I’d like to start this post with a joke.
How can you tell if someone doesn’t watch Game of Thrones?
Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
(I’ve adapted this truism from a joke about vegans, which I feel can be adapted to suit most situations in which I find myself.)
I, you will either be pleased or not to hear, adore Game of Thrones and felt that today would be the perfect moment in which to honour the show’s creator with cake.
As this post publishes in my little corner of the internet, the final episode of the final season of Game of Thrones will already have aired and will be awaiting my attention on my Sky box. I will be doing my best to ignore it until tonight and avoiding social media in the meantime. Believe it or not, I’ve managed to make my way through all eight seasons of this shock-happy drama without any major spoilers. I’ve entered episodes knowing that ‘something big’ was coming but each twist and turn has been enough to propel me from the sofa, my hand clasped to my open mouth, heart rate racing.
I want to sincerely thank George RR Martin for birthing this world in which I have so lost myself, and these characters in whom I have invested so much of my emotional resources.
Many who have spoken to me at any length about my love of Game of Thrones will know that I have a lot of love for Cersei Lannister and as such have identified with House Lannister. I did not love her from episode one, I did not like her brother Jaime either, but come season eight these were people that I loved most dearly for all of their faults. Game of Thrones does not gift its audience with any character bereft of flaws, vengeance, malice, or cruelty (except Jon Snow but, yawn) but instead grants moments in which the monster reveals its humanity and we question how we would play the game were the same cards dealt to us.
If you write a character that everyone thinks is good or everyone thinks is bad, you’re writing cardboard.
George RR Martin
Taking the Wars of the Roses and classic epic literature as his muse, Martin created a world faithful to its own 1,000 year history. As such, Game of Thrones is one of the most historically accurate dramas to grace our TV screens in memory! Every monarch to sit on the Iron Throne is recalled, every great battle, every shift in power, so much so that the history of the Seven Kingdoms is a subject worthy of study on its own merit.
You would think that with such grounding in fact that it would be impossible to shock; no, Martin’s cruelty to his own characters is legendary. As soon as you think you know what the Game of Thrones looks like, a wildcard is dealt. Yet it remains true to itself and no character development occurs without it having been set up from episode one.
I’m doing my best to avoid spoilers here so you will just have to trust me that even whole segments of dialogue in season eight hark back to the first episodes of season one and it is no spoiler to say that the visual parallels drawn between an army’s arrival into Winterfell in the first episode of season one and of season eight are striking.
The final season of Game of Thrones was never going to be enough to satisfy every single fan who has invested so many years in this story. Not every parent who named their child after a character in the show is going to feel the same about that name once that character’s story has been completed.
Where my Joffreys at?
Bringing several interwoven tales to a satisfying conclusion was never going to be easy.
And yes, I am aware that this final season has been written by the showrunners rather than by Martin himself. This makes him no less worthy of cake in my eyes. This was his world and nothing has been written without his guidance. The petition by some ‘fans’ calling for this final season to be rewritten makes me sad.
For my part, I would have liked more episodes. I would have liked more Game of Thrones. I would have liked more time to say goodbye to the characters that I loved and more time to relish in the demise of those that I did not care for (there was one quick death which drew a cry of “yaaaay!” from both Chris and I this season). I am greedy. I am not, however, so angered that I feel the whole season needs a do-over. I am not that arrogant.
Game of Thrones has been such a big part of my cultural life these past years and I am going to miss having the next season to look forward to, to speculate over.
I have one more day of not knowing; one more day of avoiding spoilers until I sit down tonight and watch the final episode. There are so few things that I watch so greedily and allow to consume me so completely that I am going to miss having Game of Thrones in my life. I am sure that I will revisit previous seasons once more and appreciate the character arcs all the more, knowing as I will by then, the way that they will end.
Thank you, George RR Martin for creating this world. I raise my goblet to you and humbly offer you a cake. I can promise you that it will not contain any Fray.