Game of Thrones: A Final Perspective

***WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASONS 1-8 OF GAME OF THRONES AND THE ASOIAF BOOKS!***

I’ve defended some of Game of Thrones‘s more questionable or controversial decisions, or, at the very least, accepted them, even if I didn’t always understand them. Literature and television are different mediums, and translating one to the other is not always seamless. I appreciate the hard work that everyone – cast, crew, producers, everyone involved in the making of this series – put forth into turning a beloved book series into an epic genre-bending show that drew in millions of fans across the world. It built an enduring legacy, and has deserved the huge amount of awards and recognition it has earned across its run. This is obviously a show made with a huge amount of dedication and passion, and people have watched it so closely and loved it so dearly because of that.

That brings us to Season 8, which recently finished airing after a year and a half hiatus after season 7. The final season, where viewers learned the fates of their favorite characters and the identity of who would reign over Westeros from the fearsome Iron Throne. But now that it is over, and the dust has settled, there has been a massive amount of backlash from fans and critics. For the first time in the series, I agree with a large portion of it.

Do I think the ending sucked? No. But I was left wanting.

I’m not opposed to Daenerys as the “Mad Queen,” and the ultimate “villain” of the show. I’m not opposed to Jaime turning back to Cersei. I’m not opposed to Bran being elected king, and I’m not opposed to Sansa being made Queen in the North. In fact, I have very little issue with what was done this past season on Game of Thrones… my issues lie in how they happened. The root of that is in the pacing. And the writing.

Game of Thrones used to shine because of it’s subtle scenes – conversations between characters which may seem trivial at first, but convey motivation, emotion, and shed light on other plot points and decisions in a meaningful and often masterful way. Of course, much of this can be chalked up to the source material, the ASoIaF books by George R. R. Martin, but some – such as the conversation between Robert and Cersei in season 1, where the pair discuss their marriage – are a show-only invention. Those scenes – introspective scenes, scenes were characters let down their barriers, where we can really get into their thoughts and feelings and see into their development, have always been more vital to the show than cool battles and brilliant effects. Yes, those scenes are excellent too – the battle at the Blackwater and Battle of the Bastards are some of the most visually striking and powerful battle scenes ever seen on television. But scenes like Ygritte’s death carry more emotional weight because we saw the full development of her relationship with Jon, and we knew how she felt being betrayed by him, and how he felt knowing he would have to betray her. Scenes like the revelation of Jon’s parentage through Bran’s vision of Jon’s birth tugged at the viewer’s hearts because we knew how Jon felt about being a bastard, and we simultaneously come to realize how much Ned loved Lyanna – and Jon – to keep that secret for so long. The Red Wedding was shocking, but even that has a ton of build up, with Robb making error after error, paying the ultimate price to learn that love cannot always overcome oath breaking and losing the loyalty of your followers and that inexperience can be a fatal flaw. Cersei blowing up the Sept of Baelor has an incredible amount of multi-season build-up, with Cersei’s desperation and paranoia over Margaery and the High Sparrow culminating in one final explosive act, pushing her beyond redemption and causing her to lose her last beloved child.

I can think of several more examples from the earlier seasons, but overall, the small, intimate scenes are vital to the show’s success because they lead to larger scenes – such as those big battles or dramatic climaxes – having a more significant impact. Huge events often have a series of little events  building toward them at a balanced pace. And what season 8 (and 7, for that matter) lacks is those small moments. The result is rushed conclusions that bear less emotional weight, and payoff that feels both disappointing and underwhelming. Game of Thrones has always been so much more than dragons, occasionally gratuitous nudity, and grueling battles. It’s been about political sabotage, intricate human relationships, racism, the fallout of war, religion, and a multitude of other issues and subjects. But the final season feels superficial, falling short of she standards set by the GoT of seasons 1-4… even 1-6. 

In season 8, Jon – a man who has believed his whole life that he is a motherless bastard – learns that he is a Targaryen. Not only that, but he is the true, legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. In the same moment, he discovers his lover is also his aunt. And yet, other than a few shocked looks and some brooding expressions… do viewers really know how Jon feels about this bombshell? Sure, he continues to swear himself to Daenerys (though he discontinues their romance), and denies wanting the throne… but we never get into his head or dig into his emotions over the ordeal. How does he feel about Ned really being his uncle? How does he feel knowing that his true father is Rhaegar Targaryen and his history is linked to Robert’s Rebellion overall? What does he think of Lyanna? How does he feel about being related to Maester Aemon, who he so admired at the Wall? Just how devastated is he to lose his relationship with Daenerys? He went from thinking he was a lowly bastard to discovering he is basically the center of intense conflict, and the product of two noble houses. We never get immersed in his emotions the same way we have in previous seasons, and so, his character development over the season feels stunted. It made him seem like a distant shadow of himself – a ghost, if you will.

