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Game of Thrones Season 8 - SPOILERS!

Discussion in 'Film & Television' started by FifthView, May 21, 2019.

Rate your reaction to GoT S8

  1. 1 - Hated it!

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. 2 - At least we have the other seasons to remember fondly...

    4 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. 3 - It did what it needed to do, even if not in the way it should have done it

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. 4 - It was good, but it could have been great.

    4 vote(s)
    33.3%
  5. 5 - Loved it!

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  1. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I've been surprised that no thread has been started for the final season of GoT. Is it still too fresh? Or is it potentially too controversial, heh?

    I'm trying to add lines to prevent the preview in Recent Activity from spoiling things for anyone who has not watched the final season. Hopefully, this paragraph does that.

    Basically, my opinion of the season: I loved it.

    Judging from the very strong opinions scattered across social media, I seem to be in a minority. But I think the season was nearly perfect. Ok, forced into an honest objectivity, I'd be required to list some of the flaws—yes, there were foibles, missed opportunities, etc. But most of the negative criticisms I've read or watched on YouTube seem to be falling on the negative side of subjectivity, giving too much stress or weight to various things that didn't trouble me so much.

    I feel that I came to the season with this goal:

    to see what happens.

    I feel that many who did not like the season came with a different goal:

    to see happen what they've already imagined will happen and have wanted to happen.

    I, too, came to the season with some ideas about where the story might go and not a small number of "Oh I hope this and this and this will happen in this and this and this a way." And it wasn't any of that stuff, or not completely that stuff. But I wasn't disappointed, because my main goal was just to see what happens and to enjoy it. So I didn't feel cheated, I didn't feel any of the characters were treated improperly.

    I feel I can, erm, "knock down" some of the criticisms, line by line, but I don't want to expend the effort to debunk, heh. Besides, it's a personal thing for each of us. If someone didn't enjoy the season, they didn't enjoy it. It's not a scholarly debate. [Well, OK, I might have arguments against some negative criticisms, but I probably shouldn't be dogmatic about what may be highly subjective...]

    I do think there are some interesting, deeper issues, and maybe these could be explored by writerly types (and psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists) to discern and come to grips with these issues. But for now I just cheer the season while feeling a bit sad that the show is over.

    OTOH on that last bit: The ending has left me imagining some more this and this and this that could happen after the ending, i.e., sequels, so it's not quite over. At least not in my head. And this, too, seems like a success for the show and finale.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I loved it, the music, audio, visuals, production, costume design, set design, casting, acting, and more was as high quality as it always has been. The only problem I had with the season was spotty writing, which I've already braced myself for since season 5.
     
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  3. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Pacing issues started with S6 I think, so I was also braced, heh.
     
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  4. Jack in the Green

    Jack in the Green Dreamer

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    The production, as ever, was great. The plot (thin), the pacing (jerky), the dialogue (cheesy), was weaker than any other series. I missed the masterful hands of GRRM. The final episode just left me flat and waiting for them to get it over with. Post the murder of the Dragon Queen, it seemed little more than a ham fisted tying up of loose ends (then this happened, then that happened, then they were there and said this and did that and everyone agreed, then they went there and then it was over), and preparing us for spinoffs (notably Arya).
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Just binged through Season 6, over two days. As others have noted, the fight up in the north was just generally badly done. Episodes 4 and 5 were better but still ragged around the edges. I actually thought the final episode was ok. There were two plot points that jarred me. One was that we don't see the immediate aftermath of Dany's death. There's no way the Dothraki and the Unsullied would have been cool with that. Instead of dealing with that corner the writer's had painted themselves into, they just skip forward a few weeks. I felt cheated.

    The second bump was the ending with John riding off. He's basically committed the high crime of desertion. They make a big deal of this--deserting the Black--in earlier episodes, but here the writers shrug it off. Come one. It would have taken no more than a couple of minutes to have a scene explaining John's decision. I would have bought it, almost whatever it was. But to act as if it didn't matter, there again it felt like laziness.

    There are many examples of lazy writing in this season. I'll pick one that's fresh: the white horse. Episode 5 ends with Arya encountering a white horse and dramatically riding away. To where? We don't know, but in story terms we ought to expect to see that horse again early in the next episode. But nope. It was just there purely as a visual. No reason for it, and no reason for it to disappear without explanation. That sort of thing takes me out of the story; do it often enough and you lose me, and now I'm not *in* the story, I'm just watching TV. For something as culturally significant as ASoIaF, that's unforgiveable.

    TL;DR, I was ok with the treatment overall, but dammit the story deserved better. Especially because in earlier seasons we saw they were capable of better.
     
