Failures of Writing: A Staff Dissection of the GOT Finale

Photo courtesy of HBO

Photo courtesy of HBO

Following the Game of Thrones series finale, reactions have buzzed and abounded. From disappointment to surprise, the end of the most iconic show of our generation has been controversial. Find out why our writers are disappointed below.

A Totally Different Show than Before

I fell in love with Game of Thrones for the complexity of the characters, the wit of the dialogue, and the need to pick up every tiny detail of every episode in order to fully understand the story. Unfortunately, these elements were altogether neglected by the writers in season eight. The character arcs were predictable and underdeveloped (Dany randomly going mad), the dialogue was often boring and even cringey (Bran talking to anyone), and the details that seemed like they should have been crucial ended up being completely irrelevant (we literally never find out the symbolism behind the spirals left by the White Walkers). Although I was happy to see each of the Starks in the places they belonged (all hail the Queen of the North!), even this was ruined by the fact that it came to be in a rushed and completely illogical manner.

I had two main issues with the season as a whole, and they culminated in the finale: the pacing of the season and the disregard for events and symbols leading up to this point. Jon being a Targaryen was inconsequential. Arya’s multiple-season training to be a faceless man was seemingly forgotten. Gendry’s status as a Baratheon bastard amounted to nothing. Bran’s “three-eyed raven” identity was useless with the apparent exception of his own schemes to become king. While the ultimate conclusion of this season could make sense when looking back at the buildup of previous seasons, its meaning is completely lost by the rush to reach the ending without taking into account any of the story lines that have built up to this moment.

Although I could go on and on about my confusion with the direction of the writing in this season, I’ll end on a positive by saying that every other aspect of the production continued to exceed my expectations up until the final moment. The acting, visuals, and soundtrack all stood out to me as phenomenal, continuously proving that Game of Thrones deserves to be classified as one of the best shows of our generation. Sadly, great production needs great writing to accompany it, and David Benioff and D. B. Weiss dropped the ball on giving this legendary show a rightful conclusion. ~ Grace Lemon

Plot holes, plot holes, plot holes

After my first watch of the Thrones finale, I was pleasantly surprised. My expectations, incredibly low, were slightly succeeded. And as time has progressed since the finale, I have been left with a souring taste in my mouth. The moments that stood out to me as exemplary (Sansa’s coronation and Jon’s journey beyond the wall) have been corrupted by the logic the final episode lacked. Inconsistent with the tone of the previous seasons, the ending reaches towards a happy one that makes little sense in the rules of the world. The idealism of that ending was perhaps the most disappointing part.

Before this season premiered, I was excited and hoping for absolute brutal destruction, for the Night King to decimate Westeros, for the stakes to be higher than ever. And they were, for the first three episodes-- but by the finale, that momentum crumbled into mere attempts to surprise that departed from the established rules of the show. The plot holes are Stark, mainly in terms of Bran Stark. The selection of King Bran is accepted by all present, and no one quibbles with the North declaring independence. When the prior seven seasons have established the complicated nature of politics, this easy process is utterly nonsensical. Additionally, the fact that Jon was left alive at the end of the show, while thematically satisfying, left huge gaps in why he was not immediately executed for killing his Queen.

Ultimately, Daenerys's death and underdeveloped turn to madness are emblematic of the key problems that underly this finale. Overall, events are choppy, and while the production is larger than ever, small details that made the show exemplary have been removed completely to create a result of sloppy details, perhaps best exemplified by the now two snafus of cups left in shots. while the events that occur make sense, the quick pacing and character scrapping in the eighth season ruined what should have been a satisfying conclusion to the greatest story of our generation. ~Grace Gay

Disappointed Writing

Before I tear into the writing of Season 8, I’d like to preface by saying that almost every other aspect of the show’s production was nearly perfect. The score, the set design, the costume design, and most of the acting (sorry, Kit Harrington) were all final season worthy. But considering that Game of Thrones used to be one of the best-written shows to come out of the “Golden Age of Television” we’re currently living in, it’s hard to say the writing on the Season 8 was anything but underwhelming. I’m not the only one who thinks this: here’s a compilation of cast members’ disappointed reactions to the final season as well as the petition to remake Season 8 with competent writers.

This season is a fundamental overhaul of the writing style that made the show captivating. Complex characters are reduced to simply good or evil (Cersei a cruel villain, Jon a conflicted hero), entire character arcs are forgone in favor of fan service (Arya and Brienne didn’t need to lose their virginity, ultimately), and people’s decisions have no underlying motivations (Tyrion spilling the beans on Jon’s secret, Dany slaughtering the innocent). But following the battles and chaos, the finale was more sour than bittersweet. Since the pacing was so rushed, Daenerys’ death lacked the emotional impact it truly deserved. Bran becoming king by Tyrion’s decree (1) doesn’t make sense, (2) is offensive (Bran the Broken, how about Bran the Wise?), (3) is pointless plot subversion for the sake of plot subversion. All of this is not to entirely discredit the showrunners; the first four seasons are some of the best television I have ever experienced. But without the source material, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have proven themselves unable to give the show the send-off it deserves. It’s time to acknowledge the final season of Game of Thrones for what it actually is: expensive fanfiction. ~John Martin

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