Cersei did nothing this season but lament the lack of elephants, sleep with Euron, and stare out of windows… oh, and die. We never get tapped into her thoughts or emotions at all. Lena Headey does a brilliant job with what she was given, but there is so little reflection on Cersei’s character it comes across that the show didn’t know what to do with her, and her death is lackluster. Viewers expected her to die this season, but when the fateful moment comes, there is nothing surprising, nothing to make the viewer feel for her, nothing to signify or emphasize Cersei’s arc across the seasons. It’s like she only existed in season 8 to be taken down, and that is a poor tribute to Cersei’s character, who fans have loved to hate since season 1. She peaked in season 6, when she blew up the Sept.

Daenerys’s descent into madness, her almost fated Targaryen fall from grace into paranoia, took place in basically half an episode. Sure, there are hints of it in previous episodes and seasons – her initial instincts toward violence only being curbed by her advisers, her family words and legacy being “Fire and Blood,” the losses of her closest allies and friends and her steadfast belief in her destiny as a “liberator” pushing her to the brink. It’s not as though there is no build up at all. It makes total narrative sense for her character to take the turn she does in “The Bells,” and I personally love the idea of Daenerys becoming the conqueror she used to imagine eradicating. But because the pace over the last two seasons basically warped into hyper-drive, the change in her character feels far too abrupt, even if the seeds had already been planted long before. I suspected it might happen, and yet, seeing it unfurl in a blaze of death and ashes felt far too sudden. And honestly, Daenerys (and Emilia Clarke’s portrayal) deserved better, and the backlash is completely justified. The twist lacks the depth of previous seasons – it’s a detonation instead of a slow burn. Audiences – especially those who do not delve quite as deeply into the theories and book lore – felt like they had the rug ripped out from beneath them.

Even more egregious (to me, anyway) is Jaime Lannister’s return to his sister and lover, Cersei. Again, it’s not totally unbelievable that this would happen… but Jaime has had seven seasons of redemption, of trying to shed the “Kingslayer” moniker and prove himself as a man of honor. He finally turns on Cersei “for good” in the season seven finale, to fight for the living and go north. But when that fight is done, he sleeps with Brienne, then leaves her once he hears that Cersei is in danger… all in a single episode. And then, in the next episode, he meets his fate first at the sword of Euron of all people (which… I’m not even going to go there) then dies embracing Cersei as the ceiling caves in around them. So, what do viewers take from that? That seven seasons of building up one of the most intriguing characters, with an arc that explored the roots of his actions and his struggles with how people perceive him and how he hoped to leave the shadow of his tainted legacy behind, meant nothing? Again, narratively, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Jaime would do this – but seeing his turn in character take less than one episode is so sudden, so abrupt, it fell completely flat and carried no emotional weight whatsoever. Jaime was one of my favorite characters, and I didn’t even care when he died. Sure he died in the arms of the woman he loved, as he said he wanted to. He and Cersei left the world as they came into it; together. The seeds were planted for his decision, but were given no time to flourish, and the presentation of it was way too rushed, which made his fate feel anticlimactic.

I could go on. For example, there’s no way the other six kingdoms would be totally fine with the North remaining independent, and many of the other Highborn lords likely wouldn’t approve unanimously of Bran being king, either. Is there still a need for the Night’s Watch, if the White Walkers are gone and the freefolk are content beyond the remains of the Wall? How could Icy Viserion take down the Wall but not that rock that Jon was hiding behind? How could Drogon single-wingedly take out Cersei’s forces, including the Iron fleet and the Golden Company, when one episode before, he had to flee a portion of Euron’s ships to avoid being killed? What was the Night King really after? Did the Night King ever really matter beyond being a little speedbump if he and his forces were defeated in a single episode, and the rest of the Realm never knew the true danger they were in? Where the fuck is Meera? Who gets Dragonstone? Why does it matter if Jon goes to the Wall if Grey Worm and the remainder of Dany’s forces are leaving, anyway? You might think these are trivial questions, and maybe that’s true… but they are questions that the show would have answered in previous seasons. Instead, the final two seasons were a race to the finish with no time to dwell on emotion or development, when the show used to truly thrive when it did take time to dwell on those things.