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  6. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Just want to say that I pretty much loved the ending and will, almost, forgive anything for that ending.
     
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    For me, the comparison of S8 (and S7 somewhat) to the earlier seasons feels like a comparison of an omniscient POV to a more intimate POV.

    When the characters were in their own fairly myopic story lines, it was more intimate. We were living their experiences through them.

    But as they came together into the main story line, the metaphorical camera lifted to a distance above them. We had less time with each. There were also plenty of gaps. Time and space gaps (fast travel anyone?) and less attention to the nuances of what they were doing and why they were doing it. The 3-week gap after Dany died, Arya dismounting and walking the rest of the way to where Dany's forces were assembled, and the lack of explanation of Jon's decision to live with the Northmen are examples.

    I didn't have the same impression of Jon's decision. I don't know exactly what he was doing. Various other members of the Night's Watch have spent extended time north of the wall. Given changes to the world, was he going to act as an intermediary, a sort of diplomat, living among them? All of this was left open. I do think he wanted to live among them; it's a spiritual desertion. But I'm not sure it's the actual crime. It didn't strike me as criminal at the time. (Plus, is there even a real need for a Night's Watch? Tyrion answered by saying that there still needs to be a place to send ne'er-do-wells. So Jon going even further north, disappearing among the trees, didn't seem like such a breach in the social/legal framework for me.)

    Dany's turn into a mad queen is another example of a gap. Unlike many who hated that turn, I think it was foreshadowed a lot throughout the seasons, with multiple examples of advisers trying to talk her back from the precipice through the years. Plus, heh, now in afterthought I think the circumstances of her formative years, combined with her experiences in Essos and her utter obsession with winning the Iron Throne, align very well with sociopathy, assuming sociopathy has a nurture element. How do you create a sociopath? Dany was always mostly alone; her dragons, Missandei, and various worshipers and advisers were like a temporary salve. (Save for Drogon I suppose; but he's not human.) I had very little problem with the idea of Dany going off her rocker, but we didn't get the intimate, nuanced development we might have had with an extra season or even a few more scenes serving as stronger foreshadowing. When it happened, I understood it, and I didn't think it was out of character. As with some of the other things, I just accepted the gap. What happened off-screen still happened.

    Is this lazy writing? I don't know. The armchair psychologist in me wonders whether David Benioff and D. B. Weiss had already started to pull away from the show themselves, and this translated into that more distant POV type of feel. That's probably "lazy." But for me, it was a different feel, not necessarily a very bad feel.

    I have some other looooong thoughts about the way the show changed from its first 2/3 to its final 1/3....but I might save those for later, heh.


     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    Jack in the Green likes this.
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I think the finale episode did something I've never seen in another show. The first third or fourth was the climax, and all the rest was basically falling action and denouement.
     
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    LotR did it. Plenty of fantasy epics do it because of having to deal with so many characters and plot lines. I was fine with the space given to that; I would have been fine with even more.

    Small point about Dany: her daddy went batty (and baddy), so there's that foreshadowing as well. Like you, that part didn't bother me. But I don't think she sold it well. The actress was at her best when being reserved and regal; the intensity of madness? Either she didn't have it in her, or else the director(s) didn't give her the space to show the descent. I could see them trying, but it was more like hints than a real progression.

    For all the criticisms, I have to acknowledge that the task was herculean. But if you're going to do an epic, you're likely to come in for some epic-level criticisms.
     
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  10. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I think it would have been better if instead of going mad, Dany simply decided to do what she did. She had already established that she believed she wouldn't be able to rule through love in Westeros, so it would make sense if she made the cold-hearted decision to commit a crime so horrendous that even the toughest opponent would fear her.
    I can't imagine remaining in a mad murderous rage for long enough to burn down a metropolis. After a while you just get tired.
     
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  11. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Yea verily. I mostly had in mind television shows. Plus, I don't remember the falling action and denouement of LOTR taking up a similar % of the final movie compared to what the writers did for the final episode of GoT S8. I'd actually accidentally caught the spoiler in a comment online before watching the episode, a news headline to the effect of "Viewers are reacting negatively to the early death," but I was surprised it was Dany. I suspect a lot of people were too shocked, probably because of the overall structure of that episode. (I was shocked by the structure, but not in a horrible way.)

    I've always thought she was one of the weaker actors in the show.

    There were other aspects that were foreshadowing, but they may have been too subtle for many viewers. Cersei's plan to bring civilians into the Red Keep + Dany's on-point understanding that Cersei put a lot of weight in the idea of human shields, then during the battle seeing Cersei's face (for confirmation) as Dany swiped back and forth across King's Landing was, to me, a very perfect development. Especially, seeing an understanding dawn in Cersei's face. None of this excuses Emilia Clarke's acting or the writers'/directors' other choices, perhaps.

