Here we go. I had to take some time to talk about #GameOfThrones season 8, to digest at least a small portion of the huge disappointment that it was for me. I wanted to take some time to think about it, evaluate things and, eventually, talk about the ending in the nicest way possible, but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. Because when they ruin one of your favorite series of all time, you don’t swallow every single thing that the show tried to feed you in the last six episodes. I read comments of fans trying to justify a number of occurring events with theories, assumptions and insane ideas. What I think, it’s that when a series is coming to its end, time for theories and assumptions has to end as well.
A finale should explain you everything you have been asking yourself for so long and not creating sub-sequential mysteries just because someone didn’t have the screen time or the will to explain what is actually happening; D&D got into this new habit of giving reasons about a certain event during the episodes of Game Revealed, the episodes insides that can be found on Game of Thrones official channel on YouTube. And I say no. If you write an episode and you need to give an explanation for what happens outside of it, it means that there’s clearly something wrong or something missing in your script. The worst is that this keeps happening during all the last 4 episodes, over and over. It was a hasty rush towards the final scene, with no more apparent love for their work. From Jon Snow to the Night King, from Daenerys to Jaime Lannister, from the Long Night to the final “battle” for the throne: nothing you see is actually involving the audience, as everything is just thrown in your face without time to assimilate any kind of affection towards the latest events. You just keep watching because the show is still named “Game of Thrones”. If this slaughter would have had a different title, it would have been devastated from most of the critics. Let’s analyse some of the key points that led to this heated review. No need to mention that there would be spoilers ahead!
Jon and Daenerys’ relationship
This is one of the points I hated the most. Season 7 introduced us all for the first time to their romance, and by introduced I mean that from one scene to the other Jon falls in love with Daenerys, and calls her “Dany” out of nowhere, without any notice: if you re-watch the whole season, the time that Jon and Daenerys spend together it will feel like literally less than a week. A week time that brings Jon from “she might be an enemy” to “she is my Queen”, his biggest hit of season 8. Season 8 that doesn’t deepen at all their relationship, except for a quick ride on the dragons and the two of them making love in front of Drogon and Rhaegal observing eyes, in a scene on the verge of a comedy series which is supposed to make everyone fall for their love. After that they barely share word, once Jon reveals to his queen that he is actually Aegon Targeryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. So when finally he has to murder her to save the seven kingdoms I felt nothing. I watch him stabbing her and felt nothing at all. I never thought that their love has been handled in the right way, but that was something forced and rushed into the show by the fans community. If the writers had taken more time to develop their love, to make everyone get fond of it, that final scene between them would have been completely different. This way is just another scene (directing and scenography are amazing, though) thrown into the show just because it’s cool.
Jaime. Poor Jaime. This man spent seven seasons to develop into the man that finally understands how evil and without honor Cersei really is and so he needs to part from her once and for all to find his own path, as he is a honorable man, even after all the bad things he has done so far. Jaime travels north to join the battle for all the living creatures and to show his enemies that he is a good man, and eventually sleeps with another woman, Brienne of Tarth, after the fandom screamed for it. After all of this, the writers decide to shatter to pieces years of evolution in a single scene: Jaime leaves Brienne to make return to King’s Landing and her sister, love of his life. Will he kill her? Will he be the Valonqar? The answer is no. Jaime tries once again to save her from her deserved end (after an unnecessary fight with Euron Greyjoy…), and in the attempt they both die crushed by some debris. Best death ever.
The Long Night
his was the episode everyone had been waiting for since the first minutes of episode 1, season 1. The climax that should have been (in my opinion) the real ending to the saga. Because even if the series is named Game of Thrones I always thought that all the events would have led to this as the final battle. The Long Night arrived eventually, but truth is, it wasn’t that long after all. The episode itself is amazing: the tension that derives from it is one of the best feels I have ever had. I could have forgotten about the Dothraki foolishly charging into the night without reason, I could have forgotten about building up defensive trenches to be used just for a retreat, without a real plan to lit them up; I would have gladly ignored the fact they locked women and children into the crypts full of corpses, and so I would have done about the useless trap set by Bran to call out the Night King. What I can’t tolerate is main characters surviving being overwhelmed by hundreds of wights (protected by plot armor), Daenerys landing to the ground with Drogon and being overpowered by the undead army; Jon being useless and unsuccessful in every things he do (do we want to talk about the dragon scene, when he just randomly screams in front of Vyserion?), or Arya jumping out of nowhere and killing the Night King with the most dumb knife trick I can think of. I loved the episode until that moment, when I felt stabbed in the chest myself by the writers, producers and the HBO itself: that moment was the death of Game of Thrones for me, and the next three episodes showed clearly that the writers had no idea about where they were actually going after the Night King arc ending.
