Save the Best for Last: Game of Thrones Season 8

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On April 17th, 2011 HBO premiered a show that would raise the bar for television so high, you'd need to mount a dragon to reach it. And season 8 was the perfect swan song.

Base on the popular (unfinished) book series by George R.R. Martin GAME OF THRONES has captivated audiences around the globe for eight seasons. Its long break between season 7 and season 8 only served as a way for fans to debate at length over how the Night King would be defeated and who would sit on the Iron Throne.

The brilliant team behind GAME OF THRONES, including directors David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, were given insight as to how Martin's story would play out. After all, since Martin is the worlds most famous protagonist, Benioff and Weiss ran out of source material quite some time ago. But they persisted and finished weaving a tale so complex that it will require additional viewings for everyone to catch what they missed.

Or what they assumed was left out.

Plenty of hints were dropped as to how the Night King would be defeated and season 8 wasted no time getting into it. In "Winterfell" the scenes were dark and ominous, providing cinematic intensity unparalleled by other shows today. White walkers are terrifying and with the precedent set that no character is safe from death, you will sit on the edge of your seat in a cold sweat. Watching as our heroes fight for their lives and the future of Westeros. A ruthless army of undead that will stop at nothing to fulfill their King's wishes. A battle of dragons in thick fog will have your heart racing as you worry about the fate of not just the dragon's, but their riders: Jon and Dany.

As the defenses of Winterfell failed and the dead began to rise up from the crypt's, it was hard to imagine our heroes getting out alive. Maybe a retreat to regroup and fight another day. But as Arya raced through the halls of the home she grew up in, hoping for a moment to collect herself after fighting so bravely, you grow concerned that maybe she's next. Every character that we've spent years watching in their development was depicted in acts of bravery, fear, and heroism.

Season 8 starts off on such an epic note, it could have been a finale. And it was, of sorts. With only 6 episodes in this season, it all moved very fast, but not without solid storytelling and foreshadowing along the way. You see, while there were fewer episodes than usual, the total runtime was on part with season 7. The episodes were extended in some cases up to an hour and twenty minutes long. It was all the time they needed to explain how everything falls into place without dumbing down the story for viewers.

There are no plots holes, only gaps in time where an intelligent viewer can fill in the pieces; such as traveling to King's Landing. When Dany makes a mistake with her dragons, she does not duplicate that mistake the next time around. Character development is such an important part of season 8 and it was so well done, through subtleties, that many of its critics were left angry and confused.

But it all made sense in the end. Every episode celebrated the victories of the past and prepared you for one final battle. The battle of King's Landing. We watched a standoff that led to the death of a beloved character. And when King's Landing was invaded everything that happened was equal parts horrific and justified. You see, the genius of storytelling under the direction of Benioff and Weiss gave us all the information we needed to anticipate what was going to happen. Some just refused to accept it because of their own preconceived notions of how it all should end.

When you complain about who sat on the throne at the end, remind yourself that Jaime Lannister being the "King Slayer" was more prophetic than you first realized. When you see the fate of King's Landing and it's "innocent" citizens, remember that these are the same people we hated in season 1 for celebrating the death of Ned Stark. When you question the descent into madness that occurred with Dany, remember everything that's ever been revealed about her heritage. A child of the "mad king". A Queen who was raped, murdered, tortured, assaulted, rose to power, showed no mercy to her enemies, and killed to serve as a lesson to others. Sure she was lovely and sweet when she found love in Jon Snow. And if anyone had a chance to bring her back into the light, it would be him.

A lot of finales get criticized for their choices. Sometimes it makes no sense. Sometimes we're left to just accept that the characters just go on living their lives, only we can't watch anymore. Sometimes it ends abruptly without any explanation. Sometimes we're left in tears with final goodbyes. And in some rare occasions, we are treated to a once in a generation spectacle of performances that delivers on all counts.

Which is why season 8 was so perfectly done, I can't express enough that TRUE fans of the series got the ending we deserved. This isn't Disneyland. This is a barbaric time and every episode of the entire run was meant to remind us of that.

When you have the budget for 10 episodes and shrink it down to 6, you find a series that has limitless potential for special effects and on location film sets. Every scene was shot with such perfection and detail that it's hard to imagine a way that it could have been done better. Episode 1 was criticized for being dark, but how else would you film a midnight battle in a world where torchlight was your only reprieve from the darkness? It added to the danger and suspense.

Season 8 of GAME OF THRONES was the perfect sendoff to a near flawless series. So where does it rank on our "Blast-O-Meter"? Let's take a look at a final season that checks all of the boxes for a thrilling end to an epic spectacle:

 

CRITICAL BLAST-O-METER

Not a Blast     A Blast     >A CRITICAL BLAST<

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0