THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD
I grew up with Game of Thrones. I’m about the same age as Arya Stark or Maisie Williams, the actress who played her in the TV series. We began as children and now… we’re not.
Now that the series is over I wanted to write a review or an appreciation of it. In particular, given the controversies surrounding the ending, I wanted to write a follow up to something Cassie wrote in our other blog a few years ago, in which we spoke about the Satanic elements in the show. This is what we wrote back then. Satanic Morality In Game Of Thrones.
Before speaking of what happened in the final series, I want to say a few things about what made the show great for eight seasons stretching over nearly a decade. For the most part the writing, the character developments and the plot construction and twists were superb. All of the characters were nuanced, almost nobody was entirely good or entirely bad (with a few exceptions) and as a Satanist I appreciated the shades of grey and the way in which nearly all the main characters had to integrate their darker natures in order to survive and do what was right in the circumstances they found themselves in. There could be many dissertations written about the moral values which drove the main characters and the story as a whole. Very little about the show was predictable. Much loved and important characters could be killed off unexpectedly and some of the most heroic and important things were done by those you did not expect. It could be extremely violent but the stories depended equally as much on tender moments and great acting which was delivered by a cast who excelled themselves. We also entered a world where sexuality was more down to earth and honest than it often is in the world we really live in. During the course of the show there were some of the most spectacular battle scenes ever filmed for television or film and some climactic set pieces such as “The Red Wedding” which have become almost legendary. All of these elements were helped by excellent direction and editing. And finally something I became more aware of as the series progressed and especially in the final season, the drama and the action were emphasised by an amazing musical score.
Because the show became so popular, there were a lot of expectations going into the eighth and final season. And not all those expectations (or hopes) were fulfilled. While many people enjoyed it, some were so angry about the way the season developed that they have petitioned for the entire 8th season to be remade. The petition has been signed by millions which probably is a piece of TV history in itself. Do those people have a right to be so upset? Was the final season really so bad? Are people silly to get so worked up about a piece of fiction? Does anybody really have a right to complain because a piece of fiction doesn’t end the way they think it should?
Well firstly, the fact that that people got so worked up about the final season proves how strongly the story of the first 7 seasons had affected them and how invested they felt in the lives of the characters. If nothing else it is proof of how good and how special the first 7 seasons were.
The last season was different. There were only 6 (albeit) longer episodes instead of the normal 10. Personally I think that was probably the biggest problem. They tried to squeeze too much into too few episodes and at least one of the crucial plot developments got fairly mutilated in the process.
Last warning, very big spoilers coming…
The thing which annoyed most people was the sudden transformation of Daenerys Targaryen from heroine to the most evil and insane villain of the entire series. Yes, it can be argued that some elements of her evil insanity had been foreshadowed intermittently earlier in the series… But no, not really. When Danny turned crazy in episode 5 of series 8, it happened, literally, in the blink of an eye. It was not well done despite Emilia Clarke’s best efforts to convey the unbelievable. I can see how the story could have gone that way and perhaps that was intended all along, but it really needed several more episodes to chart her decent into homicidal madness convincingly. As it was… Well it wasn’t great. At the same time the person who had been the real villain all through the previous seasons, died with a whimper in the arms of her brother/lover; not the vengeful death many of us had dreamed up for her. And it is not as if the really bad guys of the show don’t usually get what’s coming to them in the end… Ramsey Bolton for example…
The handling of Daenerys’ storyline annoyed me particularly because she along with Arya had been my favourite character, largely because I saw her as an example of the positive side of Satanic morals and mentality. She was basically a good person with a dark side who could be forceful and vengeful when circumstances required it but who was equally motivated by love and compassion. This made her strong and the kind of person a lot of people like myself could identify with. But in the last part of the series she unexpectedly morphs into an evil superhero villain; suggesting that to be the inevitable direction of her lifestyle… Obviously, I take issue with that.
In fairness, Arya whose story arc was much darker than Danny’s in every way, survives with her personality in tact and in many ways becomes the real hero of the series.
Tyrion was certainly the best example of of the importance Satanists place on intelligence and cunning and it was a shame that his character wasn’t given much to do during the last season, although I suppose he did become the king maker in the end.
Finally Bran becomes the king of the hill even without the Iron Throne. Bran! Should we celebrate another unexpected twist? Frankly I think most people’s reaction was that this development was a cop out. The kind of ending designed not to offend too many people but which failed to satisfy anybody either. In all honesty Bran could have been missing from the entire series without making too much difference to the plot. (The Red Witch, for example, was equally well placed to have some cryptic visions when the plot demanded it).
Leading up to the final episode there were a few things which just wouldn’t have got past the script conferences in previous seasons. For example, Danny and her two remaining Dragons failing to spot an entire fleet below them, a fleet they knew would be there… Missandei heading for a safe space on the ship and then turning up as a doomed prisoner in Kings Landing…
I think the lack of source material by George R.R. Martin, together with time and probably budget limitations meant that the writers of the last series were forced to make things up and take shortcuts that wouldn’t have been allowed in previous seasons. In comparison to other TV series it wasn’t really that bad, but in comparison to what had gone before in Game Of Thrones it was quite childish. Sadly, the climactic season just wasn’t in the same league as the rest of the series. It had some good moments and even some great ones, but it had too many flaws for fans to give it a free pass. It was disappointing.
If they did remake the final series, I would watch it and hope they made it better. However, they won’t do that and I don’t think they should. The eight seasons constitute a work of art in their own right and the job of an artist is to make the art they want to make; not to make what the public demands.
Despite my criticism of the final series (which I hope is fair and honest) the Game Of Thrones television series as a whole was something epic and unlike anything that had gone before it. It was nearly always addictive and clever, often funny or surprising, sometimes sexy or violent. It had very high production standards and despite it’s fantasy setting it portrayed themes and characters which often reflected the real world. Like many masterpieces of art it had its flaws if you looked for them, but overall, it was something special and I will miss it.
The generation before me grew up with Harry Potter. I grew up with Danny, Arya and Tyrian. They gave me much to enjoy and think about. There will be other series in the future which grab the public’s attention in different ways but maybe for people like me, Game Of Thrones will always be what the next great thing is measured against.