The Writing on the Wall: The Great Game is Ending

Daenerys Dany Targaryen King's Landing Red Keep Drogon Season 8 805 The Bells

The discussion around the writing of Game of Thrones has been fraught for a while, whether those fractions are divided along the lines of books versus show or other metrics. As the story approaches its conclusion and numerous theories that have been built, fortified, and championed fall by the wayside, there is going to be a natural amount of chagrin amongst respective viewers’ that their respective ideas are no longer in the realm of what the series is trying to achieve with its narrative. To a certain degree, I have also been impacted by that, even as much I have tried to focus on the writing at hand for what it is, and not for what I want it to be. That has been my guide with these pieces and I will do my best to follow it for this penultimate episode.

What immediately comes to mind about the episode’s title, “The Bells”, is Lord Varys’s (Conleth Hill) assertion that he truly hated the bells of King’s Landing for they rang whenever anything terrible had happened. This ultimately proved to be apt yet again, even if he was no longer around to witness exactly why that would be the case.

Game of Thrones has never been even remotely shy about being brutally honest when it comes to the cost of violence and war. It may not always have written those moments subtly and with the nuance they require, but largely if anyone has any remote fantasies about the glory of war, the series has done enough work to dispel those fantasies as easily as the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) swiped away dear old Qyburn (Anton Lesser). The dragonfire, the smoke, the ashes, the bodies, the blood; none of it was remotely illustrative of a series that does not understand the inherent cost of war.

On that level, the third act works beautifully.

Arya Stark mother daughter The Bells

There is an oft-repeated adage that the third act of a narrative is always the most difficult to pull off. People will often point towards the mystery genre as an example: the third is where the mystery unspools and, if the mystery is good, you will feel rewarded for being on the journey and satisfied with the answer. Many mysteries tend to crumble apart in that critical third act because something falls apart and the mystery is thus rendered unsatisfying. The same applies to a character-focused drama.

In regards to the characters, it feels to me like the final acts for some of them stumble. And it is within those arcs that the overall level of satisfaction is going to land. There is the question of whether or not the turn of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) from a person who was a bit too into hard justice into a war criminal has sufficient foundations. Did Jaime’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) actions when he, as it turned out, died with Cersei (Lena Headey) in the destruction of the Red Keep hold with his character? And what of Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann)? Did the delivery of the much hyped Cleganebowl rob him of the character development established in the previous two seasons?

The most salient element in display from a writing perspective is the distillation of these characters down to who they are at their core, as the series accomplished with more finesse in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” For some characters, just as in the Battle of Winterfell, the destruction of King’s Landing brings them to the forefront of who they are, rather than simply who they want to be. Arya (Maisie Williams) at her heart is not a mindless assassin without humanity; Sandor, whom she touchingly calls by his first name for the first time here, knows that he has an unfinished arc with his brother to complete, but is self-aware about what a lifetime of revenge has done to him.

Cersei Jaime Lannister The Bells

Similarly for Cersei, there is the underlying current about who she has always been. She has always searched for a degree of belonging and satisfaction, whether it’s via hatred for Tyrion, her relationship with Jaime, or more often than not through sheer violence. Before Daenerys lays waste to King’s Landing, it was Cersei who blew the Sept of Baelor to smithereens and the surrounding civilians along with it. She nevertheless found that sense of belonging when Jaime, in spite of everything, came back for her. Alas, it was a bit too late for that belonging to outlive the destruction around them.

Jaime has always been tied to Cersei, for better and more often for worse. The destruction of the Sept of Baelor evoked the first serious reconsideration of their relationship, evoked by the anger and confusion on his face when Cersei takes the Iron Throne. He falls back into his addiction to their toxic relationship as he fights Daenerys’s invading forces, conflicted as he does so. Cersei’s decision to turn her back to the North is the straw that broke the camel’s back, but only temporarily, for Jaime did not return to King’s Landing, as many had expected, to end Cersei. Jaime’s addiction or love for Cersei, a categorization that depends on the individual viewer to a certain degree, has been layered throughout the series but his return in this fashion raises the question of what the writing ultimately wanted to say about the arc of his character.

Daenerys’s third act turn will no doubt inspire the most debate, a debate that is likely to continue well past the series finale. Her decision to raise all hell on King’s Landing as she breaks down atop Drogon is arguably the standout moment (for better and for worse) in what has been a true pop culture phenomenon. The overall character arc for her, while under judgment until the series finale, works on a thematic level because it conveys a dark reality about the pursuit of power and how dark the thematic concept of justice can go. It is perhaps on the side of potentially being too bitter but it can work, but only if the character beats have felt as weighted and fitting for you as the themes they were ultimately building towards. At the moment, it feels to me a bit like the writing revealed the murderer but the steps they took to commit their crime are opaque.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Share them below!

118 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. “As the story approaches its conclusion and numerous theories that have been built, fortified, and championed fall by the wayside, there is going to be a natural amount of chagrin amongst respective viewers’ that their respective ideas are no longer in the realm of what the series is trying to achieve with its narrative. To a certain degree, I have also been impacted by that, even as much I have tried to focus on the writing at hand for what it is, and not for what I want it to be. That has been my guide with these pieces and I will do my best to follow it for this penultimate episode.”

      This. All of this.

      I, too, fell victim to theory chasing. While it was certainly fun and made for quite a few interesting conversations, it was ultimately a recipe for disaster.

      If you convince yourself that any theory you subscribe to is the ONLY way for a certain plot to unfold, then you are not only setting yourself up for disappointment, but you are robbing yourself of the full enjoyment of a turn of events that you would have probably otherwise appreciated.

      Shucks, Bran isn’t the Night King.

      Shucks, Jaime wasn’t the one to actually kill Cersei.

      Oh, well.

      Either the show works for you, or it doesn’t. But whether it does or doesn’t is on the show’s terms.

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    2. This story has given us this ending to date all along, if we were truly listening; the dialogue is the walls that hold this literary world uprite and the words that create these walls have also torn them down now, with beautiful desolation; Dany was always going to do this, only she proved us right and wrong in a single episode and that is what we are struggling with…the fact that she realized our greatest fears and burned them all

      I am saddened and excited, embattled and unbelievably breathtaken by the greatest story ever told and I cannot wait to see how it concludes…

      To those who have issue with this show now, I urge you to make a show of your own and show us all one day; I only hope that the courage this show reveals to us with every single episode resides within it; my bet, it won’t…

      Thank you to WotW, the cast and directors and crew, Dan and Dave and George so much, so much…it means the world of ice and fire, to me…

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    3. Wonderful article. Akash. I wonder if you write for WestworldWatchers as well. Like reading those.

      I have no issues with the plot point of this season, thought they were good with the acting, CGI, everyone gave their best. My issues are why Dan and David delivered the points the way they did, why rush everything in season 7 and 8. They knew for years what they wanted to do and HBO and GRRM wanted more season from what i understand. Why not pull a Westworld and take a year off between 6, 7 and 8 ?

      The only other question at this stage is, did Bran knew what was going to happened ? Why did he push for Sam to tell Jon about his parents ?

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    4. Onedon: The only other question at this stage is, did Bran knew what was going to happened ? Why did he push for Sam to tell Jon about his parents ?

      Bran/3ER is EVIL 😉

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    5. Onedon

      I don’t think he definitively knew, he saw the visual premonition of the Dragon shadow over KL, but that didn’t necessarily mean that she would burn it all down…looking back that sequence is narrated by the Mad King for much of it ordering everyone to “burn them all”, which holds an even more ominous tone given the events that transpired, beginning with Cersei and the Sept and ending with toll “The Bells” took, but Bran doesn’t know the full truth of the future, only the past and the now…

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    6. Joseph Mobile,

      I don’t really think that the disappointment is the result of theory chasing. Definitely there is always some kind of anticlimax, when your beloved theories don’t meet the reality.

      But it’s something else. I would accept a lot, but the level of absurd reached the peaks. I see, many people are quite defensive constantly saying that the negative reactions are exaggerated. Are they?

      Jon – serves as a plot device for Dany’s actions.
      Dany – turns mad in a matter of 2 episodes. Literally, 2 EPISODES – (I would buy, as a true Targaryen nature, in opposition to Jon who is half Targ/ half Stark).
      Arya – well, at least in the 5th episode she stayed true to her nature; but episode 3 twist speaks for itself.
      Varys – from the Master of Whispers, he turned into Open-Treason-Boi. I mean, once again, another serving as a plot device to push Dany’s maddness a little bit further.
      Army of the North – like? Why did they follow Daenerys the moment she went mad-mode? Weren’t they actually loyal to Jon Snow? I thought that was the reason why Jon had a conflict with Dany – because people chose Jon for their leader. And yet, they go more savage than Dothraki horselords. I watched the “Game Revealed” – it served only one purpose, to show that bad guys aren’t always bad, and good guys aren’t always good. Christ.
      Golden Company – well, there is nothing to comment.

      What troubles me even more – I watched like 10 reactions of ultra fan-boys. And they were all super disappointed. It truly speaks for itself.
      The whole story build-up of Cersei having an army powerful enough to destroy any enemy meant nothing, because Dany used her Dragon to burn the city down. And what purpose served the killing of Rheagal? I thought it was about equalize the chances. But it seems one dragon, and one unjustifiably mad queen can bring the city down.

      That was a horrible episode. Seriously.

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    7. Ryan,

      Liking the show doesn’t make us GOT interns. GOT is also my favorite show on television. If you were as critical of the other shows you watch, you will find that none of them hold up to such scrutiny.

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    8. Onion Knight don’t cry,

      To those who have issue with this show now, I urge you to make a show of your own and show us all one day” – so… nobody can provide a critique? It always amuzes me how people can even use such an argument. And you never judged any football match/ any video on youtube/ any art, whether it’s a painting or music score? Good lord. Not to mention that majority of the criticism is a well-founded and constructive one.

      “Greatest story ever”. Well, I am glad that you liked it. But be aware, that at least half of the plotlines have been butchered, for the pure amusement of people who prefer spectacle over the story. It has nothing to do with high expectations. Every single logically thinking critic would say that the writing was horrible. But okay, I need to make my own show, only then I can raise the voice.

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    9. Thanks for the article

      I have to say that Dany’s Vision at the house of the undying I think will come true. Obviously the throne room being burnt from the roof but her touching (almost) the iron throne should be clear now that she isn’t ultimately ending on the throne or she destroys the throne… there’s also the other scene in the snow beyond the wall may have already been fulfilled that she did go beyond the wall before or her downfall is Jon “Snow” overthrowing her rule, not sure how at this point and any sort of expectation I’ve set myself against or thought I knew where the story was heading wasn’t even close to where it is now… it will be interesting indeed!!!

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    10. I wasn’t really “mad” after Sunday’s episode, just underwhelmed. It seems like there are two camps:

      1) Dany was always destined to burn down King’s Landing and there was tons of foreshadowing, so don’t complain about the abruptness!
      and
      2) The way the show presented her turn felt unearned, in spite of the foreshadowing.

      I would lean toward camp 2, but I do think that a literal extra two-minutes of footage in episode 5 could have largely alleviated this problem.

