Category Archives: game of thrones season eight

Game of Thrones– Final thoughts (well, maybe….)

Just in case–

***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS

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Well, I hope so…the one shot I desperately wanted to see in the final episode was him (?) brooding a clutch of eggs….

Time to put this puppy to bed.  Game of Thrones, the television show, for better or worse, is over.  For a lot of people it’s for the worse, and the online rage is astounding.  The petition to have Season 8 remade is out there, and is a measure of some people’s disappointment.  It is, of course, a bigger fantasy than Game of Thrones itself.  Folks need to find a more productive way to express their disappointment.

For me, the final episode was a mixed bag.  In a previous post I outlined how the sketchy, truncated natures of both Season Seven and Eight had negative consequences for both story-lines and characters, and, without tooting my own horn, this seems to be the emerging consensus among thoughtful critics of the show, such Chuck Wendig and Curnblog.  All of those problems came home to roost in the finale.  Just one example, and perhaps the most important– Dany goes all Mad Queen, but while it had been hinted at in previous episodes, the way it was written still seemed abrupt.  The groundwork just had not been laid in a satisfactory manner, as far as I’m concerned.

The odd thing is, I generally like where the (surviving) characters ended up.  Their individual ending points made sense to me, for the most part.  But again, it wasn’t where the characters ended that mattered, but whether we believed the path they took to get there.  For the most part, for my taste, the answer for most of them would be ‘no’.

There is an important lesson for all writers of fiction here, whatever your medium.  If you want your readers/viewers to reach the end of your story and say, “That makes sense; this is how it had to be,” then you cannot avoid doing the work you need to do to build up the story and the characters in a believable fashion.  There are no shortcuts.  You have to do the work.

In light of that truth, it very much appears that the show-runners of Game of Thrones, in the end, didn’t have the energy or chops to carry the narrative the full distance to a more complete resolution.  Tired of the business, or without the skill to resolve the admittedly complicated narrative and characters satisfactorily, they slapped on an ending and called it a day.  Or so it appears.

And so one of the greatest TV shows ever– perhaps the greatest– ends with a whisper rather than a shout.  To those who rage about how it all played out, I would recommend taking a deep breath and letting it go.  It is done.  The practicalities of film and television production militate against any quick solution.  Perhaps in another generation someone will undertake a remake, especially when they have the entire series of completed books available.  It is unlikely, however, that any future production will be able to call upon the acting and production talent that this show called upon, and for the most part utilized quite fully.  You can never get the stars to align quite the same way, nor lightning to strike twice, and so it is with great TV shows.  Be happy for all the good parts, which will endure, and which will set the standard for this sort of storytelling for a long time to come.

And, yes, there are two books yet to come, which I expect will give us fuller resolutions all around.  Someone online suggested that the show is fanfiction, and the books canon.  As attractive as that gloss may be, I think prefer to think that the show is one creature, and the books another, although related.  Each operates under their own constraints and imperatives.  And, fortunately, the disappointments of one do not necessarily foreshadow the success or failure of the other.

And, of course, there is my personal solution to narrative disappointment– writing my own stuff.  With which, at the moment, I am fully engaged, and to which I am trying to apply the lessons of Game of Thrones, both the good and the bad.  Hopefully we can all learn from this experience.

Later.

 

 

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A few thoughts before the end…Game of Thrones

MASSIVE AND HAIRY SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES, SEASON EIGHT.

REALLY, I’M NOT KIDDING.

DON’T BLAME ME FOR ANY SUBSEQUENT SPOILAGE AND/OR HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS.

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In the unlikely event anyone noticed, I have been holding back about commenting so far on Season Eight of Game of Thrones. Partly this has been because I have been heavily engaged with other projects, and partly because I didn’t want to judge a product before it is fully…well, produced, but now, hovering on the edge of the last episode, and whatever resolution it provides, I wanted to record some thoughts.  Or feelings.  Or emotionally-laden thoughts that are probably idiosyncratic to one aging nerd who has some pretty curmudgeonly ideas about stories and how they should work.  So here goes, in no particular order–

