#206: The Finale

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I’ve already dedicated a post to discussing the nostalgia and cultural impact of Game of Thrones, so today I’ll be talking instead about the finale, how I felt about it, and whether it made up for the season that it was a part of (it didn’t, but oh well).

Fans generally separate the show’s seasons into three categories: the great ones (1-4), the good ones (5-6), and the not so good ones (7-8). There’s a general decline in quality from the beginning to the end, unfortunately, and while I understand that that’s normal for a TV show like this, with so much hype and nostalgia behind it to fall a bit flat near the conclusion and climax, it still disappoints a bit.

As for the finale, I liked a couple of characters’ endings: Arya had a strong character ending, learning from the Hound that revenge isn’t necessary and giving up her quest to kill everyone on her list; Jon had an interesting ending, deciding to do what was right for the realm rather than become king himself, a man who had no lust for power; Sansa had a great ending, becoming Queen of the North after enduring so much trauma through the years and years of the show. It feels good to see the good characters receive happy endings, even while the ending felt a bit forced at points. I know that not all the characters received strong endings, but having Brienne write the story for Jaime in the Kingsguard book felt perfect as a send-off for him, considering the episode before this did him dirty. The decision to have Dany die so early in the episode felt right, so I’m glad they didn’t drag that on more than it needed to be, but also, her story and character arc were both really weird overall. I felt like it was rushed, along with the season as a whole. It could’ve been longer in order to fit all that they wanted to do inside it.

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#205: The Showstopper

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When it comes to TV shows, very few reach iconic status the same way Game of Thrones has. It’s become a cultural cornerstone, and it’s mentioned in tweets from the LAPD all the way to Burger King and more. With Instagram posts accruing millions of likes, the Game of Thrones’s actors’ accounts are full of people reminiscing about the seasons and their favorite memories from eight years of craziness. Game of Thrones represents, to me, something special, even though the last season wasn’t all that wonderful; it represents a family tradition and connection, a connection between freshman year roommates and acquaintances, a connection between friends during my study abroad trip. No matter where I went, Game of Thrones seemed to follow me, one way or another. I’m so glad I was introduced to it by my friend Chris during my freshman year of college, and I’m so glad to have spread it around to many other people, including my family, who I would then talk with about it for years to come. Game of Thrones is talked about on Twitter by practically everyone I follow, and those who don’t talk about it talk about not watching it whenever they can. It’s a show that everyone is aware of, for one reason or another, and the hype and cultural influence is nearly impossible to ignore. That’s why I’m paying tribute to it in this post; despite everything wrong with it, despite all the weird, last-minute decisions and haphazard pacing, despite it all, I’m still happy to have spent all this time talking about a show that’s truly captured my life. I can only hope to experience something like this again in my life, a show that becomes so deeply entrenched in our culture, that’s nerdy and fantastical, that I love and share with anyone who can hear me. It’s been a wild ride, guys.

#192: The Episode

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Spoilers ahead, obviously, if you haven’t watched the most recent Game of Thrones episode.

In continuing the trend of discussing Game of Thrones on this blog, I’ll be talking about how it felt to watch Game of Thrones with another friend with us over the past weekend. Instead of watching on Sunday, we waited to watch on Monday with Hallie as a way of giving us something to do while we were together. We hadn’t watched Game of Thrones together in years, the last time probably being in 2014 during study abroad, but we still managed to talk about it despite not seeing each other very much. It was a wonderful experience to get to vocalize our complaints, criticisms, and thoughts to each other, like an audience that’s right there for us to interact with.

The episode featured a lot of romance, and a lot of interesting interactions and conversations between the characters. Some of the scenes felt especially fanfictiony, but mostly it was a good, quality episode with dialogue that featured conviction from the characters. One thing I will always love about Game of Thrones is the interactions between the different characters, how they respond to each other within difficult situations, their storied histories and thoughts unfurling in front of us as the story moves forward. It really rewards long-term investment and understanding of the different characters.

The episode moved at a quick pace, but also allowed for the characters to really dive into their different feelings about the previous episode, featuring the Long Night and the invasion of the white walker army (and its defeat). The final two episodes are coming, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. It’ll be interesting to follow the last two episodes, considering this has been a show I’ve been into for so long. It’s all coming to an end soon.

#182: The Long Night

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Talk about complete and total darkness. Not the type that’s momentarily scary, but totally enveloping and ruining. The kind of darkness that makes you question what’s real and what’s not. Absolute carnage takes place in the darkness. After watching Game of Thrones season 3 episode 8’s “The Long Night,” I feel qualified to talk about this darkness, because the episode was dark in more ways than one. The tone and mood of the episode were similarly dreary and frightening, while the atmosphere, setting, and lighting were terrifyingly dark as well. In some parts, the dead seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut, rampaging over anything that even dared to touch them, such as the Dothraki horde with their flaming swords of doom.

