It's been almost two years since the highly acclaimed HBO fantasy show Game of Thrones ended with an unjustified and dissatisfactory ending. In the wake of big hype around the final season and a two-year wait for its premiere, fans took to blogs, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts to deduce theories on how Game of Thrones will address all the unanswered questions in the six-episode final season. The answer - it didn't. Neither did any of the theories fans suggested came true, nor did the creators address any of the easter eggs, hidden details, and long-hinted lore of the White Walkers. The result - Game of Thrones Season 8 is the least rated season of the show and is labeled as the most incomplete finale.
But why? Well, there was a ton of speculation around where the series was headed throughout the show's run, and the majority of the questions fans had were resolved as the show progressed. But there were still two major plot points that had to be somehow connected to what we've earlier seen in the show and they were; first, the White Walker storyline, and second, the Iron Throne. However, makers took a wholly different path with the finale, changing the course of events in a manner that everything with it felt non-canonical with the previous seasons.
Don't know how, but including those details and subplots that the viewers have embraced and lived with for all those seasons would have made some difference. So, here are the plot points that GoT makers totally ignored, giving us the forgettable conclusion of the best show there ever was.
Lyanna Stark: Jon's Parentage
Jon's parentage was one of the most mind-bending confusions throughout the character's journey. Remember the first season, when Ned promises Jon to tell him about his mother the next time they meet; unfortunately, Ned is beheaded in King's Landing and that never happened. Finally, when the creators decided to clear the clouds on Jon Stark's true parentage, it turned out he's Lyanna's son with Rhaegar, Ned's nephew. It was crucial information that was supposed to be out in public. However, makers decided to wrap this big reveal under a pig pile of rubble.
What's more frustrating is, despite the information being revealed to many characters including Jon's "cousins", no one came out with the truth, thus leaving the audience without any on-screen acknowledgment of Jon's parentage. Don't you think it's dishonest to Ned's character?
Jon Snow: King of the Bloody Seven Kingdoms Left In Wilderness
In the first episode, "Winterfell," Sam confronts Jon about how Dany killed his brother and father; well, I mean burnt them alive. Jon is shocked to the core, but he then tries to leave Sam saying, "I am not King now, I bent the knee". And Sam goes like, "I am not talking about the King in the North, I am talking about King of the Bloody Seven Kingdoms''. That gave me goosebumps. It was supposed to be a nod towards Jon being the true king of Westeros. Something each fan has been waiting for; to see someone like Jon, a true warrior, and protector of the realm to finally bless that damn throne.
But, in the conclusion, Jon was given a horrible punishment to now guide the now destroyed wall and join the now non-existent Night's Watch. Jon has always tried to find his place in this realm of chaos and war, fighting for the North, for his home, for the entire mankind. And in the end, he was left in the wilderness at his most vulnerable (after he witnessed so much destruction and had killed the woman he loved). That was harsh of the makers.
Whenever people will look back and see why people didn't like GoT finale, they'll remember the creators' treatment of the biggest ever subplot of the entire show. The Night King was where the show started. You can say it was Game of "Thrones", but when you tease a story from the first episode of the show, you have to give it some kind of closure.
Now we were told that Children of the Forest created the Night King to fight men. That was a remarkable metaphor for nature's fight against men, and when you put that with fantastical characters and mystical folklores, it gets better. But all we ever got was an anticlimactic end to the character without even a single shred of detail on his purpose or his significance, and he never talked once. All of those special VFX effects and makeup, felt in vain when Arya struck that dagger in Night King's abdomen. Nope. That wasn't cool.
The Long Night and The White Walkers
"The Long Night" is something that was talked about throughout the show. The tale of the first great war and the everlasting winter gave the viewers a hope of history repeating itself during the new winter, with Starks and the North at the center of the new war between the living and the dead.
As the show progressed, we got closer and closer to that epic and horrific moment. We saw both sides building up their defenses, while the men tried to set aside their differences, and then ultimately united (in a way) to fight the common enemy. And guess what, it lasted just an episode.
GoT writers ended the entire White Walker subplot in one single blow to the Night King, instantly vaporizing the hopes of the audience to learn more about the lore that has been hinted at from the very first scene of the show. The end of the White Walker storyline just to focus the last three episodes on the Iron Throne affected the entire season as well, leading to an overall incomplete narrative. George R.R. Martin must've been so angry at this one.
