I stared at my reflection in the black screen as the credits for the last episode of the last season of the world’s favorite TV show rolled.
I checked myself for wounds … but found nothing. No heartbreak, not even a little. My brother and I looked at each other, confused by our lack of confusion.
Game of Thrones, an HBO series based on the as-yet-unfinished book series by George R.R. Martin, has riveted millions worldwide since its premiere on April 17, 2011. The series follows a great many main characters and their families through the bloody power struggles of the mythical land of Westeros.
The eighth and last season, produced as six feature-length episodes, had the monumental task of wrapping up several intricate plot lines involving some of the most beloved characters TV has ever seen, in a manner that did justice to their careful and involved development over eight years.
Critics and fans are divided about the result. So am I. I fell in love with Game of Thrones not because of the excitement, gore, sex and gorgeous scenery, but because of the fascinating political sphere in which the lives of very human characters and the different ways they react to power are fearlessly portrayed. Here is a fantasy that defies the distinctions of good and evil, and instead relies on the strange, twisted dynamics of human nature.
The beauty of Game of Thrones lies in its willingness to disgust, repulse and seduce audiences with its uncomfortable reality. The intrigues are so fascinating because they bring out the worst and best not only in the characters, but also in ourselves, by examining our secret sympathies for the cruel and rejections of the noble.
I can safely say that I have enjoyed this last season immensely. The first three episodes, which deal with the battle against the Night King and his forces at Winterfell, were splendid. Watching characters who have been separated for most of the series come back together and reckon their losses and transformations was moving and brilliantly done.
Then episode five rolled around, and all the exquisite tension the season had built unravelled to make space for epic, sweeping visuals of fire, anger and regret. But then, in its crowning episode, instead of going out with the wild crackle ice makes when it meets fire, Game of Thrones melted. Much like the iron throne. The moment when Jon kills his beloved queen for the good of the realm had the potential to be brilliant, wrong, precious. But it happened so fast. We had no time to deny it, hate it, savor it. And then the rest of the episode was dutifully spent tying up every storyline with a neat bow.
There were moments: Tyrion declaimed on the importance of stories, a poignant truth all of the avid fans, myself included, understand only too well.
We wanted a satisfying finish to this dearest of stories. I would say that we got as satisfying an ending as anyone could have asked for. But it failed the rest of the series by not making me uncomfortable, confused or desperately curious.
Sure, we’re all so invested in this particular show that it would have been difficult to do right by everyone.
But if it was up to me, I’d prefer what Game of Thrones has never before failed to give me — a broken heart.
Hannah Laga Abram is a senior at the Santa Fe Waldorf School. Contact her at email@example.com.