      I went into the episode expecting Dany to either die or go insane (or both), because I do feel like that was the trajectory her character was on. You hoped she wouldn’t, but you suspected she would. But when it actually happened, it somehow FELT unearned. Now, obviously, there was a lot of setup for the moment. I think her dialogue about how there’s “no love” for her in Westeros tells us a lot about where her mind is at. Jon spurning her for reasons I don’t totally understand compiles with that, and her sense of betrayal at Jon/Tyrion/Varys showed us that she was in a delicate state. Perfect, the ball is in the air!

      All I would have needed to see for me to understand why she’d go all Mad Queen was having the ball drop. Perhaps, some kind of interaction between her and the common people, and they revile her in some way. Maybe some pick up arms against her. Maybe she sees some of the people battling her soldiers and starts blasting them, which then forms a feedback loop that escalates to the point she burns it all. Maybe she hears screams of “usurper!” Maybe she sees the common people helping enemy soldiers.

      I get that her mind was in a delicate state. There wasn’t as much character legwork as I would have liked, but the skeleton was there. What we were missing was the trigger, where she first reacts and then makes an active choice to take things too far.

      “She saw the red keep and it was a symbol,” doesn’t really work on-screen. Maybe in a book where we already have a lot more internally.

      And most of the foreshadowing–the way that Tyrion and Varys spoke to each other, telegraphed pretty hard that something bad was about to happen (I think the “previously on” clip DEFINITELY gave away the turn), but it was just really hard to believe that she’d make such a senseless decision of total destruction after she had essentially won the war. It felt like they were so focused on preserving the shock value of the moment that they failed to lay a groundwork that we could both understand AND be horrified by. As it was, I wasn’t really horrified, because it didn’t play believably to my eyes. I was just kind of bored.

      And I think that’s kind of worse than if I’d merely “hated” the decision. Possibly the biggest character turn in the history of the series, and I was bored. Such a pity.

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    11. While I understand the uproar, what happened with Dany is what makes this so raw and real. You could look at numerous tragedies in our everyday life where there were no warning signs at all. A parent killing their children, a mass shooting, suicide…the list goes on. We were fortunate enough to get hints throughout the series and we even had ominous music with her scenes this season to illustrate some of that.

      Sam even warned Jon about her executing his family. What we see with Jon and Tyrion also represents how people react in real life with those we look up to. It’s extremely hard to accept that someone you admire is capable of doing something horrific. Think of all the times this happens with a celebrity or politician. Jon and Tyrion passed it off and had reasons for all of her actions, never wanting to entertain the idea that these could possibly be red flags. I was even guilty of this with her at first. I feel like some of the fan outrage is exactly along these lines. To ask why she couldn’t just attack the Red Keep and not the entire city would be asking something similar to why a person couldn’t just kill themselves and avoid the mass shooting since they killed themselves anyway in the end.

      She has a family history of mental illness. She has always been impulsive but had friends to keep her leveled. These people don’t have resources to deal with issues that we are so fortunate to have in this day and age. Without her friends and, to top it all off, to have access to something so destructive, it was a dangerous combination that led to tragic results.

      I personally don’t feel she premeditated burning an entire city down, but all the hints throughout the series showed us she can be very impulsive and after everything she lost this season she finally had a breaking point at that moment.

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    12. “To those who have issue with this show now, I urge you to make a show of your own and show us all one day; I only hope that the courage this show reveals to us with every single episode resides within it; my bet, it won’t…”

      Oh please, give it a rest. The show is arguable worse to anyone paying attention. Its gone down hill since season 6, and this is the culmination of rushed storytelling and a narrative gone off the rails. Its not about fans prediction, it’s about 7 years of build up for a last season that has barely an tuning from the previous ones. It has the major points, but its like an empty glass as it lacks all the nuance that made the show great in the first place.

      You can pretend its about fan theories and tell everyone to take their toys and go home all you want. It’s a turd, and you can only polish it so much. The only people I see n to complaining are mostly post season 5 fans, who didn’t have the time invested in the build up that season 1 fans did. The build up and character arcs are completely wasted, it’s a fact. D&D most likely needed to wrap this up ASAP to move on to other projects. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they have a Star Wars movie coming out in a year or two.

      It was a great show, it really was. But we need to stop kidding ourselves that it didn’t go down in quality. Is it still enjoyable, yes it is, but its not the snow the first few seasons promised us. It just isn’t. It’s hollow and, in the past two seasons, has chosen spectacle and simplification our nuance and narrative, and it clearly shows.

      It’s OK to be critical of something because that’s how we get good end products. Just shutting up and pretending it didn’t jump the shark? Well, that’s exactly how we got here. I hope all this nonsense apologetic nonsense stops so we can have real discussions before the prequels hit the screen. If not, expect more empty spectacle filled storytelling which is heavy on spectacle and light on character development and ending arcs.

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    13. Adam:
      Onion Knight don’t cry,

      To those who have issue with this show now, I urge you to make a show of your own and show us all one day” – so… nobody can provide a critique? It always amuzes me how people can even use such an argument. And you never judged any football match/ any video on youtube/ any art, whether it’s a painting or music score? Good lord. Not to mention that majority of the criticism is a well-founded and constructive one.

      “Greatest story ever”. Well, I am glad that you liked it. But be aware, that at least half of the plotlines have been butchered, for the pure amusement of people who prefer spectacle over the story. It has nothing to do with high expectations. Every single logically thinking critic would say that the writing was horrible. But okay, I need to make my own show, only then I can raise the voice.

      Exactly!

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    14. I’m glad that I can be the source of so many of your responses…art evokes emotion… this certainly does that…

      You can have issue, I can remind you that this world loves focusing on the one negative instead of the 99 positives; we as a society are so ready to critique and demolish and dismiss…maybe Dany’s coming for us next lol!

      All I’m saying is I was tired of hearing everyone whine about this awesome gift we were given, that means a lot to me for many reasons, and like you all, I am entitled to mine…so there you go…

      I can’t wait for carbonUnit episode 1!

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    15. Young Dragon,

      Young Dragon:
      Ryan,

      Liking the show doesn’t make us GOT interns. GOT is also my favorite show on television. If you were as critical of the other shows you watch, you will find that none of them hold up to such scrutiny.

      I don’t know about that. Peter Jackson had to make similar choices as D&D did in what to cut so it fit in the time frame he had to tell the story, yet he managed to hit every plot point, maintain the overall messages of the books, build tension, and then resolve it all in an emotionally pleasing way. He left a ton of stuff out, like the scouring of the shire, but it still worked. He didn’t have to rely on Dues Ex Machina moments to close plot holes and provide resolution.

      Even Gandalf arriving at the 11th hour at Helms deep wasn’t that type of moment because he took the time to set it up. Instead of coming out off nowhere and leaving us slightly unsettled, we get an emotional resolution. Thats what this show has been lacking. We went from the shock and horror of the red wedding, something we KNEW was coming but was still shocking, to Air Arya, which was a classic Dues Ex Machina moment.

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    16. I discussed in another thread why Dany’s turn largely worked for me, but I thought of another reason why she burned all the civilians. In addition to her previous statement of “it will be fear then”, I think she may also have done it because she was angry and resentful of the citizens of KL for not rising up against Cersei and supporting her. Dany is used to (and I think craves) the kind of love that was shown to her when she liberated the people of Astapor and they held her up and called her “Mhysa”. Here, she gets nothing even close to that. That resentment towards the citizens of KL was additional fuel for her torching the entire city.

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    17. Onion Knight don’t cry,

      Onion Knight don’t cry:
      Adam,

      I’m sure you have quite the story to tell, my friend…

      How does that make him wrong? You just keep spouting bull like it’s some kind of fact. Try debating him instead of maintaining that anyone that criticizes the show you like should make their own show or go home. Why not try and list why it’s good and we’re wrong?

      Maybe because you can’t.

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    18. Yes, the heel turn felt a bit rushed but Dany’s need for power and adoration was percolating just under the surface. Not saying she didn’t come by it honestly, given her abysmal childhood, but there nonetheless.

      I did get a chuckle out of the “Oh no! The poor parents who named their daughters Daenerys or Khalessi” hand-wringing. What show were they watching, if a little Targaryn fire and blood would make them regret that life choice? !

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    19. Enharmony1625,

      I’ve thought about that too, and it’s definitely possible, but I think it kind of contradicts her previous acceptance of ruling by fear. She was already resigned to ruling by fear without love at that point, so if she made the decision to burn the people of KL because they didn’t show love, it would be inconsistent with the previous scene.

      I think it would’ve worked better had she not made that statement about accepting fear already. If she was still expecting love, but didn’t get it, then I think that would’ve worked better for me.

      it also would’ve worked better for me if Dany wasn’t winning the battle, and at some point she came to a realization that the only way she could win is by burning all of KL to the ground. Basically, it’s either accept defeat, or win by killing everyone. That would’ve demonstrated that her desire for power was far stronger than her desire to do good in their world.

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    20. I’ve been totally fine with everything that’s happened so far besides the major common gripe that the seasons were too short and rushed. i predicted some things, but the ones that I didn’t I was totally ok with.

      But I am pissed off at hearing a rumor about the leaked ending because it really doesn’t make sense and is coming out of left field, and the only way I can wrap my head around it by having to mentally reach at the conclusion. Sigh. This is gonna end up like Dexter for me, I think .

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    21. Appreciate this post, I’ve been thinking about this alot
      George created a world 2 decades ago filled with mystery, prophecy, magic and incredibly complex characters that sparked something in a million imaginations. Forums and group debates, college courses and more youtube channels and thought provoking essays than you could shake a stick at.
      A story like that doesn’t come along every day.
      So people, especially those who have been on board since day one, are more emotionally invested in the endings for their characters then they would ordinarily be for another work of fiction.

      And I think since we’ve been debating for years it makes sense we should be allowed to continue that fine tradition here at the end. Although, admittedly, it’s way more intense now because it is THE END. 🙂

      But there is a divide now, even among the show only fans, mostly because of the speed to which the major notes are being played out in this last season.
      I read a great article that had been a twitter thread pertaining to pantsing George vs plotting D&D. It had the best take for me, in that when you change the style of a show after multiple seasons, people can tell something is different, even if they can’t put their finger on why.

      For me the fast travel is symbolic of that. Think about the trip Arya and the Hound took. The trip Brienne and Jaime took. The trip Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor took. All those experiences and time to delve into motivations and interactions.

      Now we go from scene to scene almost too quickly to absorb what we’re seeing. Someone we love dies-OH NO-but wait-now someone is finally sailing that ship we’ve had for years *blink* now it’s over and someone went crazy! It’s just…you know, super fast.

      It’s the journey vs destination argument.
      Would Dany always get to that point? Cross that line? All signs point to yes, at least, in this reader’s opinion.
      But like you said the writing revealed the murderer but the steps they took to commit their crime are opaque.

      I think in this last season-as beautiful and impressive and stunning as it is-the mistake they made was focusing solely on the destination instead of the final journey. The how should be just as important as the what, otherwise we’re left scratching our heads at how our characters got from point A to point WTF.

