Some Words On ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Finale And Why The Final Season Is Getting A Lot Of Mixed Reviews
Eight years and 72 episodes later, we arrive kicking and screaming at the conclusion of one of the most loved and talked about shows on television. Whether the kicking and screaming is because viewers can’t bear for the series to end, or because this season has left fans dissatisfied, the unavoidable conclusion is here. Game of Thrones is over.
While this season has had some truly fantastic moments that left fans in awe, and some plot developments making other fans feel it was massively rushed, the resolution that this episode has provided has got fans feeling, well… ambivalent about it all.
Opening with the smoking remnants of King’s Landing, Tyrion, Jon, and Arya move through the wreckage of burnt women and children, surveying the damage laid waste by the crazy queen. Then, in a truly stunning scene involving some epic Drogon wings, we see Daenerys in full dictator mode, with a few extra braids in her hair, poised to address her forces. (Aside: where did all those Dothraki and Unsullied come from?!)
After Tyrion discovers the bodies of Cersei and Jamie crushed in thier escape route (if only they had stood 6 foot to the left) the show’s moral compass removes his pin, refusing the role of Hand to the Queen in front of everyone. Dany promptly has him arrested for treason. After some dark foreboding words from Tyrion while in his jail cell, Jon goes to see Daenerys. Her speech here going full Mad Queen (“They do not get to choose”), coming across nothing short of a cult leader. While holding her in his arms, Jon declares that she will always be his Queen and gives her a fatal stab in the chest. This is all before she got to sit on the throne and all before the second half!
The remainder of the episode is dedicated to tying up loose ends in the form of Grey Worm demanding justice for the death of his Queen and Sansa rolling up with the lords and ladies to stop them. All the while, the show starts stuffing characters of seasons past *ROLL CALL* for our viewing pleasure, just so we can all revel in them appearing on screen together. During the council meeting of the great houses, Robyn Arryn certainly grew on mother’s milk, Tully got told, and (with Tyrion’s advising) all agree to a new leader:
King Bran the Broken, First Of His Name.
And with that, the answer to the question that spanned eight seasons is answered. There is a King on the Iron..uhhh chair?
Tyrion is now Hand again, Jon has been banished North for his crime (and to finally pet the damn dog), Sansa has declared the North a separate state and is Queen of the North, Arya is off on adventures off the map (cough side-series, cough cough), The Unsullied are off to Naath, and Bronn is… Master of Coin?!
Some fans rightly stated that we were never going to get the end we wanted. That’s fair. However, even though the show superseded all expectations for a series, the whole conclusion to not only this episode, but this season entirely felt a bit empty.
Few fans will have applauded the moment when Jon stuck the knife in to Daenerys, or when a grief-stricken Drogon melts the proverbial “real thing” that killed his mother. Few will be pleased with the outcome of King Bran, even if it was some book lovers’ favorite. And why? Because it didn’t deliver the final blows that fans felt they deserved. Not after 72 episodes, at least. It felt empty.
It would be hard to imagine even a few short seasons ago that the final episode wouldn’t deliver a lump in the throat or some misty eyes, but it felt hollow.
This is largely, in part, due to how rushed this season has felt.
With David Benioff and DB Weiss opting for only 6 episode’s instead of HBO‘s offered 10 episode season, it does feel like they’re squishing each character’s arc and skipping scenes and steps just to tie everything up in only six episodes. This choice was a disservice to not only the fans, but to the series and actors themselves. It forced the episodes to lack the build-up necessary that we all craved – the intricate weavings and schemings of characters – that would eventually lead us to an unknown end result. It hooked viewers, emotionally invested in the outcome, but this season simply didn’t pay off.
The battles of Winterfell and of King’s Landing, while visually fantastic, didn’t have the emotional weight or satisfying outcomes that were needed after seeing weeks of characters maneuvering their positions into careful place. There was too much emphasis on speeding to the resolutions they wanted than on explaining and effectively taking the viewers through the tremendous climaxes. Fans feel they have the short end of the stick, as endings can easily be the most vital parts of a story – they’re the bit that resonates with you.
That being said, we all have to try and look at the series as a whole. And as a whole, it is without doubt still one of the best things to ever behold our TV screens, despite this abrupt and, to some, unsatisfying end.
However, tons of credit should go to the actors who brought characters to life that we couldn’t stop talking about and kept us praying they’d stay alive. Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage in particular gave outstanding performances this season, and the feats of cinematography that have been pulled off throughout have been breath-taking.
Fans can and have argued that they feel that they’ve wasted their time due to the disappointment of this season, but I don’t agree with that sentiment.
Game of Thrones does and will continue to do what great art does – get people talking. That will be its legacy.
And as Emilia Clarke via Instagram profoundly puts it, “Now Our Watch Has Ended”.