Game of Thrones Season Eight: “The Iron Throne”

By Bob Case Posted Monday May 20, 2019

Filed under: Game of Thrones 211 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

Here it is – the series finale.

Picking up where we left off, King’s Landing is a pile of smoking rubble, Dany has gone full wrong-side-of-the-coin Targaryen, and all the characters are walking around very slowly and looking troubled. Peter Dinklage’s brows were probably sore for days after filming his first scene.

It uh... it was like this when we got here.
It uh... it was like this when we got here.

The action moves deliberately through the city’s ruins, checking in on several characters along the way, and there’s a growing sense of horror at what’s happened. Dany gives a speech to her victorious troops, in either Dothraki or Valyrian.I couldn’t tell, how is it that both the Unsullied and the Dothraki seem to be able to understand her? Checking the credits afterwards, I expected to see that this episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik, but it turns out to have been Benioff and Weiss themselves. I was a bit surprised, but shouldn’t have been – the direction here shows off some of their strengths, like a knack for painterly framing and creating an operatic sense of scale.

It also showcases their habit of doing everything extremely slowly, and it’s more than twenty minutes into the runtime before we get to our first significant dialogue. It’s Jon, who’s visiting Tyrion after the latter has been imprisoned for freeing Jaime.Turns out someone did notice after all. First Arya and now Tyrion are attempting to convince Jon to turn on Dany, since she’s quite clearly lost her marbles, or at least whichever marbles stop her from killing what might have been hundreds of thousands of civilians. Jon, as usual, is the slowest character on the uptake.

I know it's not important to the story, but I can't help but wonder where Dany got a Targaryen banner the size of a hockey rink. Did she have it this whole time?
I know it's not important to the story, but I can't help but wonder where Dany got a Targaryen banner the size of a hockey rink. Did she have it this whole time?

I’m being critical, but this scene was actually pretty good. It had actual dialogue instead of just nonversation. Tyrion lays out the process by which Dany became convinced of her fundamental rightness, and her growing belief that her ruthlessness is always justified. It’s a nice bit of characterization – however, it’s one that would have been better shown than told afterwards. Over the seasons, I’ve watched enough of the “behind the episode” sections to have noticed that the showrunners prefer to explain character motivations after the fact rather than show them to the audience as they’re happening. I don’t agree with that as a storytelling practice, but I can’t claim they’re not consistent.

It’s not clear whether Jon is convinced, and he continues to the throne room, where Dany is full of messianic certainty about her mission of “freeing” the entirety of Westeros, Essos, and beyond. Jon can’t get over his horror at what he’s seen below. During these two scenes, I mentally revised my opinion of Kit Harrington as an actor upwards. He’s not given an easy job, seeing as Jon’s usual stage directions are “stand there and look miserable,” but when given the chance to show actual human emotions he does it in a way that rings true. Emilia Clarke does well too, but that I expected.

It's set in the ruined, snowy throne room that we saw in Dany's vision way back in season whatever it was. They aimed for a certain mood and I think they hit it.
It's set in the ruined, snowy throne room that we saw in Dany's vision way back in season whatever it was. They aimed for a certain mood and I think they hit it.

This scene, against all odds, did in fact provoke an emotional response in me. My understanding is that GRRM told the writers, in broad strokes, how his planned ending was going to play out, so it’s likely that this particular sequence is indeed his vision, even if the particulars of how the story gets there are probably different. It plays into Jon’s theme as a protector of people, referenced by Tyrion’s allusion to the Night’s Watch vows: “the shield that guards the realms of Men.” I have no shortage of criticisms of everything that surrounds it, such as how neatly Dany fits into an unfortunate “hysterical woman” trope, and how the show’s only remaining people of color resemble various troubling caricatures of the menacing foreigner. But the scene itself works pretty well. It ends with Drogon flying in, burning the Iron Throne, scooping up his dead mother, and flying off into the distance.

The episode goes sharply, and I mean sharply, downhill from there.

Tyrion is taken from his impromtu cell in chains and led to a conference in the Dragonpit, with the lords and ladies of the remaining great houses in attendance. They need to chose a new King. It just so happens that the now-legitimized Gendry Baratheon is there, but no one notices or mentions that. Edmure Tully (remember him?) gets up and gives a self-important speech that’s played for poorly-timed comedy (seriously guys, Dany just died like ten minutes of screen time ago). Then Samwell (why would he even be here?) suggests that Westeros switch over to a democracy, but they’re not far enough along in the tech tree for that, so he gets laughed off stage. Then Tyrion starts talking and, as the Norwegians and Minnesotans say, uff da.

Tyrion’s role for the past several seasons has been to volunteer terrible ideas that everyone takes seriously for some reason, and his latest is to make Bran King. Yes, Bran, the three-eyed Raven, who is neither a Targaryen nor a Baratheon nor even entirely human at this point. Tyrion’s justification is something about stories being important and how Bran has the best story. I didn’t follow all of it because I was trying to hold in laughter. So then everyone votes, including Robin Arryn, Unnamed Dornish Prince, Generic Lords #1 and #2, and the entire peanut gallery, including Sam, Brienne, and Davos, who even notices the fact that him even having a vote doesn’t make any sense.

And now Bran is King. They call him “Bran the Broken.” They acknowledge that he can’t have children, and decide that they’ll gather again to pick a new King when he dies. That will almost certainly end in disaster, but now that the show is over at least we won’t have to see it. Oh, and Sansa declares the North an independent Kingdom, and okay fine whatever. Grey Worm wants Jon dead, but settles for him joining the Night’s Watch. “There’s still a Night’s Watch?” Jon asks, just the latest in the show’s tradition of perfectly sensible questions that never get properly answered.

Seriously, what will he even do? The White Walkers are dead and the Wildlings are allies, and the wall has a giant hole in it now anyway.
Seriously, what will he even do? The White Walkers are dead and the Wildlings are allies, and the wall has a giant hole in it now anyway.

Tyrion is Hand of the King again. Billy Martin wishes he got as many chances as this guy. The Small Council is rounded out by “Archmaester” Sam (what? how?), Ser Brienne (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard now), Ser Bronn of the Blackwater (finally got his castle), and Ser Davos. There’s a bit of banter and I suppose I could see a sitcom with this bunch working, but my mood is currently too sour to really appreciate it.

We end on a montage. Sansa is Queen in the North, which she should have been since the end of season six, but better late than never I suppose. Arya has become Westerosi Columbus and decided to sail for the new world. Another one of my predictions proven wrong – I thought that particular throwaway line (it was in season six, I think?) would never be mentioned again, but they snuck it in just under the wire. Jon has gone north, where he finally pets Ghost (hooray!) and then takes the wildlings north to do… something. Where are they going? Why? I have no idea.

This is the closing shot of the show. Witty commentary fails me.
This is the closing shot of the show. Witty commentary fails me.

And now our watch has ended.

It’s all over but the shouting, and boy is there a lot of shouting. Suffice to say that the fandom has some objections to how the final season played out. The backlash started sometime after episode three, and since then there’s been the counter-backlash and the counter-counter-backlash. The great undulating mass of the internet is searching for equilibrium, having already advanced to the petition stage as early as episode four. Those of you who were around for the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle are probably feeling a bit of deja vu right now.

I suppose that this is the place where I could claim that I called it – after all, I predicted back in the beginning of this series that Game of Thrones was in the early stages of story collapse back in season five. However, I didn’t get it entirely right. I honestly thought the backlash would come sooner – like, a full year sooner. And I expected that it would come from established critics first, and filter down to the rest of the fanbase. Instead, it’s largely been the other way round. Mainstream publications, at least, have remained positive on the show, if not quite glowing. Instead, the barbaric yawps over the rooftops of Twitter and Reddit have been the primary source of criticism.

There was something else I expected, or maybe it would be better to say hoped. I hoped that people would start asking why the show’s writing was deficient. Some people have thrown out theories. Many have noticed that the quality went downhill after the show outpaced the books, and speculated that the writers were better at adaptation than original material. A now-famous twitter thread (reproduced here in more readable article form) attributed the decline to the difference between two different categories of writer, dubbed “plotters” and “pantsers.” Countless others have written screeds of various lengths detailing their own opinions on what exactly went wrong and how.

Credit to them, they DID fix the 'Jon never pet Ghost' problem. The internet is already calling it 'The Pet That Was Promised.'
Credit to them, they DID fix the 'Jon never pet Ghost' problem. The internet is already calling it 'The Pet That Was Promised.'

There’s probably some insight in these analyses. However, very few people have come to the conclusion that I did, which is that the writing is bad because the writers are unqualified. That may sound tautological at first, but on examining their credentials it’s hard to avoid coming to that conclusion. I don’t like throwing mud at individual people, who are probably having a miserable enough experience already without me piling on. In fact, one of my worries is that fan dissatisfaction is going to devolve into personal harassment, if it hasn’t already. However, there’s a lesson to be learned from Game of Thrones, and it requires some naming of names to learn it.

By the final season, it had four remaining writers: Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman, and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. I’ve done casual research on all four (meaning, I wikipedia’d them, googled them, and read/watched a few interviews and such), which I’ll summarize here:

David Benioff: Benioff is most experienced writer of the four. He has an academic background in writing and literature, and holds an MFA in creative writing. He also has screenwriting experience, having written the screenplays for (among others) Troy, The Kite Runner, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

D.B. Weiss: Weiss has a published novel, called Lucky Wander Boy. He has also apparently worked on multiple screenplays (one was based on Ender’s Game, one was a proposal for an aborted HALO movie, and one was a prequel to I Am Legend), but none were ever produced.

Dave Hill: He worked as an assistant to Benioff and Weiss early on in the show, then was promoted to writer in the fifth season. I couldn’t find anything else he’s worked on.

Bryan Cogman: Studied acting at Julliard. Appears to have had no prior writing experience before his hiring.

So, of season eight’s four writers, only one of them had ever actually had a screenplay produced prior to Game of Thrones. Two of the four appear to have had no professional writing experience whatsoever at the time they were hired. Does that seem right to you? It doesn’t to me.

Good writing doesn’t just come out of the ether. It comes from a combination of good writers, creative freedom, and a well-managed process. My personal TV Mount Rushmore currently has only two shows on it: early Simpsons (seasons 2-7ish) and The Wire. While operating in two very different genres, it’s notable how seriously each show took its writing process. The Simpsons, at its peak, had an all-star team of ten or more full-time writers, which reportedly put each script through as many as forty drafts. The Wire operated off the “write what you know” principle, and for its depiction of a dysfunctional Baltimore drew on people with real-world experience (former journalists, police, and school teachers for example) as well as writing chops.

The conclusion I draw from the above is this: good TV writing requires that the show take writing seriously, as though it’s a craft honed through experience and care. This conclusion is treated as obvious in other areas of production. They didn’t, for example, pull some random guy off the street and ask him to play Tywin Lannister, or design the show’s costumes, or manage the lighting and sets. And yet three of season eight’s four writers had, as near as I can tell, exactly zero screenwriting credits between them prior to Game of Thrones. Of course, it’s not impossible that an unproven rookie can produce a good script, but it’s much less likely.

The last we see of Drogon. And now the CGI budget has ended.
The last we see of Drogon. And now the CGI budget has ended.

Whenever something like this happens, I always look to the bosses rather than the employees for an explanation. Is there a reason that HBO’s bigwigs let this happen? Once GRRM was no longer involved in the show, you would think they would bring in some experienced pens to pick up the slack. But they didn’t. I’ve long suspected that, broadly speaking, the upper management culture of the entertainment industry simply doesn’t take writing seriously as a profession. They seem to think it’s something just anyone can do, including themselves. I wish I knew why, because from where I’m sitting this habit has consistently bitten them in the ass for decades. Yet they can’t break it. I won’t go into more examples, because that’s a subject for another article or an entire series, but suffice to say it’s frustrating to watch.

And, as long as I’m throwing blame in all directions, I’m going to go ahead and throw some at the Emmys too. Benioff and Weiss recieved two Emmy awards for writing during the show’s run, beating out The Americans, Better Call Saul, Mad Men, and others. I understand that awards shows are largely popularity contests, but poor writing has little incentive to improve if it keeps getting showered in awards.

It’s hard to conclude all my thoughts on eight seasons of Game of Thrones in a single post, especially after I’m fresh off watching the finale. I’m planning an additional wrap-up post once I’ve had a bit more time to process, but I’ll be returning to Saturdays rather than Sunday/Mondays now that the show is over.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I couldn’t tell, how is it that both the Unsullied and the Dothraki seem to be able to understand her?

[2] Turns out someone did notice after all.



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211 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Season Eight: “The Iron Throne”

  1. Ashley says:

    I’m honestly surprised that they came up with pretty much the mathematically weakest possible ending for the show, given the variables they had to work with. Pretty much anything else—Daenerys surviving, Jon or Tyrion or Sansa taking over (I mean, we already have teleportation in this show), the Unsullied somehow setting up a “temporary” junta to rule when Daenerys dies—would have been better.

    Personally, I think the most apt ending to Game of Thrones would have involved not only the deaths of Daenerys and Cersei, but also of the Starks, Gendry, Tyrion, and every other contender for the throne. In the epilogue, the power vacuum left by the white walkers and the rampage through King’s Landing leads to a colossal political upheaval and ultimately the end of feudalism in Westeros, as all sorts of political systems emerge from the ashes into a hopeful yet uncertain spring. Taken this way, the show could serve as an epic-scale deconstruction of monarchy, geopolitics, imperialism, and all sorts of foolish ideas we take for granted…but that would have required the show to consistently show interest in the lives of common people and the economic situation of Westeros and Essos, rather than cheap surprises and melodrama.

    If nothing else, it’d be a truly bittersweet ending, rather than the total clusterfuck we just saw!

    1. Syal says:

      Another fun thing about King Bran; in the books it’s established his vision power will only work in the North because the South has cut down all the heartwood trees the Children use to see through. If he’s ruling from King’s Landing he’ll just be a guy.

      Looking up a Maisie Williams interview about the Night King scene, the interviewer quoted the writers as saying they considered left-field surprises to be their brand. As far as I can tell that means they were deliberately undermining themselves. It’s the weakest ending on purpose, because that way no one sees it coming.

      1. Thomas says:

        Too much fiction does this, prioritising surprising over sensical.

        With the internet age, it’s become so much harder to surprise people. Look how common the knowledge of Jon’s parentage was, well before it was revealed. But doing something random and unexpected because it doesn’t make sense isn’t better. If you instead follow the plan, and write it well, at least the people who guessed will feel rewarded.

        1. Syal says:

          Especially since the books practically bathe in foreshadowing, to the point I recently realized a description I thought was gross and unnecessary was actually probably foreshadowing. You know Robert Baratheon is going to die from his very first conversation, and possibly before it.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Watching the show, *I* knew Robert Baratheon was going to die from his first appearance because having a relatively sane man on the Iron Throne would have prevented a lot of drama. They did later show him to have plenty of flaws as both a king and a man, but he was still a major stabilizing influence.

