We Need to Talk About Game of Thrones I Guess


So, the Internet has lost its mind.
I include myself in that description
I cannot open my YouTube homepage
without a flood of angry Game of Thrones
hot takes, and here I am a month late to
the conversation just adding to that
deluge and I’m sorry but you know
sometimes you’ve got some feelings and
you just… you just gotta monetize them.
How did this cultural landmark one of
the most popular television shows in
history critical darling and commercial
success a show that unequivocally
changed the way television was made
End in such a trash fire? it’s not like
there was a change in the creative heads
the show runners were always the same
cast was almost uniformly the same so
like, what the hell?
So, this is yet another autopsy on what I think the hell
happened and for the most part I’m going
to keep this to a discussion of the TV
show we could get into discussions of
author intentionality and adaptation but
I’m gonna stop you right there because I
don’t care this is an adaptation
therefore every creative decision should
stand on its own regardless of whether
it was in the books or not or how you
think George RR Martin is going to go
with it whatever. Because the books
aren’t done yet. The show is.
what your whingeing about.
I’m not whingeing.
Your lips are moving and you’re complaining about
something that’s whingeing.
The most common talking point in the wake of the finale
of Game of Thrones is that the writing
was bad so with the popular thing always
comes controversy and Game of Thrones
was no exception from day one we had hot
takes about its portrayal of gender
about its portrayal of race sexual
violence exploitation you name it your
mileage may vary on how much you’re
willing to put up with I was willing to
roll with the problematic elements you
know not ignore them but accept them.
But the critique of sexism
and racism in media is not not relevant
to the discussion of bad writing.
When you default to stereotyping you’re being lazy
and thoughtless which generally makes
for bad or at least uninteresting
writing dwarfs have mad hops for more on
that see the Bright episode.
“Fairy lives don’t matter today.”
But at the same time
no piece of media is ever going to be
ideologically pure and it’s unrealistic
to expect that.
“Shame. Shame”
Critics and fans alike have been discussing the problematic
elements of Game of Thrones since the
day it debuted for some they were too
much, and these people stopped watching. I know
a lot of these people for others people
like me they digested it. Yep. Sansa’s
getting raped and Theon has to watch
but we accepted it and continued to
watch because hey surely this is leading
up to something riveting or at least
poignant
it’s not like critique of Game of
Thrones is anything new but it’s it’s
different now before it was about like
how the thing is problematic.
“We’re not attacking Kings Landing so that you can rape the Queen.”
“I’m not going to rape her I’m
going to fuck her.”
Or when is it okay to have a rape scene. Now the discussion is
more about like structure and planting
and payoff and character development and
screenwriting and audience expectations
and subverting expectations.
“Sir Bronn of the Blackwater, Lord of Highgarden, Lord paramount of the region, master of coin.”
but there’s more to it than that in fan
culture in general especially for a
long-running beloved series like Game of
Thrones we may eventually run into the
which might make you defend a thing way
longer than you should have after all
you’ve watched and re-watched all of the
seasons multiple times you have a
dedicated Twitter account just for live
tweeting Game of Thrones yeah okay
everyone can fast travel all of a sudden
when distance was a huge tactical
consideration in early seasons but
whatever it’s fine I’m fine I’m sure
this is because the story needs to head
somewhere important season seven wasn’t
bad
they were just building up to something
cool give them a chance.
What I hear really often probably even more often
than I don’t watch the show is I stopped
watching the show usually around season
five when it really started to go off
the rails but either way don’t worry
we’re going to do a quick recap for the
benefit of the people who stopped
watching the show who never watched the
show and probably the people who
everyone needs a quick recap anyway and
by quick I mean about half the runtime
of this video and I’m also about to
steal a lot of jokes from Gay of Thrones
so sorry Jonathan Van Ness you’re just
too difficult not to steal from strap in
season 1 basically a murder mystery
surrounding the line of succession for
the Iron Throne after the last hand of
the King dies. Hand of the king is
basically like the Grand Vizier let’s say.
“She says Jon Arryn was murdered.”
episode 1 ends with a child witnessing
some incest and Prince Charming from
Shrek 2 aka brother D pushing the
child out of a window presumably to kill
him but he fails the King asked Sean
Bean to be the new hand of the king
after the old one dies mysteriously so
he goes to King’s Landing with his two
daughters he engages daughter Sansa
to the evil Prince she’s thrilled
but eventually Sean Bean discovers that
the prince is the incest bastard of Lena
Headey and brother D.
“Robert Baratheon, black of hair
Joffrey Baratheon, golden head.”
And not the legitimate son
of the King, Bobby B.
“You heard the hand, the king’s too fat for his armor. Go
find the breastplate stretcher.”
But Bobby B dies, Sean Bean gets beheaded, and a
big ol’ war begins. Sean Bean’s people
fighting for independence, and everyone
else fighting for the throne and also
Lord Life Alert over here is like hey
I’m in the war too but nobody cares
daughter Sansa becomes a captive other
daughter Arya escaped and is angry
meanwhile across the sea the deposed
king’s daughter Daenerys gets married
off to this guy and raped but then her
husband learns to respect her, and it’s fine.
But oh no, he’s dead and but then she gets some
dragons and up north Jon Snow discovers
some ice zombies.
Season two big ol’ war for succession
Bobby B has two brothers, plus
inbread bastard King plus Sean Bean’s son
and also Lord of the no one cares
islands is like hey I’m in the war too
but nobody cares ending in a big battle
led by Peter Dinklage. Evil inbred
bastard Kings side wins but Charles
Dance is the real power behind the throne
and also the best character in
television history, do not @ me, he just
is. Meanwhile Sean Bean’s people are
winning the war for independence and
Sean Bean jr. is supposed to marry Lord
Life Alert’s daughter, but then he marries
Oona Chaplin instead. Fun fact that’s
Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter.
Up north more zombies.
Season 3
no one is grateful to Peter Dinklage for
his role in the big battle ah well he
gets to be secretary of the Treasury
anyway Arya is still angry. Sansa is no
longer evil inbred bastard King’s fiancee,
Natalie Dormer is Arya is kidnapped by
this guy he’s called the Hound
don’t worry he’s great brother D had a
genuinely wonderful redemption arc with
Captain Phasma
seriously it’s some of
the best television in all of the
television Sean Bean Junior’s campaign
is no longer going so well
They plan to wed a different Lord to Lord
Life Alert’s daughter that Sean Bean Jr. was
supposed to marry but instead the
wedding ends in a massacre and the whole
family is slaughtered this is the
infamous red wedding the war for
northern independence is over
Across the sea, Daenerys has been using those
dragons to “liberate” a bunch of slaves.
Season ends with
her big white Savior moment.
Season Four
Evil inbred bastard King is poisoned
at his own wedding Peter Dinklage is
framed for it
Sansa escapes to the north with the help
of totally trustworthy–You know what? I’m just
going to steal another thing from Gay of
