
Sure, like many I didn’t expect/want Dany to go Hiroshima on the city, but then again we didn’t want to see Ned get his head chopped off, the Red Wedding or Oberyn get his skull crushed. The show was always about the dangers of a monarchy/dictatorship – the inherent risk of putting all the power in one person and blindly hoping that person would be a “good” ruler. We knew the horrors the Mad King, Geoffrey, then Cersei inflicted upon their people, and that was the wheel that had to be broken, as symbolized by the melting of the Iron Throne by Drogon. I could spend hours talking about what I wanted more of or different (i.e. utilize The Golden Company – I wanted an elephant battle!, better storylines for Varys and Yara [wouldn’t Yara have been the better choice for Master of Shipping – and also have another female small council member?], a better payoff for enduring all the repetitive sequences of Arya training). I may not have LOVED the last two episodes, but it stayed true to the themes it had laid out, and gave the characters a proper send-off. No matter how you feel about the end, the show raised the bar on event television and hopefully that fuels more creativity in future show creators.
A series I was once guilted into watching, one I had no interest in, has now become one of my favorites. I certainly had some issues with this season but overall it was satisfying enough. Rating television finales, it probably feels far above Seinfeld and Lost and under shows like The Shield or The Mary Tyler Moore show. I did feel this season was rushed, but there were a lot of great moments (Dani walking out with Drogon behind her, wow!). The first few episodes were fulfilling as they brought the characters together. There were funny moments along with emotional ones. I like the moments of “talking” as it lets the actors shine especially the great Peter Dinklage. The war with the Night King was epic despite it being a little too dark. I don’t understand how Arya slipped in without being known but it was an awesome scene. I wish they would have used her ability to steal a face power but it was still cool. The stuff with Bran was cool. Tyrion and Jamie’s last time together was a great piece of acting because of the development of many seasons. Dani going all scorched Earth with no gradual change was a bit rough but I shall let it pass. I blame HBO – no reason to shorten the season. Last season I complained about the rushing of travel but that can be justified while this really can’t.
It’s tough to be sad about one death of a supporting character when many are dying in each of these episodes, it’s to a point numbing. I wish Jamie and Cersei had a more meaningful death, crushed under rubble, really? But the Mountain and the Hound fighting was excellent fun and the only true way to end their relationship. Arya having an about-face on killing Cersei was again not enough development to justify that decision. In the end some of my favorite characters got to live and that gave me some enjoyment. I am still processing Jon Snow going to live free with the Wildlings, do I like it or not?, I don’t know. I am glad this show was there, it was appointment TV when not really much else is. This could be the last great show that people watch when it is broadcast. Maybe now I will go and finish the books.