Of course, I assume many of these endings and storylines will unfold differently in the books. There are more characters and situations involved in GRRM’s story than the show was able to portray without alienating the casual viewers, such as the fAegon arc, Victarion’s plot, and the schemes of Doran and the Sand Snakes. And if some of these points raised in the GoT finale remain in the intended book ending – such as Daenerys torching King’s Landing – I believe they will have much more development, and won’t feel unwarranted or unjustified. Readers will see character growth and motivation more clearly. I’m only sad that the version we got on the show lacked the intricacy of the previous seasons and the books, the little moments that made Game of Thrones so powerful and made the characters easier to connect with.

If fans out there loved the final season, then that’s great – and I hope that many folks did love the finale. There are parts of season 8 that I thought were amazing – Cleganebowl was excellent, and Drogon nudging at Daenerys after she was stabbed broke my heart. I will still watch the entire series over and over again, and there are so many elements that I have admired consistently over the years. I went to the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience back in 2017. I have a lot of merch, and will continue to wear my GoT shirts and such with pride. I don’t hate the show just because I found fault with the finale, and I don’t think those faults negate the incredible impact that GoT has had on the fantasy world. I just wish we had been given two full seasons to close it out – a little more time, and a little more depth, would have gone a long way.

Game of Thrones Season Eight Predictions

Finally, winter is upon us… this Sunday, HBO’s epic fantasy Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season. And, to celebrate what is sure to be a dramatic conclusion, I thought I’d share eight predictions for the upcoming season!


1.) Dany will be, or already is, pregnant and will bear Jon’s child. They mentioned her inability to have children last season far too much, as though they really wanted to remind the audience of her alleged infertility. Though the idea of the Targaryen cycle of incest continuing on any longer – even though they are unaware of it at this point – is a bit questionable.

2.) Gendry will be legitimized, inherit Storm’s End, and marry Sansa. I waver on the idea of “Gendrya,” and see him instead making a match for Sansa, who is in need of someone who won’t be cruel to her and will see her as a partner. However, if he does marry Sansa, I think that would be a show-only thing, as I doubt that will be the outcome for her in the books.

3.) Either Jon or Dany will die, but not both. Probably.

4.) Bronn will finally get his castle – and I think it will be Walder Frey’s old domain, The Twins. Bronn’s been through a lot trailing Tyrion and Jaimie around, and I think he’ll make it through whatever comes next. Plus, I so hope he teams up with the Hound, Beric, and Tormund somehow.

5.) Tyrion will betray Dany. I don’t know how he will do it or what the long-lasting implications will be, but he wasn’t fully on board with much of Daenerys’ strategies last season (frying the Tarlys, flying beyond the wall, and hookin’ up with Jon), and I see his faith in her waning. Will he turn to Cersei because of it? Maybe. I hope not, but I don’t think he’s happy with his position right now, and see him seeking to change it.

6.) Cleganebowl will happen but it won’t be as satisfying as years of hype has built it up to be.

7.) Arya will kill Melisandre. They are meant to meet again, after all, according to Melisandre’s statement in season 3 – and it hasn’t happened yet. Plus, she’s on Arya’s list.

8.) And – just for the heck of it – Cersei and Jaime are secret Targaryens. I don’t necessarily think this is true (though I do think it is more likely than Tyrion being one) but if it is, I want to be able to say I called it.


Whatever is to come in the final season, I cannot wait to see it unfold onscreen!

Game of Thrones Season 7 Highs and Lows

WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for all 7 seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones, all 5 ASoIaF books, and other related material/speculation.

Game of Thrones season 7 has been a mixed bag, and it will likely take more than one watch-through to really let the events and revelations sink in. But now that the first flakes of winter have begun to fall on King’s Landing and the Wall has crumbled against the forces of the dead, I’ve got some thoughts on the “highs and lows” of the penultimate season of HBO’s most popular show.

promo327713341.jpgThe show has been remarkably consistent in its strengths over the years, and one of those “highs” is the acting. The show features a stellar cast across the board. Though we’ve lost so many memorable characters over the years, through tragedy and vengeance alike, the ones who remain have demonstrated vast range and incredible ability, and have engaged viewers across their arcs, drawing them into the individual character stories. As a viewer, I might not like every character, but I cannot deny that every member of the main/supporting cast has done a brilliant job of bringing their characters to life. Some particularly notable moments from this season include:

