I’m still a bit shocked, just having watched the last episode. Not shocked by anything that actually happened in this last season, but shocked it is over. I’ve known THE SONG OF ICE AND FIRE far longer than THE GAME OF THRONES series. It is a story that’s been with me for much more than a decade, before it became the pop-culture phenomenon that dazzled the world. More than anything, the amazing characters will be missed, even though I’m eagerly waiting for the upcoming WINDS OF WINTER. This last season of the series was bound to disappoint. The expectations were so high that only a genius would be able to carry through this overwhelming story. And Martin is a genius, no doubt about it, and it would have made a world of difference if he had finished writing the books before the series was over. It would more or less bind the producers and showrunners to something a little bit more solid at the end of the journey. Let me speak a bit about this anyway – careful with the SPOILERS.
Most people (me included) cannot imagine the size of an enterprise like the GoT series. We’re talking about many millions of dollars, thousands of people – talented, creative, brilliant people – dozens of locations, mind-blowing effects. Being up there deciding on the very lives of all of these people and ideas must be terrifying. And some mistakes were made. First of all, the lack of courage: someone up there, HBO itself, the showrunners, whoever, was not brave enough to commit to a couple of more seasons. Maybe the actors were getting tired, maybe the organization was becoming difficult to manage, maybe the company felt the money involved was too risky – we have no idea what prompted that decision… but it was a shame. The story would hold up for a couple of seasons more. Still, this season was always going to be disappointing: the expectations were too high. I spoke here about build-up and pay-off. The build-up of this series was so incredible that the pay-off was almost impossible to achieve. Whatever happened, we were bound to be disappointed. We invested too much. It is a natural phenomenon for people to fantasize too much and expect to be enthralled by a story, an idea, a man or a woman. But then, as life teaches us again and again, disappointment is also a natural result.
There were other underwhelming decisions made by the showrunners besides ending it so quickly, with a final 6-episode season. We will always criticize the strategies of the Battle of Winterfell, or the cinematography of the 3rd episode, or (SPOILER ALERT) that Daenerys got mad or that Arya did not kill Cersei in the end. These are a few moments that break our hearts. Some more sophisticated options might have been better – Drogon could have gone out of control, or the bells of King’s Landing failed to ring – I wonder if the writers were clever enough to see this would lead to the same situation in the end. I am mostly critic of the fact that at least one of the first two episodes of this season is completely useless and could have been used to improve the overall result.
However, what I find the most disturbing is the following: because of the polemic that fell on this season, and one or two mistakes, we are ignoring that some moments in these final episodes, especially on the last two episodes, are some of the most beautiful, well written and powerful moments in the whole series. The last two episodes are, in truth, close to brilliant – as long as you don’t get shocked by the plotpoints. And I enjoyed most of the others, in truth. I suffered during the Battle of Winterfell, I rejoiced with Arya’s coup, my heart almost exploded when I heard Missandei say ‘Dracarys’. In truth, in spite of the episodes being so long, feature-film long in fact, they went by like freight trains and they all seemed to last just a few minutes. And then there were moments that… will remain with me forever.
Melisandre’s death is a beautiful scene, but Carice Van Houten’s performance on the witch’s last stance at the pit is so very powerful! What an actress! The way her face changes as the dead approach is a tribute to acting.
Peter Dinklage is an incredible actor and the goodbye scene of Tyrion with his brother Jamie is breathtaking. Extremely well written it is a pearl of Dinklage’s performance. I doubt this goodbye could ever be a better one.
Arya escaping the catastrophe of King’s Landing is perfectly well made. I was almost out of breath when I followed her through the dust and fire, as she helped people among the fallen buildings and finished up as a lonely survival – finding an equally lonely horse in the rubble. Very well done!
The fight of the Cleganes was wonderful. Very well staged and Rory McCann, playing The Hound, is an excellent actor.
Dinklage shows his skills again in both his last meeting with Jon Snow and Tyrion’s speech at the gathering of the lords. He is a monster.
The scene of Daenerys death is painfully beautiful. It couldn’t have been better, in my view. Both Drogon and Jon Snow’s pain is impressively real and powerful. It was the last breath of the Targaryen and a deserved one as well.
I very much liked the final montage and the final scenes of the series. It is a tribute to the talent behind this series that they were so beautiful. We will miss this fantastic journey. I hope that you, the ones that felt heartbroken and cheated by this last season, are able to go back to these episodes with fresh eyes and see the beauty that they offer.
And now for the final disappointment: GoT was an event. It’s over. It’s time for the rest of our lives. Some other genius will come… and we’ll lose our minds once more. But not today. See you around the next campfire, fellow warriors.