D&D Decided to Make the Final Two Seasons Shorter
I know I’m well past the Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. (ET) deadline for this week’s Small Council episode, but I think this is a worthwhile perspective – granted, it’s broadly a disagreement with some of your recent takes, but a valid one I think. Anyway, if you’re well past being able to include this, which I suspect you are, I’ll simply re-submit for next week if it’s still relevant.
The Showrunners Are 100% to Blame for the Corner-Cutting and Breakneck Pace – they caused it!
A recurring theme on the podcast is a well-intentioned defense of the showrunners, along the lines of the following: sure, some corners are being cut and some plots are being rushed, but D&D are doing the best they can to cram so much content into two condensed seasons- stop being so nitpicky and enjoy because we only have a few weeks left!
This is a fairly reasonable line of argument until you consider the following: against HBO’s wishes – and presumably, against most fan’s wishes – D&D DECIDED TO MAKE THE FINAL TWO SEASONS SHORTER! The rushed plots, the jetpacking, the emailing, the cut corners, and every single instance where you might be tempted to say “Oh, I can forgive this mistake because they can only fit so much into a few episodes” are entirely D&D’s fault because they were the ones who truncated the amount of time they had to tell this story.
Here’s a segment from an interview with Entertainment Weekly on April 9, 2019:
REPORTER: You told me back when filming season 3 that you were thinking of doing the final season as three movies because you couldn’t imagine pulling off what you and George had in mind on a television budget. Do you feel like you”ve been able to do what you envisioned years ago?
WEISS: Yes. To their credit, they [HBO] put their money where their mouths are – literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills which don’t exist anymore. They said, “We”ll give you the resources to make this what it needs to be, and if what it needs to be is a summer tentpole-size spectacle in places, then that”s what it will be.”
BENIOFF: HBO would have been happy for the show to keep going, to have more episodes in the final season. We always believed it was about 73 hours, and it will be roughly that. As much as they wanted more, they understood that this is where the story ends.
Sounds to me as Game of Thrones practically had a blank check from HBO – and we all know HBO does NOT pinch pennies on budget. Imagine, for one tragic moment, what we could have had if D&D didn’t ask for more. Hell, consider that we could have had at the absolute LEAST two full 10-episode seasons (i.e. another 7 full episodes) across Seasons 7 and 8. Sometimes shows have to do their best to scramble – when a network surprises a writing staff with a cancelation or when a contract runs out or when funding gets slashed – and those folks deserve some benefit of the doubt. D&D was at the helm of one of the most popular TV shows of our time – something being heralded as the “last collective viewing experience” – and the unquestionable flagship of a network with a reputation for investing ungodly amounts of money in its favorite project. And what did they do? They asked for less time to wrap up a TV show of unprecedented complexity. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re asking for less time, you better have an absolute fucking masterpiece planned for those two seasons. Friends, were the last two seasons a masterpiece? Answer that question honestly.
Just by way of example, off the top of my head, here are some things that the show could have accomplished with the time and money HBO was directly offering D&D – read as many or as few as you’d like:
1. give us some more background on the Night King and his goals
2. give us more than one episode – in earnest – to see the full threat of the Night King and White Walkers up close
3. give us some more time to connect Arya with the Northern Crisis so her kill didn’t seem totally random and unfitting;
4. give Dany and Jon’s relationship some time to convincingly grow so the Dragon scene from S8E1 didn’t seem rushed. Compare this with how much time was given to Jon and Ygrite.
5. have a bigger CGI budget so Ghost wasn’t mishandled – it’s not a nitpick, Ghost is actually a big deal in the book and was a big deal in the early seasons. His dwindling presence was a bad choice.
6. give the pro-Jon, anti-Dany movement some more time to fester rather than developing in 15 minutes – they’re shoehorning this “mad queen” vibe into Dany, but even as a Dany detractor, it’s rushed. If you think her past behavior lends support to Targaryen madness, maybe have a scene or two callings it back because – ya know – you’d have the time for it.
7. Euron could get a little more screen time instead of being pirate-ex-machina. He kills a dragon, yet he’s kind of a nobody in the viewer’s minds. He gives the Night King a run for his money and could make Ramsay blush in the books…we have Steampunk Jack Sparrow in the show
8. give us some time with the Golden Company so they’re not just a plot device
9. give us some info on Bran’s motives
10. correct every instance where a year’s long plot point is resolved in a single scene such as: literally anyone mourning Rickon, Dany’s bad blood with Varys for trying to have her killed, Dany’s bad blood with the Kingslayer
11. actually show us what Melisandre was doing in Volantis rather than having her appear randomly
12. actually allow for the Azor Ahai prophecy to matter
Even the argument that we should “enjoy the last ride” because we’ll miss the show falls flat in the face of this information. It’s only our “last ride” because D&D decided to cut it short – HBO would have happily given us another year of Game of Thrones and, I think we can all agree, there would have been loads of meaningful content to fill that year.
Praising D&D for doing their best “under the circumstances” is like praising an arsonist for trying to contain the damage of a fire he started. D&D decided that 73 hours was enough and they were wrong. We all give George RR Martin shit for taking his damn time to write the books, but I think maybe we all could learn a little from George – rushing a decade of storytelling in the final chapters doesn’t give us a satisfying goodbye to a beloved series. It gives us sloppy writing and Starbucks cups.
I’m sorry, but – Fuck you, D. B. Wiesse. Fuck you, David Benioff. Ya done fucked up.
Peace, love, fire, and blood,
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