This is it. The end of the line, the final draw, the long-awaited farewell. As one of the best and most popular shows in television history, Game of Thrones sure did many things right—especially in its early seasons. Tense intrigue, shocking plot twists, intelligent story, memorable dialogue, and deep and complex characters truly separated GoT from the rest, and it was beautiful. So, when much of its original allure and characteristic finesse was all but thrown out the window during the last episodes, people were legitimately upset.
The level of outrage after episode 5’s turn of the events was such that more than 400,000 people signed a petition asking HBO to redo season 8 with “competent writers.” Backlash to what seemed as nothing but fan-pleasing in “The Battle of Winterfell” and nothing but the shock factor in “The Bells” reached far and wide across the world, and the internet didn’t hide the discontent.
So, Game of Thrones needed nothing less than a game-changer for its last episode. It needed to be glorious, to redeem itself so as to carry on its shoulders the whole weight of an entire season—to make us believe it was all for something. Of course, that didn’t happen. I, for one, was not turned into a believer.
What we got instead was a predictable, yet difficult confrontation between Jon and Daenerys, after pretty much every single relevant character left turned against her. People bothered by the way she descended into madness are not going to find much solace here, as we get no redeeming justification; no further insight into her newly-found darkness. We do get a tragic, soap-opera-ish death at the hands of her ex-lover, though. She came so close to sitting on the Iron Throne, only to be stabbed by Jon before she could truly enjoy her victory.
But the move that’s sure to annoy even the hardcore fans of the show was the decision to leave Bran at the top. His character had received criticism from audience and critics alike, having become estranged as the esoteric figure of the Three-Eyed-Raven, who knows everything but wants nothing. Fans were quick to point out just how useless he’d been so far, so to have him end up as the popularly-elected ruler of Westeros is controversial, to say the least.
And then there was Tyrion, who almost died at the hands of the Mad Queen. His character, once incredibly witty and smart, ended up as a shadow of himself. Tyrion truly was my favorite character throughout the show, and I’m among those viewers who no longer recognized him during the last couple of seasons. His wit had turned into submission, his once-great dialogues became generic and depressive. He was no longer the one who’d outsmart them all. So his story arc was also an overall disappointment, and his final role in the council didn’t do much to compensate for that.
Also, though great things are surely ahead for Arya, we can’t say that her leaving like that wasn’t underwhelming for what she could’ve done. Sure, she killed the Night King Independence-Day style. And apparently, that really was the end of her arc for all effects and purposes. Sansa ruling the North in a glorious manner, like a Westerosi Elizabeth I, was about the only truly satisfying thing to happen tonight.
At the end, rather than redemption, all we got was a reaffirmation that this whole final season was indeed terribly rushed—and it left an uneasy sour taste in our mouths as a result.
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