Yeah, We’re Going to Talk About Game of Thrones
Is it a pressing matter? No. Is it on brand? Maybe. Am I doing it anyway? You’re damn fucking right.
Okay so listen. I used to laud Game of Thrones as one of the best shows I’d ever seen on television. The complexity of the plot, the sheer volume of storylines and characters whose names you always forgot, the artful way the story wove together, it’s just well fucking done.
I feel like Game of Thrones taught its audience patience. It taught us that when a main character sets out to go somewhere, they may not arrive in that episode, or the episode after that, or the episode after that. There was a lot of action but there was also a good amount of waiting, and and by showcasing both, Game of Thrones proved that the journey is just as, if not more important than, the destination. It taught us that nothing in this life is guaranteed. Admit it, when we started the series we all thought Ned Stark was going to rule rightfully, and benevolently, from the Iron Throne. Then he lost his head six minutes in and we were like, Damn. BUT SURELY, Robb Stark, King in the North, will rule generously, and sexily, from the Iron Throne. Then he lost his head, and we were like
In a television landscape where we’ve gotten so used to guessing the plot by being able to correctly assume that main characters would be spared, Game of Thrones came through like gangbusters. They said “Fuck all that noise, you gon’ lose your faves and you gon’ like it!” AND WE DID.
Game of Thrones wasn’t here to make us feel good, or cozy. It was here to give us a story, raw, honest, unrestrained. And although it was tough each time a favorite character died or or some catastrophe sent shit off the rails, the series and plot held dignity. It held integrity. And I think I can safely say, its audience including myself, deeply appreciated that.
However as the series winds down to its final episode, all that dignity, integrity, and difficult-but-honest storytelling seems to have been lost, or perhaps more accurately, thrown out the window. It’s as though the writers for whatever reason have become hellbent on dismantling everything they built over the last ten years, and I, for one, am baffled.
I’d say my overarching complaint about the last two episodes of Game of Thrones isn’t necessarily that the characters changed, it’s that we didn’t get enough time to watch them believably become the people we’ve seen the last two weeks. All evolution, character arc, and dimension seem to have been completely deserted. Let’s examine some individual cases, shall we?
Jamie Lannister. Jamie Lannister is the Quarterback Of The Football Team™. Jamie Lannister is every villain from a John Hughes movie. Jamie Lannister is basically Kevin Pearson from This Is Us. Rich, blonde, spoiled, charming, good looking but in that way where you’re mad at yourself for admitting it, and a complete ass. Push-a-child-out-a-10-story-window type of ass. Also he fucks his sister on the reg, it’s not great.
But throughout the series we get glimpses that Jamie is not ALL bad. I mean, I’ll even draw attention to the fact that we’re first introduced to him as “King Slayer”, a shameful nickname he was given for killing the Mad King Aerys before the series begins. Context clues from the show tell us that “King Slayer” is not a name you want to be called. It connotes betrayal, treason, cowardice — also I hear Jamie stabbed ol’ Aerys literally in the back so like, not only was the act of killing the king dishonorable, but the way he did it was dishonorable as well. But when we learn more about the story, we find out that the reason Jamie killed King Aerys was because homie was about to blow his whole spot up for no good goddamn reason (sound familiar?) killing thousands of innocent people, and Jamie stopped him. A dishonorable title gotten by an honorable act. So although we begin with Jamie being largely an ass, we’re also given this piece of his backstory that shows he actually does possess compassion... somewhere... deep beneath all that gold armor, red velvet, and broad chest.
As Jamie’s story’s transpired over the last eight seasons, we’ve watched him grow more into his compassionate self. It didn’t happen quickly and *did* require him losing a hand, but we saw it. His transformation was I think most saliently evidenced by his decision to leave Cersei, his sister/lover/baby mama, for Winterfell at the end of season 7 to fight the Night King and his army. All of us collectively were like, wait a minute!
Sure he still loves Cersei as he rides north to Winterfell. He still loves Cersei as he fights side by side with Brienne. And although this is hard to hear, he still loves Cersei as he sleeps with Brienne too. But all of a sudden in the episode before last, immediately after sleeping with Brienne and upon hearing that Cersei will be killed in the battle at King’s Landing, he rides off to be with her? Not to kill her, not to talk sense into her, not even really to protect her, just to be… A bitch. Like Jamie Lannister fully snapped back into Cersei’s bitch at the drop of a hat for no visible reason and we’re left like ???
Where was the character development? After eight years of building him into his own man, in a flash it’s gone. Yes, we know he will always love Cersei, he’s got this weird twin-soulmate thing with her and it’s unshakeable and gross, we get it. But give us time to watch him waiver, give us time to see him struggle between Cersei and Brienne, between doing what’s right and being back on his bullshit. There just wasn’t enough to make his descent into degradation believable.
