How Game of Thrones fans have made me question my faith in humanity.
This post contains Game of Thrones spoilers from the most recent episode “The Bells”. You’ve more than likely seen it by now, it has been a week after all. If not, you have been warned, venture onward at your own risk.
Last Sunday’s penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, and much of Season 8 for that matter, has gone down like a proverbial ton of bricks falling on top of Cersei and Jamie. Fans have every right to dislike the episode, hell they have the right to dislike the whole season if they want. But where did this sense of entitlement come from?
Let me begin by saying that I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books and watched the show multiple times, and like millions across the world I am eagerly awaiting the series finale airing tonight.
I’m probably not alone in that for the past seven days, my Google News Feed has been inundated with article after article about last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, entitled “The Bells”. At the time of writing, the episode has a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the season as a whole scores at 71%. This is substantially lower than the 91% combined score for Seasons 1–7, so maybe the fans are onto something here. “The Bells” was Thrones at its most brutal and its most raw. A depiction of war that made for genuinely uncomfortable viewing, the battle scenes were nothing short of spectacular and as a result it will go down as one of the show’s most memorable episodes, and probably the most divisive.
Much of the criticism around Season 8 and this episode in particular is focused on the writing. The writers seem to be so focused on delivering impactful plot moments that they end up completely ignoring the character development necessary for the viewer to buy-in to those moments. We’ve spent years being accustomed to the show’s methodical, deliberate pace when it comes to character progression. This is why I can see where the frustrations have arisen from, when an abrupt change in a character’s mindset can occur in the course of two to three episodes.
Did Daenerys’ descent from ‘Breaker of Chains’ to ‘Burner of Innocents’ feel rushed? Yes.
Do I think Tyrion deciding that freeing Jamie from captivity so he could reunite with Cersei was stupid, moronic and not at all befitting a character we are repeatedly reminded is “the smartest man in Westeros”? Also yes.
I agree with the criticisms fans have been raising, I really do. But what I struggle to agree with, is this:
Ned Stark would be rolling in his crypt.
1,076,231. The number of people that have signed a petition for HBO to remake this season of Game of Thrones with ‘competent writers’ at the helm.
This has got to be a joke, right? Unfortunately, no.
You have a right to dislike the show. Of course you do. But when did we get so entitled that we feel we can demand things to be different, just because we don’t like it?
Aside from the obvious fact that HBO are not going to shell out an estimated $15 million dollars per episode in production costs to remake the season, why would they? Why should they? The story has been told. Deal with it. I don’t like the ending of every book that I’ve ever read. I wasn’t particularly happy with J. K Rowling when she killed off Dobby, but you didn’t see me banging down her door demanding that she rewrite the story. Because it is her story to tell. Just as the TV show adaptation of Game of Thrones is David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ story to tell. Yes, it would be wonderful if George R. R. Martin had managed to keep the book releases ahead of the TV show, but he didn’t. He gave the writers the general direction in which the story was going, and they have done what they thought was best. I doubt either of them at any point have thought to themselves “we have been given the opportunity to produce one of the most successful television shows of all time, let’s screw it up intentionally and piss off the fans.” You don’t have to like it. Just accept it and move on.
Also, imagine for just a moment that HBO did decide to remake this season. What would be the point? It would be completely meaningless, as we would all watch it and think “That’s been changed, and that’s been changed”, always remembering the original material which we are so determined to forget! (Side note, in the time it’s taken me to write the last three paragraphs, a further 2,479 signatures have been added to the petition.)
If only our frustrated Thronies could apply some of that passion and intensity towards something that actually matters. Such as an appeal against the recent ban on almost all abortions in the state of Alabama, or a petition to ban the use of non-recyclable and non-sustainable food packaging, because if you didn’t already know the world is pretty screwed, which you can read more about here. If only, eh?
I don’t begrudge any fan of the show for not feeling completely satisfied. I wasn’t when I first watched the episode. But I feel like some people need reminding that we are talking about a television show. I’ve seen people online expressing genuine anger at the show. Anger. Because of a television show. In what world is a television show something to get angry about? The world is an angry enough place as it is, without us all getting our knickers in a twist over who ends up on the Iron Throne.
FYI, I hope it’s Sansa. I’ll be writing to HBO if it isn’t.