Well, our time in Westeros has come to an end and that saddens me in a dual way. I came to enjoy my Sunday evenings all cured up with my yarn crocheting while watching (yes I can crochet without looking) the antics of heroes and villains I either openly cheered and jeered or even secretly cheered.
The cast of “Game of Thrones” is one fans have felt they have watched grow into their characters. From the first season even I wasn’t sure what this was all about having not read the books but was immediately curious with each episode. I’m not sure if it was because I wanted to see if Sean Bean lived (as he tended not to do with his characters) or my love of period pieces but week after week I stayed.
The journey of the Stark clan with Ned (Bean), Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), Robb (Richard Madden), Sansa (Sophie turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Wright) and the bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington) didn’t take long to be put under the thumb of the Lannisters’.
Speaking of a dysfunctional family led by Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), daughter Cersei Lannister-Baratheon (Lena Headey), along with sons Jamie (Niolaj Coster-Waldau) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) made sure fans appreciated their own families more. Of course dangling on that family tree was also the kid most likely to be strangled by the masses Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) amongst the rest of the kids.
Then there was this little blonde Targaryen girl named Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who was traded to a very tall Dothraki leader in the form of Jason Momoa. Of course there is a history of craziness in her own family that she needs to come to terms with. That little marriage brought out the Mother of Dragons who flew her way into creating an army as we all cheered her on.
Of course behind the two families were such characters as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Samwell Tarly (John Bradley, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Aidan Gillen as Lord Baelish, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), The Hound (Rory McCann), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and the beloved Hodor (Kristian Nairn).
There are so many characters to name that I just don’t have enough room or time to write this all out so let’s move on and know that I am giving credit to every character as they are due with our humble thanks.
Onward, each season the story line grew bigger and bigger, so much so that I couldn’t wait to go to Comic Con and sit in on the panel AND happily receive a goodie that included an awesome bag and inside a book so that I could read what I was missing, Seeing the casts on panels, it was fun to hear them talk about their time on the show as well as trying so very hard not to give anything away.
As the story unfolded season after season there was plans, survival, death, secrets, destruction, betrayal, power struggles (with family and with distant family) and all in the name of the Iron Throne and who will end up sitting on it. We began with Robert Baratheon and his friendship with Ned Stark and ended up with Joffrey being the next king (and I use a small ‘k’ because it fits him). Joffrey was the kind of king who would burn the wings of flies with a magnifying glass while his mother Cersei stands behind egging him on.
That’s when Sansa gets put into play between the Starks and Lannisters but there is oh so much more to that story. As the houses begin to shift and loyalties become apparent, the one person who isn’t loyal to anyone is Tyrion and that’s when I started cheering for him. Yes, I understand that he has a problem with prostitutes and he likes to spout that ‘That’s what I do, I drink and I know things!’ becoming his (and our) mantra.
We watched weddings, funerals, battles, enemies from far away and enemies close up fighting for supremacy, lack of love, a few crushes, women being passed on and men being passed over, magic, dragons, friendships (both faked and deserved), honesty wrapped in lies, and oh so much more in Westeros. Our loyalties, like the characters in Westeros, were solid — until they weren’t.
The break between season 7 and 8 was the longest break in the show and fans believed, as I did, that it was because the last season would be epic. We bit our collective tongues when it was announced that there would only be six episodes, and we bit even harder when we learned collectively that it would be almost two years before the end would happen. Okay, we are die-hards, we can take it…right….RIGHT?
And so we all did, rumors would drop here and there and speculation about what would happen in the final season kept fans going until the first trailer dropped. I think the world might have stopped spinning for a second or two when that happened. It didn’t give us much but it was something and we were raised to believe that it was better than nothing.
Then that first Sunday brought us all back, and sometimes in groups, to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Bets were placed, surveys taken, and polls done with different opinions varying with Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys, Arya and Sansa being the top picks. Of course I had my pick which I will save till the end of this rant, rave or otherwise.
Each episode brought out grumbling fans who weren’t to happy with how the stories were playing out. The grumblings were a bit low until the infamous ‘coffee cup’ screw up that hit the internet like wildfire. It started out as funny until people begin writing that this isn’t the first ‘ooops’ that had been caught in this season and many began to see it as lack of caring. That translated into fans feeling slapped with a freshly caught trout across the kisser by the creators.