Thrones–vintage Alan Cumming. Doe-eyed
inbred bastard King is now king Natalie
Dormer is engaged to him after a rigged
trial Tyrion demands a trial by combat
which goes well for him until it doesn’t
His Brother D sneaks him out of the
city, but not before he murders Charles
Dance and also his girlfriend, but don’t
worry, he’s still totally sympathetic.
Arya’s travel companion, The Hound loses
in battle to Captain Phasma. She escapes
him and decides to leave the country to
go to assassin school up north there’s a
battle between these people, who are
trying to escape the ice zombies and
the border patrol Jon Snow is a part of
his love interest dies Daenerys conquers
another slave city and decides to rule
it instead of coming to Westeros child
who was pushed out of the window in
season one he’s like learning omniscient
mind powers from Max von Sydow
Season 5
Tyrion, with the help of lord
Dr. Evil is running around Essos, trying to
find Daenerys. Cersei tries to exploit
rising religious extremism in the
capital which oops really backfires on
her once they find out about all those
inbred bastard kings there’s a really
dumb subplot involving this guy’s people
that gets dropped the following season
It’s awful.
“You want a good girl, but you need a bad pussy.”
Bobby B’s brother, the guy
with the strongest claim to the throne
burns his daughter to death because he
thinks that will give him some fire
magic to win a battle it doesn’t
“Congratulations, you played yourself.”
Arya goes to ninja school, decides it
isn’t for her and leaves Daenerys is bad
at ruling a city whose culture she does
not understand her dragons are unruly
she’s bad at everything eventually
there’s a pro-slave rebellion. She almost
gets killed, but don’t worry, her main
dragon saves her his name is drogon Jon
Snow tries to help the free folk they
were battling in the previous season
because it turns out those ice zombies
are raising an army of regular zombies
and the more dead bodies they have the
bigger their army gets.
His border patrol brothers stab him to death because
they don’t like that he’s helping the
foreigners he’s dead
Sansa–
“You’ve known Sansa since she was a girl.
Now watch her become a woman.”
So here is where we pretty much completely run out
of books to adapt.
Season Six
Jon Snow gets resurrected by the woman
who talked Bobby B’s brother into
burning his daughter alive. Daenerys is
captured by the people she married into
in season one and is forced into
captivity with the other Khal widows but
manages to wow them all by murdering all
of their kings with fire, but you know, she
herself is immune to being set on fire
which means she’s the Khal now, because
that’s how their society works. So she
reunites with her dragons and manages to
do one-two punch of liberating Meereen
from the pro slave rebellion Lord of the
no one cares island gets thrown off a
bridge by Hot Topic Pirate aka the worst character in the show.
“And I’m going to galavant
right over and give it to Daenerys
Targaryen along with my big cock.”
Or possibly any show. Arya murders the
entire house of Lord Life Alert and then
feeds them to him and then kills Lord
Life Alert. Tyrion becomes hand of the
queen for some goddamn reason I don’t
know probably because he’s played by
Peter Dinklage then it’s off to Westeros
for Dany and her entourage with the help
of Lord No One Cares Island’s daughter
and the iron fleet, which I haven’t
mentioned yet but they’re about to get
real frustrating
Sansa escapes and reunites with Jon Snow.
They reclaim Winterfell for the Starks
and feed…
“My hounds will never harm me.”
“You haven’t fed them in seven days. You said it yourself.”
to his dogs. It is an empowering
feminist moment oh and Cersei blows up
the Vatican wipes out their religious
extremists and her adversaries in the
aristocracy and parks herself at the
balcony drinking wine where she will
stay for the next two seasons but not
before her last child kills himself.
Season Seven
Okay, it’s about to get
really dumb.
“It’s a pretty song. I’ve never heard it before.”
“It’s a new one.”
Wee!
Daenerys and Jon Snow have a meet-cute.
“I mean no offense, your grace, but I don’t know you.”
“In the time since he’s met me,
he’s refused to call me queen, he’s
refused to bow, and now he’s calling me a
child.”
“I believe he’s calling all of us children.”
“Figure of speech.”
They spend most of the season faffing
around whether Jon Snow will bend the
knee–
“Bend the knee.”
“Bend the knee.”
“Bend the knee.”
–on behalf of the North after he helps Dany take the throne,
debate about whether or not to fight the
White Walkers or go after Cersei first
Daenerys battles the Lannisters a bit,
Jon Snow and Daenerys **** and then, okay, this
is where it gets really dumb. All right, so everyone is like, hey the big
existential threat is the ice zombies
how do we convince Cersei to like stop
fighting us so we can deal with the
existential zombie threat I know let’s
send the Magnificent Seven north of the
wall to get like a sample zombie so they
do that and it is the dumbest thing but
you like me are willing to give these
showrunners the benefit of the doubt
like oh boy you know they’re just doing
this dumb thing to get to the good stuff.
So they get stuck, and Bobby B’s
bastard son has to go do it chariots of
fire and send a note to Daenerys to
please come save us which she does
risking her life to do so but loses a
goddamn dragon in the process but
whatever she saves their asses and it is
here only after she risked her life and
lost a goddamn dragon that John is like
okay I will bend the knee and Daenerys
is like okay well I already ate some
humble pie to save you so I hope I am
worthy of this because I know this is a
big deal not only for you but you know
for Humanity to you know survive so then
they fast travel to King’s Landing and
show Cersei the zombie and they’re like
trust us. I know this is just one, but
there’s a lot of these. And Cersei’s like
oh okay truce and also I will send
soldiers to help you fight the ice
zombies. But guess what, she’s lying!
“You pledged our forces to fight our
common enemy.”
“I’ll say whatever I need to say to ensure the survival of our house.”
And it is only then that brother D’s like, you know, I think I’ve had enough of your
conniving and evil and blowing up St. Peter’s Basilica.
So this whole stupid
subplot was not only a total waste of
time but they lost their resurrection
expert and gave the Night King a goddamn
dragon in the process. Go team.
Season 8
episode 1 everyone arrives at Winterfell
Cersei fucks hot-topic pirate the North
is racist I guess episode 2 zombies are
coming oh no a lot of dialogue basically
reads like a big send-off to all our
favorite characters
this will go down in history as the last
decent episode of Game of Thrones and
also a massive waste of time that gets
totally shat upon later.
Oh, it also turns out that Jon Snow is not a bastard but is in fact the rightful heir to the throne.
“My real name is Aegon Targaryen.”
And also Daenerys’s nephew.
Weeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Episode 3
The big battle. The biggest battle, which
almost all of the major characters
survive and it is resolved when
Arya stabs the main ice zombie, the Night King with a special blade, and then they do the fantasy trope
thing of you know oh you killed the main
one the Eye of Sauron is exploded so all
of the the orcs are dead now. So yeah, so
that that’s the end of that, I guess.
No more ice zombies. Really. And we still
have three episodes to go. And they’re all 90 minutes
each oh good
episode 4 I want to die time to head
south and conquer Cersei only on the way
hot topic pirate shoots one of those
indestructible dragons out of the sky
with TWO million-to-one
shots from a mile away
which the dragons did not see also
somehow they captured Daenerys’s
