SPOILERS AHEAD FOR GAME OF THRONES!
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die”. Well, the season finale of Game of Thrones certainly didn’t win.
For a serious fan of the world of Westeros (I’ve read all the books and even wrote my dissertation on the subject), the finale was in a word, disappointing. Narratives were concluded and everything was wrapped up, but it lacked proper pace and punch. The reveal of Jon’s parentage, that he was actually Jon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne, was underwhelming and flat. His character arc ended with him back at the Wall, away from his family, and why? The white walkers are all dead – there is nothing to fight.
Crucially, thought, the great question of the whole series was answered: who will win the Iron Throne? …Bran. Seriously? The guy that was so crucial to the plot that the writers cut out of season 5? Bran’s main role in the programme has been to appear at key moments and make cryptic comments, and his Three-eyed Raven storyline was confusing and ultimately irrelevant. Also, his title – Bran the Broken – is too ableist to even acknowledge.
Daenerys’ character was mishandled so spectacularly that it is laughable. While the concept that she would have turned ‘mad’ like her father, Mad King Aerys, was tentatively hinted at, the show writers didn’t leave enough clues in the narrative that it would actually happen. In the span of two episodes, Daenerys went from a benevolent liberator of slaves to a monstrous madwoman who burned an entire city of innocent people alive.
People like to throw around the term “divisive” when it comes to some types of media, but the final episode of Game of Thrones wasn’t divisive, it was actively disliked. While a small minority of viewers might have enjoyed the final episode, it definitely wasn’t divisive by any means. The six lowest rated episodes of the show are all from this season.
What is so frustrating about this finale in particular is that show writers, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, had everything laid out for them for the programme to be successfully concluded. They had the budget, they had the cast, they had the time, they even had the story. George R. R. Martin had told them how his story was going to end, and despite the narrative changes they made along the way, they had time to foreshadow the events of the finale. They also insisted on squeezing two seasons into thirteen hour-long episodes, which created issues with the complicated storylines. Martin even commented that the show could have gone on for longer by saying that “we could have gone to 11, 12, 13 seasons, but I guess they wanted a life. If you’ve read my novels, you know there was enough material for more seasons. They made certain cuts, but that’s fine”.
The entire final season was hated so much that a petition was set up to remake it, which now has over 1.8 million signatures. From abandoned coffee cups and water bottles, teleporting characters and destroyed character arcs, the final season felt careless and rushed, and the final episode left viewers feeling frustrated and disappointed.
You can watch the trailer for season 8 of the show below.