Disclaimer: If, for some reason, you aren't caught up to the end of Game of Thrones, tread carefully; this post is full of spoilers.
The final episode of HBO's Game of Thrones aired on Sunday, May 19 and many fans— including me— were disappointed to say the least.
The episode opens with Tyrion Lannister wandering the aftermath of Daenerys' rampage. Eventually he arrives at the Red Keep, where he discovers the bodies of his older siblings, Cersei and Jaime Lannister. In a similar shot, we see Jon Snow and Grey Worm having an intense standoff in the streets of King's Landing, after Jon came across the Unsullied executing the remaining Lannister soldiers.
In the next scene, we see the Mother of Dragons for the first time since her rampage. She delivers one final epic speech in both Dothraki and Valyrian, thanking her armies and reminding them that the fight is far from over.
Tyrion takes this time to abandon his position as Hand of the Queen, a move which prompts his imprisonment (again). While captured, Tyrion attempts to convince Jon that he should kill Daenerys. Jon is reluctant, saying that Dany “is my queen” — the same words he says to Dany in the next scene, right before he stabs her in the heart.
The episode ends with Jon being sent back to the wall (punishment for his queenslaying), Arya setting sail for west of Westeros, Sansa being crowned Queen in the North, and Bran being crowned King of the Six Kingdoms, naming Tyrion as his Hand. An ending which probably would have been satisfying if only the episodes leading up to it weren't so overwhelmingly bad.
The final season of Game of Thrones was plagued by inadequate dialogue, poorly developed character arcs, and rushed plotlines.
The earlier seasons of Game of Thrones were adapted from George RR Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. As such, most of the dialogue was lifted directly from the books. Martin is a great writer (no shade to David and Dan) and his dialogues were intricate, well-crafted and added depth to both the characters and the story. From monologues to one liners, the many encounters between Little Finger and Lord Varys, and Tyrion's epic speech in season four. As a viewer, you could look forward to when certain characters appeared together on screen, knowing that the conversation about to unfold would send thrills down your spine and cause the cogs in your head to turn.
However, the dialogue in season eight is uncharacteristically lacklustre. The first time we see the greatest minds of Westeros (Tyrion and Varys) on screen, they do nothing except trade their best dwarf and eunuch jokes. Jon Snow basically repeats the same two lines all season— “I don't want it” and “She's my queen.”
Good dialogue is one of the defining factors of any great show and as fans we have grown to expect next-level dialogue from Game of Thrones. So the dialogue, or lack thereof, we got from this season was undoubtedly underwhelming.
Another problem area for the final season was David and Dan's disregard for the development of major character arcs over the last seven seasons.
The most apparent victim of this was Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen (the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, etc.). For seven seasons we witness Dany detest the murder of innocents, and time after time make an effort to prove that she is not like her father. Even up until the third episode of season eight, where she sacrifices the bulk of her armies to aid in the Battle of Winterfell (and losing her most loyal companion, Ser Jorah, in the process). Yet, just two episodes after she goes full 'Mad Queen' and burns the city of King's Landing and all its people to ash. It is not impossible to believe that Dany would've eventually gone mad, but there was no substance to support her demise, it was as if someone just flipped a switch. There was no cause, only effect.
A large contributor to this issue and well, all the issues faced by this season was the fact that they tried to fit at least two seasons worth of story into six episodes. As mentioned before, the world of Thrones is intricate, with complex story lines and conflicts that can't be resolved in the blink of an eye.
In the end, it was D&D's reluctance to carry the show past eight seasons (likely because they surpassed the source material by season five) that resulted in the catastrophe that we, the fans, were left with.
Many of the major conflicts (*cough* Night King *cough*) couldn't play out the way they were supposed to simply because there wasn't enough time. This paved way for plot holes among other flaws. There were many questions that went unanswered and prophecies that went unfulfilled. For instance, the Azor Ahai prophecy; while being a major plot point throughout seasons one to seven, was never mentioned in season eight.
While it is not impossible that the ending for the books will be similar to the show's ending, George's carefulness and pacing will make the difference between the two.
Despite the low-quality of season eight, it would be difficult for me to not recommend this epic series to those who haven't watched it as yet. Over the last nine years the actors and crew have done a spectacular job of making this show one of the most watched and well received series in the history of television.
Did Game of Thrones deserve a better last season? Absolutely. But that doesn't do anything to downplay the years of enjoyment and great television it has given to us over its run. Here's to the end of an era.