gal-pal but no one else, and guess what
happens to her yep yep also everyone
kind of wants to do some treason on
Daenerys for some reason even though she
has by this point done nothing wrong.
“Have you considered the best ruler might
be someone who doesn’t want to rule?”
“We’re discussing treason.”
She’s like a literal war hero, but Lord Dr. Evil’s like
hmm I don’t know I was supporting her
for like half of the entire show but
I got a hunch.
“He’s temperate and measured. He’s a man, which makes it more
appealing to the Lords of Westeros.”
episode 5 kill me time to invade King’s
Landing but not before burning lord dr.
evil alive because he’s doing some
treason. The invasion succeeds,
and it is absurdly one-sided and easy
turns out it does not matter at all that
Daenerys lost half her forces or two of
her dragons they invade the city in like
90 seconds and Tyrians like okay when
they ring the bells–
“Ringing the bells.”
“When the bells ring.”
“If the city surrenders, they will ring the bells and raise the gates.”
“I’ve always hated the bells. They ring for horror. A dead King, a city under siege.”
“They’re welcoming a new king.”
“I’ve never known bells to mean surrender.”
“If the city surrenders they will ring
the bells and raise the gates.”
And then the bells ring, and then Daenerys is like
no I think I’m gonna go do some war
crimes and then like does 9/11 times 100
“9/11 times a hundred. Jesus, that’s…”
“Yes. 91 thousand 100.”
Episode Six. I long for death.
Triumph of the will shots all
around Danny does her big fascism speech
and scary foreign language and Nazi
clothes
The only non-white characters left
in the show are the people who are
really into it.
Tyrion’s like, well, the madness has taken
her we should probably put her down like
Old Yeller
“It’s a terrible thing I’m asking.
It’s also the right thing.”
And Jon Snow, who has done nothing all season but say
she’s my queen–
“She is my queen.”
–is like no, but then he goes and puts her down
like Old Yeller
her one surviving dragon in a fit of
rage burns not the person responsible
for her murder but the symbolism and
then he flies away with her corpse there
is a trial in which the prisoner is
allowed to nominate the new king which
no one has discussed in the intervening
months apparently.
“And who has a better story than Bran the Broken?”
And yeah, the
the omniscient guy ends up on the throne
and we get our John Hughes ending where
the Kinslayer and the Queen Slayer just
gets to go up north to snowchela and
and all of these people whose God Queen
has been murdered by this guy are like
well okay I guess we’ll agree to
disagree and birthright monarchy is over
we have aristocratic oligarchy now
instead, which is totally better.
The end.
so the ending was um was bad it was
quite bad but the ending was in fairness
foreshadowed by other things being bad
so it’s not original of me to suggest
that Game of Thrones took a sharp dive
in quality after season 4 some have
blamed that on the show running out of
source material others have said as much
as the lack of interesting new
characters as all your faves were
rapidly dying off which they weren’t
really in the books whatever I’m not
here for that
so what really changed well as I see it
there were two main storytelling
component shifts one that characters
let’s take for instance Tyrion who are
defined by their intelligence and
ability to read the writing on the wall
as far as Westerosi politics go
“My brother has his sword, and I have my mind. And a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”
suddenly he had to
take a whole bunch of stupid pills in
order for the plot to get where it
needed to be and number two where in
earlier seasons the plot was highly
motivated by the social trends of its
fictional world see the rise in
religious extremism in season 5 the show
completely opted to ignore them in later
seasons because it was simply
inconvenient to the plot.
Writer and researcher, Zeynep Tufekci, wrote a
blog entry for Scientific American, in
which she posited that the shift lying in
the fact the first few seasons were
dominated by sociologically driven
storytelling ie characters responding to
a broad physical and social institution
and that the latter seasons were driven
by psychologically driven storytelling
as in driven by the characters
themselves and therefore we’re more in
line with typical Hollywood storytelling
I half agree with this the show’s plot
and point of view has always been
extremely character driven and always
extremely in line with Hollywood’s
storytelling in that way the plot is
driven by a few powerful people trying
to figure out how best to manipulate the
society they lived in to their will.
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
But I will agree that earlier
seasons had the main characters making
decisions less based on personal whims
and more in response to social trends
We had war, politics, religion, and so on. But
really where things fall apart can be
traced to one underlying main problem
the showrunners had a destination in
mind and a set length of time to get
there meaning they had to bend the
character actions and world around the
destination rather than allowing the
characters in the world to reach the
destination organically.
But the problem is the characters they wrote kind of
developed a life of their own and the
characters in the show are not the same
characters as the characters in the
books some see this clusterfuck as a
problem of having a planned ending
although I personally think you always
kind of need to have a good idea of
where you’re going in a series it’s just
that whenever you’re working towards an
ending you kind of have to accept that
you might not get there the way that you
think you will or in how long you think
it will take. Right buddy?
seems take time to write it 1,500 pages long
some people can’t even read them
So before we really get into where we got
first let’s talk about how we got here
so stop me if you’ve heard this about
Game of Thrones it’s fantasy for people
who don’t like fantasy this was a
popular selling point in the press back
in the show’s first few seasons and
given the different landscape of the
time it’s easy to see why. Fantasy did
well in film, television not so much.
When Game of Thrones debuted, prestige Soprano-style television that happened to also
be genre fiction was mostly non-existent
and/or relegated to cable networks like
SyFy then called the SCI FI channel. It
was a kind of thing that had a cult
following on LiveJournal not the kind of
thing your cousin Brian who still
tailgates at Penn State despite having
graduated a decade ago would have any
interest in discussing at the family
reunion this dichotomy is of course
complete nonsense
there isn’t anything appreciably
non-fantasy about A Song of Ice and Fire
that sets it apart from the rest of the
genre but try telling cousin Brian that
in 2010 but only nerds appreciate that
kind of nuance so in order for a fantasy
show to be worth the time and interest
of non-genre fans on a premium
subscription channel, it can’t just be
regular fantasy with its you know
wizards of great import and prophecies
and heroes what were destined No it had
to be hot fantasy that fucks the word of
mouth narrative around the show quickly
devolved into a message of see how Game
of Thrones subverts fantasy expectations
because we’ve never read a fantasy book
besides Lord of the Rings before see
this isn’t your wide-eyed brotherhood of
man too much hugging and forehead
kissing fantasy for nerds this is
hardcore violent darkly cynical titty
besotted fantasy hot fantasy that fucks
“Thank gods for Bessy and her tits.”
Game of Thrones also came about at the dawn of
what has become to be known as the
golden age of television we could go on
for a while as to the validity of this
label but for now let’s just take for
