Chances are you’re one of the however the fuck many millions of people who watched the series finale of Game of Thrones this past Sunday. There’s also a pretty good chance you’ve got some strong opinions on the episode and this final season as a whole. Whether you’re dissatisfied with the conclusion or you’re one of those real cool cats who expends actual energy to let everyone else know how refined you are as a human being for never watching it, people have thoughts. I’ll get to that last fun-at-parties group further in. For the most part it’s been a very satisfying distraction.
I mention that this is a distraction because that’s been one of the nicest parts of the Game of Thrones experience for me; it’s been something to pay attention to that isn’t the fucking quagmire of our depressing politics or researching Metal Archives to make sure half my record collection won’t get me arrested when the MetalSucks NWO comes into power. But this season has been divisive as fuck, to the point where listening to podcasts on it almost feels like I’m watching pundit debates on the news. And to help nourish the cynic in me even The Young Turks now have videos dedicated to the show and it’s about as genuine as Marky Mark’s dick at the end of Boogie Nights.
There were some glaring fuck ups in the last two seasons—the coffee cup and water bottles non-withstanding—and most of it was because the pacing. Threads were just picked up and thrown away like they never existed in the first place. For example; remember the importance placed on Sam stealing books from the Citadel last season? A few episodes ago, it was difficult to forget; he mentioned it multiple times. Did anything come out of that? Once the battle of Winterfell happened it was never brought up again. Same with the “prince who was promised” prophecy, which was a thread attached to several seasons though not with the level of importance that it carries in the books. Or what Varys heard in the flames or the incredibly heavy handed foreshadowing of Danerys and Jon having a baby? These all have varying degrees of importance to the story, but they all end up being forgotten roads.
Remember the scene with Arya’s white horse that lasted three-quarters of the episode (or felt like it, I guess it was really more like four minutes)? Did it magically appear so she could ride it around the block? The Golden Company had been built up to be a critical threat, especially to Dany’s depleted forces, they even made a big announcement when Harry Strickland was cast. Minor things can end up feeling less like a symptom and more like an illness when added up. The little girl with the fucked up face from the second episode seemed to foreshadow some kind of importance but fuck-all happened, we didn’t even get the satisfaction of her getting eaten by one of the crypt zombies that were barely in focus on screen for more than a few seconds. They had more screen time in the fucking “About the Episode” they run before airing six consecutive ads for Chernobyl at the episode’s conclusion.
A lot of these elements seemed to get lost during the two-episode lead up to the final battle with the undead. And I suppose some of that can make sense when you realize the frantic preparation leading up to it, considering this was supposed to be the battle to decide the fate of humanity, except that Westeros is just one continent of an enormous world, which I guess puts it in a different perspective. “Winterfell” was actually my favorite episode of the season (possibly of the series) even though it’s a fucking mess of overly dark cinematography (as a side note: fuck the production guy telling people to get better TVs) and a military strategy akin to Forrest Gump leading the beach landing at Normandy. The rushing of the Dothraki vanguard with their flaming arakhs was one of the most breathtaking moments I’ve seen in either film or television, but it landed with the thud of a shitty diaper someone threw out their car window into an Applebees parking lot. Same with the Unsullied fighting off the wave of undead. Both were fucking mindless wastes of lives and both were incredibly gripping cinematic moments. I was able to forgive how fucking stupid their plans were this entire episode because the tension and stakes were so high that I ended up chain-smoking half a pack, shortening my own life because of the show’s influence. Every proper character death was impactful and emotional. It was the first time I’d given a shit about Theon possibly during the entire series. And having Arya be the one to take down the Night King was unexpected but unlike a lot of reviews I saw, it didn’t feel forced or cheap to me. The only problems with the episode came down to wondering why Ghost was in the fucking vanguard and what Jon thought yelling at the dragon would accomplish. It made me feel like slogging through two hours of people talking or looking at shit in the previous episodes were all worth it, that even though they ended the White Walker storyline with no real explanation that it was enough because sometimes it’s better not to have your hand held during every fucking moment of something.
