Our entire office watches Game of Thrones, so before we even asked each other how our weekends were, the first question we addressed (before any work, naturally) was, "So, what'd you think about the finale?" We were pretty fairly split, between being satisfied and downright upset about the way things ended, but had so much fun talking about it in the office we wanted to share our thoughts with you... and we think Kelly and Lisa may have a future as culture writers. Just us? Read on, then share your thoughts in the comments!
So here's my take: I was underwhelmed. Sure everything, for the most part, was tied-up so we weren't left wondering what happened to any major characters, but in a lot of ways it felt too simplistic, uneventful, and predictable. I wanted to be moved. I wanted to cry, or cheer, or feel something. And I just didn't. At one point, I even found myself distracted during one of Tyrion's long monologues as I tried to remember what time my meetings started the next day. After committing so many years dedicated to such an epic series, the finale fell flat for me.
Rating of The Final Season: 6/10
Rating of The Final Episode: 5/10
Rating of The Entire Series: 8/10
Overall, I am actually fine with what happened in the series finale (but no, I'm not jumping for joy over here). After all, George R.R. Martin was the one who laid out all the plot-points the HBO writers needed to hit, and all of them make sense within the larger narrative of the Game of Thrones universe. However, where we were failed was with how that story was told after the show’s writers ran out of source material, working only with specific plot points they knew had to happen by the time the show came to a close. Because we lacked Martin’s knack for really exploring a character’s point-of-view in Seasons 6 to 8, the audience suffers from feeling jolted around, surprised, and disappointed because too much, and not enough, happened during these seasons. Too much dragon fire, and too many big battles and shocking surprises (which are, of course, great for T.V.) meant there wasn’t time for thorough exploration of the most important shocking twist: Daenerys Targaryen’s turn into the Mad Queen, and her subsequent assassination, over what felt like a single episode. Looking back, we can now see that OF COURSE that’s where this story was heading all along, but it feels rushed, and a character many of us loved dearly and have been rooting for (at least through Seasons 1 to 7) was destroyed in what felt like a five minute perch atop a wall in King’s Landing.
As far as specific characters go, the only one I'm truly happy with is Sansa Stark (yes girl, The North will remain free!). Thankfully, we got the Tyrion Lannister redemption we very much needed, even if it did include a pretty lame speech to get Bran "elected" as the new King (What??? Whatever…). I found Jon Snow’s ending a little unbelievable, considering he has such a hard time killing anyone (even the guys who murdered him), let alone his lover (remember when he couldn’t kill Ygritte?). Jon is constantly just trying to keep the peace and is loyal to a fault, so I truly feel like he would have needed a whole lot more time to come to the conclusion that he was absolutely forced to kill Daenerys for the greater good, rather than just a quick conversation with Tyrion. And Arya Stark (one of my favorite characters) never used her face-swapping technology after killing House Frey, which was seriously disappointing, but I'm just glad she didn't become the Lady of Storm's End.
Although I’ve heard that Game of Thrones drew some inspiration from Lord of The Rings, now that we’ve seen the finale, I would actually argue that a major Game of Thrones character more closely mirrors one from another beloved story in this genre: Star Wars. It’s obvious now that the inspiration for Daenerys Targaryen was Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Darth Vader… isn’t it? Anakin Skywalker, a former slave who was prophesied as the “Chosen One," who brought balance to a world because of his unprecedented connection to “The Force," sounds an awful lot like an exiled girl who was sold into slavery, who somehow woke dragons from stone (after dragons were thought to be extinct), and was prophesied to be “The Prince(ess) Who Was Promised” whose mission was to either end the Long Night or liberate the world from tyrants, doesn’t it? Both eventually turn to "the dark side," but the difference here is that in Star Wars, we’re watching what the world would have been like had Anakin/Daenerys actually lived to take over the Seven Kingdoms, whereas Jon kills Daenerys before that can happen in Game of Thrones. Like in Star Wars, I’m not mad at this story, and now it all makes sense that this was Daenerys’s fate all along. I just hope, for the audience’s sake, that the last two novels (yet to be finished by Martin) more throughly and believably explore her descent into madness like we deserved to see on the show.
Rating of The Final Season: 6/10
Rating of The Final Episode: 5/10
Rating of The Entire Series: 9/10
I could write an entire dissertation about this final season, but I’ll keep it brief. After years of deep character development, nuanced storytelling, and rich history, they simply rushed the ending and failed to deliver on the promise of this dynamic saga. I don’t discount the tremendous work they put out over the past seasons; it truly was a massive accomplishment, but from my perspective, they wanted to “wrap it up” and their final target stripped away all the interesting parts of each character and threat, simply to put a period at the end of the script. It was disappointing and lacked any meaningful climax. Granted, there were impossible expectations from the audience, but this was objectively bad writing when compared to what was given to us in previous seasons. But it’s done and while it ended with a thud, the series as a whole is something we might not experience again and I’m grateful for the years of entertainment. Let’s all move on.
Rating of The Final Season: 4/10
Rating of The Final Episode: 4/10
Rating of The Entire Series: 8.5/10 (the final season knocked off 1/2 point)
I am an outlier in that I didn't hate this season or finale. While it wasn't my favorite season in the show's history, and the story might not have been told the way I would've preferred, I am still satisfied with the end result and future of the characters.
I believe it is about the path; for example, one might argue on what the point is of Jon ending where he began, but that means we disregard all he did along the way. All previous seasons led to this, and I am okay with that. I care more about the future of the world, than Jon living with the Free Folk. He had a purpose, he accomplished an enormous amount, and this is where his story led.
I never thought I would recover from Dany torching King's Landing, but her continued madness in this final episode justified her death, and what her death would mean for the world. Events like this created opportunities to build a better world, which Dany failed to do. Forget the character arc, her story showed us how power can destroy even someone with a good intention to begin with. To me this is the point of where the path led us; to a potentially honest, good, peaceful world that stamped out thousands of years of bloody tradition.
Sure, I was disappointed a few times this season (Jamie's arc destruction, Cersei's death, Arya rejecting Gendry, Grey Worm in general, monologue after monologue in the finale), but the shining moments took over for me. The Long Night was awesome, character wrap-ups were satisfying, the acting was exceptional, and The Realm will now be a better world to live in (which is what Varys wanted from the onset. RIP).
Rating of Overall Season: 7/10
Rating of Episode: 6/10
Rating of Entire Series: 10/10
What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!