I’ve just started re-watching seasons 6 and 7 of Game of Thrones ahead of the premiere of season 8 on the 15th of April. I had considered watching every episode beforehand but decided against it for two main reasons – the first is that I’d completely forgotten when the new season started and thought I had another couple of weeks, the second is that some of the earlier seasons are a bit of a slog at times.
Season 5 is the worst example of this, there’s a lot of exposition and while I totally understand the need for it, the fact that it led to 7 episodes of what I’d call filler wasn’t ideal. That said this season also has possibly my favourite episode of the series so far in Hardhome. This is probably the first episode that really hammers home the main threat of the series, which had previously been mostly alluded to in favour of the more human conflicts.
This has been the crux of the series so far, a lot of human conflicts with the impending threat of a conflict with the dead. And Jesus Christ there’s been a lot of human conflicts so far, the one rule I’ve found that holds true is that you should never get too emotionally invested in a character early on. Why you ask, well there’s a very good chance that they’re going to die in an absolutely horrendous way. There’s been a lot of memes about the show and about George R.R. Martin who wrote the books that the series is based on. Or wrote some of them at any rate, the series overtook the books a couple of seasons ago.
Going in the final season you’re down to a pretty core group of characters now, some of whom I’m astounded have made it this far. The series has done a good job though, for every death that’s come out of nowhere and has been brutal as hell, and there have been shedloads so far, there’s also been the occasionally deeply satisfying death as an utter evil bastard of a villain has received the murder justice they so richly deserve.
At one point it was jokingly credited as being a success due to the violence and nudity but actually while both are prominent what it’s actually done really well is worked in backstory, politics (of the in show world rather than the real one thankfully) and characters that invoke genuine feeling, be it hatred or liking them. The showrunners have also done a pretty good job of casting, even the supporting characters shine quite a lot of the time.
People go crazy for it that’s for sure, I’d imagine the season 8 premiere is going to be phenomenally popular and if the finale isn’t one of the most watched shows in history then I’d be amazed. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all ends having watched it from the beginning rather it being something I’ve binge-watched in a short timeframe. The 10 episode runtime for the first 6 seasons is just about right, I’ve definitely reached a point where 24 episode seasons are just too much to bother with.
I’m not going to discuss plot points here as it’s one of those things that’s become harder and harder to explain as the show has gone. Essentially there’s a lot of backstabbing, both figurative and literal as people manoeuvre for power. If you’re into fantasy and you’ve never seen it then it’s well worth checking out, and if you don’t generally like fantasy then it’s still worth a look as it may wind up being an exception to the rule.
In terms of characters, all I’ll say is that Jaime Lannister is my favourite character as I feel like he has the strongest character arc (a subject touched upon in my previous article The Best Character Arcs). There are some great characters though, Cersei is an astounding villain with some genuine nuance where utter bastards like Joffrey didn’t need to have that as they were just there to be hated. Special mention to Bronn too, who is played by Jerome Flynn and has some absolutely incredible lines, he tends to use the word c*nt quite a lot.
In closing, it’s probably one of the only TV shows I make an effort to watch as soon as possible that isn’t on Netflix or Amazon Prime. HBO definitely know how to make big budget TV shows and now it’s just a case of hoping that they can give the series the ending it deserves.