I’ve begun to see a pattern recently. After each episode of Game of Thrones, starting from the third episode until the fifth, fans have been divided, very vocally divided. Some fans are ok with the direction the final season is taking, while others absolutely abhor what the show has become. Me? I’m leaning more towards the latter, though perhaps abhor is too strong a word. Disappointed is more suitable to describe how I feel.
The Mad Queen
Yup, Daenerys has gone that far. I think many people weren’t surprised that it happened, but the problem was how it happened. One common criticism of the final few episodes has been that they felt rushed, which is how I would explain Daenerys’ descent into madness. One moment, she’s the breaker of chains. The next, she’s burning innocent civilians for no good reason. She had already won the war, the Lannister army laid down their weapons and surrendered. If she was truly angry with Cersei, she could’ve just flown directly to the Red Keep and take her out without committing genocide. But nope. Gotta burn them all, like her daddy used to say.
Also, it seemed quite easy how Daenerys and Drogon destroyed the entire Iron Fleet. Couldn’t they have just done that in the previous episode when Rhaegal was killed? And it was so easy for Drogon to decimate King’s Landing. I guess we now know why she lost her other dragons. Having three would’ve made it a no contest. Losing one to the Night King was good for the Night King’s story arc, but losing one to the Iron Fleet just to make the final war seem “fair” was just lazy writing.
Some people think Daenerys’ breakdown is justified. She lost two dragons (her “children”), her best friend, her most trusted adviser, and she was rejected by Jon. Varys was right about her, and his planned treason probably made Daenerys feel betrayed, as did Jon’s decision to share his lineage with his sisters against her advice. She’s been through a harrowing journey to get to where she is now only for everything to fall apart just before the finish line, so it does seem reasonable for her to have gone mad.
Perhaps the problem, as I mentioned earlier, was that her twist just feels rushed. Justifiable maybe, but rushed. Everything we went through with her for seven seasons, undone in just one episode.
The fall of the Lannisters
Another character arc which felt weird to me was Cersei’s. Her defenses failed to keep Daenerys’ forces out, Ser Gregor killed Qyburn while disobeying her orders to stay by her side, she was alone, lost, with no one to turn to, but the show was angling for viewers to feel sorry for her? Why? At the end of the previous episode, she had reminded everyone why she was possibly the vilest character on the show. Then suddenly in this episode, we were meant to feel sorry for her? To make matters worse, she died to some falling bricks? We didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing her being killed by another character?
And we lost Jaime the same way too? After an amazing redemption arc for Jaime that lasted several seasons, after what he’s been through with Brienne, after keeping his oath to fight for the living (abandoning Cersei in the process), he just heads back to King’s Landing and dies with Cersei? Just like that? I don’t feel sorry for Cersei, but I do feel sorry for Jaime. Such a waste of a good character.
And Tyrion. Why has his influence seemingly dwindled this season?
Probably the most anticipated side plot in the final season. The Cleganebowl wasn’t as dramatic as I was expecting, I felt like Sandor’s battle with Brienne a few seasons ago was better, but it wasn’t bad either. We finally saw The Mountain’s face. We saw him being basically immortal as no number of stabs from The Hound could take him down. We saw Ser Gregor almost crush his brother’s skull in like he did Oberyn Martell. And we saw both brothers falling into the fire as Sandor couldn’t see any other way to kill his brother.
But I feel like the tender moment Sandor had with Arya before his brawl with his brother was much more memorable. He got her back on the right path, away from a path of vengeance. Their relationship is one of the best story arcs of the series, and unlike many others, it actually ended on a high.
This episode was just announced as the joint lowest rated episode of Game of Thrones ever by Rotten Tomatoes. Even worse than the previous two episodes. Though I won’t make such a claim myself, I do feel like the writers were going for more of a spectacle, a glorious cinematic experience filled with dragon fire and an image of King’s Landing burning to the ground. The story however feels rushed. Character arcs are meeting abrupt twists and turns, and ending without all the poise and elegance of the earlier seasons. Many people are already comparing Game of Thrones to Lost, a series with incredible build-up throughout the earlier seasons, only to be let down by a disappointing final season. We still don’t know how the story will end, or who will sit on the Iron Throne (Danny and Jon look to be the favourites now), but after the previous few episodes, I won’t be surprised if the finale next week is met with even more scathing criticism by fans and journalists alike.