        2. Scampi says:

          Have a cynical thought: senseless surprises are better-for the producers, who don’t give a rat’s arse about the quality of the plot, as long as it keeps the audience hooked and searching for answer.
          If the writers suppose left-field surprises to be their brand, they absolutely qualify for the kind of writers I think may be very typical for long running series formats, where writing an ending never happens and thus is never a skill they need to learn.

          1. Guest says:

            You’re not wrong. It helps when your show is marketted on the strength of suprise, and twists, and subverting fantasy norms, to keep selling that.

            Only problem was, that was never what was good about the early seasons or the books, that they were shocking, but conventional storytelling is all there, foreshadowing, themes, and the subversion came from playing those fantasy ideas in a world where mistakes actually got characters killed, and things made a cruel sort of sense, not from throwing caution to the wind and just writing something implausible.

            You get to the end of the red wedding, and you’re like “damn. well, I guess that’s sort of what happens when you trust a duplicitous wanker like Walder, who you’ve crossed, and the monster that is Tywin Lannister is playing his messed up games, I could probably have seen that coming”. You reach the end of the series and it’s like “damn. Well, that was some nonsense, anyone who passed high school english could’ve done better. Great twists! They totally make sense and make commentary on the themes”.

            Martin was putting it kindly when he said he was heartbroken.

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              This. The only reason the “twists” were shocking was because the show is because people expected it to work like most contemporary media, where we have clearly defined “main” characters that the plot is built around, but who therefore also need to actually be around for there to be a story to tell.

              GoT is built on the society of Westeros as a whole, and the ensemble of characters that come out of that society. Individual people can come and go. Some make big changes, some small, but everyone dies eventually and life goes on.

              That means the show can actually kill of many of it’s “main” characters, because it doesn’t actually need them. There are other stories to tell, other people who do things in this society and steer the events. So the show can dispense with much of the usual plot armour, and the suspension of disbelief that goes with it.

        3. Matthew Downie says:

          Good writing tends to be “Surprising But Logical”. It was surprising that Joffrey executed Sean Bean (given that is was a dumb decision that was likely to plunge the kingdom into civil war, and he was also the main character), but in retrospect it was logical that such a thing could have happened, because it was in keeping with Joffrey’s petulant nature.

          It’s pretty easy to just write Logically. What would happen at this point? Dany has the city is under siege. The logical thing to do is to use your unstoppable assassin ally to assassinate Cersei, and then see if they’ll surrender without a fight. Then Dany might start to descend into paranoia and purge those she suspects of conspiring against her, and this will make others turn against her, and she’ll get murdered too, and then the Dothraki start looting everything, and then…

          It’s pretty easy to just write Surprisingly. Let’s give Dany the ability to take the city with minimal civilian casualties, and then instead of having her confront Cersei, she just starts killing everyone! Ha! Didn’t expect that, did you? If Dany had burned down the city for a logical reason, or had been previously established as someone who kills innocents, then it wouldn’t have been so surprising, would it?

          Surprising but Logical is hard, especially with the internet putting together all the clues and working out what’s going to happen. The writers really didn’t have the skill to pull it off most of the time.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            I’d have been happy with ‘logical’, personally. Stop trying to outwit the Internet (you’ll fail; you’re vastly outnumbered) and just craft a good story. Did someone guess the ending? That’s fine, good for them.

            I mean, one of the strengths of the show has been the cinematography and depiction of the events, and it became popular even when half (or more) of the audience already knew what was going to happen because it was in the books.
            I get that some people will be bored by the way they can guess what’s going to happen, but when GoT the show tried to come up with their own stuff or get creative with the adaptations you got Euron ‘Finger In The Bum’ Greyjoy, the Sand Fakes or something similar.
            I’d like to think that there’s others who would appreciate the concept of a story that made themes more important than memes.

            (EDIT: MAN, that last line was cheesy. No, I’m not sorry.)

            1. King Marth says:

              The internet is also great at extrapolation, skipping over simple solutions because more detailed predictions sound more convincing (the more details you include, the more likely one will be wrong, and therefore the more confident you have to be to make the prediction). I’m used to theories being correct on the broad strokes and audiences still being surprised at how the edgy motivations behind the theory were totally unnecessary when far simpler explanations were already there.

              I think it also makes a story far weaker to spoilers when all it has are events. Knowing that something happens doesn’t stop you from enjoying the process of finding out how it happens, unless there is no explanation for how it happens.

              1. Warclam says:

                “Knowing that something happens doesn’t stop you from enjoying the process of finding out how it happens, unless there is no explanation for how it happens.”

                That’s a really good explanation. I’ve always thought that if a story can be spoiled by a “spoiler,” then it was already spoiled by being dumb. Yours is a much better way of explaining it.

                1. Syal says:

                  That’s a really good explanation. I’ve always thought that if a story can be spoiled by a “spoiler,” then it was already spoiled by being dumb.

                  If by spoiled you mean ‘completely ruined’. Knowing how something ends will always lessen its impact, even if it’s still impactful enough to be worth seeing anyway.

                  1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                    Or it will strengthen the impact, because once you know how it ends you can see all the little details the writers put in that build towards the ending.

            2. Kavonde says:

              Don’t be sorry, that was actually brilliant and I’m gonna steal it.

          2. Bloodsquirrel says:

            You say that “surprising but logical is hard”, but the truth is that actual history is pretty much 100% “surprising but logical”, because if you don’t have narrative convention to constrain you then things can go off in really weird directions really fast. Especially in war, where lack of information and the breakdown of the usual societal constraints on people’s behavior lead to some really bloody, awful things really fast.

            It would be really, really easy for the surrender of King’s Landing to go sideways really fast and turn into a sack without Dany deciding, “eh, fuck it, burning it down” out of the blue. Watch: Very few people know that the ringing of the bells is the sign of the surrender. Some of the Lannister soldiers keep fighting, and the unsullied, taken by surprise when they thought that the battle was over assume that the Lannisters were playing a dirty trick. They start slaughtering the Lannister troops, the Lannister troops think that they’ve been betrayed, and once things stop being orderly- well, go read some descriptions of seiges of ancient cities. Once the madness starts it’s almost impossible to stop it.

            And Dany, for her part, could just decide to stand back and embrace it instead of actively trying to reign it in. But, then again, they needed a straight-up Disney villain evil Dany for the last episode, so all of that nuance and morally ambiguity would just get in the way of things.

            1. Thomas says:

              They could even have Dany go mad, they just needed to do more work to get to that point. Have Cersei do something cruel and pointless. Kill the dragon. Ramp into it so it’s not 0 to 100 in burning the city down.

              Your suggestion of her troops getting out of her control is great. They could have worked with that.

              In the longer run her path leading up to this moment has been her allies incompetence. This is already weird, but they then don’t really tie that into the moment of madness because she’s taking the city so easily and successfully. Her allies plans are actually working for once.

          3. Joshua says:

            There is also the strong theory that Jeffrey’s decision to kill Ned had a little off-screen manipulation from Littlefinger.

          4. Kylroy says:

            My line has been that the reaction to a properly executed twist is “Oh.” Not “What?”, not “Duh!”, but “Oh”.

            1. Will says:

              The longer the “Oh” is held, the better the twist is. Like “Ooooooooooooooooooh” = really good.

            2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              That’s a good one.
              A sudden suprise, a lot of initial confusion, flowing into a dawning realization of what just happened.

          5. Guest says:

            Or, just make it an accident. Jamie’s story clearly lays out that Wildfire is stashed all around the city, and he killed the only men who knew where it all was out of fear that their loyalty to Aerys would lead them to detonate it.

            It’s pretty well believed Dany will set this off by accident in the books, why not have her do it here? Have her set off the wildfire and destroy half the city, have that galvanise the troops who were considering surrender into fighting to the death, have her forced to burn them, you know, basic character motivation stuff. Everyone acts within their characterisation and with logic, and you still get the result-Dany a monster, the city burned.

            You get a bunch of real character stuff to work over there too for a final confrontation, grief, regret, anger, guilt. Or, she could just decide she’s medieval hitler and burn everyone, sure, that’s good writing. Tyrion can explain it to us all afterwards, not like he’s been a moron for several seasons.

      2. neminem says:

        Then again, given that as far as on screen goes, literally the only thing I can recall that his powers actually DID were confirm Jon Snow had a claim to the throne, destabilizing Denarys’s sanity further, that might be a good thing.

    2. SkySC says:

      I disagree completely. This could’ve gone way worse. What if Cersei and Jaime weren’t actually dead and clawed their way out of the rubble, leading to an extended battle? What if Jon killed Dany and then everyone just decided he’d be king instead, since those are the rules? What if they all took Sam’s democracy proposal seriously and there was a huge kingdom-wide vote? All of those endings, (and countless more) would be way worse than what we got, and I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if that’s the direction they chose.

      I’m of the firm belief that, accepting all previous episodes as given, this episode is in the upper echelon of endings we could’ve expected. Overall it was quite bad, but that’s more a consequence of the mutli-year decline this show has gone through. No final episode, even the most brilliantly written piece of television ever, could’ve achieved anything better than mediocre.

      1. Cubic says:

        What if Jon killed Dany and then everyone just decided he’d be king instead, since those are the rules?

        Marrying King Jon to Sansa would have been gross but still more sensible than what actually happened. A half-Targaryen with the winning house, OK, legitimate enough to get this show on the road again. Though Jon didn’t really seem like ruler material towards the end and had already been dead once, so maybe not a lot more sensible.

        Since the Lannisters seem to be a spent force, with only Tyrion still around, the real solution might be to marry King Gendry to Sansa, thus allying the two strongest houses and so making a powerful new dynasty. (Until Winter actually Comes.)

        And what’s up with a throwaway ‘oh and we’ll also split the kingdom and hand the North to Sansa’? Waaaait a minute!

        1. trevalyan says:

          Yes, Sansa’s political skills are very much an informed attribute. Done properly, she would have three kingdoms tucked tight in her fist and her brother on the Iron Throne. Instead she completely humiliates her uncle Edmure, and Robin (holy cats, that’s the same kid) will not be -that- well disposed to her. Therefore, she withdraws entirely from the empire (what?), even while her brother sits the throne (what?!?).

          I can’t even remember reading a fanfic that handled the journey to Queen in da Norf so ham-handedly.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            There is only one QueenindaNorf, and she died fighting an undead giant!

            …Shit. I was joking, but given what actually happened, Lyanna Mormont becoming QUEENIDANORF would actually have been better.

            Sadly, it was too predictable, I guess?

          2. “I can’t even remember reading a fanfic that handled the journey to Queen in da Norf so ham-handedly.”
            But what if this was actually in R.R. Martin’s notes to the show runners? He may end up changing stuff depending on how people react to the show, but there hadn’t’ been a show, would the same ending have occurred in the books?

            1. Kavonde says:

              I trust that, even if D&D followed the same broad strokes, Martin’s version (if he ever writes it) will be far more competently done.

              1. trevalyan says:

                If, the Spartan said.

                1. Kylroy says:

                  Yeah, I think Martin is smart enough to not collapse the waveform on the Perfect Ending (TM) a lot of fans are convinced he has planned.

            2. Bloodsquirrel says:

              Thing is, we already know that Martin has broken wildly from his original plans, so I don’t put a lot of stock in what Martin has in any potential notes. IfGRRM finishes the books, we could get an ending that is completely different from whatever he might have brainfarted into D&D’s ear when they asked him what his plans were.

          3. Studoku says:

            It was the will of her people.

          4. Lanthanide says:

            “Therefore, she withdraws entirely from the empire (what?), even while her brother sits the throne (what?!?).”

            Since they apparently elect their kings now, there’s no gaurantee the monarch after Bran would be another Stark. So she’d be foolish to pass up the opportunity of an independent North which will likely last for generations to come, vs staying in the realm with high odds the successor to Bran would not be another Stark and could be someone who she isn’t particularly fond of.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              Yeah, imagine if Bran was for some reason an unpopular king. So in the next Kingsmoot, people band together to vote a new King who is VERY unfavorable to the North. Sansa is not an idiot for getting out while she can. Whether that ploy would have worked or just caused a new Civil War is the real question.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          Huh. Sansa marrying Gendry (then Sansa becoming Queen) makes a whole lot of sense. Ally the great Houses, keep the North in the Kingdom – it’d work quite well.
          Or Gendry could marry Arya, leaving Sansa free and keeping a bastard off the throne which people might object to.

          1. Silas Jones says:

            Gendry marrying Arya and becoming king and queen would have been the best ending. It would allow Ned and Robert’s families to be joined at last, follow the thematic arc of Lyanna and Rhaegar, would have been popular with the show’s fans, and still fairly unpredictable.

            1. Kavonde says:

              Yep. And Arya still could have gone off to do her own stuff. Who was going to tell her otherwise?

              1. trevalyan says:

                Shamefully, it wasn’t until I realized that Gendry had zero intention of forcing Arya to be a submissive hausfrau that I began interpolating that to other characters. Bobby B is probably the last human on earth who would have wanted that for Lyanna: his version of heaven is running around the kingdom. Righting wrongs, partying with peasants, getting in fights, and sleeping with the only woman on the planet who would keep up with you and be monogamous.

                Despite Rhaegar being -ever- so charming and sensitive, which means he is obviously incapable of bad things like annulling his marriage to his inconveniently foreign wife, it occurs to me I know very little about what Lyanna actually thought about any of it. Maybe Arya will change her mind after her gap year, only to find Gendry has married someone else. That’ll be awkward for someone: I mean, it’s not like Arya could just replace her rival at that point, can she?

                1. Kavonde says:

                  In Deep Geek did what I thought to be an excellent analysis of what might have been going on with Rhaegar, Lyanna, and Elia Martell. Here’s the playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=679qdryoYBQ&list=PLVTclEEyY1SKQjULdfHKr7zB6Mi67Nh40

              2. BlueHorus says:

                If she gets bored with ruling, she can always steal a face and go incognito for a bit of a break.

                Only problem is, after a bit King Gendry will be found accosting random maids inside the Red Keep, pulling at their faces while shouting ‘Dammit, stop messing around and help out- oh, so sorry, miss, I thought you were my wife in disguise!’

                1. trevalyan says:

                  “Baby, I thought she was you in disguise!”

                  Obviously this would get old -very- quickly if Gendry did take after his dad, but at least he isn’t using Geralt’s “I lost my memory sweetie!”

                2. Kavonde says:

                  Arya Stark, the Maddening Queen.

          2. Cubic says:

            Yeah, Gendry and Arya would have been an even better choice. I blame not actually watching the show.

