Game of Thrones Season 8: A One-Year Anniversary Tribute
As we near the one-year anniversary of Game of Thrones Season 8 and my mind longs for Winds of Winter, I found myself contemplating how I truly felt about the final season of what could potentially end up as the greatest show of all time. So, I turned my TV on, sat down, and binged the entire season in one sitting. Granted, this was actually a long time coming, as I did re-watch the entire series up until that point in my COVID-19 quarantined state, but that’s besides the point. I noticed there were a lot of things I liked early on… then a lot of things I didn’t like as the season progressed, and I also noticed how some lesser characters ended up with much better endings than some of our main heroes after having almost no screen time whatsoever. So, the second I finished I sat down at my computer and began putting this small novel of a review together. Sorry (but really I’m not) in advance.
Re-Watch of the Final Season
After watching the final season for the third time (Second re-watch was about 48 hours after the final episode aired), it’s safe to say that I am very salty about how a show of this caliber could end in the manner it did. My first two watches left a bitter taste in my mouth, but at least I could kind of wrap my head around the way things were done. This time, I was befuddled, and I think it finally set in that this was the ending we were stuck with for the rest of eternity. There was just so much left unanswered and so much that, in my personal opinion, could’ve been done better. Which leads us to my first breakdown analysis categories that I have so cleverly named “Things I Liked” and “Things I Disliked”.
Things I Liked
- The New Intro sequence absolutely slaps: I loved seeing the kingdoms of Westeros in more depth
- Bran’s transition from creepy and weird to awkward and hilarious
- Theon’s redemption arc
- The Battle of Winterfell
- Tormund and his drinking shenanigans (But for real, which coward s*** Tormund’s pants!?)
- Brienne’s Knighting
- Lady Mormont’s general presence
- Lady Mormont’s sacrificial death
- Pod’s singing (oh… my… god…)
- When Melisandre ignited the Dothraki arakhs (the trench lighting was pretty dope as well)
- The shot with Dany and Jon eclipsing the clouds on Drogon and Rhaegal
- When Arya and Melisandre tie together her “brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes” quote from back in season three
- Each and every short joke directed at Jon Snow
- Post Missandei Grey Worm
- The Dany and Drogon Wing scene from the finale
Things I Disliked
- The almost immediate hatred between Dany and Sansa
- The Jaime/Brienne storyline: This seemed so forced… I believe it wasted time and resources that could’ve been spent on more important things
- Speaking of wasting resources… Everything involving the Golden Company seems pretty pointless right about now
- The lack of detail surrounding Cersei’s pregnancy
- Our favorite dire wolf, Ghost, having about 180 seconds of screen time
- How quick Dany’s personality changes… I know it’s been hinted out for eight seasons, but even five more minutes of crazy before episode five would’ve helped (*cough, cough* Jaime and Brienne storyline)
- Lack of Arya using her face swapping talent (ESPECIALLY since this could’ve completely avoided the slaughter of innocents and armies)
- The Vale warriors disappearance in the Battle of Winterfell
- The Stark Crypts coming to life… most of those bodies would have been 1,000% deteriorated. And the ones that weren’t should have had no chance in hell of clawing through STONE to escape
- Dany/Jon’s plan to send the Dothraki out to their obvious deaths. They both knew how many wights the Night King had under his control (à la episode six of season seven), yet they still sent what appeared to be 99% of them towards the monstrous wave of undead
- The Night Kings loss of accuracy with his ice spear. Like, this guy hit Viserion from a country mile, yet misses Dany and Drogon from thirty yards?
- The fact that there were still so many Dothraki alive in episodes five and six was also pretty confusing
- Bran’s constant denial of “wanting” the throne, yet acknowledging that he “played” everyone to get the throne (“why do you think I traveled all this way” -.-)
- John leaving Ghost. I get that the massive dire wolf doesn’t really have any place in the siege of a city, but John didn’t need to act as if he hated Ghost and never wanted to see him again (especially without a real goodbye)
- Cersei not killing Drogon… or Dany… or any of the Khaleesi’s army when they were, oh I don’t know, 100 yards away from the walls of Kings Landing. It makes ZERO sense for Cersei to not take full advantage of this apparent weakness and grab an instant win. Dany is going to attack the city either way, why not shoot a few scorpion bolts and attempt to make the ransacking of the city a little harder?
