I had heard stories. I had seen the memes. I’ve watched clips. None of that could prepare me for the absolute disaster that awaited me.
Winter has come. Daenerys and the forces of the North stand alone against the Night King, with the fate of Westeros in their hands. Against seemingly impossible odds, will they be able to survive?
The answer is: yes. Because none of that actually matters, despite what you might expect from the last seven seasons of build up. All that really matters is the latter half of the season, where Daenerys and the forces of the North go back to attack King’s Landing and take the Iron Throne. Which… is the most unsatisfying conclusion I have ever seen.
Before I jump into these six episodes of utter catastrophe, let’s have a look at the stuff I actually liked. For one: the visuals. God damn, dude, this season looks incredible! Even by Game of Thrones standards, this shit looks good! The cinematography is gorgeous, the sets amazing, and the editing is super clever and interesting! I honestly think that everyone working in the post-production was giving 300% of their effort to prevent this disaster from being the single worst thing ever made.
The music is as solid as ever, too. There may not be much in terms of new tracks. But those we have do a good job of adding emotion to a scene. The composers never stopped giving it their all, right up to the end.
All of the actors are also doing a really good job. You can tell that the problems are with the script, not the performers. As lifeless as the characters themselves have become, the actors still give them an energy they desperately need. You can tell they’re struggling, given just how shit the script is; but they still do much better than an average actor would have been able to.
Also, Jon finally pets his fucking dog. Took us long enough.
And… that’s all I have in terms of praise. Everything that isn’t related to the writing is as solid as ever. Unfortunately, the writing is so unbearably awful that it’s hard to appreciate any of those things.
Nothing in this season makes any sense. Literally nothing. If you sit down to analyze anything, whether it be the latest dramatic plot point or the most inconsequential line of dialogue, you will find at least three leaps in logic or major plot holes. The writing is so rushed, so poorly thought out, that it is unironically worse than the stories I wrote back in middle school! A fucking child could write a better, more coherent plot than what we have here!
Every single character is an empty-headed shell of their former selves. Tyrion is no longer the brilliant political strategist, Jon no longer the cold but heroic leader, Davos has outstayed his welcome by a wide margin and doesn’t have anything to do, and Arya is so overpowered you’d think she were a Shounen anime protagonist! Characters like Sandor Clegane and Gendry are only here for fan-service and contribute little to nothing. Bran has the power to see through time and space and control animals, yet the fucker doesn’t do anything all season until they just randomly decide to make him king!
The whole damn season is just so rushed! We’ve got to rush past the Night King so we can rush past the Battle of King’s Landing so we can rush past Daenerys turning evil so we can rush past her dying so we can rush past the ending. Events pop out of nowhere with no build up and are concluded almost just as quickly! Nothing is given the time it needs to breath!
Everything that was once important no longer matters. The Night King and the ice zombies, the very first thing we saw in both the show and the books, are so inconsequential to this season that you could cut them out entirely and lose nothing. All of Daenerys’ character development is thrown away for a last-second ‘shocking’ twist. Bran’s role as the Three-Eyed Raven is made completely worthless. Jon came back to life for no reason beyond killing Daenerys at the end; not to mention his being a Targaryen pans out to nothing aside from Dany getting made about it. Jaime’s arc is thrown in the dumpster completely; the man who gave up everything for the people suddenly no longer cares for the people, and he goes right back to his abusive incest relationship!
No plot line in this season has a satisfying conclusion. In their desperation to ‘subvert expectations’ (fucking hell, I hate that stupid phrase so god damn much), Dumb and Dumber came up with the dumbest conclusions to any fantasy plots I’ve ever seen. Arya, whose plot had nothing to do with the Night King, gets to kill him. Bran becomes the king because ‘he has the best story’… even though his is the least popular of the lot. These two morons planted apple seeds, then decided that they wanted oranges right at the last second.
Bit of writing advice: don’t read fan theories online and change your plans to ‘subvert expectations’. Stop trying to be smarter than your audience. Just tell your story and let them enjoy having figured it out.
There are even massive holes in the fucking world building! Established facts about Westeros that we’ve known for multiple seasons are thrown away completely! The landscape around King’s Landing has completely changed for no reason. The Ironborn laugh at the idea of Westeros becoming a democracy despite the fact that they are a democracy! The Unsullied mercilessly slaughtered the Lannisters, yet they let Jon live after he killed their queen! Fuck, even travel has been butchered! Everyone just teleports from place to place, despite the fact that they had to be on the road for weeks or even months before now!
Nothing makes sense. Not. One. Thing. I have had drunken conversations more coherent than this!
This all culminates in what may be the most unsatisfying ending I have ever seen to a television show. And I’m including the premature cancelation of Firefly in that! Every surviving character ends up either exactly where they started or in a seemingly random place in society. Why the fuck is Bronn of all people the Master of Coin? Why does Sam get to get away with abandoning his vows to the Night’s Watch to become Grand Maester? Why the fuck is there even still a Night’s Watch for Jon to go back to?!
It is incredible to me that this season came out the way it did. Game of Thrones was the single most successful TV show on the air for nearly a god damn decade! The first four seasons are some of the greatest television ever made! This could have so easily become one of the greatest television shows of all time!
But Dumb and Dumber wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They only wanted to do eight seasons, but they also wanted all the glory. They believed themselves capable of creating something far better than their empty brains are capable of. Instead of just handing the show over to different writers for the later seasons and washing their hands of it, they thought they’d rush the whole thing and get all the credit themselves.
It’s such a shame. Game of Thrones could have been a masterpiece. It was for so long! But now, no one remembers just how good those earlier seasons were. Now, all they remember was the utter catastrophe they led to. None of the sweetness of the earlier delicacy remains. Only the bitter aftertaste.
And the worst part is? The books still aren’t done, either. We don’t even know what we’re missing out on yet! If we ever learn at all!