            They could start out with Gendry and Sansa marrying, then a few days later Sansa mysteriously gets assassinated by someone teleporting in and backstabbing her. Then Gendry and Arya get married a few weeks after that.

        3. Guest says:

          Well, Winter won’t come. It’s established that the Others are responsible for the particularly cruel winters, and that their coming signals a Winter that never ends, the Long Night, and that that has been fought back both here, and previously by the generation of “Bran the Builder”.

          Of course, if you put the War for Dawn before the War for the Iron Throne (Like you never read the damn books), then it makes no sense, because Winter’s already solved, and it turns out all of that stuff where the Lannisters basically destroyed the food supplies of the entire Riverlands, didn’t matter, because that could all be sorted in one night.

          1. Cubic says:

            “Remind me why we thought Winter was a big problem again?”
            “Yeah, we should have just hired a Faceless Assassin long ago.”
            Face-less A-sass-iiin! Call XXX-XXXX for your free first mission today!

            I really didn’t find that part very satisfying.

      2. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Honestly, as out-of-left field as some of those might be, they’d at least be stronger endings where something interesting happens.

        The ending of the show was… well… weak. It had nothing to say. After years of warfare that tore the realm apart, there’s no theme, no lesson learned, not even a nihilistic message about how that’s just how life is, just… “Well, the villain is dead, and we have a good person on the throne now. Story over!”.

        A limited monarchy were the Lords of Westoros mantained a lot of their autonomy would have made a ton of sense. They could sign their verson of the Magna Carta, basically, and Sam could be their John Locke, laying the groundwork for enlightenment ideas for the future.

        1. Joshua says:

          Quoting one of the meta analysts of ASoIaF:

          “We start the story almost as we began it, but not in the good way. The Starks are scattered. A disinterested king rules in King’s Landing, propped up by factional nobles and a powerful Hand, no real scaffolding of stability around his rule. The White Walkers changed nothing. Dany changed nothing. No, she lost her battle with the human heart, was positioned as the greatest evil that had to be overcome in the story, and was killed for the greater good. Jon did nothing but kill her. The Free Folk just head right back on over the Wall to pick up where they left off. The wheel turns on, fundamentally unchanged. What is this story. Why is this story.

          Why did we bother?”

          1. Droid says:

            turtle-paced’s analysis skills are on point as usual, if probably totally wasted on a series this horribly out of touch with all the things that made the books interesting.

            1. Kylroy says:

              I have to say that the events of the series amounting to very little change in the overall setting would be *very* on-brand for ASoIaF.

      3. Thomas says:

        I agree that this ending wasn’t as bad as it could be. Dany died, and the iron throne was destroyed. That’s the basis of a good ending.

        If the Night King and Dany’s madness had been handled better, this same ending would have felt a lot better, and the Bran stuff less important.

        Jon choosing not to take the throne _is_ a good ending. It just needed to feel like one

        1. GoStu says:

          The throne as a physical object was destroyed, yes – but they’ve just selected a King to rule the Six Kingdoms (down from seven). So the institution of the Iron Throne is still pretty much intact, although it doesn’t rule the North any more. There’s still an overall High Office Of Some Kind ruling over the subordinate kingdoms.

          So really, “the wheel” isn’t changed. Just the furniture.

    3. MaxEd says:

      I agree. I was thinking about a potential ending for the book series (before the show even began), and I came to conclusion that any ending that involves Seven Kingdoms just getting a new king, whoever it was, is too bland. LoTR ends with a complete disappearance of magic, the change of Era, the coming of the world of men (and, presumably, of technology and science, eventually). A new king, even if it’s Bran, even if he CAN actually see the future, and other places, isn’t really much. It’s a flop, in the philosophical sense. And I never had a feeling these books were about just another war between kings. For heaven’s sake, it’s called “Song of Fire and Ice”, it certainly has a catastrophic event in the title that should leave the world much changed. As far as I understand, the White Walkers plot was never even resolved completely. Why was there the Long Summer? Why White Walkers come sometimes? Will they come again, and if so, why, and how quickly?

      Well, I hope we’ll see Martin’s own ending yet, and it will be better.

      1. Nessus says:

        This is the same conclusion I came to somewhere around season 4, and was a large contributor to why I stopped watching. The way the show was styled, it seemed like they were marching towards a distant non-ending where someone eventually “wins” by getting the throne, but nothing meaningful actually changes (because meaningful change would be one of those fantasy tropes they’re so keen on subverting). I never gave a damn about who got the throne, because no matter who they were, as long as that system of power was unchallenged, all this horseshit will just repeat next generation. A good monarch would have a tryrant heir or vice versa, and then again, and again. Ocasionally broken by another round of rebellion that changes nothing except who gets to leave the throne to their kids this century. Why not make the story about the generation two ticks after, or before? It all just averages out to churn and stagnation, so why does this particular random slice matter?

        I realized that someday hundreds of years down the line, Westeros will eventually have cell phones and jumbo jets and better political systems. And between this story and then, there will be stories that are worth telling because their outcomes do change things. But if this story merely ends with another king/queen taking the throne and that’s it, then it will not be one of them. It’ll just be “Real Housewives” with a body count.

        And yes: this is how I feel about the IRL War of the Roses as well.

      2. I’d hate to bring real world politics into this, but look at the leaders in certain countries today where a leader do not understand who is actually paying the tarrifs (the people of your own country). And re-elections is drawing near.

        When reality can be dumber than fiction, certain characters doing dumb shitty again and again (Tyrion made many mistakes) does not seem that far fetch, nor that others Still decide to listen or trust him.

        GoT as a show is mediocre, it’s a nice fantasy show. The main issue is how popular and big it got. Anothe show with similar issues (but it never got big) was Legend of the Seeker, the show Got praise for it’s good looks (just like GoT), it was apparently cancelled after two seasons as a deal with SyFy fell through. GoT has much more world lore crammed into the seasons than Legend of the Seeker had (which also had a smaller main cast).

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          People making dumb and shitty decision is not unrealistic, but those decisions have to be grounded in something. The characters need to be consistent and have clear motivations (even if they don’t tell the audience). If a character’s decisions are terrible, the logical results should also be terrible.
          If a character proposes a plan that makes no sense to other characters who the storytellers claims to be intelligent and knowledgable, then the stupid plan should not just be blindly accepted because reasons.

    4. Cubic says:

      They acknowledge that he can’t have children, and decide that they’ll gather again to pick a new King when he dies.

      Sorry, writers, but electing a sterile ruler doesn’t really solve the succession problem. In other words, this round was a draw, let’s do it again next year.

      But, except for the unfortunate internet betting leaks, it sure was surprising. They will have to build a ramp to the Throne.

      Most concerning of all though … I, uh, didn’t actually watch the finale but are they pretending the whole ‘Winter is coming’ deal has been canceled by killing the ice man?

      1. Matthew Downie says:

        Elective succession isn’t a bad system. It gives you a +20 opinion modifier with all vassals.

        1. Chris says:

          And personal unions for days

      2. BlueHorus says:

        I genuinely laughed out loud at the thought of Bran ruling over the ashes of Kings Landing.

        Just…what?
        Sansa Stark: was betrothed to a crown prince, head of one of the last surviving great Houses.
        Jon Stark: half Targaryean, killed the woman who burned King’s Landing.
        Tyrion Lannister: Was Hand of the King.
        But no, lets crown the boy no-one’s heard of who can’t have kids. Who’s weird and vague and unapproachable.

        They really DID learn lessons from The Last Jedi, didn’t they? Talk about a twist for twist’s sake…

        1. Careful now or the woke people will get upset at you for suggesting a crippled person that can not have children are somehow less worthy that others. :P

          1. KillerAngel says:

            The setting is ableist, it makes no sense in the context of the setting that anyone else could consider him worthy. Acknowledging sexism, racism, or ableism of a setting doesn’t mean you agree with it. It’s not like I endorse feudalism because I like ASOIAF.

        2. Geebs says:

          Bran’s spinal injury usually wouldn’t prevent him from having kids anyway. The show runners have rather inconsistent ideas about how glands work e.g. the Unsullied should all be relatively poorly muscled and have reduced bone density given the age at which they are supposedly castrated, which makes little sense.

          1. baud says:

            There’s the example of Stephen Hawking, who had 3 children, including at least one when he was already in a wheelchair. Of course it’s not the same type of medical issue, but still.

          2. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

            They should also have pre-pubescent voices, which would be, frankly, absolutely hilarious.

            One of the longest-lasting (acceptable) reasons for castration in Europe was for musically talented boys to retain their soprano range as they aged. The Castrati, I believe they were called.

            1. kincajou says:

              And there is still a recording of one of them singing on youtube, it’s an interesting voice;

              You also make me think that i would probably enjoy this season a lot more if everyone was talking like they had just inhaled helium or was related to mickey mouse. I mean sure, it wouldn’t be “serious” anymore but boy… i wonder who’d fit best!

      3. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Speaking of ramps, how DID Bran get around? Castle’s aren’t known for their accessibility to the disabled. I don’t think we see him hobbeling up stairwells or anything?

  2. cheekibreeki says:

    One thing I did enjoy in this episode was the cinematography, specifically in the first half of the episode where Jon walks up the stairs while feeling an oppressive atmosphere and Drogon’s wings releasing behind Daenarys.

    1. Also note how the camera changes to a shot of Jon looking at Dany and there is a huge gap between them and we see the stairs and unsullied below/between, but in the next shot we see Dany looking at Jon with his back against a literal brick wall.

      This show has always had really good visuals shots.

    2. Geebs says:

      – Enjoys oppressive atmosphere
      – goes by the name “cheekibreeki”

      Username checks out

  3. cheekibreeki says:

    Two years ago, I would have never believed that Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events would beat Game of Thrones in not only being a solid adaptation of its source material but one that also surpasses it. Hell, Galavant had a more satisfying ending to its show than this finale.

  4. Walter says:

    I haven’t seen anyone discussing the implications of Bran becoming the King of the Seven Kingdoms. Since he sees all and knows all, does that imply he’s going to run the kingdom as some sort of unstoppable police state where he’s aware of all the bad things you did and knows where, how, and why an enemy could attack?

    1. Artanis Niggle says:

      No, his powers pretty clearly don’t work down South.

      1. trevalyan says:

        Crows- and ravens- are liars. We were told this early on. :D

      2. Beep Beep, I'm a Jeep says:

        Bran’s powers clearly do work down south, though. He witnessed the entire Tower of Joy event from a third-person perspective.

        Further, Bran clearly implies that he can do something (himself) to track down Dragon.

    2. SupahEwok says:

      What if he gains some weight, dresses in red and fur, and brings down some Children of the Forest to deliver presents to all the good girls and boys?

      1. Syal says:

        …oh god, now I’m picturing a wheelchair-bound Santa Claus who can drive the sleigh but not get out of it.

  5. trevalyan says:

    *When* he dies? Ha! I like your optimism, summer child. Tyrion’s made some stupid decisions lately, but this is by far the worst, because everyone who could have stopped their new all-seeing emperor is dead. He doesn’t even need heart trees: his crows and ravens will dutifully report in to him. He even gloats, “Why do you think I came all the way here?” He doesn’t care enough about these people to feign respect for their intelligence anymore! Which is why I believe this is a very appropriate end to the Game of Thrones.

    All hail Emperor Bloodraven, the first, the last, the only of his name. The last monarch we will ever need, in their world, or ours.

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      I was wondering, “Why didn’t he use his powers to keep an eye on the dragon and take control of it before it could do too much damage.”

      But maybe he did take control of the dragon and made it burn down the city, to create a useful power vacuum.

      1. trevalyan says:

        “He can read my mind?”

        “Read it, control it… unhinge it.”

        Why control the dragon when you can manipulate the dragonrider? Hell, she probably still thinks it was her idea!

    2. I half expected Bran in his room alone post-credit style suddenly rise on his feet and grin (this was his plan all along).

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        I half expected Bran in his room alone post-credit style suddenly rise on his feet and grin (this was his plan all along).

        I was really hoping that Bran would stand up when everybody else stood up, to see if anybody would notice…

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          That would have been really funny, but also kind of very problematic vis-a-vis disabled people.

      2. hewhosaysfish says:

        Like the Usual Suspects?

        1. trevalyan says:

          The nice thing about this twist would have been that if an increasingly omniscient sorceror is hiding his true powers, being able to walk is the least of his enemies’ problems. I actually watched through the credits to see if they went this route.

  6. The same lack of respect for writers seems to be happening in the game industry, as well. Good, experienced writers want to be fairly compensated for their skill, but the game industry seems to believe that their budget must be spent on cutting edge technology and graphics. So they hire inexperienced writers, pay them poorly and wonder why their AAA game tanks.

    Also, how on earth did Hill and Cogman get promoted to show writers? Were there absolutely no qualified women writers anywhere on the entire planet that they could have hired, instead?

    1. Scampi says:

      Just to be sure: Did you ask for female writers or people who could write convincing female characters?

      I’d say there have to be, but I’d personally believe the writers didn’t want to change their working style, which might have been the result of hiring new writers from outside the established crew.

      Also: How do you measure qualification for joining an existing team to write on an established cash cow (?) IP? I’m really curious, as I generally don’t think we have very good metrics for qualifications in the first place, even where we mostly agree on what is supposed to be quantified. I don’t think I have a very good idea on what to look for when hiring writers. Published works? Sales numbers? Critical scores? Audience reception? Do team efforts (shows, movies, games, comics) count as much as or even more than individual works (books) despite the latter being a clearer indicator of the talent’s individual abilities? If more than one of the above: How are they weighted? Is word count an issue or is it more important to have actual finished work? Is a writer more qualified if they wrote prose? Does poetry count when it comes to writing screenplays? Are 3 short works worth more or less than 1 3k page long mega novel?
      Don’t get me wrong, please. I’m living in Germany, a country pretty much demanding any and all qualifications for certain professions have to be quantified and acknowledged by the state or they don’t count and still I meet tons of people who have no qualifications and still somehow got into jobs they had no business doing, had qualifications but were unrecognized because their degrees were made abroad (and thus, didn’t count when applying for jobs) or had degrees in subjects they had absolutely no clue of despite having studied and subsequently worked in the field in question.
      Writing seems to be one of the worst things to actually quantify imho, and thus I have no idea how you’d quantify someone’s qualification to become a member of a high profile show’s writing staff.
      I just have no idea how I’d go over the process of hiring anyone to continue writing a script while the actual scriptwriters are still there to begin with without it coming off as a vote of mistrust.

      Also: Does the games industry even try to hire experienced writers? I’d be surprised if that was actually a thing that happened at all.

      1. Cubic says:

        Also: Does the games industry even try to hire experienced writers? I’d be surprised if that was actually a thing that happened at all.

