I would go so far as to call myself a ‘fanatic’ about Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books, twice, as well as the entire ‘A World of Ice and Fire’ textbook. I’ve watched every episode of seasons 1-7 more times than I can count, and will soon have for season 8 as well. I have watched the fanbase of this tremendous show wither and die across the duration of the season, and after seeing the bile that is being spouted about the finale, I have had e-fucking-nough and am going to give my verdict on it.
FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
First off, I did not like The Long Night (episode 3) as in my opinion, it’s much too long. It would not have been difficult to cut away about 20 minutes of filler and unnecessary footage, and would have improved the overall feel of the conflict immensely. All of Arya’s scenes in the library did nothing for me, as we already know she can move stealthily, and so I would have had that segment start from her bumping into The Hound and Beric Dondarrion. This change would have detracted nothing from the moments that follow and would have helped significantly into bringing the episode down to a more appropriate runtime. I have made my peace with her killing the Night King, as I wanted the (albeit predictable) showdown between him and Jon Snow at first, but after a couple of re-watches I am now happy that it was her. However, the fact the Night King isn’t even mentioned in the second half of the season is a glaring and terrible oversight on the showrunners part.
I thought episodes 1, 2 and 4 were all very good, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (episode 2) being a clear highlight. Another major highlight from the season was Rhaegal taking a scorpion bolt through the throat, and plummeting from the sky to sink beneath the waves after three (lucky) strikes from Euron Greyjoy. This is not because I disliked the dragon, but because the scene started and ended so abruptly, with nobody but Daenerys seeming at all bothered about a major component of the Targaryen force being wiped out with zero warning. This may seem like lazy writing on the showrunners part, and it is, but it’s a damn good spectacle to watch!
Now, episode 5, The Bells. First impressions were not good, as I didn’t like the drastic actions undertaken by Daenerys or the criminal lack of use of Cersei Lannister. I didn’t like the Northmen breaking rank and going on a rape and murder spree, and I certainly didn’t like the typically stoic and honourable Grey Worm cutting down unarmed Lannister forces. The moment that made me angry was the death of Qyburn (My favourite character) as him being thrown by the Mountain made me laugh for how silly it was, before the realisation hit me that it had killed him.
I took a week off from it before re-watching The Bells, and after reading almost all the internet had to offer on justifying why Daenerys went full Mad Queen on the people she had come to protect, I found myself a lot more lenient towards it. This is primarily down to the unfortunate truth that if she hadn’t, the finale would have probably been just an hour and a quarter of promotions, back patting, hand holding and, given what she wants, aunt plowing.
A gripe I didn’t have until my second watch, was that the long-awaited Cleganebowl would have been improved significantly if it only ever cut away to Arya, and left the others to fend for themselves until the camera could cut back to them following the satisfying ending to this long-awaited brotherly bust-up. I didn’t mind so much on my first watch, but on my second I got pretty irritated with the idea anybody watching was remotely interested in anything else going on at the time.
8 years, 72 prior episodes, hundreds of deaths, thousands of man hours and it all comes down to this. The finale. The Iron Throne.
Without any hesitation, without a flicker of doubt, with every fibre of my being. I adored this episode. From the bleak start and the dread of nearly losing Tyrion Lannister after his defiant resignation as Hand of the Queen, all the way to Bran Stark (one of the only characters I disliked until the finale) being proclaimed King of the SIX Kingdoms. Every decision made by showrunners D.B Weiss and David Benioff subverted my expectations, apart from the destruction of the Iron Throne, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for them for that.
Happily, Jon Snow got to return north of the Wall, as he had earlier stated he wished he could do. Arya got to travel west of Westeros as she had said she wanted to. Sansa became Queen in the North and separated the North from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms as she had sworn she would. King Bran the Broken’s Small Council had me in tears of laughter at their interactions, and the newly appointed Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Brienne, completing Jaime Lannister’s page in the Kingsguard Book of Brothers had me in tears of joy.
I wouldn’t call the ending ‘bittersweet’ as has been promised over the years as it definitely leans more towards happy, and I for one am completely fine with that. It was the ending the main characters deserved, and while I mourn the deaths of my favourites (Qyburn, Jaime and Cersei) I will forever love how the show brought them to life from the pages of the books so far, and allowed me to invest hundreds of hours of my time into such a phenomenal, beautiful and devastating show.
Thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed Game of Thrones as much as I have. If you are one of those who found yourself hating season 8 and/or its finale, I hope you can eventually make your peace with it. If not, remember, a lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep.