To describe Game of Thrones, you could say that it was a game of two halves or that it was like a long term relationship, one that served you well for years, before deciding that you need different things. Either would be suitable for describing how I felt about the ending of the TV phenomena.
Let’s start at the beginning
I started watching during the fourth season because previously, I used to have a rule about not investing in a television show until it had that many seasons under its belt. Why? Google The Sarah Connor Chronicles and then come back to me. I want to invest in programmes that will have a defined start, middle and end. I don’t want to invest for two seasons, see the show end on a cliffhanger and then be denied a conclusion.
Once I had started, I couldn’t stop and went through the first four seasons in very quick succession. Being surprised at most turns, from the Red Wedding to the conclusion of the Battle of Blackwater and mesmerised by the intricate character arcs. It was unique, from the ease in which main characters were killed off to the way that battles were shot, the use of language and the slow pace. It was unique and unlike anything else on television.
Once the subsequent seasons were released, I hung on every word, loving every part and looking forward to the release of the next episode. When I look back at the first six seasons, I can see how everything carefully links in together and builds to satisfying conclusions, which is not in keeping with the later seasons. These run through plotlines quicker than I run through my salary every month. They are the epitome of being rushed.
The last two seasons — Seven and Eight
Now, let me start this off by saying that I don’t believe that the last two seasons should be re-written with competent writers, as this would be incredibly disrespectful. I absolutely agree that the seventh and eighth season of the global phenomena deserved better. You can definitely tell where the TV producers overtook the author, which creates a great disparity between the last quarter and those that proceeded it.
It’s a shame. It really is to write this and say that I was disappointed as that should not be the case. I should be sitting here saying that the series was amazing and life-affirming but I cannot lie. Just like what Professor Umbridge tells Harry in the Order of the Phoenix, you must not tell lies.
If you were to ask me to sum up the first six seasons in one sentence, then it would be, ‘Brilliant character arcs that keep you on the edge of the seat, through intricate and well-paced plots’. These seasons were the personification of, ‘Good things come to those who wait’. If you were to ask me to sum up the last two seasons in one sentence, then it would be, ‘A rushed trip down memory lane that fails to produce a satisfying ending, leaving the audience wanting more’.
It’s hard to end
Sure that there are some sexual jokes that I could add in here but for the moment, I will assume that the audience is above that.
History teaches us that the majority of TV endings are disappointing. Lost would be a prime example of this, spending so long building up those intricate plot lines that were never going to be able to be explained in a satisfactory manner. This is how I feel about Game of Thrones, they spent so long creating these amazing story arcs that any ending was always going to leave you feeling empty.
The best ending I have seen from a TV series was that which was seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation. This for me personified what the show was about, adventure and so the finale was a two-part adventure that spanned three different time frames. It was original and closed off the show in a manner that reflected the core concepts. Game of Thrones missed this for me.
What should they have done?
Now all of these comments are mine and mine alone. I in no way believe that the last two seasons should be re-written as the writers are incompetent. That is disrespectful. Everyone will read a book and interpret the characters differently. My example of this would be the character of Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. The character in my head was a lot more stereotypically geeky and had much bushier hair but that is my interpretation. This is neither right or wrong.
We all interpret things in a different way and the writers were given notes by George Martin for the last two seasons that they have interpreted. I personally don’t feel as though these interpretations were correct and missed the mark in terms of the narrative, as they felt rushed but they were the interpretations of another and so I won’t question. I will comment and offer an opinion but I won’t look to push the writers to re-write until I agree.
I personally feel as though from the artistic point of view, Game of Thrones, should have waited on the author to finish the books. This is because, with the source material, the first six seasons sing to the audience, whereas the last two sound like England’s entry to the Eurovision song contest.
Did I enjoy any part of the final season?
I enjoyed the fifth episode as it was satisfying to see Daenerys finally reach the city and give Cersei the justice that we had all been hoping for. The ‘heel turn’ can be seen when you look back on the series and pick out certain points such as crucifying the masters in slavers bay and burning Sam’s parents alive, so I really didn’t have a problem with that. It also made sense to have her ‘on the throne’ at the end and see the drama that would unfold with her and John.
The battle was also different and added a new dimension, rather than a full-on siege like we saw at the very poor, battle of Winterfell. You could understand her motivations after several poor moves on Tyrian’s part and wanted her to get a decent victory under her belt.
The scenes of fear in the capital really emphasised her turn and how terrifying it would have been. Once again, emphasising the change that had overcome her and helping to establish her as the last enemy in which the people needed to face. This all made sense and whilst you can make an argument for the burning going on for too long, I can live with it. The rest of the season was average at best.
Has watching the TV series made me want to read the book?
Most definitely, yes.
If anything, the one big takeaway that I have from all of this is that I want to read the books. I want to be taken on that journey by a world-class author and see how he envisioned the ending (when he writes it) and see if, following the backlash from fans, he will change anything. I doubt that he will but with the benefit of pages rather than screentime, I feel as though plot lines will be finalised in a more satisfactory manner.
The only downside and this will be a real, first world problems moment, is that the books are incredibly long and I have limited time as it is. I also still have more than 40 books on my shelf that are yearning to be read. Many of whom have been there for years and so, I really should be loyal to them and give them the time that they deserve.
I believe that it is unfair to blame the writers and ask for a re-write, as we could not do better and it would be arrogant to consider that we could. It is their interpretation and whilst we are free to discuss and comment, we should not consider what they have done anything more than disappointing. It’s not the end of the world and there will always be other shows.
For me personally, I am editing the narrative and ending the series at the end of the sixth season, where John Snow was crowned, ‘King in the North’. The following two seasons were a misstep and will from this point forward be forgotten. The end of the sixth season was satisfying and that is where I will end my Game of Thornes narrative.
I now want to read the books and as I always say, if something is important, then you will find the time. It is always hard to end a series and for me, the writers here missed the mark but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love Game of Thrones. I will always have a place in my heart for it and herald the writers for their effort.