Just in case–
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.