Along with that petitions started wandering around the internet demanding that the entire 8th season be redone. I actually thought that myself but in a more amused way because we all know that it would never happen. With all the complaining it was only a matter of time before creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss tried to humor there way out of the complaining. I read an article about it and laughed myself thinking ‘well this is one way to thumb your nose at fans’.
As the finale drew near, I put my favorite Westeros shirt on and filled up my Tyrion “that’s what I do is drink and I know things’ cup and prepared to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Yet, there was a nagging feeling I couldn’t shake that with the way the final season had been going, I should just take a deep breath and suck it up that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.
That’s exactly what happened, I didn’t get what I wanted. Now its easy to say ‘well no one is going to always be happy with the way things end on a long running series’, tis true enough, however — that’s not what disappointed me.
What caught me was the duality of feeling regarding the final season. So here’s the pros and cons of what went on inside my head these past few weeks (insert deep breath here, a crack of the knuckles and fingers on the keys…here we go!).
Let’s start with the downers shall we? What disappointed me is just the ‘lack-of’ I felt in the final season. The waste of time with these long drawn on scenes of longing looks or pull back camera work instead of putting the effort into talking, telling the story and really getting in there to let the characters hands get really dirty before its all over. It felt like a lack of umph that we would never have come to expect from “Game of Thrones.”
Each episode was about an hour and a half and yet there wasn’t anything there that made me feel like my subscription to HBO was worth it. I felt like, without reading the final book, that there was so much room to play out the story effectively instead of special effects. Sure, I have no idea what it takes to bring a show like “Game of Thrones” to the screen and sure I don’t have any idea how much it costs but lets be honest — that’s not my job and it’s not the viewers job to know that.
I don’t want dark battles, I don’t want long battles — I get it, there’s a dragon that they used sparingly and you can’t kill white walkers because the Night King has a wavering hands that revives them. Did I need a whole hour and a half of that? Nope. Did I need to see and hour and a half of Cersei staring at the destruction of Kings Landing? Nope. Did I need an hour and a half of a dragon burning innocent people into ash? Nope. Such a waste of time — my time — everyone’s time. THEN, the finale ends up being an hour and 20 minutes? Seriously?
My remark on Twitter that the season was “lazy” is exactly how I feel, and even more-so with the finale. The only character I was riveted by was Tyrion because Dinklage showed me something, made me feel something even if I didn’t like his choice. The only character I thought had a pair was Sansa and her declaration that was basically, ‘screw you all, I’m doing what I want….period…so peace out!’.
We aren’t even hours after the finale when, once again, a mysterious item shows up on the screen. Behind the leg of Samwell when the leaders bring Tyrion to them at the hands of Grey Worm — a plastic water bottle. Do you see what I mean by lazy? With each mistake that is on screen the suspension of disbelief is crushed and we only went to Westeros each week to be taken OUT of reality.
On the other hand…….
What did we learn on our journey? We learned that absolute power corrupts absolutely so sometimes melting a throne is best and love doesn’t conqueror all, in fact in Westeros love could get you killed and usually did. We understood many things about the trials of some characters and we embraced others who seemed un-embraceable. Twisted life lessons but lessons all the same.
From the very beginning we all knew this was a game, a game among men and women for a throne, something that didn’t care about any of them was easily taken away. A game of life and death and there was plenty of that to go around from all the seven kingdoms.
We also learned that loyalty exists, friendships can come from the most unlikely places, that family (even dysfunctional ones) will beat each other up but let no one else do it and that magic is in the eyes of the beholder. All of these things are what makes us love “Game of Thrones” even when we are disgruntled by it.
We will all settle in time, we will watch and re-watch until a comfortability sets in. We will wait to see if the prequels that are rumored will give us back our Sunday’s evenings of being whisked away to another time, another place and another story and restore our suspension of disbelief.
In Westeros, after everything, they are beginning again. Perhaps not as they wished and not as we wish but we are left knowing that they do go on in some form or another. In our own imaginations let us hope that the choices made in the finale send them all on their way to a peace not known in Westeros for eight season.
So we should all take a collective deep breath and remember, there are always box sets coming of every season to enjoy whenever you feel the need to visit old friends and enemies. It should keep us busy until we see the first trailer to the prequel to “Game of Thrones”.
In the words of Tyrion and the truth is in it, even after everything that has happened in the years we’ve all invested in “Game of Thrones,” “even knowing what I know now, I’d do it again” — and we will.