It’s fair to say that the final season of Game of Thrones has proven a touch divisive.
It was always going to prove a tall order bringing such a wildly popular series to a close in a way that pleases everyone. But all the same, we doubt HBO was expecting almost a million fans to be signing a petition urging them to reshoot the entire thing.
One of the most common criticisms facing these last episodes is that they feel like a mad dash to the finish. From the surprise early vanquishing of the Night King to Jaime and Brienne’s abbreviated love affair to Daenerys’s rapid descent into madness, the whole thing’s felt rather rushed.
This isn’t something unique to season eight, either. The previous season also felt markedly different to the six that had preceded it – with characters suddenly zipping back and forth across Westeros at record speed, it was clear that showrunners David Benioff and Dan ‘DB’ Weiss had put the pedal to the metal, accelerating their storytelling after years of taking a more considered and contemplative approach.
Though a little of this sort of thing is inevitable, even desirable, as a TV show heads towards its final episodes, Game of Thrones’ harshest critics have suggested that, without George RR Martin’s books to use as source material, the show’s last 13 episodes have felt like a more cartoonish, less nuanced version of the series.
It’s certainly interesting to note that, while the television series was already moving away from Martin’s books and including more and more original material, it was after production of the sixth season – at which point the five completed novels had been more or less exhausted – that Benioff and Weiss made public their decision to wrap up the TV show.
And it was very explicitly *their* decision. “There’s probably a world where we could have milked this thing for another eight seasons, and that would have been very lucrative for all of us,” producer Bryan Cogman said. “But [Benioff and Weiss] really wanted to go out on a good high point.”
It’s no surprise that HBO was in no rush to see its biggest money-maker come to an end. “HBO would have been happy for the show to keep going, to have more episodes in the final season,” Benioff told EW in April of this year.
“We always believed it was about 73 hours, and it will be roughly that. As much as they wanted more, they understood that this is where the story ends.”
Hence why there’s now a number of Game of Thrones follow-ups in the works, spin-offs that Benioff and Weiss were making clear they’d have no part of way back in 2016, before it had even been officially confirmed that HBO was developing any such series.
For his part, George RR Martin – who, again, does have a financial stake in all of this – has said that GoT could have continued for as many as 13 seasons, even suggesting that it would take at least that many for the show to be “completely faithful” to his books.
“I don’t know [why it’s ending],” he said last year. “Ask David and Dan… we could have gone to 11, 12, 13 seasons, but I guess they wanted a life.”
Martin was joking, but it’s a fair point – after almost a decade working on Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss are probably ready to move on… And that’s fair enough.
Regardless of any fan backlash to this final season, and despite HBO apparently cooling on their controversial slavery drama Confederate, the pair continue to find themselves in high demand.
Their “series” of Star Wars movies will be the next major outing for one of cinema’s biggest franchises post-Rise of Skywalker, while they’re also the subject of a bidding war between Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Apple, HBO/WarnerMedia and Comcast. According to Deadline, Benioff and Weiss are currently weighing up offers from all six studios to sign exclusive deals to develop new film and TV projects.