Just finished season 8 of GAME OF THRONES. The most amazing show on television went out with a few bangs and a very long, very loud groan.
What I liked: Cinematically, the show was stunning, despite some rough CGI. The battle scenes in particular were incredible. The acting is always good, and the score was supportive and not intrusive.
What I didn’t like: Lazy, rushed writing dealing with pacing, geography, dialogue, and character arcs as the show continued to leave George RR Martin’s source material behind, wrapped everything up with maximum convenience, and became increasingly typical Hollywood crap. The pacing was rushed, though HBO had offered more episodes to do it right. Actions that used to have consequences rippling across a rich meta-plot hardly had any, and the meta-plot itself was stripped down to bare essentials. Plot events and twists that would normally resonate lost their power because they seemed forced by the writers, who constantly showed their hand. Organic humor was replaced with jury-rigged gags. Realism was replaced by subverted expectations, as if it were a hat trick with studio applause. Regarding geography, what used to take people a whole season to travel now took a simple scene change, which started in earlier seasons. Winter, which was supposed to be this horrible cold with seemingly endless night, was conveniently set aside when needed. The dialogue involved the characters either 1) providing fan service by referencing earlier episodes, 2) saying what needs saying to keep things going, with some characters repeating themselves as if the writers didn’t know what to have them say, or 3) sounding like everybody else as characters homogenized. As for the characters, character arcs went out the window for the sake of plot twists, with characters losing their complexity, motivations, and arcs built up over eight years, which probably hurt the most seeing. The nonsensical and forced ending wasn’t bad so much as meh. By then, sadly, I had stopped caring and finished it because I had so many hours invested. “Duty is the death of love,” right.
Bottom line: The writers took a lot of flak for what they did to a beloved show, and I think they earned it by rushing things to a close with laziness and convenience. They were brilliant in my opinion at translating Martin’s books to screen with maximum efficiency and effect. The more they deviated from the source material, however, the more they showed themselves as maybe great writers–but Hollywood writers, not the kind of writing that made GAME OF THRONES so loved, with all its complexity and realism. In the end, I’m not sure they understood their own show.
Some people are enraged by what happened. I’m not. I’m disappointed but not angry. I’m glad I was able to get what I could get in earlier seasons in a world where MARVEL rules and everything is dumbed down from character to plot to “it’s time to laugh” gags. What’s most disappointing is that despite GAME OF THRONES showing what can be done with great television that respects itself and its viewers, Hollywood still doesn’t understand that there’s a big market for complex, realistic storytelling, and continues to default to dumbing stories down for convenience.