Of course I am a fan of Game of Thrones, so here is my token post about the show that conquered pop culture.
Do I think the ending was perfect? Don’t be ridiculous.
Am I disappointed? Outraged? Not even close. I remember Lost. I remember Battlestar Galactica. And every disappointing minute of the Star Wars prequels. Now those were bad endings.
Graded on a curve, GoT did just fine: all the usual excellence of the show, tainted by some annoying glitches. Half the butthurt about the ending is coming from people who couldn’t handle the show doing exactly the same thing that made it famous in the first place: harsh, realistic portrayals of “the human heart in conflict with itself.” Dany’s corruption by power (and grief and rage) wasn’t “rushed,” and I wish anyone who thinks so would watch this fantastic analysis by The Take. It was so much richer than anything we got from Lucas telling Darth Vader’s origin story.
But the sheer volume of critical analysis alone is Exhibit A for the defense of the ending: no truly bad story can generate so much passionate and legitimate debate.
In the aftermath of s8, I reviewed, and there are indeed several resentments about the entire series that I have been nursing since the beginning. This amazing series does have its glaring flaws, as any complex drama does. Here’s my final list of GoT gripes (from the perspective of a GoT reader), roughly in plot order:
- The abandonment of warging and the chronic underutilization of the dire wolves was one of the most disappointing differences from the books from practically day one.
- Early seasons tried to be edgy and sexy, before the show was insanely popular; it was cringe-inducing then, and it’s even worse looking back on those scenes now. Blatant R-rated sensationalism, completely superfluous to the quality of the story.
- Everything Dornish was generally low quality in the show, with the obvious exception of Oberyn. The one where when Jamie and Bronn went to Dorne was almost as bad as classic network TV. Ick.
- Arya’s Braavos experience was murky and unsatisfying.
- Several good book characters got short shrift in the show, but Euron Greyjoy was the most egregious example. Book Euron: terrifying eldritch pirate. Show euron: irritating douchebag pirate.
- The whole Arya vs. Sansa thing in season 7 was unclear and awkward. Were they really in conflict, or was it all misdirection to trap Littlefinger? I don’t care: either way it was weak viewing.
- Absurd survivals of impossible situations got pretty severe in the last two seasons. For a show famous for killing beloved characters, they conspicuously avoided it on a few notable occasions!
- The lowest point: Instagib of white walkers was always a bit goofy, but destroying the *entire army of the dead with one dagger thrust is just pathetically lazy storytelling, a device that’s on about the same level as “and then he woke up and realized it was all a dream,” a plague on popular speculative fiction. All I could do was sigh, ignore, and move on.
- Bran never amounted to anything, and getting to be the king in the end was just… odd.
After all that, you might think I hated GoT. On the contrary: the show was big enough to contain all those failures and still be a fantastic experience overall. It’s not the best television I’ve ever seen (this is), but it’s in my top five.