- The entire scene with Jaime and Euron… once again, could’ve spent that 10 minutes of episode on something more important
- Jaime and Cersei’s death was underwhelming to say the least
- The fact that Tyrion finds Jaime and Cersei so easily. Plus the fact that he only moves three bricks before finding them… pretty sure the Lannister lovers could’ve survived that “cave in” within Maegor’s Holdfast
- The pure DISRESPECT thrown at the Reed family… how can you not even mention them in the final season (LOL)
- The lack of Ellaria and Tyene. Could’ve had a great scene with Cersei and Ellaria that would’ve taken 45 seconds just to verify the gruesome death they set up for the two of them in season seven
If I’m being honest, there was a lot more on that dislike list, but I decided enough was enough. Let’s jump into the season eight power rankings.
Game of Thrones Season 8 Power Rankings
#6 – Bronn
Even with almost no screen time in season 8, this man ended up as one of the most powerful people in all of Westeros. As the new Master of Coin, Bronn is now the Lord of Highgarden and has the power of handling all the seven kingdoms coin, which is a pretty big deal for someone who started the show as a cutthroat sell sword. Especially when you think that he probably had nothing to his name besides a small bag of coin, the clothes on his back, and his trusty sword when Tyrion first met him. Not too shabby for a character who had maybe 7 minutes of screen time in the most important season of Game of Thrones.
#5 – Brienne of Tarth
Brienne had much more time in comparison to Bronn, yet she also ended up quite a winner when all was said and done. She survived the Battle of Winterfell, fulfilled all of her promises, hooked up with the love of her life (which unfortunately was NOT Tormund Giantsbane), and landed herself as Lord Commander of the Kingsgaurd. The latter portion of her new accolades is very impressive, and it also makes Brienne one of the most influential people in all of Westeros. She will, hands down, push the seven kingdoms in the direction they need to be pushed, and I truly wish we could watch the rest of her story unfold.
#4 – Sansa Stark
Sansa was such an integral piece to the final season and got every single thing that she deserved… besides the crown! I full-heartedly believe Sansa should have been named queen, but I also don’t hate that she rules the North as its own independent kingdom. Let’s be real, ruling over one kingdom by itself is probably much more lax than ruling over seven anyways, right? She also “got rid of” Dany, which was probably an exceptionally incredible feeling for the newly crowned Queen of the North. All in all, a pretty solid ending for Sansa.
#3 – Drogon
Out of every single power ranking I’ve read for season eight, not one has mentioned Drogon anywhere. Think of all the things he did within Game of Thrones Season 8: He was the only dragon to survive, evaded an insane amount of scorpion bolts (and one poorly thrown ice spear by the Night King), finally was used to his full potential, completely merked Kings Landing, and is now living on his own in complete freedom somewhere unknown to everyone. How can all that not classify him as a top-tier power player in season 8?
#2 – Bran Stark
As much as it pains me to place Bran in my power rankings, he absolutely has to be placed here. He one million percent played every single person in this entire show for the last two plus seasons. I cannot stand the fact that he was crowned ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. It’s probably the biggest flaw to the end of this series in my opinion, but he did outmaneuver everyone (including the Night King) which makes this whole season a pretty powerful case for him to be ranked so high. Everything he did, every statement he made, every piece of advice he gave, was all to make sure he ended up as the ruler of the seven kingdoms. On top of all this, his character did a complete 180 from the other seasons. He moved from the weird, creepy brother to the funny, witty brother, and that was a massive leap for the character.
#1 – Arya Stark
To me, it’s a no-brainer that Arya is the ultimate power player from season eight. Without her sneaky, faceless-man, dagger drop and stab, Winterfell falls. If Winterfell falls, The Night King and his undead army move south and, most likely, take Kings Landing pretty easily. This holds especially true if both Drogon and Rhaegal fall during the battle of Winterfell, since Dany ends up taking the capital with only Drogon. That alone pushed her to the top for me, but we also see that she still very much cares about the safety of others in the latter half of the season, and that her story is just beginning, which is just extra icing on the GOT cake.
Three Key Players I left Off my Power Rankings
- Tyrion Lannister: The reason I left Tyrion off is that I didn’t really see him as a winner at any point in this season (besides for the fact that he wasn’t killed). A lot of people see him as the “ruler” since Bran “never wanted to be king”, but that then takes away from the entire sneaky storyline of Bran “coming all that way.” Tyrion is still one of the best characters of ANY show of all time, but I just don’t see him as a winner in season eight.
