Whew … no more avoiding social media or other online posts about it! I’ve finally watched the last season of Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the whole series, but didn’t think the last season as good as those before it.
Be warned, the following has spoilers. If you are as late as I am finishing the whole series and haven’t seen Season 8, stop reading now! :)
All the previous seasons built up fevered anticipation about the coming of Winter and the final battle with the White Walkers and the army of the dead. Then in season eight, although the lead-up in the first two episodes was done well, I thought the murky, hard-to-follow Battle of Winterfell itself in episode three was a disappointment.
The first few seasons allowed far more nuanced exploration of the characters – something I think was lost in this final season. For example, inadequate screen time was spent exploring Daenarys Targaryon’s descent from heroic figure to genocidal despot. And Cersei, supposedly a powerful main character as the ‘final enemy’, had hardly any screen time at all – time in which she also seemed to do little more than stand gazing out of a window at Kings Landing.
Then there was the rather cheesy final gathering of Westeros leaders and their sidekicks, at which Bran the Broken was appointed King. (And it was a shame, from my perspective, this initially intriguing character hadn’t been developed more – he’d become “Bran the Bland” really.) This was followed by the meeting in the Council chamber, where the dialogue reminded me strongly of Life of Brian! The scriptwriters were inappropriately striving for comedy here I thought.
Finally, there was the rushed and overly “neat” tying up of all the main characters’ story arcs at the end. In this final season, character complexity and the exploration of tangled relationships, ambitions and actions were all largely replaced by spectacle and an apparently hurried attempt at ‘happy endings’ for the characters who survived.
Maybe more could have been done to preserve the depth and complexity of earlier seasons if this one had been given more than six episodes to explore themes, characters and motivations.
Nevertheless, in spite of these or other faults, there were some powerful scenes in this last season. One example was the slow, silent sequence where Tyrian, Jon and Davos walked through the ruins of Kings Landing. Another was Tyrian’s grief when he found Cersei and Jaimie Lannister in the rubble.
For all eight seasons, cinematography remained beautiful throughout and performances were always strong. In spite of my reservations about the final season, I thought the whole series was definitely worth watching. And, given a sufficient interval of time, it will be worth watching again.