Review: Game of Thrones, final season
Game of Thrones is cancelled. Yes, you read that right. Not prematurely and actually cancelled like Joss Whedon’s Firefly, but metaphorically cancelled by a horde of tantrum throwing fans online. They don’t like the last season. It is awful, a disappointment, an affront to everything they decided the show should be.
There is an online petition to remake season 8 with ‘competent writers’. The petition creator calls for HBO to subvert his expectations and make it happen. And what were his expectations? Probably the same as so many of GOT’s rabid fanbase: either Jon or Dany should end up on the throne, Arya or Jaime should kill Cersei, and all prophecies should be fulfilled. For people claiming to want the unexpected, they are surely foaming at the mouth for a finale so predictable they’ve been guessing it since the show began.
The ‘Remake Game Of Thrones’ petition currently sits at over 1,350,000 signatures. The people demand a do-over, and what else should they be given in this era of fast reboots and reimaginings? If something isn’t as you want it to be then simply spew your dislike all over the internet and call for a mass boycott. There was a similar (but lesser) reaction to the last episode and season of BBC’s Sherlock, when fans had a meltdown over the fact that John Watson and Sherlock Holmes did not end up as a romantic couple.
Adapted from the unfinished book series entitled A Song Of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, Game Of Thrones was developed and written for TV by David Benioff and David Weiss. It debuted in April 2011 and quickly became a television phenomenon. It was Lord Of The Rings style fantasy with a strong political theme and plotlines that subverted the typical good guys v bad guys tv show mentality. Character insight and development was also at the forefront and Weiss and Benioff were blessed in that their base – Martin’s works – were rife with excellent dialogue, drama and intrigue.
During its seven year run Game Of Thrones has garnered a wide international fanbase, attracting people of all nationalities to speculate and theorise on potential twists and outcomes. It received 47 Primetime Emmy Awards which is a record for any drama series and has done well in other award ceremonies such as the Golden Globes. For a long time the show, and its creators, could do no wrong.
However, when the source material dried up prior to season six, show runners were given guidance by Martin but ultimately left to their own devices. This is where very valid criticism can be made: dialogue was lacking, certain characters became mere echoes of themselves, everything seemed to be speeding up leaving motivations and emotional depth by the wayside.
Moments such as Arya Stark running terminator style through a crowded marketplace while severely wounded appeared more frequently in an attempt at ‘coolness’ which made fans question the realism of it all. For a show that proclaimed to be a gritty and authentic take on the fantasy genre, it all got a little too Hollywood.
But that’s not to say it was all bad. Benioff and Weiss, while not up to Martin’s level, are not untalented and they served viewers epic and touching moments as well as awesome visuals until the very end.
The final episode, which in case we forget, was the outcome suggested to the writers by Martin himself, had some powerful scenes including, but not limited to, Daenerys framed by Drogon’s wings as she walked out to give her victory speech, her bittersweet demise, and Tyrion’s tears as he uncovered the bodies of his brother and sister.
Without spoiling too much the ending definitely stuck to Game Of Thrones theme of subverting expectations. There was no final hero left to sit on the iron throne of Westeros. Instead we were given democracy, independence and smaller, quieter finales for all the remaining players. Those thinking it would end with Jon Snow on the throne clearly haven’t been paying attention. All in all, the finale, though still suffering from the rushed feel of the later seasons, is certainly not the shambolic mess being dragged all over the internet.
The problem here is that fans feel entitled to what they want. Benioff and Weiss did attempt to deliver at least some fan service (such as the romantic pairings of Brienne and Jaime and Arya and Gendry) in the clumsier moments of the season, but why should they cater to every whine and demand? The ending, however they chose it, was never destined to please everyone.
Prior to Game Of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars was the most tweeted about television show. It also shared a similar fanbase who gathered in forums to come up with nearly every theory under the sun as to what the outcome might be. Like Game Of Thrones its final season was derided and basically disowned. The same thing happened with the controversial reveal of the title blogger in Gossip Girl and the final five Cylons in Battlestar Galactica. When something attracts such intense scrutiny from fans it will always fail to fulfil most of their expectations.
So is the solution to rewrite and reshoot the show to cater to as many people as possible, even though it still won’t be enough because not everyone wants the same thing? No. The solution is to grow up. See the good and bad and accept all of it. Just because you like something doesn’t mean you like every part of it. There’s no need to claim what came before as unwatchable just because the ending is not your ending. The toxic cancel culture that has risen to prominence online only serves to reward all those who invested so much into Game Of Thrones (such as the writers, actors, directors and crew members) with hatred and bile.
Game Of Thrones is not a masterpiece. In fact there are arguably better shows out there. But it has paved the way for big-budget television on a cinematic scale. It provided eight seasons of gripping stories and characters and it subverted expectations until the very end. Long live King Bran.