  1. I was disappointed in the rushed nature of Season Seven, and I am at least as disappointed in the rushed nature of Season Eight.  Really, both seasons needed those extra episodes to lay things out properly, both in terms of plot and characters.
  2. Even more than that, though, it seems obvious, from the way things have played out in Season Eight, that the show-runners, at the moment when they need to bring all the disparate elements of this massive story together, had no clue how to do it.  Now, I’ve said this before, but ending an epic storyline in a way that satisfactorily resolves all the threads and themes is very, very hard.  Tolkien did it, but Lost (which had story issues from the get-go) utterly failed, The Sopranos ended in a black screen, and even Hayao Miyazaki’s manga version of Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind  seemed to lose its energy toward the end.  By that standard perhaps I should cut the show-runners a little slack.
  3. On the other hand, they had years to develop the story and characters arcs, and at the end it still seems as if they didn’t quite know what to do with all the bits and pieces.  They’ve killed off characters– Rickon, Littlefinger, Jamie and Cersei– important characters, in peremptory fashion that hardly served the story at all.  They killed off the Night King in a fashion that was not only peremptory, but which ended one of the two major story-lines of the series in wholly unsatisfactory way that left more questions than it resolved.  Supposedly important elements (e.g. the Golden Company) are introduced and then disposed of in a summary manner that makes you wonder why they were brought into the story in the first place.  Again, a full slate of episodes would have allowed more time to properly resolved these issues.
  4. The show-runners, in their comments on episodes, talk a great deal about subverting watcher expectations.  Well and good, because otherwise the story would grow predictable.  But you can’t subvert expectations and make the characters you’ve spent years building up look like useless puppets in the process., not if you want the story to be worth anything.  E.G., Jon confronting the Night King– it would be one thing for Jon to engage the Night King, proceed to get his behind kicked, and then have Arya save the day.  It’s wholly another, and immensely unsatisfying, to have Jon blocked and impotent, while Arya comes out of nowhere (literally and story-wise) to do the deed.  Also, take the manner of Jamie and Cersei’s (apparent) deaths– after years of build-up, it is immensely unsatisfying, from the perspective of a viewer, as well as the perspective of story resolution, to have them die in a rain of masonry.  Yes, bad guys die all the time in mundane ways, but viewers were rightfully expecting a resolution to these characters in a story that spoke to all the build-up and repeated themes around them.
  5. By contrast, Clegane Bowl (for me, at least) seemed to at least minimally do the job, although it still felt truncated.  The hate between these two men, the unstoppable nature of (undead?) Gregor, and the final mutual end in fire seemed to wrap everything up as far as the characters went.
  6. To put it another way, if you are going to subvert expectations, you have to subvert them in a way that makes the viewer (or reader) say, “Oh! I didn’t see that coming, but, yeah, it makes sense!”  Too often the twists in the last two seasons seem to have left the viewers scratching their heads, instead.

How to sum this all up?  One of things I keep telling myself is that, as an adaptation, and, more than that, an adaptation of a series of books that have yet to be completed, Game of Thrones, in some way or another, was always going to fall short of expectations.  Adaptations generally do.  Having said that, it appears, from the extreme distance at which I sit from the writing effort that finished off the series (a distance, admittedly, to be measured in parsecs), that no one seemed to know how to achieve even a minimally satisfying resolution to many of the arcs, and sorta kinda cobbled it all together, threw it out the door, and said, “Whew!  Glad that’s over with.”

And that’s the way it is. Having expressed my dissatisfaction, I am not going to be joining the online chorus of fan-folk raging at how GoT failed and was destroyed by SJW’s or feminazis or hipsters or whatever other strawman they wish to concoct to vent their spleen upon.  GoT is hardly the first television show to end weaker than it initially promised (hell, even Downton Abbey was pretty worn out by its finale).  If the show-runners failed to bring proper resolution to the story, then they are hardly alone.  Their failure perhaps looms larger precisely because expectations were larger in proportion to the epic scope of the tale.

Now, I am reserving complete and final judgment on the series, since there is one episode left.  Even so, I don’t expect one episode to afford enough room to redeem every sin committed in Seasons Seven and Eight.  The writers and show-runners would have to do something pretty spectacular to come close to ending the whole series on a fitting note.  Maybe–

  1. Bran becomes the new Night King (actually a fan-theory that’s already out there).
  2. The wildfire reservoirs under King’s Landing go off while Dany, the Unsullied and the Dothraki celebrate their victory, thus solving the problem of the Mad Queen (perhaps already hinted at in the eruptions of wildfire seen in Episode Eight).
  3. Jon steps in and prevents Dany from executing Tyrion, possibly at the cost of his own life.  Dany, grief-stricken, goes back to Meereen and leaves Sansa Stark to rule in her stead.
  4. Dany executes Tyrion for freeing Jaime, Jon assassinates Dany, the Unsullied and Dothraki kill Jon and the Northmen, and then turn on each other, and when everyone is dead, Jaime and Cersei emerge unharmed from the rubble and walk off, hand-in-hand, into the sunset…. (actually, if the writers had the stones to do that I would stand up and cheer.  Then start crying).

