Last night HBO aired the series finale of Game of Thrones, the TV adaptation (and extension of) George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. After 73 episodes, perhaps a quarter-million deaths, and 4 years of screen time expanded over 9 years of our time, what have we got?
I think we've got two distinctly different shows, and the second of them, starting with the 6th season, was distinctly less satisfying than the first.
I'm not alone. Here are just a few of the critics on last night's finale:
- Spencer Kornhaber from the Atlantic complains that "[t]he finale gave us yet another historic reversal, in that this drama turned into a sitcom. Not a slick HBO sitcom either, but a cheapo network affair, or maybe even a webisode of outtakes from one." Shirley Li simply says the show "failed Cersei."
- From the Times, Jeremy Egner asks, "All hail king who?"
- Mother Jones digs into the ecological catastrophe of the dragons.
- The Tribune's Steve Johnson actually found it satisfying, but he felt the person who "won" the game was "a compromise choice in the logic of the series, and he felt like a compromise choice in the moment Sunday night, as we were realizing this is what all of this has been leading to.
- The Guardian's Lucy Mangan calls this season "a rushed business" that "wasted opportunities, squandered goodwill and failed to do justice to its characters or its actors," but "the finale just about delivered."
- Over at Vox, Todd VanDerWerff's take on the finale was simply: "Huh." "(Is [Grey Worm] a freshman poli-sci major who’s like, 'Well, if America could just start over ...'?)"
Meanwhile, everyone with a production company has started trying to make the next big hit. Good luck with that. Whatever it is, it will likely fall victim to the problem that faces every television show: it's a business first, and a show second.