The end is fast approaching for Game of Thrones, and with its conclusion nigh, one of its stars, Maisie Williams, took to social media to tease her own end of the road.
The picture showed blood splatter decorating a pair of white Nike Air Force 1’s, and beneath the graphic image was the inscription: “goodbye belfast. goodbye arya. goodbye game of thrones. what a joy i’ve had. here’s to the adventures to come #lastwomanstanding”.
The post was another dragon-sized dong tease in a show whose offseason rumors and speculations have proven just as entertaining as the show. Nearly a year has passed since the term “ice dragon” entered into the pop-culture lexicon; since then, Game of Thrones has been off the air, filming the most expensive final season of all time, with a budget ballooning over $90 million for the six-episode run.
We get it. We’re happy that creators are taking their time with the piece, perfecting the story and visual effects as to not rush out the product, á la Star Wars.
And like Star Wars, the series has become an impossible to ascend, pop culture zenith of hype. Expectations are so high, that regardless how the Westeros conclusion will go, it’ll likely be a disappointment, regardless of how satisfying the conclusion is.
Too Much Time Has Passed
It’s very uncommon that a show’s follow-up season takes over a year, let alone two and a half. The most notable examples of series with lengthy gaps are those that returned with soft reboots, or were canceled before finding cult status. In our current click-bait era of short attention spans and even briefer memories, the hype can fade fast; dissatisfaction can only fester when you compare a new addition to a story to the perfection of past experience that left such an indelible impression on you.
Again, think Star Wars.
The prequels were savaged by those whose childhood was comprised of the original series. Now, there are a select — albeit few — group of fans who were raised on Revenge of the Sith and dismiss the newest entries. Although the gap isn’t that long, Game of Thrones will have been out for nearly nine years since the series premiered — plenty of time for tastes to change. Watercooler talks can only stay relevant for so long before people get bored and go back to work.
Fortunately, HBO recognizes a GOT deficient in the world; a six-part documentary spin-off entitled Game Revealed will be released later this year to tide people over.
A Predictable Story
Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have surpassed George R.R. Martin’s fifth offering in the GoT saga A Dance With Dragons. Since then, the story has turned from an unpredictable bloodbath to following the straight and narrow tropes of a fantasy tale: the good guys are winning, the bad guys quiver on unstable ground, anticipating the frosty maw of the good ol’ ice dragon at any moment.
The only ‘wtf’ moment we can foresee in the finale is Cersei winning, while the Lannisters maintaining their stranglehold over King’s Landing. Instead, Cersei will probably be turned into the Night Queen, die a terrible death as comeuppance for her ruthless deeds, and the White Walkers will melt. Some people will die, some people will live, but inevitably, the Starks and the Targaeryns will build a unified family.
Expectations Are Too High
For every day that writer George R.R. Martin doesn’t deliver The Winds Of Winter — the sixth book in A Song Of Ice And Fire — disgruntled fans clamor to dangle his body from The Wall. With the amount of hate Martin has garnered from the fans, imagine how they’ll act when the Westeros saga has a conclusion and the gates of King’s Landing can no longer be entered… at least in this timeline; a prequel series is set far into the universe’s past.
GoT started as an insurrectionary tale that constantly upended the balance of power, starting with the startling execution of Ned. Even when we watched that scene, we were sure the axe had missed his neck. Or perhaps, he could come back as a White Walker. All hopes were dashed when we saw Sean Bean’s slack-jawed skull impaled on a spear.
As mentioned earlier, the traditional fantasy genre was adopted after the show surpassed the plot points detailed in Martin’s text. There have been a few surprises here and there — Cersei incinerating the Sept of Baelor, all of the Lannister kids bit the dust, the whole “hold the door” heartbreaker — but nothing has come out of left field, striking the senses like the Red Viper’s spear.
If the script gets flipped, and a wild card like Gendry comes in and mounts the throne, or if Lady Stoneheart gets resurrected and kills everyone, it’ll divide those that want a happy ending, or fans that desire the plot twists that made the show so good in the first place. Either way, someone will be let down when the last dragon flies away into the sunset.
HBO Doesn’t Know How To End Shows
HBO isn’t in the business of nailing their finales. The Sopranos left most of America checking the connection of their cable boxes. Boardwalk Empire dissolved from the best show on television, to an artsy fartsy slog on morality. Shows like Deadwood, Rome, and Bored to Death (amongst others), didn’t get the courtesy of a wrap.
The only noteworthy conclusion was the tear-inducing fade to black of Six Feet Under, but that was 13 years ago.
At least GoT escaped the current HBO dilemma; now, the network doesn’t even know how to continue their flagship programs. Once great offerings True Detective, Westworld, and Ballers have all elicited viewer fatigue, slowly bogging down the intrigue of once great shows with disoriented writer’s rooms intent on making their audience’s eyes heavy with lassitude.