        I suspect it’s like Hollywood: as a writer, you get no respect until you claim the whole thing, as a director. Until then, write some more lore buddy.

      2. Hi Scampi! I also live in Germany.

        I meant people who identify as women who are writers.

        But people who can write convincing female characters and not succumb to offensive tropes would also be nice.

        1. Scampi says:

          First: Thanks for clarifying.

          Second: I’m sure they exist, though I wonder if they are more prevalent in other areas of writing than Hollywood script adaptations for long running series. I mean: They are in my experience more prevalent in university classes on literature, seem to write more fanfiction or short stories and read generally more (especially) novels than men. This surely must somehow translate into professional skills in the field, shouldn’t it?

          Third: I’d emphasize the convincing part over avoiding offensive tropes. Not that I think women should be written in offensive ways, but I don’t think it’s really possible to completely avoid them (the tropes) and recognize that it would probably be necessary to use multiple offensive tropes to characterize myself, leaving me to wonder whether I would suck as a fictional character just because I don’t like other people telling me my negative characteristics or because I have some that I’m not proud of (and thus won’t mention publicly)?
          I see there are some tropes that are just ridiculous or really offensive in a different way when applied to entire demographics, though, but I believe a writer (or other creator) can be excused for the use of offensive tropes if they are capable of striking a healthy balance between their use and sub-/aversion over their entire creative work.

        2. So you’d like R.R. Martin to stop writing the book series? (AFAIK he identifies as a male)

          1. Benden says:

            I am certain the difference between the team creation of the show and the individual creation of the novels is not lost on you.

            Last I know, baiting is not what we do here. Maybe you should stop.

            1. Grimwear says:

              From what I see he’s not the one who started the baiting so calling him out seems unfair.

            2. DHW says:

              And the original comment wasn’t baiting? Insisting that only someone who “identifies as a woman” could possibly write George R. R. Martin’s story correctly?

              1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                If this is GRRM’s story, then he should stop writing.
                If it’s D&D’s story, then we can bring in other writers.

          2. Kylroy says:

            Clearly, GRRM would *personally* like to stop writing the series…

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              You know darn well we’re talking about the TV show here.

  7. Scampi says:

    I’ve long suspected that, broadly speaking, the upper management culture of the entertainment industry simply doesn’t take writing seriously as a profession. They seem to think it’s something just anyone can do, including themselves. I wish I knew why, because from where I’m sitting this habit has consistently bitten them in the ass for decades.

    I had a very lone and meandering post written, when I realized I myself had fallen victim to what I was yammering on about.
    Thus a short form: Writing endings is undesired among series creators and I believe writers might lose the ability to do it if left to write nothing else but long running shows without a preplanned ending. They are way more conducive to cliffhangers, open endings, unexplained character appearances (and resurrections) and sudden unanswered twists to explain at a later point.

    I think any show that tries to have a long running plot with a conclusive ending needs a writer whose specific duty is overseeing the other writers and getting them to stay on track while creating episode scripts to allow the show to reach the ending unhindered.
    This might, as far as I understand it, actually the way the MCU/Marvel Studios have been set up (?), creating individual movies by directors who are given specific orders by someone else designing the overarching world plot and objectives to fulfil, setting up some event in the future. It still has to prove it will lead to a satisfying ending overall, but I’d give them that many people seem to “accept” Endgame as a legitimate conclusion to the previous events.

    1. Scampi says:

      late self edit: a very long and meandering post

      and:
      This might, as far as I understand it, actually be the way…

    2. Karma The Alligator says:

      Writing endings is undesired among series creators and I believe writers might lose the ability to do it if left to write nothing else but long running shows without a preplanned ending.

      I think that’s pretty spot on, although I’d say it’s not always the series creators who refuse to let a series end, but rather the publishers who just want to milk it for all its worth (works for games, books and TV series!).

      1. Scampi says:

        Exactly what I meant, actually. I have lately been looking for some show to watch, preferrably one that has already been concluded and been finished regularly instead of cancelled. Among the shows I looked into (which admittedly narrows it down considerably), I found barely any that were actually concluded while most were rather abrubtly cancelled at some point, quickly wrapping things up at best, due to ratings turning bad.

    3. Writing a beginning is hard, writing a ending is doubly so. And fans will either hate or love what you write.

      1. Scampi says:

        I think it entirely depends on the question whether you have any idea what your story is meant to be about or not. If you just want to narrate on and on, you may have an issue if you’re ever supposed to come to an end.
        If you have a story in mind that has a logical conclusion or a point to make, you may stop once that has been reached.
        I don’t think writing an ending is necessarily the hard part. I think the hard part is accepting you have nothing more to tell or told everything you meant to.

        Generally, I dislike the idea of adapting someone else’s work while it’s still unfinished. I’ve seen enough anime (and read manga) to know the horrors of series overtaking their source material.

        1. I second your point about anime, I too am weary of still ongoing anime and prefer to see only finishes series.

    4. Ebass says:

      That’s actually a really good and interesting theory as to why so many endings of TV series seem to fall flat in a way that movies and books don’t seem to so much

  8. JDMM says:

    My main problem with the “oh it was X as opposed to bad writing” is that generally they’re talking about concepts, ideas and those more matter in the execution

    The adaptive process on the other hand does admit some ambiguity. Coppola adapted a mid-flight novel and made a masterpiece, Kubrick adapted King and made something different and possibly better, Peter Jackson made something loved by the public but at length from Tolkien purists (first trilogy)

    However I still agree with you in that the writers never seemed to write around the medium, instead giving in to indulgence like battle episodes which The Wire never would have done (Marlo Stanfield)

    To speak of the critics, a few seemed to be grading on a curve ie haha stupid fantasy show so were indulgent of the shows misgivings although even then most of them were annoyed by Arya and Night King although one I somewhat follow was still “who cares”. As a cultural phenomenon GoT has gotten to the point where if you want the pop culture conversation you’re expected to be conversant with it at least which pulls along some people who could never be GoT fans

    1. I read how somebody was really upset and angry at the show’s writers for Killing off Ned Stark (oblivious to the fact that he dies early on in the books too).

    2. Cubic says:

      “However I still agree with you in that the writers never seemed to write around the medium, instead giving in to indulgence like battle episodes which The Wire never would have done (Marlo Stanfield)”

      I remember reading the extremely tedious book 4 where characters now and then came on stage to report about some really exciting battle that had just happened elsewhere. Way to choose your scenes there, George. But the underlying problem was not necessarily a lack of mass combat but that what we actually got to follow was boring boring boring by then and desperately needed some livening up.

  9. Angelo says:

    Am I the only one who was weirded out by Grey Worm teleporting?
    Jon and Davos find him in the streets executing Lannister soldiers; the scene ends with Davos telling Jon “we should speak with the queen” and they leave as Grey Worm starts cutting throats. Brief intermission of Tyrion searching for Jaime, after which Jon reaches and climbs the stairs of the Red Keep and Grey Worm is already there.

    1. Erik says:

      Nope, i noticed that too. “Lets go talk to the queen” .. *walks away from Grey Worm*… “Oh there is the queen”… *Grey worm walks into frame behind her*. Wut

      1. Angelo says:

        He actually appears BEFORE Dany.
        Tyrion comes out shortly after Dany, which is still pretty absurd. I mean, let’s look at the scenes:
        – Tyrion and Jon are walking together. Tyrion walks off.
        – Jon tries to stop Grey Worm. Cut to
        – Tyrion finds Jaime and Cersei. Cut to
        – Jon walks up the steps of the Red Keep. Grey Worm appears at the top.
        – Dany appears. After her speech, Tyrion walks into frame.
        It really feels like Jon leaving Tyrion, meeting with Grey Worm and getting to the Red Keep happen in a quick succession, but somehow Tyrion and Grey Worm get there before him, and Tyrion even manages to investigate the passage in the skull room in this time frame. It’s not impossible logistically, but it just feels wrong from the way the scenes are put into sequence.

        1. The time jumps are just insane in this series, cuts that make it seem like i’ts been just seconds or minutes may actually be hours, days, or even weeks.

          1. trevalyan says:

            Personally, I just thought it was Grey Worm becoming increasingly (and correctly) distrustful, and pawning off the executions before hurrying past Dany’s security. Which Team Reasonable Boys can’t do.

    2. Matthew Downie says:

      He probably took the Amulet of Teleportation from Euron or Littlefinger or whoever else was using it last.

  10. Asdasd says:

    The conclusion I draw from the above is this: good TV writing requires that the show take writing seriously, as though it’s a craft honed through experience and care. This conclusion is treated as obvious in other areas of production.

    I think the games industry has a similar problem. I can think of two contributing factors, although I suspect there are more:

    1) visibility. A CGI effect, an acting performance, a costume, a set, lighting, the framing of a shot, a choreographed dance – all visible. Feedback is immediate, reproduction is immediate. People see these elements and as such mentally acknowledge their importance to the overall effect. We all agree that writing is also an element of a game/show/movie, but we have to concentrate on it, bring it out of the shadows, pin it down under the lens; at all other times it recedes from sight and thought. Relatedly a wooden acting performance is immediately visible during filming; a bad bit of writing can hide among a sea of words. Or worse, only be detected with hindsight. Good writing can even be retroactively damaged by bad.

    2) writing as a distinctive professional skill-set. I can’t teach anyone how to dance, because I can’t dance. I couldn’t make a costume if you put a gun to my head. But everyone can write, at least in the sense that they can string words together to convey meaning. Everyone uses language every day. It’s not that we think ourselves great writers because of that, but the appreciated value of great writing as a product and a craft suffers a death by a thousand tiny cuts because of the ubiquity and commonality of the written word.

    In both cases it’s not that we don’t think writing should be valued. It’s more that we have a few subtle, in-built biases that erode the value we place in writing unless we’re especially vigilant.

    1. Boobah says:

      I’d additionally add one more thing: if you have little or no skill you usually have little idea of either the quality of the skill’s product or the difficulty in executing the skill.

      Storytelling is such a skill. The completely unskilled and the incompetent really do believe it’s just stringing words together, dropping characters into events with no particular rhyme or reason.

      This is the equivalent of a 16 year old with their shiny new learner’s driving permit believing they have the skill to win the Daytona 500; after all, it’s just going fast and turning left, isn’t it?

  11. Roofstone says:

    Honestly Gendry being put on the throne would’ve been a small redemption for the show for me. I’d love for it all to be pointless and for the Baratheon family to be back on the throne. I love “It was all for nothing” stories.

    1. tremor3258 says:

      Back to a Baratheon king controlled by his small council after all the deaths and destruction of civil war? I like it in its bleakness.

  12. Preciousgollum says:

    This is was definitely an episode where actual proper and accurate ahead-of-time leaks and spoilers made the experimental nostalgia pill easier to swallow.

    In terms of Monarchies, they’re as relevant now as they’ve ever been, and will continue to remain relevant, because they model the nature of inheritance, and therefore Law. Monarchies are in no way ‘outdated’ and it is hubris to believe otherwise.

    IF we were making geo-political comparisons, it could be suggested that Dany & Dothraki/Unsullied’s turn to villainisation represents how The United States views The British Empire. There’s a little bit of jingoism going on which feels like watching a (even more) fantasy version of ‘The Patriot’ with Mel Gibson.

    So, the ending. There is no reason why GoT couldn’t have simply had a new monarchy. In fact, that’s what happened at the end of The Wars of The Roses, which is what GoT takes inspiration from.

    King ‘Kripple’ – Aka King Bran ‘The Broken’, seems very much like one of the more confusing endings since it reads like a comedy – which is seemingly what they were going for. However, if this ending were taken in any way seriously, then there is too much to unpack without going into waaaay more nerd-theory crafting (which I assume was probably the point, since those HBO GoT spin-offs are certainly in the works. Really, this ending is the closest GoT could get to being Monty Python.

    Also, what happened to The Dothraki? Did they get on the boat with The Unsullied? Did the Dothraki return to their homeland upon the death of their leader (as nomadic armies such as Mongolian Horde did?) A brief mention would have tied it more to history than the ‘everybody clears-off for convenience’ fantasy ending.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Also, what happened to The Dothraki?

      This reminded me so much of Shamus talking about the ending of ME3: ‘But what about all those hungry Krogan?!’

      Clearly, the Dothraki settled down in the Seven Kingdoms and went back to their slaving, raiding ways. I mean, when they heard that the new King of Westeros was a crippled boy, it was like a gift!

      1. AzzyGaiden says:

        Seriously, it’s established in the first damn season that the Dothraki have zero tolerance for physical disability.

        1. trevalyan says:

          I know that trying to get consistent characterization from this show is a fool’s errand, but you’re right.

          The problem for the Dothraki and Unsullied is that not only were they the military force of the defeated lunatic from defunct House Targaryen, but now they lack a dragon, noble allies, and lands of their own for food. Whatever racism they encountered in the North will be amplified ten fold.

          Of course they have no interest in staying to be the new Great Enemy! And that’s before they know the new king is Highlord Tektolnes…

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            But the usual response from raiding steppe tribes and unpaid mercenary companies with no employer is to either start plundering, take over the local area and start their own kingdom, or simply go to the nearest rich people and demand money or else.

            They generally don’t just pack up their stuff and go home. They’re here to make money (and/or for a religious war).

    2. “However, if this ending were taken in any way seriously,”

      They kinda poked a little fun at this as Sam presented the chronicle Ice and Fire to Tyrion and he wasn’t in it, clearly the way things was written was not truly how they took place (ref. The TV Show and R.R.Martin’s books).

    3. Syal says:

      “All the hail the new king: Mr. Rogers, in a bloodstained sweater!”

      …I wonder if you can do a version of the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny entirely with Game of Thrones clips.

    4. GoStu says:

      Weren’t the Dothraki mostly butchered during their stupid charge against the White Walkers?

      There was a wall of zombies, the Dothraki charged, the zombies did what they do, there weren’t many Dothraki left after.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        They all died, then suddenly they were back, then they were really small in number, then Dany had a standing army.
        It’s not really consistent how many Dothraki are left at this point.

  13. Tizzy says:

    Scientific American has a blog post that pinned the fans dissatisfaction on the switch from sociological to psychological storytelling: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-real-reason-fans-hate-the-last-season-of-game-of-thrones/

    In a nutshell: psychological storytelling focuses on the character traits to explain character’s actions, while sociological storytelling focuses on how group dynamics constrain characters and incentivize their actions separately from the character’s own wants. The article mentions that Hollywood and television writers are almost exclusively doing psychological storytelling.

    Interestingly enough, the other show they praise for sociological storytelling is precisely The Wire. GOT and The Wire also have in common the ability to kill off important characters, precisely because the main drivers of the narrative don’t come from individuals but from the forces exerted by various institutions and how they interact.

    The article implies that the immense popularity of GOT and The Wire are in part due to how starved audiences are of any storytelling that includes this type of group dynamic. Recommended reading.