*Cersei (Lena Headey) and Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) confrontation/reunion in episode 7.
*Ellaria Sand’s (Indira Varma) final scene with Cersei and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) in episode 3.
* Olenna Tyrell’s (Diana Rigg) last moments in episode 3 (Slay, Queen of Thorns, slay!).
*Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)… pretty much all season, but especially in his final moment with Cersei in Episode 7 and the battle/his charging at Dany/Drogon in episode 4.
*Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) losing Viserion and nearly losing Jon in episode 6, and returning home in episode 1.
*Euron’s (Pilou Asbaek) dramatic entrance via Silence in episode 2.
*Sansa (Sophie Turner) adjusting to her title as Lady of Winterfell and handling the stresses of delivering justice over the course of the season.
*Samwell (John Bradley West) struggling with his position at the citadel and ultimately deciding to leave in Episode 5.
*Davos (Liam Cunningham) pretty much whenever he’s onscreen. Same for Jorah (Iain Glen).
*Littlefinger’s (Aiden Gillen) death. Seeing him beg for mercy was so surreal.
*Arya’s (Maisie Williams) reunions with Sansa, Hot Pie, and Nymeria.
*Meera’s (Ellie Kendrick) goodbye with Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright).
*The Hound (Rory McCann) in his “Gravedigger” moment in episode 1, as well as his interactions with Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and the Brotherhood in episode 6.
*Theon (Alfie Allen) succumbing to “Reek” in episode 2, then rising from the ashes in episode 7.
*Jon (Kit Harington) in episodes 6 and 7, but also his meeting with Dany in episode 3.

Honestly, there are several more standout moments that could be included in this list, but these are the first few that come to mind. The combination of chemistry and strong character arcs over the course of the series has really made fans grow attached to these characters and their relationships, and become invested in where their stories are going, which ultimately makes the audience fearful, yet excited, for the end.

I think a prime example of the complex characterizations is episode 4, “The Spoils of War,” which features the dramatic showdown between the Dothraki and Daenerys on Drogon and the Lannister Army. Watching that scene, with the Dothraki horde cresting over the hill and the Lannister soldiers literally shivering in fear at their approach, I couldn’t decide how I wanted it to end. I was cheering when Drogon dropped through the clouds, but cringing as he incinerated an entire line of soldiers with his flames. You don’t want Dany to die, you don’t want Jaime to die, you don’t want Tyrion to die, you don’t want Bronn to die, you don’t want Drogon to die. Watching these characters face one another on the battlefield is mesmerizing and presents a genuine conflict, because as a viewer, I had no idea what I wanted the outcome to be, and that is the type of complexity GoT is known for, and part of what makes it so great.

The production for this season has also been top-notch, as usual. The effects (especially in “The Spoils of War,” “Beyond The Wall,” and “The Dragon and the Wolf”) are amazing. The costumes are excellent, with embellishments and little touches here and there that actually seem to give clues to character traits and upcoming events. It’s been cool to see fur and more black emerge as the newest fashion staples, but the real style winner of the season is Daenerys’s coat in episode 6. I am predicting an Emmy in 2018; mark my words. The new locations were great, as were the old. I also think this might be the season with the best music; I both eagerly anticipate and lament the approach of season 8 for many reasons, but one of the main ones is that we have only one more season of Ramin Djawadi’s soaring score to look forward to.

Although this season has less – ahem, I mean fewer –  episodes, it has delivered a ton of memorable scenes and moments, and no episode lacks for exciting content. It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite, and I likely won’t be able to make a definitive conclusion until I revisit them, but after first viewing, I think “The Spoils of War” might take the cake. However, “The Dragon and the Wolf” is a strong contender, as well. The “Aegon Targaryen” reveal was quite a stunner, and the Dragon Pit meeting, with so many characters all in one place, was exciting to see unfold.

We’ve also had some spectacular returns and reunions this season, and of them all, I was most pleased to see Gendry (Joe Dempsie) again. Fans (and Davos, apparently) feared that he might still be rowing since his last appearance in season 3, but now he’s back, swinging a hammer just like his father, good ol’ Bobby B. I hope to see more of him in season 8, and look forward to his eventual reunion with Arya.

Game of Thrones is a visually stunning, engrossing, genre-bending, and utterly captivating show, and season 7 is no different in that respect. Every episode had me on the edge of my seat, the emotional sequences moved me to tears, or in some cases, enraged me, and the wait for season 8 (a rumored 18 month wait, no less) will be unbearable, though at least we have 7 seasons to re-watch and 7 soundtracks to listen to (and, hopefully soon, a sixth book to read) until then. After watching the Game of Thrones unfold for seven seasons, with players moving and shifting or being axed from the board entirely, it’s hard to believe that The Long Night has come, and out watch is almost over.

BEFORE I GET INTO THE “LOWS” OF THE SEASON, let me just say, I love this show. It will, barring catastrophe, officially be my all-time favorite show come s8 ep6. After watching several “behind the scenes” from this season and previous seasons, I am consistently amazed and awed by how much work and passion goes into the production of this show. That said, though I’m usually pretty quick to defend the showrunners for the liberties they take, season 7, while amazing in so many ways, did strike a couple of off-notes, but for me, that’s like, giving Season 7 an A- rather than an A+, and I can narrow it down to two “lows;” a combo of writing and pacing.