      As to Jaime, (still not over Jaime)
      I understand that it’s more disturbing for book readers, because he left years sooner-and refused to return even when she asked. This Jaime didn’t have that chance. It still breaks my heart-more because of the dialogue he shared with Tyrion than his going to die with her. Because saying he didn’t really care about the people of KL and that Cersei could still win kind of erased all his previous experiences in one short conversation.
      Yes the argument could be made that his comforting her as she died shows how loving he is and brings things full circle. But sometimes things shouldn’t be a circle, and it took something lovely away from him as well. I’m not just talking about Brienne, but about his own self worth.

      That being said, I still love this show. Extra sad about Sandor, since I adore him and he and Arya have made this season for me so far.
      Also very sad it’s about to end.

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    22. carbonUnit:
      Young Dragon,
      I don’t know about that. Peter Jackson had to make similar choices as D&D did in what to cut so it fit in the time frame he had to tell the story, yet he managed to hit every plot point, maintain the overall messages of the books, build tension, and then resolve it all in an emotionally pleasing way.

      Except for, you know, that little detail of “The Lord of the Rings” was finished while ASoIaF is well.. not. ASoIaF is also much longer and more complex than LotR. So while yes, Peter Jackson had to make similar choices and faced challenges just like D&D, it’s on a much different scale.

      I recall an interview with Peter Jackson awhile back where he said his idea of a nightmare is to adapt material that has not been completed yet, which just goes to show you how difficult of a job D&D had.

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    23. carbonUnit,

      False, all her training and experience led to that moment, multiple examples that led us to Arya’s moment, water dancing, Hound advice, Brienne spar, Faceless training, quote after quote…I think someone needs to fly an eagle on over to his couch and rewatch some episoooooodes!

      Banter aside, I do love chattin’ about this show even if we all don’t agree, so no offense, but “My brother once told me that nothing anyone says before “but” really counts.” -Benjen Stark

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    24. Snow jon,

      I’ve been thinking about those visions, and wondering what would come of them. They feel on a par with Bran’s piecemeal visions and therefore, they should hold some truth. I’m hoping they don’t just get dropped as well, I’m fearing a huge lot of lose ends in this final episode. Already a lot of things feel meaningless, like we bothered with whole characters and arcs only for them to go nowhere, but I’ll reserve judgement until the bitter end.

      This quote from the article perfectly sum sup my feelings:
      “At the moment, it feels to me a bit like the writing revealed the murderer but the steps they took to commit their crime are opaque.”
      I have no problems whatsoever with Dany going full Targaryen, but I’m really underwhelmed by the writing just now. This turn of event must be book canon and one of the big plot points GRRM gave the show runners from the start.So they’ve known from S1 E1 that this was what was in store for Dany. In light of that, the writing leading us to what could have been a shocking, impactful, furiously sad but totally earned reveal is exposed as unintentionally confusing, cacophonous and without direction. This has really pissed me off, and I’m one of those people who didn’t have any specific wishes for the endgame but for a coherent, emotionally fulfilling conclusion, however bleak or positive they made it.

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    25. carbonUnit:
      Onion Knight don’t cry,

      How does that make him wrong? You just keep spouting bull like it’s some kind of fact. Try debating him instead of maintaining that anyone that criticizes the show you like should make their own show or go home. Why not try and list why it’s good and we’re wrong?

      Maybe because you can’t.

      Just stop, you’re silly…I remember my first online forum…

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    26. Clob,

      Onedon: The only other question at this stage is, did Bran knew what was going to happened ? Why did he push for Sam to tell Jon about his parents ?

      Bran/3ER is EVIL 😉

      Cuz Bran has actually been manipulated by the Children of the Forest this entire time to follow through with their original purpose which was to destroy man and take back their lands, and effectively removing their malfunctioning weapon of mass destruction (NK) in the process. He’s their new upgraded weapon now. NK 2.0 lol.

      JK Jk Jk lol

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    27. This. All this. There were parts that, if flesjed out, would make Dany’s decision more forseen, even if you’re hoping she doesn’t.

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    28. Onion Knight don't cry,

      Haha, I had the same reaction! People are understandably emotional but Keep It In Check, people! It’s only tits and dragons, even if it’s also everything else! And don’t worry, something new will come alone soon enough for you to love u til you hate it.

        Quote  Reply

    29. Clob: Bran/3ER is EVIL 😉

      I think that would be fun for the actor at this point. He’s barely gotten to do anything this season, not counting acting as bait and discussing the historical use of wheelchairs in Westeros.
      Unless he’s secretly responsible for everything and this is all part of the master plan…
      *insert evil laugh* 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    30. carbonUnit,

      Unfortunately, I agree with all of this. As someone else commented on another thread, “This was the biggest project of their lives, and they basically walked away from it at the end.”

      The nuance of Seasons 1-6 has been almost wholly replaced by spectacle and the sort of “emotion” spoon-fed to us by most big Hollywood productions. I still love the actors and all the incredible production work—especially the music, set design, costumes, weaponry, and cinematography—but Seasons 7 and 8 are terribly hollow in comparison to everything that preceded them.

      And no, the fact that I’m not a scriptwriter does not negate the fact that I can make that assessment. That’s such a ridiculously juvenile counter-argument. Seriously: Can you imagine telling an art professor that s/he should not differentiate between a better Michelangelo sculpture and a lesser one because s/he’s not an artistic genius and therefore has no right to think critically about art? Please.

        Quote  Reply

    31. Wolfish,

      Epsiode 1 of carbonUnit season 1 title “Wolfish”…I’m so excited guys! Premiere date soon?

      You can have your opinion, it’s fine, but I’m loyal to my show and I don’t have tissue, I mean issue with it…that’s all…have a good one and either way you’ll be watching Sunday…

        Quote  Reply

    32. You make an excellent point comparing the story to a murder mystery. The reveal cannot feel cheap, it has to be adequately foreshadowed. And yes, people will get rightfully angry at plot holes because they were meant to be following a logical tale.

      I read a bit of Agatha Christie and I find all her novels very hit or miss. It basically depends on how well the story logically holds together. Sometimes she nails the landing and I love it, but often there’s a deus ex machina ending that aggravates me.

      People have already pointed out the main problem in Thrones – everything is feeling rushed and thus unearned. I find Dany’s heel-turn more plausible than most, but I still agree that her character needed more development. She needed less scenes with Jon and a lot more with Missandei and Jorah, talking over her grief and moral compass. Missandei was really wasted this season, getting no scenes with Dany.

        Quote  Reply

    33. Like a lot of viewers, my issue with Dany’s arc is not where it is now; it’s how we got there. I completely buy Dany the very good conqueror and not very good ruler, as we’ve seen throughout the show (Dario even said as much); I don’t buy the ticking time bomb until the Targaryen madness shows up, because her decisions, whether good or poor, have always followed an internal logic. Making it “Surprise! She’s Targaryen CRAY-ZEE!” is not supported by what’s gone before. And that’s clearly what the “Previously on” with the voices swirling around her was saying.

      Part of the problem is that D&D spent a lot of time on scenes of other characters talking about her, and very little time on scenes she was actually in. This season has been a lot of third-person lamenting, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Daenerys?” with the audience being told what we’re supposed to think about her, rather than showing us by her actions. Slate even had an article up by a military strategist about how her demolition of Kings Landing is not necessarily bad tactics for someone who has seven kingdoms to bring under her control- decimate the capital city and the rest of the continent is easier to bring to heel. But that’s not what the writers elected to show; they elected to show the city surrendering and her deciding to destroy it because the sight of the Red Keep made her mad about what she’d lost (according to D&D’s interview about the show after). AND- having the last scene with her and one of the other major characters before the battle being Jon rejecting her did not help. He’s never given her a reason for his change of heart- neither finding out he’s heir or the degree of consanguinity (because that’s not an issue for her). Again, we the audience get to hear about it third person from characters who aren’t Jon or Dany.

      But it’s the complete dismissal of Jaime’s character journey that grates on me the most. If they decided he was going back to her, there was no reason for the Brienne romance. None. If that was him trying with Brienne to escape an addiction and ultimately being unable to, we needed to see it, and not just him not being able to sleep after they’d had sex. Heck, I’d even have bought it if Brienne’s unswerving belief in him led him to realize that he wasn’t going to give up on Cersei having a chance for redemption, either, but that’s not what he said to Brienne; he just said, “She’s a monster and so am I,” after reciting a list of his greatest hits (and confusing how he killed his cousin with how he killed the Karstark, which, lazy job, writers. There are oodles of GOT fan sites you could have googled if it was too much work to rewatch the actual scene).

      I don’t mind the actual plot points; I mind the absolute lack of effort I feel the writers put into getting from one plot point to the next (which is the hard part). It’s made for a very inconsistent season and the characters doing things because the plot demands it.

        Quote  Reply

    34. Wolfish,
      I agree with all of this.
      And with the actor and crew applause. This was some of the best casting for a show to date. I can’t imagine anyone else being Brienne or Davos, Arya or Sandor etc.
      They were all so perfect for their characters.

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    35. RobertL,

      That’s what I’ve been ranting to my husband about all week…even thirty seconds of Dany looking down and seeing the common people cringe and hide and run from her before she decides to burn them would have sold the moment for me.

        Quote  Reply

    36. Situation is more nuanced(lol) than “D&D just want to move on and they don’t care”.

      Because for them nothing was rushed. They worked far more on these 2 seasons than on any season in the past. 10 months of shooting only is not rushing.

      Decision to have shorter seasons and movie pacing at the end(instead of typical TV pacing they had in the first 6 seasons) is influenced by a lot of things .

      And I think time was the most important. They can’t produce 10 episodes on this level of production quality any more. They took 10 months for this season only.

      Someone from HBO said that GoT raped their budget. So this idea that they will give indefinite amount of money is wrong.

      This idea that actors would agree do do 2 more seasons is based on nothing. And it would be really bad for the show to lose core cast members.

      Someone who just want to move on does’t work this hard on the last seasnon.

      And ofc there is GRRM’s responsibility here as well. He has a lot of great ideas about the end but not how to do it. So D&D had to work backwards. And ofc that writing decisions are D&D responsibility only, but they were put in these incredibly difficult position.

      Finishing unfinished and unadaptable story with time and money contains.

      So I disagree with “D&D bad”. I don’t thik anyone is bad. I think everyone did the best they could in these circumstances. Some people will love it, some won’t and that’s it.

      But the narrative created online that D&D betrayed GRRM, actors, directors, Ramin, HBO, fans, and everyone else is completely horrible.

        Quote  Reply

    37. I agree with people who think series 7 and 8 feel rushed and would have benefited from more episodes (especially along the lines of S8 ep2, which is just about the characters, not the plot). Personally I wasn’t at all surprised that Dany did what she did after suffering a series of massive emotional blows that would knock anyone for six. But lots of viewers feel it came out of the blue, so that’s one of (arguably) many aspects which could have had a longer and/or more obvious build up.

