It's a fine day in Westeros... because a special Game of Thrones edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
As I mentioned last week, I thought that the series finale of Game of Thrones was "Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion." And further thought on the matter hasn't changed my mind. The series showed exceptional moments of brilliance for years, then fell apart... badly... in the final act.
So let's talk about that, shall we?
BUT BEFORE YOU PROCEED, A WARNING... I am spoiling everything, so if you have any interest whatsoever in the show and may want to watch it one day, better get on that before proceeding.
Alrighty then. Final warning... because spoilers abound.
I don't know what I expected in the final season, but it sure wasn't this mess. A friend on Facebook called it "...a boring wet fart of an ending," and that kinda sums it up for me. So much time, patience, and care taken to set things up and then... poof... nuthin.
No final showdown between Cersei and Arya. No payoff to Bran's whole three-eyed-raven ordeal. A rushed, shoe-horned, sub-par conclusion to the Night King drama. Characters shoved aside, discarded, then shit on. It just goes on and on.
Right up until the very end I was hoping that something... anything would materialize to salvage this awful season. In the week before Episode 6 I remember thinking... "Say! Maybe the first five episodes didn't happen and it's just Bran looking into the future to see how things turn out? Maybe we'll come back and find that he has decided that Cersei should get the throne because her unborn child will one day bring the lasting peace and prosperity that The Seven Kingdoms so desperately needs? Yeah. Maybe that's how it will go!" But, of course, that was just too much to hope for.
Since the entire show was made powerful by its characters, I've decided to present my thoughts on Season 8 along those lines. So without further ado...
• Tyrion. The smartest character in the show had some pretty dumb moments in Season 8, but remained the smartest character on the show when it came to taking out Dany and laying out the future of Westeros at the end. But I can honestly say that the reason I was okay with how his character closed out the series was not because of how the character was written, it was entirely because of how Peter Dinklage performed the material. I was a huge fan long before Game of Thrones came along, and to see him in a role that will get him the recognition he deserves is the most satisfying thing to come out of this season (or any season, really). If he is not winning all the awards this year, it will be a horrendous injustice.
• Bran. He spent years developing amazing abilities that one assumed would all be leading to something. But they were completely ignored. At the battle with the Night King he warged into ravens and flew around surveying the fighting, but nothing was done with the information, essentially making him a VCR recording events. I kept waiting for him to warg into Drogon and stop the madness of Dany’s brutal attack on King’s Landing, but it never happened. That being said, I certainly wasn’t upset with him becoming king... not just because of all the reasons Tyrion laid out... but because he was one of the least horrible characters left.
• Arya. By far my favorite character on the show, Arya was given years of training and a mission. When she killed the Night King and saved the world, it wasn’t so she could be a hero, it was because the Night King was the way of her revenge. So what happens when she finally gets the opportunity? She is scared away by bricks falling out of a wall. This has to be the most inexcusably, lame, shitty example of lazy character abandonment that I’ve ever seen. Her decision to see what’s “West of Westeros” at the end was about the only sensible thing left for her after she was discarded from the show in such a stupid manner. And don’t even get me started on her being unfulfilled as a character until she slept with Gendry. Really? No women in the writer’s room when this was thought up?
• Sansa. Wants The North to be a separate kingdom she can rule because the Men of the North have kneeled enough and should never be made to kneel again. Then has all the Men and Women of The North kneel as she takes the throne? Sure. Okay. Whatever. I actually liked the way that Sansa’s character progressed. She endured great hardship to become smarter and stronger, ultimately going from naive window dressing to a wise and crafty ruler for her people. I wouldn’t have minded if she ended up on The Iron Throne, but never thought it felt like her destiny. Personally, I was hoping that she would make some kind of great sacrifice in the final season. She somehow gives her life so the people of Westeros could live. That kind of thing. But having the consolation prize of her own independent kingdom is okay, I guess. Seems a bit silly though. If Sansa gets her own kingdom, then why not all the other houses too? The North sacrificed the most in the war against the Night King that they get special treatment? I dunno. Sounds like a forced happy ending so the three remaining Stark kids get happy endings. Lame.
