Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Game of Thrones - the final episode: a sort-of review (SPOILERS, obviously)

I've never been moved to write about Game of Thrones before. To be honest, I'm not that big a fan of it. I can't deny that it's an astonishing piece of television, boasting incredible production design, music, writing, direction and acting. It's inarguably a television phenomenon, must-see viewing for millions, that managed to be a roaring financial success in spite of also being the most pirated series in the world. However, while I've watched a great deal of it and have been thoroughly impressed with it, I can't say I've really enjoyed much of it. I don't find it entertaining, it's too relentlessly bleak and depressing for that. I watch it to be impressed, but mainly because of the need to know what happens next, and even then, I gave up on it for a couple of years part way through season three because it had degraded to nothing much more than rape and torture for the sake of it.

Although I was told it would be impossible to catch up after leaving it for two seasons, it really wasn't. The characters are generally keen to keep everyone informed of their various enmities, and anyone who watches it religiously will happily tell you, at length, all of the different characters' backgrounds and relationships. So I got sucked back in, and here we are, with the internet going into meltdown over the final few episodes, which were apparently a huge betrayal of the characters and came out of nowhere.

Which is rubbish, and since pretty much all the characters behaved in a wholly predictable way. Daenerys has been moving from damaged to completely insane for years, and her becoming a bloodthirsty tyrant is exactly where the character was headed. I think most of the people who think that her roasting everyone in King's Landing is an unbelievable turn of character are suffering from the same delusion as Jon and Tyrion: they couldn't see what a monster she was because they're love her too much. Or, to put it another way, they don't like that bird they fancy turning nasty. She didn't even get to sit on the uncomfortable throne before she was done in, which is pretty hilarious.

The eventual end to her story - Jon killing her because Tyrion told him to - was both entirely predictable and entirely right. They had to see what a monster she'd become before they could turn against her, especially Jon, who's never quite managed to balance holding to his principles and doing the right thing. After all, he could have gotten away with it, told Greyworm and his troops that Daenerys had flown off with Drogon to parts unknown and settled down to a relatively comfy life, but he's too honest and probably went straight up to the guy and confessed.

The ending might have been a bit rushed, at least in comparison to the meandering seasons before it, but it was, ultimately, satisfying. Some of it was hard to believe, of course. Tyrion managing to talk his way not only out of execution but also into office and almost inventing democracy while he was at it was perhaps a bit much, but it's also a perfect audition piece for Peter Dinklage's eventual casting as the lead in Doctor Who (seriously, he's my absolute number one choice). He deserved to survive, if only for being the best thing in the show since it started.

Ayra is apparently indestructible. Honestly, Suz and I thought her wandering out of the city at the end of the previous episode, white with dust, when the entire population had died around her, was some metaphorical artsy thing. Either that, or she was an actual ghost. But no, she's well enough to get on a boat and go west. Life is peaceful there. More fuel for our fan theory that the world of Thrones is actually the far, far future of Earth, and Arya is Lady Me, having inveigled her way into House Stark and forgotten most of her past.

The big surprise - Bran the Broken being a sort-of elected king - actually works. The creepy bastard is the only character in the entire thing without any ambition at all, and since he can't have kids, might just prevent the Six Kingdoms from going to war with Winterfell in a few generations when two sets of cousins start fighting between each other like they did in Europe for most of the 19th century. On the other hand, the infighting that will result when he eventually dies will be incredible. I do have to wonder how a bunch of big blokes and eunuchs are going to start another house, though. They'll be extinct in the next twenty years, unless there are plans for an even rapier sequel series.

So, did it make perfect sense? Of course not, but what big, sprawling work of fiction ever does? It made enough sense to work as a conclusion, and an effective one at that. I honestly don't see what everyone's moaning about.

Oh, and George R. R. Martin told the writers his rough plans for the upcoming books. I bet a fiver that the parts the fans are getting upset about and think betray his vision were his idea. 

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