Bran "The Broken": King of Westeros?
I mean that's the most horrendous thing to do in the entire show. Don't know what the showrunners were thinking when they decided to conclude the war for Iron Throne this way. This was the part that killed Season 8. The idea of killing White Walkers in one single blow was already indigestible and on top of that, we had to see an undeserving candidate become King. It didn't just sideline more worthy characters for the Iron Throne, it also contradicted Bran's character development since he became Three-Eyed Raven.
Ever since Bran saw the whole truth, his character became mysterious, to the point that he stopped addressing himself as Bran Stark, but only Three-Eyed Raven. When Littlefinger addressed him as Lord Stark, he said, "I am not Lord Stark. I can't be Lord of anywhere", yet when asked to be the "King", he replied, "why do you think I've come all this way". That was insanely bad and a total disregard to a great character such as that of Bran, who was finally making a difference in the show's narrative.
The Tower of Joy: Howland Reed
The Battle at Tower of Joy and the subsequent events revealed the biggest secrets of the show to the audience. It even gave us a glimpse at a young Ned Stark and his battle with the mighty Arthur Dayne, giving us a nod to his relationship with the Daynes, as hinted in the books. Moreover, it proved that Ned was not always the best warrior and couldn't have won the battle if not for his friend Howland Reed.
Howland Reed is a Stark bannerman from House Reed, ruling from the seat of Greywater Watch. Howland was also the most trusted confidante of Lord Stark. But most importantly, he was the only one to have known the truth about Jon Snow and the last surviving man to witness the events that unfolded at Tower of Joy. After Jon's true parentage and his claim to the throne was confirmed, it was speculated that Lord Reed will come forward to reveal the truth to the North and maybe to the Lords of the rest of the kingdom.
But, neither did Reed show up and nor did Jon's identity go forward to be a significant part of the final season. Maybe, the showrunners just forgot about him.
The Night's Watch
The final episode of Season 7 saw the destruction of Eastwatch by the Sea, as well as a portion of the wall, allowing Walkers to pass and attack the North. By the end of the final season, Jon is shown the way to the Wall and is forced to take the Black. But since there isn't anything to defend now, Jon heads to the North of the Wall with Tormund and the rest of the free folk.
Well, the question is, what were the creators planning to do with Jon and the lore of Night's Watch? Neither was the destroyed wall addressed and nor was the lack of men to take the black. They just decided that it was valid to have Jon take the black again and without realizing that there's no Night's Watch left. Moreover, the finale never mentioned a word about how under Lord Commander Tollet's leadership, the numbers of the ancient force went so low.
Night's Watch's history and significance are more outmatched than any other army given their values and traditions. And Jon and his leader Commander Jeor Mormont were the epitome of that integrity. Not giving the ancient order a proper farewell was just pure ignorance.
The "Prophecy of Prince Who Was Promised": Jon vs. Night King
Stannis was the wrongly prophesied "Prince" who shall bring light onto the world. After Stannis's defeat and Jon's resurrection, Melissandre, the red priestess declared Jon as the "Prince Who Was Promised". The prophecy was supposed to mean about the one who'd lead the world and make it a better place. Jon did everything right, fought for the right, and was always wronged or betrayed. If he was the "Prince Who Was Promised", he should've been the one to end the Long Night, defeat Night King, and then eventually become the king. This would've set him on the right path of, in Davos Seaworth's words, "clear as much shit as he can".
But, instead, the showrunners made Arya the "hero of Winterfell'', made Jon a hopeless romantic, and made Bran the king. Since Jon become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, there was rising tension between him and the Night King. And it seemed personal. After taking Winterfell, Jon united the North under one banner, he bent the knee to Daenerys and even tried talking peace with Cersei. Ripping him of his prophesied future and his rightful claim to the throne was an injustice to his character arc, which has seen nothing but suffering from day one.
The man who ended the first Long Night; carried a burning sword, and killed the Night King with a blow of fire through his heart. The show often hinted a nod to a new Azor Ahai, who shall once again rise to end the coming winter and the enemy with it. As the show moved from one season to another, it looked as if it was Jon who was supposed to be a reincarnation of Azor Ahai. From time to time, Arya, Bran, and even Jaime were theorized to take the mantle.