    There's an overall arc to the whole show that I find interesting.

    The earlier 2/3 of the seasons focused mostly on political machinations, cleverness, betrayals, etc., and the characters who excelled at that received much of the focus and/or positive portrayals as effective operators; they were ascending. (Cersei, her father and Tyrion, the Boltons, the Tyrell's, Littlefinger, Varys.)

    But then the show switches to actual warfare machinations, i.e. the utilization of blunt (and pointy and fiery) instruments. Those who excelled at politicking and manipulation became sidelined, were killed off, and more or less became fish out of water even if they didn't know it. Those who excelled at these other endeavors were now ascendant.

    I mention all this because that Dany vs Cersei final conflict can be understood through this lens. They were almost the same person, if not for this extremely important distinction. This is why I found Cersei's end to be appropriate. Yes, I'd had visions of a final confrontation in the throne room, involving Cersei, Jaime, the Hound, Arya, and the Mountain—with perhaps Bran warging into the Mountain, I wondered—and a lot of viewers wanted to see a better end for Cersei than what we got. But that look on Cersei's face when she realized Dany couldn't be manipulated, combined with the obvious disparity in actual military capability, seemed perfect to me. Cersei fizzled out. In hindsight, I do wish the writers had made a little more push to highlight these things, but I think they were a little hampered by another very GoT modus operandi: shock and awe, the surprise twist. I.e., they went with such subtlety because they wanted to spring things on viewers.
     
  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Well, Drogon did most of the work. :geek:
     
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    For me, there is a conundrum when I look at GoT and wonder about effective and ineffective storytelling in general.

    On this site, I've written several times about the idea of making promises and keeping those promises for the readers. The idea came from listening to many episodes of Writing Excuses.

    I mentioned in the opening post of this thread that a lot of viewers upset with S8 seem to have come to the season with the goal: to see happen what they've already imagined will happen and have wanted to happen. That may have appeared to be a disparaging remark, but I hope it wasn't. The issue now seems to me to be related to this idea of making promises and how we might choose to break those promises or keep them.

    I've read/heard the criticisms: What about Jaime's arc? Why did the writers just throw away his arc? What about Jon's Targaryen blood; was it totally pointless? These questions stream from a belief or feeling, I think, that much ado was made about nothing in the show. To some extent, Dany's descent to madness and Cersei's fizzling-out death also triggered feelings of promises having been broken. And let's not forget the Night King. Killed in episode 3. Much ado made about nothing, prior to that? (Pre-S8 visions of the Night King reaching King's Landing, or pre-Episode 3 visions of many major characters dying in episode three—not just redshirts and secondary characters—may also signal promises made and broken for the viewers.)

    There are numerous other, more minor examples.

    I'd thought the human forces would lose Winterfell and be forced to retreat in a chaotic fashion, with the Night King hunting them down. I mean, S7 made the promise that this was a nearly unstoppable force. Also, wasn't this why some ado was made about Yara Greyjoy choosing to capture the Iron Islands, so there'd be a place to retreat? What about Nymeria reappearing in S7? Wasn't this retreat from Winterfell a great opportunity to see Arya saved by Nymeria's wolf pack? (Alas, Nymeria's final appearance almost seems to have been nothing more than a moment of fan service. The writers might have intended the scene to be character building, an opportunity to show Arya's maturing understanding that she, like Nymeria, is not what she used to be. But a lot more in the following episodes of the show did this task I think, and that was too subtle for that scene at that time anyway, since we were far more focused on the reappearance of Nymeria and her pack.)

    But then, isn't breaking promises one of the motifs of GoT? Does no one remember Ned and The Red Wedding? There was a turn in the show as more and more characters died and the show began ramping up to the final showdowns. Things became set, more or less, and the pacing ramped up also. This trend from uncertain machinations to certain confrontations, combined with the shrinking of time left to tell/complete the story, lent itself to creating the impression that sudden shock-and-awe twists had ceased to be a part of the story. Sure, some major characters were doomed to die, we knew; but the fundamentals of our impressions weren't likely to be destroyed, right? Right?

    I think there is a kind of realism involved in the way things turned out. No, Jon wasn't a Chosen One after all; his Targaryen blood played a major role in the story, just not the one many viewers thought it would. Jaime wasn't a totem for Redemption with a certain arc line showing he was; look to Theon for that. (Far more realistic: people do not change much. Encounters with others, experiencing new things and new conflicts, will offer the opportunity to change fundamentally, but most people won't go down that path. Jaime had spent all his life being one way, and although he is different—more aware of himself, not as brainless an operator as he was in the premiere episode of the show—he's still Jaime and he still loves Cersei and doesn't want to abandon her to her fate. And it seems Dany failed to acquire a similar self-understanding, although she did flirt with the idea of doing things differently than her fundamental way of solving problems.)

