Before we go any further, this post will contain spoiler alerts for anyone who has not seen season eight of Game of Thrones. If you care about the outcome of the show, please do not go any farther than this. If you don’t care, please proceed.
Also, there are some spoiler alerts for anyone who hasn’t watched or finished How I Met Your Mother. (I know there are people out there that haven’t seen the show still – I’m just covering my bases here.)
As mentioned in my last post, I have a bit of a Game of Thrones rant. I think it is safe to say that the show has been struggling on the writing front since it surpassed George R. R. Martin’s books. The author though has remained with the show in an advisory capacity, but I really would like to hear his thoughts on the sh*t-show that happened in the series finale.
Over the past few years, I have written about character development and making good decisions when it comes to characters and plot. Well, it seems that the writers for Game of Thrones need to refresh themselves on the rules.
My partner and many of my coworkers have been railing against the poor character decisions, the scene set up, lack of climatic action and how rushed the entire season felt. This all came together in the epic failure of the last episode.
Before we go into all of the bad things, I did want to point out that they did a couple things right.
First off is the scene with Drogon after Dany is slain:
The scene was packed with emotional angst. I definitely cried. It shows the bond between Dany and her dragons.
The second scene is between Ghost and Jon:
This one was just gratifying after what happened earlier in the season. You know that moment after defeating the Night King, and Jon didn’t pet Ghost? Yeah, that’s the moment I’m referring to.
Aside from these two things, the last few episodes kinda sucked. While there are a lot of things wrong with this season, two things stood out for me: the lack of character development and plot development. First off, I’d like to discuss character development and unfulfilled character arcs.
Let’s start off with Jamie. He has spent seven seasons redeeming himself from being a wannabe child murder (guys he didn’t actually kill Bran) into a man who cares about the people of King’s Landing and Westeros.
He showed up at Winterfell, for crying out loud, willing to help defend the north and its people. Without having to watch the entire series, I figured out that he had changed from my perception of him in the first two episodes of season one and season eight. For him to go back to Cersei after all his growth at the last moment was weak.
I liken it to the ending of How I Met Your Mother. After spending many seasons making sure Ted was getting over Robin only to have them end up together in the end sucked. In this case, they made sure it ended this way because they already had taped the ending in the first season and needed to make sure Ted’s kids didn’t age while he was telling them about how he met their mother.
Another unfulfilling character arc is Jon Snow. I’m sorry, not sorry, but Jon should have died. The moment he was not able to defeat the Night King was the moment his character arc should’ve been on the decline. I say he is defeated in this instance because he had to be saved from the Night King’s forces by Dany and her dragon – proving that he is fallible and not able of protecting the throne/kingdom from any major attack, making him unable to take the throne. He’s a fallen hero – in Westeros and in the eyes of the viewers. After that episode, the writers should’ve started to wrap up his character arc to give him a justifiable ending.
Personally, I think Drogon should’ve killed him when he discovered his mama had been slain. That’s honestly what I thought was going to happen in that scene. Jon broke the dragon’s trust to take care of Dany – Jon had been in her company for a while at that point and was known to be a safe and trustworthy individual. It also would’ve been a better way for the writers to wrap up his narrative.
Most heroes die a hero’s death, which means that they either die on the battlefield or doing some honorable thing. Jon has always been someone who does the right thing, and him dying because he did the right thing – killing Dany saved many lives before she went on to conquer the world in this instance the right thing to do – he would’ve died a noble death by a dragon for completing that act.
Jon, being sent to go travel with the Wildlings for the rest of his life, feels a little empty in comparison. His actions did not necessitate that type of punishment. Hell, him being executed by Greyworm’s hand would’ve been grisly but more satisfying of an ending.
Daenerys Targaryen (Dany)
Yet another character arc gone bad, is Dany herself. Her wanting to kill all of the people in King’s Landing because she “made things personal” was a little out of left field. Why? Well, there wasn’t a lot of lead up to her making that decision. Her yelling out, “this is for Missandei!” or something else might have been a better way to convey that aside from a trembling lip.
Showing that Dany was losing her grip on reality is another way the writers could’ve tackled this change in her character. It’s something you need to start doing a little bit earlier than an episode or two before the series finale. These changes usually don’t happen quickly unless a significant event occurs, like the death of a loved one, or over time, such as with Jamie’s arc.
I’ve been told that she has shown instances of madness in the past, so it’s not a leap for her to go “crazy”, they just needed more of a build-up to this shift in her character. In this instance, I believe that a slower change over time would’ve been a better approach to her change in character would’ve been ideal if this is what the writers and directors of the show were aiming for.
Also, her death was so lame and underwhelming. The writer’s lost the sense of suspense in that moment. Of course, we know Jon had to kill her to stop the killing spree, but we didn’t know when or how or even if he struggled with the decision. It was so quick and unoriginal that it was unremarkable. There was no struggle on either part or last words.
Dany was a strong and loved character on this show and her death did not get the justice it deserved. She would’ve fought for her life if the writers would’ve given her chance. She would’ve held strong to her convictions and challenged Jon for the throne and to save her life and vision of the world. Yes, she would’ve been severely outmatched, but it would’ve been nice to see her die in a more dramatic way.
