Game of Thrones – Season 8 Overall Review

GOT S8

And so our watch is over… Ugh, I knew that would sound too cheesy, but I tried it in the end anyway… Well, Game of Thrones’ final season has appeared before us, and it’s been quite the ride, both actually watching it and watching the general fan reaction: from logical, to taking things far, far too seriously. What do I think?! Well, if you must know…

Synopsis:

Upon reaching Winterfell with their combined armies, Jon and Daenerys learn the White Walkers have breached the Wall and the Night King commands an undead dragon. In response, the Northern lords and their allies rally around Winterfell but distrust Daenerys and doubt Cersei’s pledge, a doubt that is soon founded with the arrival of Jamie Lannister…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

GOT S8 4

Three Stark members, and an old man looking at Arya’s arse.

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) – Daenerys has her mind set on becoming Queen of the seven Kingdoms, something she has been focusing on for a long time now, but before she can march towards King’s Landing, she has to survive the onslaught of the dead…

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) – Stopping the Night King and his undead army has consumed Jon’s life in the recent times, with only his meeting of Daenerys being a bright point. Now it’s finally do or die… or die again, I guess…

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) – Arya has returned home to Winterfell, and has come to  terms with the idea of fighting legions of undead warriors, after all, her training has prepared her for anything, hasn’t it?

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – Tyrion wishes to do his best and fight the hordes of the undead, but his Queen wishes to see him live and sends him to the catacombs… full of corpses… sounds safe!

Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Jamie has seen the threat of the undead and has rushed to Winterfell in order to fight for the living… it’s just a shame his sister has decided to stay behind with their army in hopes of securing her throne, even if it’s post-apocalyptically…

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) – Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and the woman who sits on the Iron Throne, Cersei believes she’s pregnant and wishes to bring the child up in a peaceful world, through any means necessary…

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) – Brienne is once again by the side of the Starks, and soon also fighting alongside Jamie Lannister. Good company, which is nice given the opponents they’ll have to fight…

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) – Sansa is the lady of Winterfell, and wishes to command her people through this tough time, as really, that’s all she can do…

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) – Bran is Bran no more, instead his body belongs to the Three-Eyed Raven, a being that is of great importance to the up-coming battle… and of great importance as a target for the Night King…

Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) – Samwell is a scholar at heart, and certainly not a fighter, but he has decided to fight on the front-lines anyway… better that than the humiliation of hiding in the catacombs with the women and children, I guess?

Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) – The Hound has never really cared for anyone other than himself, at least until he met Arya, and foresaw the coming of the Night King. Then suddenly he realised he cared about living, rather than living in spite of himself, and now it’s time to prove it.

The Night King (Vladimir Furdik) – The being known as The Night King has a long history, but it all comes down to now, as he is finally through the wall and on his way to destroy humanity…

Plus more!

The Good:

GOT S8 3

“Wakey Wakey, mates!”

The season can be nicely split in two, which is how I reviewed it originally anyway… The first three episodes focus on the battle with the Night King and his army of the undead, while the second half deals with the battle against Queen Cersei and the question of “who will sit on the Iron Throne”.

The build up to the big battle at Winterfell was well played over the first two episodes, with various characters meeting either for the first time, or for the first time in a long while. A scene with several characters gathered around a fireplace moments before probable death was good as well, with some good humour and Brienne becoming a knight. It all did a really good job of convincing you this was probably the end for a lot of people… even if it wasn’t (well, a lot of people died, but very few named ones…)

We also got Sam revealing to Jon that he is actually half Targaryen and the true heir to the throne, which he is horrified about. Amusingly when he tells Daenerys her first thought is how that makes Jon ahead of her in the royal rankings, so to speak, rather than how she’s been screwing her nephew. Priorities, and all that…

Then we get to the battle itself. Now, a lot of people have complained how it was too dark to see, but I didn’t have any problem. In fact, with my 4K TV, the effects of the fire in the dark made those scenes really pop, it was quite the visual treat when characters were walking in dark hallways with just a flaming sword or torch to light the way. Overviews of the army riding across the dark fields and scenes of dragons fighting above the clouds in the moonlight were all really thrilling, and Arya’s running and hiding from the undead after nearly succumbing to them was a tense scene. In the last moments Theon and Jorah died, then Arya, who had been re-inspired, kills the Night King with the dagger Bran/Three-Eyed Raven had given her in that very spot last season. All the other undead become re-dead, and the battle is won. Those final moments, with mostly an eerie soundtrack playing, were great stuff.

