Monday, July 08, 2019

"Game of Thrones": two-paragraph series review

You know, I thought I was going to write a massive post about "Game of Thrones," but after having watched literally hours of YouTube commentary on the matter, I've come to realize that I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said about a series that, for at least four seasons, seemed to show such promise, only to screw the pooch in the latter half of its run. Season 8, in particular, is a golden example of the power of lazy writing to make or break a series. As I've written before, a performance's most memorable moments also tend to be its final moments, so if the performers fail to stick the landing, this failure works retroactively to put the entire performance, from auspicious beginning to ignoble end, in a bad light. A cellist who breaks a string during the final measure of his piece will be remembered only for that, and not for the beauty that came before. Sad but true, for such is human nature. If you fail to stick the landing, you're fucked. And "Game of Thrones" snapped both tibiae and both fibulae.

I come away from the horror of Season 8 thinking only one thing: I never again want to hear the phrase "subvert expectations." Defenders and accusers of showrunners/writers David Benioff and DB Weiss both used that odious phrase when describing what the writers were trying to do, to wit: give us a show that subverted our expectations, keeping things shocking and unpredictable even if that meant sacrificing plot and character development. We've heard this garbage before: people were talking about it when "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" came out as a way of explaining what director Rian Johnson was aiming for as he casually deconstructed George Lucas's universe. The phrase (and the mentality it describes) wasn't pleasant then, and it isn't pleasant now. How about telling a decent, logical story instead of constantly trying to outflank your viewers? Season 8, whose lack of care resulted in Starbucks cups on trestle tables and plastic water bottles poorly hidden behind a leg of Samwell Tarly's chair in the final episode, is the huge, steaming turd callously dropped on the collective head of "Game of Thrones" fans who had hoped for—and who deserved—so much better.

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