The Mad Queen
“I don’t want to be Queen of the Ashes”, that’s what Danerys once said during season 7: and that was exactly what everyone thought it was never going to happen, considering how she raised herself as a paladin for the human kind, as she stood beside Jon in his fight against the Night King. Matter of fact is, The Mad Queen theory actually happened in one of the most rushed, bad written and superficial story ever: two episodes, that’s all it takes to turn Daenerys from a good queen to a mad tyrant, killing innocent people without reason, after the city surrendered to her and her dragon. In the episode 5, The Bells, King’s Landing is entirely leveled by dragon fire, a single dragon that the previous episode couldn’t take on the Iron Fleet, for some kind of reasons. Then, the episode after Drogon is the most lethal weapon ever: his dragon fire is unstoppable, causes earthquakes, destroys entire walls (while just two episodes ago Jon was sheltering himself from Vyserion’s fire behind a rock…), and continuous. All reasons that makes you wonder yourself, why did she ever bother to gather an army when she already had not one, not two, but three dragons? She ended up burning the city to the ground, anyway…
Bran “The Broken”
Remember Bran, the boy who didn’t want to be Lord of Winterfell because “I’m not Bran Stark” or “Bran Stark died, I am the three eyed-raven now”? Well, truth is he was just waiting to be nominated king of the Seven, ops, Six Kingdoms. All Bran did during the seasons is to get people killed, wander things, state the obvious and be wrong about Jon’s real identity, calling him a Sand. It took Sam to make him realise he was wrong, even if he was able to see the past, but apparently he was too busy having fun watching his sister Sansa being raped by Ramsey Bolton over and over. A King chosen for his story, by someone that is supposed to be a prisoner himself, aka Tyrion Lannister, and everyone agrees to this weird guy becoming king without a single doubt. Now, we don’t know how George Martin is gonna end this saga in the books: all I am sure of is, if this is his choice for the person to seat on the Iron Throne it will be developed in a total different way and it will have an explanation. It won’t be just a chitchat as in the series.
I can’t believe how they used Jon Snow’s character during this season. The only thing he does, and not even by his own entire will as he has to be convinced by Tyrion and Arya, is killing Daenerys. For the rest of his screen time, he can only repeat over and over “she is my queen”. Useless in the final battle with the Night King, as it is his now former title of King In The North. As useless is the story that led him to find out he is actually a Targaryen, as it’s just used as the final reason for Daenerys to go full Mad Queen. Nobody else finds out about this and instead he ends up being a prisoner of the Unsullied in a time skip that nobody would have wanted to watch. From being King In The North to a prisoner not able to choose for his own destiny, once again, it takes just a small step. So he is sent again to the Wall, another useless thing now that the Night King is dead and the Free Folk is not a threat anymore. A poetic ending for Jon, but an ending that could have definitely had another path. I would have preferred so much if he had been the one to put Bran on the Throne, and decided by his own choice to leave to go north of the Wall again, where he belongs and he can finally enjoy his freedom.
Plot holes and general carelessness
This list could be endless, but the season has so many writing problems that it’s impossible to quote at least some of the most evident ones. The first two episodes (for how superfluous the first one is) are the ones that have had a more careful eye, exception made for Bronn’s scene: he enters unnoticed (with a huge crossbow in his hands!) the room where Jaime and Tyrion are talking to supposedly killed them both, but instead Tyrion promises him High Garden. Then, from episode 4 (I’m gonna skip episode 3, as I talked about this earlier), plot holes and incongruities become the most normal things: from Danerys not spotting the Iron Fleet from miles high in the sky on a dragon torso, just because she “forgot about the Iron Fleet” (to quote D&D…) and getting one of her dragons killed, to the mysterious mitosis of the Dothraki during episodes 5 and 6, after being all slaughtered by the army of the dead. Bran Stark clearly doing something during the battle of Winterfell, but nobody cared to explain what it was: Varys, the best spy in Game of Thrones world fails as he plots as a rookie against Daenerys, Arya that finds a horse between ashes and debris without a single wound…
These are just some of the problems of a season that clearly was a big disappointment that divided the fans expectations and that maybe came to an end too soon, considering that the last three episodes of season 8 could have been material for another season. Instead now we are left with the regret of having a maimed final that could have been something else, something to remember. “When you play the Game of Thrones, either you win or you die.” Unfortunately, this is definitely not a win…