This one isn't any sort of public service essay--just a personal vent. I've referenced Game of Thrones enough times on this forum that anyone who follows me probably knows that I watch that show. I mean... who doesn't? That would be like saying, "I enjoy pizza." Like... duh. Did we really need to be told that? So, I watched the finale, and I never planned on writing anything about the show in my blog, but now I feel I must, but probably not for the reason you might think. Suffice it to say, if you haven't seen all the way through to the end, leave now.
So, I've always been a huge Thrones fan. Like so many, it's been a such a wonderful ride for me these past years. I completely avoid looking at anything Thrones related when new episodes are airing. I took painstaking efforts to avoid even seeing a Thrones related thumbnail until I had seen the finale. Even before season 8 premiered, I didn't look at anything. I don't want to see previews or trailers. For something this important to me, I don't even want to hear fan theories or speculation. I find I enjoy it most if I go in completely dark. I don't even want to know the episode title before I watch it. I just sit down and watch. And that's just what I did. And guess what? I loved it. F*cking loved it. Thought it was a great season, and a great finale. Really pleased. Really, truly satisfied. I thought they did a great job, I thought that everything was done justice, and I felt truly content to say goodbye to this mighty show with a sense of fulfillment and gratitude. They did it. Huzzah.
So, after watching the finale, I I jumped online to see the buzz. I figured there would be some pretty cool stuff. Usually is. And what do you suppose I found? Well, if you're interested enough in Thrones to be reading this, then you already know. I mean, how couldn't you? I found that the world was enraged like nothing I've ever seen. The internet was a seething, boiling mass of burning hatred. I couldn't believe my eyes. It really would be completely accurate to say that my face looked like Tyrion's when Danny set to burning down King's Landing. Not only did fans seem to hate the finale, they hated the entire season. I combed through videos and comments in stunned, quiet disbelief for some time. I just didn't understand it. It wasn't just controversial, or mixed feelings. Good god, you could say that The Last Jedi was met with "mixed feelings" compared to this. It really isn't an exaggeration to say that 90-95% of what I was seeing was the feeling that the entire last season, and the finale in particular, was the worst, most vile, most putrid, grotesque, insulting, rotting piece of vomited sh*t ever conceived by humankind. Over and over and over again, video after video, comment after comment: "Worst insult to the fans and actors alike," "biggest disappointment of all time," "complete train wreck," "completely ruined," "garbage," "literal sh*t bubbling out of a buffalo's craphole," "worst writers to ever live," "...reeling from disastrous finale," "ended like a wet fart." Just like that, on, and on, and on, and on...
The experience of seeing this hatred was so surreal to me that I had to check to see if Trump was still president, or if that had in fact been a crazy nightmare as well. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone, as if I had woken up in some alternate dimension where nothing makes sense, where up is down and black is white--the backwards bizarro world.
At first, I tended to assume that most of the rage was just some initial frustration people had at not getting their desired ending. Y'know, "my favorite character didn't get the throne, so now I'm pissed." That kind of thing. But the hatred went far beyond mere trashing and petty insults. Endless comments said things to the effect of, "season 8 contained some of the worst plotlines and stupidest dialogue ever put on screen. Worst ending in the history of cinema." Really? Really? Okay, I get that you're angry. I still don't really understand why, but I understand that you're angry. But can we perhaps admit that this is a little bit of an exaggeration? If Thrones S8 is really the worst thing ever put on screen, then where is there left to go? I saw one comment that said that the Thrones finale was worse than that of Lost. So, I guess we've entered a parallel universe where words have no meaning, then? I realize these are all just opinions, and at the peril of simply sounding hypocritical, I'd like to submit that if we're really going to pretend that the Lost finale was better than Thrones, then we have truly forfeited all semblance of rationality. I mean, Lost created dozens upon dozens of crazy mysteries, all vanishing without the slightest trace of explanation, all completely meaningless, zero payoff for anything. The main character died for no reason, for Celestia's sake! Not only was his death meaningless, it wasn't even physically warranted! He wasn't even mortally wounded. He just laid down, smiled, and died. That's bad writing. The writers themselves admitted that they made everything up as they went with no plan whatsoever, no way to tie anything together. Thrones, on the other hand, had lots of payoff. Maybe some of you will huff and roll your eyes at me, but perhaps you've forgotten what a no-payoff show like Lost was really like. If this was Lost, we never would have seen the Night King once in S8, the Clegane bowl never would have happened, they never would have picked a new king at all, and Jon would have laid down next to Danny and died for no particular reason simply because he'd lost the will to live.