- Jon Snow: Similar to Tyrion, Jon didn’t win anything. Yeah, he’s technically free to do whatever he wants in the north with Tormund now, but other than that his season mostly sucked. He found out he was the rightful heir to the throne, even though he wanted nothing to do with ruling. He was then convinced to kill the second love of his life (R.I.P. Ygritte, still too soon) before becoming a prisoner. I wanted so much more for Jon, but I guess now he will just be known as the wildling traitor who abandoned the Nights Watch… twice.
- Samwell Tarly: Sam ended up as Grand Maester (still not really sure how LOL) and gets to write A Song of Ice and Fire (which, by the way, is probably the dopest tie in to a show of all time). I’m assuming he was also pardoned from his abandoning of nights watch, even though there’s probably just no nights watch left at this point. I love Samwell to death, but his season just didn’t amount to as much as the others even with this massive accomplishments. Another character that had so much potential that was left in the background for most of the season.
Favorite Characters Throughout ALL Seasons
With all of that being said about season eight, Game of Thrones will still always hold an extremely special place in my heart. I had so many incredible years with this show, and even though the ending wasn’t what I’d hoped for, the show itself is still a GOAT contender. It defined the new era for fantasy television and led us to the discovery of so many amazing actors, battle scenes, and inside jokes. So without further ado, let my All-time character list commence.
#8: Ramsay Snow/Bolton
This may be controversial, since he was one of the most evil, villainous characters in the show, but Ramsay Bolton was one of my all-time favorites. He brought so much excitement, horror, and nervousness to the show: all of which makes for excellent television. We witnessed him completely eradicate Theon’s cocky persona over the middle seasons, then he kills his father and makes himself Lord of Winterfell, and then we get the epic conclusion to his story when he fights Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards. Ramsay is easily one of the most hateable characters from the show, yet I can’t stop myself from loving every single second his face was on my screen.
#7: Tormund Giantsbane
What’s not to love about this Wildling mountain man who was touched by fire? Constant witty banter with legitimately every single character in the show? Check. Facial expressions that can make you laugh without any volume to his words? Check. A character arc that goes from funny bad guy to hero that you love? Triple Check! Kristofer Hivju absolutely slayed his role as Tormund. He was #2 on my season eight list of “No way, they can’t do this to us… they can’t kill (favorite character’s name here).” Not to mention, of all the stories to end the series, he probably lucked out with the best one. He gets to live out the rest of his days with his best bud, Jon Snow, as they do whatever they want out beyond the wall. Talk about a solid end, am I right?
#6: Ser Davos Seaworth
I’ll be honest, Ser Davos was a teen tiny bit annoying and dull towards the beginning of the series, but right about when he learns to read was when the switch flipped on him for me. After that moment, it seemed like he always had such great comments to everything everyone asked of him. Not to mention, once Stannis dies and Davos makes the transition over to Jon, he becomes the coolest grandparent-figure, trusty advisor, and friend to the newly crowned King in the North. Davos is hands down one of the wiser men in the show as well, and maybe even the second oldest person we ever see on screen. I mean, even he knows that after all he’s done, he’s only “live to a ripe old age.”
#5: Jon Snow
I’ve always thought of Jon as one of my favorite characters, but as the series progressed, his brooding intensified, and his story played out, I found him right here, stuck at #5 on my list. Don’t get me wrong, Jon is an absolute badass, I just think his character spiraled downwards for me in the last two seasons. Obviously, I realize that this is in no way the character’s fault (or Kit Harrington’s for that matter), but it doesn’t mean that how D&B portrayed him towards the end didn’t drop him in my rankings. He was hyped up so much and basically ended up being a dud. A criminal banished to the Nights Watch, which more than likely doesn’t (and will never) exist anymore, who then abandons that post to live north of the wall with the wildlings. Hopefully GRRM’s version of Jon in the final two books has a better story. Maybe then he will make his way back towards his rightful spot within the Mount Rushmore of GOT characters.
#4: Ser Bronn of the Blackwater
Do you remember my list of “No way, they can’t do this to us… they can’t kill (favorite character’s name here)” from above? Well Bronn was #1 on that same list in season seven. The reason Bronn falls so high n the rankings for me is because he’s an OG that goes all the way back to season one. Plus, he’s given us many more laughs than most, including the Wildling be’ar-do-well, Tormund Giantsbane. He ended up with one of the most impressive character arc’s – Sell sword to knight, knight to Lord, Lord to Master of Coin – even with the complete dud of a season eight that he was given. And how could I forget all the buddy cop scenes between him and Tyrion throughout the first four seasons of the show. I would pay so much money a month to get a spin off of Game of Thrones that just followed those two around Westeros (get on it HBO).