• Jon. Of all the Stark’s, I found Jon’s ending to be the most satisfying. Especially since he was reunited with Ghost at the end (though why the direwolf would want anything to do with him after being so callously discarded earlier is beyond me). Ultimately he pretty much got what he deserved. That he ignored his banishment to the Night Watch to live beyond the wall with his Wildling friends is a curious decision, as that was part of the agreement that kept Grey Worm from obliterating as much as Westeros as he could manage. Wanna bet he also ignores the mandate that he doesn’t marry or father children? Here’s hoping that Grey Worm doesn’t care about keeping up with events across the Narrow Sea, or Bran’s rule may be a short one.
• Daenerys. There are those who say that anybody who didn’t see her complete collapse into madness and violence coming wasn’t paying attention. I could not disagree more. Yes, she was ruthless TO HER ENEMIES and became a cold and calculating ruler... but she pretty much had to be to get out of the situation she was in. And I get that aspect of her character. But to brutally murder the innocent people of King’s Landing in the most gruesome way possible? Really? That goes against everything she was shown to be working towards for seven seasons. And then to twist is at the very end and make her seem like she was PMS bat-shit crazy with her ranting about how Cersei made her kill all those people... after they had clearly surrendered? How many women were in the writer’s room for that nonsense? I never wanted Dany on the Iron Throne. But to have her character be abandoned and shit on like this after giving her the strength to escape from a horrible beginning? Shameful. Not that she would have been a great leader after how stupid they made her. Seriously? No advanced scouts to see what's happening at Dragonstone before you march your entire army back? She deserved to lose yet another dragon and have her army beat to shit for that bit of dumbassery. At least she learned how to fly low then high then low then high to avoid the scorpion crossbows for the rematch, so she's not a total dumbass. But still a pretty big one.
• Drogon. So... smart enough to melt the Iron Throne in a “If mommy can’t have it, nobody can” kinda way... but not smart enough to figure out what happened and avenge her death? Did he think that the Iron Throne stabbed her? Okay then. Still pissed that Bran never got to warg into Drogon (how awesome would that have been?) but it’s implied that may yet happen... COMPLETELY OFF-SCREEN! Blergh.
• Cersei. I read somewhere that Lena Headly got paid $1 million per episode for Season 8. Then they took her character... one of the most complex, tragic, powerful, and systematically evil to ever grace a television screen... and had her stare out a fucking window. Then, as if that weren’t insult enough, they discarded her as an idiot and spineless moron who got buried by rocks. One of the most wasted opportunities of the show. I wanted my showdown between Arya and Cersei where she would have at least gotten some juicy material to go out on.
• Jaime. Why didn’t they just kill him off in Season 7? He was completely and totally wasted in Season 8.
• Brienne. Good Lord. One of the most badass women characters on the show, and yet she suffered the same pathetic fate as all the other badass women on the show... discarded. One minute she’s a brave and fearless knight who is the very definition of a character defying stereotypes... then the next minute she’s a sobbing wreck of an abandoned girlfriend who lost her virginity to a love she could never have. Seriously. Not ONE woman in the writer’s room for this garbage? I guess they thought tossing her a bone as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard would make fans happy. But could fans of her character ever be happy with how things turned out for her? Not even if they made her Queen. Pathetic.
• Tormund. An interesting character with so many possibilities ultimately relegated to background material for Jon Snow to be an idiot. Great. Just great. I know I’m not the only one who hoped that he would end up with The Large Woman. What’s so cool is that they didn’t make him an obsessive weirdo about it though. He wanted to be with Brienne, she didn’t reciprocate, he and his broken heart moved on. You know, like a sane person.
• Melisandre. One of the few women who actually got a satisfying conclusion, her exit from the show was everything you could possibly want. The job she was preparing to take on for centuries was done, what else was there? Free from the dictates of the Lord of Light at last.
• Samwell. To make him such a key background player for so long only to have him be shoved aside after revealing Jon’s lineage seemed like such an inexplicable move. That was what his entire arc was leading to this whole time? That’s it? I mean, sure, as the last remaining Tarly he gets that house, but there’s nothing to indicate he’s going to be remotely competent as a leader. On the contrary, his bumbling and misplaced compassion will probably just lead to even further ruin. Like so many other characters, Samwell was thrown (throne?) a bone that makes no sense at all.
• Gendry. The guy I ultimately wanted to sit on the Iron Throne because I always thought he was the most deserving of it. I guess giving him the lordship of Storm’s End was a nice consolation prize... but the pining after Arya was a silly-ass thing to inject into the character.
