I’m Still Angry about Game of Thrones
The most important thing in a book, TV show or movie is to have a killer opening. Afterall, if you don’t hook your audience immediately they’re likely to move on. But I think the second most important thing is to have a satisfying ending.
I say this, because it’s been several years since the TV juggernaut Game of Thrones finished, and I’M STILL MAD ABOUT THE ENDING! I’m discussing this not as a debut novelist, but as a mega fan of the books and the TV show.
If you’ve never watched the series and plan to, stop reading now. Spoilers drive me nuts so I’m going to be respectful here with some dashes and things to prevent you from finding out the ending.
Still with me? OK, WTF was that ending about?
I was a huge Daenerys Targaryen fan. I loved her story arc going from the scared, obedient girl to the most powerful queen in the realm ready to ride her dragon to reclaim her birthright. What made her heroic was not just her growth, but her genuine desire to be a good and noble leader. She gave her citizens the choice to follow her or leave; she freed enslaved populations; she actively sought smart counselors so she could gain wisdom. Where was that character in the final three episodes?
When the evil queen Cersei Lannister (I’ll talk about her in a minute) kills Daenerys’ friend, sure, that would make anyone angry enough to face off in a battle, but at the last minute Cersei yielded the throne. You’d think that Daenerys would have celebrated getting the throne she sought since season one, winning a bloodless battle no less. Instead, after being told Cersei gave up, Daenerys goes batshit crazy, rides her dragon through Westeros, and torches thousands of innocent villagers for literally no reason. Huh?
Now let’s talk about Cersei. This was one badass. She plotted her husband’s murder, slept with her brother, blew up an entire section of the city while drinking a nice glass of wine, and laughed as she tortured people. As a villain, she was amazing. You literally loved to hate her.
But this savagely strong woman, who also came into her own power from being in positions assigned to her via various male members of her household to running the whole kingdom alone, ends the story blubbering in the arms of her brother like a lovesick girl from a romance novel. And her death? She gets hit in the head by a rock. Come on!
Arya Stark, the little-girl-turned-assassin should have shape shifted to become Jaime, Cersei’s lover/brother, and then revealed herself at the last minute before murdering her. Now that would have been a cool ending. Instead, Sandor Clegane (‘The Hound’) talks her out of going after her. I could see they were going for the father/daughter dynamic, but I wasn’t fully sold on the idea because it seemed out of character for both of them. I mean, Arya had been carrying around her murder to-do list for years. It was how she lulled herself to sleep. If it didn’t bother the Hound when they travelled together, why would her revenge quest bother him now?
Another thing that seemed odd was Arya suddenly becomes afraid when Daenerys is barbecuing the neighborhood, so she seems to hide and cover her ears in an alleyway. But why would Arya, who trained for a decade to become an assassin and just killed the king of the White Walkers two episodes prior, fear anything? It just didn’t make sense.
George R.R. Martin had written such fantastic, strong women for seven seasons, so it thoroughly disappointed fans to see season eight end the way it did. In fairness, he never finished writing the series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, leaving the TV show’s producers to come up their own ending. I’d imagine it’s tough when you run out of source material, but still.
I think another reason for the half-baked ending was that it felt too rushed. Seasons 1-6 each had ten episodes. Season 7 had seven episodes, and Season 8 had only six! If the show’s producers wanted to end the series as they did, they could have used those missing episodes to lay the groundwork to let the audience know that Daenerys was going to turn into a crazy woman, and that Cersei just wanted to be loved, and Arya just needed a daddy to tell her what to do, so we wouldn’t be completely blindsided by these complete character reversals. But then again, even if they took 24 extra episodes, I wouldn’t like those endings.
Not every female protagonist needs to win, or even be strong in every moment, but they should be authentic to their own previously established personalities and motives. George R.R. Martin said he’s finishing the book series and it will have a different ending from the show. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
What do you think? Did you like Game of Thrones ending? Why or why not?
Here’s my story. Available HERE.
Copyright (c) Lisa Traugott 2023. All rights reserved.