“Game of Thrones” fans are experiencing all of these stages of grief, from the outrage at a hasty conclusion, the petitions for a do-over of the final season (or two) and the questioning of what it all means. Fans and critics alike are arguing over Daenerys’ turn, whether it was truly bad, earned, or misunderstood, and if a new system under Bran would actually be worse for Westeros.
Still pondering the end of 'Game of Thrones'? Here's what to read about it
It’s hard to come to terms with death, even if said death is the end of a television program that loomed large in your imagination. Perhaps there is no way to do it without some denial, anger, bargaining, depression and (hopefully) acceptance.
Before the ink dries, keep the pages open and read on.
‘The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of “Game of Thrones”’ [Scientific American]
“The overly personal mode of storytelling or analysis leaves us bereft of deeper comprehension of events and history. Understanding Hitler’s personality alone will not tell us much about rise of fascism, for example. Not that it didn’t matter, but a different demagogue would probably have appeared to take his place in Germany in between the two bloody world wars in the 20th century. Hence, the answer to ‘would you kill baby Hitler?,’ sometimes presented as an ethical time-travel challenge, should be ‘no,’ because it would very likely not matter much. It is not a true dilemma.”
‘“Game of Thrones” Has No One to Blame but Itself’ [Slate]
“Brienne paused to think about how to narrate Jaime’s final regression in part because her struggle was ours, too. She nails it in five words: ‘He died protecting his Queen.’ Yes, this leaves out a great deal (Brienne is a historian willing to write herself out of it). But she has an excuse: She’s writing something more like a medieval chronicle than a history, and chronological lists of events don’t have to connect one to the other. Causality doesn’t have to be explained. No theory of politics need be attempted. Character hardly needs plumbing. Annals and chronicles have typically been seen as less analytical than ‘histories,’ which more explicitly (and narratively) attempted to connect causes to effects.”
‘“Game of Thrones”’ Series Finale Close-Up: The End’ [Rolling Stone]
“There’s more to anyone’s story — whether it’s Bran’s, Sansa’s, Tyrion’s or Hot Pie’s — than what happens to them. There’s how they respond in the moment, how it shapes them in the future and what it means in the larger context of the world in which they travel. And there are so many different levels to telling the story of a television fantasy epic. On some of those levels, ‘Game of Thrones’ was a jaw-dropping success that’s forever raised the bar for what can be done in this medium. On others, it fell maddeningly short.”
‘“Game of Thrones,” The Iron Throne’ [Los Angeles Review of Books]
“Everything this show knew about deep and complex human drives — drives to sex, to pleasure, to power — are grafted onto these women, so that in their deaths something new can take shape. So even as, in the future of Westeros, interesting men are becoming rulers, and interesting women have seats at the table, these acts of gender reimagining are taking place on the backs of the most conventional gender norm of all, one particularly wrenching to see played out this week: The norm that makes women the emblems for the furious, unmanageable parts of the human psyche that are incompatible with democratic reason.”
‘“Game of Thrones” tapped into fears of revolution and political women — and left us no better off than before’ [The Independent]
“So justice prevailed — but what kind of justice? The new king is Bran: crippled, all-knowing, who wants nothing — with the evocation of the insipid wisdom that the best rulers are those who do not want power. A dismissive laughter that ensues when one of the new elite proposes a more democratic selection of the king tells it all. And one cannot help but note that those faithful to Daenerys to the end are more diverse — her military commander is black — while the new rulers are clearly white Nordic. The radical queen who wanted more freedom for everyone irrespective of their social standing and race is eliminated, things are brought back to normal.”
‘Daenerys was right: King’s Landing had to burn’ [Vox]
“The elective monarchy is a recipe not only for weak governance while the monarch is on the throne, but for rounds of civil war, foreign intervention, and possible secession in the period immediately before and after the monarch’s death. ‘Game of Thrones’’s new world order is going to lead, in the long term, to much more killing than a proper Targaryen Restoration featuring a healthy dose of law and order and centralized control.”
‘Evil or Incompetent: The Bran Stark Edition’ [The Ringer]
“‘Why do you think I came all this way?’ Bran said when Tyrion asked whether he wanted to be king. It seems like Bran knew this was going to happen all along. That makes him more Simba than symbol, and it also raises a strange question: If Bran knew that thousands of people would die for him to become king, is he, like Tickle Me Elmo, secretly evil? Or is he just blisteringly incompetent?”
‘“Game of Thrones,” “Lost,” and the Problem with Knee-Jerk Finale Rage’ [Vulture]
“Everyone wants stories they enjoy to solidly land all their wheels on the runway and glide to a satisfying stop. But the last moment is not the only one that matters. If you enjoyed most of ‘Game of Thrones’ up until this past season, then you didn’t waste eight years of your life watching it. It just didn’t end the way you wanted it to. Frankly, that is not a TV show’s job. A TV show’s job is to move you and transport you and make you believe in the world and characters it has built. ‘Game of Thrones’ definitely struggled on that last front in its eighth season, but that shouldn’t negate what it accomplished and how enthralling it was for so many years.”
‘What Survives After the “Game of Thrones” Finale’ [The New Yorker]
“Get ready for the zombie horde: a deluge of high-priced epics, spinoffs, and rip-offs — serialized narratives in the ‘Thrones’ tradition, duly larded with sexposition and gravitas, fur vests and exotic weapons, each of them aiming to hit the demographic sweet spot. Most of these shows will miss, but something will hit. The real Iron Throne may be the sort of appointment TV that ‘Game of Thrones’ represented, something that I do think will survive. Technology alters television, but credulous, passionate, argumentative fanhood adjusts. You can’t melt that with a dragon.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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