The more I think about the “Game of Thrones” finale, the more I like it. I’m not saying it was great; I have issues with a number of things.
But, clearly, writers/executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff faced an impossible task. They couldn’t make everyone happy. Viewers were going to complain.
At this point, I’ll pass over all my criticisms but one: The final season — probably the final two seasons — were too short. More time could have been spent with the characters in addition to the inarguably spectacular battles.
Not that that would have mollified everyone. There will forever be fans who maintain that Daenerys took a sudden turn in the penultimate episode, becoming a murderous Mad Queen. Because, apparently, they weren’t paying attention to her story arc over the previous 71 episodes.
Hey, I was rooting for her myself. And I overlooked a lot of bad behavior — as outlined by Tyrion in the finale — because she was brutally murdering characters I didn’t like.
If I’m mad at anyone about the end of “Game of Thrones,” I’m mad at myself. In my head, I knew we weren’t going to get a happy ending. But in my heart, I held out hope there would be one. Part of me wanted Jon Snow to just get over the whole incest thing — what with Dany turning out to be his aunt — and settle down with his queen so they could rule the Seven Kingdoms together.
There would have been massive complaining if that had happened, too.
A lot of the criticism aimed at “GoT” is because fans didn’t get the ending they imagined. That they wanted. Not just fan criticism, but TV critic criticism.
My old friend Robert Bianco, who retired as USA Today’s TV critic in 2017, hit the nail on the head when he tweeted: “I know passions around ‘GOT’ are running high — and heaven knows I had my own shows that sent me over the edge. But a lot of people who should know better are beginning to sound more like spurned lovers than critics. And it’s not a good professional look.”
I was more restrained than many, but I did get too whiny when I criticized Season 8′s fourth episode in print.
The “Game of Thrones” TV experience ends Sunday at 7 p.m. on HBO with the two-hour, making-of documentary “The Last Watch.” And here are a few final thoughts about a show I liked but didn’t love when it premiered and became an obsession.
• Perhaps perversely, some of my personal favorite plot developments in the last couple of episodes blew up fan theories. No, Arya did not kill Cersei wearing Jamie’s face. No, Jamie (and maybe Cersei) did not survive the collapse of the ceiling. No, Bran is not the Night King. No, Bran did not warg into a dragon. And so on ...
• The argument that the series fell apart when the producers ran out of books to adapt is not as strong as some believe. Season 6 was widely praised, and not only did some of it extend beyond the last completed book, but TV events were massively different than print events.
(I’ve read all the books, and — while I enjoyed and admired them — they have their own set of narrative problems.)
And, of course, George R.R. Martin told the producers how he planned to end the saga.
• I am not convinced that all the online criticism aimed at “GoT” reflects reality. Social media is an echo chamber, and it became cool to crap all over the show. It’s always cool to tear down anything that’s incredibly popular.
(Side note: People like me need to stop looking at Twitter posts and drawing general conclusions.)
It’s only anecdotal, but people tell me that their friends and family members are much more positive about the finale than the venom we’ve seen online. And it’s worth pointing out that, by any viewer measurement, the final season was incredibly successful.
• If “GoT” proved anything, it’s that the old-timey, one-episode-per-week format is still a great way to watch TV. Nothing against Netflix — I like binging shows, too — but it’s been great fun to have a week to think about, talk about, analyze and obsess over each episode.
Some are arguing over whether, in this age of hundreds of scripted shows on umpteen broadcast, cable and streaming platforms, “Game of Thrones” is destined to be the last water-cooler show. I’m afraid it might.
But I hope not. And who would have thought that an extraordinarily violent fantasy with a complicated plot, hundreds of characters and dragons would become an international sensation?
Already, I’m feeling bereft. Despite my criticisms of “GoT,” I’ll miss it. I feel like I did the first time I finished reading “The Lord of the Rings.”
So I’m going to reread “A Game of Thrones,” “A Clash of Kings,” “A Storm of Swords,” “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance of Dragons.” That’s only 4,000-something pages. I will, no doubt, finish before Martin finishes writing the sixth — let alone the seventh — book.