Sunday, 19 May 2019

Who will sit upon the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones?



Not since Star Wars: The Last Jedi has there been such a vocal backlash from a fevered fanbase. Game of Thrones' final series is as divisive as it is brilliantly brutal (this is coming from someone who painstakingly built model kits; only to destroy them with fireworks). So much so, there's a fan petition demanding HBO remake season 8. Like that's ever going to happen as discussed with major spoilers here. Ownership is an issue that has plagued creators and their audiences for millennia. George Lucas tinkered with the original Star Wars trilogy, for creative and commercial gain, much to the chagrin of many fans.



Admittedly, there are increasing instances of choose-your-own-adventure (Fighting Fantasy was my literary gateway into the genre) creeping into Hollywood film and television series as video games surpass those long-lasting pillars as successful works of commercial art. Netflix recently experimented with branching storylines in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

During season 8 of Game of Thrones, there are moments when I instinctively reach for an imaginary games controller in order to save or allow Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to die, much like playing Don Bluth's laserdisc-based Dragon's Lair in a Great Yarmouth arcade long, long ago. However, there will always be a place for linear storytelling and Game of Thrones has been a pop culture phenomena during a decade that has witnessed a seismic shift in geopolitics.



Did anyone really expect a franchise filled with deeply flawed antagonists, and no clear heroic archetypes aside from the bumbling Jon Snow (Kit Harington), would end happily ever after? Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) dark descent into the 'mad queen', nor Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime Lannister's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) fate, won't please everyone. But it sets up a difficult to predict finale.



As a wise person once told me: sometimes the journey is more exciting than the destination. Like Lost before it. Game of Thrones has been enriched by shared experiences with followers online and friendships forged. I subscribed to NOW TV in 2012 solely to watch the then-fledgeling series and would never have received Blu-ray box sets or been invited to preview the first four episodes of stablemate Westworld courtesy of the fine folks at Sky Atlantic.

Whatever happens in the series finale today, I'll be watching early Monday morning (BST). Just need to set my Alexa alarm...

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