Two years after it ended, I finally watched the series Game of Thrones. Okay, you can tease me for being a few years behind everyone else. But I don’t have cable TV at all, let alone HBO. So there was no reason I would’ve seen Game of Thrones while it was still on the air.
But every year for my birthday, I buy myself something. So for my 58th birthday last month, I bought the entire digital box set of Game of Thrones to see what all the fuss was about.
If nothing else, I finally understand all those GOT cultural references people have been using for the last decade.
I’ll say this about Game of Thrones, it sure isn’t boring. I haven’t read any of the books the series is based on, and I probably won’t. I’m not much for reading fantasy. I hated the Tolkien books with a passion when I tried to read them decades ago. It’s just not my thing.
So I admit, I went into Game of Thrones not expecting much.
Boy, was I wrong. It is really excellent.
Though, there were some things I didn’t particularly like. Actually two things specifically.
First, is it grisly as hell. Gory. I mean, do we really need to see someone’s intestines drop to the ground when he gets sliced by a sword? Ugh, good gracious it’s gory. During the Battle of Blackwater Bay, one guy gets the top of his head cut clean off. Grisly, grisly stuff.
But I suppose the fact that I was completely grossed out by the gore is a sign that the special effects are really good.
Second, like most premium-channel shows, the sex and nudity is over-the-top and gratuitous. Look, I’m no prude. But even I have my limits. 80% of the sex and nudity could’ve ended up on the cutting room floor and the series wouldn’t have lost a single thing.
But other than the occasional “intestines splashing to the ground” and too-graphic sex scenes, Game of Thrones is one of those shows you can’t stop watching. It is epic scale storytelling to be sure.
Watching Game of Thrones while at the same time as reading the 8-volume History of the English People was a fascinating experience as well. There are quite a few interesting parallels between the plot lines in GOT and the history of the English monarchy.
The struggle of succession that sets off the War of the Five Kings has a similar feel to both the Anarchy that followed the death of King Henry I and the Wars of the Roses between the Lancastrians and Yorkists.
King Joffrey reminded me of the young King Richard II who came to the throne as a boy and was such a tyrannical monster he got deposed by his own cousin, Henry IV.
The ongoing struggle between Scotland and England is also mirrored in Game of Thrones with the King of the North fighting to free the north from the rule King Joffrey in the South.
Even the wildlings from north of the wall bear a striking resemblance to the Viking invaders of ninth century England – which may explain why the show cast several Danish actors to play wildlings.
Speaking of special effects, I couldn’t get over how realistic the dragons were. Those dragons actually look like they exist in real life. It did not in any way look like computer animation to me. Just amazing work.
My favorite character is Arya Stark. Her journey is such an epic adventure. And the actress, whoever she is, did a hell of a job – surprising for someone so young.
The character I hated the most was Ramsey Bolton. Don’t get me wrong, I love good villains. Cersei Lannister, King Joffrey – you always need characters you love to hate. But good villains are characters that at some point you actually can relate to – or at the very least you can understand why they do what they do. But with Ramsey Bolton? There was absolutely nothing relatable about that psychopath. There was never a moment that I thought to myself, “Yeah, he’s awful, but you gotta hand it to him” or “Wow, he’s a monster, but can you blame him?” He is just irredeemably horrible.
Overall, I really enjoyed almost every character’s journey. There is a nice balance between serious character and the more lighthearted and comical characters. But I especially enjoyed the journeys taken by unlikely pairings of characters – like Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, or Arya Stark and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane.
There are so many twists and turns and unexpected moments in Game of Thrones, and all of it is handled rather deftly.
I admit, midway through the series I grew a little indifferent to the Daenerys Targaryen story arc. I don’t know if that’s the fault of the actress or the writing. Either way, I kind of lost interest in her before she even made it back to Westeros. If it weren’t for those amazing dragons, I’d have been bored silly by her.
I vividly recall the furious Twitter meltdown of 2019 when Game of Thrones aired its final episode. Man were people enraged. But the ending of the series didn’t bother me that much. Though I think I’m probably in the minority opinion on that. Sure, the final season isn’t up to the standard of the previous seven. But, honestly, I don’t know why everybody got so pissed off at the ending.
You should read through the user reviews of the final episode over at IMDB.com. Holy smokes, some of those guys were incandescent with rage over how Game of Thrones ended. So much drama in their reactions.
Like this reviewer:
The disappointment and sadness were so monumental, that I really asked myself ‘what is happening here!?’ And I found the answer. I felt like after wonderful years in a beautiful relationship, the love of my life broke up with me. Suddenly. Via SMS. Without explaining anything. Without collecting their things.
I myself did not feel that way.
My one complaint about the final season was it was only six episodes and, despite several of the episodes being ninety minutes long, everything was so rushed. The only thing that wasn’t rushed was the Great Battle with the Army of the Dead at Winterfell, and really, that should’ve been a half hour shorter than it was. Had it been the first time we saw the army of the dead in action, it would’ve been fine. But it was the third time the good guys battled them and I was kind of over it by the time we got to this BIG BATTLE.
But even with that, I didn’t fly into a rage over the last season. I certainly didn’t feel like I suffered a traumatic break-up. Sure, it was a tad anti-climactic, but hardly what I would call a travesty.
Overall, I’d give Game of Thrones eight out of ten stars.
I’ll watch it again and again — which is always a sign of a good show.
If you have been living under the same rock I have and haven’t seen Game of Thrones either — especially if you enjoy action/adventure/fantasy — it’s well worth your time. But if you hate grisly gore and gratuitous sex, you might want to skip it.
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