But I digress. Utterly dismayed, I decided to hear the haters out and give them a fair chance to explain their side. I picked three different critique/analysis videos and watched them all the way through. I chose a ten minute, fifteen minute, and twenty minute video to get a fair variety. After listening to the arguments... honestly, I still don't really get it. One reviewer's arguments consisted of little more than "it sucked because it's sh*t," but others tried to be fair and give objective criticism. I still don't really get it. Okay, there are definitely some criticisms that I understand. It was a bummer that it was only six episodes. Some things were a bit rushed because of that. Sure. That's absolutely true. Not disputing that. It could have used a little more here, and a little more there. But that doesn't mean that it's stinking sh*t! My one and only real criticism, and the only frustration I can really understand, was that the Night King's arc ending very abruptly. The Long Night was still a great episode that delivered much of what I wanted, but I was a bit disappointed that it was over in only one episode. I was hoping that the Night King's defeat would be a little more difficult, and that it would require at least one more episode (which would have demanded at least seven in the season.) It was still good; I just wanted a little more. For seven seasons of buildup, it was over too fast. But again, that doesn't mean that we got zero payoff, and that it was pure garbage. Can we tone down the hyperbole?
I will also concede that the quality of the show probably did dip a little after they ran out of books. Sure, I'll admit that. And if I had to pick a worst season, it probably would be 8, actually. Again, that doesn't mean it sucked, but just that if I have to pick a least favorite, that would be it. I mean, I'd say that the previous seasons were an A+++, and season 8 was only an A+, you know?
I just don't get it. I really don't. And I find myself wondering if this blog entry will incur more wrath than any other I've written. It seems that folks are more divided and angry over Thrones than they are over religion, abortion, immigration, guns, and Trump. Fictional stories certainly have a way of invoking deep passions, that's for sure. Incidentally, at the moment when Tyrion said that stories are the most powerful thing in the world to unite people, I think I heard Jordan Peterson have an orgasm. Heh... that's for a real niche audience. There might only people five or six people in the world that will get that joke, but trust me, it's funny. :/ Anyway, I wonder if people will hate on me for defending the show, and insult me for having the audacity to actually suggest that the writing wasn't absolute sh*t.
But y'know, it's all just opinions. I passionately hate things that the majority seems to love, and that tends to happen quite frequently in fact. But in my view, the thing that is really unjustifiable and inexcusable are the insults to other fans. I can't count how many comments I read saying, "If you actually thought that the Thrones finale was a decent ending, then you aren't a real fan," or "you don't understand or appreciate the source material." Not cool, dude. It's not for you to judge how much of a fan someone else is, or how important the show (or the books) are to them. Your opinions are your own, but don't shove thoughts into other peoples' heads. This whole blog entry might sound hypocritical, because anyone who's been paying attention knows that I have been routinely frustrated by major Pony story arc developments, and I criticize the show heavily and get pretty whipped up about it. But the one thing I never do is insult others for liking it, or imply that they aren't real fans, or that they're stupid for having a different opinion. I don't recall ever doing that, at any rate, but if I ever slipped up and did, then I apologize, because I never want to make anyone else feel bad for having a different opinion.
I feel like I must be crazy, like I'm the one who's missing something. I began wondering if there was more to this than meets the eye. I believe there might be some deeper, underlying nature of humanity at work here. It seems to me that almost anything that comes along that's as good as Thrones will be hated by the end. I have a theory about that--one word: weltschmerz. It's a German term with no exact English translation. I've seen a couple of interpretations. One is the depression felt when comparing the world as it is to a hypothetical, idealized world. Another interpretation is the feeling experienced by someone who believes that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind (which, incidentally is the antithesis of mindfulness, meditation, and other traditionally eastern wisdom). I have been plagued by weltschmerz daily for my entire life. Story of my life. The point is that both interpretations speak to a feeling of never being satisfied by reality, and always comparing it to something better in your mind. I believe that people do this with fiction that they become sufficiently invested in. The first couple of seasons of a show like Thrones will be beloved to such a ridiculous degree that nothing can live up to what it is in peoples' minds. They go into it with little to no expectations, they're blown away, they become invested, they become attached, they become passionate, they fall in love with characters, they develop theories and headcanons, and what slowly develops is a reality that will never be as good as it is in one's imagination. I think that's exactly what happened to me with Pony, so I think there may be something to that. With Pony, I've cared about it in such a way where I get really upset if it doesn't turn out the way I wanted. But with Thrones, I didn't care where we ended up; I just enjoyed being on the ride. Maybe that's why I didn't have any problem with the ending.
At the end of the day, I find this all to be so sad and tragic. Watching Thrones was some of the most fun experiences of my life, and I always imagined that it would forever be held up on a pedestal as the prime example of a perfect work of art that never went downhill, and maintained quality right through to the end. There are so few examples of fictional works for which that can be said, and I always thought Thrones would go down in history as one of them. I really did. It still is that way, in my mind. But alas, apparently it will go down in history and forever be remembered as the most catastrophic piece of trash in the history of cinema. And that... is a real... shame.
Incidentally, just so that everyone is well aware, the worst ending in the history of fiction is The Balanced Sword book series by Ryk Spoor. Just want to be clear on that. If you wanna know what stupid writing and zero payoff is like, there ya go, bruh.