granted that, yeah, sure this is the
golden age of television. Here we are
this is it.
Weeee.
What does that mean? Broadly, the
golden age of television is marked by a
period of serialized prestige drama that
debatably began with The Sopranos and
has now become an oversaturated market
with not only cable and premium channels
ie HBO and Showtime
but with streaming venues themselves
less encumbered with budgetary
constraints like Amazon and Netflix not
only piggybacking off of the success of
premium cable but sometimes outshining
it we’ve hit a period of over saturation
that is referred to by some as peak TV
and while that might lead to some truly
excellent polished high budget art that
we’ve genuinely never seen before
the push for networks is more to become
the next big thing so when you’re
writing your series novel comic TV
whatever there are broadly two ways you
can go about it you know the ending or
you don’t
Breaking Bad is widely considered to
have one of the best most coherent most
satisfying finales and all of prestige
television according to creator Vince
Gilligan it was designed to be closed
ended and not have even the possibility
of going on indefinitely it’s really
incumbent upon us to bring it to as
satisfying a conclusion as possible and
the only way we’ll have a chance at
doing that is to know exactly when it is
that we’re going to end and also to have
that ending not be too far off in the
future on the other side of the coin you
have shows like Dexter and Lost, where
the showrunners had no end game plan, and
Lost is perhaps the most emblematic of
the problem of a concept with no end
game in mind JJ Abrams is infamous for
his mystery box approach to storytelling
that presenting an audience with a
tantalizing mystery let’s say about
someone’s mysterious parentage–
“For my family.
They’ll be back.”
–is a great way to keep them engaged, whether you know the
solution to that mystery or not but
planned finales can also create problems
Vox writer, Emily VanDerWerff, wrote about
the danger of planned finales in the
wake of Game of Thrones she points to
Breaking Bad as an example of a show
that found a way to thread the needle of
planned finale with the organic
storytelling that comes with television
and after Gilligan and company
meticulously plotted season 2 they more
or less plotted the rest of the show on
the fly.
According to VanDerWerff, “This is the
paradox of TV you’d think that having a
satisfying ending would require having a
rock-solid plan to get to that ending
but the opposite is often
true because the more you know about how
a story is going to play out in the
macro the more the micro just becomes a
series of items checked off a list.”
knowing the goal you are working towards
is great but only if you leave room for
the fact that characters and the
relationships can change during the life
of the show even if you totally know
where the show is going so with Game of
Thrones that was a benefit and a
handicap the showrunners knew where they
were going, even if the actors didn’t.
“Jon’s eyes open as well, already filling with
tears for a moment neither movies as if
moving will make this real we see John
with his hands still on the hilt of the
dagger he just lodged in Dany’s heart
her strength leaves her and she
collapses to the marble he keeps her in
his arms and she falls.”
“And then raises his sword to strike, but something is
hurtling toward him out of the dark.”
“Standing before the iron throne
Dany steps forward and they plunge their
knives into him he takes more punishment
than Hodor took at the door then Barret
took in the gray–”
And in broad strokes, I
don’t doubt that where D&D ended up was
where Martin intended to go however they
create big problems in that taking
shortcuts making character changes and
cutting certain characters and subplots
altogether they’ve written a different
story to the one that Martin wrote their
characters are different characters than
the ones Martin was writing Cersei is
different Daenerys is different Tyrion
is way different. Damn you, Peter Dinklage
for just being so ding dang dong
charismatic and handsome
we can’t make him the bad guy who cares
if he strangled his lover in a jealous
rage
or in self-defense as it is in the show
I guess that’s what we’re going with.
“I’m sorry.”
Yeah see, the way this arc played
out was a red flag. This scene makes no
sense given how both Tyrion and Shae
evolved away from their characterization
in the book.
“I am yours and you are mine.”
while still getting their book ending so
the showrunners were given a destination
but when the show they wrote in the
characters they created kind of went in
directions that did not work with that
predetermined destination or at least
we’re going to have to take a very
different way to get there who cares
let’s do it anyway so no discussion
about prestige television is complete
without a talk about The Sopranos, and
this will spoil how The Sopranos ends, so
fair warning.
“You know, I still have people asking me what the hell was that
last episode? Like…”
The Sopranos begin the era of prestige
television drama in earnest
like Game of Thrones it was a massive
critical darling and commercial success
out of the gate so like Game of Thrones
when The Sopranos ended after six
seasons there was a lot of buildup for
how it would end
Would one of Tony’s many enemies gun
him down? Would he slaughter all of his
enemies in some Pyrrhic victory how
would his relationship with dr. Melfi
play out would he walk away from the
life altogether we get answers to some
of these questions. Dr. Melfi cuts him
off when she realizes Tony is a lost
cause and Tony does not walk away from
the life the final scene in the show
takes place at a diner where Tony is
scheduled to meet his family for a
regular dinner
Carmela shows up his daughter has some
difficulty parking. But then we notice
that several of the other patrons in the
diner are acting kind of suspicious and
giving Tony the side-eye. Journey’s Don’t
stop believin increases in volume to the
point that it’s almost overwhelming
there’s this really dissonant dark
comedic tone the scene is building and
building in tension and then….
it cuts to black, and that is the end of The
Sopranos and as with Game of Thrones 12
years later people lost their shit
made a lot of people angry
creator David
Chase knew how it was going to end for a
while saying no one was trying to be
audacious honest to god we did what we
thought we had to do no one was trying
to blow people’s minds or thinking wow
this will piss him off people get the
impression that you’re trying to fuck
with them and it’s not true.”
I actually really liked the ending of The Sopranos.
I think it works both thematically and
dramatically. Tony might have died in the
moment it cut to black or he may just
have had a boring dinner but as long as
he’s stuck in that life he’ll always be
living on a knife’s edge.
“Would I have done anything differently with the ending of the show? I don’t think so.”
But The Sopranos set the stage for memorable
endings and another lesson was learned
here the wrong one in my opinion a
memorable even controversial ending
is the same as a good one.
Fan service also merits discussion here because fans in
recent years have had a much more active
role in shaping media typically the
longer a thing goes the more fan service
gets jammed in to keep people engaged
and not all fan service is bad one of
the positive changes from the books is
the fight between Brienne and the Hound
in season four
“You’re the wrong one to watch over her.”
“That’s what you’re doing? Watching over her?”
“Aye, that’s what I’m doing.”
in the book The
Hound goes down from blood poisoning
from a stupid wound he gets in a bar fight
but in the show you have two characters
you both care about fighting over Arya
