I’ve been a fan of Game of Thrones — a casual one, to be sure — since the series’ debut on HBO in 2011. I read and enjoyed the first book after I finished the first season, and I haven’t missed an episode of the show since, even when for two of the seasons I didn’t have HBO and had to watch the show at a friend’s place across town.
So, yes, of course I’ll be watching the new and final season of Game of Thrones. I even have HBO now, so I don’t have to go to my friend’s house!
But I have to be honest here in the days leading up to the premiere of the show’s eighth and final season — I’m sort of dreading the end of this show more than I am excited for it, for these five reasons…
1. The Lack of Episodes
There’s still so much story to tell. So many characters’ arcs to resolve.
And I feel like six episodes, no matter their super-sized lengths, is going to leave more of us dissatisfied than satisfied.
There’s so much pressure on everyone involved with the series, especially after this two-year hiatus, that I worry no matter what they do there’s going to be a sense of disappointment. Some great shows have ended perfectly, Breaking Bad from a few years ago to name one. But will this one stick the landing in such a short amount of episodes?
2. The Length of the Episodes
Am I the only one who would rather have ten 50-minute episodes than these six 80-minute behemoths? It’s great, I guess, to get more of the show than less of it in any given episode, but watching what is essentially a feature film week after week is going to be nothing short of exhausting.
Especially knowing this truly is the end.
There’s going to be so much going on that we’ll need to take a breather and yet never really get one. It’ll be like if Kill Bill had all been one movie and hadn’t been cut in two. That story needed to be broken in two and separated by six months. Six episodes in six weeks where four of the episodes are nearly 90 minutes? This is definitely going to be stressful.
3. The Climactic Battle Episode
I’ve heard about it, and I’m sure you have, too. Apparently one of these final episodes is for the most part one giant battle sequence. A fight that will be the most epic fight you could ever imagine. An hour or more of battle that will put the ending of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to shame.
The prospect of this episode might excite you. It might make your skin tingle with anticipation.
It doesn’t do this for me.
Instead it feels me with total dread, first that characters I love might die, second that my heart might start pounding and never stop, third that I might need to eventually pause the episode and take a break due to the utter stress of it all.
It sounds good in theory, but I feel like this particular episode might be bad for my health!
4. The Possibility of No Genuine Ending
Imagine what the response would be if about an hour into that climactic battle, the screen cut to black… and then that was the end of the show. If we had The Sopranos all over again. Something tells me the outrage would be heard the world over.
I don’t think anything like that’s going to happen, but still — there’s only so much the writers and directors can do in six episodes.
There’s only so much story they can get through. HBO has already announced new spin-offs in the works. At one point there was talk about five in various stages of development, although now it looks like just one is for sure being made.
With a spin-off in the near future, it’s possible not everything in these final six episodes will have a clear resolution. Not that everything needs to, of course. It’s basically impossible to resolve everything. But the show-runners might feel less of an obligation to tie up every loose end with a spin-off series in the works.
5. After Eight Years, It’s Actually Over
The spin-off is going to be something else, in the end. This version of Game of Thrones, this series, will be done in a few short weeks. After two years of waiting, there’s barely any time to mourn before the series finale in May. And then that’s it.
So many years of superb storytelling all comes down to these final six episodes, and I’m still not prepared.
I’m dreading this final season in a way… because in a blink of an eye it will be done.
When it comes to great shows and great film series, there’s always that reality that one day it will end. Harry Potter. The Lord of the Rings. Breaking Bad. The Walking Dead (maybe?).
Game of Thrones has been one of the great pop culture gems of the decade, riveting and emotional storytelling from the very beginning, and it feels strange to see it reach its inevitable climax. Even though it had to. Even though every story has to.
Let’s cross our fingers this particular show ends not with a whimper… but with the biggest bang imaginable.
Ana Paola on May 14, 2019:
Now that the season is almost done, I too do wish that they had more episodes. I am enjoying this season, but it does feel a bit rushed. I have yet to read the books and I am planning on starting them soon. Maybe the books will help ease the GOT show withdrawal? Great article by the way!