Game of Thrones’ Final Season Ends with a Thud

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The most anticipated TV finale of all time has arrived, and the reviews are subpar at best. The eighth season of Game of Thrones concluded on Sunday, May 19, and some viewers, including myself,  are not happy. This season, the writers seemed to forget what people love about Game of Thrones. The character development, the twists and turns, and the unpredictability that made the show what it is. But throughout the season, the twists did not feel earned, and the ending seemed predictable.

When George R.R. Martin started writing the novel  A Game of Thrones in 1996, he set out to write a series where the “good guy” did not always win. For instance, he killed the main protagonist, Ned Stark, in the first book of the seven-book series. The TV show followed this precedent for most of its run. Main characters would be killed without warning, and the notoriously evil Lannisters were on the throne for almost the entire series, but season eight did not follow this idea. Beware of season eight spoilers ahead. 

The season started off on a pretty mild note, but this is normal for Game of Thrones. The first episode, like many of the seasons’ firsts, existed only to recap where each character left off in the previous season. The second episode, however, was very strong. It showed characters in their most human moments, including a fantastic scene where Tormund, Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, Podrick Payne, and Brienne of Tarth all sit around a fire while talking. The scene led to a fan favorite moment when Jaime knights Brienne. Junior Jesse Lehman was fascinated with this scene: “I thought episode two was the best episode of the season.” 

Unfortunately, episode three is when the season started to take a turn for the worst. “The Long Knight” reveals the much anticipated arrival of the Knight King in Winterfell. The episode was supposed to change the entire series, but it ended in a mere eighty minutes, and the White Walker Generals do next to nothing, despite being one of the most powerful beings in the Game of Thrones universe. The episode ended anticlimactically when Arya, a character who has never had anything to do with the Knight King storyline, kills him in seconds, and all of the millions in the army of the dead die once more. The main character casualties in what was supposed to be the battle of humanity are also meager; only Theon Greyjoy and Jorah Mormont are killed off,  and that is it.

After the end of the Knight King’s short-lived appearance, the main antagonist became Cersei Lannister. With this, Daenerys Targaryen is finally ready to attack the Red Keep. When it finally happens in episode five, years of character development went down the drain. In a moment of anger, for seemingly no reason besides rage from her friend dying, Dani becomes the thing she had been fighting against all seven seasons; she slaughters hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children.

The other major disappointment in the episode is the deaths of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. They are left under the Red Keep and crushed by gravel, an ending that does not give the people who despised Cersei the justice many thought she deserved. 

This disappointing twist of fate leads into the final episode, which only leads to more disappointing endings for the characters. Jon stabs Dani, leading to his imprisonment and eventual sentence back to Castle Black. From there, he goes north of the wall to live out the rest of his days as a free man. Junior Josh Blankstein said, “I didn’t like his ending. I wanted it to be more shocking. I thought they made it like an old TV show where the main character always wins, but Game of Thrones isn’t an old TV show. I wanted them to wow me with the ending to the most beloved character on the show, but they did not.” 

Meanwhile, the only person who wanted Jon banished had just left for an island on the other side of the world, so, theoretically, he could come back whenever he wanted. Tyrion would once again end up as hand of another king, a predictable outcome for a character who has seemingly been in the same situation over and over again. Arya Stark ended up as the captain of her own ship, both literally and figuratively. She wanted to find out what is “west of Westeros,” but if the globe is round, she will end up in Essos, on land that has already been discovered. The only satisfying character conclusion was for Sansa Stark. She earned her freedom and became the Queen in the North, leaving the north as an independent entity with an honorable ruler. Senior Josh Polansky said of the ending, “I felt like they could have done more.”

Despite all these disappointing endings, there was one that infuriated fans more than any other. Bran Stark, now known as Bran the Broken, was named king of Westeros; a character who was never even considered for the throne, a character who has acted like a robot for the entire season will now rule all of the land. There were so many better options, why would fans be satisfied with the least interesting one on the throne? 

The main idea of the entire series is that “bad guys” sometimes win, but the writers seemed to forget this in the production of season eight. Every protagonist got the ending he/she desired, but none of the fans got the massive twist they wanted.