Everyone is chasing “the next Game of Thrones.” TV executives have been frantically looking for a new blockbuster series to fill the dragon-sized void in everyone’s Sunday night since the HBO fantasy series ended in 2019. The Wheel of Time, His Dark Materials, The Witcher and Shadow and Bone all tried to conjure some Westeros magic, and this year Amazon is looking to cash in on the fantasy craze with a new imagining of The Lord of the Rings.
The series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has one problem ahead, with a force more powerful than anything in Sauron’s army: Game of Thrones fans. The Lord of the Rings is set to begin releasing episodes at the beginning of September, but later this month, HBO will debut the new Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. Which franchise will come out on top?
Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon follows a different generation of Targaryens and Lannisters vying for the Iron Throne. The show certainly has fans excited, but the memories of Game of Thrones’ final season haven’t completely evaporated. Unless you’ve already forgotten, the eighth season of Game of Thrones was such a letdown it managed to ruin the entire journey built up over the previous seven seasons.
There’s underwhelming, there’s disappointing, there’s crushing, and then there’s Game of Thrones Season 8. If you need a recap, here’s a quick guide to all of the dumbest moments from the biggest letdown in television history.
Just Six Episodes?
Game of Thrones typically had 10 episodes per season, as do most HBO shows. Season 7 shortened it to just seven episodes, and Season 8 had only six. It would be one thing if these episodes were all feature-length, but the longest installment of the season was the 80-minute long finale “The Iron Throne.” That hardly seemed like enough time to pull off two major battles, properly close out the fate of all seven kingdoms and give multiple character the deaths they deserved.
Like Lord of the Rings before it, the first few seasons of Game of Thrones had a lot of walking. They showed the extensive amount of time that it took to get from place to place, and made the world feel more expansive. Not in Season 8. It takes Jon Snow and his friends what seems like a few days to travel all the way from the North to get to King’s Landing.
The Epic Battle That No One Could See
The Game of Thrones showrunners promised that the final season would feature the largest, most epic battle in the show’s entire history. The episode promised to be bigger than “Blackwater,” more violent than “The Watchers on the Wall” and more exciting than “The Battle of the Bastards.” This was the battle between the living and the dead. Maybe it was an incredible battle, but due to the strange lighting choices, it was virtually impossible to see what was going on. Who all died?
The Night King’s Foresight (Until It Disappears)
The Night King has the foresight to see anything that’s happening in Westeros. He can peek through time, bring back his allies from the dead and freeze his enemies into ice. Apparently, he’s not able to turn around. The Night King is so intent on taking down Bran Stark that he can’t seem to see Arya’s surprise attack. Maybe he was just as blinded by the lighting as the viewers.
The Starbucks Cup
The show that had been praised for its detailed precision made a truly baffling gaffe. In the backdrop of John and Daenerys’ victory over The Night King’s army, a Starbucks cup can be spotted in the midst of the celebration. It would've been cuter if this was the only error, but the season finale also featured a surprise appearance by a plastic water bottle.
Jamie Is Good, But Then He’s Bad Again
The redemption of Jamie Lannister is one of Game of Thrones’ most compelling character arcs. The guy who pushed a child out of a window in the very first episode somehow became a hero that we cared about. Jamie’s story feels complete when he crowns his new lover, Brianne, a “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Then, he decides that he’s still in love with his sister, Cersei, and ducks out. It wasn’t consistent with his characterization at all.
Daenerys “Forgot About the Iron Fleet”
In “The Last of the Starks,” Daenerys sails her army toward King’s Landing to confront Cersei. Even though she has the ability to fly on her dragon into the sky, Daenerys isn’t able to see an entire fleet of soldiers coming. What explanation did showrunner David Benioff give? In a meme-worthy moment from the episode’s commentary, he mentions that Khaleesi “kind of forgot about the Iron Fleet.”
Jon Is the True King, But It Doesn’t Matter
The sixth season revealed a plot twist that some dedicated fans had been tracking since the beginning. Jon Snow is no bastard. His adopted father, Ned Stark, secretly hid John’s true heritage from him. He is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and the true and rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Not that it actually matters. Jon just decides to abandon his destiny and go live out the rest of his miserable days with the Wildlings beyond the wall.
Daenerys Is Now a Psychopath
Daenerys vowed to restore justice to the Seven Kingdoms, free all who were enslaved and take back the throne in an honorable way. At least for a while. In “The Bells,” she gets a little impatient when her armies are struggling and decides to go on a fiery rampage destroying all of King’s Landing. Sure, she manages to take out Cersei, but she also incinerates tons of innocent people. Anyone who had felt empowered by Daenerys was feeling kind of embarrassed.
“Bran The Broken”
It all comes down to the final question: who is left to sit on the Iron Thrones? Will it be the slayer of The Night King, Arya Stark? Will it be the North’s headstrong leader, Sansa? Will it be the small man whose courage knows no bounds, Tyrion Lannister? Could it even be the noble common man, Sir Davos? Nope. The council of the supposedly “wise” leaders of Westeros select Bran Stark as their king, naming him “Bran the Broken.” Bran has done nothing but sit around for eight seasons. He doesn’t seem interested in using his knowledge of the future to help anybody out. All things considered, he’s probably the leader that Game of Thrones deserved.