to the death? Like, I want them both to wi–No! No, my children! I’m screaming.
So… Cleganebowl.
At best, Cleganebowl is/was a fan theory
that combined both book and TV lore a lot
of internet meme culture and the burning
desire to see this giant man kick the
ass of this other giant man and a
revenge fight so epic that it would rock
the foundations of Westeros itself.
“You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
Get hype.
See, the Hound looks the way he
does and is afraid of fire because his
brother the mountain shoved his face
into a fire when they were kids and ever
since then he’s wanted him some revenge
for that and some other things all about
that revenge just really really hates
that mountain that rides. Hates him.
“My brother’s alive.”
Hates him, the Hound.
“We come across my brother, maybe we can both cross a name off a list.”
Wants revenge
and well yeah the meme itself was a lot
of fun and we got hype and everything, as
a dramatic plot point it’s um it’s
really fucking dumb one not only is the
mountain functionally dead by this point
like Oberyn Martell killed him and what
we have now is basically just a
mindless zombie that does whatever
Cersei says. But two, the books make it
pretty clear that Sandor is finally at
peace with himself and his need for revenge.
“If the gods are real, why haven’t they
punished me?”
“They have.”
Revenge being mistaken for justice is a big thing in
the books and we will get to that later
his arc wasn’t about getting revenge it
was about moving past that in the show, I…
“You can still help a lot more than
you’ve harmed, Clegane. It’s not too late
for you.”
“Never too late to stop robbing
people to stop killing people start
helping people never too late to come back.”
One season later
“You know is coming for you. You’ve always known.”
One season later
Who was forcing you to do this? He’s like a zo–
he’s dead he’s a shell he’s a zombie
Cleganebowl happens while Daenerys is
doing some war crimes and King’s Landing
is burning they’re fighting for nothing
the hound has long since moved on this
has not been his motivation for a while
Gregor is an empty zombie shell and the
world is ending outside and everyone
here is about to die anyway so who cares
The Hound isn’t even fighting for Arya
he’s not protecting anyone
“Look at me. Look at me! You want to be like me?”
You two rode a thousand miles on horseback
together and you only now decide to have
this conversation?
“Go home, girl. The fire’ll get her or one of the Dothraki.”
Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
Also Arya murdered all of House Lord
Life Alert and baked them into pies and
fed them to their father.
I’m pretty sure
her revenge quest is shot the moon in
comparison to yours, sir.
“I’m no sir.”
So Cleganebowl had no reason to exist
other than the concept becoming mimetic
on a god tier level
“Yeah. That’s you.”
“That’s what you’ve always been.”
fanservice also comes with the
double-edged sword of in this case the
show’s self-imposed burden of needing to
be smarter than the fans which becomes
harder and harder in a world with
massive subreddits dedicated to
theorizing about the thing in incredible
detail so somewhere along the lines,
subverting expectation stopped being a
thing one did because it benefited the
story and more a thing one did because,
well…
“We hoped to kind of avoid the
expected.”
“She seemed like the best candidate provided we weren’t thinking
about her in that moment.”
this isn’t necessarily unique to Game of Thrones
Westworld creator and showrunner
Jonathan Nolan admitted that an episode
from season two had to be rewritten
after reddit fans guessed a major
upcoming twist reddit has already
figured out the third episode twist said
Nolan so we’re changing that right now
it’s annoying sometimes when people
guess the twists and then blog about it
you can’t complain when people are that
engaged,” he added. “It’s very gratifying,
but stop doing it please.”
I can’t help but think that fans should be allowed to,
like, gather in groups online and
theorize and have fun without networks
like watching in and going oh no they
figured us out we better go change the
show because we only exist to outsmart
reddit like you don’t have to be
unexpected for the sake of being
unexpected. But when your show is kind of
known for that…
“We hope to kind of avoid
the expected.”
“These people have guessed the secret that I’m gonna reveal in book
6. People have already guessed that here,
and book 2 is just out. You really have two
choices there you can ignore it and
proceed with your plan despite the fact
that some people know where you’re going,
or you can get all panicky and say, oh my
god they figured it out I can’t let that
be I’ll have to change it I’ll have to
go in a different direction. And I think
some writers do that, and I think that’s
always a mistake.”
“Yeah.”
“You know, if you’ve planned your book that the butler did it
and then you read on the Internet someone
has figured out that the butler did it,
and you suddenly change in midstream and
it was the chambermaid who did it then
you screw up the whole book.”
So, I’m not saying that
Benioff and DB Weiss were writing the
show with the intention of both
indulging in fanservice while also
avoiding correct fan theories I’m just
saying this culture inevitably
influences and infiltrates the writing
of a show that was already handicapping
itself by limiting its runtime for
no reason except that you’re really over
the show that made you famous and you
got a Star War you need to go ruin–I mean, make.
“Why is it ending?”
“I don’t know.
Ask Dave and Dan when they come through. We could have gone to eleven twelve
thirteen seasons but they I guess they wanted a life.”
The journalist who
reported that quote from Benioff
diplomatically described his reaction to
it as frustrated in hindsight that’s a
bit of an understatement seeing as
any thematic coherence in the series
fell apart after Martin stopped being
actively involved in the production
after wouldn’t you know season four what
are the odds but to me it betrays a
certain lack of curiosity on the part of
Benioff and Weiss and it makes me wonder
why are they even dedicating their lives
to storytelling if they are so
uninterested in themes especially given
that they adapted a book that was so heavy with them.
“What unites people?
Armies? Gold?
Stories. There’s nothing in the world
more powerful than a good story.”
Yeah, so this series functionally ends with these
two chucklefucks like fetishizing
storytellers as the most important
people to ever exist but yeah themes are
for eighth grade book reports we want to
avoid the expected because that means
it’s bad. Okay.
“And who has a better story than Bran the Broken?”
Aggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
So you might be asking did you really just spend 45 minutes whinging?
“I’m not whinging.”
“Your lips are moving and you’re complaining about something. That’s whinging.”
And you didn’t even get into any specifics? Yep.
yeah we got about 10,000 words worth of
our whinging.
“That’s whinging.”
In our Google Doc before we realized that this
was this is gonna be two-parter yep it’s
two-parter sorry and this part is the
sponsored part are you interested in
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and that’s a lot–to which I say, the first
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hours longer and it’s also 33% shorter
if you listen to it at 1.5 times speed
like I do right now I’m listening to the
Hugo nominees for best novel if you
didn’t hear Angelina and I are actually
nominated for a Hugo this year for our
Hobbit duology hey I might get to meet
George RR Martin at his losers party.
Oh no.
I’m going to let best-selling author
John Green deliver the URL information
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I’m glad they let me keep the same URL

