With the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones airing last Sunday, I hope it’s not too late for Pencilstorm to jump on Game of Thrones bandwagon. Colin finally sprung for an HBO GO subscription (read: I stole my sister’s login) and I’ve been binging through all the episodes for eight days to finally catch up. Just like probably ever other fan, I’ve loved the first seven seasons, but Season 8 has been disappointing. Kind of reminds me of Guns N Roses’ Spaghetti Incident - you wait forever for it to come out and there’s really nothing there.
[SPOILER ALERT] For those of you that don’t want any spoilers, don’t read on. I’ve inserted this angry picture of Daenerys to show how upset I am about this season and to put a gap between the opening paragraph and the spoilers.
So here we go - five things that went wrong in Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
More Main Characters Should Have Died Earlier
If there’s anything Game of Thrones teaches us it is not to fall in love with any character because even the main characters die. Ned Stark - dead. Ygritte - dead. Robb Stark - dead. Queen Margaery - dead. Important and beloved characters die just about every other episode. Why not in Season 8? We had to wait for Episode 5 for major deaths. Even so, John Snow, Sansa, Arya, Daenerys and Tyrion live! The writers should have shocked us and killed off one of them in Episode 1. But instead, we get some minor lord at the Last Hearth and Jorah, Missandei and Lyanna during The Battle of Winterfell. On top of it all, Jamie and Cersei die by rocks falling on them? In each other’s arms? We’ve been waiting eight long seasons for her to die and stones kill her? There were lots of weapons around including swords, daggers and a dragon. Her father even died by crossbow on the shitter! Stop trying to make me happy with a romantic ending and just slaughter people like the good ole’ days.
Who The Hell Was The Night King?
They set up the Night King as this ultimate bad-ass and there’s not even a sword fight with him. Why don’t we get to see a battle? I love the fact that Arya kills him, but wouldn’t some hand-to-hand combat have been great to see with all the cool moves Arya can do? Also, I still don’t get this guy’s motivation. What’s he even doing in the show other than being a guy that everybody fears? Give me something to care about and a reason to be glad he’s dead. And don’t give us weird spiral markings and signs without ever explaining what they are. There are so many empty holes in this storyline that never really ever paid off.
And About That Coffee Cup
Sloppy writing, sloppy production. I’ve done a few independent films during my days and while they’re no where near the masterpiece Seasons 1 through 7 are, we had some rules on the set. Everyone knew that you didn’t bring craft services onto the set. That meant no bagels, no pizza, no soda and NO COFFEE CUPS. You do not carry your drinks onto the set and place them on a table in front of you when you’re about to film - especially a period piece. There’s also a person who’s supposed to be looking at the frame before you shoot to make sure everything is in place. Finally, an editor that’s putting the shots together is supposed to be looking for anything out of place. It’s embarrassing that it aired.
The writing has been sloppy as well. In The Last of The Starks, Tormund is praising Jon for riding a dragon. He points out how special he is for riding a dragon as if no one ever does it. You know who rode a dragon? TORMUND.
Buy The Director of Photography A Light Meter
Seriously, who let The Long Night air as dark as it was? I get the artistic choice to make it dark and difficult for the viewer to see what was going on - make them feel like they were there and increase the anxiety. Here’s the thing - I really didn’t see ANYTHING! I had to rewatch the episode with my brightness turned up. I’m not going to beat this dead horse because it’s been talked about over and over again on the Internet, but understand there are multiple people in the decision process that let this pass. This wasn’t just one person - it was the DP, the Director, the Producers, the Film Processors, the Engineers at HBO and the executives at HBO. Couldn’t somebody say, “I can’t see a damn thing. We need to fix this.”
The Whole Season Seems Rushed
I think the biggest issue is there’s only six episodes this season and they are trying to rush to the finish line. When I first heard there’d be only a few episodes, I was relieved to hear they were longer and almost movie-length. After the first episode ended I was in shock because I expected two hours, not 54 minutes. Not giving this season the time to breathe didn’t let the story-line unfold properly. Instead, as the characters met each other again for the first time in six seasons, the dialogue and action happened too quickly for me to engage with whatever was going on. The Euron-Cersci relationship seems forced, the Tyrion-Lord Varys overthrow Daenerys thing seems rushed, frankly the Daenerys goes crazy is rushed and what’s up with Jamie quickly bailing on Brienne of Tarth? The character development and motivation is so poor in this season! We go eight seasons with Arya wanting revenge on Cersei and she bails because The Hound told her to go home? This is the woman that defeats the Night King, do you think some dragons and crumbling city is going to stop her from her life long quest? No - it’s obvious the writers need her for the next episode to do something. Hats off to Emilia Clarke and Maise Williams. What an amazing performance of trying to convince us that their character’s actions were motivated when the script really wasn’t there. Seriously - they are phenomenal performers.
Still A Great Series
With all that said, it’s still a great series and will go down as one of the best. Few television shows have ended their run with successful closes. Some great shows ended badly: just look at Lost, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, and The Office. I just wished that Game of Thrones could have been different and more like Avengers: Endgame - where all the loose ends were tied up and the story unfolded like magic.
Wal Ozello is a science fiction techno-thriller novelist and the author of Assignment 1989 , Revolution 1990, and Sacrifice 2086. He's the lead singer of the former Columbus rock band Armada. His film work includes directing Dad Can’t Help You Now by Colin Gawel.