Let’s all be totally rational and not let our emotions run wild.
I reviewed “The Long Night” a couple weeks ago and still feel like the episode failed in some ways. However, as said before, it was still an entertaining 90 minutes (or whatever the running time was) despite being too dark (and the producer blaming the consumer on this one was stupid). At the time, I thought I was in the minority of being a bit unhappy with the less daring storytelling—or at least less daring than I had hoped for.
Then the internet took a collective dump on the last three episodes.
I am conflating comments on “The Last of the Starks,” “The Bells,” and “The Iron Throne” here. This should go without saying, but this is going to spoil the finale. Stop reading if you have any interest in watching the series.
“The Last of the Starks” is a bit of a set-up episode, which we should all be used to with this series. I know a lot of people don’t like that the cast unlocked fast-travel, but they earned it damnit. However, not a lot happens here that is necessarily shocking. Sure, a dragon is murdered (I had honestly thought that dragon was killed on “The Long Night” so it didn’t really matter to me), and we get to see that dragons apparently can’t see very far or something.
The most important thing here is that the series had to start screaming at us that Dany was going to go nuts. Yes, I know the series has hinted as this possibility in whispers rather than actions, but this is not enough for me. I wanted her explosive insanity to be more profound and more believable than it ends up being in “The Bells.” Simply put, I don’t think enough was done to show her snapping that far and killing civilians. Even when she has been brutal before she has always had a point to it. Crucifying the slave masters made a powerful point—oops some innocents were killed—but that was an unintended consequence—not the major point.
Debates about whether her madness (odd that Ramsay Bolton who would have been much worse is not called mad or Joffrey—yes, I think there is a gendered element here) will last forever. For me, it wasn’t enough. However, I also think that part of the reason for this is the showrunners likely didn’t know for sure which direction she would go. I’m not sure when Martin revealed to Benioff and Weiss the official ending, but I doubt it was before the pilot. The writers couldn’t accurately forecast something they didn’t know, which speaks more to the risks of adapting something incomplete than anything wrong with their talents.
I thought there was excellent spectacle and action in “The Bells,” but I didn’t like the narrative decisions made. Know what I did? I talked about how I disagreed and that was it. However, the backlash was as absurd and all encompassing as the now super-powered Drogon (seriously, did she give him supplements?). At the time of writing this over a million people have petitioned to have the season redone. A million people. You know what would happen if a million people went out and picked up garbage on the coast for 30 minutes? Holy shit.
Now, I recognize that I am skirting a line here. Hate the episode if you want. Burn all your GoT merchandise in protest. Eat a bunch of chickens and call people cunts—whatever you want—whatever will make you feel better. This entire blog is dedicated to making snarky/bitchy comments about movies and making fun of things I don’t like. I think criticism—even harsh criticism—is absolutely fine.
I draw the line at wanting something destroyed because you don’t like it.
How many bad movies have come out? How many adaptations have genuinely pissed on the source material? Lots! How many should be remade? None! The era of remakes is destroying the idea of cultural legacy. Hell, this week we just learned that there will be another new Batman (the sixth in my lifetime—I think—there may be more). This need to constantly rehash and redo crap is just debasing it.
Look, GoT will eventually be remade. You and I both know that other production companies are eyeing the backlash here and are now salivating. The entire franchise is a cash machine—and sooner or later it will be remade. The newer and shinier dragons will be the selling point, and we will then have the stupid debate over which is better.
I have watched the backlash, and the backlash to the backlash, and the backlash to the backlash of the backlash for a couple weeks and I am already sick of it. I thought the ending was fine (I loved that poor Jon had to go back north). Was it perfect? Nah, but is anything?
Demanding something be torn down and remade because you aren’t happy with it is kind of a shitty thing to do. I’m sure all investors are going to be eager to do anything risky in the future with this new trend of petitions and insults (I’m also willing to bet a lot of death threats have been thrown around, which is just sad).
Also, please don’t hide behind the idea that you’re a true fan or whatever bullshit justification people are making. I thought the series ended weakly—okay. Let’s all get on with our lives. It’s not like for the better part of a decade the series was a reliable escape and enjoyable tale or anything. Nope, a couple odd decisions and we better tear it all down. Let’s also ignore budgetary constraints, contracts, time, and everything else that played an impact—also, also—let’s not forget the elephant in the room: piracy. GoT is the most pirated show in the world. Whatever justification you’re about to give if you do pirate—the series may have had more time and money if it wasn’t stolen more than any other piece of media, ever.
The shittiest part of all of this is that there were some interesting things done in the final season that are worthy of analysis and discussion. Yet, we simply can’t have a discussion—even a critical one. Nope, it must be argued that Benioff and Weiss somehow lost their minds, or they don’t care, or whatever. (Oh my God, a fucking water bottle—who cares??)
I see a couple things coming out of this new toxic age. Either companies are going to continue to neuter and focus-study narratives to death to be just good enough to not bother anyone (looking at you, Disney) or they’re going to refuse to take risks (looking at you, everyone else). The fact that the majority of films lately are remakes or franchises shows an unwillingness to take risks—and why would anyone take a risk is in this environment?
Thrones may have fumbled the landing but turning one of the most beloved characters into a psychopathic mass murderer took some guts. A lot of the series disrupted what we wanted, and we praised them for it. I guess the old saying that you can be right 99 times, but everyone will remember the 1 time you were wrong is accurate.
There were writing mistakes this season (and some of them are quite frustrating). Some of it was probably unavoidable, but instead of thinking about how to improve, let’s just tear everything down around us. Being a snarky smartass can be a lot of fun (and some of the memes have been glorious), but when things get this toxic it just becomes a shit-slinging ritual where nothing comes out looking good. So, let’s all calm down and just recognize that things won’t always be perfect.
Hilariously, everyone talking shit is going to forget this backlash in about six months and start praising the show’s guts for the majority of the run. Without any sense of irony, they will then wonder why other narratives don’t mimic the series’ choices and boldness.