#3: Arya Stark
Arya has always been towards the top of my favorite characters list for the sole purpose that she was a little badass lady, but she somehow managed to only become more badass as the show progressed. She’s another character that I think will have even more backstory in GRRM’s upcoming books as well, hopefully with a solid chunk of that giving us much more depth within The House of Black and White. She is one of few characters that I think needed little to no tweaks (and that D&B didn’t screw up). Her story was borderline perfect, and the only thing that maybe could’ve topped it off would’ve been crossing that final name off her list before sailing west of Westeros. FYI, I would watch an Arya spin off in a heartbeat if HBO were to make one… but I don’t think we will ever get that lucky.
#2: Oberyn Martell
I know, I know, Oberyn was only in seven episodes within one season, but could you imagine what could have been if he didn’t get his skull exploded!? Within those seven episodes, Oberyn low-key made King’s Landing his b****. Plus, he almost defended the innocent Tyrion Lannister while avenging his sister’s death. If only he didn’t get so cocky with the literal mountain of a man that is Gregor Clegane. Oberyn left a massive mark on the show in just seven short episodes, I could not imagine how differently the story turns out if he survives and saves Tyrion. Well… actually I can. Myrcella lives, Tyrion (probably) never helps Dany, Oberyn exacts justice on Tywin, John is named rightful ruler well before Dany makes her way to Westeros, Cersei never rises to the same level of power (and maybe doesn’t rise to power at all), etcetera, etcetera. Even without all of those possibilities, Oberyn finds himself at #2 in my greatest characters list.
#1: Tyrion Lannister
I think this goes without saying, but how can Tyrion Lannister NOT be your favorite character? Not only did he have the most screen time throughout all 73 episodes of the show, but he also started season eight off with the most incredible ball joke to Varys. Tyrion, without a doubt, has the greatest everything throughout all eight seasons of Game of Thrones. Final few seasons equals the greatest hair and beard. In all seasons he has the greatest comments, retorts, and jokes (if only we got to hear that one about the jackass and the honeycomb). Tyrion also has some of the greatest strategies (give or take a few from season seven) and ideas that the realm has ever seen. He’s a godsend to the realm, and even after everything he does, bran still wants him as his hand of the king. Hopefully he lives a long, full life in the new Westeros, and one day gets to die how he’s always wanted.
My Least Favorite Characters
I know I’ve already written about 47,638 words on this article, so I’ll go ahead and keep my least favorite character list as short as humanly possible.
- Cersei Lannister: I dislike Cersei so much I am not even going to go into detail on why I dislike her. I think it’s pretty obvious that she is the worst human of all time and I wish she would’ve had a better on-screen death.
- Littlefinger: He was a solid character… until he helped capture (and essentially kill) Ned Stark. Plus, his voice got deeper and raspier as the show progressed, and that honestly made listening to him the most annoying thing EVER.
- Joffery: Nuff’ said.
- Melisandre: Melisandre had an incredible character arc, but she did so many awful things that pushed her right off the cliff into the pit of dislike. Like, she sacrificed a little girl… that’s just plain wrong on so many levels.
- The Mountain: Gregor Clegane was the perfect POS human being for Game of Thrones. I hate that Sandor had to die in order to kill his big brother, but it was a death that was much deserved for everything The Mountain has done throughout his eight season tenure.
- The Sand Snakes: This applies to both Ellaria Sand and her three daughters. They were all just annoying, and the storyline with Ellaria and Tyene gets wiped under the rug in season eight. I feel like D&B should’ve at least given us a glimpse of these two in the final season.
Now, we will discuss my favorite secondary characters in alphabetical order… Just kidding, you’re finally at the end! And so am I, at least for quite some time. Game of Thrones was a massive piece of my life over the last few years, and even though I’ll always love this show, this re-watch showed me that it’s time for a break. At this point, even though my watch has not ended, I’m for sure pulling a Jon and heading north of the wall with Tormund for a few years. Poor decisions made by D&B led to an extremely underperforming final season, and even though it sucks, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that’s the ending that I’m stuck with. Point-blank, period. One day, GRRM will release his ending, and hopefully that ties up more of the questions that are still etched in my brain after season 8, but if not… oh well. It was a wild ride, Game of Thrones. Until next time.