Game of Thrones Review: Winter's Final Chapter
All that went wrong in Game of Thrones season 8
Game of Thrones (GoT)—the HBO show (streaming on Hotstar in India) that dominated pop culture for the last eight years—ended late last month. In the first season, Cersei Lannister told Eddard (Ned) Stark, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” A far truer prophecy for the show than anything in the plot: If you saw the online buzz about GoT only during the last season, you’d assume it was one of the worst things ever made, not a show that had been gathering fans, critical acclaim and awards faster than the Night King collected undead soldiers. What went wrong? The show-runners decided to wrap it up far too quickly, compressing months’ worth of storytelling into single episodes, breaking character and narrative logic repeatedly and choosing visual spectacle over storytelling integrity. The best thing about GoT earlier was the attention to detail in world-building, production, history and emotional depth in the characters, making it feel real and convincing. Once that was sacrificed, all was lost. The last few episodes—despite featuring skilled actors playing characters they’ve known and loved for years, despite stunning cinematography, lavish production and immersive music—were trashed online.
In time, GoT’s millions of viewers will remember, on rewatches, why they were obsessed with the show. No one who read George R. R. Martin’s books could have imagined they’d adapt them as brilliantly as they did—or was surprised when they floundered once the show raced past the books. There could be, after all, a middle ground.