April 18, 2019

Game of Thrones Season 8 - Winterfell

Leading into the premiere of season 8 I am nervous. This series is going to be difficult to end in a satisfying way. I’ve tried to avoid thinking too much about how I want the series to end. I need to allow myself to just go along for the ride.

This series started out as a well made character drama with an authentic setting. Over the years it has changed. As the seasons have rolled by I haven’t made time to go back and re-watch the early episodes. I imagine the show would be almost unrecognizable. With the body count of “main” characters over the first 3 seasons things have changed a lot. The stories that I connected with the most have ended. Some of the characters that I didn’t care much about early on are the ones that have endured to the end.

The way I watch the show has changed quite a bit too. I binged the first 4 seasons over the course of a few months. I think I caught up just before season 5 started. Being forced to slow down and consume only 1 episode a week led me to do lot more reading of articles and listening to podcasts… probably over-analyzing things. At this point a significant amount of my enjoyment of the show comes from listening to Dave Chen & Joanna Robinson talk about it on their podcast, A Cast of Kings.

Before “Winterfell” aired on Sunday night I watched the Screen Junkies recap of the first 7 seasons. It is 52 minutes long, but in the same duration as watching one episode you are reminded of all the major plot points from the season. Joanna Robinson ran down her top episodes from the series and talked about them on the Still Watching podcast. I haven’t listened to this yet, but I plan to go back and watch some of my favorite episodes on the list as this current season airs.

So this brings us to season 8. I expected the first episode to be a place setting episode, and that is what we got. I was surprised by the inconsistency in the tone. At times it was funny, slap-stick even. At times it was cheesy. The end was like a horror movie. Overall it was fine. It set up the pieces for the final season… which is all it really needed to do.

I really disliked one thing about the episode. The ability to ride a dragon seemed like a very special and very Targaryen skill. I thought the moment when we saw Jon Snow ride a dragon would be an important moment that confirmed his parentage. In this episode, riding a dragon meant nothing. It seemed to be table stakes for dating Daenerys.

The whole dragon riding sequence felt lame. (That was the cheesy part.) I’m not sold on the Jon/Dany relationship. There isn’t much chemistry there. Nothing like Cersei and Euron anyway.

I feel like I have been hating on GoT a lot over the last couple of seasons. I wasn’t a fan of the Arya storyline in season 6. Season 7 had some great visuals, but the idiotic plan to go capture a wight upset me. Even though I like to complain, I don’t even know what I want out of this final season. I guess I just want it all to make sense and go along with the character traits and motivations we have seen thus far. Ultimately I don’t care who is sitting on the iron throne… as long as it isn’t Cersei.

I think the “happy” ending to the show has Jon & Dany ruling together, but I highly doubt we will get an ending that could be described as “happy”. I think Jon will die… again. I bet Tyrion and the Stark girls will make it to the end of the show. I have no idea what is going to happen to Daenerys. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this final season of Thrones. It will be great to see what happens on the show and all, but I am really looking forward to the culture around the show. Every episode generates some great memes. There is good writing and good podcasts about the show. It always generates good discussions with friends. In a time when many shows are being dumped online at once and people watch at their own pace, GoT might be one of the last week-to-week shows that everybody is talking about all at the same time. I’m going to try to lean into that.

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