If you get greenlit to write and produce an epic story, please remember it comes with a community of film lovers and there is a responsibility on your part to give them something good.
For the past eight years, Game of Thrones has done just that. They’ve given the fans an incredible, sprawling epic, full of twists and turns that have kept the story flowing. So why was season eight such a disappointment to so many fans?
In a nutshell, they rushed the story and forgot that they had a fan base who were counting on them to tell those twists and turns and still follow the principles of story.
AWESOME TWISTS and a few that aren’t …
Right from the beginning, GoT set a standard, which it would become known for, by killing off one of its principle characters, Ned Stark. The fans loved Sean Beans, Ned, and were shocked by his beheading. But it worked. Even I hated it, but the truth is, his death moved the story forward. It pushed the characters outside of their comfort zone and supplied countless subplots and storylines. If he’d lived, season two would have just been telling the same story as season one.
And the creatives behind GoT continued to do this season after season. The Red Wedding, Joffrey’s poisonous death, Margery’s explosive death, Jon’s dead-oh-wait-he’s-alive! and Tyrion’s patricide.
All of these were great because they moved the story forward and pushed those beloved characters into new depths of character development.
Twists I can’t add to this?
Everything in season eight. It’s like the storytellers decided to disregard every character arch for every character and put them all back at the beginning. Jon starts by going to The Wall and ends at The Wall. Jamie starts by being in love with his sister Cersei and ends by being in love with his sister Cersei. Dany starts as a girl no one will listen to and ends as a crazy girl no one will listen to.
This doesn’t work well because it’s basically saying that everything these characters did or went through, didn’t matter.
What was the point of bringing Jon back from the dead, or revealing that he is the true heir to the throne, or giving him the phrase, “I don’t want it.” if you’re not going to end his arch by showing him sitting on the flipping throne?! What was the point of the Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains, who vowed to step out of her father’s mad shadow, if you’re not going to end it with her sitting on the Iron Throne as a mother to the Seven Kingdoms?!
A SLOW MOVING EPIC, rushed at the last
Looking back over the past seven seasons of GoT, I realised what a beautifully slow story this has been. It took the better part of an episode for our heroes to travel from Winterfell to King’s Landing. It took six seasons of the show to get Dany across the Narrow Sea. And four seasons before Sansa escaped Joffrey’s reach. Each episode drew us further into the details and we savored them like delicacies on a golden platter.
Then season seven came and suddenly characters were hopping from one city to the next within a matter of seconds. I get it, we gotta move the story, but half the beauty of GoT was what happened to characters between destinations.
But it only got worse with season eight rushing not only the journey’s from one place to another, but the entire plot too. Winter came and it only lasted one measly episode. The thing we’ve been warned about for seven seasons – over EIGHT YEARS – was conquered within a matter of moments. (insert facepalm here)
This wasn’t the only thing rushed in the end, what happened to Arya’s face switch thing? Did they just forget about it? What about the fact that Jon Snow is really Aegon Targaryen? We’re gonna build that reveal slowly for years and years and then do NOTHING with it, except to have Dany be jealous of a thing that Jon says he doesn’t even want to begin with? Guys … really?!
I love Game of Thrones, been a fan since the beginning and have rewatched the series at least twice, but now, knowing how it ends, how it’s been cheapened with a rushed season of only six episodes, it’s not worth it to me to rewatch it again. Which makes me sad, because the acting, the cinematography, the art direction, the story are all great. I think the fans would buy the shift from innocent dragon queen to mad Targaryen IF they hadn’t rushed the story and allowed that transition to build more. I think the fans would have even bought and supported Bran sitting on the Iron Throne IF they hadn’t cut him from an entire season of GoT and allowed his character to be built more over the last season. Why is the Knight King interested in Bran, why is he warging during the long night? Explore these ideas. Let his denial for the throne of the North build naturally to the realisation that he’s meant to sit on the Iron Throne. But no. The fans didn’t get to see that journey, it’s just implied by a simple line at the end,
“Why do you think I came all this way?”
Instead, I’m asking myself that same question. Why have I traveled all this way with all these characters, cried over deaths, yelled at the tv when horrible things happen to them, and mourned the loss of family, if all the creators are going to do is start them exactly where they begin?
As creatives/writers, we have some obligation to the fans. I’m not saying make only what will please the crowds, but don’t cheapen an experience just to get the “oh it’s a twist” factor – UNLESS it moves the story forward. Which didn’t happen in season eight. Learn what you can from great shows like GoT – what did they do right? What did they get wrong? And find an innovative way to showcase your own twists and turns, by still paying attention to the fanbase and the principles of Story.