Before I start my piece, I would like to clarify this is a review that contains spoilers for season 8 so if you are not caught up, watch it and then come back and read the piece. This entirely my opinion and if it is one that you do not agree with, then I encourage you to write a response!
For the last 7 seasons, I have indulged in what I consider to be one of the greatest TV shows of all time: Game of Thrones. The writing was great, the characters/ acting was convincing, and the plot was compelling. I could write a whole piece on everything that I loved about the series. So, when I sat down to watch the first episode of the eighth and final series just over six weeks ago, I was excited to see how this fabulous show would end. Over the next six weeks, I experienced a rollercoaster of mainly negative emotion that was ended a week ago watching the final episode. People who saw me in house and in lessons will testify how overly irate I was with the whole series. In this piece, I would like to go through just a small few of the reasons I dislike this series so much. This is most likely going to be a rant and with that in mind, I will try to maintain a structure but if I waver at some point, please bear with me.
The first is the pacing of the series. The series is only 6 episodes long compared to the previous 10 of the last seasons. This presents a huge problem. At the end of season 7, so many loose ends need to be tied up. The Night King needs to be destroyed, Cersei needs to be dealt with and countless other subplots and character arcs need to be concluded. The problem with only having 6 episodes is that all these events feel incredibly rushed. The Battle of Winterfell and the fight with the white walkers was something foreshadowed in the first ever episode and it was done in just over an hour. Granted, that sounds like a reasonable amount of time, but this was mostly filled with nameless characters being killed by zombies which was hardly compelling or interesting. The very next episode, the characters are able to magically teleport down south to face off with Cersei and the episode after that, she, the biggest villain in the show, is dead. However, this is not the death she deserved. After all the horrendous acts she committed, she deserved a slow, painful death. Instead she gets crushed by some buildings in one of the most underwhelming deaths in TV history.
The issue with this is that it doesn’t allow the audience to process anything before the next big shock is thrown at you. The first few seasons had great pacing. Things were constantly happening but at a rate you could process and understand. With only 6 episodes to do so much, there is just an information overload so you can’t feel the emotion of deaths of characters you enjoy like Missandei because straight after, something else important happened. If the season had 10 episodes, such important plot points like the Battle of Winterfell and the impact of Daenerys’ madness could be explored, processed and enjoyed. Such rush led to simple mistakes like ‘that’ Starbucks coffee cup cameo that detached from the immersion. The thing that really hurt however was the reason behind it. The writers David Benioff and D.B Weiss were reportedly given the opportunity to make 10 episodes but declined it in order to start writing on the new Star Wars movie. I’m sorry but Star Wars is a dying horse being flogged by movie studios for more money. They neglected their primary duty of making the final series good and finishing what they started for something many would consider to be a BTEC Star Trek! That is painful.
With that in mind this leads me neatly on to the main problem with the final series, the writing. It was STUPID. I could tolerate the first two episodes which were frankly fan service where we had much anticipated reunions like Arya and Jon as well as the tense stare off between Bran and Jamie. Fine, I can allow that. The problems began in episode 3, ‘The Long Night’. Firstly, the Dothraki. Daenerys had one of the best fighting forces at her disposal, men who have won her countless victories in the past. The two sides, the dead and the living are lining up facing each other with the Dothraki at the front. Then, for no rhyme or reason, they just charge unsupported by anyone or anything and deservedly get obliterated. It was such an idiotic thing to suggest these characters, most of whom experienced battles before would all concur and say this was a good idea. Throughout the episode we had such marvels in smart writing like a small girl getting swatted by an undead giant and getting up again with no visible injuries and Arya basically teleporting past the army of the dead to reach and kill the Night King. On that note, this was a villain that everyone theorised about his identity, his motives and we got no answers to any of it because that would need another episode which couldn’t happen under any circumstances because Star Wars was more important! So, a villain that we met in the first ever episode was left as an unspeaking, unmotivated ice man due to lazy writing. The worst thing, however, was the writing in this episode is that every important character had plot armour. They killed a few more minor characters like Jorah but on the whole, everyone we cared about survived. At multiple times, Jon, Podrick, Arya, The Hound, Jamie and Brienne are surrounded by mindless zombies and still survive. Big shout out to Sam Tarly who is useless in any combat situation and somehow survives. Also, to Sansa and Tyrion who (under the writer’s command) go into the crypts with all the women and children -a place full of dead people that can and were raised by the Night King- who also make it through. Needless to say, this episode was full of plot holes due to lazy and rushed writing.
