I’m of the mindset a TV series really starts to show you what it’s about during its third season. The writers can skate by with a decent formula for two seasons, but by the third it’s time to prove if it’s going to be a legitimate classic or one I’m better off ditching.
Lost reached its moment of truth after its first six episodes of the third season, but when it resumed from that mini-hiatus, it went on a daring, creative path and the writers never looked back as they constantly kept challenging viewers to not expect status quo. By its third season, Heroes revealed that season 2 writer’s strike aside, it was a one season wonder.
More recently, The Walking Dead had to up the ante after a slow-paced Search for Sophia arc that many complained went nowhere and the creators responded with an unpredictable season filled with many memorable and shocking moments.
Tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones marked its ninth episode of its third season, which marks my final episode with the series. From here on out, this is going into to Spoiler-Ville folks.
I’d still been suffering from a little viewer PTSD after the first season’s shocking execution of Ned (Sean Bean). It was a bold move and one that reminded me of a statement from J.J. Abrams talking about the initial plans for Lost, where the series’ main character, Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox), was going to be killed by the end of the first episode. The writers decided if they did that, they could lose the audience, who would never invest in another character for fear that at any point they could be killed off.
So about that Game of Thrones ending…
I wasn’t in love with the second season as I was only really invested in two of the 76 subplots going on — Peter Dinklage’s brilliant portrayal of Tyrion Lannister, the one decent member of his family, trying to deal with all of the political backstabbing and Robb Stark (Richard Madden). I didn’t care about the numerous shows reinforcing that Joffrey’s a tool — already driven that point to the ground after he had Ned killed; or Girls Run the World Daenerys Targaryen being the smartest person EVER or Sansa worrying who to fawn over next. Nope, I was just sticking around for Robb and Tyrion. Oh how people who already read these books must be amused at all of us just watching the show and experiencing all of this now.
The third season had been a mixed bag for me too as I felt the writers were going further into Shock TV than entertaining, political maneuvering on a never-ending quest for power that sucked me into it in the first season. Daenerys was still and unsurpassed strategist who always one-upped her opposition. Joffrey was still a tool and Tyrion was consistently being put in his place by his not-so proud poppa. The season has felt a lot more mean-spirited too with seemingly every episode ending in some deviant fashion from prostitute Roz getting strung up and “Green Arrow-ed” to death, “The Kingslayer” losing a hand, Theon’s implied castration, and that whole Knight’s Watch dinnertime discussion gone all kinds of wrong. Still, I could remain invested as I desperately wanted to see my man Robb get revenge on the Lannisters for killing Ned.
Sooo, I wasn’t exactly thrilled watching Robb’s pregnant wife getting knifed to death, Robb getting the Boromir treatment and Catelyn getting a far too severe paper cut on the neck all from Robb not going along with the arranged marriage deal. This is why arranged marriages are a bad thing, kids.
My main beef with this ending though, was that it effectively ends the Stark/Lannister war and worse, the bad guys win.
What we’re left with is what would have happened had George Lucas decided that after his aunt and uncle get slaughtered, his mentor is killed before him, his best friend gets wiped out on the Death Star, Luke Skywalker uses the Force and Darth Vader kills him anyway.
That would have been traumatic for “Star Wars” viewers, but Han Solo manages to get away so there’s still some hope — until “The Empire Strikes Back” where Vader’s mercenary bounty hunter, Boba Fett, kills Han Solo and Princess Leia after their declaration of love for one another. Anyone all that interested in wondering if Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca will be able to get some payback?
So while this clears the deck for Daenerys and her kick-tail army to win the throne, I don’t care. I’m good on finding out who’s torturing that traitor Theon and wondering when Jamie and Brienne will declare their love for one another (just in time to get killed I’m sure).
The Starks have suffered one betrayal after another since the first season and if you’ve invested any time in the show (and don’t have the advance knowledge from reading the books), you kinda wanted to see them get revenge, not watch them all get butchered for the sake of a shocking-tweet worthy episode.
Like “GOT,” “The Walking Dead” has a literary source material. In “The Walking Dead’s” case, it’s a monthly comic book series. Not long after the show took off, the creators opted not to make themselves so devoted to the source material that they couldn’t have the freedom to tell a different and more viewer-friendly experience. It’s worked phenomenally and comic readers are just as surprised by the show results as viewers who’ve never read an issue of the comic. “GOT,” from all accounts, has not strayed too far at all from the books it’s based on, but in the case of this former viewer, I would have been anxiously awaiting the season finale and beyond had the show-runners decided their series would benefit from one protagonist being around long enough to even have the option of getting revenge.