      I think most people who are passionate about the show will be disappointed with at least a few outcomes. We’ve had years to care about certain characters and hate others. Anything which deviates greatly from what we’re hoping for will be a let down. Some people think Jon has been cheated by not having a lengthy fight with the Night King and eventually beating him. I can’t imagine a more boring set up and was eternally grateful for a swift and unexpected end from Arya.

      While we can say in hindsight D&D could have done x, y, z differently, I do think a fair chunk of the criticism they are facing this series is about things they had little or no say in. The final destiny of major characters came from GRRM. Sure, the way they get to their ultimate fate may be (very) different, but the fate is the same. If Dany goes mad in the show and kills loads of innocent civilians, she would in the books. If Jaime goes back to Cersei in the show, he would in the books.

      The show isn’t perfect by any means, but overall it’s been hugely enjoyable and I’ve had a whale of a time being in the fandom. I’m going to ignore the bits I didn’t like and concentrate on the ones I did. And be very thankful that at least now we have an ending, because I don’t believe GRRM’s version will ever be finished.

        Quote  Reply

    38. There’s got to be some kind of hope right? After all this time spent with these characters. Something good for them? Something hopeful?

      I hope so because I admit I am quite worried about the nihilistic dystopian vibes going into the final episode ever. Certainly feels a lot like nihilism at this point.

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    39. As a general aside, there’s been too much insulting one another’s intelligence of late. It’s a polarising show, ‘kay? We aren’t all going to read into it the same way. Frankly, it would be boring if we did all have the same reaction.

      Keep it classy, y’all.

        Quote  Reply

    40. When it comes to Daenerys, the point of snap is that it’s a snap. lol

      I think when it comes to this you either buy it or not. People in real life killl their relatives “out of nowhere”. Breaking point is different for everybody.

      I think it was established already that Dany can be really cruel, that she has very black and white perspective and that she has messianic complex. And it was established that she never hurt someone innocent intentionally. But I think it was also established that she never hurt someone innocent intentionally because people alround her had to stop her.

      So, as I said you either buy this or not. What it takes for her to decide to burn everything after all? And I think it was also important not to make this horrible crime justified.

        Quote  Reply

    41. Onion Knight don’t cry,

      I don’t. Although I’m quite a creative person, I would write a crappy script, of that I’m sure. But how in the seven hells does it disqualify me from my own opinion that certainly is different than yours?

      I’m really okay with the fact you liked it.
      Well, okay… it’s kind of weird to me that people can’t see that shitty writing, which affects MAJOR plotlines, not the minor offshoot stories. That the show is absolutely inconsistent and lost it’s logic somwhere in the season 7, yet some fans still and still keep saying it’s the best season ever produced and all the criticism is out of place. Which is also strange, because the show you started watching and fell in love with was the exact opposite of what we got today – story > budget.

        Quote  Reply

    42. 6thofhisname,

      Why are you JK’ing?

      I fully expect (hope for) a huge Bran reveal in the finale. That Bran and the previous 3ER HAVE been manipulating things to bring us where we are. Not sure if the CotF are behind it, but I suspect that the reason will be part of the twist.

      Had the show ever mentioned that the previous 3ER (Bloodraven) was a Targaryen?
      Seems like the show may have melded together many previous 3ER’s into the one old man we saw.

      Don’t be surprised if Dany claims that she didn’t snap and go mad, but that she has been hearing a voice and it told her the bells were a trap and to burn the city. Something along those lines. And when she paused on Drogon, while the bells starting ringing, the voice convinced her to do what she did.

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    43. After Ep 3, there were a lot of Jon fans who were upset. Not upset that Arya killed the NK, but that Jon was deprived of his chance to fight him.

      With Ep 4 and 5, the Dany fans have been freaking, upset that their hero has now become the villain. It was foreshadowed since Season 1. The only way you could not see this coming is if you are willfully blind. Nevertheless, online evidence suggests that there are many millions of viewers in the willfully blind camp. They don’t want to see their Khaleesi become the BBEG – the Final Boss.

      But she has; she is. There is no doubt in my mind that Daenerys dies in Ep 6. The only question is who will do it.

      If I had been given only the setup of The Fall of Daenerys before a single ep is S8 was shown, I would have said that Jon kills the NK, Arya kills Dany.

      Now, given what we saw and didn’t see in Ep 3, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that Jon will kill Daenerys this Sunday. There is enough doubt that it might be Arya or Tyrion that manages it that there is still some question of it. I think the bigger question is whether Jon survives.

      I must confess, I am rather concerned about this. I presume that D&D have chosen to go with GRRM’s “end point” for the characters — even if the path they take to get to the end point is not GRRM’s. If Jon and Dany dies in Ep 6, it will be because they are dead at the planned end of ADoS.

      I have no problem thinking that GRRM would kill them both in a sacrificial blaze of glory. My one caveat to that is that I think GRRM would be less inclined to kill Jon if that meant the end of House Stark. True, Bran survives but he is a paraplegic and is, likely unable to conceive children. True Rickon is not dead yet in the books – but I don;t think he makes it.

      That suggests that Jon will survive Ep 6. The problem, however, is that the real Jeyne Westerling is probably not a prisoner in the books — and she is probably pregnant — which means that Robb’s unborn son may well become the Lord of Winterfell in the books. And that’s very bad news for Jon in both the books and the show. Because it means GRRM can more easily kill him.

      So that means, from where I sit, that there is a heightened chance that our Two Big Heroes both die next week. Fire and Blood, redux.

      Get ready for King Gendry and his Queen Sansa. As for whether or not Tyrion survives the Mad Queen, that, too is in doubt. Mind you, if she kills Tyrion – who will Daenerys, Queen of the Ashes, have to talk to or implement her policy? She’s not merely short of subjects to rule, she is short of Councillors to ensure she can rule. Perhaps that will save him. Or perhaps all he has to do is stay away from Daenerys until she is assassinated.

      That looks like it will only take 45 minutes or less in Ep 6. A clever dwarf should be able to manage that, right?

        Quote  Reply

    44. Thank you for the post, Akash! It may be a rare thing – but I did love The Bells. I thought it was fantastic! Having said that, I do wish there was a more thorough plot to develop Dany’s descent into villainy. When she chose to ignore those bells, I thought she would be flying directly to the Red Keep and burn it down rather than killing civilians and burning the city along the way. For me, there was really no development as to how she made this decision. One of my thoughts immediately after was, if Tywin had a dragon, he would do the same. He was ruthless and calculating. In the featurette we, the viewers, learn that Dany’s #BellGate act (Axey’s hashtag) was a “snap decision” and a “personal” one, however, Cersei didn’t care for the common people or the city necessarily so I still wonder…

      As for the Jaime storyline – I don’t think it’s character regression at all. It is heavily foreshadowed in ASOIAF that he will die with Cersei. The main reason he leaves her in the novels is because he finds out she slept with other men. That is not a final break, that’s a spurned lover. Of course he grows to become a better person, with the aid of Brienne and I do think there is a part of him that loves her, but his growth as a character should not be equated with him falling out of love with Cersei or becoming completely disloyal to her. Even in their respective POVs, there is always some variation of “we entered this world together, and we will leave it together,” even after Jaime leaves Cersei. Honor brought him North, but love brought him back.

      Also, I’m really interested in the “third act” of it all. I’m particularly interested in Arya’s role. The magic of the Faceless Men originated from Old Valyria as well and it was to escape the dragonlords … will she be the one to end Dany or has she already served her purpose in killing the Night King and killing another villain would be too much? Either way, I think there was more to her survival in King’s Landing than a mere POV to follow.

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    45. Dark Horse Assassin: Ser Davos Seaworth. He was born in KL, spent much of last episode helping civilians from the Terror. There is no officer in the army that backed up Daenerys who is now more highly motivated to kill Dany – except perhaps Gendry, who is, perhaps, equally motivated.

      But Ser Davos has an additional incentive. He didn’t get his chance to kill the Red haired woman who pointlessly burned Shereen, an innocent child. He may now get his chance to kill the White haired woman who burned thousands of innocent children, instead.

      Question: Is there any character on the show who has been more fundamentally decent than Ser Davos Seaworth?

        Quote  Reply

    46. Tobias Umber,

      Oh, i don’t think Bran is done by any means. It’s funny to see so many people behaving like ep 5 was the final episode of the season. “Omg we didn’t get the epic Jon vs evil villain!” Umm if Dany is the real villain, this has yet to be seen, as are Bran’s final moments.

      I fully expect for Bran to get a lil more meat to his story. But tbh, I read what could be a spoiler (as hard as I have tried to stay away from it) and I absolutely HATED the thought of it and made no sense to me, so I started concocting different versions in my head of how in the HELL they can even reach that conclusion and it actually spawned the lil story I posted above lolol.

        Quote  Reply

    47. Mr Derp,

      I guess what I would say is that she did it to enforce her rule. Yes, she already won, but she if she is to rule by fear, that’s not enough. She actually has to instil that fear into its citizens. So if Dany only decided to burn the city down as a last resort because she was losing, then it makes it look more like a desperate (slightly more defensible) move. I think the point here is to paint Dany as a power-hungry tyrant capable of these atrocities.

      I saw someone else mention somewhere that it’s possible that Dany wanted to lose to give her more of an excuse to burn everything down, but when she won, that rage and hatred was not satiated, which caused her to forge ahead with fire and blood anyway. I’m not 100% sure on this, but it’s an interesting thought.

        Quote  Reply

    48. The only potential spoiler that emerged in interviews is that Bran may have a scene in KL.

      If that is true, and Bran does have a scene in KL, then it is likely because he has journeyed there to see a coronation and, more likely, Sansa’s wedding.

      There’s no last minute magic coming from Bran though. D&D really don’t like magic, They have minimized its role in the show and the story almost wherever they can. So much so that they have chosen to reduce Bran from a character and have now essentially turned him into a plot device. That perplexing choice isn’t changing now in the finale. Not saying that show Bran = book Bran and that there are not more important magical things for him to do in GRRM’s series. But in D&D’s series? Yeah, he’s done. He’s scenery now.

      I am still mystified that these books that Sam stole from the Citadel are, it turns out, utterly pointless. While I suppose there might be some last minute relevance in Ep 6 to the Great Book Heist, it feels like deliberate misdirection at this point.

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    49. Thank you for a well balanced review. I know it’s a heated debate and people are mostly pro or against the show now so I will try to share a few of my thoughts here, after a few days have passed.
      First of all, it is pity that people scored really low the past episodes before actually seeing them, it shouldn’t be allowed, their opinion is not based on anything palpable.
      Second of all, most of the people who were criticising aspects of the plot and argumenting why, had some valid and logical explanations to their dissatisfaction.
      I admire so many things about this last episode. The directing,Sapochnik is a poet, the cinematography, the brilliant brilliant actors, Djawadi, the perfection of the technical team.

