Wednesday, June 19, 2024

GoT Season 8 Might Be Most Watchable in Years

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I’m having trouble putting my thoughts into words about the trailer for the final season of Game of Thrones that dropped today. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s not hard to see that it’s a very competently made trailer teasing one of the highest budget shows on television right now. It looked nice (at least after turning up the brightness on my computer all the way), and I’d expect no less of HBO’s flagship show at this point.

It’s just, this is a show I initially fell in love with, only to come to hate. It’s a show I’ve spent the past three years heavily analyzing—in part, because of my once-exuberance at it, and in another part, because it’s been critically acclaimed despite writing that’s rather obviously become shoddy—and the past 10 months revisiting. From the rage I experienced with Season 5, to the absolute hilarity of Season 6, to the near-numbness of Season 7, I have felt all there is to feel about this overhyped, sloppy, offensive, incoherent mess that passes as the most “outstanding drama” on television.

So really, what more is there for me to take away from the choice flashes of Season 8 that we got? Of course it opens on Arya speaking about how totally chill she is with death. Of course the Golden Company really is being ferried across the Narrow Sea by a Greyjoy to take up arms for the Lannisters, against a Targaryen contender. Of course Jon and Dany’s ~steamy romance~ was featured the most. I can’t even roll my eyes at it, because there is literally nothing else this trailer ever would have been. In the show supposedly known for its shocks, everything feels utterly formulaic and tired at this point.

However, there’s one thing that’s clear: we’re going to get all plots converging into one big, smashy battle with the dead. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t particularly like big, smashy battles. Heck, just yesterday a bunch of us were complaining about the dragging nature of “The Watchers on the Wall.” But I’ll still take them over the absolute nonsense politics, catty women, forced character 180°s, contrived conflicts, nonversations, and teleportation that has come to encapsulate Game of Thrones.

To be honest, this trailer makes it look like Season 8 is a really hard one to mess up. All the pieces are going to come together on one front. The stakes are super duper clear, and the timeline is fitting with the Wall having already fallen. It’s no wight-capturing mission for a poorly conceived truce aimed to protect undefined holdings. It’s no “there’s flurries in the 10-day forecast so we have to storm the defensive stronghold with a third of the necessary men now”. It’s really, really basic and straightforward.

Are there ways Benioff and Weiss could still mess it up, or somehow slither under this very low bar? Of course. I’m absolutely sure this year’s deaths will feel random and dialed up to 11. We also have [a crying] Cersei Cheryl to deal with, who will have to be swept off the chess board before the Night’s King, I’m guessing. But with what was shown to us in the trailer, I actually think there’s the makings of a somewhat tolerable season in here.

In fact, I will be so bold as to predict that it is at least going to be an improvement over Season 7, and could even top Season 6 as far as logic and contrivances are concerned. The true question is if it will be less viscerally unpleasant than Season 5, and to that as well, I have to think so. I mean, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” will forever be hard to beat.

As to the contents of the trailer itself, I’m afraid to say I don’t find it particularly worth analyzing absent of its context. Besides, I’m sure the whole season has already leaked on Reddit somewhere, plus there’s about 10,000 published “breakdowns” of this trailer by now. But what was given heavy emphasis was the dragons, possibly teasing Jon as a dragon-rider too. This made me hopeful that Season 8 will be more visual spectacle, and less…Benioff and Weiss actually trying to write any drama.

If I’m wrong, I’ll happily be the first to say. But for now, let me at least envision a season where I spent 80+ minutes each week a little bit bored, watching the limits of TV CGI pushed, rather than Arya threatening to cut off Sansa’s face and wear it.

Random observations

  • Tyrion was barely in this trailer. Has he been supplanted as the assumed audience fave?
  • Wow that writing for Arya is ~really badass~
  • Love everyone hiding in the crypts. How many times can they steal from Helm’s Deep? Will they make for the mountain passes?
  • The Golden Company’s helmets be in good company with Cheryl’s Queensguard
  • Help! All the pigment of Westeros really did go into Cheryl’s floor map!
  • POOR CHERYL! (Is she sad without the OTP, or the pregnancy hormones?)
  • Beric and Tormund are alive, I guess. I was totally on shpilkes there.
  • Gendry is standing two feet from Arya at one point, which means the shipping is going to be off the charts

Anything I missed? Let’s chat below.

Images courtesy of HBO

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