It’s no secret that an overwhelming majority of audiences around the world found Game of Thrones‘ eighth and final season disappointing or worse. Many of the cast and crew involved have since done their best to put out the raging fires, biding time till the whole situation would blow over. Although you take a step back from all the backlash and controversy surrounding it it’s easy to understand why so many have reacted in this manner. Game of Thrones used to be one of, if not the, most popular show of the past decade and being a groundbreaking step above other series of its type, and to see it go out with a whimper instead of a bang is a huge bummer. It had great acting from across the board, phenomenal production design, brilliant cinematography, solid effects work, and a great score, however, it fell victim to the most common problem that can trouble any form of media: lacklustre writing.
In the past, showrunners/lead writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have managed to successfully adapt George R.R. Martin’s work, but whenever they attempted to add on with their own work, it ends up misfiring. They had just got away with it with Seasons 5 and 6 (the latter one being surprisingly one of the best seasons of the show), but by around Season 7, it was evident that things weren’t quite the same as they once were, which were made apparent by this final season. It really boils down to this: Benioff and Weiss, in the end, lacked cohesion and efficiency. Whatever you may think about Martin and his work, he was able to efficiently craft a huge, sprawling narrative with a massive world populated with nuanced, multi-layered and faceted characters that had a strong level of cohesion throughout even when there was a lot going on. He was so good at it that it’s easy to understand why it’s taking him so long to write his last few novels. Benioff and Weiss sacrificed both those things by the final season, giving us a hollow, convoluted series of events that lacked any form of logic and tarnished the rich character development that was gradually built up beforehand.
Originally, this fantasy series was a lot more nuanced than expected, constantly subverting expectations in a clever way that made logical sense on a narrative and character level, but while they do subvert expectations during this last season, the creative choices made do not make sense on either level. Almost every character’s personal story-arcs gets completely thrown out the window, resulting in them becoming dumbed-down caricatures of their former selves; Sansa’s become selfish and stubborn, Tyrion’s now surviving on stupidity instead of intelligence, Jon’s now a blind idiot that really “knows nothing”, Arya’s ninja training leads to nothing, same with Bran with his “Three-Eyed Raven” abilities, plus how his story ends is incredibly ludicrous and laughable (especially since Bran is this reviewer’s least favourite character). Both Cersei and Jaime Lannister too have been done dirty with the former going from a subtle, complex manipulator to a one-dimensional villain that spends nearly all of the season staring menacingly from a balcony window. As for the latter, Jaime’s journey of self-discovery gets completely forgotten about, regressing horribly as a result, resulting in a deeply unsatisfying final end for both him and his sister. As for the Mother of Dragons herself, well, Daenerys Targaryen quite possibly suffers from the most heinous character assassination yet seen in a TV show. The only ones that get off Scott-free are Jorah Mormont, Brienne of Tarth, Theon Greyjoy and Sandor Clegane.
After Season 7 finished, it was announced that the final season would be delayed by two years, which gave fans hope that the makers involved would take their time and map out a perfect farewell to it all, except the complete opposite happened. This final season was nothing more than a rush-job to wrap everything up as soon as possible, and frankly, it’s hard to believe that after eight years of build-up, a two-year gap between the penultimate and final seasons, and all of the hype leading up to it, what we got was apparently still the best that they could do. Worst of all; because it put a stain on everything, Game of Thrones will probably now be remembered, not as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, but as a popular show that got ruined by its ending. When it comes to crafting an epic tale, sticking the landing is always the key, and this show just failed to do so.
Dir: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik
Scr: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner
Music: Ramin Djawadi
Number of Episodes: 6
Episode Run time: 60-80mins
Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season is out on DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on 2nd December.