      However, I never had a favourite character, so I wasn’t rooting for anyone. My favourite character was the Story. In a classical build fantasy, or saga,or Sci fi novel, or utopia, or whatever, the Story is the almighty God. The storytellers are its messengers, guiding us, the travelers, in that particular universe, just like Virgilius guided Dante through the circles of Hell and Purgatorium, and Beatrice through Heaven. You have to have this narrative thread, this silver thread that binds everything together in the most organic way. No matter how much you devert from the core of the story, in the end it has to pull you back to its heart, it has to be concentric to function, it cannot sustain strucutral damage for it to work, for it to be believable.

      In every story I read, I accept to let myself be fooled for a little bit. I accept to dive in an unknown Universe and I get ready to be astounded. I do not like criticism in fantasies, what is the point in criticising other people ‘s storytelling?

      However, I must say this past episode for me, jsut didn’t deliver. It has sustained serios strucutral damage, despite the sheer beauty and horror of it. All the ideas I saw in there would have been brilliant, taken out of context. If I had seen just this episode and nothing before that, I would have said it’s a true succes.

      What happened. Varys. Master of whispers, one of the few who knew how to play the true game of thrones, goes on the beach in broad daylight, proposing treason to one of the most loial men in Westeros, Ned Stark’s nephew. Maybe Varys was tired of living.

      Jamie. I really like the idea of the character not fulfilling his arc and descending into darkness but it is so forced, so mechanical, it just doesn’t deliver for me. What was the point of that beach scene with Greyjoy, it looked like a rock video from the 90’s.

      Cersei. Such an intelligent villain, a woman who had always an ace in her sleeve, always had an escape plan, just spent an entire episode looking from a window, no clever lines for her, nothing. She died so unceremoniously.

      Daenerys Targaryen. I really loved the idea of her slipping into her ancestor’s madness. It would have made her the most complex character in any show that ever was. But now it was made, how it was told, how the script unfolded it seemed so mechanical, so forced, she was given ridiculous dialogue, lacking subtlety and ambivalence which was the essence of her character. Jon didn’t want to bed her and she decided to decimate everything. Nothing seemed organic, everything has to have a progression. At this point of Danny’s character structure, it would have been more believable for her to take the Red Keep, destroy, find Cersei fled somehow, and in a terrible rage to, to start burning adiacent streets. But still, it needed more time and more intelligent dialogue to unfold.

      Jon Snow. His song should have been the song of ice and fire. Because of the architectural damage the story suffered from, his character has been reduced to an almost passive witness to the chaotic turn of events. He was build like the archetypal hero, I wonder what is left for him to be, maybe a Queen slayer which will reduce the very last episode to a Mojo Jojo vs Powerpuff man fight.

      Shapes without form, shades without colour.

      Plot armor over plot armor, Rhaegal dies in ep 4 bc he has to, Drogon is invincible, he spits and destroys a city of 1m inhabitants. Deux ex machina all over, GC of 20k decimated in seconds. Unsullied and Dothraki multiplying, teleportation. What happened to the Story?

      I have the feeling most of the stuff was made for shock value, for the sake of that twist which destroyed M. Night’s movies. Writers saw people react to shocking events(Ned’s execution, Red Wedding, blowing of the Sept, etc) and they thought we are like Pavlov’s dog. Well, I am not. Had the story remained true to its essence, it would have been the most brilliant piece of cinematic fantasy ever made for television. Like this, it’s visually stunning, but fails to land.

        Quote  Reply

    50. Steel_Wind,

      nah, the spoiler that I read went a little further than Bran just being an spectator in KL. It actually infuriated me though, because I can’t see it and I’d probably throw away all my GoT memorabilia if it comes to pass (ok maybe not throw everything out lol). Unless something more sinister is revealed behind it.

        Quote  Reply

    51. Steel_Wind,

      I’ve been hoping that the show runners only brought Gendry back for Arya’s delectation. Good King Gendry is a bridge too far – he was only legitimized by a would-be usurper (assuming Dany dies before she consolidates power) so I don’t see the Westerosi nobility embracing him.
      In my fantasies, Dany and Jon die, and Bran reveals Tyrion as a bastard Targaryen. I can’t see them doing this on the show however when the only groundwork that’s been laid is one throwaway line from Tywin.
      Sansa is left with the best power-base in the Seven Kingdoms with the North and the Riverlands bound by blood, and the Vale on her side. Honestly, I’d be surprised if she wants the throne or even to be queen – but I could see her making an alliance to bring peace. I think the Prince of Dorne might be a good bet.

      A really bleak ending would be to leave Dany in power – maybe executing some of our favourites – and leaving Sansa and/or Arya to wage guerilla war in the North as Dorne once did against Aegon the conqueror.

        Quote  Reply

    52. Onion Knight don't cry,

      Please take the advice given to me and that I have adhered to for the last four weeks…Don’t feed the trolls!!

      The loud haters find every reason to turn whatever the topic is to how GoT is terrible and every episode sucks this year and last and why can’t we just have it the way it was in Season 4! It’s exhausting and if you chase them down to respond…it will absolutely ruin your enjoyment of the show.

      AKASH
      Good read, man! Would have been nice if they married up some more plots and outlined it a bit more. As much as you disagree with a few plot points though, you have accepted this version and are allowing yourself to enjoy it all. Now only one more to go…yikes! Surreal to think about.

        Quote  Reply

    53. Nicole: Jon rejecting her ….. He’s never given her a reason for his change of heart- neither finding out he’s heir or the degree of consanguinity (because that’s not an issue for her).

      For me it’s crystal clear in her reaction to hearing the news. She immediately goes very cold on him – and as you say, it’s not the consanguinity. She’s angry and resentful. Now coming from someone who’s supposed to love you, that would be a huge red flag to me, and I reckon it was for Jon. He was shocked that she would turn on him the way she did, and it shook his confidence in her.

      For the record, I’ve had her down as a wrong ‘un from a very early stage, so I wasn’t surprised when she nuked the city. The clues have been piling up.

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    54. Steel_Wind:
      Dark Horse Assassin: Ser Davos Seaworth.He was born in KL, spent much of last episode helping civilians from the Terror. There is no officer in the army that backed up Daenerys who is now more highly motivated to kill Dany – except perhaps Gendry, who is, perhaps, equally motivated.

      But Ser Davos has an additional incentive. He didn’t get his chance to kill the Red haired woman who pointlessly burned Shereen, an innocent child. He may now get his chance to kill the White haired woman who burned thousands of innocent children, instead.

      Question: Is there any character on the show who has been more fundamentally decent than Ser Davos Seaworth?

      Wow, that is a dark horse theory, but a really interesting one.
      Brienne and Davos are the two standard bearers for decency on the show imo. Davos in particular pertaining to children. He is very much the dad of the show and the girl burned with the horse toy in her hand did remind a lot of people of Shireen and her burned stag.
      At the very least, I’m guessing he won’t keep his feelings to himself.
      Oh and I remember in the Knight of Seven Kingdoms when Jaime was knighting Brienne, the camera focused in on Davos when Jaime said, “In the name of the Father, I charge you to be just.” Divine Justice
      (Brienne was in the shot for the warrior and Jaime and Pod were both focused on for mother/defending the innocent-I always just found those camera angles interesting)

      And now I’m worried about Davos.

        Quote  Reply

    55. Ser Pounce:
      Thank you for a well balanced review. I know it’s a heated debate and people are mostly pro or against the show now so I will try to share a few of my thoughts here,after a few days have passed. First of all, it is pity that people scored really low the past episodes before actually seeing them, it shouldn’t be allowed, their opinion is not based on anything palpable. Second of all, most of the people who were criticising aspects of the plot and argumenting why, had some valid and logical explanations to their dissatisfaction. I admire so many things about this last episode. The directing,Sapochnik is a poet, the cinematography, the brilliant brilliant actors, Djawadi, the perfection of the technical team.

      However, I never had a favourite character, so I wasn’t rooting for anyone. My favourite character was the Story. In a classical build fantasy, or saga,or Sci fi novel, or utopia, or whatever, the Story is the almighty God. The storytellers are its messengers, guiding us, the travelers, in that particular universe, just like Virgilius guided Dante through the circles of Hell and Purgatorium, and Beatrice through Heaven. You have to have this narrative thread, this silver thread that binds everything together in the most organic way. No matter how much you devert from the core of the story, in the end it has to pull you back to its heart, it has to be concentric to function, it cannot sustain strucutral damage for it to work, for it to be believable.

      In every story I read, I accept to let myself be fooled for a little bit. I accept to dive in an unknown Universe and I get ready to be astounded. I do not like criticism in fantasies, what is the point in criticising other people ‘s storytelling?

      However, I must say this past episode for me, jsut didn’t deliver. It has sustained serios strucutral damage, despite the sheer beauty and horror of it. All the ideas I saw in there would have been brilliant, taken out of context. If I had seen just this episode and nothing before that, I would have said it’s a true succes.

      What happened. Varys. Master of whispers, one of the few who knew how to play the true game of thrones, goes on the beach in broad daylight, proposing treason to one of the most loial men in Westeros, Ned Stark’s nephew. Maybe Varys was tired of living.

      Jamie. I really like the idea of the character not fulfilling his arc and descending into darkness but it is so forced, so mechanical, it just doesn’t deliver for me. What was the point of that beach scene with Greyjoy, it looked like a rock video from the 90’s.

      Cersei. Such an intelligent villain, a woman who had always an ace in her sleeve, always had an escape plan, just spent an entire episode looking from a window, no clever lines for her, nothing. She died so unceremoniously.

      Daenerys Targaryen. I really loved the idea of her slipping into her ancestor’s madness. It would have made her the most complex character in any show that ever was. But now it was made, how it was told, how the script unfolded it seemed so mechanical, so forced, she was given ridiculous dialogue, lacking subtlety and ambivalence which was the essence of her character. Jon didn’t want to bed her and she decided to decimate everything. Nothing seemed organic, everything has to have a progression. At this point of Danny’s character structure, it would have been more believable for her to take the Red Keep, destroy, find Cersei fled somehow, and in a terrible rage to, to start burning adiacent streets. But still, it needed more time and more intelligent dialogue to unfold.

      Jon Snow. His song should have been the song of ice and fire. Because of the architectural damage the story suffered from, his character has been reduced to an almost passive witness to the chaotic turn of events. He was build like the archetypal hero, I wonder what is left for him to be, maybe a Queen slayer which will reduce the very last episode to a Mojo Jojo vs Powerpuff man fight.

      Shapes without form, shades without colour.

      Plot armor over plot armor, Rhaegal dies in ep 4 bc he has to, Drogon is invincible, he spits and destroys a city of 1m inhabitants. Deux ex machina all over, GC of 20k decimated in seconds. Unsullied and Dothraki multiplying, teleportation. What happened to the Story?

      I have the feeling most of the stuff was made for shock value, for the sake of that twist which destroyed M. Night’s movies. Writers saw people react to shocking events(Ned’s execution, Red Wedding, blowing of the Sept, etc) and they thought we are like Pavlov’s dog. Well, I am not. Had the story remained true to its essence, it would have been the most brilliant piece of cinematic fantasy ever made for television.Like this, it’s visually stunning, but fails to land.