    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      Aah, that was the article I was looking for!

  14. Preciousgollum says:

    The problem with Dany’s ‘villain’ turn is that she was presented up as a sacrificial lamb, when she could have been better utilised as a tragic scapegoat.

    The pacing of this last episode practically offered up removing Dany on a silver platter. In this case, it feels like one of those situations in a video game where a last-minute villain basically gets a couple of rooms to explain themselves before the final encounter begins. I could practically feel the fog wall descending the moment Jon walked through the door to meet Dany. Too bad this wasn’t a multi-phase encounter, or that Jon didn’t use a summon sign to summon a friend.

    I’m fine for ‘character’s legacy has a huge impact’ approach to storytelling, but not straight after they are framed as a villain in a story that had run out of Politics to mention.

    Legend of The Galactic Heroes (the old one), one of those Cartoon Animes from the Japan, did a very robust job of balancing a multitude of characters and their drives, and you will probably change your mind many times over the course of the show as to who should win the galactic conflict. The motivations were quite clear, in an operatic, bombastic way, even if rather schmaltzy at times (whereas GoT is a festival of angst).
    There is a point in Legend of The Galactic Heroes where foreshadowing practically confirms the ‘time frame’ for how it will end, but it does this at a point that gives you enough episodes left to ponder the implications, and then delivers on them in a procedural manner.
    Unfortunately, US TV shows don’t do very well with dry political talk and morality examinations, because a lot of them are based on justification of spectacle – to absolve the guilt of audience voyeurism. No matter how much of a Federal Republic United States is, it cannot get away from the fact that much of its audience is Christian, and therefore vaguely ‘Christian-Themed’ entertainment will keep appearing, and it focuses on what ‘right and wrong’ with specific patterns – basically trying to apply ‘what might the Bible say’ as doctrine for as many scenarios as possible. Perhaps this clashes with (ancient) Greek understandings and expectations for drama, comedy and entertainment.

    Game of Thrones did have its cryptic ‘foreshadowing’ visions, but to be honest that’s one of those weird ‘mystery box’ items that can be pulled out at any time. Visions are always vague enough to be malleable, and then liberally applied wherever. Humans are pattern-seeking animals – we also like to weigh good and bad as if we owned them and they were our property to bargain with.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      And yes I am well aware that Japan has its own issues of German fixations & WWII ‘hang-ups’, meanderings built into aspects of its entertainment properties, such as Attack on Titan, Valkyria Chronicles, and with blonde characters etc. Or that everything is related to The Nuclear Bomb somehow.

      Sometimes I am troubled by these occurrences if I read too much into them.

      Can you think of any other cultural reference point that smothers its entertainment with some specific hallmarks?

      1. Ander says:

        I wouldn’t say Japanese media (or at least anime-style things since that seems to be the focus here) is “smothered” by WWII so much as suffused by it. It affects a lot but does not necessarily damage the art. It certainly can, but not always. Might be a matter of taste, but it has become a game for me to see where the war is worked in somehow. Sometimes it’s serious, as in Eva. Other times it’s trite but well-meaning, as in Slime Reincarnated. My personal favorite is A Place Further Than the Universe, where a moe show about high school girls joining a scientific expedition to Antarctica needs to mention that the reason Japan has a lame portion of the continent is because it was divvied up in the wake of WWII.

        I can think of something easily that smothered entertainment: the September 11 attacks on the US. Not to say anything good or bad about the quality of work created in the wake of the attacks, but there were works in progress killed and changed because of the impact the event had on culture. New York-related monumental destruction can still be touchy.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Unfortunately, US TV shows don’t do very well with dry political talk and morality examinations, because a lot of them are based on justification of spectacle – to absolve the guilt of audience voyeurism. No matter how much of a Federal Republic United States is, it cannot get away from the fact that much of its audience is Christian, and therefore vaguely ‘Christian-Themed’ entertainment will keep appearing, and it focuses on what ‘right and wrong’ with specific patterns – basically trying to apply ‘what might the Bible say’ as doctrine for as many scenarios as possible. Perhaps this clashes with (ancient) Greek understandings and expectations for drama, comedy and entertainment.

      So, this come across as …not racist, but offensively stereotypical? While I’m usually up for criticism of the USA, blaming the bad writing of GoT on the Christian-ness of the audience just seems…misplaced. Of course Dany was going to die, she spent the last episode burning an entire city. Anything else would have been pretty unsatisfying, whatever the faith/morality. As other have said, it’s not so much that she did it, it was the way it was portrayed.
      Bad writing is definitely not exclusive to America, nor Christianity.

      Remember that The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul are all American TV shows, with a lot to say about complex morality, and how/why people do what they do. There’s probably other shows as well.

      (Finally: when I hear the phrase ‘Christian-Themed entertainment’ I think of Bibleman… ;-D)

      1. “Of course Dany was going to die”
        Did she need to tough?
        Did not the show and the characters show that spending the rest of your life correcting your mistakes (ref. Tyrion and Jon’s lifes spared) as being the better and more humane punishment?

        1. Thomas says:

          If anything that’s evidence against ‘Christian-tinged’ bad Christian fiction loves a road to Damascus redemption story no matter how much of a 180 it feels like.

          It’s not realistic to expect a kingdom with its civilians slaughtered and it’s capital in ashes to go ‘well as long as she’s sorry and tries hard to make up for it, I don’t mind her becoming Queen’.

          Maybe she could have been exiled? But she already was basically and now she has a dragon. It was always going to be death

          1. Preciousgollum says:

            If anything that’s evidence against ‘Christian-tinged’ bad Christian fiction loves a road to Damascus redemption.

            .

            … we got that in Jon Snow, who is Game of Thrones Jesus, for obvious reasons, as well as a portrayal dedicated around being given the the ability to absolve/forgive sin.

            As people say, religion is a broad church. It is full of many people and they can be there for different reasons, but they try at similarity. So, what I mean is that when the ideas start to run out, writers can end up turning to vaguely religious angles. In the case of the USA, since it has a largely Christian audience, the writers are going to end up pursuing a judeo-Christian bent, because the audience will subconsciously resonate with it.
            Really, this idea is almost as clear cut as fire hot, water wet, and people being afraid of burning or drowning, and so you can create drama using these elements.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              Huh? Jesus was known for forgiving those who wronged him and turning the other cheek. Jon was resurrected and immediately condemned his betrayers to death, including a child.

              1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                The whole “love and forgiveness” thing is often conveniently sidelined if people were just looking for divine approval for their current actions.
                It’s much easier to perform the symbolic and ritual aspects of a religion than it’s ethical mandates.

                1. Preciousgollum says:

                  It’s much easier to perform the symbolic and ritual aspects of a religion than it’s ethical mandates.

                  Yes, and a lot of religious belief systems suggest that judgement awaits in the next world. Jon is portrayed as an agent of religion in that he offers deliverence. He is the character that often gives the most ‘meaning’ when involved in the death of other characters, be it the traitors to the Night’s Watch or now Danaerys. You specifically get the impression that Jon is in the business of judging people’s soul worth when removing them from the mortal coil.

                  And, the ‘Vengeful God has to admit to getting it wrong and therefore sends down or intervenes with an agent to allow stuff to happen that eases the relationship with mankind in a more ‘forgiving’ way’ is classic Christ/Saviour metaphor.

                  Danaerys ends up crucifying enemies of the state, and that is eventually seen as ‘bad’ in the conciences of the main characters, and she also gets criticised for burning people because it is seen as too pagan. These might be seen as ‘non-Christian’ punishments.

                  Even Jon’s death would be considered too ‘Roman Et Tu Brutus sneaky stabby stabby’ to have it be a ‘honourable’ death. The broken oath and retribution is like the ‘transition & transformation’ period between old Jon and new Jon, since new Jon gets to perform a killing that he doesn’t seem to have any reason to regret – it being the first time that his killings are no longer marred in sin or ‘tainted’ by hierarchy, as Jon ‘becomes justice’.
                  Robbing people of honourable deaths is apparently bad as well, because it is like cutting judgement time short. You immediately get badness points by whatever divine force is working in GoT because the people’s lives killed short could have done something valiant, and they needed more time to be judged – so their death becomes innocence (such as Dany roasting the Tarlys).

                  The point is not just that the characters in the show seem to have this ‘death judgement’ idea, but that the audience does as well. We have no problem with roughly agreeing that Dany is ‘evil’ or ‘mad’ in a very short space of time, because show hallmarks as well as our own judmental biases make this process really really easy.

                  In fact, the end of GoT seems to suggest a common thread of it being fairly commonplace to kill evil people, until you turn evil and can therefore be easily killed. Or, Two Face rant on “live long enough to see yourrself become the villain” from Dark Knight.

                  The problem then being: who judges ‘evil’? Is it intrinsic or hierarchical? Both?

                  (GoT suggests that you have to have some form of power to judge, hence why the characters allow Jon to get away with killing Dany).

                  Do evil people never win? If evil people win, then don’t their idea then get seem as ‘good’? Doesn’t ‘good’ then become the new ‘evil’? What if ‘evil’ is clever enough to beat the ‘good’ in such a way that the ‘good’ can never recover?

                  The finale basically gave us a situation that didn’t present many interesting questions, and played it safe enough that we feel ok with ‘Old Yeller’ Danaerys being put down because she pissed fire all over the carpet of Westeros.

      2. Kylroy says:

        Given the way the Transformers sequels have gradually declined in domestic box office while making more and more internationally, I think folks have to admit that spectacle-based entertainment is not a uniquely American genre.

        1. Syal says:

          Spectacle is always going to be more important in a foreign market that speaks a different language, since all the subtleties will be lost. Unless the translators are damn good, wordplay is just gone, and the actors also have to compete with their own subtitles so they have to have bigger expressions.

  15. DecVegFuckFace says:

    David Chase saying “see? it’s not so easy.”

    1. Jenkins says:

      I must be among the few who thought the ending to the The Sopranos was a masterstroke. It’s extremely difficult to write a satisfying ending to a long-running television show, particularly a naturalistic one with morally ambivalent characters.

      Now that I think about it, the ending of Game of Thrones might’ve been a touch more satisfying if the writers took a cue from The Sopranos (and not just because the story collapsing in on itself could’ve been avoided if the show ended in a sudden cut to black when the Night King reached Bran).

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        This sort of post I find very frustrating. You’re SERIOUSLY stating that just ending the story 3 episodes ago with no followup would have been satisfying for a non-zero amount of people? Even the grimdark “the white walkers consume the world” ending would be incredibly superior to what you just suggested, since it would resolve the story in a fashion. The reason I find it frustrating is not because I disagree with you, but because if the show is considered bad, suddenly any kind of zany opinion is fair game.

        People have said (in apparent seriousness) that copying the ending of Monty Python and the Holy Grail would have been a better ending. Do you REALLY think so? Or are you five years old?

        1. Corsair says:

          Both of those would not be good endings, but they’d be better than what we got.

  16. Radagast says:

    Minor non-story-related answer to one of your questions, but the giant Targaryen banner on the Red Keep is probably a sail from one of their ships. It’s about the right size.

    It’s also funny that Jon is able to just abandon the NIght’s Watch at the end and nobody seems to mind lol.

    1. tremor3258 says:

      He did die in their service, at their hands, so if any oaths outlast death, they clearly would absolve them.

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      He could be going north of the wall as part of his actual duties. Sending someone with the wildlings to see where they settle and establish some sort of liaison would make sense. So would going for a ranging to see what’s actually out there now. I mean, they all just kind of assumed that killing the Night King solved everything, but did it? If I was in charge of the Night Watch, I’d want to send someone out to at least take a look.

      We don’t know, because they can’t be bothered to explain what he’s doing or why.

      1. Geebs says:

        Given that there are only two remaining members of the Night’s Watch, Castle Black was full of wildlings, and there’s nothing left for the Night’s Watch to…..watch for, I think it’s pretty much a given that Jon just buggered off to be the next King beyond the Wall.

      2. Steve C says:

        Why is *anyone* going north of The Wall? If the Wildlings want rugged terrain to call their own, there’s plenty of it between Winterfell and The Wall. There’s also plenty of depopulated fiefs of Houses that died out. There’s lots of abandoned castles and surrounding land at the Wall too.

        1. Lanthanide says:

          And Jon’s promise to get them to come south of the wall and help in the battle against the dead is that they would get the lands of The Gift to tend to.

  17. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I haven’t been watching GoT (although I read the books), but I decided to watch this episode, since I knew there would be so much commentary on it.

    So, granted, there could be things that I’m missing here, but the politics just seemed baffling to me.

    -The Unsullied should be in a very, very tense position right now if they’re trying to claim enough authority to execute Jon. Without Dany and her dragon the only thing they have going for them is that they’re the biggest group of armed men in King’s Landing, and while that’s a very real basis for power, it’s a very unstable one. If they go against the remaining Lords of Westeros, then they’re surrounded, probablly with no food, in a burned-down city where all of the survivors hate them. They have zero ability to project influence outside of the city, no other allies, no idependent land or wealth to draw from, and no prospects for establishing a deeper base of power without cooperation from all of the people who think that Dany just went nuts and that Jon was right to kill her.

    Grey Worm’s only card to play is that of immediate violence, and that should make for a scene where everybody is on the edge of their seats. He can’t actually win a war with the rest of Westeros, so all he really has are some hostages (Jon and Tyrion) who he can threaten to kill. But, of course, if he kills them, then he has nothing left but a burned-out city.

    That could make for a very dramatic scene where they have to negotiate and sort things out. But, instead, we get.what appears to be the Westeros Lords in King’s Landing, where the Unsullied have their only claim to power, and could take all of them as hostages. Do they have their own loyal troops with them? Who knows, the show can’t be bothered with those details. We have a situation where who has the most/best armed men within 20 feet of them is one of the most important factors in how things will turn out, but it’s all just glossed over.

    Why would Grey Worm accept Jon’s exile? He has zero ability to enforce it. Once Jon leaves KIng’s Landing he could turn around, give them the finger, and the whole of Westeros could decide to put him on the throne, and Grey Worm wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. If the series still had the conceit of the books where oaths were taken very seriously I could see Grey Worm (who isn’t even from a culture where that kind of honor is respected) being very reluctantly forced to accept Jon’s exile, since he has no other real choice, and Jon keeping his oath even though he’s popular enough to be able to get away with breaking it, but I don’t get the vibe that the show takes any of that seriously anymore.

    You could base 2-3 episodes on the politics of working all of that out and getting people to agree with it, and exploring the inherent tension and instability of power that’s based on the undisguised threat of violence, but no, All of it is just glossed over.