Unfortunately, the Azor Ahai nods never turned into anything fruitful. Yes, Arya did kill the Night King, but not in a way Azor Ahai killed the previous one. Also, the theory was never even put into the discussion when the great army's leaders discussed the plans to defend Winterfell's castle against the White Walkers; not for one but three episodes.
The Mystery of Faceless Men
Another subplot surrounding Faceless Men in Braavos ended on a cliffhanger, never to be picked again after Season 6. It was speculated that the mystery behind Jaqen H'ghar and Arya's separation from the group will take some effect in the later seasons; however, we neither heard any mention of H'ghar or the House of Faceless Men. We never got any update on Faceless Men's agenda and the skeptical last conversation between H'ghar and Arya.
This loose end even goes far from Arya's experiences in Braavos. H'ghar and Arya meet for the first time in Harrenhal where he is posing as a Lannister soldier. Now it's still unknown why a Faceless Man was intruding on the Lannister Army? When H'ghar bids Arya goodbye, he says, "a man also has duties". Well, what duties? And most importantly, what was his significance in the core story of the show? Unfortunately, we will never know.
The Three-Eyed Raven
Three-Eyed Raven, and by that I mean Max Von Sydow's version of the character was charismatic and the actor's portrayal gave the show an entirely different path. The episode where Bran calls out to young Ned when he's about to climb up the Tower of Joy after defeating Ser Dayne showed that the powers of Three-Eyed Raven go beyond the barriers of time. Moreover, it gave Bran a different and forwarding character arc (which also got blown later).
But once Sydow's version was killed, there was no digging into Three-Eyed Raven through Bran. All that Bran did was warg into crows and keep a check on Night King's impending invasion through the Wall. The last thing we got to know is that the Three-Eyed Raven is the world's memory and that's the reason the Night King wanted him dead. Why the abilities were given to Bran and what was his true purpose was never addressed in detail.
Cersei's Golden Company Army
The Golden Company. The most ruthless army of mercs and warriors having thousands of horses and even elephants in their command. They were so good that the Queen hired them to add their strength to her Kingdom's defenses. But guess what, they were killed off in a jiffy, all of them; while their captain ran off to save his life, only to be killed by a spear.
After hyping up The Golden Company's strength in the penultimate season, viewers expected them to fight a long, fierce battle. They could've got some good screen time and at least a brave defeat. But even The Golden Company couldn't be saved from the wrath of GoT writers.
The Situation in the East
Danaerys brought her armies to the shore of Westeros to take her rightful kingdom back, but not before she liberated the cities in the East and set up a just and blissful rule for the people there. She even put Daario and the second sons to keep the Bay of Dragons in order in her absence.
But after she died, the Unsullied and Dothraki were sent to be on their own. And there was no information on what would become of the kingdoms of the East after the queen they pledged to is dead. Daario shan't have taken her death easy. Long story short, there could be at least some nod to the situation of the aftermath in the East just for the sake of a conclusive ending.
Jaime Lannister's Death
After taking his hand away, then building up a positive arc around him for not one but four straight seasons, ultimately leading the viewers to love him, Jaime was thrown back into the abyss, which was his "love for Cersei". I understand that Jaime had to be killed. It was always obvious. But him having an epiphany that despite all he has done, that he'll always be flawed and run away back to Cersei was just bad writing.
After all, he went through on his road to redemption, concluding his arc by defining his old self as his legacy is not just unacceptable but a total disregard to the character's unique development in the show's previous seasons.
There are certain things that have become acceptable about the show's ends and many of the above flaws can be ignored. It's just not easy to gulp down the fact that the beloved show ended with those many loopholes, leaving several things unanswered. The show's cinematography, set design, camera work, music, and acting performances were spot on, making the entire production one of a kind in television history. That's the reason the season won for Best Drama Series at the Emmys.
You can't disregard any of the Emmy wins for the season. It was just the writing that was heavily duped due to all those subplot snubs. Maybe, GoT Season 8 needed more episodes. Maybe it ended too fast, at a pace at which a lot of important stuff was left behind. Game of Thrones will always be remembered for the great television fantasy experience it gave to the audience; unfortunately, it will also be remembered for the unwanted Season 8.