Brandon Stark (Bran)
Last but not least, we’re going to talk about Bran. I apologize here, but WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK?! This made no sense to me at all. As far as I am concerned, he is the most passive character and the least likely person to ever take the throne of Westeros. In history and most other works of fiction, a weak ruler, in mind or body, is never able to take and keep a throne.
Yes, good stories do account for something, but he’d never be able to effectively defend a Kingdom in this era. He can’t even protect himself from the Night King for Heaven’s sake. This is going to be perceived as a weakness from not only the people of Westeros but also their enemies. Yes, I know he has magical powers and whatnot, but that doesn’t mean that he going to be seen as a strong leader.
*Side note: I am not saying that I think people with disabilities are unable to be leaders or defend themselves.*
On top of all this, he really didn’t want the throne either from what I understand. It makes no sense that he would accept the position of King. So again his story arc didn’t really make sense.
Aside from all of the character development missteps, there were also a lot of plot issues as well. A plot, as we all know, follows a particular structure:
TV and movie plots look the same but are split up a little bit more like this:
So in the six episodes for season eight of Game of Thrones should’ve looked similar to this with the first four episodes building up to the climax of the story in episode five and wrap up in the last episode. Your resolution of the story doesn’t have to take up an entire episode if you don’t want it to.
Now, the biggest mistake of the entire series is by wrapping up the biggest threat to Westeros too soon. Yes, I am talking about the killing of the Night King in episode three. I was so surprised they did this when they did. They spent seven seasons leading up to his invasion and take over of Westeros and they cut it off halfway through the season, leaving Cersei as villain supreme. which doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Besides being an epic b*tch, she doesn’t have any special powers or forces really behind her to make her formidable. Seriously, she doesn’t. Dany has dragons, they have arrows that may be able to do their job if they hit the dragon at the right time and place. The Golden Company is useless against a dragon.
The Night King can raise the dead creating an unlimited army. In fact, it’s in the best interests of the characters to stay alive so they don’t help their foe gather more forces. His forces are also very skilled in killing. He can call in winter storms. He rode on the ice dragon. I mean do I need to go on? His prowess as a villain is ten times greater than Cersei’s.
Not to be mean to her, she is a formidable foe in her own right – she’s cunning, manipulative and committed to her cause, which is in its own way powerful. She’s been wreaking havoc on Westeros for years and no one has been able to stop her, but when compared to the Night King, she’s the lesser threat.
My point here is that by killing the Night King the writers lost their tension, suspense and season. If I was the one writing this, you would have a big battle in episode three against the big bad guy but our heroes fail and have to retreat. I mean the next safest place to be is going to be King’s Landing so you can always have a showdown at this point with Cersei.
At this point, you can have a small fight that gets her out of the way before you fight the big evil again. Or you keep her alive and have Cersei fight on the good side for an instance before reverting back to her old ways once the battle is done. Her death then becomes part of the wrap up before naming the one true heir to the throne after all threats have been removed.
How Game Of Thrones Should’ve Ended
In the end and after the dust settled, I started looking at videos on Youtube that offered a lot of different endings to the series. My favorite video explained a lot of what was wrong with the character arcs and plot points, much as I did above. It also provided a different ending to the narrative, also kind of like what I proposed above. The thing that I liked the most about the video was the fact that the narrator used the same six episode timeframe that we were given.
So here’s the video:
Key Take-Aways for Writers
I have mostly spent this post ranting away about why the ending sucked. So what does this have to do with us writers? Well, it reminds us that we have to look at how each piece of our stories comes into play over the entire narrative. It reminds us that each facet of our story, from pace to suspense and plot to character development, must be well thought out and done for a reason.
We outline and plan our stories out for a reason. This is why I repeatedly tell you to make sure you’re making sensible character and plot decisions, not just throwing things in for convenience sake. When you throw things in you get reactions like this from your fan base. They may even start a petition to get you to rewrite your novel or story.
So think about what you’re putting down on paper and out into the world.
That’s it for me this week! I hope you enjoyed the post! Thank you for letting me rant on for over 2,000 words about it. 😛 I also apologize for the swearing. I had flashbacks to the How I Met Your Mother finale and this show triggered those feelings.
I’d love to hear what you think about the Game of Thrones finale in the comments below – both good and bad.
So I know I haven’t been posting a lot lately, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on the blog. I am still very much interested in writing for it and I have topics for two months worth of post lined up. I’m just taking things a bit slower these days as I am trying to find a bit more of a balance in my life – as I’ve previously mentioned.
I still haven’t figured out what my posting schedule will look like, it may just depend on my writing mood for the time being. Right now, my writing has been focused on fiction writing rather than blog writing so you may be seeing some changes on the site to accommodate that side of my life; however, I am still dedicated to writing educational posts.
And I want your feedback on this as I am going through the process of changing this website. It means a lot to me that you all come to my site and follow my content, so if there’s anything that you’d like to see integrated into the site or any problems that you are having please let me know! Also, if you have certain topics you want me to cover or go deeper into, give me a shout.
As promised, we will be talking about the mystery genre soon. In light of this post, I found out that I haven’t dedicated a piece to plot. (I know! I’m surprised too!) So we’re going to be looking at plot next!
Until next time!
P.S.: My partner was the fact checker of all Game of Thrones knowledge in this post. If there are any discrepensies, please rail against him and not me. 😛