    -Making Bran king? Again, I haven’t been watching this show, but Bran barely comes across as even being there. He’s this weird, rolling non-sequitur. And Tyrion’s reason is… his story? Huh? Has he actually done anything in the last few episodes? He certainly doesn’t do anything here. He doesn’t even react when his sister secedes from his new Kingdom. Not even to try to make It look like he’s allowing it out of magnanimity. His first moments of being king involve his sister showing him zero public respect. How is this guy going to exert any kind of authority at all?

    The whole thing seemed like they just couldn’t be bothered. They had their dramatic moment where Jon kills Dany, and now they just have shuffle somebody onto the throne so that they can end the show. It almost feels like they needed the characters where they put them for potential spin-offs, and they didn’t care much whether they had a good sensible path to get them there.

    What follows is some awkward semi-comedy where they start declaring that they’re going to start building fleets ‘n stuff and just kind of assuming that the master of coin should be able to scrounge up the money, My general impression of the situation is that they should be bankrupt right now. Are the loans to the Iron Bank a thing in the show? I don’t know. The realm should be in tatters right now, but everybody sounds like they’re planning a Sunday BBQ, not dealing with the massive logistical, financial, political and societal problems that they should be facing after years of devastating war.

    None of it was outrageous, but it was all very hollow and weak. I’m certainly glad I didn’t invest years of passion into this show just to get that ending.

    -What happened to the Dothraki? I guess we just forgot about them? Okay.

    1. Lanthanide says:

      “Are the loans to the Iron Bank a thing in the show? I don’t know. ”

      Yes, they were. Tywin was concerned about them back in S3 because he said that Casterly Rock had no gold in its mines and had shut them down (which frankly, Varys should have known, so this should have been an open secret amongst the noble houses at the very least).

      Cersei ridiculously raided High Garden in S7 and paid off the iron bank loans in a single payment. I saw a Youtube theory that this would put her in a very precarious position in S8, since the Iron Bank were no longer beholden to her reign in order to pay back the loans, so they’d be able to back Dany or any other contender for the crown. Of course that’s too nuanced of a plot idea for the writers to think of it themselves, so instead the Iron Bank loans were pretty much just a pretext for the raid on High Garden and a chance for Dany’s dragons to show off by blowing wagons of food up.

      “-What happened to the Dothraki? I guess we just forgot about them? Okay.”

      Yep. They do show them walking around the docks when Grey Worm is departing on his ship, but they don’t have any horses visible. And that’s the last we see or hear of them. I guess it’s implied they went on the ships backs to Essos?

      That dock scene was pretty ridiculous though. Jon had 2 nights watch porters trailing behind him but no other guards, and no-one apart from Grey Worm gave him so much as a second glance.

      As opposed to some random individuals trying to shank him, which I’m sure is what would really happen in a situation like that.

  18. ” expected to see that this episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik, but it turns out to have been Benioff and Weiss themselves”

    You forgot a key thing, the editing, as showrunners Benioff and Weiss has probably a lot of say in the editing of every episode.

    “Tyrion after the latter has been imprisoned” “Turns out someone did notice after all”
    Yeah, and probably one of the reasons dany decided to continue killing even after the bells rang (Tyrion told her to stop when the bells rang, he betrayed her so now she betrayed him), I wish this had been made clearer though (I’m also unsure if if the screen writer(s) was aware of this themselves or if it was just read by me looking at the characters and “reading between the lines”..

    “Jon, as usual, is the slowest character on the uptake.” No, he’s in denial, and he’s borderline “Heroic Stupid” or “loyal to a flaw”, he’s obviously in love with her but that is no excuse. Snow has always been weird regarding loyalty, he took several knifes to the chest fr the nights watch after all.

    “I know it’s not important to the story, but I can’t help but wonder where Dany got a Targaryen banner the size of a hockey rink. Did she have it this whole time?”
    Good point, but I’m gonna take a wild guess that this is a ships sail?

    BTW! Tyrion taking off the pin felt like the right thing, he like Varys has a sense of duty and honor; him throwing it though surprised me, I expected him to hand it back to her.

    I also liked how Tyrion waited until the last moment to mention that John’s sisters lifes might be in danger too, that was most likely the turning point. But Jon being Jon gave Dany on e last chance to convince him he’s wrong, but the religious fanatical way she spoke of her new crusade just confirmed his fears that Tyrion and Varys was right.

    I liked Drogon burning the throne, Dragons are supposed to be smarts mythologically, maybe he understood that this throne was a possible source of the bad things (I’m assuming that Dany’s been up there a few times already, but’s it hard to tell with the sudden time jumps).

    I don’t like how Jon got “arrested” and we did not see a angry Greyworm trying to kill him (Jon would probably have been willing to die at the hands of Greyworm) so whom would have stopped Greyworm and saved Jon?
    I also did not like how Greyworm walked around with his constant “angry” face, he still had it weeks later when Tyrion was brought before “the court”, I so wish this show had a calendar text or something each time there is a time jump more than a few hours (Tyrion’s been in jail for weeks he said).

    The Gendry Baratheon thing made me ponder too, but I’m gonna guess he has no desire to be king and would probably have refused it if asked.

    Sam suggesting a democracy was a nice surprise, and if Jon had been there he might have agreed but asked to remain only as a temporary king until the people selected one.

    “uff da” *grin*

    Tyrion said something interesting, something along the the lines of “half the people hate me for betraying their queen”, there are other moments too like the conversation between Jon and Tyrion in the basement where it seemed like it was the writers speaking to the audience (and fans).
    A kind of “none of us got what we really wanted, this is the best we could do with what we had”.

    BTW! Jon and the dagger caught be by surprise, I kept expecting Arya instead and a Jon vs Greyworm sword fight.
    “what will he even do? The White Walkers are dead and the Wildlings are allies”
    By the end it looks he’s become the new king of the north, “the real north” as Tormund said in a earlier episode.
    I’d say there may be more threats to the Wildlings up there but I guess the White Walker zombified it all so it’s all dead up there now?

    “The Small Council is rounded out by “Archmaester” Sam (what? how?)”
    I had no issue with that, but again we have a time jump possibly several months forward, and I’m sure there is this whole backstory as to how Sam became that, which was skipped due to a rush to the end.

    Seeing Ghost again was nice, and Jon re-connecting.

    Arya’s trip feels like a spinoff (that will probably never happen).
    “This is the closing shot of the show. Witty commentary fails me.”
    Jon is the only(?!) one left of the Nights Watch, he’s the leader of the Night Watch (was before and kinda is now again) and the uncrowned king of the real north/wildlings. So in a way Jon is the Night (-watch) King now.

    “Mass Effect 3 ending”
    I had no issue with it except they should have skipped the three color choice and gone with just one, and the lack of closure for the companions/squadmates was mostly fixed in the free ending DLC when they added those (low budget) slides and narration.

    “the writing is bad because the writers are unqualified”
    Somebody else out there has a theory that R.R.Martin sabotaged them because he was jealous of how well they adapted the books to the screen (why else would he release two other books in the meantime while not continuing the Ice and Fire books at all).

    Another issue is that obviously the story telling changes, even if Martin did not sabotage (which I kinda doubt is true), he did give the showrunners the destination of the characters, but he had not written how the characters go there. So the showrunners had to extrapolate and due to their issues with time Jumps in this series condensesd/rushed it.

    What would I have done different? I’d have waited until all the books was written and that would have let me pace out the character arcs properly.

    Seing what the showrunners managed to do with the later half of the show gives me optimism for their future Star Wars series, where they (and their writers) will have blank sheets and no unfinished book series to trip’em up.

    The petition noise going on is silly IMO, it’s okay to have unsatisfactory endings, I’ve never heard anyone complain about greek tragedys and their endings. I’m glad GoT actually got an ending (so many shows just get cancelled).

    The upset fans from earlier seasons is probably partly the reason why the showrunners declined Netflix offer of doing 10 episodes; they just wanted to get it over as quickly as possible (fans poisoning the very waters they drink is sadly a common thing these days).

    Once I heard that the show had “run out of books” and that R.R:Martin was dragging his heels, I knew, “knew” the show would start to change, after all there is no way that they could write the characters the same way R.R: Martin did, after all even R.R.Martin himself said that he let the characters writer themselves, which means he did not always know where the characters would end up (and he disliked knowing so as he lost interest if he did know prior).

    “My personal TV Mount Rushmore” is overrated, it’s just giant heads in a mountain.
    But I get what you mean. Om mine (of still running shows) I got Family Guy, and The Expanse and The Orville and Supernatural (pay attention to this as the next season will be the last, they are ending it “at the top” and we’ll see if they stick the landing or not).

    “its depiction of a dysfunctional Baltimore drew on people with real-world experience”
    Yeah, the GoT crew should have consulted a few dictators and kings and queens and zombie hunters and dragon riders. But in all seriousness, they had the ultimate source (R.R.Martin) they either did not ask him more than the bare minimum or R.R.Martin decided to not help right the ship (the show) at all. IT’s not like there are any other Westeros experts out there is there?
    If this had been their own creation from the start I’m sure the show would have been okay, it probably would hot have gotten as big but I’m certain it would have gotten a kult following over time. But the series sold itself as being “based on the books”.

    I’m also curious as to what the contract between the show and R.R: Martin reads? Are there specified story restrictions? Where the showrunners only allowed to use “B” mainstory material while Martin is keeping the “A” material for his books?

    “it’s not impossible that an unproven rookie can produce a good script”
    Deadpool comes to mind (writers did Zombieland and G.I. Joe: Retaliation prior, and that’s it pretty much).

    “The last we see of Drogon. And now the CGI budget has ended.”
    Actually there was still some of the city ruins, some areal backgrounds, the wall and Ghost.

    “I always look to the bosses rather than the employees for an explanation.”
    A fair assessment, after all it is in their pover to find someone better if it’s one of those working for them that is causing a issue.

    Another problem is that the (movie/tv) industry dear not speak too ill of others unless you don’t want to get new jobs “in hollywood”.

    “you would think they would bring in some experienced pens to pick up the slack”
    Yeah, but I’m curious what the contract said, had R.R: Martin only approved those few? Would he not have allowed any new writers to know the plans?

    “the entertainment industry simply doesn’t take writing seriously as a profession”
    This I think is partly true, writers are “the faceless workers”, sure they get the credits up there but how often do they appear in interviews?

    “including themselves. I wish I knew why”
    Creative control, there have been times a actor is also the writer and director, rarely it goes well, more often it goes very badly.

    “two Emmy awards for writing during the show’s run, beating out The Americans, Better Call Saul, Mad Men”
    I’ve never watched those shows as they did not interest me. I’d have wanted to see Family Guy (never won, something the characters even complained about (the Emmy pandering episode), not to mention The Expanse and more recently The Orville which is well deserving of a Emmy.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      The petition noise going on is silly IMO, it’s okay to have unsatisfactory endings, I’ve never heard anyone complain about greek tragedys and their endings. I’m glad GoT actually got an ending (so many shows just get cancelled).

      I think you’re confusing an ‘unsatisfactory ending’ with a ‘sad ending’.
      It’s not that the ending of GoT is sad that’s the problem, it’s that it’s illogical, dumb, it leaves unanswered questions, and there’s way to much ‘oh, now this happens’.
      I’ve never seen/read a Greek tragedy, but they probably tell a more coherent, well-sculpted story with a particular point/theme in mind.

      (I do find the name of that petition hilarious though.)

      1. To me a “sad ending” = “unsatisfactory ending”, I like good endings, I’m not happy with the GoT ending, but I do accept it as the vision of the creators, it may not have been their original vision though, running out of books throw a spanner in the works. It would have been interesting to be able to peek into a alternate universe and see how the show would have unfolded if the books kept pace with the show or even got finished before the show started production.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Fair enough. I think a sad ending can be satisfactory – like a ‘[character] makes heroic sacrifice for the cause’ or ‘past actions finally catch up with [character] and they die’ – but sure, that’s very much a matter of opinion.

    2. Steve C says:

      “Somebody else out there has a theory that R.R.Martin sabotaged them”

      That’s nonsensical. GRRM sabotaged them by doing nothing while the show writers had the authority to act independently? By that logic, if GRRM had died then it would have been for the sole purpose to say ‘screw you’ to the showrunners. What about every fanfiction ever written about anything? Did the original authors sabotage every fanfic author by not helping them? If anything, GRRM not writing more ASOIAF frees up the showrunners who have to consider real world constraints of filming.

      I know it is not your theory. It is just so stupid it should not be repeated.

    3. JDMM says:

      (quote)IT’s not like there are any other Westeros experts out there is there?(/quote)

      You joke but there are one or two fans GRRM consults with who remember more details than him

      1. BlueHorus says:

        One or two? I bet there’s dozens. People have been writing the equivalent of academic essays detailing different theories, predictions, extrapolations, cultural analyses…

        There’s people who have been obsessing over the books ever since they came out*, pouring over every detail. All poor George did was write the story; he doesn’t stand a chance.

        *And some of them hated their children enough to name them after book characters!

  19. Matt says:

    Does Bran becoming King remind anyone of Aegon V? From reading the Dunk & Egg stories and the World of Ice and Fire, Aegon seems to have been a progressive reformer of the monarchy with an interest in protecting the smallfolk. He seems to have been an almost ideal king from the mindset of a reader who wants the “good guys” to take over. Ultimately, he dies with his ambitions foiled in pursuit esoteric power.

    The lesson for me was that a good ruler, in GRRM’s world, is not just the one with the right motivations and ambitions. It takes skill and knowledge of realpolitik. You need some Littlefinger as well as a little Jon Snow to rule long and justly.

    Putting Bran on the throne seems like a repeat of Aegon. He has “no interest” in ruling and therefore the right motivations, and also has some mystical power to which he seems devoted. We can probably trust him to do the right thing, but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to personally forge alliances or recognize the reality of things and people beyond his visions. I think the most likely outcome is a Southron Coalition plotting to remove him within a fortnight and the realm plunged back into chaos.

  20. Ninety-Three says:

    I’ve long suspected that, broadly speaking, the upper management culture of the entertainment industry simply doesn’t take writing seriously as a profession. They seem to think it’s something just anyone can do, including themselves.

    What if they’re right? Yes the unqualified writers eventually messed up and made the fans hate them with season 8, but as you note, people were basically with them until then, despite all the flaws. For years they managed to give HBO exactly what it wanted: a beloved, highly-watched show.

    As long as Michael Bay’s scripts keep turning into blockbuster movies, we need to admit the existence of some factor other than traditional “writing quality” that leads to success. Whenever we see execs make baffling hires like the GoT writers, it could be that they’re just making random incompetent mistakes, but I always wonder if what’s happening is an optimization for that Michael Bay “sells despite being garbage” quality.

  21. “the problem, it’s that it’s illogical, dumb, it leaves unanswered questions, and there’s way to much ‘oh, now this happens’”

    I call that “watching the news” these days as the real world is stupider than fiction now. :/

  22. Nixorbo says:

    written the screenplays for (among others) Troy, The Kite Runner, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine

    Woof.

