Two seasons ago, after George RR Martin’s guidebooks stopped and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were forced to attain sentience, Game of Thrones started hitting the shitter. This is the conventional wisdom, though after I rewatched Season 7 in a binge a few months ago, I was less dissatisfied than when it first aired: The narrative arcs seemed fine enough overall; the main problem was bad dialogue, timing issues (Gendry running really fast), and a general rushed nature that involved stuffing something like 18 years of plot into six episodes.
All those problems became more acute in Season 8, particularly the unwinding of the plot. The issue with Daenerys’s sudden Mad Queening wasn’t that it was so totally unexpected—it was that it all happened so fast and in such a reductive, stereotypical fashion. Arguably, this could have been fixed in two simple ways: 1) Benioff and Weiss needed to get over themselves, and 2) HBO should have ponied up some more goddamn money. Since “The Iron Throne,” the series finale, was so invested in teaching us Political Science 101, I feel pretty confident in giving HBO a few simple pointers about how they could have cut corners to spend more money on like, five to six more episodes to correct this:
- Cancel Bill Maher (trolling)
- Deadwood reunion show: Why do we need it?
- Halve Benioff & Weiss salaries and hire some women
Alas, I never got the call for advice, and the Game of Thrones finale ended up being exactly as expected: Rushed, weird, inexcusably corny. I gave up being too invested in what actually happened after last week, because it was clear nothing would be very satisfying, and it’s a show about dragons and ice motherfuckers, so come on. Other than the weirdly happy ending (okay, bittersweet, but bittersweet is still too happy for this show), I wasn’t all that annoyed by the overall facts of it. Jon kills Daenerys, Jon gets imprisoned, a bunch of Westerosi and a Dorne guy have a weird summit, Bran gets elected and crowned Bran the Broken (when “BRAN THE BIRD” was right THERE), blahzy blahzy blah. Whatever, dudes. But you know what was extremely fucking annoying? That Benioff and Weiss, who both wrote and DIRECTED this episode (blame them for the like 10-second fade to black meant as a TIME LAPSE, what is this, first-year film school?????), clearly wanted to write on The West Wing THIS WHOLE TIME. DOGS, just GO ASK AARON SORKIN FOR A JOB, don’t put your weird, colonial, centrist democrat aspirations on us! GOD!
A friend of mine really liked “The Iron Throne” because, he said, it finally embraced that Game of Thrones has been a dumb show all along, getting millions of people around the world to become incredibly serious about dragons and ice motherfuckers, many of whom had not been previously inclined to care about dragons and ice motherfuckers. I wouldn’t disagree with that take if it seemed that Benioff and Weiss had done this on purpose; instead, their self-awareness seems to come in the form of self-congratulation, with all sorts of unnecessary references to their own feat and brilliance while selling short their actors (and characters) with treacly dialogue. I kept imagining gifs of Benioff and Weiss, crowns on their heads, popping in the episode to point and wink at their own cleverness. Their overarching presence was unbearable, and also boring; about 20 minutes in, my mans had turned his head towards the wall and closed his eyes. “Are you sleeping?” I asked. “Nah, I just can’t watch this shit.”
At least Jon Snow’s weenie ass was consistent, and also the fact that loud noises turn Dany KOO KOO, two points from the annals of camp that I’m sure we’ll all learn to appreciate in five to seven years. Daenerys is giving a speech that’s all “Who’s gonna break the wheel with me” and her eyes start spiraling like a Looney Tunes character while Dothraki scream and Unsullied stomp their staffs in rhythm to Sean Paul’s “Temperature.” (UH-OHHHH.) Jon’s wandering around King’s Landing looking at dead bodies, shell-shocked, after which Arya and Tyrion collude to convince him out of his self-dickmatization—just like those college hypnotists, all it takes is a snap, in this case his trigger words are “love” and “death” and “duty”—and he decides to go to Daenerys as she regards the Iron Throne. HBO spends another million dollars for a 13-second scene where Drogon shakes off some snow and ash and basically says “Whattup” to Jon, which was supposed to be foreshadowing but was really just the Westerosi equivalent of a pound. After some real stupid conversation in the throne room, Jon says “You are my queen now and always” before stabbing her; at least he did it in the front, but still. Was this supposed to mimic his murking of Ygritte? I guess the moral is that no one should ever fuck Jon Snow.
The next scene is when Benioff and Weiss delve deep into their memories of eighth grade English class and conjure up some truly base level symbolism. Drogon, a secret intellectual, flies up and just BLASTS the Iron Throne with fire, as though he has known this whole endeavor was bullshit the whole time, and also letting us know that he, like Pete Buttigieg, speaks 147 languages and is a Rhodes Scholar. YO, WHY WAS DROGON HOLDING OUT ON US IF HE COULD HAVE BROKEN THE WHEEL THIS WHOLE TIME? Is Drogon the voice of god in this shit? Also, why does he look like my cat? Then he’s like fuck it, I’m out, picks up Dany’s bod like a hawk carrying a mouse (presumably to eat her since she torched all the food in King’s Landing) and he’s like I’M AUDI 5000! PAAAAEEEEEEAAACE!
[FADE TO BLACK. STAR WIPE. HEAD-EXPLODING EMOJI. BLINGEE.]
Then we get this weird summit with all our favorite surviving characters and a bunch of people we don’t remember talking about who should run the country, which to me is Benioff and Weiss telling us they are illuminati conspiracy theorists. Samwell invents democracy and everyone laughs, because this is now a show about reflecting the current political reality in America. Daenerys died for this, and we get like 45 minutes of policy comedy and then a long conversation about how Bran should be king because his Brand is Strong. (“There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story,” Tyrion says, but if we’re going for consistency and the Trump metaphor, in context this would just make Bran Guccifer 2.0.) Bran becomes a weird facsimile of the real-life King Alfred the Great, who united England in the name of Christianity in the 800s, which I know from watching The Last Kingdom on Netflix, in retrospect a far superior show. Everyone starts writing, becomes a knight, and chills out. “Extremely cheezy and bad shit,” I write in my notes. “At least Jon didn’t get some king shit.”
Then we are reminded this is a story about the Starks. Arya sails west of Westeros, which is painted as a good thing, because apparently colonialism is cool in this rubric. Jon rides beyond the Wall with wildlings shuffling alongside him, implying he was the Night King all along. Sansa is the QUEEN IN THE NORTH! THE QUEEN IN THE NORTH! Her face is still beat to the gods. HBO spends another million dollars animating Ghost’s weird fur. Bran says he’s going to try and locate Drogon, but we never get to see him warg again, which is a fucking waste. Killing is futile, heroes are made not born, and no one has taken a piss or shit in like, 17 episodes, at least.
AND THEN MY ALARM WENT OFF!!! It was all a dream.
Boners: No boners.
Deaths: Not enough!