• Missandei. One could argue that Missandei was what kept Dany’s sanity in check, and losing her was the last straw leading to madness, but that’s a huge disservice to both characters. Okay, characters needed to die to illustrate that war isn’t pretty. I get that. And so far as deaths go on Game of Thrones, she got a pretty good one. But was she always nothing more than a fucking grenade pin to the writers after all these years? Once again, where were the women writers on this fucking show?
• Grey Worm. His character may have been disappointing, but at least he was consistent right to the end. But then everything changed. It’s as if the writers suddenly realized that there were all these Unsullied and Dothraki hanging around on Westeros, and didn’t know what to do with them. Packing up their shit and headed back to Essos was always in the cards, but it’s as if no real thought went into how that might happen. If you asked me what would happen to Grey Worm in Season 7, I’d tell you that after the war he returns to Essos with Missandei and becomes a great and just ruler for his people. But after Season 8 where he became a psychopath who was “just acting on orders?” I hope to God when he gets back home that there’s a better alternative than him to run things. I mean, holy shit!
• Lyanna Mormont. Of all the characters on the show, this right here is the one that really put my love for all things Game of Thrones over the top. As the ruler of Bear Island, she was wise and brave beyond her years, which was a lot of fun to watch. I actually think her death in the Battle of Winterfell was pretty good, but boy oh boy would I have loved to have her be at that final council to determine the future of Westeros!
• Davos. The best smuggler of the Seven Realms became Master of Ships. Alrighty then.
• Theon. He went out a hero buying Arya enough time to arrive and save the world, so what more could you ask? His life was pretty much at a dead-end and he knew it. That he decided to bravely be where he was most needed even though it was a suicide mission ties up his redemption arc in exactly the right way.
• Euron. Make no mistake... I wanted the asshole dead... but how about in a way that made any sense at all? One minute he’s fighting on the water out in the middle of nowhere, then he unleashes hereunto unknown Aquaman-like swimming powers to make it to shore for a lame battle with Ser Jaime. Hardly the brutal end he deserved.
• Yara. Gets to be queen of the Iron Islands after every man in the way was killed off for her. I’m not saying she didn’t earn it... on the contrary, she was clearly the best person for the job... but once again we have this inexplicable decision to take strong female characters and discard them. How fucking hard is it to let strong female characters keep being strong female characters? How much more satisfying would it have been... how fucking easy would it have been... to establish that some asshole pretender to the throne was in power, and Yara was heading back to the Iron Islands to take the throne she deserves and have that be her final scene? Not one woman writer in the room to suggest sending her off in a way that befit the character? Not one?
• The Hound & The Mountain. They went out the only way they really could have, really. About the only deaths on the show that made total sense to me.
• Podrick. At least Ser Pod got to be a knight. A knight responsible for pushing King Bran the Broken’s wheelchair, but still a knight. I guess.
• Lord Varys. Let’s face it... his death was merely regret fodder for Tyrion and nothing more. And that’s okay. Some characters are there merely to serve as building blocks for other characters. And they gave him a pretty cool “death by dragonfire” exit, so I can’t complain too much.
• Bronn. Apparently got the lordship he was promised... but was also inexplicably made Master of Coin? WTF?!? Oh well. At least we know that the brothels of King’s Landing will be operational in record time.
• Royce and Edmure. Kind of a pointless characters to keep around until the end, but I guess it’s not entirely unexpected that some would make it just because they weren’t worth killing off. Seeing Edmure make a fool of himself at the end-council was kinda satisfying, I suppose.
• Robin Arryn. It took me a minute to figure out that the young guy at the council was, in fact, that creepy kid that was still breastfeeding at 13 years old (or whatever) ages ago. Apparently momma’s milk does a body good, because he actually looked quasi-normal here.
• Beric. I loved the character with his many lives and his flaming sword. And while I was sad to see him go, I thought his end was actually pretty great. Melisandre said he had served his purpose (to save Arya so she could save the world), and that’s as good as it gets.
And that, dear Game of Bullets readers, is the end of that.
UPDATE: This video does a great job of getting into why the ending for Game of Thrones is so unsatisfying. Worth a watch...
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From what I’ve read, there literally were zero women in the season eight writing team.