One of the common issues folks seem to have with this season is the pacing, and I must say, I agree. I will give mad props to the show writers/runners (and especially Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington) for making me care about and notice the progression and chemistry of Jon/Dany A.K.A. “Jonerys.” I have my doubts a “happily ever after” is in the future for them, especially when they find out they’re aunt/nephew and with the war for the dawn creeping ever closer, but I guess the incest blow is softened a bit by the fact that they don’t know they’re related, and at least it’s not as squicky as Cersei/Jaime. I wish their romance had a bit more build-up, but for what we got, I was pretty impressed by their interactions and the development of their relationship, in spite of the short time.

Overall, the pacing wouldn’t be an issue if the rest of the series was as fast-paced as this season was, but it isn’t. If this were an earlier season, it would have taken Jon at least 3 episodes, if not more, to get to Dragonstone, or from Dragonstone to the Wall. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for some things, but compared to how things are handled in the earlier seasons, GoT feels like a different show now. The writing is not bad, and I’m not bashing the writers, it’s just now, the writing is different in tone and pace and how characters make decisions. Season 6 faced similar “logic” issues, but the pacing less so, because there was a full 10 episodes.

I’m not saying that I don’t understand why they are doing it this way. I get it. But that doesn’t make it any less jarring as a viewer since it’s unlike the show in its early years, where more time was spent getting the pieces in place and developing relationships and situations for some grander scheme rather than big moves and power plays happening in quick succession, so swift it becomes tough to process. The big moments lose their impact because there is no time to decompress afterward. The show used to dwell; it used to thoroughly explore situations and expand on intrigue, and this season seems like a lot has been glossed over in favor of flash and spectacle. Generally, the changes the show has made don’t bother me a whole lot, because I know the books will be different and I accept that, but this is the first season that I noticed the “streamlining” as a detriment instead of a strength.

Sure, the shortened season may be due to monetary/budget reasons, or it may be due to the fact that they’ve run out of book material, but the difference in writing (especially in the dialogue) and the pace, while not necessarily bad, is noticeable. Conversations that should be happening aren’t; Why hasn’t Jon brought up Maester Aemon to Dany? Why did Jorah not mention Sam to Jon? Why did Gendry not mention Arya to Jon? Why did Brienne and Sandor only discuss Arya, not Sansa? Why did NO ONE address Varys at the Dragon Pit meeting? Where does Euron have Yara? WHY DOES NO ONE MENTION THE FREYS AFTER ARYA KILLED THEM ALL? WHERE IS EDMURE TULLY? IS MEERA GOING TO COME BACK? WILL WE EVER GET TO SEE HOWLAND REED? HOW DID THE UNSULLIED SURVIVE POST-CASTERLY ROCK INCIDENT? The decrease in meaningful conversations is apparent, and it makes some of these “reunions” or decisions feel hollow, and definitely rushed. Which, if the series continues in that direction, season 8 will likely face similar complaints. If they didn’t have enough material for two final 10 episode seasons, we shouldn’t have even MORE questions rising after season 7.

Also, some characters don’t seem to have much to do (Varys, Brienne, Melisandre, even Tyrion) while others have lost a bit of their spark, and with the end looming, I wonder if there will be enough time to really give all of the great characters the amount of screen time they deserve to close out their individual stories. Granted, the books have a lot more characters and scenarios to deal with (and a lot more freedom due to the whole “no budget” factor), and I know that the show and the books are not the same thing any more, but just because the show has scaled things back doesn’t mean they should be skimping on the story or cutting corners. The non-book material they made for seasons 1-4 was pretty seamless, so they are capable of blending their own ideas in with Martin’s tone, and I hope they hit the right notes with season 8 despite the restrictions they face.

Though the distant final season is even shorter (in episodes, maybe not running time) I hope the show is able to steer back to form for the final run, and address the lingering questions. I don’t envy the showrunners/writers, who are adapting a book series that isn’t finished and have run out of actual book material, though I fail to understand why they believe the story could be wrapped up in a convincing and satisfying manner in 13 episodes after season 6. I hope they can end the show with the detail, nuances, and richness the series is known for, rather than a reliance on fan-service. And I have confidence they will.