100 comments

  1. Dumb & Dumber are essentially leeching off of the good story telling and quality of Martin and their film team. They are famous because of the first 4 good seasons, when all they had to do was adapt preexisting works. The moment they were left to their own devices, things started going downhill. But execs only look at "their" early success, so they are getting these big money deals and "free creative rain." Unfortunately, it will probably take them ruining a Star Wars movie, and maybe another series, where they will have total control from start to finish, for execs to see how truly terrible they are.

  2. Eh, I just pretended it ended differently. To me arya didn't kill the knight king. They fled the north and fought him at kings landing where the red keep was destroyed killing Jamie and Cersei together and Dany got killed with her dragons and bran becomes king while Jon goes north to find another red head who tells him he knows nothin'

  3. 10:00 "This guy." Uh, that was Julian Bashier. DOCTOR Julian Bashier, thank you very much!… I'm not sure what I've added. I never watched…

  4. Unpopular opinion: As much as The Sopranos is overall more influential to TV history, I’d argue that Oz was the show to start the Golden Age of television.

  5. Ok, I have watched this more than once…and I think I disagree with you applying a theory as to what went wrong. What went wrong was just BAD writing. It is not that they had a destination in mind, it is not that they limited the number of episodes, it is just bad bad bad writing. The writers have infinite power. They could have skipped ahead 3 years and shown the characters in their new incarnations, they could have done anything. Instead, they hired assistant writers who had written almost nothing and were quite young…and they didn't care about the story or writing. They just cared about images on the screen. So, we get a lot of STUPID DUMB plot points, with "cool" to D&D stuff on the screen…and I guess wind up where GRRM thinks he is going. They could have gotten decent writing and had every set piece they cared about, but they had to care about the writing, and they just didn't. Look at the imdb page for the writers…all no bodies, with almost no experience. So, the lesson is, if you have a $100 million juggernaut (last 3 seasons) and NO ONE in charge really cares about good writing, you are likely to get bad writing. Cause, without SOMEONE caring about good writing, the default is bad writing. Lindsey, what I would LOVE for you to do, is try to report on WHY this happens. Do audiences DEMAND x number of stupid action scenes, regardless of the story. Do paying audiences mostly not care about the writing? Does HBO not pay attention to the writing of established shows. How did people like Bryan Cogman, or Gursimran Sandhu
    , or others, " with essentially no other writing credits, become a writer for the biggest show on television? WHY does this happen, from a business perspective? Is writing so unimportant to studios because it is really unimportant? or because they lose the thread?

