Hello and welcome! This is the first of who-knows-how-many in a series of UNpopular opinions! You might be thinking to yourself, “Why? What kind of opinions are we getting into, here?” Have no fear, the purpose of this series is to spark conversation and healthy debate over each article. I definitely want to clarify that if you disagree with my opinion, which I expect may happen, I am in no way demeaning, insulting, or bashing your thinking. I want this to be a fun place for us all to be able to share opinions that some people might just not agree with! I expect there to be disagreements with what I write and ask for respect and healthy debate in the comments. Trolls be gone!
So, without further stalling, let’s get started!
Here in Level 1, I'm tackling a smaller, potentially out-of-date reference. (The heavy hitters will be in future volumes, hehe.) Today, we're looking at Game of Thrones Season 8 and how it was actually quite satisfactory!
Note: There WILL be spoilers after this point. If you have any interest in watching this series through Season 8 and haven't yet done so, I highly recommend you do not continue in this article. You have a season to watch! Get to it!
Game of Thrones had its controversial final season in 2019. It raised quite a lot of irrational anger in the fans, and petitions to re-do the entire season. Since we're living in an age in which it’s as cool to hate something now as it was to smoke back in the 70s, this season was another victim. Others are calling it the "cancel culture." Now, while I do agree, and will always agree, that the last season was rushed, I don't think it was a terrible, unfocused ending that came out of the left field. In fact, it tied up loose ends quite nicely, followed storylines to full completion, and left others to the imagination.
Let's break down the unpopular opinions for a closer look.
Beginning all the way back at Season 1, even Episode 1, the Lannister family was pinned as the villain. I mean, Jaime pushes Bran out of a window to close out the episode! This, then, begins the spin of the Stark family and their seemingly unfortunate demise. Sure, there could have been decisions made that prevented some of the tragedy ("Hi, Ned, DO NOT go to King's Landing and take your young daughters with you," for starters). However, the show and book set things up to where you would like the Stark family to be successful. Throughout the series, we follow the Stark family members through their trials and tribulations, cry with their tragedies, and rejoice in their victories (even if it's just one of them seeing another for the first time in 4 seasons *cough Arya and Jon cough*).
By the end of Season 8, the (remaining) Starks are victorious! Bran, of all people, is the King of Westeros. Sansa is Queen of the North. Arya gets her wish, to explore that which is west of Westeros, and Jon gets to live his life as the outsider he always felt he was. The Lannisters have been put in their place, including the always-charming and quite intelligent Tyrion. And the White Walkers have met their doom (EFF YEAH ARYA!). Is this not what we as an audience have wanted to see in the 7 years of this show?!
Heading back to Season 1 again, we see a small, quaint little girl that will grow to wreak havoc, destruction, and murder on King’s Landing. A lot of fans considered this a turn of character and did not believe it fit into her mold for Season 8. However, the entire series discusses the madness that runs within Targaryen's veins, and that she IS a direct offspring of "The Mad King." In Season 1, she has a very cold and calm reaction to her husband, Khal Drogo, viciously killing her only living (known at the time) kin and brother. Whilst his actions towards her are not desirable, to say the least, her demeanor of acceptance seems… odd, for such a quaint, innocent little lamb.
While she did go forward through the series and free slaves, showing empathy and value to those others thought of as beneath them, those efforts were typically accompanied by large-scale destruction. For those who were unprepared for Daenarys’ decision to burn King’s Landing to the ground, I consider this:
Daenarys was raised as a sheltered young bird in Essos, far away from where her family had conquered land. She did not have parents because one was murdered and one died during her birth. She was sold into sex slavery by her brother who forced her to wed a Dothraki Khal expecting the Khalasar to become his army. Her life from then was a small bubble; her only desire was to reach Westeros, with all her actions attempting to get her there, surrounded by the same small group of people and beliefs. She never met a worthy foe and actively surrounded herself with folks that would support her and not oppose her.
Once she reached Westeros, she felt she had a huge amount to prove. She was carrying the weight of her family line and legacy on her shoulders. Then, in the span of very little time, she thought she found love, which got ripped from her. She found out she was not as equipped at war as she had imagined. Her small group of comfort was growing to a large group of untrustworthy advisors (to her). She found a kind of opposition she had not experienced before (not being accepted by the people, and petty girl vs. girl stuff between her and Cersei and Sansa). She discovered a foe she was not prepared for.
Then, she lost a child and a dragon, found out she was banging her nephew and lost her most trusted hand-maiden, advisor, and friend--all very quickly and close together. And y'all want to think she wasn't going to snap?! King’s Landing was the largest gesture of revenge, boasting, and proving herself she could have performed. Her thoughts were not on the people and place she was destroying. It was on the evil woman in the castle who had snapped the last straw and on her family legacy she was trying to uphold. Daenarys truly thought she was doing the right thing, which is what made it quite terrifying and convincing for me, and ultimately led to her death.
When Episode 3 aired, there was a buzz of people saying, "It's too dark!" Ok, for this one, it was filmed at night. It was filmed in 55-night shoots over 11 weeks! That is incredible work and dedication. I was SO excited for this episode, and I remember specifically the weekend it came out on was the same weekend that Marvel's Avengers: Endgame came out. Talk about a weekend! All nerd groups needed support systems and checks--we were not ok!
While yes, it seemed difficult to follow the dragon fights in the air at times, the atmosphere presented made it perfect for what it was: blue flames and clouds, orange flames to counteract. While I will say I was disappointed that the Azor Ahai and Lightbringer storyline did not come to fruition (if you're unfamiliar with that, check out this link), they were able to provide a HELL YES! and OMG! moment that left a lot of us with hands in the air and jaws dropped. Arya showing up and showing out was actually predicted in Season 3, Episode 6, when she first meets Melisandre who then predicts the color of eyes Arya will shut forever. As we know, Arya goes on a badass storyline of learning how to be a face-stealing ninja, and she follows through with Melisandre's prediction. Even the phrase from her dancing master in Season 1, Syrio Forel, seems to propel Arya toward becoming the Night King destroyer: "What do we say to the God of death?" "Not today!"
You will get no argument from me that Cersei definitely got off easy. Jaime's storyline was a bit weak in Season 8, however, it was also foretold. His love for Cersei won out. I don’t believe the roaring lion of the Lannister that his dad instilled in him ever really left, and he could not justify leaving her for good, let alone killing her. Though he did rip out our precious Brienne of Tarth's heart, she saw him for what he was and seemingly understood in the end. Jaime and Cersei dying in a crumpled heap below the castle that molded them was quite symbolic. What they both lived for and loved, killed them. For Cersei, it was herself and her power. That castle and the Red Keep gave her that. For Jaime, it was Cersei. I absolutely wanted to see some type of awful, gruesome death for them, however, the quiet symbolism was quite appropriate, even if unpopular.
There are several more items I could delve into, but these were definitely the most prominent points I wanted to make. I believe Season 8 of Game of Thrones, while yes, it was rushed, was a solid ending to the series, tying up loose ends and bringing conclusions to character arcs and storylines.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, and what you agree or disagree with! Leave a comment below and let's discuss!