“Game of Thrones” season 8 is still a success, but some fans feel unsatisfied

The final season of HBO’s fantasy series feels rushed


BagoGames, Flickr, Creative Commons

Jon Snow in the “Battle of the Bastards”

Brooks Carver, Reviews Editor

It’s a sad time for Game of Thrones fans. After eight years and eight successful seasons, HBO’s world-renowned, critically acclaimed, action-packed, fantasy/drama has come to an end. But fans have mixed feelings on how the show ended.

Ever since the end of season 7 way back in 2017, GOT season 8 had easily been the most anticipated television event in the last decade. Filmed over the course of nine months, season 8 was the culmination of the GOT’s two main conflicts—the war with the White Walkers, and the war for the Iron Throne—both of which have been teased since the show’s pilot back in 2011. Similar to seasons 5,6, and 7, Game of Thrones season 8 consists of new, original content separate from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series that the show was based on. Cast members such as Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, and Lena Headey, along with many others, returned to reprise their iconic roles for the final season—picking up right where season 7 left off.

Some background:

Westeros is in turmoil. The army of the undead, led by The Night King and his band of White Walkers (and a dragon), have breached The Wall with the intention of eliminating all life and memory of the world as they march south. Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Cersei is refusing to help with the war effort in the north and is more concerned with preserving her power and rule over the Seven Kingdoms on the Iron Throne. In the north, Jon Snow’s true Targaryen identity has been revealed. We have yet to see how his and Daenerys’ relationship will be affected by Jon being a direct threat to her claim to the throne.

Now for the actual season. The dark tone of the season was established right away when the first episode premiered on April 14, 2019. This wasn’t going to be like other shows where the ending was going to be predictable and gratifying for everyone involved. This is Game of Thrones, for crying out loud! The same show that killed off their main protagonist and only well-known actor in the series’ first season! Not some Disney movie. Screenwriters David Benioff and D.B Weiss made it clear that many characters would not make it out alive, and this was emphasized by the dark color scheme and unenthusiastic, heavy dialogue used in the first few episodes. One memorable example of this was a conversation Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) had with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in episode 2.

For episodes 3 and 5, HBO brought in director Miguel Sapochnik, who directed Hardhome (season 5, episode 8), Battle of the Bastards (season 6, episode 9), and The Winds of Winter (season 6, episode 10)—which are considered to be some of Game of Thrones’ best episodes ever. Sapochnik specializes in creating suspenseful battle sequences, and the fight scenes that take place in The Long Night (episode 3) and The Bells (episode 5) certainly live up to the hype. The fight scene in episode 3 was supposedly the biggest fight scene in TV history, taking 55 nights to film. The HBO set production crew built an entire castle as the set for the battle. The episode featured the White Walkers facing off with fans’ favorite characters for the first time—something that had been long in the making (8 years!) and highly anticipated. The fight included elements of horror, suspense, and action, and it was magnificent. My one complaint, however, is that, visually, the episode was very dark and hard to see. We see Sapochnik’s jaw-dropping visuals on display once again in episode 5 when Daenerys’ army collides with the Lannister forces at King’s Landing.

Without spoiling the ending, I’ll try to give my thoughts on the season.

Just like season 7, season 8 didn’t contain the usual 10 episodes that seasons 1-6 have. This one only had 6, which made the pacing of the season feel rushed. I definitely would have preferred the 10 episodes, so fans could witness the downfall and see what factors influenced that outcome. A lot of people have been complaining online about “lazy writing” for this season. Some enraged fans even made a petition to have HBO redo the entire season. I don’t think it’s terrible, but the writers/producers definitely took the “easy way out” a few times. The writing is actually way better than most TV shows; it’s just that GOT fans have been spoiled with exceptional writing in the earlier seasons, so in comparison, this season isn’t quite as good, even though Game of Thrones is still the best thing on television.

“Game of Thrones” is still the best thing on television”

— Brooks Carver

Coming into the season, all the fans had different opinions on who should end up on the Iron Throne, but everyone can agree that the character who they put on the Throne probably wasn’t the best decision. However, that’s the thing that makes GOT so great—the writers’ refusal to give in to the fans’ pressure and just go with the “safe” option that doesn’t upset anyone. So for that, I respect their choice.

Just as it is with all great television shows, it can be difficult to accept that a favorite show is actually over. Emotions such as anger, anguish, and lethargy are all symptoms of the “post-series depression” that sets in after something viewers have invested 70+ hours in comes to an end. No more Sunday night watch parties and Monday morning hallway discussions. No more online speculation from fans hypothesizing what the next episode has in store. No more memes from Barstool Sports plaguing my Instagram/twitter feed on a weekly basis. Even the hackneyed GOT-themed marketing campaigns used by large brands and corporations leading up to the release of a new season will be profoundly missed.

Game of Thrones will go down in history as the television show that defines the 2010’s, and although the ending may not satisfy everyone, try to remember all the show’s good things instead of the bad. And always remember and appreciate the fact that in all the billion years of earth’s existence, you happened to be alive at the same time as Game of Thrones.