By the time this post reaches my blog, it’ll be long past the release of this episode, but I figured it was worth discussing anyway because I bet this episode stands the test of time for awhile. Some may disagree about the overall quality of the episode, but I think having the battle take place in one, 80-minute spectacle felt like the right thing to do, rather than drag it on for longer than necessary. They had to finish it right there and then, as the dead were already picking up and animating the bodies of those who were fighting against them. It would’ve been a hundred times worse otherwise.

I loved the scenes with the red mist, as Winterfell became overrun by zombies and the dead. It really brought home the aspect of dread. I was completely, totally stressed out for the entire episode, and I know others were too. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to film such a thing, to put it all together into one major episode. The budget must’ve been sky high, to begin with. I’m just happy one of my favorite series is coming together like this.

#177: The Spoiler

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Today, I’ll be discussing spoilers, specifically the ways in which we try to avoid spoilers for the sake of added entertainment and experiences. Not the car kind of spoiler.

By this point, Game of Thrones will have aired, and I’ll be freely able to talk about what I had spoiled for me on Sunday night and Monday morning. On Sunday, I saw Avengers: Endgame, partially because Alex and I wanted to avoid spoilers as much as possible. We both weren’t sure how long we could wait without being spoiled on the biggest movie of the year. I work with kids, so the likelihood for me was even higher, as they would certainly be talking about the movie during class or in the hallway over the next couple days.

Ironically, though, I was spoiled on the thing I cared more about, that being Game of Thrones. Alex and I decided last night to watch the episode later on Monday instead, because we were both tired and needed rest. Alex was working 8-4 this week, which means she had to get up at 4:30 am. On Twitter, I muted a bunch of keywords related to Game of Thrones, such as Arya, Hound, Samwell, Jon Snow, hashtags, etc. Unfortunately, before bed I decided to look at Twitter anyway and saw someone tweet out: “Vengeance child saves the day!” Now how am I supposed to know to mute the phrase “vengeance child” so it doesn’t appear on my timeline?

In the morning of the next day, I read the full spoiler on Facebook from a friend’s post: “Arya killing the Night King set to Titanic music.” So there you go, I was spoiled on perhaps the biggest moment of the entire episode, on the day I was supposed to see it. Such a shame, but it won’t diminish my enthusiasm to see this episode come to life.

My Experience with Game of Thrones: Part 1

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Alright, I need to get this one part off my chest: I love George R.R. Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s epic fantasy at its grittiest and most morally ambiguous. Watchers of the TV show and readers of the books know how much Martin enjoys playing with his fans’ minds by either killing off main characters or putting the “good guys” in unending, unfortunate situations while the “bad guys” seem to prevail.

From this point is where readers discern the moral ambiguity of the series. While the thought of only good guys and bad guys may interest certain readers who prefer simple, clear-cut definitions of characters, I am in the camp that believes that no characters are necessarily good or bad, but aligned based almost entirely on personality and environment. However, while I may think this way, it does not sway my opinions that Roose Bolton, Walder Frey, and Joffrey Baratheon are evil and despicable.

But even those three have their reasons, I think. No one is bad simply because they relish in the ideal of following in the footsteps of other evil villains and villainesses.

The “good” characters may suffer often, but it is because they, to an extent, are blind to the hidden circumstances that govern whether they live, die, or suffer, aka the “Game of Thrones”. After seeing many of these ignorant, but honorable characters either die or learn from their mistakes through harsh punishment, you begin to understand how the game is played and what this world is really like. It is gritty, it is realistic, and it is ground-breaking. It forces readers to redefine the way they read fantasy, and so-called “realistic fiction” as a whole.

As well, magic is at a minimum. Much of the series is about political battles. But don’t find the lack of magical powers and the prevalence of politics in play as a deterrent: Martin finds a way to make the feuds and conflicts intriguing and always enlightening. Because he is a master of dialogue, Martin as well is able to make chapters of entirely dialogue into some of the most interesting pieces of fantasy you will ever encounter.

As a reader, I enjoy characters. I enjoy seeing characters development into humans, into fleshed-out figures who replicate human interaction. In this series, you get it all. You get an immense cast of characters that exceeds anything I have ever witnessed or read. And, among that massive batch, many characters shine. In the books, the story is told through viewpoints. The reader receives the information through the viewpoint of a significant character. Whether you are reading about Daenerys Targaryen’s quest to reach Westeros and claim the Iron Throne or Tyrion Lannister’s struggles to stay sane and protected among a family ridden with incestual, power-hungry fiends (who, admittedly, through a stroke of genius storytelling, are developed into characters ranging from lovable all the way to semi-tolerable), you are receiving consistently great writing.

After finishing A Storm of Swords, I can say with certainty that Martin is a modern master of description and the genre of fantasy. I indulge readers to watch the TV show or read the books because, whether you enjoy epic fantasy or not, the books are creative pieces of literature worth your time. The world is sprawling, open, and epic. The scope of the story is beyond what you may think at the moment, but as it develops you will see what I mean.

Read it. Watch it. Experience it.