FINAL RANT: Can I just say, though… people need to stop shitting on Rhaegar because of the wig the actor was wearing. If you’re going to shit on Rhaegar for anything, it should be the fact that he abandoned his first wife and two children (who were later brutally murdered) in favor of running off with a much younger Northern girl, which threw the kingdom into chaos and caused thousands of deaths. Annulling his marriage is a dick move, too, because he essentially discarded and dishonored the innocent Elia Martell and her two children, Rhaenys and Aegon, and then he NAMED HIS CHILD WITH LYANNA “AEGON TARGARYEN,” EVEN THOUGH HE ALREADY HAD A SON NAMED AEGON. Rhaegar is not a hero; he is flawed, and his romance with Lyanna, however genuine it was, should not be idolized. End of story.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10 (It may seem like I have a lot of complaints, but it is still a top-notch quality show!)

Season 7 M.V.Ps
Beric Dondarrion: HE HAS A F*CKING FLAMING SWORD AND UNFAILING COURAGE. The man is my hero. And he has a voice that could soothe even the most ornery of wights.

Drogon: Our baby is all grown up! Torching Lannisters like nobody’s business.

Gilly: Girl delivered the “Prince Ragger” revelation. Gilly dropping the info bombs this season!

Benjen Stark: The man half-lived alone beyond the wall for years, all for the sake of fighting for life. I wish his mini-reunion with Jon had been a bit longer, but he will be missed. I hope “the pup” has found his peace.

Meera Reed: GIRL DESERVED A BETTER SEND-OFF. SHE BETTER BE BACK OR I WILL RIOT.

Samwell Tarly: The man is all of us when he’s talking to Bran in the last episode. Also, it takes great courage to walk away from a lifelong dream, as he did when he left the Citadel. Samwell is a hero.

Ramin Djawadi: Seriously, this man delivers A+ quality music every single season. Even songs that feature the familiar themes get fresh spins and new twists, and songs like “Truth,” are wonderful additions. It’s going to be on repeat for ages!

Season 7 R.I.Ps
Thoros of Myr: All things considered, death by zombie bear is a pretty badass way to go. Also, Paul Kaye nailed the role of our favorite drunken red priest.

Randyll and Dickon Tarly: Randyll was a real dick, but Dickon didn’t deserve his fiery fate. He should have bent the knee, but whatevs.

Viserion: Due to the episode leak, this pivotal moment was spoiled for me thanks to the title of a youtube video, but I still legit got emotional. I mean… no lie, his wight form is BADASS but it was still so sad to see 1/3 of the dragon troupe get iced.

Littlefinger: I hated the smarmy, weasel-like Littlefinger from his first appearances in season 1, but I cannot deny that Aiden Gillen absolutely killed the role. Seeing him break down in front of Sansa and beg for his life was so shocking, because he’d never acted like that before, and I loved it.

The Freys: Good riddance.

The Sand Snakes: Dorne may not have had the best book to screen transition, but I was sad to see them dispatched in such a cruel way.

Benjen Stark: Mentioned above.

Ellaria Sand: She may be gone, but Indira Varma absolutely owned her final scene.

Reek: The “Reek” has been killed, and “Theon” (re)born!

Ghost: He’s not dead, I know. But he endured a “death by budget” this season, and I’m sad we didn’t see him even once.

SEASON 8 PREDICTIONS (CONDENSED VERSION):
*Dany is so going to get pregnant. They’ve discussed her infertility way too much this past season for her not to get pregnant. It’s the Targaryen way, after all. I also think, once Jon and Dany find out they’re related, Jon’s ensuing identity crisis will drive them apart (if not permanently, it will at least cause some friction) but the whole “being related” issue will be more pertinent for Jon, while Dany would be more bothered by the issue of inheritance, since Jon technically ranks above her now. But it’s also an issue that will probably be resolved fairly quickly, because of the limited amount of episodes.
*I think there’s a good chance that both Jon and Dany will die, but if it’s just one, I think it will be Dany.
*I also think Gendry will be legitimized, will inherit Storm’s End, and (CALL ME CRAZY) if romance is in his future, I think he is more likely to end up with Sansa than he is with Arya. Arya is so different now I can’t imagine her settling down.
*Cersei will not have her child, and will die by season’s end. It will either be via Jaime, or Arya; not sure which, but I’m leaning toward Arya at this point, even though I’d rather it be Jaime.
*Cleganebowl will happen.
*Bran does have something to do with the Night King. I don’t know what, but they are definitely connected.
*The Iron Throne, as a concept, is done for.

 

Shameless plug: My book tour for my YA novel, I’m With You, is still ongoing! Check it out here: LINK! Plus, the ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) on Amazon Amazon UK. 

The Ever-Shifting Hate-O-Meter: Game of Thrones

WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for all 7 seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones, all 5 ASoIaF books, and other related material/speculation.