  6. Dear Lord…

    I JUST found your channel like 10mins ago and I never knew I needed a passive-aggressive-albeit-brutally-honest-spitfire of a take on GoT’s shitshow in my life…until now😱

    You’re my hero. You’ve earned yaself a loyal sub❤️

  7. I just keep coming back to this two-parter, and I have yet to stop being miffed at the mindset behind this. Like… back in 2007, my friends and I guessed that Harry Potter was himself a Horcrux. Straight up, guessed the big reason why he survived when he was a baby. Did that make the impact of "you were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never intended to make" any less powerful? Did that ruin the entire then-seven-year-long experience for my teenage self? Not. In. The. Slightest. It was one of the most gratifying fiction experiences I've ever had. It will never not bug the shit out of me when creators rob their audiences of the opportunity to correctly piece the clues together and be rewarded for that effort, needlessly wrecking their stories in the process, all in the name of SuBvErTiNg ExPecTaTiOns.

  8. Are we not going to mention the horse that appears at the end of The Bells? The one Arya rides to go to safety? No?
    Because I'm glad the horse safely got out of the Phantom's lair.

  9. Omg did something bad happen in a show and you watched it?? Omg just like how bad things happen in real life that we have to endure?? Omg is everything not a fairytale romance??
    Your generation is so pathetic. Get over yourselves.
    Btw, you are getting FAT. I find that offensive and problematic.

  10. This is how memes (real ones) are created EVERY critic well…criticises idea of capturing a zombie, which was ONLY SANE course of actions to prove they are real. But for some reason, they DON'T criticize the very idea of unrealistic truce and how return to hostilities would look like after hypothetical victory; bartner and conflict of interest where in anticipation of victory each side would seek to preserve most of their forces and thus compromise battle plan. They don't criticize entirely pointless and unnecessary attack on Winterfel (Bran wasn't there!) – Night King needed only to isolate winterfell with but a fraction of the force.

  11. I don't even like zombies as villains, because, they're evil because they're zombies, and even I felt that they deserved so much better. Like a whole season or two where they were the main/only threat.

    THE EPISODE "THE LONG NIGHT" WAS THE FIRST F**** TIME ARYA MET A WHITE WALKER!!!!!

  12. What do you mean they’re going to ruin Star Wars? It’s already ruined from the same problem of subverting expectations for the sake of it

  13. That was one of the most depressing things i've seen for a while, but i'm glad I watched it, you can sugar coat shit, but once you've licked of the coating, it's still shit, I was once employed by a very effluent car company, let's say they rhymed with nexus, after working there for over 2 years & doing a dam good job I asked for a pay rise, they begrudgingly said ok, I got 50 cents Australian an hour more, work that out over an 8 hour day, I couldn't even by a pie a day with my pay rise. Sorry I still like the Lord of the rings movies, & tolerate the other ones, & Yes do visit New Zealand it is a very nice country.

  14. I hadn’t noticed it before, but having shae betray Tyrion, sleep w his father and try to stab him seems like an earlier case of a female character being written to do something horrible and ooc so our ‘good’ male character is justified in killing her

  15. Will never watch anything D&D has a hand in writing for the foreseeable future. Good luck with Star Wars losers.

  16. Thank you!! Dany was a freaking war hero who risked her life, the lives of her children (dragons) and her armies to save a bunch of racists and then gets betrayed! And because she's a woman she has to go crazy…. Thanks D&D….

  17. Oh boi im still not over S8. S7 got a pass from me because i like roadmovies with funny guys, bit of a guilty pleasure here.
    But MAN that recap was funny and depressing at the same time. Time to go back to the freefolk and continue ranting.

  18. I think that's what Rian Johnson did with The Last Jedi. Subverting expectations just for the sake of subverting expectations.

  19. As someone who read the first four books before the show was even greenlit, I'm really glad I stayed away from the hot mess this show became. It sounds like the first season or two were a pretty good adaptation, but holy monkeys…

    Not that George R. R. Martin is the king of great literature, mind you. I would not be surprised if the books also fall apart before the end.

  20. I'll tell you exactly what happened in way, way less than 44 minutes:

    1) GRRM stopped co-writing/directing on the series after Season 4 was completed.
    2) After doing this, the series took an immediate, glaringly obvious nosedive in quality. The quality loss was crammed down our throats in Season 5. However, instead of speaking up about it/telling the showrunners how shitty Season 5 was, the normies ate it up like fucking Thanksgiving Dinner because cOoL giRL pOWER dRaGON moments… and Hardhome was actually a good episode.
    3) The moment they realized they could get away with pushing pure, unadulterated shit-fire garbage thanks to casual fans who thought the later seasons were better than the first 4, they cut their profits and got the fuggout before anyone would notice.

    No, seriously, I was literally the only person pointing out how bad the writing was in Season 5. Everyone else was like gaaaME oF thROOOoOoNES hyyyPE tRaIIN!

    Y'all are the reason the series died.

  21. Honestly, I still love the show and will buy the complete series when it comes out.
    I know everyone hates the ending,

    and that makes me the only human alive who does.
    I'll just have to live with it and we'll agree to disagree.

  22. Shae deserved that death, don't play it off like he was a toxic boyfriend??? She betrayed him, accussed him of a lot of lies knowing full well that he was going to be killed by them, thats attempted murder. Then she slept with his father. Shae deserved every last second

  23. Thank you for filling in the void Gay of Thrones has caused post-Season 8.

    Anyway, that's it. Love your hair; hope you win.

