But I’ve noticed one familiar feeling is missing: I’m not counting down the days until the “Game of Thrones” season premiere.
When the rumors began swirling that the eighth and final season wouldn’t premiere until 2019, I was devastated. But the closer we have inched toward the regular new Game of Thrones season, the more I realized I’m happy I get a break from disappointment this year.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the show, but the last few seasons just haven’t felt the same to me and are void of all the things that made me love it in the first place. I’ll try to keep this as light on spoilers as I can, but some minor ones might slip through. You have been warned.
Like everyone else in 2011, I said to myself, “Hey, that show has that ‘Lord of the Rings’ dude in it. I’ll watch it!” and have since converted all my close friends and a few strangers into Thrones-ians. I own all the seasons, I’ve read all the books that are out, including short stories and companion books, and I have submersed myself in this rich world and its characters created by George R. R. Martin.
My current disdain for the show doesn’t have anything to do with my love for the books. I did, and still do, defend a lot of the changes showrunners made when translating the books to the screen, but when they ran out of story to convert is when the problems began.
See, with the first four seasons, showrunners had Martin’s manuscript for characters and the story. There was still story they could interpret, as the end of season four began catching up to parts in Martin’s unfinished story, the problems began, and by season six we were all in new territory. While I believe the show is still hitting major plot points that are forthcoming in Martin’s saga, it too often arrives at these destinations by shoving characters into situations and breeding conveniences to further the plot.
In the earlier seasons, events like the brutal death of a beloved character that came as a surprise to viewers were actually a cumulation of wrong choices the character made to that point in the stories. The cause and effect, while not always blatant, was a big driver in the story and character development. It felt organic.
In later seasons, characters die off as a convenience, and the remaining ones are given bad dialogue and carted around to whatever destination is necessary and shoved into situations to push the plot forward at the speed of light. Fan favorites are given throwaway dialogue and tell bad jokes to pass the time. It feels forced and rushed.
I wish I could give more examples, but 1) I will be here writing all weekend if I don’t stop myself now, 2) I’m trying to keep this as spoiler-free as possible and 3) I have a word limit for this that I’m sure I’ve already surpassed.
If you’re a “Thrones” fan and you haven’t already, go back and watch some of the earlier seasons. Pay attention to the dialogue and how each event affects a character or situation. For now, I’m glad HBO is taking a year off to focus on the end. Despite my grievances, I still want a satisfying end to the show that has consumed seven years of life, and I’m still optimistic that it can happen.
Jessica Fuller is a staff writer at the Johnson City Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.