Game of Thrones features a lot of ambiguous “gray” characters, which makes it difficult to love them or hate them. Some of these also apply to the books; some either don’t apply, haven’t yet, or never will. So for this post, I decided I’d share my “Hate-O-Meter” readings for a few of these characters and how my observations shifted or changed their positions on the meter over their appearances. Here we go!

1.) Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Seasons 1-4, 6-ongoing)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 6
Hate-O-Meter Middle: 3
Current Hate-O-Meter: 1
I was not a big Hound fan in the early seasons; his crass nature really grated on me, and though some early moments – saving Sansa from the riot, saving Loras from his bro, his vulnerability around fire – helped to lift him into likability/sympathy status, a lot of his early “softer moments” are spoiled by something crude he does or says right after. But starting in season 3 and continuing up until his “death” in season 4, the Hound became one of my all-time favorites. His journey with Arya is one of the best relationships in the series, as they both go through a significant character shift as they learn from one another and come together as an (admittedly dysfunctional) “team” of sorts, and, as I mentioned in a previous post, his “death” after his feud with Brienne in season 4’s “The Children” made me cry, I was so moved by Rory McCann’s performance. The Hound’s overall character arc, which picks up again in season 6 and into season 7, has made him drop down to the middle of the Hate-O-Meter, and then to the bottom. He hasn’t lost much of his initial crassness and has kept the coarse language, but now, he’s also garnered a greater sense of humanity and a desire to “defend.” He’s no longer as much of a cynical killer with no remorse, but someone who is seeking a greater purpose from his life. Plus, he consistently has some of the BEST one-liners and insults in the series.

2.) Jaime Lannister (Seasons 1-ongoing)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 8
Hate-O-Meter Middle: 2
Current Hate-O-Meter: 3.5
If he could just snake his way out of Cersei’s clutches, he’d be as gold as his hand! I hated Jaime in the first couple of seasons; he attempts to kill Bran/cripples him, he kills Jory, he stabs Ned in the leg, and generally, he’s a total asshole to everyone except sister/lover Cersei and his family. But starting in Season 3, when Jaime is set free by Catelyn and travels with Brienne, my hatred for him began to wane, especially when he saved Brienne from being raped (and lost his sword hand as a result) and went on to reveal his inner-turmoil over being named “Kingslayer” and the continuing damage it has done to his sense of honor and duty and the perception of him across the realm. From there, I actually wanted to root for Jaime, as his character showed signs of redemption and remorse for his past, and a willingness to change and reform moving forward… until he got back to King’s Landing and reunited with Cersei. In season 4 it wasn’t so bad, but since then, he’s started on the downward slope again. Jaime’s love for Cersei has been his character’s downfall, and seeing him continue to dedicate himself to her despite the fact that she LITERALLY BLEW PEOPLE UP, WHICH IS WHAT HE STOPPED MAD KING AERYS FROM DOING has made me start to dislike him again. I understand his motivations, and it’s clear that he’s at least a bit conflicted about Cersei’s actions, but it almost feels as though all of his character progression has stalled, or even slipped backwards. I still have hope, however, that he will turn it around and break free from Cersei by the end of this season, or early in the next.

3.) Shae (Seasons 1-4)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 5
Hate-O-Meter Mid: 3
Hate-O-Meter End: 8
I was never a big fan of Shae, but I didn’t hate her in the beginning. During her first appearances I found her irritating, but when Tyrion made her Sansa’s handmaiden she actually grew on me a little. To me, it came across that she genuinely cared for Sansa and her well-being, especially in season 2, when she tries to help Sansa hide the evidence of her flowering, when she aims to protect Sansa during the Battle of Blackwater, and in season 3, when she tries to encourage Sansa to eat after the news of the Red Wedding. Shae also warns Sansa about Littlefinger’s intentions and, even after learning that Tyrion and Sansa are to be (forcibly) wed, she is conflicted, but still cares for them both. However, her redeeming qualities are all tossed aside when the scorned Shae, furious at Tyrion’s rejection, testifies against him (and implicates Sansa) at his trial for Joffrey’s murder, then, just to rub more salt in the wound, she sleeps with his father, Tywin. I understood why she did it, since she felt like she had been carelessly discarded by the man she loved, but while that’s a paltry justification, that’s the only reason she’s at an 8 instead of a 10.

