Most people that have followed the HBO interpretation of George R.R. Martin’s brilliant novels were mentally prepared for some terrible things to happen to their favorite characters, and we all watched in great anticipation when HBO began airing the final season in April. No one, however, was expecting what actually happened.
Game of Thrones was bad.
Yes, some characters died, but no one in the show got nearly as maimed as the writers. It was the ultimate twist that no one predicted.
When the first episode of season eight aired, fans patiently accepted what was essentially an hour-long recap of the entire series.
When the second episode aired, fans waited in anticipation for the long-awaited confrontation with the army of the dead.
In the third episode, fans wanted a long epic battle, and while many were surprised by just how long and epic it was, most accepted that such a momentous occasion as the defeat of the Night King, deserved an entire 70 minutes.
Then came episode four.
The first three episodes of season four were slow and didn’t advance much action. While most of us hoped that the first three episodes were just a tease before the brilliant culmination of years of mysterious intertwining storylines, we were confirmed in episode four that it was simply the result of bad writing.
Episode four is where HBO officially announced that Game of Thrones was bad.
It’s official, Game of Thrones is now bad.
The dialogue of episode four was cringeworthy, and when Missandrei’s head was chopped off from a distance, it was laughably cheesy. The horrifically violent movie Battle Royale provided viewers with a more sensible rationale for the bloodbath of high school students, than did the final scene of episode four give us a reason for a main character's demise.
Right from the beginning of the episode writers skipped over explaining who built all of the hundreds of funeral pyres, and piled up all the fallen walking dead seen in the distance. After burning thousands of bodies, all the characters go to dinner, where Queen Danarys begins acting like Cersei’s jealous little sister.
After some very half-hearted attempts by writers to generate intrigue, we are faced with some fornication and impromptu marriage proposals. Gendry’s proposal to Arya was about as impulsive as the writing of season eight and is reflective of how little the creators actually care if they deliver something of substance.
After some sit-com style dialogue between overdressed comedy actors, we are given a painfully tense scene between Daenerys and Jon, where it seems that Dany has become possessed by the Devil. Maybe a plot twist is that when the Night King died, he took over Dany’s body.
The most disjointed part of the entire episode is when Bronn shows up randomly, punches Tyrion in the face, demands to be lord of the most important kingdom in Westeros, and then saunters off. If Game of Thrones was a sporting event, I would’ve been certain that part was a commercial.
Up until the point when Dany flies her dragons south, I was still with them. Despite the sluggish plotline, the bizarre hookups and farewells, and lack of answering questions that date back to 2011, I still believed there was a creative genius masterminding the entire story.
And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, my hope was speared through the neck as I watched literally decades of character development plunge into the ocean.
Nothing about the scene with Daenerys and Euron made sense, from his magical ability to ambush her at the Targarean stronghold to her inability to fly behind the closely concentrated fleet of wood ships and set them ablaze. For just a brief moment we are shown how fierce Euron’s fleet is, despite never once seeing it in prior seasons. Regardless, the Iron Fleet decimated Dany’s ships in a matter of minutes, and then, as quickly as it started, Euron and his fleet were back in the capital.
When Game of Thrones first aired, it was a brilliant blend of fantasy, mystery, horror, suspense and above all, intrigue. The entire first season was a riveting tale of emotionally damaged people competing for the power to rule an entire nation.
Game of Thrones is still a very well made piece of entertainment, however, HBO has allowed it to go the way of The Avengers, Avatar, or Doctor Strange. The problem is that Game of Thrones was so much better than that, and once promised to usurp The Wire as the best show of all time. Game of Thrones was an on-screen literary masterpiece, brilliantly adapted for TV, but now it is certain to disappoint, leaving the Baltimore Crime Drama safely in the number one spot.
The hero of this story is George R.R. Martin, who was left out of the writing of season eight and began to reduce his involvement in season four. If we revisit the entire series, we can clearly see where the split happens.
The first season was one of the best shows of all time, with the second and third holding true to the thrilling intrigue and non-stop questioning of everything, however, seasons 4–6 started to change a bit. Despite the shift, those later seasons still held riveting storylines and complex situations for the intensely dynamic characters to navigate.
While the seventh season certainly felt a little contrived, several heart-wrenching moments and the culmination of much-anticipated revenge left most viewers satisfied and wanting more. Furthermore, the show-stopping ending of season seven left everyone in wild anticipation for the final season, so that we could all find out just what the undead dragon meant for Westeros.
And yet, Game of Thrones is being rushed, despite the fact that viewers, the media and HBO don’t want it to end, and even Martin himself said it should have five more seasons. Only the creators Benioff and Weiss are pushing to wrap up the show before summer, at the expense of not finishing at the same level of quality as they started.
There is a valuable lesson for all of us to learn here, which is that true brilliance cannot be manufactured, and storylines can’t be rushed.
While this development is a major disappointment for most, the true hero, George R.R. Martin, lives on to fight another day, and his books will tell us how this story actually ends. For this, we can be grateful, and we should be happy that only the true creator of this magical story gets to decide how it actually ends. Creative geniuses of the world rejoice because Game of Thrones just proved that you cannot be replaced.