      Ser Pounce,

      Dude, on point. Thats about everything I feel. Its not that it was bad for a stand alone show, but that the show has finally thrown away the greater narrative it’s been building all these years. I could not, and did not, say it better than you did. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone in my criticism.

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    56. Onion Knight don’t cry:
      carbonUnit,

      False, all her training and experience led to that moment, multiple examples that led us to Arya’s moment, water dancing, Hound advice, Brienne spar, Faceless training, quote after quote…I think someone needs to fly an eagle on over to his couch and rewatch some episoooooodes!

      Banter aside, I do love chattin’ about this show even if we all don’t agree, so no offense, but “My brother once told me that nothing anyone says before “but” really counts.” -Benjen Stark

      Onion Knight don’t cry,

      And I do love a good debate. No hard feelings, man. At the end of the day we’re all here out of love for a grand story we’ve been reading / watching for years. regardless of how I feel about the character arcs or bad writing everything else, the sets, effects, and especially the acting, are always top notch.

      Hope to haver another argument with you when the prequels hit.

        Quote  Reply

    57. One day, a horde decides to sack a little village. They kill a lot of people, capture a lot of others to sell into slavery, and gang rape women. They hope to make enough money to buy ships so they can kill and rape in another country as well, as they keep repeating. The wife of the leader of the horde gathers a few women, which are seeing their loved ones being killed and enslaved and who have been raped, and declares them “saved”. One of them kills the leader of the horde and his heir to prevent this from happening to other villages. His wife calls her ungrateful and burns her alive.
      That was Daenerys in season 1. Then she threatened to burn cities to the ground. Then she crucified masters without a trial. Then she fed a random man to her dragons to psychologically torture others.
      But NOW she is a war criminal?

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    58. Daenerys will order Drogon to fry Jon. The dragon will not. Jon will kill Daenerys. Grey Worm will kill Jon. Tyrion will be revealed as a bastard Targaryen and remarry Sansa.

      ” The End ”

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    59. carbonUnit,

      Thank you for reading and for your comment! Really wish they had taken the necessary amount of time with this finale. But they didn’t, and here we are. Valar morghulis!

        Quote  Reply

    60. Ryan,

      https://i.gifer.com/VZzl.gif

      carbonUnit,

      Disagree here, LotR remains my favorite movie of all time, watch it more than 30 times. But Gandalf arriving at the eleventh hour is in a sense deux ex machina, if you like it or not. He arrived precisely couple of seconds before our heroes were doomed there. Was it perfectly done? yes else I wouldn’t watch it again, but still it was deux ex machina if you like it or not. So why praise lotr and hate got for it?

      (And yes I think Jackson is the better filmmaker)

        Quote  Reply

    61. mau,

      I couldn’t agree more.

      It is very easy to say that the show should have had x more seasons. In reality, most of the actors will be ready to move on. The actors are very well paid, but equally they were shooting for a long time this season so it is very different than say actors on a multi-cam sitcom who are paid a lot. Many of these actors will want to try something new or even have a break. They have been working on this show for about a decade, so I can hardly blame them. How many of us have changed jobs in the last decade?

      Whilst more time could have been added to some plotlines, it would have been incredibly difficult in others. Cersei did nothing for the whole season, and I personally can’t see how they could have added much to her storyline.

      D&D have never got the recognition they deserve from a lot of the fandom, and they never will. They’re far from faultless, but they are the best people George could have picked to adapt his series. Even if I personally hate the finale I will stand by that comment. They have given me so much joy over eight seasons I can forgive their errors.

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    62. TOIVA,

      Thank you, a diversity of opinions is always welcome. Nothing is black and white. I truly wish I could love this episode, but I simply can’t.

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    63. Steel_Wind:
      Dark Horse Assassin: Ser Davos Seaworth.He was born in KL, spent much of last episode helping civilians from the Terror. There is no officer in the army that backed up Daenerys who is now more highly motivated to kill Dany – except perhaps Gendry, who is, perhaps, equally motivated.

      But Ser Davos has an additional incentive. He didn’t get his chance to kill the Red haired woman who pointlessly burned Shereen, an innocent child. He may now get his chance to kill the White haired woman who burned thousands of innocent children, instead.

      Question: Is there any character on the show who has been more fundamentally decent than Ser Davos Seaworth?

      I may be bias, but you are on to something here my friend…have a bowl of brown on me.

        Quote  Reply

    64. Jessica:
      RobertL,

      That’s what I’ve been ranting to my husband about all week…even thirty seconds of Dany looking down and seeing the common people cringe and hide and run from her before she decides to burn them would have sold the moment for me.

      That did happen, they even screamed for Cersei to surrender so they could be saved.

        Quote  Reply

    65. mau,

      Of course the actors would want 2 extra seasons. They already got half a million each episode (the big 5), that contract ends in season 8, if they would get to a season 10 it means they will get even more. If I were them I would want 20 seasons.

      mau,

      Mental disorders is always a snap. I suffer(ed) from Anxiety Disorder. The snap was also out of no where. I woke up happy even laughed about jokes. Halfway through the day I just snapped and cried non-stop (and other emotions), high heartbeat and every other symptom of AD. It took almost a year before I could control it and now I know what to do whenever I feel it coming up again. (GoT is one of the things that helped me through it)

      Unfortunate for Dany westeros kind of therapy is wine and ale, and that’s not something that will help mental problems.

        Quote  Reply

    66. Tobias Umber,

      Interesting theory. What if that also happened to her father?

      It would also add another layer, but probably not.

      orange,

      ah bittersweet, luckily my favorite drink at the moment is bitterlemon. And just like with that drink the sweetness wins.

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    67. Clob: Bran/3ER is EVIL 😉

      YES. Every single thing that was SO important up until this past sunday now seems a waste. (who am I kidding I will always love this series…) But why did Bran saying its time to tell Jon the truth even a thing??

        Quote  Reply

    68. Onion Knight don't cry,

      You’ve hit some nerves, I see. I thought I’d stand in solidarity with you.

      When I was younger, I used to analyze everything to death, because that’s the way my brain is hardwired. I would get aggravated at movies and tv shows for impure adaptations and too predictable twists. Sometimes, I’d become disgusted with the direction a plot was going. All of these emotions were fairly common, of course, so I didn’t give it much thought.

      Several years ago, I discovered the ASOIAF subreddit, where I dove headfirst into reading theories. I enjoyed reading them, and crafted a few of my own in my head. The difference with me is …I allowed room for new information and other outcomes in the show. I saw that quite a few fans did not, and the mantra has always been “lazy (or ‘bad’ ) writing”. The level of animosity aimed at D&D was surprising to me. I remembered how aggravated I used to get, so I did a little self examination. I realized it stemmed from my own feeling of lack of control, and, also, not understanding everything that entertainment production entails. When I let go of my own expectations and personal desires for characters, I gave myself the freedom to just appreciate what was presented. It makes a difference in my ability to allow myself to enjoy things today. If I don’t particularly like something, I don’t dwell upon it. It’s fictional, after all.

      There’s a measure of narcissism involved when we insist that others must meet our own standards. If I’m going to insist upon it, I believe the cause must be worthy and involve more than just myself. A television show doesn’t meet that requirement for me. I find things that entertain me. I don’t demand who should entertain me, and how they need to do it.

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    69. Ser Pounce,

      I just rewatched it. I’ve gotta say the cinematography is wonderful. The transitions are magical. Sapochnik truly outdid himself.
      But it all boils down to 5 problems.
      – 3 I can get over (or rather blame other episodes for them).
      – 1 is TV siliness, even in GoT happens a lot (Jaime gets skewered by Euron, climbs all the way to the main castle, escorts Cersei back down, still can breathe, talk, stand…).
      – The last one is of paramount importance and I cannot overlook it. I just need one certain prompt that sends Daenerys into madness. It can be almost anything, but must be at least something. Something that reminds Dany of her losses, of her solitude or of the unnecessary cruelty of Cersei. Could be a look at Tyrion who failed and betrayed her, could be a look at Jon, could be a look at her dead soldiers, could be some random nasty shout, random arrow shot, Missandei lookalike, Jorah lookalike, … One of those things and I see why Daenerys does what she does.

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    70. TOIVA,

      Or a look at the castle where her family lift.

      About the Jaime part. Strange our bodies. Some die directly from one stab. And some seems to not die at all from many. I remember a while back about a story about a woman that was stabbed in the back but still drove herself to the hospital. So who is too say that Jaime part is not realistic. It all depends on is this something Jaime can do. And for me I just say yes. If it was for instance someone old like davos I would probably say no.

      Silent Sister,

      I was the same. And I’ve learned just like you. What’s the point about losing energy about things you can’t control. If you don’t enjoy it fine. If you do, why overanalize it until you found a problem. I even am know when I think there is a mistake, looking if somebody has a nice answer for it that I can live with.

      But what I see with the critizing of got I can put in multiple categories:
      – people with real constructive criticism. Which contain only a small group of people who are complaining
      – overanalizing, which they would do to another show.
      – nitpicking over mistakes like the coffee cup which many great movies had which are praised. Even lotr had a shot where Gandalf was wearing a watch that was erased for the DVD release. Yes mistakes like that happen with the first viewings.
      – just criticizing not because it’s bad but because it didn’t go their way.
      – fans living in the past. Make me think of South Park member berries.
      – fans not understanding things and putting it away as a mistake of the makers.most of the time those are the watching movies with smartphone in hand type of people. Or they just didn’t remember certain scenes. I read a complained that drogon fought better in kings landing then with the army of the dead. Luckily somebody made sense to him when he pointed out that we had a scene in 8×01 where it stated that dragons don’t do well in the north and are barely eating.

      But for me, I don’t care for people critizing the show. Not everyone share a same opinion or view. And that’s fine. But I can’t stand somebody just criticizing because they just want to critisize something to feel better and to feel smarter then the rest.

        Quote  Reply

    71. Kevin1989,

      Well she has been looking at that Red Keep the whole time… I mean it could be done so that she somehow notices at that precise moment and makes the connection, but that’s tricky.

      About the human body, yes sometimes people survive gruesome looking incidents, but these are extremely rare and random events. Technically Euron could somehow miss every vital organ in both of his stabs, and the dagger had a very thin blade as to not do terribly much tissue damage.
      But come on, Jaime was still bleeding yet managed to make what was at least a 10 minute walk up stairs (from the sea level at least somewhere to the courtyards, if not higher, that’s a fairly long trek). No matter how relatively thin holes in his body were, that much activity would pump too much blood out.
      Overall, it’s just a small nitpick. Just a tired TV trope of an important character surviving much deadlier injuries than any redshirt and keeping on trucking. It’s something I’d still like for a realistic and detailed TV show like GoT to avoid.

        Quote  Reply

    72. Sandor:
      Joseph Mobile,

      I would accept a lot, but the level of absurd reached the peaks. I see, many people are quite defensive constantly saying that the negative reactions are exaggerated. Are they?

      Dany – turns mad in a matter of 2 episodes. Literally, 2 EPISODES –(I would buy, as a true Targaryen nature, in opposition to Jon who is half Targ/ half Stark).

      That was a horrible episode. Seriously.

