‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8

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IT might not be regarded as such a drastic decision to give up on the world’s most-loved show this late – with “Game of Thrones” (GOT) – being its final season. However, it is because the final season was supposed to be one of such dramatic importance, the season that was supposed to beautifully culminate every character arc and storyline that had been established in the seven prior seasons, that makes the disappointments so magnified and meaning more at this juncture in time than they would have at any other point in the show’s history. As a reader of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” (ASOIAF) series on which the show is based, I enjoyed the show tremendously, as much as any of the other millions of people around the year who tune in to watch the show on Sundays, and for the first few seasons, when the show kept up with the book, it was of a superb standard. However, once the show surpassed the books, the show-writers had no choice but to make assumptions on what a neat and tidy ending would be for the whole thing. For the most part, their decision-making and writing have been of a fine standard, even after the moved past the ASOIAF series, but not much of that seems to have transferred over in this final season of GOT – which, undoubtedly is the most poorly-written season of the eight that have been made. It is so disappointing that I have decided to not watch the last two episodes of the series, despite the fact that the previous seasons contain some of my favourite show moments of all time and allow GOT to rank high in my list of the greatest TV shows I have ever seen.

Promotional Poster, HBO, 2019 – Image via: IMDB

While there are various aspects within the final season to highlight as weak points, I think the one glaring factor that stands out to me is how underused the character of Bran Stark is. You have a character who can travel to the past and future, a character who can influence some change in events that have come to past (as seen when he blurs the timeline and destroys the mental framework of young Hodor by exposing him to the horrors of the undead), and yet, for some reason, he does absolutely nothing in any of strategic planning moments or battle-moments that have happened in the show thus far. Why can Bran not go back and counsel Daenerys so she can make better decisions? Perhaps Bran has seen and knows what will happen and it is necessary for all of the threads to converge in the manner that they have in order to ensure that his idea of what the future of Westeros is comes to pass, but I doubt that is the case. It feels as if it might have been too cumbersome to incorporate the range of Bran’s potential because they were unable to control their own writing, by imposing limits on the character’s abilities or in some other way.

The other example of flawed writing comes when one observes Daenerys’ transition into the “mad queen.” It is obvious that the development of this character was poorly organised throughout the season, and it definitely feels like there is a great hurry to turn her into a villain in order to emphasise that the shock value that Game of Thrones has become known for is still very much there. The loss of character development – a similar flaw to rushed development – is seen in Jaime’s character. Here we have a man whom the audience had believed to have learned the error of his incestuous ways. Yet, despite the reversal of Jaime’s character throughout the seasons, we end up seeing that he really has not changed at all. He is still the character we met in the first season, which is problematic considering that characters are supposed to change rather than remain static. How else does one show growth, development, and the effect of the environment on the character?

Once upon a time, killing off well-loved and primary characters used to be something that Game of Thrones was well-known for. However, it seems that in this last season, the creators are attempting to give us the shock value by killing off characters for no particular reason. For example, did Lyanna Mormont have to die? Did Beric? Theon? Truly, the only satisfactory death that came this season was Melisandre’s (in a rare poignant and beautiful moment for the season) – and it was beautiful not because of the shock value (Melisandre herself says that she will die before the dawn in the episode), but because it was well-written and well-executed.

Although it truly does seem as if the elements that once brought the brilliance and beauty to Game of Thrones are now the very same ones weighing it down, there are a few aspects that can be appreciated. The acting work, for example, remains at the highest level – with Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, and Alfie Allen standing out this season, and the directing is good, but such sparks are not nearly enough to end the night that seems to have taken hold of the season. It is an okay season, but not a great one as many of the predecessors were.

Lastly, I’m rooting for Sansa Stark to be queen – the only remaining character whose arc has not been ruined, and the only one who actually deserves the Iron Throne.