Sorry, I was starting to trail off into the silly there.  Still, the point is that the writers could still have come up with some pretty interesting twists, and, even if the series as a whole has not lived up to expectations, I still want to see how the individual characters are resolved.  Having come this far, I want to follow through to the end.

Later.

 

Okay, one more– some predictions for Season 8 of Game of Thrones

I said I was going to put Game of Throne to rest for the hiatus, and now here I am again.  I wouldn’t quite use the word “obsession”, but I’m close, really close….

Naturally–

Spoilers***Spoilers***Spoilers***Spoilers***Spoilers***Spoilers***

I realized today that I didn’t get around to making any predictions for Season 8 in my last post.  Now, it has been proven that my ability to actually prognosticate the direction of the show, even in the short term, is pretty much crap, but my hubris, acknowledging no restraint, will not allow me to sleep tonight until I’ve scribbled down at least a few.  I can come back in a year or a year and a half (or two years, God forbid) and see how far off the mark I actually flung the predictive darts.  Hopefully nobody gets punctured in the volley….

  1. Dany and Jon will have perhaps one episode, perhaps less, of happiness, and then Bran and Sam are going to drop their bomb, and I-cannot-tell-a-lie Aegon Targaryen will tell Dany, and the two of them will breakup in sorrow and remorse.
  2. Not before Jon knocks Dany up, however.  It is known.
  3. Not sure how Dany will handle finding out that Jon has a better claim to the Iron Throne than she does, even though I am sure Jon will repudiate any interest in it.  Dany’s self-identified for so long as the one legitimate heir that finding out who Jon really is may send her spinning off in dangerous directions.
  4. Clegane Bowl will happen.  Count on it.  There is no way the two of them are going to settle their hatred any other way but with a knock-down, drag-out blood-match, not after their face-off the in the Dragonpit.  Anything less would be anti-climactic.
  5. You can also count on a showdown between Euron and Theon.  Theon’s redemptive arc demands it, and if he dies saving Yara, it will be with Theon having found himself at last.
  6. Drogon vs. Viserion– it’s coming.  There’s no way the showrunners can refuse to give us that spectacle. Just no way.
  7. Poor Rhaegal, though– something dire is going to happen to him in the Great War before we get to the climax, if only to even the odds for DvV.
  8. The writers appear to be positioning Tyrion to do something stupid/traitorous.  I hope I am wrong, and I think it would be a horrifying mistake with his character, but hey, I’m just a watcher, not a writer.  Otherwise the good guys would have fuel-air bombs to use on the wights.
  9. Wait a minute– wildfire?  High altitude bombing?  Hmmm….
  10. How Tyrion’s retrograde character development will play into the Jaime-Cersei dynamic is unclear, but that’s another face-off that will resolve itself, probably in blood.
  11. And talking about showdowns the story arc demands– how about the biggest of them all, Jon going mano-a-mano with the Night King?  This was set up right in front of us in Episode Six, when Beric pointed his sword at the Night King and suggested that killing him would destroy all the wights.  Even without that setup, how could we wrap this tale up without the lead good guy, Jon, facing off against the lead bad guy, the Night King?  Three thousand years of Western literary tradition insists on this climactic confrontation, from the Odyssey to Star Wars.
  12. Jon, of course, will die heroically in this fight, after vanquishing the Night King.  For extra points he’ll die in Dany’s arms (crap, this is writing itself).
  13. Which brings us to the subject of who will die.  Actually, it’s easier to say who I think will live.  Personally, I feel fairly secure in saying that the survivors will include–
    • Dany
    • Arya
    • Yara (if only because Theon has to rescue her)
    • Drogon
    • Sam
    • Gilly
    • Little Sam

And that’s about all I feel sure of.  Every other character in this show has at least the potential of supplying a really gripping death scene to the story.  Every other one.  I’m sure there will be other survivors, but my instinct cannot predict with certainty who they may be.  Brace for a blood-bath.

Thinking about what may happen in Season Eight actually sharpens for me an insight other people have shared, that Season Seven really was about getting all the pieces in place, and establishing the inevitable, climactic confrontations that have to play out so this epic can have a halfway satisfying resolution.  From that perspective, despite the haste that typified Season Seven, the show-runners did their job, and I applaud them.

And, now, for sure, I need to put GoT aside for a while.  It’s going to be a long wait, no doubt filled with frustration and spoilerish temptations.  Fortunately, I know, if not a remedy, then at least a means of distracting myself.

Write my own epic.  ‘Nuff said.

Later.