The next episode, on the other hand, was like going down a slide that the kid before you shit in his entire trip down. It was muddled and he pace was a fucking mess. The funeral scene was impactful and really showed the cost of the battle but the rest of the episode was aimless, bloated, and at the end: cheap. It was really the only episode of the entire series that I thought was as bad as finding out someone used the condom you just put on before you. It’s where the rush to the finish line really set it, where characters started acting…well, out of character. It set the pace that the final episodes of the series would take, a pace that absolutely cheapened the battle of Winterfell when somehow the Dothraki and Unsullied seemed to multiply at a rapid rate to pre-stabbing at shit in the dark levels, the finale especially. Where the fuck did they all come from? I know it’s a fantasy series but Jesus Christ didn’t ask you to suspend your disbelief this much.
The final two episodes—when viewed as their own story—were honestly fantastic. For as much as people complained that Danerys’ morality twist was out of character, it doesn’t seem unexpected when you actually look back over the previous seasons and consider all the shit she’d gone through recently. No element of the show’s conclusion should be unexpected, though I’m not saying that as a detriment to the story. Would it have been better to have done a full 10-episode season to fully flesh out Danerys’ descent from savior to the kind of leader Richard Spencer would cum in his sleep thinking about? Certainly, but remember the directors need to get on that “Confederate” thing they’ve been planning, they don’t have time for nuance this late in the game.
Much of the criticism of the finale seems to be that it’s mostly underwhelming, especially in the back end (I sympathize) but honestly that’s more valuable to a satisfying conclusion. If life has always meant to go on, then it will go on with the same banality that it has gone on with since the dawn of time, with occasional pockets of excitement. If Jon had ranged beyond the wall and found that er…sunwheel that the White Walkers tagged all over sitting there and the show faded to black with a new threat people would have lost their shit, more so than they are because Bran’s now king after being completely fucking useless for well… eight seasons. It’s enough that they’re ending with the thought hanging in the air that Bran orchestrated all of this over the course of the last few seasons and let a massive amount of people die for no real reason to achieve it, if they would have let the threat of the north linger that would have cheapened the entire series more than they already (somewhat) did this season.
Season 8 wasn’t perfect by any means but it had some terrific moments and wrapped up a series by tying up as many storylines as it possible, given the time constraints. The fact that there’s a petition out that now has something slightly north of a million signatures demanding that HBO remake the final season in a way that they—the “fans”—would want is fucking embarrassing and the absolute definition of entitled brats. Their understanding of creation isn’t that we get what the creators create and have no real say in the process but that if a story doesn’t go their way they can just piss up the internet screaming like infants who need changing until someone comes and gives them a bottle and clean diaper. Same with recent Star Wars movies or really anything that has a large fanbase with boys who’ve yet to see a woman naked without a currency transaction. Then there are the people saying they feel like they “wasted their time” often the last ten years because of how the series ended. Wasted their time? If we want to be realistic, EVERYTHING is a waste of time because that’s what we’re all doing until we die. If you enjoyed the series until now, felt real emotional responses to episodes, characters and scenarios then it wasn’t a waste of time because at those exact moments you were having an experience. Just because the end of the road isn’t what you wanted, it doesn’t negate the journey getting there. Jesus Christ, no wonder most of the world hates us.
On the flip side, the people who go out of their way to shit on people for enjoying Game of Thrones or really any kind of entertainment, be it music, movies, comics or sports? Fucking pathetic. Often, they are the same people who get emotional when you express dislike of something they’re into. It doesn’t make you edgy and the only people impressed by your obvious wit are also awestruck by shiny objects and farts. The entire concept of having a personal sense of superiority over others because of your own personal tastes is an incredibly ludicrous idea. Caring what other people like or don’t like should not impact your own enjoyment in the slightest and if it does then you’re obviously insecure about the quality of your character. In other words, fuck off.
So, I guess now we’re just supposed to wait for the final two books in George RR Martin’s series, but if we’re being honest with ourselves it’s probably never going to happen. If the show’s creators had written themselves into a corner with the amount of characters they had, I’m sure it’s nearly impossible for Martin to cleanly wrap up the dozens they left out of the show. Or he could just die and his estate will fight over who’s going to finish it. And by the time that happens, it the world will be four degrees warmer and we’ll all be dead. But there is the prequel series to look forward to and we should all be confident because when have prequels let us down before? There’s still tons of podcasts and blogs, some of which aren’t run by dry-dicked angry dudes yelling about how their fan-fiction would be better because it’ would have more fucking in it. Nerd Soup and Alt Shift X are my two favorites and seem to be the best stepping stones to finding others. Just try to fucking enjoy something for once in your life—it’s done wonders for my (temporary) mental health.