    But were the writers of GoT focused on realism—The best laid plans...—or were they dabbling too much in the power of breaking promises? Maybe more importantly, are these basically the same thing for a world and story like that in GoT?

    These questions raise that conundrum for me when I consider what lessons I might take from GoT.

    On the one hand, I think that having Chosen Ones, fairly obvious and certain character arc consistency, and every Chekhov's gun being used—also, demanding these promises be kept—is somewhat simplistic.

    But on the other hand:

    Would I advocate making promises to the reader and being sure to fulfill them? Yes.

    Is it satisfying for the reader when those promises are kept? Oh, yes, definitely yes.

    Many of the fantastical story and character arcs of our modern cinema-going experience do just that. John Wick doesn't get sent to the Night's Watch.

    At least, I don't think he does. I've not seen the third installment yet.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Here's another scene that to me shows a kind of tone deafness in the writers, almost as if they didn't actually fully understand the medium. It's the death scene for Jaime and Cersei.

    Initially it's handled well. She has broken down and he's leading her to safety. Then, it's a dead end. Now what? There's a lovely moment where she's entirely human and entirely afraid. He does the "look at me" moment that's very close to being overused in cinema, but it still worked. Then the ceiling collapses and they both die.

    It's that last bit that I didn't like, because the directors didn't give us context. It would have taken only a couple of cuts to show that Drogon was right overhead, destroying the building. We don't really know which building, because we never see it properly, but just a couple of cuts: Drogon, fire, boom; cut to underneath, dust falling, stones shaking. Ok, then we know Drogon is right overhead. And instead of the sections falling boom, boom, boom, why not cut? We never get to see the reaction shot from Jaime and Cersei. Boom, the furthest room falls; cut to Cersei. Boom, the next room, cut to Jaime. Maybe one more, or maybe the third is the one that we actually see. The point is, they had a perfect opportunity to raise the tension at a supremely important moment, and they muffed it. Rather like Arya and the Night King. As I said, it's like the directors were tone deaf, out of their element. Or maybe had just stopped caring enough.

    That may seem a small enough thing, but to me it's sort of the cinematic equivalent of a grammar mistake. One or two, and we cruise along. Let enough of them pile up, and we are taken out of the story, and we start being critical watchers instead of eager participants. IMHO, they repeatedly crossed that line, even in earlier seasons, but most egregiously in this one.
     
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  15. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Our latest article tackles this subject head on:

    Game of Thrones: An Unfair Maligning

    Please give it a read, and share your thoughts in the comments. This has the potential to be an interesting discussion.
     
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  16. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I would argue that 'Game of Thrones' is basically a 'slice of history,' albeit of a fictional world.

    And, as with actual history, it's a chaotic mess.
     
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  17. zeus2020

    zeus2020 Acolyte

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    I thought the ending was okay, but not great. I was hoping the show would end a lot differently. I didn't like Daenery's storyline at all.
     
  18. L. L. Green

    L. L. Green New Member

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    At least we got Cleganebowl. The way Sandor went out is one of two moments that brought me to tears - that, and when JON DIDN'T PET GHOST GOODBYE. I had to pause the show and pour myself a drink when Jon snubbed the best boy in Westeros. My significant other - an avowed cat person - found my indignation hilarious.

    I uncharitably believe that D&D were checked out from the moment they signed on for a Star Wars gig. Perhaps more relevant, though, was what I have read about the cast members - many of whom practically grew up in front of the viewers - being burnt out on the series and how it inhibited their ability to take on other roles. It seems like a lot of them worried about being typecast, were sick of being recognized as their characters, were tired of obsessive fans being unable to separate them from their roles, etc. A couple of them - Kit Harrington and Maisie Williams, if I remember correctly - have admitted to a degree of mental distress in conjunction with their time spent on Game of Thrones. As much as we, as fans, loved the series, I can't say I blame them for wanting to be done with it. I can't imagine the pressure.

    I wasn't a fan of the ending of Season 8 - not who ended up on the throne, mind you; I saw that coming a long way off - but D&D started running out of source material as far back as Season 4, and only had GRRM's summary to run with. The scope of Game of Thrones is so large, and there are so many concurrent storylines, that it was inevitable that the conclusion would leave a lot to be desired. It sucks that the last season (or two, or even three) played out like mediocre fanfiction, but it is my hope that the final two books in the series will at least flesh out the details we all felt were lacking.
     
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