      I can’t agree. I think Daenerys arc was a bit more complicated than that.

      Ep 1: Her isolation begins as she faces the suspicious northerners and the cold reaction from members of the Stark Family. Her face only lightens up when she sees her dragons flying above, and she has a triumphal smile.

      Ep 2: She cannot convince a natural ally, and indicates she will never give up the North, further isolating herself. Then upon learning Jon’s parentage, she responds not about their relationship but only about the throne.

      Ep 3: She impetuously abandons the plan to weight for the NK showing her impulsiveness (although this was the right decision in my mind) and loses Jorah in a very heartwrenching scene.

      Ep 4: She says farewell to Jorah, shows herself to be unreasonable about trying to make Jon hide his parentage in a paranoid tone (although she wasn’t totally wrong of course, loses Rhaegal, loses Missandei, and leaves KL enraged.

      I won’t go into Ep 5.

      Don’t get me wrong — I understand things felt rushed for some, but if more scenes/episodes had been filmed, I am sure we would have complaints about them as well. And of course I am sure a lack of more deeper development was deliberate because they wanted the viewer to be shocked. You may cry foul, but it was effective (at least for me as I yelled at the television and had my attitude towards Daenerys changed forever).

      And overall, I disagree strongly with your assessment. From spectacle to the small moments between character to the cautionary tale of absolute power and its temptation, I think this was an amazing episode. Not perfect, perhaps, but amazing.

      D&D may be better adapters than writers, but it was not their choice to become the latter only.

        Quote  Reply

    73. As a book reader and show watcher, I totally agree that the last two seasons should have been extended to fully flesh out the story lines. And there was a lot of fan service I could’ve done without (sorry not sorry, Jaime and Brienne or Jon riding dragon, Tormund as silly and adorable comic relief, even Arya killing night king).

      That said, I think what was communicated in this latest episode was incredibly powerful. The show and book series have ALWAYS warned us of the real costs of war. Even moreso, they’ve made it clear that human beings are not simply good or evil. Most villains don’t see themselves as villains (Ramsay and Euron excluded). I’m sure if we watched GOT with a sympathetic POV of Cersei as an abused woman who was fiercely protective of her children, we may have been rooting for a different character all along. Instead, we only had Dany’s POV and cheered alongside her as she literally massacred more people than every single villain on the show combined (add them up— I did). I adore Emilia Clarke and have always been team Dany (with a preference for Jon and a soft spot for Cersei) but it’s because she never played her character as a villain that we never really saw her as one.

      Say what you will about the recent seasons or writing. Game of Thrones has always been a show about humanity— the beauty, the heartache and the ugliness. We’ve always been shown characters who surprise us, but they only surprise us in the fact that theyre human. Of course, Jaime went back to Cersei! In the real world, people are flawed and don’t have “fully accomplished character arcs.”

      That last episode was powerful. It really makes you realize the collateral damage and brutality of war. It reminds me of whenever I see a Facebook photo of a mass murderer. They’re smiling, maybe hugging a beloved pet. And you think— at some point this person was loved…this person gave love. How complex is the human brain that could allow a kid to kiss his mother one day and massacre his schoolmates the next? Nah, I didn’t really need the show to spell out the literal turn of Dany. I’ve seen enough real life events to know that sometimes people just snap and commit horrific acts of inhumanity.

        Quote  Reply

    74. Just throwing this out there as something to chew on; I don’t don’t want to get into a back and forth… because it’s only an observation and might mean nothing at all.

      The scene in the Throne Room at Dragonstone (photo stills and previews also highlighted this scene – so maybe it meant *something* instead of nothing) Dany, Grey Worm and Tyrion are discussing battle strategy. Tyrion begs her to wait the bells to ring and for the city to surrender.

      It appears she nods her head in agreement, but I’m wondering… did she actually nod to Grey Worm, and then tell him to wait for her signal, he’d know the signal, he’d know the time? Had they previously discussed burning Kings Landing to the ground, counting on Cersei never surrendering? Were they later disappointed when the bells rang? Was the ‘signal’ Drogon flaming on within the walls.

      I’m simply posing the idea that perhaps the destruction of Kings Landing was premeditated and set up between Grey Worm and Dany long before the battle started? If so, Dany didn’t ‘snap’ during the battle. Maybe.

      As always, YMMV, I have an old vehicle and get lousy gas mileage.

        Quote  Reply

    75. Knight of the Walkers,

      Well, I’ve had the same career for 15 years and counting….but I do realize some people need more change in their lives lol. Many actors star on long running series that end just as good as they started-not that everyone necessarily loves the ending- but the artistic integrity was still there and when these actors were told there are two more seasons I don’t see what difference adding a couple more episodes to the last two would have hurt. When you care about your craft and know the joy you are bringing to people all the while making darn good money I don’t see why the actors would have been in such a hurry to move on that the ending just had to suffer and who cares.

        Quote  Reply

    76. TOIVA,

      That surviving is already happening in season 1 and 2 and 3 etc only less visible because we didn’t expect it back then that people would die that soon. And for me it was clear he was almost dying the way he acted and was ready to die with Cersei.

      David A,

      The problem is not the pace, that’s just an excuse, same with that petition to remake season 8 which is already on 250.000. It’s all about Dany and about “that’s not going to happen in the books”: Dany wouldn’t do that, it was out of the blue. I called it since season 1 that I though she will go that route. I saw things in her character that is in me that makes for an very unstable leader. This season I knew it would happen, but I hoped it wouldn’t and that she goes the civil route (Which she did for a short time). For me it was clear since season 1, the personality was there if you really look good at her.

      And about the petition: Entitled toddlers. Making a fit because you didn’t get what you want. a small minority (250.000 of the many millions that watch the show), felt entitled that 1. The writers write new scripts. 2 the actors making time again 3. The directors making time again 4. The crew making time again.

      I hope GRRM will shut the book purist up with something like “If you don’t like the ending of the show, you won’t like my ending”

      But for me I’m done with the haters (not with people like you who just have normal criticizing). And I’m glad it’s only one week till the show ends, because that means they will hopefully shut up, normal criticizing ok, entitled ranting not.

        Quote  Reply

    77. Great article. I feel your pain. It is OK to call the writers to task for their shortcomings, indeed. Of those shortcomings I will say this: I was absolutely indignant after last week’s episode for the simple reason that they turned the most interesting character in the story into a one-dimensional heroine seemingly plucked out of some obscure early 19th century Italian opera. Even worse, we were made to believe she “went mad” from misfortune as well as sexual hysteria and as a result behaves kind of like an amalgamation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso en travesti and Walter Scott’s Lucy.

      This final season has been too rushed. All of the “seeds planted” in earlier seasons did not sprout or, if they did sprout, sadly, they merely proved to be seedlings of an unexpected and undesirable species.

        Quote  Reply

    78. Long time reader here, occasional poster. Watchers has always been the best place to hang. Apologies, but I really can’t handle the level of toxic fandom surrounding GOT, somewhat happening here but not as bad as outside of Watchers. This is utterly ridiculous. Entitled, toxic fandom.

      Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone ever heard or read this before? Pity people can’t see -even now- that GRRM has been writing a sprawling cautionary tale exploring the ethical dilemma of the corrupting nature of power. The dragons, mythology etc were the circus to sucker / draw us in. We loved it. And some of us are very disappointed to see our expectations dashed so thoroughly.

      Really, some serious blame needs to be aimed at GRRM – what the heck has he been doing the last 8 years? How can he not have finished TWoW and not even have started ADoS by now? Extremely professionally derelict of him. He is a great writer- yes the early seasons are the best because they have the detailed source material to draw upon- why did he drop this baby so badly? D&D have been given the endpoint by GRRM, and have been awkwardly navigating us there. I really rather love this ethical rugpull at the end…I suspect the throne will be abolished & KL may never be rebuilt, as a memorial to the dangers of absolute power and moral extremism- which we are also witnessing in the world with the rise of all kinds of repugnant fundamentalism, and yes also in the overly entitled fandom. This has been a spectacular series- with flaws, yes, based on a gripping ( & overly sprawling) storyworld from GRMM. Complaints about the end destination are really starting to come across as excessive entitlement. I’m just sick of reading the negative comments from people who for the most part possess neither writing nor filmmaking track records. This is meant to be a cautionary tale, and to be honest I am really rather enjoying this season. Good luck to us all for the final episode.

        Quote  Reply

    79. Akash,

      Superb article as usual. I always make a special point of reading your thought-provoking pieces. You’re a brilliant writer; your articles on this website have consistently been among the best GoT reviews I’ve ever read. Better than most articles by professional reviewers on many mainstream journalistic outlets, in fact.

      A few thoughts:

      + The showrunners were not exactly being subtle with the lingering shots of Tyrion in front of a large carving of a dragon’s head!

      + Far from behaving out of character, Tyrion’s behaviour in the last couple of seasons (including this episode) perfectly matches what’s been shown as his biggest character flaw: He’s an extremely intelligent and rational man most of the time, but the clarity of his thinking is severely compromised whenever it involves a woman genuinely loves. Originally his first wife, then Shae, then his recent misguided trust in Cersei, and now Dany. It’s the same pattern of behaviour.

      + Jon is usually less rigid than Ned (and less stubborn or naïve than Robb), but he’s still capable of acting like this. In fact, he’s recently taken this even further than Ned did: Ned opposed Robert Baratheon’s attempts to murder Dany, and voiced his opposition to Robert’s face, whereas Jon actually tells Varys it’s Dany’s right as a monarch to destroy King’s Landing when Varys argues “We both know what she’s going to do”; later, Jon cuts Varys off by snapping “She is my queen”. So far, Jon is more deferential to people he regards as rightful monarchs than Ned ever was. The fact that the monarch in question also happens to be someone Jon loves complicates things too, of course.

      + Dany was obviously already considering the complete destruction of King’s Landing as an option for quite a while, but she hadn’t reached a firm decision until the city actually surrendered. Even then, she was shown as agonising over it, and finally crossing the Rubicon was visibly taking an emotional toll on her.

      + Dany has now become the kind of ruler endorsed in Machiavelli’s The Prince, and not just in her attitude towards potential threats like Varys. Earlier in the episode, Dany’s arguments about the need to destroy King’s Landing as a deterrent to anyone in future exploiting her “mercy” (which she describes as “our strength”) are directly from The Prince. The text promotes the notion of a single, one-off act of extreme brutality that the ruler should swiftly terminate as soon as it’s been effective and refrain from ever repeating, but which is “necessary” to set an example and send a message. Dany’s evaluations of whether it’s better to be loved or feared are, of course, infamously also from The Prince.

      + So it’s unlikely Dany “suddenly snapped and went insane” as some have suggested. The sequence of actions on her part are increasingly driven by pure realpolitik.

      + This sort of thing does, nevertheless, have a corrosive psychological effect on people who are not fundamentally sociopathic or psychopathic, at least in terms of those traits not usually being dominant. The finale will no doubt show exactly how corrosive this has been for Dany, but her actions and the self-justifying logic have definitely caused her to descend from narcissistic issues to the worse form, “malignant narcissism”. Note also that this includes Dany engaging in classic narcissistic victim-blaming by using disingenuous arguments to absolve herself of any responsibility for the horrific consequences of her own actions: Blaming Jon for Varys’s death, blaming the ordinary population of King’s Landing for not rising up against Cersei and thereby dying at Dany’s hands, etc.