Arya Stark. Girlllllllllllll. Arya Stark has been our mini-vengeful-assassin-bitch this WHOLE 👏🏾 TIME 👏🏾 okaY? For five or more years we watched her run up and down the countryside, hiding from harm and reciting the names of her future victims, Cersei Lannister topping that list every time. We’ve seen Arya be smart, shrewd, and ruthless — quite literally kept alive by her hatred for her adversaries. When she turned down Gendry after he asked her to be his Lady, sure it was tough to watch Gendry’s hopes get dashed, but that shit made sense. She’s Arya fucking Stark, can you imagine her being a Lady? She doesn’t even sit down, if not on a horse. To opt out of a proposal of ladyhood was right in line with her character — she roams, she’s wild, she hunts her enemies, point blank periodt.
So for her to get alllll the fuck to King’s Landing, she’s IN the Red Keep or wherever the fuck, the woman she has been hunting for the better part of her life is a stone’s throw away, and with a 30-second, half-hearted admonishment from her BFF The Hound, she abandons a years-long mission? Yes she knew it would be dangerous, she knew she would likely die in the rubble trying to get to Cersei, but she’s known for a long time killing Cersei would likely be the end of her own life as well. And she was chill with it! Absolutely nbothered. So for our Baby Kill Bill (as Jonathan Van Ness puts it) to abandon her mission this close to victory because sweet Sandor Clegane suggested it once?
Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen. LOL JON WHERE TF YOU BEEN AT BRUH. At this point I’m like maybe it’s been so long since the last season that I forgot what Jon Snow was like, but damn I thought he had more fire than this. We know he’s a reluctant leader, skilled in battle but hates fighting, a gentle warrior, all that sexy shit. But it’s as if he bent the knee to Dany and then took a whole nap. From his performance in the Battle of Winterfell to his behavior in Dany’s chambers, he looks dazed and vacant. You know what now that I think about it maybe that’s also him still reeling from the revelation of his true parentage, I can understand that. But at some point Aegon, you gotta lock it up and look ALIVE bruh! Your bitch lost her mind, we need you out here! Plz come back soon.
Danaerys Targaryen, First of Her name, Maddest of Queens, Abandoner of Fucks. OHKAYYYYYY here we go this is the one everyone’s losing their shit over and rightfully so. Because in the last episode we saw Dany do what Targaryens do best: Lose her fucking mind. People think fans are mad because we’re wondering how our beloved Dany, Breaker of Chains, Mhysa, “I’m Going to Break the Wheel” bitch, could fly off the handle (pun intended) and wreak such havoc.
But I want to clarify: we been knew dany was crazy, okay? At least if you’ve been paying attention you knew. She’s also low key ruthless — she’s shown mercy and she’s brought down the hammer, so her descent into madness, especially after having lost 2 out of 3 dragons, one of whom she had to watch get shot out of the sky (RIP Rhaegal), losing her best friend (I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think I knew her and Missandei were THAT close but okay), showing up to Winterfell only to be ignored/disdained, losing her legitimate claim to the crown and the man she loves in one night — issa lot. We get it Dany girl, you been through a LOT in a short amount of time. But again, we spent 7½ seasons building her up, giving her crazy moments but mostly reinforcing the hope that she could be the benevolent, generous, and feared leader the realm needs — give us at least ONE season to watch her unravel, you know? It could have been really beautiful and tragic, to watch her fall from grace, watch her make sustained poor decisions over the course of a few episodes. SOMETHING. But they gave us *two episodes*. She went from Mhysa to Mad Queen in *TWO EPISODES*, and it just. Doesn’t. Add. Up.
Plus, the way that whole scene played out was confusing. It wasn’t made clear that Dany knew that the bells ringing was a symbol of surrender, she looked at the Red Keep and I’m sure knew Cersei was in there but then didn’t even seem to make it a priority to GET Cersei, though that would have made sense given recent events. Instead we just get multiple shots of Drogon approaching the Red Keep with no direct contact. It was just messy. It was sloppy. And for a show that has done SO WELL over the past decade to carefully and skillfully construct this storyline and this fantastical world, to phone it in on its final episodes is just. Uncharacteristic and disheartening.
So anyway, I’m boutta watch this finale, 🙄. If nothing else to round out and end the story, but I cannot in good faith say that I’m excited or even hopeful for how it will go. I think it’ll be a hasty end to a hasty end, and it feels such a tragedy that a show that was so good for so long is ending so badly.
Honorable Mentions for Character Shifts and Other Shit That Was Dumb AF: Sansa is basically Lord Baelish now. Tyrion, the cleverest man in the realm just like, got dumb? Ser Brienne of Tarth, baddest of bitches, toughest of broads, crying over a man she fights better than??? I don’t think so. Jon saying bye to Ghost — trash. Cersei got got by some rocks, LOL. All of a sudden nobody knew how to shoot down a dragon even though they just did it yesterday? (v thankful Drogon survived though he’s my fave). Jamie got fatally stabbed but made it allllll the way to the Red Keep from THE BEACH. Iss tew much.