  23. Narkis says:

    Man, it’s cute you still think professional critics care one bit about quality. Much like game reviewers, they’ve embraced their role as advertisers and hype builders and nothing more.

    On the other hand, the audience has proven it cares about writing quality, but who cares about what the plebs want anyway?

    1. trevalyan says:

      I’d love to say this is wrong, but it isn’t. Anarachist freefolk, feminist Arianne fans, fratboys who want “Bobby B” back, ice cold nerds that imagine leading the dead to final victory- any one of them could have written a better ending. Between Star Wars and GoT, a shocking decline in writing quality is less obvious only in comparison to the grossly underqualified “entertainment journalism” industry. Which as we see today, is most of journalism.

      1. Narkis says:

        I think TLJ and GOT are evidence of a rise in arrogance rather than a decline in writing ability. I doubt any of the people responsible for these messes are so much worse than a typical Hollywood writer. They just decided they could do better by subverting expectations and pulling surprises out of their asses.

        1. trevalyan says:

          I think there is an element of both. But if you let pride and subversive expectations get in the way of a good story, you are a hack writer. In the case of TLJ, they make the ultimate confession that killing Snoke was asinine, by bringing back Palpatine to tale his place/ bring back the older fans.

          It won’t be enough.

  24. Fabrimuch says:

    I already posted this on Reddit but here is a list of plot points that stood out to me as not making any sense immediately after watching the ending:

    -Why didn’t Drogon kill Jon? He launched a tantrum against a chair instead of killing his mother’s murderer who was standing right in front of him.

    -Why is there still a Night’s Watch at all? The White Walkers have been exterminated and the Wildlings and the North are at peace, so what exactly are they guarding the realm againt?

    -If the Night’s Watch is still standing, why is Sam allowed to quit the organization to become Grand Maester of King’s Landing?

    -So the Night’s Watch is still a thing. Why does Bran the Broken have the authority to sentence criminals to an institution that’s part of a different kingdom he has no rule over?

    -Why do the Six Kingdoms accept as a king a man from a separate kingdom that has no connection to the South?

    -How is King’s Landing still standing? It was methodically burnt to a crisp from top to bottom and the Wildfire caches went off. How is any section of the city not completely uninhabitable?

    -How is The Red Keep still standing? Rooms such as the Small Council chamber and the King’s Guard headquarters were shown to be intact and the White Book had not a single scratch on it when Brienne was filling in Jaime’s page.

    -Why on Planetos is Bronn Master of Coin? What qualifications could he possibly have that would make giving him such a powerful position to a simple sellsword?

    -Is Bran planning to rule or is he just going to peace off and let the Small Council plan stuff without him in every future session?

    -Why are the Unsullied heading to Naath? Do they want to die a horrible death by poison butterfly?

    -What are the Dothraki up to? Their Khaleesi was murdered so are they sacking cities left and right in revenge? Did they peace off back to Essos? Did they remember they all died during The Last Night and disappear?

    -How exactly is Arya leading a voyage west of Westeros? She’s never shown to have any practical experience sailing in the slightest. She traveled by boat once to Braavos and presumably sailed back to Westeros but that was as a passenger and there’s no indication she has any practical knowledge that would allow her to make such an intrepid journey.

    -Where are Jon and the wildlings going beyond The Wall? It was the final shot of the series so I have to assume it’s somewhere important but the show didn’t bother explaining.

    This list is by no means comprehensive, just my first impressions. Feel free to add on to it.

    1. Erik says:

      These are all very good questions. Much like the question “WHAT DO THEY EAT?” i dont expect an answer

    2. Kavonde says:

      I only have serious-ish answers for a couple of these, but…

      “-Why on Planetos is Bronn Master of Coin? What qualifications could he possibly have that would make giving him such a powerful position to a simple sellsword?”

      Well, he’s Lord Paramount of the Reach now, which, even after Cercei looted it, is probably still the wealthiest kingdom in Westeros. So it makes some logical sense that you’d want to put the guy with all the money in charge of financing the crown’s debts. Kind of. I mean, as long as Bronn doesn’t go all South Sea Company…

      “-Where are Jon and the wildlings going beyond The Wall? It was the final shot of the series so I have to assume it’s somewhere important but the show didn’t bother explaining.”

      With the White Walkers wiped out, they’ve got a whole half-continent to explore and settle as they please. They were probably headed up to that hot spring valley that the wildling horde was gathering at back in the day.

      1. tremor3258 says:

        I think the smartest thing Bronn can do as the financial minister, given one kingdom has already started precedent by leaving, major trade hubs are burned down along with whatever cottage industry was involved, the primary backer of coinage has run out of metal…

        Is convert everything to liquid assets and live the high life somewhere far, far away from Westeros before the rest of the wheels fall off the wagon of government.

        1. Kavonde says:

          On a similar note, I hope Sansa enjoys being queen of the poorest and least-densely-populated kingdom in Westeros. I wonder how many generations it’ll be before the North is reconquered?

          1. tremor3258 says:

            My money is on whoever Bran’s successor will be, from a richer and more populated kingdom, who decides to gain legitimacy by crushing the ‘Stark Rebellion’.

            See we go from War of the Roses to Bannockburn, is what I’m saying.

            Also even if Euron’s part is down, aren’t there plenty of raiders just waiting for the summer harvest to start hitting up Stark lands?

            1. Kavonde says:

              Even better, they can hit Lannister lands. The entire house has been wiped out except for Tyrion, who’s busy running things in King’s Landing. And their military power was destroyed by dragonfire and Unsullied executioners. Easy, easy pickings.

    3. Boobah says:

      -So the Night’s Watch is still a thing. Why does Bran the Broken have the authority to sentence criminals to an institution that’s part of a different kingdom he has no rule over?

      This one, at least, has an answer. The Night’s Watch is in the north, but they’re not of the north; they did not answer to King’s Landing at the start, and wouldn’t answer to Winterfell at the end. The Night’s Watch held the wall before the Targaeryen’s arrived, and its traditions are a part of all of Westeros south of the Wall.

    4. Matthew Downie says:

      1 Drogon didn’t see Jon kill Dany. He saw she’d been stabbed, looked around, and blamed the most obvious suspect; the evil chair made of knives.
      2 The Nights Watch exists to get rid of unwanted people. Like Australia.
      3 Because the King said so.
      4 The Wall is a buffer state between the country known as Thenorth and the Wildling territories.
      5 Their leaders accepted him as king before they knew Thenorth would be going independent. And then they couldn’t be bothered to make a fuss.
      6&7 Dany was careful to only massacre innocents; she didn’t want to risk harming her own soldiers. Or Cersei, for some reason. So she left certain parts of the city unscathed.
      8 Bran is a big fan of Bron, possibly because of the similar names. Plus, he’s not a simple sellsword, any more. He rules one of the biggest of the six kingdoms, because Tyrion said so.
      9 Find out in the sequel series, Breakfast With Bran, coming soon from HBO!
      10 Naath is often raided by slave traders, according to the Wiki. So protecting it gives the Unsullied a purpose in life.
      11 Although they didn’t like to say so at the time, the Dothraki were so horrified by Dany’s genocidal actions that they were happy to retire from being a horde and become peaceful farmers.
      12 Along with the high hit points she got from levelling up, Arya had a lot of skill ranks to spare, so she stuck all those in Profession: Sailor.
      13 They’re going to Where the Wildlings Are.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Drogon didn’t see Jon kill Dany. He saw she’d been stabbed, looked around, and blamed the most obvious suspect; the evil chair made of knives.

        I laughed. No-one ever said dragons were clever.

        1. Matthew Downie says:

          Not my own.

          Drogon is either really clever (“The true culprit for my adoptive mother’s death was her own desire for power, so I shall destroy the symbol of that power!”) or really dumb.

  25. Jon Snow had a interesting line when Tyrion tells him he’s going to the Nights Watch.
    “Was it the right thing we did? It doesn’t feel like the right thing!”
    I get a feeling that’s isn’t just Jon Snow talking, but also the showrunners and writers (they needed to end it, but was it the right way?).

  26. Guest says:

    I’m genuinely fascinated by how different this show is from the books while having the same bulletin board list of plot beats.
    D&D talked about Martin giving them three “Holy shit book” spoilers, so we know about Hodor’s death, Stannis burning his daughter and now Jon killing Dany, but the context in which these events happen will be so different its bizarre.
    Hodor’s death I can see playing out the same way, but Stannis is too far away to even have the option to burn Shireen in case of a blizzard( setting aside that in the books he’s left instructions for his followers to put HER on the Iron Throne if he should fall in battle and is fully capable of militarily defeating the Boltons in the upcoming Battle of Ice)
    And with Dany, we know the Long Night is her endgame, not Kings Landing, so rather than her going “mad”, and having her character and journey ruined, her death will be the fulfillment of her journey in destroying the White Walkers and somehow being the Nissa Nissa to Jon’s Azor Ahai.
    It’s all so bizarre, and I don’t understand why they chose to go this way. Setting aside all the other plots and characters they just kinda steam rolled over, why couldn’t they have had the Kings Landing conflict in the first half of the season and the Long Night the second? All I can think of was they wanted to give Lena Headey a longer acting reel, or they really really wanted to make Dany the “Mad Queen”.
    They did erase Cersei’s final act of villainy and madness and give it Dany, (though Dany succeeds while Cersei is most likely getting a sword in her back from her dearest brother before she can), so I’m leaning toward the former out of their love for Lena Headey and her character.

  27. Retsam says:

    With the discussion of plotters/pantsers (but I prefer GRRM’s terms, “architects” and “gardeners”, personally) – writers who have a plan vs. writers who allow their characters to develop organically, respectively – I have to wonder how much of the unsatisfying ending should actually be laid at Martin’s feet, rather than B&W. (Though I feel like GRRM has gotten way more hate than he deserves over the last decade and I really don’t want to pile on)

    But it seems like there’s a bit of an assumption that GRRM has a satisfying ending planned out, and that the TV version just botched it up. But GRRM has always identified strongly as an “gardener”-style writer, and the classic flaw of gardener writers is being bad at endings: when your writing is directed by your character’s individual motivations and not by an overarching plan, it’s hard to corral that into a satisfying ending.[1]

    A (depressingly) common narrative about GRRM’s stalled writing seems to be “he’s old and lazy and just doesn’t care” but in reality I think the biggest reason for the delay is that his architect tendencies have written himself into a bit of a corner and he’s struggling to figure out how to end the series, himself. I’m sure he has a general idea of where he wants the series to go, but as this show seems to have proven, getting there is the hard part.

    So, maybe B&W were unqualified… and absolutely more experienced writers could likely have done a better job, but it also is seeming like finishing ASoIaF is a Herculean Task, and perhaps nobody, not even GRRM himself, would be up to the job. I’m not justifying or ignoring the writing mistakes, but just suggesting perhaps a bit of sympathy towards some writers given a very difficult task might be appropriate.

    [1] Contrast someone like Brandon Sanderson – a classic architect – who writes meticulous outlines, starting with his endings and works backwards from there, and always knowing exactly what needs to happen to make the ending happen. The downside of this approach is that characters sometimes feel wooden, and more “plot driven” than “character driven”, but it’s a good approach for satisfying endings.

  28. Kavonde says:

    I’ve been making comparisons to Mass Effect 3’s ending for a few weeks now. It’s really striking to see this playing out again so similarly.

    Basically, seasons 1-4 were Mass Effect 1. This very dense, detail-oriented story rich with history and deeply concerned with logistics and other setting details. Then they passed the books up/were bought by E.A. There was an immediate shift in the quality of the main plotline, but we were mostly having fun and enjoying spending time with these characters and were able to go along with it. But then we got to the end, and a huge chunk of the audience suffered story collapse at a supposedly-dramatic moment that was just too contrived and unearned to suspend disbelief for. And then we had this big internet flame-up between fans trying to process exactly what kicked them out of the story, and other fans deliberately misunderstanding what the complainers were complaining about. Add in some creative types defending the ending and ridiculing displeased fans for whining, and the cocktail is complete. Same process, but on a bigger scale. Mass Effect 3 was a concern for gamers who enjoyed single-player RPGs, and the famous types defending it were people like Jim Sterling. Game of Thrones was basically the biggest pop cultural touchstone of the last decade, and the famous types defending it were people like Stephen friggin’ King.

    But as for the final episode itself, I didn’t hate it. It was bland. Boring. Decidedly “meh.” And that was honestly better than I was expecting after “The Bells.”

    I just have one other observation: all the Unsullied are going to die when they get to Nath. Missandei really should have mentioned those plague butterflies.

    1. Steve C says:

      For me it was all the nonversations. The books and show based on books often meandered at points. Even so, there were no nonversations. The show’s later seasons reverted to Hollywood dramatic moments where two characters talk at each other, chew the scenery, resolve nothing and walk away to do it again. Hollywood loves those, and I hate them. (Even in real life, I avoid anyone who does this.)

      One in particular that caught my attention was this scene. It is absolutely fucking awful. Sure, it is entertaining watching good actors chew the scenery. With that kind of entertainment it is hard to notice they don’t actually say anything. It’s all deflection, changing the subject and rehashed story time. What bothers me most is that Varys had real motivation, real reasons to do what he did. They had been telegraphed from the beginning. I was like “finally, Varys is going to actually explain it” and instead it was just a massive bullshit session. The show had done this many times before, but never had there been such an easy ball to knock it out of the park.

      It was the perfect scene to advance the plot, narrative, character motivations, resolve some outstanding conflicts and advance the story beyond them. I knew if they couldn’t do any of those things in that perfect setup then the writers were completely incapable of resolving anything nor injecting any logical character motivations. It’s why I did not watch anything from the last season.

  29. Kieran says:

    the show’s only remaining people of color resemble various troubling caricatures of the menacing foreigner.

    Well, they’re literally menacing foreigners invading a kingdom on behalf of a foreign queen. But they have their own fleshed-out motivations and agendas, so I don’t see why you would consider them to be caricatures.

    1. trevalyan says:

      The Dothraki did as Dany said, slaughtering her enemies and pulling down their stone houses. She openly says this in her Triumph of the Will speech! The surprise isn’t that they commit atrocities, it’s that Dany kept them on a leash this well. The Northmen are apparently just as ready to commit rape and plunder, but when you say the Dothraki are -less- likely to do so, that’s just crazy talk. You can’t make fantasy Mongols into innocent angels.

  30. Jenkins says:

    I had a ton of problems with the episode, but I won’t make an in-depth comment about them since they’ve already been discussed ad nauseam here and elsewhere on the blogosphere.

