Winterfell – | Review Score – 3/5
A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Long Night – | Review Score – 4/5
The Last Of The Starks – | Review Score – 2.5/5
The Bells – | Review Score – 2.5/5
The Finale – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Alfred Hitchcock famously said “To make a great film you need three things – the script, the script and the script.”. Game Of Thrones’ final season is a beautiful, visually striking achievement in television cinematics. Its 6 episodes are chock full of well-directed, well shot action sequences and a stunning musical score from the returning Ramin Djawadi. Unfortunately, characterisation, story and pacing are thrown completely out the window in favour of a rushed, disappointing end to this fantasy epic, forcing all the other elements to crumble into a lacklustre, disappointing end that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
With the wall destroyed thanks to the Night King and his newly acquired wight-dragon, the series begins with the undead forces spilling out and marching south toward Winterfell. Meanwhile, Daenerys, Jon and the rest of the allied forces enter Winterfell, greeted by the suspicious, untrusting Sansa and Arya. As they join forces and prepare for battle, Jaime arrives and joins with the others, determined to prove is valor.
From here the 6 episodes essentially split the focus between two predominant arcs. The first sees the end of the White Walkers, Night King and the threat beyond the wall, with the second half seeing the North take on Cersei and her teleporting mad pirate, Euron. This essentially builds up to the finale which rushes to wrap up all the remaining characters, burning years worth of character building in favour of fan service and possibilities for future sequels and spin-offs. The finale only further exacerbates this, failing to wrap things up in a satisfying manner and leaving a sour taste for many people who have followed this show for all these years.
It’s such a shame too as so much of Game Of Thrones is on point this year. The acting from the cast is as good as it’s ever been, despite the script inconsistencies, the music has been tremendous and the action sequences great. While some have commented that the Battle For Winterfell was far too dark, and that’s a valid criticism, personally I thought it worked well to accentuate the fear of the unknown and allow the orange flames to stand out more. Another such example of this cinematography comes from seeing Arya running through a crumbling King’s Landing or the hauntingly beautiful Daenerys walking with Drogon’s wings in the background and these long shots are so well directed.
So really it comes down to how much emphasis you put on writing in the context of this medium and what you’re expecting from Game Of Thrones. It’s hard to argue against the poor writing and rushed nature of the scripts this year and while watching this in-the-moment is certainly enjoyable, when you stop and begin thinking about the characters and their journeys over the years, it’s here where everything comes undone. I was willing to forgive the shortfalls of last season, knowing the story needed to be sped up, but seeing everything in that season amount to nothing is really disappointing.
Whilst I can forgive the pacing and conclusions to some of these characters to an extent, Game Of Thrones’ Disney-esque finale doesn’t feel bittersweet as promised, and is a far cry from 12 Monkeys which remains one of the best examples of a show wrapping up its story in a satisfying way. All of this comes down to the execution which has been shockingly bad for much of the season.
Ultimately, we fall back to Alfred Hitchcock’s quote about the script and if we take that as the most important element here, everything else is superficial. There’s a reason old black and white comedies and classic series like The Twilight Zone stand the test of time compared to a visually stunning film like Avatar – they’re graced with good writing. That, unfortunately, is not something that can be applied to the final season of Game Of Thrones.
I wanted to love this final season. I wanted to come out and say it’s the peak of TV writing and one of the crowning achievements of this medium but unfortunately the show stumbles and falls at the final hurdle, unable to cross the finish line with the grace it deserves. That blame lies solely with the show’s creators – David Benioff and D.B. Weiss – who are wholly to blame for this season and the likely cause for many people to be disappointed and upset by the way this one ends.