THIS season has cost a staggering £8million an episode to make – and it was not hard to see why in Monday night’s epic instalment.
The penultimate ever Game Of Thrones episode was a relentless 90-minute bloodfest that saw an entire city torched to the ground and its innocent citizens burned alive.
But it was also the most divisive episode yet, with many fans saying producers had RUINED their beloved show — and they gave it the worst rating in its history.
It scored just 49 per cent on website Rotten Tomatoes, the respected barometer for the critical success of TV shows and films. This year’s series opener scored 92 per cent.
Many claimed the sadistic actions of one-time heroine Daenerys Targaryen had trashed the character’s development over the past decade.
Fan Roman Nicholson summed it up on Twitter: “Never have I seen such brilliant directing, cinematography, acting, editing, music, sound editing and visual effects set to such bulls**t writing.”
Another added: “Ten years developing a strong, loving and kind-hearted character just to ruin everything she stood for in one season. Daenerys Targaryen you truly deserved better.”
The battle of King’s Landing was an event all fans have been looking forward to, with the fantasy drama’s rival queens facing off. On one side was Cersei, actress Lena Headey’s evil yet brilliant monarch, protected by Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet and mercenaries the Golden Company.
On the other was Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, backed by her dragon Drogon, lover/nephew/rightful heir to the throne Jon Snow and the remnants of a massively depleted army.
Never have I seen such brilliant directing, cinematography, acting, editing, music, sound editing and visual effects set to such bulls**t writing
If you followed the character hints closely, it played out pretty much exactly as expected — with Daenerys succumbing to her Targaryen blood and going “mad”, murdering thousands of innocent people despite their surrender.
Fans were furious however with Cersei’s eventual death — in the arms of her twin brother while a younger and more beautiful queen toppled her kingdom.
Many lashed out at the melancholy scene which saw her in tears, realising she had got it very, very wrong as her Red Keep castle collapsed on top of her.
Oh, and there was just too much death. Full stop.
It has certainly been a rollercoaster of a final series.
Since this shortened season eight began, we’ve seen plot lines tidied up, loose ends knotted together — and a LOT of bloodshed.
Fan favourites have met their ends in ways befitting their service to us, while others have been cast aside in the shocking way only Game Of Thrones can. But fans are worried that after watching 72 episodes so far and emotionally investing in the series, they are not going to get an ending they want.
Their fear seemed to be backed up by Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, when she said: “I think a lot of fans will be disappointed and a lot of fans will be over the moon.”
If the ending climax is not exactly how the fans have pictured it in their minds, or if the characters act differently from how the keyboard warriors have deemed perfect, there will be hell to pay.
Audience splits are inevitable, but the level of ferocity in the criticism has been surprising for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, fans still have an episode to go. Secondly, and more importantly, in the words of one of the show’s best baddies, Ramsay Bolton: “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
After all, one of the show’s most famous catchphrases, Valar Morghulis, translates to: “All men must die.”
For the producers, the controversy just helps fuel interest.
While Thrones was not the first box set to grab our attention, what it has done better than any other is keep us guessing.
A masterclass in television making, it is far from faultless but it has succeeded in grabbing the world’s attention.
However, that was not always the case. The original pilot was so bad the show nearly never got made, and no one outside producer HBO’s upper echelons has even seen it. And the very first episode now looks small, even a bit twee.
The fact it went on to grow into the biggest show in the world is testament to the stories of George RR Martin, who wrote the novels the series is based on, and the vision of showrunners Daniel Weiss and David Benioff, who are now taking on the next Star Wars film.
When TV channel Sky Atlantic launched, it took Game Of Thrones on as part of its deal with cable channel HBO without even seeing it.
A fantasy series about medieval-style kings and queens, zombies and dragons only a few years after The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was one hell of a risk.
Thanks to classic series The Sopranos and Breaking Bad we were used to cheering on a morally dubious hero, but Thrones took this to the next level.
It did not label our heroes and left us to make up our own minds — something that is continuing right up until its last breath.
The “goodies” are as damaged as the villains, with the exception of Jon Snow, who has been damaged by others in every other way possible — but his heart remains in the same upstanding place it has always been.
But we learned very quickly not to hold anyone dear — as the show’s trademark was to casually exterminate its leads.
It has been a brutal, devastating but hugely entertaining game-changer.
Come Monday night though, and it is gone, for ever. What will fans say then?
WHO WILL WIN IRON THRONE?
AS we steel ourselves for Monday’s grand finale, the question remains – who will take the Iron Throne, above?
We take a look at the odds of those left standing.
TYRION: He certainly has the cunning and the brains to rule – but he’s never really put himself in the running.
He’s more happy with being a trusted adviser and being left to drink.
But with Daenerys gone bad, will he have to step up?
JON SNOW: It's almost boring to consider Jon as the eventual winner because it’s what we all expect.
Noble, handsome, empathetic, loved by all.
Almost too good to be true, surely?
DAENERYS: Up until this season, we couldn’t wait for Daenerys to show King’s Landing what she and her dragons were made of.
After this week’s bloodbath though, it’s going to take one hell of a plot twist for her to come good and triumph.
ARYA: OK, there’s no denying her ability in battle – she killed the seemingly invincible Night King, after all.
But she’s just too much of a loner to want the responsibility.
She’s also more than a little two-faced.
SANSA: Unbelievably, the snotty brat who just wanted to marry a prince has emerged as a true leader.
Her years under Littlefinger’s tutelage have paid off. She’s Queen of the North, at the very least.
BRAN: He's not Bran you idiot, he’s the Three-Eyed Raven.
Not much use in battle, wheelchair-bound Bran is a long-shot.
Plus, he’s got quite boring – does anyone really want to listen to his all-seeing superiority?
Most shocking scenes so far
MONDAY’S episode rocked fans with its shocking scenes. Jamie East picks five other moments that shook Westeros to its core.
CERSEI AND THE SEPT OF BAELOR: Hell hath no fury like a Cersei scorned. This was the evil queen at her very best, getting all her enemies in one place, then – in one of the best- made sequences of the entire show – KABOOM.
JON SNOW’S TRUE LINEAGE: Many suspected it – and lots more were hoping for something like it – but when it was finally revealed that Jon was not Ned’s illegitimate son but the true heir to the throne, we all gasped.
SANSA AND RAMSAY’S WEDDING: Ramsay raping Sansa on her wedding night in front of Theon was controversial. It did a lot for Sansa and Theon’s character development, but was criticised as yet more OTT sexual violence.
STANNIS SACRIFICES SHIREEN: One of the most gut-wrenching scenes. Young Shireen, crying out for her mother and father Stannis, as they watch her burn alive still clutching her carved stag toy. Bloody hell.
THE RED WEDDING: I’m 45, and seeing Robb shout “Mother!” and hearing his mum’s guttural wail as they are both stabbed in a massacre still gives me nightmares. Makes the death of Bambi’s mum look like Phoenix Nights.
NAME OF WOES FOR 371 ‘KHALEESI’ KIDS
HUNDREDS of parents who named their kids Khaleesi, one of the many titles of heroine Daenerys, are gutted after she used her dragon to massacre thousands of unarmed women and children in the latest episode.
The once-inspirational Dragon Queen turned evil last night, shocking fans, who took to social media to air their dismay – and mock parents who named their daughters after her.
One Twitter user wrote: “Spare a thought for all the babies out there called Daenerys & Khaleesi, who will find out in a few years that their name literally means ‘Hitler on a dragon’.”
Another said to kids named Khaleesi: “Your parents owe you an apology.”
Figures show 371 babies in the UK have been named Khaleesi since the show’s debut in 2011.
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