We watched the season finale of Game of Thrones the previous weekend. Many were anticipating but I was dreading it. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (and their writing team) had been struggling ever since they ran past George RR Martin’s source material. Yes, they had GRRM’s sketchy outline of how the series would end and a couple of WTF moments (the reason for Hodor’s name, etc). Their job was to get the series there, in what they decided would be two abbreviated seasons. In other words, combine what would be done in two one-thousand page books in twelve episodes. And stick the landing.
If you have been paying attention to the reviews and commentary roaring through media sites and social media, many fans thought they didn’t even clear the vault.
I am one of those fans. The amount of plot holes, inconsistencies, bad military strategy (when they had any strategy at all), ridiculous character developments, continuity issues, gratuitous fan service, and just lousy dialog made me feel like I was watching The Walking Dead again.
The previous season had a fair amount of fan service. There were a lot of characters who deserved either a gruesome death or a glorious moment. D&D shoveled those out right and left. It didn’t always work because it was often done in a clumsy manner but it still felt right because hey, Bolton got eaten by his own dogs and that’s a perfect justice. I am certain his fate in the books is going to be even better but I could live with it, just like Hodor holding the door. Almost enough to ignore that everyone was crossing the length of half a continent in a matter of days by either horseback or dragonback.
This season felt ridiculously compressed. The Battle of Winterfell was truly epic. It was also confusing as hell, most of the main characters were wearing impenetrable plot armor, and the strategy was obviously created by one of the writer’s children. And we never did find out where the hell Bran went even though it was apparently VERY IMPORTANT that he did so. They never bothered to explain that. Hell, they never bothered to explain dozens of things. If you don’t believe me check the Web. There’s lists everywhere.
Moving on, the show ignored all the prophecies the books/series have been building for years, had characters doing things that were either comically stupid or so out of character it made one weep, changed the weather and the topography just to convenience the plot, give disservice to just about every female character, and plainly just wanted to get the whole thing over with so D&D could move on to their posh new Star Wars gig. Well, there’s three movies I won’t have to see. Color me pissed off until the end of time. Especially because I know damn well GRRM is never going to deliver books seven (and I fear, book six).
On Sunday I went to the community-owned movie theater in Tioga ND. It’s small (probably less than 300 seats) and the mix on the sound system is lousy. Nonetheless I walked away with great satisfaction and CLOSURE. I saw The Avengers: Endgame.
This was a lesson on how to stick a landing (in a series spanning 20+ movies). A lesson on how to incorporate fan service without fans feeling like they’ve been pandered to. A lesson on how to give an ending to beloved characters and letting the audience have all the feels.
The movie is not flawless. The time travel plotlines (as are all time travel plotlines) best not examined under too much scrutiny. We never found out what happened to Loki. I would have rather Black Widow had a better end. I could see where some might have an issue with fat-shaming. These are quibbles in an experience that defined fulfilling the story’s potential and putting a fitting ending on just about every plotline. This was not the Game of Thrones experience.
I cannot count the number of times I was laughing my ass off, had palpitations because I truly did not know who was going to live through this, and got downright verklempt at a couple of characters finales. This was all about how to stick a landing and how to end a series.
So bravo to the Russo brothers, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely. You and dozens of great actors did the impossible. You brought a finale to a series and you certainly wiped away the cloud of despair and fury that GoT generated. Thank you.