Well, that’s it everyone. Game of Thrones is over. The pop culture phenomenon has been the hot topic for the better part of a decade now, thanks to its engrossing writing, compelling characters and unpredictability, coupled with its marvellous set and costume design. But did the show end on a high note and how did season 8 fair overall? Let’s dive into it but in order to do that, we’re gonna have to go full spoiler not only for the finale, titled The Iron Throne, but the season as a whole.
The Iron Throne picks up shortly after the events of The Bells, which saw Dany burn King’s Landing to the foundation and killing thousands of innocent men, women and children in the process. Daenerys has made the change to the tyrannical overlord of Westeros fairly quickly and continues her reign of terror by executing unarmed prisoners simply because they fought in the Lannister army. While this is all going down, she promises that the war is far from over and that she’s poised to do the same to all the other reaches of the world, “liberating” them in the process through conquest. Dany arrests Tyrion on the charge of treason but thankfully, the dwarf is granted an audience with Jon Snow. How he was able to get such an audience is unknown, as the Unsullied answer only to Dany and she definitely wouldn’t allow for Jon or Tyrion to engage in conversation.
This ultimately leads to her downfall, as Tyrion plants the seeds in Jon’s mind that would see Dany get killed by her nephew shortly after. And that’s the biggest problem with this episode and season eight in general: everything happened too quickly. Danerys went from the Mad Queen to dead as a doormat in the matter of, forty or fifty minutes between two episodes. That’s just not enough time to deal with the ramifications of her actions and for her to continue to be any sort of threat, to allow her to be the character that she was set up to be. It was all over far too quickly, where this conflict should have and could have lasted for the better part of half a regular season (seasons 1-6 were ten episodes each; season 8 consists of six).
With Dany dying in the first half of this extended episode, the remaining runtime was left to wrapping up certain character arcs and plot points. The internet has been quite vocal about this episode, stating it was the “worst finale ever” or the “worst episode in the franchise”. I will admit that I have my suspicions and hopes for who would be on the Iron Throne in the end, including the possibility that there might not be an Iron Throne, but was surprised to see Bran elected as the new King. This is going to be a hotly contested moment for fans, as Bran has not done much over the past two seasons and fans may feel betrayed that someone who was so hands-off was the chosen one. Personally, I like that it was unexpected and Bran would likely make a good king so I’m cool with it. Also, the idea of Dany “breaking the wheel” resulted in Bran the “Broken” ruling from a wheelchair, so I like the ironic foreshadowing in her previous statements with the benefit of hindsight.
Back to my previous point on things being rushed though. This was a huge problem for season eight as a whole. Game of Thrones used to be at it’s best when it focused in on the quieter moments, all the scheming and character moments that happened behind closed doors or on the road. Season eight negated a lot of this and gave us less time with our characters, opting in favour of spectacle and rushed resolutions with little buildup or foundation. This season should have been at least eight episodes, if not the traditional ten with the possibility of another season after this being very reasonable. It’s ironic then, that a season that will be known for rushing, also contained one of the best episodes of the whole series, the excellent episode two, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which saw many character arcs get paid off and lots of character moments in a slower setting, confined to one area. It was a treat and easily the best episode of this ultimately, safe season. The rest of the season rushed through the White Walker threat, which was over rather quickly despite years of buildup and failed to see the Night King do anything of note during the Battle of Winterfell. So that whole arc fell a bit short-especially when you consider how many heroes actually survived it (Sam, I’m looking at you). So once again, safe. Also, the limited runtime seriously stripped away any characterization for Cercei, who was reduced to looking out of balconies all season and muttering observations.
By the end of the show, everything that happened felt like it would ultimately make sense for the characters, but seeing as this show-and the books-were built on breaking formula and genre conventions, having everyone getting a happy ending of sorts, Bran as the King, Sansa as the Queen of the North, Arya off adventuring, Brienne and Pod as Kingsguards, Sam is serving on the Small Council, Tyrion as the Hand, Jon as a Wilding, heck, even Davos and Bronn are on the Council. It feels very much like everything wrapped up with a bow on it as opposed to the shocking and unexpected resolutions I believe we all were expecting. Is it bad that everyone, more or less, got what they wanted or what they were suited for? Not per se, as we want these characters to be happy and Bran ruling over the six kingdoms is likely a good move for that outcome, as well as the North being its own independent kingdom yet again. It’s just so…safe. Game of Thrones, at least those first four masterful seasons, will be remembered as being anything but safe.
Season eight would have been far more compelling if it took the time to slow down. I think it got so wrapped up in being epic that it forgot to be as compelling as it once was. Is it the train wreck people believe it to be? I don’t think so, it’s still serviceable and I’m not angry with the results-minus Jamie’s arc this season. That I have issues with. But season eight is certainly the low point of the entire franchise and considering how long it took to make this season, that in of itself is a surprise. Will fans be excited to see the prequel spinoff show now thanks to the hostile reaction to season eight? Time will tell, but for now, I think I can safely end this by stating that The Iron Throne was neither fully satisfying nor hot trash. It just kind of is. Regardless of what you think of the eighth season though, we’ll likely never have a show quite like Game of Thrones again. It captured the public’s imagination and became the “must see” show of the past nine years and we were fortunate enough to see such a moment in entertainment history. I doubt the Game of Thrones prequel show or the upcoming Star Wars show will have the same effect.
But what did you think of The Iron Throne and season eight? Was it a hot pile of trash or are fans overreacting? Is the season simply subpar? Let us know your thoughts and be sure to check out our reviews of John Wick Chapter 3 and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. If you’re planning on checking out John Wick Chapter 3, why not see it and save $5? By buying your tickets on Atom and putting in promo code “SQUAD“, you’ll save five bucks on your first purchase! ScreenHub may get a small percentage of this sale.