4.) Stannis Baratheon (Seasons 2-5)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 3
Hate-O-Meter End: 10
As far as the books go, I’ve always had an appreciation for Stannis “The Mannis” Baratheon, and that feeling more or less carried over to the TV series… up until season 5, with a few questionable points in between. At the start, I had admiration for his ironclad resolve and his leadership ability, as well as his general sense of justice, but his reliance on Melisandre, the murder of Renly, and his near-murder of Gendry were all massive low-points, even though he clearly struggled with some of those decisions. However, his efforts at Blackwater were impressive and would have succeeded if not for the wildfire, his last-minute charge to save the Wall from the Wildling Army was instrumental in saving the Night’s Watch from slaughter, and his grammar was always on-point. His interactions with Davos and Jon in particular were highlights of his arc, and it is clear that he was conflicted on the whole “Warrior of Light” story Melisandre was trying to sell him. Stannis grappled with many of his questionable decisions, but ultimately, his last choice – to burn his daughter, Shireen, at the stake as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light per Melisandre’s suggestion – was what made me turn on him for good. Her murder was reprehensible and though he seemed to realize it was a mistake by the end, he got what he deserved, and I’m glad Brienne delivered the final blow. I’m hoping Book Stannis doesn’t do the same thing so I don’t have to hate him, too.

5.) Tywin Lannister (Seasons 1-4)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 3
Hate-O-Meter End: 4
I almost never agreed with anything Tywin did, seeing as he more or less orchestrated the Red Wedding, was willing to sacrifice Tyrion after Joffrey’s murder, generally treated Tyrion like the contents of his chamber-pot, and considered the preservation of his family name and his reputation the most important things in the world. But it’s so hard to hate Tywin because, even though I wasn’t rooting for him exactly, he was so badass, and Charles Dance played him extraordinarily well. His interaction with Arya in season 2, and the fact that he brought an end to the torture of the prisoners at Harrenhal, were a couple of positive highlights, but everything Tywin did from a militaristic and political standpoint was all about self/family preservation and ensuring his and his family’s position in the realm. He is the perfect kind of villain; you want to hate him, but he’s so compelling to watch and he executes his plans with such cunning, cool precision, you can’t help but admire him at the same time, because he isn’t a mindless demon or a sadistic torturer, he’s just aiming to achieve his goals and stomping on all those who stand in his way. If he treated Tyrion better – and didn’t shack up with Shae in the last season – he’s probably be very low on the Hate-O-Meter, but the scorn he showed his youngest son is the main reason for the hatred I felt toward him. He spurned the one son who was, probably, the most like him in the end, and that was his (well-deserved) undoing.

6.) Theon Greyjoy (Seasons 1-ongoing)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 9
Hate-O-Meter Middle: 5
Current Hate-O-Meter: 4
I absolutely hated Theon as a character in seasons 1&2. His punch-worthy smugness and his betrayal of House Stark, his murder of the two peasant boys and of Rodrik Cassel, and his treatment of women, was almost a “point of no return” for me, as far as characters go. But it’s hard to really hate him once he starts spiraling into the mentality of “Reek” at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. I may not have been a fan of Theon, but it was still very difficult to watch him being tortured, and his complete breakdown and transformation into Reek through seasons 3-5 were some of the toughest scenes to stomach, to the point where I felt at least a scrap of pity for him. But honestly, even though Alfie Allen’s portrayal of him is absolutely brilliant, I still don’t like Theon. Sure, he saved Sansa from Ramsay and has dedicated himself (more or less) to Daenerys, but he still hasn’t shed all of the shame of his past, but he certainly is getting there. I wouldn’t say I hate him anymore, and he still has time to win me over, but I just can’t bring myself to say I’m a “fan.”

7.) Melisandre (Seasons 2-ongoing)
Hate-O-Meter Start: 5
Current Hate-O-Meter: 6
This… is a tough one. Melisandre is motivated by her beliefs; by the Lord of Light, and the “visions” that he sends her to interpret. So even though she’s done some horrendous shit (Shireen’s murder, Renly’s murder, and all the other “burning” she’s done) she genuinely thought she was doing “good,” which is absurd, but she wasn’t acting out of malice or hatred. She even admits of her actions, “I didn’t lie, I was wrong,” which… I don’t know. It doesn’t make anything much better, considering thousands have essentially died because of her, and the second she realized she had “misinterpreted” her visions, she turned tail on Stannis and ran to save her own skin. I still find it hard to hate her, though; and Carice Van Houten plays her so well, I consider her one of my favorite “gray” characters. She is distraught by her failures and mistakes and does not relish in the burnings she commits, but once her faith is restored by the resurrection of Jon Snow, she cannot shed that prior shame, and her poor decisions ultimately come back to haunt her once she is cast out of the North for her hand in the death of Shireen. I do have hope, however, that Melisandre will turn it around by the end, though I also don’t see a happy ending in store for her, after all that she’s done. I think she might contribute to the War for the Dawn and go out in a blaze of glory as penance for her past mistakes; or perhaps she’ll meet her end at the pointy end of a needle.