The next two episodes flaws in writing included every character conveniently forgetting about the best navel army in the world leading to the death of another of Daenerys’ dragons, Jamie and Cersei getting crushed by falling buildings and Arya getting met by a random horse on the road of a city that has just been burnt to the ground by a dragon. Jamie’s character arc did frustrate me. He had moved away from being the incestuous, self-righteous knight and gained some compassion and morals. Then all of a sudden, he dumps Brienne and runs back to Cersei for no reason at all to get conveniently killed off. It made no sense and ruined a character that many people cared about. People complained about Daenerys going AWOL and burning Kings Landing to the ground, but I was fine with it as the signs of her dissent into madness had been teased over the seasons. Upon reflection, I feel that there were far better ways to do it. She has always been a champion of liberating the people but last time I checked, liberating did not involve incinerating them with dragon fire. Clegane-bowl was ok I guess, and I thought it was poetic that the Hound killed himself and the Mountain in fire.
However, the greatest flaws in the writing came in the last episode ‘The Iron Throne’. Tyrion somehow is able to find the bodies of Jamie and Cersei who should’ve been pulp in a sealed tunnel after their death. Anyway, we then move onto Jon killing Daenerys which was fine. Then for some reason, the last dragon just decides to melt the Iron Throne for no reason before leaving with Daenerys’ body. It was the last few scenes though that got on my nerve. We had Bran being made King on the basis he has a good life story (he has the worst out of any of the characters in the series and did nothing from seasons 2-6) despite him outright saying he didn’t want it, Sansa declares the North is going independent Brexit style with no reason apart than she wasn’t made queen. Arya, one of the best fighters in the history of the world, abandons everything and chooses to become Dora the Explorer and go adventuring (no one told her HBO said she wasn’t getting a spin off show). Jon Snow, the prince that was promised, the teased hero, the man that was brought back to life to save the world gets sent to the wall in punishment for murdering Daenerys. He was the main character of the series; his character was pivotal to the plot yet half of what he does this season is say “She is my queen”. He doesn’t kill the Night King; he doesn’t become king. He becomes a useless character and is sent to man the wall which is pointless considering part of it is broken and white walkers don’t exist anymore. It was also decided for some ingenious idea that the Crown should not be passed down through bloodline, but the new monarch should be voted in by the nobles essentially making the show now Game of Republics. Sorry but who asked for democracy in Game Of Thrones? No one. You can see how this lazy, unimaginative writing has gained so much hatred and upset so many people because it is so half hearted.
To conclude, I am upset and disappointed with the final season of Game of Thrones. The poor writing and rushed timescale ruined one of my favourite TV series ever. I am unsurprised that around 1.6 million people have signed a petition calling for the series to be remade because so many fans have been disappointed. David Benioff and D.B Weiss have bore the brunt of this criticism which is partly justified. They were the ones with executive decision-making ability. That is not to say that the series is not without its redeeming moments. The acting, CGI and soundtrack was great across the board. It was such a shame that these actors and technical people were wasted on such a poor script that was unsatisfying and underwelming. The executives should’ve waited till George RR Martin finished the books and then made the season. Instead, we are left with this and the writers will go to a galaxy far, far away to churn out yet another movie about aliens running around with glowing sticks and blowing up space ships. For the reasons I have written about in this article, I am confident in my claim that this was one of the biggest failures in TV history. Despite all of this, as a dedicated fan boy, I will probably be buying the box set to watch later!