Game of Thrones is an adaptation of the epic dark fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire from writer George R.R. Martin and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The series airs exclusively on HBO and stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie, Isaac Hempstead Wright and so many, many more. Here is my review of Season 8.
Game of Thrones became the most divisive and talked about TV show in history this year with an explosive and shocking final season that wrapped up the most epic fantasy saga since Lord of The Rings. The eighth season was also the shortest yet with only six episodes that saw HBO’s greatest series come to an end in stunning fashion. After season seven ended with the dreaded Night King zombifing a dragon and using it to blow a hole in the giant-ass ice wall, he’s moved his undead army into Westeros to slaughter every living creature which puts Winterfell in his line of sight.
As the eighth season kicks off, we have two warm-up episodes before the third and most shocking 80 minutes in Thrones history decimates audiences with the most spectacular battle in the history of film. Yes – I said it. This fight was better than anything else I’d seen before it, just barely edging out the infamous Battle of The Bastards from season six. Director Miguel Sapochnik returned from his iconic and similarly themed fifth season episode ‘Hardhome’ to film this impossible mini-movie and he delivered one of the finest efforts ever put to film. Although some people complained that the battle was “too dark” because it was “set in the dark….” — I don’t understand the criticism aside from maybe wondering why these people’s TV’s aren’t working correctly… Or their eyes… Or brains… Could be a few things, with a healthy dose of unfulfilled expectations syndrome. Everything from the initial wave of the undead crashing into Winterfell’s forces, to the jaw-dropping conclusion which had me literally yelling “F*** YEAH!” a few too many times — ‘The Long Night’, aka episode 3 is officially my favorite chapter in the Game of Thrones saga. Ramin Djawadi’s score is absolutely masterful throughout but in episode 3 he was out there changin’ lives man. Unreal.
The final season was originally intended to be two three+ hour movies and you can really get that sense of the flow since 1-3 is its own thing with build-up an an insane payoff, with the same vibe to 4-6. The only criticism I’ll echo with the legions of loudmouthed idiots online who say that Benioff and Weiss ruined the show this season, is that everything felt a tad-rushed. Well — it was. We went from having 10 episodes a season to only 7 and 6 for the final two, so you’re going to notice an accelerated story but even with that problem, these two guys did an admirable job wrapping up the most complex character ensemble since The Wire. I would also like to point out that the series finale felt very similar to that fellow HBO series as well — without spoiling anything, just know that’s a strong compliment. I honestly had zero problems with the faster pace because there were times during seasons 2 and 5 where it dragged on a little too much. I don’t need to see people talking on horses for 3 episodes to travel to the next town…. We all know who these characters are by now, so watching them come together is all the development I need to help propel the story.
As a fan of the novels, including all of George R.R. Martin’s companion material – you name it, I’ve read it or played it – I can honestly say that every single supporting character has their chance to shine during these final episodes. Many of the sendoffs may feel ‘safe’ in some instances during the series finale, but that’s by design and honestly – who doesn’t want to see some of their favorites ride off into the sunset unscathed? It certainly doesn’t happen for everyone as season 8 has the highest death-count of any TV run that I can recall. The Red Wedding ain’t got nuthin’ on Season 8 my friends – these episodes take no prisoners, literally in some cases. That fifth episode guys? That was some metal AF brutal heart-wrenching shit. I loved it.
In terms of the acting, Peter Dinklage and Maisie Williams are the standouts this season and I would be shocked if Dinklage doesn’t scoop up another Emmy for his series-best performance. Some people may be put off once again by Isaac Hempstead Wright’s glossy-eyed Bran staring at them from the corner of every room, but when you think about what he’s become now — he’s barely human at this point, instead a vessel for something far more important. In other words – his weirdness is for good reason and if you’re a Bran hater you’re going to have some major issues with this final season because he’s a huge part of it. People forget that this is the series that began with his character being shoved out a freaking window. Speaking of which, the callbacks to the early days in this season were brilliant. From the first shot of season 1 episode 1 to the final moments of the series finale, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss bookended this show almost as perfectly as say Toy Story 3 (Yes I put a Pixar reference in a Game of Thrones review).
The budget was ramped up considerably which is shocking when you remember back to season 7 with all those insane dragon scenes… Those were NOTHING compared to the amount of dragon action in season 8. You WILL see dragons fighting in mid-air, setting fire to thousands and thousands of people – Hell you’ll even see a dragon-riding sequence that reminded me of How to Train Your Dragon (yes I’m putting a Dreamworks reference in here too A-Holes). Game of Thrones puts shame to major motion pictures and delivers movie-quality special effects and action in ways that no other TV series before it has ever been able to do. This isn’t just the best season to date, it’s the final stamp on Thrones’ ‘GREATEST OF ALL TIME’ card. This is truly the most groundbreaking and remarkable TV series ever made. Breaking Bad may have had a slightly more satisfying series finale (so it still holds that title), but damn did they ever get close here and overall, you just can’t deny this show’s claim to the TV throne overall.
Bonus rant: To everyone who took the time to fill out petitions online to try and force HBO to remake this final season because they didn’t agree with the plot developments, or to the fools who stopped watching the show in order to upload pictures of water bottles and coffee cups accidentally left in scenes rather than just enjoying the episode? You’re not real fans, you are toxic trolls watching this series like entitled brats who aren’t creative enough to understand what this series was aiming for.
Shut up, it was perfect. #GameofThrones
— Pedro Pascal (@PedroPascal1) May 20, 2019
You’re all sad, confused and ignorant morons. I feel sorry for you all. While you were out on Twitter making fun of the series, I was relishing in the glory of the world’s greatest show coming to a close. You all squandered your chance to sit back, curb your own personal expectations and enjoy the best TV show of all time.