      + So Dany’s behaviour is incredibly, horribly, brutally realistic, both in terms of human psychology and real-life historical precedents. So is the depiction of commanders like Jon being unable to restrain their troops once the sack of a city is underway; there are many historical examples of this, especially from medieval and ancient times.

      + There seem to be some 9/11 references in the episode too, especially Dany justifying “collateral damage” and even the deliberate targeting of civilians by blaming them for not doing enough to oppose their rulers; this directly echoes OBL’s claims in his public statements. The episode also had a number of obvious visual references to 9/11: The winged weapon hurtling towards the towers of the Red Keep, the crowds running through streets of tall buildings as the carnage approached from behind, the shot of “spiked girders” protruding from the ruins, Arya completely covered in ash and walking in streets full of smoke, rubble and dust.

      + Drogon was clearly hesitating after Dany ordered him to kill Varys. Drogon also seemed to initially be “twisting” and conflicted when taking off after Dany made the decision to burn the city, but I’d need to rewatch the episode to double-check this. This reluctance and internal conflict will probably escalate and have certain implications involving certain other characters in the finale.

      + GoT has always been about subverting genre tropes and contradicting viewer expectations, so the fact that this episode took some very different directions to the expectations/theories of many fans actually isn’t surprising at all.

      + I’m sure GRRM’s eventual books will shed a lot more light on the main characters’ internal motives, especially Dany.

      Looking forward to reading your article on the finale next week.

        Quote  Reply

    80. kevin1989,

      Yeah, I know. As I noted before, it’s an old TV (and movie) trope, that sadly GoT also uses from time to time. Doesn’t change the fact that I feel the need to call them out on it.
      It’s just stupid when say a named character without armor fights a dozen armored knights, hits them with his sword once (on the armor, you know) and they all fall like ripe apples. Some of them cut him back with their swords and the hero is unfazed. The sooner this stops happening, the better.

      And regarding that silly petition. Yeah, I have no words… Like, if you didn’t like it, fine. At this point in history though, what stops you from making your own ending? In written form, comic or even a cartoon for some skilled individuals.
      Asking an artist (yes, TV show creators are artists, same as writers, painters, sculptors, …) to redo his work because you don’t like it?! Well, you can ask nicely, but don’t be surprised when he tells you to fuck off.

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    81. Jai,

      Oh my, that was quite a few wonderfully fresh takes on the episode.
      – You are right about the sculpted dragon head taking all the background behind Tyrion when he informs Dany about Varys. I did notice it on my second view but didn’t give it much thought. Seems a very strong foreshadowing (which is very much in line with all events).
      – Yes, Drogon looked like having surprising issues taking off from the bastion after the bells rang. I couldn’t quite decide whether it’s the VFX that was somewhat off or there was another reason. If that was a sign of Drogon’t reluctance, then that was a brilliant character beat for the dragon.
      And yes, Drogon took a weirdly long time incinerating Varys. But I guess you could interpret it as that moment before death (we were seeing Drogon from Varys’ perspective, being Varys at that point) when you review your entire life. It has this “time slowing down” quality associated to it.
      – Hmm, I am not sure assigning Machiavellian planning to Daenerys entirely works. It would help explain the events in the episode, which is great, but Daenerys was never (as far as I know) shown to practice cynical pragmatic politics. Technically that’s what the show positions Varys or Tyrion to do. Sansa is actually the one character constantly elevated as the smart player of the “Game of Thrones” that learned from GoT Machiavelli himself, Littlefinger. She would be the best placed for such a drastic twist.
      In short, while I understand Daenerys was long positioned to do something considered mad, the execution in this episode still feels lacking.

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    82. TOIVA,

      I tell them now: Fuck off and get a life XD

      Yes but the problem is, if they didn’t use that thrope, every GoT character would be dead in 3 seasons and we would have changed the cast already 3 times. And I mean the biggest character where plot-armor saved them was of course Dany, how many times she should have died in the show is beyond counting, plot saved her and her dragons. (season 2 two times, season 5 with the attack on her life, drogon happens to arrived precisely when he means to, same with Jorah and Daario in 6, same with Drogon turning his head in 7×04, 8×03 same but nobody is complaining about that)

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    83. Maege the Frog,

      Well written, thanks.

      “Really, some serious blame needs to be aimed at GRRM – what the heck has he been doing the last 8 years? How can he not have finished TWoW and not even have started ADoS by now? Extremely professionally derelict of him. He is a great writer- yes the early seasons are the best because they have the detailed source material to draw upon- why did he drop this baby so badly?”

      I’ve considered the possibility that GRRM has completed at least a first draft of the tome and is strategically awaiting the end of GoT before going to press. His recent post on Not a Blog dispels that notion. He finds the idea absurd. Never having met the man, there isn’t much I can say about his inability to get WoW on paper without delving into speculation.
      Is GRRM a great writer? When I think of great writers, I’m thinking Joyce, Faulkner, Nabokov, C. McCarthy and Pynchon et al.. While some might scoff at the idea, IMO GRRM is more akin to Jorge Luis Borges even if their scope and scale is day and night. In terms of style and construction, Borges is a good, yet not particularly remarkable author. In terms of ideas, Borges may as well be ranked as genius. I don’t know about the genius part, but GRRM has laid out superior ideas in the pages of ASoIaF, regardless of how far off the tracks he’s gotten in the narrative of last two books.
      Borges is well known for writing in depth analysis/review/critique of books that existed only in his imagination. i.e. works that do not and never have existed in the ‘real world’. The existence of the book in his imagination was the ‘reality’ of the work. This is the kind of idea that makes Borges remarkable. Maybe GRRM would be well advised to taking this approach with ADoS . I wonder how well this would fly with GRRM’s fandom? LOL!

      “Complaints about the end destination are really starting to come across as excessive entitlement. I’m just sick of reading the negative comments from people who for the most part possess neither writing nor filmmaking track records.”

      I was accused of this entitlement yesterday. Without going into details, I’ve been writing professionally for over 40 years. I don’t know whether or not this ‘entitles’ me to critique a film or literary work, but I can say that I don’t know many professional writers that don’t critique what they read or view. While I often read/view a story/film primarily for the immediate experience of the thing, I at least at some point, will stand back and analyze the piece. This simply comes naturally.
      Cheers!

      “I wouldn’t dream of arguing the interpretation of my films by a viewer.”
      Stanley Kubrick

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    84. TOIVA,

      Yes, I agree, the incredible rush to reach a conclusion left many characters rather one dimensional, with peculiar motivations, seemed a bit like they landed somewhere without a complex journey behind them. GoT was always about long journeys and complex characters with smart dialogues. The ends don’t always justify the means. I will stop with the criticism. I know eventually it all comes down to:I liked it/I didn’t like it. For many it will always be a masterpiece, for others it will remain a shallow of its former self, storywise. At least the creators got what they wanted, everybody is talking about this just like everybody was talking about the Sopranos ending. But as far as I remember, because I was a child back then, no-one dared to criticise Chase’s story writing skills, all agreed he was brilliant. The story writing techniques is the basic thing the people who are unsatisfied with GoT mention everytime they motivate their opinion. OK, except the trolls who give low scores without even bothering to watch the show. Maybe sometime in the future, one of us will make what we believe it would be a better adaptation, who knows? For now, this is the only one we have.

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    85. Ser Pounce,

      Maybe sometime in the future, one of us will make what we believe it would be a better adaptation, who knows?

      Maybe therein lies the problem. Perhaps D&D really are much better at adapting then having to create themselves. I mean, they were in such a different position these last few years. Prior to Season 6, they could just pick what they liked and streamline it into a storyline. Now they had to come up with storylines themselves. And even though they brought Bryan Cogman and Dave(?) Hill to the writing team, it’s still an entirely different job to try and streamline one’s own story.
      Simply put, I don’t really want to blame D&D for the inconsistencies and what I see as bad characterisation and twists for the sake of shock and surprise. But at the same time, it kinda is their fault. It’s just it’s very justifiable.

      kevin1989,

      Actually that’s not entirely true. It just takes more effort writing the situation such a way that the “hero” has believable chances of survival. Even last minute saves by other characters (or dragons) can be fine as long as those other characters were warned/called/had a weird sensation (Jorah definitely feels whenever Khaleesi needs his help, lol) at the right time and for a good reason.
      In this particular case, Euron was a couple times surpised by Jaime’s golden (heavy, hard) hand. Jaime could have blocked and deflected a number of Euron’s strikes and won the fight while say only taking more superficial injuries. And bear in mind, Euron was at a disadvantage from the start, he had to swim across the Blackwater Bay after his fleet got incinerated, that does take some strenght away.

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    86. Jack Hamm,

      I kind of do not understand. The seeds did not sprout. But when they do(if u did not see the Danny’s tirany seeds planted since s1) u say there was not enough development for her actions, everything was rushed, then what’s the point of planting the seeds in the first place?

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    87. The conundrum that D&D faced was to either continue incredible dialogue or introduce quality fantasy to the real world they created. Seasons 7 and 8 is simply one long season that were extended to allow for fantasy element to be done correctly. The threat of the Night King basically all zombies and dragons CGI felt real. And now after watching “the bells” which was one dragon destroying a city felt incredibly real.

      Season 7 and 8 brought all the main characters together therefore it feels even more rushed than it was already going to be. I think this series will stand the test of time and be appreciated for what it accomplished which is bringing the fantasy element into a real world and making it believable.

      And lastly regarding both controversial episodes The Long Night and The Bells. First the threat of the Night King was real and the battle was lost. Like most wars one side got lucky and the living basically caught a hail mary Arya flying in to save the day which based on her Facelessmen training seems plausible. During the bells episode right before the battle quite like Euron Grey joy it dawned on me. There is a dragon that has scouted your location knows your one weapon against it, you are done. The foreshadowing has been set since Jon met Dany for the first time and knew she could simply storm the city and the war would be over. Tyrion has been “failing” because he was trying to avoid civilian casualties but there was never going to be a “last war” just destruction. Jaime Lannister told Cersei either the dead win and march south and we die or the living win and come south and we die. Once the decision was made to Storm the City there was never going to be a fair fight. Drogon is a nuclear weapon and was unleashed on a city. Both episodes were amazing and this season has been nothing short of amazing. It is art which is going to create a reaction one way or the other. For those who disagree luckily you have one more chance with the books.

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    88. The funniest thing about this season was D&D’s INSISTENCE on not dragging it out and leaving on a high note.
      All crows are liars!

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    89. I have definitely appreciated this season a lot more on rewatch than any other season. It may be the faster pacing but episodes three and five grew on me a lot. Episode 2 I feel is an all time classic and top ten overall.

      There are a few potholes in this season though and an extra episode may have fixed a lot of them but of course easy to say in hindsight and with out budget constraints.

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