GOT S8 1

Love it or hate it, it was quite the spectacle!

Episode 5, “The Bells”, was certainly an experience, that’s for sure. It features the big battle at King’s Landing between Dany, her Dragon Drogon, Jon Snow and the rest of her army of freed slaves and barbarians taking on the Lannister army and co. The thing is though, it’s not so much a battle as a one-sided slaughter… of disturbing proportions. Daenerys wins thanks to her Dragon destroying all the anti-Dragon equipment before it could fire, and soon the people of King’s Landing ring the bell signifying surrender, and the opposing army lays down their arms… then she suddenly gets a little irked with how simple it was, with how many people of the army that killed a dear friend (at the end of Episode 4) are still alive, and goes absolutely kill crazy, burning down the entire city, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children in the process. This mass-burning, seen through the eyes of several characters, was harrowing, and went on for so long you feel like you’ve survived something after watching it.

During the chaos there is a very entertaining fight between The Hound and his monstrous, undead brother that ends with both being incinerated, and Jamie gets wounded killing PIRATE BLOKE before embracing Cersei… as a bunch of rubble falls on them and kills them both. This leads into the fallout in the final episode, with Tyrion stepping down in disgust and telling Jon Snow that he has to see how wrong she was, and how she might do it again… well, will definitely do it again. Eventually Jon and the apparent Mad Queen have a nice chat, and then kiss… as Jon buries a knife in her heart. Drogon then arrives and melts the Iron Throne to molten lava before flying away with his mother’s corpse. Very dramatic, great stuff. Some people have complained that Daenerys’ actions were out of character, but I’ve seen this coming ever since she burned Samwell’s father and brother alive for not bending their knees to her. It made for great, sometimes uncomfortable, TV and that’s what GoT does best.

The Bad:

GOT S8 2

After eight seasons, how did this end up happening?

Okay, so let’s talk about the second half of Episode 6. In very un-Game of Thrones-y fashion, everyone pretty much gets a happy ending. Bran… f**king Bran becomes King thanks to a fancy speech from Tyrion, who is then made Bran’s Hand as “punishment”, Arya decides to travel West of Westeros out of curiosity, Sansa becomes Queen of the North as the North is now a separate Kingdom, leaving Bran to rule the other six, and Jon Snow is sent back to the Wall as a member of the Watch, but actually travels beyond the wall with the wild free folk. So, two Starks rule all seven Kingdoms, and both the Lannisters and Tygarians are going to vanish after Tyrion and Jon die, so I do like that, after all the family went through, the Starks certainly “won” the titular game of thrones (even if there isn’t an Iron Throne to sit on), but it does seem out of character for the show to end with such little heartbreak. Especially Bran, I mean this is the same Three-Eyed Raven who declined to be called a Lord because he wasn’t Bran anymore, yet when asked if he would become King, he replies “Why else would I travel all the way down here?” Well… huh. Okay then? Wait, not okay! I mean, a King who can see the past, present and future is handy to avoid assassinations I guess…

Another thing is that “Winter is Coming” has been the tagline of the series since Season 1, and now the Night King is dead with only, at best, two big characters dying. Now all attention turns to the Iron Throne and Cersei, which given the title of the series makes sense, but that doesn’t change the fact that this feels like the big battle at Winterfell was sort of… thrown away. Still had plenty of great moments, don’t get me wrong, but I still feel it didn’t live up to its potential. Battles such as the Battle of Blackwater and definitely the Battle of the Bastards were better, visually, and had more thrilling moments, but then there is only so much you can do when one side is just a sea of roaming corpses, rather than an army capable of strategy…

Overall Thoughts:

GOT S8 5

This picture represents how a lot of fans felt like at the end of the series…

Game of Thrones Season 8 was a mixed bag, that’s for sure. There was a lot I liked, but there was a definite feeling of it being rushed, with long-awaited battles and plot twists coming and going far too suddenly to have real impact. Season 8 is the weakest, but it’s still good. It’s just “Good” in amongst a series that constantly hit “Excellent” makes it really stand out…

4 Star Watch

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