Game of Thrones is like pizza. Even when its not good, it’s still better than most of your other options. For years, we’ve been having a Sunday night pizza party with some of the best pizza we’ve ever been offered. It’s been incredible. But now the pizza is only mediocre, and the world is bummed about it. Meanwhile I still enjoy mediocre pizza. Even if it doesn’t take the same risks it used to, or is a little more predictable than it used to be.
Okay, some specifics: I didn’t mind where most people ended as much as I minded how we got here. It felt like the show abandoned the “whys” for the “whats.” For example, I would have liked to know why Arya gave up her training and life’s mission to explore the world, a sentiment that while interesting, seemed to abandon her essence. The last few episodes yadda yadda’ed over the best parts and we were left watching long shots of Tyrion looking longingly at rubble. The finale, like mediocre pizza, hit a low bar of acceptability, even with its flaws.
As the episode started, the questions that had littered my mind all season faded. The tone of the entire episode matched the theme of the show. And it gave me what I wanted: the destruction of the Iron Throne.
Everyone knew Dany would die and, based on the way the show had prepared you for tragedy, it was likely to be by Jon. That moment delivered what I wanted: Jon grumbled a final “You’ll always be my queen,” before thrusting the knife into her (SIDEBAR: is that how anatomy works? Get stabbed and you bleed out of our mouth and nose? Honest question, since I never took Anatomy in high school…).
What did I love? Jon and Ghost. Jon moving North to be the King Beyond the Wall (that’s what I saw, y’all). Arya leaving to discover the uncharted world. She shouldn’t be bound to castles or territories (HBO spin-off, please). Sansa becoming Queen of the North, but not before shutting down her pathetic uncle. The Starks rule the world!
What did I not love? Tyrion being the lone speaker at the council. Everyone else seemed too exhausted by their responsibility to give a damn. Is that how leaders of Great Houses would act? I also wished they would have put more restrictions on the power of the monarch (which I suspect George R.R. Martin might do, if he finishes the books), but I knew they had to reshape the political structure in some way. I didn’t love that the North seceded, but if that’s the only way Sophie Turner’s Sansa gets to be Queen, then so be it (Sophie Turner’s Sansa > GRRM’s Sansa. Fight me.). Sansa should have been Queen of the Realm, but if you need a bland white guy in a pinch, Bran is fine. BUT DON’T THEY SEE THAT HE’S REALLY THE NIGHT KING?!?!
I am now consumed with the idea that someone has watched Game of Thrones except for the episodes with nudity. Do such people truly exist? I hope so.
So, you asked if it met my expectations and not if I was satisfied, and thanks to the final two seasons expectation and satisfaction lie at the end of two wildly different roads for this series. I was not satisfied with the series finale. But my expectations were met, because I expected to be dissatisfied.
I didn’t spend anytime postulating how Messrs. Weiss and Benihoff would bring this in for a landing. The fun of GoT is that the story has so many complicated threads and that each plot felt like a diversion, even though they were connected. That same fact makes ending a show with a satisfying conclusion, instead of just the last episode, very difficult. That difficulty showed in the hurried feeling of the final episodes.
What I didn’t expect was Samwell Tarly being scoffed at for offhandedly inventing democracy. I didn’t expect Arya to pull a Frodo and just sail off the map. And I sure didn’t expect the hole that the zombie ice dragon blasted in The Wall to be repaired so quickly.
Going into the finale, I didn’t feel stressed out or jittery, as I had felt with most episodes of Game of Thrones. I’d long given up trying to predict things after “The Long Night,” but I still felt curious and weirdly calm.
As events unfolded, my main thought was “Hmm. That’s interesting.” Although, I was actively distraught watching Drogon try and wake Dany. And also SO SO SO SO HAPPY that Jon and Ghost got to actually interact after so many seasons of being Ghost-less. But, when it was over, I still felt that weird calm.
I don’t blame this near-indifference on the show. While it went out on a uncharacteristically happy note—a note that I KNOW won’t be how GRRM ends the book series—my biggest disappointment with this season has been the discourse around it. It stopped being fun reading people’s takes on the show because all anyone wanted to do was complain. The reason I liked the show and the books was because it made me think, like a good story should. Even as the writing took a nose dive, the show still made me think and wonder about the politics of this fantastic world that came out of the mind of some sea captain-looking motherfucker back in the 90s.
But I knew it wasn’t going to be fun. And instead of just celebrating the end of this incredible feat and era, everyone shat all over it. That’s not how I want to remember Game of Thrones. I want to remember how it brought us together.
The most talked about show, most popular show, most expensive show, “last show we all watch together,” biggest TV show of all time—went out like that?
The ending of GoT truly seemed like the writers and creators got in a room and debated, “How best can we troll our audience, who has loved this show for nearly 10 years?” Between Tyrion’s pretentious monologue about the importance of story, Sam literally writing “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and BRAN ending up on the throne (but not the literal Iron Throne) they succeeded in trolling. It was a pretty disappointing finale, knowing what the series can be at its best. Anyways, crazy how there will never be another TV show ever again! Long live Sansa Stark.
Top 10 Things I Thought I Was Supposed To Care About, But I Guess Not
1. Jon Snow’s Parentage
2. The Night King and his White Walkers
4. The Iron Bank
5. Slavery Laws in Astapor, Yunkai, and Mereen
7. Shit Melisandre Saw in a Fire
8. Dorne, The Vale, The Riverlands, The Reach, The Iron Islands… Everybody in the South, East or West.
9. Faceless Men
10. Brienne’s Virginity
The Westworld trailer looked fucking dope though.
I think what has left a sour taste in the mouth of so many Game of Thrones fans this season was that, as a whole, it felt rushed. And that impression was reinforced by the slimmed-down number of episodes it contained, which (I’m 99 percent sure) was the decision of showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss—not HBO.
Time for an analogy. Imagine finding a barber you like. Over the course of several years, you come to trust this barber and learn his ways. You get the same cut and, each time, it takes about 30 minutes.
On the day of a big interview, you show up at your barber’s shop and say, “Hey, this is a really important day for me, please make this haircut look extra amazing.” Your barber says, “Guess what? Since it’s a special day, I’m going to cut your hair in 15 minutes.” You think to yourself, “What the hell kind of reply is that? I would prefer it if you took his time giving me a proper haircut, as neither of us seems to be in a rush.” But, you’ve come to trust this person, and you defer to their judgement.
Fifteen minutes later, your barber delivers a “tada!” and guess what? Your hair doesn’t look nearly as good as it does after your regular, 30-minute cut. All you can think is, “Why, for the most important haircut I’ve requested of you, did you decide to rush things?” That haircut was this final season of Game of Thrones.