    Instead I’ll just say how disappointed I am at how small a role magic played in the climax of a fantasy story. One of the longest running themes in the novel (and in the show until they forgot about it in the final two seasons) is magic seeping its way back into the world and becoming a force of nature once more. It started at the very beginning of Game of Thrones with the slain wildings being resurrected and turned into wights, and continued with Daenerys unburnt by the flames of Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and the birth of her dragons. Then there was the red comet in the sky at the start of A Clash of Kings, the shadow baby, and so on and so on. Whatever role magic had to play in the events of Game of Thrones clearly went out the window when the Night King was dispatched with so little consequence, but it didn’t struck me fully until Drogon left King’s Landing. With the last of the dragons gone, the world of Ice and Fire suddenly felt drab and dull and colourless. The magic had, it seems, faded completely from the world.

  31. Distec says:

    “Tyrion’s role for the past several seasons has been to volunteer terrible ideas that everyone takes seriously for some reason, and his latest is to make Bran King. Yes, Bran, the three-eyed Raven, who is neither a Targaryen nor a Baratheon nor even entirely human at this point. Tyrion’s justification is something about stories being important and how Bran has the best story. I didn’t follow all of it because I was trying to hold in laughter.”

    Did you succeed? Because I failed miserably. I laughed so hard I had to stand up and try to walk it off. Then it kept going and I had lean on a chair for support. Then I collapsed on the floor, laughing hysterically with tears streaming down my face.

    Have you ever laughed so hard and so long to the point where it starts to scare you? Like, you start wondering if you’ll ever be able to stop or if you might be experiencing the onset of psychosis or an aneurysm? It was that kind of laugh.

    I’m still pondering on why it hit me this way. I began ironically enjoying the show instead of getting irritated with it after Ep3, and the one-two punch of 1) Meme candidate King fucking Bran coolly taking the throne like an ice cold badass, and 2) Imagining what must have been running through Dinklage’s head while he regurgitated this bullshit monologue; just completely broke me.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi 11 months after it came out, after knowing the spoilers; and it made me laugh hysterically because it actually played out like a Star Wars themed bad sex comedy and I did not expect that.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        You haven’t seen a lot of sex comedies huh? That’s alright, but protip: they tend to have a nonzero amount of sex scenes in them, not a single, non-mutual kiss.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          The Last Jedi snuck in at least one implied/allegorical scene like that which probably flew under people’s radar.
          TLJ also arguable put in a lot more scenes that could be seen as a sort of ‘we’re not going to mention it, but here it is’ type of comedy about… stuff. I had an inkling about it, and once I researched that the cinematographer behind TLJ was also responsible for the 2013 remake of Carrie… well, let’s just say that the shoe fits.

          If the Carrie remake is about a woman with ‘women’s issues’ who gets force powers (watching some of the scenes makes it really obvious that they are ‘Force Powers(tm)’, by the same cinematographer as TLJ, then if you do some basic algebra you end up with… what amounts to The Last Jedi.

          P.S also it is ‘bad sex’ comedy, not a bad ‘sex comedy’. They’re different things.

  32. Olivier FAURE says:

    Everything you guys said about logistics and Bran being a terrible king and the city being remarkably intact is true, but when I watched the episode I only had one thing in mind:

    Nobody called Daenerys “Queen of the ashes”! Come, guys, there were so many occasions! Like when Tyrion was confronting her, with a plain view of the burning city, its ashes filling the air, he could have given her the nickname, it would have been a perfect throwback to what little character moments she had in earlier seasons!

  33. KillerAngel says:

    This scene, against all odds, did in fact provoke an emotional response in me. My understanding is that GRRM told the writers, in broad strokes, how his planned ending was going to play out, so it’s likely that this particular sequence is indeed his vision, even if the particulars of how the story gets there are probably different. It plays into Jon’s theme as a protector of people, referenced by Tyrion’s allusion to the Night’s Watch vows: “the shield that guards the realms of Men.” I have no shortage of criticisms of everything that surrounds it, such as how neatly Dany fits into an unfortunate “hysterical woman” trope, and how the show’s only remaining people of color resemble various troubling caricatures of the menacing foreigner.

    I highly disagree with this. I don’t see any possible ending of the books where it plays out like this. Here’s what GRRM has to say about Dany:

    “I know that she spent her childhood in exile, impoverished, living on dreams and schemes, running from one city to the next, always fearful, never safe, friendless but for a brother who was by all accounts half-mad … a brother who sold her maidenhood to the Dothraki for the promise of an army. I know that somewhere out upon the grass her dragons hatched, and so did she. I know she is proud. How not? What else was left her but pride? I know she is strong. How not? The Dothraki despise weakness. If Daenerys had been weak, she would have perished with Viserys. I know she is fierce. Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen are proof enough of that. She has crossed the grasslands and the red waste, survived assassins and conspiracies and fell sorceries, grieved for a brother and a husband and a son, trod the cities of the slavers to dust beneath her dainty sandaled feet…this Mother of Dragons, this Breaker of Chains, is above all a rescuer.

    Even though that quote is attributed to Tyrion, he displays knowledge he shouldn’t have, it’s pretty clear that it’s GRRM’s opinion of her.

    I think it’s possible, even likely, that Jon kills Dany. But I think he does it as an Azor Ahai type sacrifice as opposed to stopping her as a tyrant. But Dany will burn down King’s Landing before she heads north to fight the Others. She will sink to her lowest point and come back from it, ending her life as a hero not as a villain.

  34. Preciousgollum says:

    The ‘I’m planning to take over the world next’ routine of this ending was poor villain monologuing and a way to quickly ramp up the stakes to absurd levels without much effort. As is something like: ‘Don’t you see what it is I’m doing here’?

    In fact, I sincerely hoped just before the final episode that they wouldn’t go this route to justify the decision. Yes, there were lots of people talking beforehand about how Dany never appeared bad because the people she killed were evil, and that she somehow coasted along in camoflaguing her villainy and/or building up a faulty messiah, but this reads more like Westeros Truther logic than anything either believable or satisfying. Another form of villainy from the plot itself is using Dany as a way to solve Westeros’ problems, before expending her because she is a loose end and no longer serves a purpose, since something ‘better’ came along.

    That’s something that media tends to recognise as a form of nefarious behaviour, and not just because women. He/she is just using you (for X + points for ‘before disposing of you’) is the classic retort when you want to spell it out.

    Danaerys ended up like Wallace Breen from Half-Life 2 … but Breen was set up as a villain, and cements his place as a critic of the hero.

    Maybe some people prefer a villain that eventually seems sympathetic, rather than the 1984-style shout at Emmanuel Goldstein on the screen because the social conditioning tells you to do so based on their ideology being seen as flawed logic.

    In the end, the justification for Jon to kill Dany was ultimately argued out based on her ideology being seen as flawed, rather than… y’know, first hand experience of nearly being killed by your own protector (like what nearly happened to Arya multiple times prior).

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      In the annals of history it should be written: Queen Danaerys ‘The Unburnt’ succumbed to Gaslighting’.

      …Which could well fit in as a patch note for Crusader Kings 2

    2. Cubic says:

      this reads more like Westeros Truther logic

      Obvious the so-called burning of King’s Landing was a CGI hologram. LOL, Iron Bank shills BTFO.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        The burning of Kings Landing was an inside job and a false flag operation to invade the world. It was done by a white leader, and the brown people were only acting under orders.

        Paper dragons man, paper dragons.

        (What I mean is that the ending takes on a tinge of Truther Narrative/subject matter).

        1. trevalyan says:

          At this point, some popular entertainment is so bad that it’s a joy to imagine a “true” ending implied by the clumsy writers. Indoctrination Theory made it start for me, but now applying my imagination to inferior media helps me accept its various failures in reality. It may even make me a better writer some day.

          Also, fire can’t melt heavy stone. It is known.

  35. TLN says:

    “They acknowledge that he can’t have children, and decide that they’ll gather again to pick a new King when he dies.”

    Bran is likely to outlive most of the people at that meeting so they’re just postponing what seems like an inevitable succession crisis. It’s so unimaginably stupid that the one takeaway theme of the entire show seems to be “actually feudalism is pretty chill as long as it’s one of the good guys”.

    1. TLN says:

      Also since all the Unsullied and Dothraki ends up sailing east, couldn’t Jon just come back down to Winterfell? It’s not like anyone there is going to tell on him, much like how nobody bothered to tell Grey Worm that the Night’s Watch wasn’t actually a thing anymore.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        Also since all the Unsullied and Dothraki ends up sailing east, couldn’t Jon just come back down to Winterfell? It’s not like anyone there is going to tell on him, much like how nobody bothered to tell Grey Worm that the Night’s Watch wasn’t actually a thing anymore.

        Seems obvious, yes, but Jon cannot come back because Yara Greyjoy (Asha in the books?) makes it clear that she is Team Dany, so presumably there are other players in Westeros that don’t take kindly to Jon’s fratricide and regicide.

        Lol, the other characters convinced Jon to commit a crime for them and then get himself in trouble for it as a patsy.

  36. Delachruz says:

    I had not even noticed that GoT had ended until my usual browsing coughed up a 50/50 mix of people being very angry, and other people indulging in massive amounts of Schadenfreude.

    I wanted the ending to be good. Not for me, I stopped caring about the show after Season 3, I think, might’ve been 4. But for those many many people that followed it almost religiously. I have a certain amount of disdain for GoT at this point, owed to the fact that it was and still is one of the biggest fantasy things in the public eye. And thus I could barely go a week without people insisting I NEED to watch it again, or reacting in anger when I explain that I do not like the show. And part of me is glad that maybe people will now finally stop banging about it. But I’ve seen a lot of genuine disappointment and sadness after it is over now, and that does break my heart at least a little.

    I honestly at first thought the “Bran the Broken” thing was a joke. So the whole thing with Jon being Targaryen all along was entirely pointless? And in a setting like Westeros, you seriously believe you’d get a majority vote on a kid in a wheel chair? A big part of this and last episode genuinely sounded like Crusader Kings 2 silliness, and not a long running shows grand ending.
    On that note, if this is, in broad strokes, Georges intended ending, I am now actually curious how it will play out. Can’t imagine all the negative reaction this is getting would instill much confidence to just stick to that plan.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      And thus I could barely go a week without people insisting I NEED to watch it again, or reacting in anger when I explain that I do not like the show.

      OMG YOU DON’T WATCH GoT?!?!? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!?

      Don’t you know that it’s GOOD? It’s what everyone’s watching, that makes it GOOD! HOW DARE YOU NOT LIKE IT IT’S SUPER IMPORTANT THAT YOU LIKE AND WATCH A FANTASY SHOW ABOUT DRAGONS AND ICE ZOMBIES!!!!!

      …yeah, people are weird like this. It’s like some kind of Fandom Snowball effect. Because it’s popular, it therefore somehow becomes even more popular, and people start to get a little carried away…

      I get why someone would like a story/show/whatever. But giving a shit whether someone else likes it as well?
      People…

      1. Scampi says:

        …yeah, people are weird like this. It’s like some kind of Fandom Snowball effect. Because it’s popular, it therefore somehow becomes even more popular, and people start to get a little carried away…

        You mean, like Steam? Or Facebook? Or Twitter? It almost seems like that kind of effect is very current.:P

      2. Asdasd says:

        It’s been amusing watching members of the professional class – especially respectable broadsheet journalists – losing their minds over their experience of GoT story collapse, especially considering how much disdain they usually have for genre/fantasy fiction and fandom. When Star Wars split opinions, their impulse was to defend TLJ’s creators against the entitled mob. Watching the paroxysms caused by finding themselves unable to do the same over GoT, because they got too invested in it and share the complaints, is a sickly-sweet Schadenfreude. Plus the memes are pretty good.

  37. Volvagia says:

    “TV Mount Rushmore”. Hmm. If I had four, to match the real Mount Rushmore? Star Trek: TOS (for high flying sci-fi and great characters), The Wire (tense, grounded, but also oddly beautiful portrait of urban decay), Original Run Arrested Development (the tightest TV comedy ever) and Danny Phantom (the best TV Spider-Man adaptation (and either the best or second best ever, give or take Into the Spider-Verse), even if “unofficial”). If eight? Add The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Shield and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Full ten? Early Simpsons (maybe 2-8 instead of 2-7) and Breaking Bad.

    1. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Have you watched Spectacular Spider-Man? I think it would win pretty easily by… actually being Spider-Man (and being fantastic besides).

      1. Volvagia says:

        I’ve seen it. It’s not terrible (and if it were strictly a test of animation quality, would win, if narrowly), but the subplot theatre approach usually overwhelms the show’s/genre’s better virtues. Episode 2 (Heart of Ice: Electro Edition? Brilliant idea. Smothering it in subplots? What are you doing!?) and Episode 18 (how much screen-time do they give to Sandman and the kid, again? A minute? (Deadpan) Feel the tragedy.) in particular are DISASTER versions of great ideas, but most of the rest of the show is similarly flawed.

  38. Jabberwok says:

    “I’ve long suspected that, broadly speaking, the upper management culture of the entertainment industry simply doesn’t take writing seriously as a profession. They seem to think it’s something just anyone can do, including themselves. I wish I knew why, because from where I’m sitting this habit has consistently bitten them in the ass for decades.”

    Dunning-Kruger effect? Writing may just be one of those things that requires the skill in order to recognize the skill. A manager doesn’t need to know anything about CG to know if a dragon looks cool. Most people can tell if music is out of tune even if they don’t know what tuning is. And unlike music, almost everyone learns how to speak and write a language. Being literate and being able to produce literature look the same to a person without the artistic training or talent to tell the difference. Especially a person who is given enough authority to convince them that their opinion is important, and thus valid.

  39. Joe says:

    It’s odd that you mention the ‘untrained’ writers as being the cause of the show’s bad writing, as I personally think the episodes written by David Hill and Bryan Cogman to be the strongest ones, and the one’s helmed by Benioff and Weiss are the ones with a lot of nothing being said.

    Now it could be, and I think this very unlikely, that B&W give the writing credit for their strong episodes to their novice writers to help their portfolio, or to shield them from the negative criticism, but that assumes human beings are naturally kind and considerate, and given the overall message of the show (“people are dicks”) I don’t believe the writers subscribe to that philosophy.

    In any case, careful when naming names, as we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors during the writing process. The safest bet would be to criticise the entire writing team, even if they don’t all deserve it, as writing a show is definitely a collabroative effort regardless or individual merit.

    1. Dexx says:

      Yes, I also think that this accusation is based on very flimsy evidence. For all we know, these writers might have written thousands of scripts, some of them very good, that just never got off the ground for various reasons. Their true portfolio might be filled with promising low-budget or local projects, known to a few people. It doesn’t mean that it’s not possible for them to be complete hacks, just that we don’t know one way or the other. Making things happen in the expensive film industry is not just a matter of talent but circumstance – various people and events converging at the right place and time.

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