  24. 28:30 I don't get it. How come Kit Harrington was so surprised by Jon killing Danny? They read the episode chronologically. Any sane person could see this coming from miles away. It's obvious she's going to die after episode 5. But even if it isn't. Episode 6 is obviouse about his happening. Two or three scenes before Tyrion convinces Jon to kill her…

  25. I don't even remember how long I've been subscribed to your channel, but something is still surprising me: why do your vids have french titles and descriptions? And I'm a french-speaking belgian, so my curiosity is at its peak. Is this some kind of odd YT algorithm changing automatically your titles in french, is it simply intended or am I just missing a big clue somewhere? I even googled it (cause we all know Google knows everything) but I couldn't find a damn thing…

    To whoever would maybe answer this mystery tearing me apart, thanks in advance.

  26. You know Peter Jackson used to lurk TheOneRing dot com, pretty sure my bitching got us Viggo recast instead of Stuart Townshend, and I had a fascinating email engagement (back when they functioned as a sort of DM) with Gandalf (regarding his concerns the Catholics would boycott because ghey; I calmed him down- you're welcome 🤗) while he smoked a pipe in Hobbiton with Bilbo- extremely satisfying fan engagement. But of course, Peter Jackson had a story with an ENDING to work towards. There's that. But that was definitely the golden age of fan engagement- back before every idiot, their grampa, and four year old had access to the 'WWW'- the internets were leaner of content but a lot smarter. Thanks Peter Jackson for listening to us- Stuart Townshend would have made a truly shitty Aragorn son of Arathorn.

  27. Fffs I hated the hotsie notsie fantasy nonsense. GOT the show was never really subverting fantasy book tropes to ANYONE who read and enjoy the genre.

  28. My thoughts on creators changing plot points when fans figure it out is, the fans dont know they are right yet. For every show there are hundreds if not thousands of theories from the plausible to the absurd. There is now way unless you confirm outside the show or radically change the plot for them to know they were right. Changing the plot is just creating a self fulfilling prophecy in a way

  29. I will neither forgive nor forget what the mentalist became and that despicable ending….well I think there was a season after what was the true ending but I was too betrayed to continue.

  30. When you where doing a recap on what happened on sesson 7 thats when I started laughing hysterically on how dumb the show has become.

    From season 1-5 the characters where smart then season 6 came and its like they bumped their head into something, where season 7-8 showed how dumb they have become.

    Thanks Dumb and Dumber for this screw up. Now we are a few mos away from the rise of the Skywalker. Am I excited to watch this movie? Not at all nor do I care if its good or bad.

    Dumb and Dumber already subverted my expectations from Game of Thrones and I wont be fooled anymore

  31. Claiming sunk cost fallacy seems to be a bit of a copout when people acknowledged the problems beforehand and though they were justified because it was leading up to something. It wasn't, the problems were problems and nothing was going to justify them. Also this is just GRRM's writing problem in another media. Drawing out a short story to a trilogy to a heptalogy is going to lead to a lot of padding and a lot of unresolved issues (or hastily resolved issues). Folding Ideas got into this in their video on the "Lost" mysteries in Attack on Titan.

  32. They were offered TEN SEASONS of TWELVE EPISODES A PIECE. the show runners demanded the shit rushed last 2 seasons. they did NOT have a time crunch as an excuse.

  33. sorry, im really late to the party but you completely skipped over the fact that Shae slept with Tyrion's dad and betrays him at 9:09

  34. To this day I've never bought any defense of The Sopranos' ending. Any explanation or video or essay, nothing. And I goddamn searched for it. I don't care, it's not a f***ing ending if you just cut to black mid-scene. And I'm totally for ambiguous endings, open endings, bad endings, sad endings, endings that leave you thinking WTF, endings that most people hated like No Country for Old Men. At least it's an ending. Sopranos doesn't have one.

  35. "…he marries Oona Chaplin instead. Fact fact she's Charlie Chaplin's great granddaughter."

    If it's not too land Lindsey, some searching shows she's his granddaughter not great granddaughter.

  36. While I love the term 'author intentionality', not discussing it is treating the symptoms. But I also like not going off in directions that distract from the specific topic too so I don't know what I'm saying. UBU.

  37. Rally making changes cause reedit users guess it?? That's stupid, first its not like the all audience is made out of reddit users, even if it could be 10% and second realising that they guess it would make those reddit users and those users how agreed SUPER HAPPY!!!!!!

  38. Funny thing about destruction of capital city. Everyone tells that it is war crime, while in real world, at that times it was considered quite normal practice. And despite of D madness, to continue warfare was the only way for army to survive at all, since power collapse this war created would soon make the entire country uninhabital anarchy state, ruined by power struggle, famine and overall disorder.

  39. To be fair, Shae DID lie to get him convicted of murder so…
    I made the decision that S8 E3 ended with them losing. And the last episode didn't happen because who wants to see King's Landing destroyed for no reason…
    God seeing the actors being disgusted with the ending is heart-breaking.

  40. I didn't even watch this show, not once, but I'm pissed off for all of you just on the principle of such awful fucking writing ruining it. Honestly, this is why I kinda hesitate starting currently running shows, cuz Dexter burned me before and it's too easy for this kinda shit to happen especially adaptations.

  41. Honestly I feel amazing when what I thought would happen, happens. So why do studio’s assume that people will be disappointed?

  42. As a writer, who writes in episodes ON reddit… when folks guess the plot-twist… I do what George RR Martin does here: Don't change it, and don't panic. Just write the story.

  43. Fair warning I know nothing about movie making/writing etc.

    Couldn't they have made some sort of explanation for the drastic changes.

    Like a sickness that made the dragon queen lady go insane, or something.

    Idk.
    Also I think they could have just changed the ending.

    *-*but eh. let's all just read the books guys.

  44. Game of thrones is one of those things that benefit from more IQ Than EQ. the writers have a good sense drama and emotion but it fails in comparison to George rr Martin's sense of structure in its story and development of characters

  45. 11:55 I think this line is so bad my brain is physically incapable of remembering it happened, because every time I see this clip — EVERY time I think "oh God was that line actually in the show?"

  46. Might have been better if the Hound saw his brother as a Zombie and his motivation was to to put his resurrected brother to rest?
    Kills him not because he still hates him, but because he's learned to forgive him.

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