The expectations for the Game of Thrones slot are more than high. The “GoT” motto “Valar morghulis,” all men must die, does not suggest much good.Vincent Smits13 april 2019, 21:00
Could David Benioff and Dan Weiss, executive producers of Game of Thrones (GoT) still sleep to some extent, or have they been awake at night for weeks? Tomorrow the eighth and final season will premiere of what is perhaps the most popular series ever. After two years of waiting, the fans have high expectations.
With every snippet of information – set photos, trailers, et cetera – that HBO pay channel released in recent months, fans all over the world were on social media. They want, or rather, demand nothing less than an epic end to a series known for the unexpected and dramatic twists and turns in the power struggle for the Iron Throne of Westeros. To stay in GoT terms: “Valar Morghulis” – all men must die.
Good story, good ending
Benioff and Weiss realize that too well. This is also apparent from the recent interview with Entertainment Weekly magazine, which visited the set. “We talked from the start about how the show should end,” said Benioff. “A good story is not a good story if you have a bad ending. Of course we worry.”
“We want people to love it completely,” Weiss adds. “That’s very important to us. We’ve been doing this for eleven years. We know that whatever we do – even if it’s the very best version – there will be a group of people who will hate the end. I hope for a reaction, such as the one about the end of Breaking Bad, where the discussion was mainly about whether it was a ten or a ten with a clerk. “
Breaking Bad, about a chemistry teacher suffering from cancer who plunges into drug trafficking out of despair, is indeed a series with a conclusion about which there was a kind of consensus. At that end, most ends were tied together.
Mafia series The Sopranos had an open ending – the screen suddenly went black without viewers knowing the fate of Tony Soprano – and already led to much more discussion. Achmed Akkabi, actor and creative producer of the successful Videoland series Mocro Maffia about the Amsterdam underworld, was able to charm the end of The Sopranos. “You don’t want him to die. You started to love him so much, but you also know that an end is coming. You know that Tony’s days are numbered, but you can fantasize about it yourself.”
The ending of Breaking Bad was great, but also a bit artificial, thinks Franky Ribbens, screenwriter of the Golden Calf-winning series Hollands Hoop about a psychiatrist who ends up in the weed trade. “It’s not an end that you stay in. Better than the end of The Sopranos. That was an end that everyone is still talking about.”
A bad ending can also have real consequences for the makers. The best known example is Lost. Many fans had hoped the slot would finally answer some of the many questions the series had raised. Those answers did not come and the makers were poured out with trays of dredging for years, especially online.
“At Lost, the problem was that so many seeds were planted throughout the series that it was impossible to deliver on all those promises,” says Akkabi. “I also understand the viewer. You often invest about eight years in watching a series. I also understand that you want to express your opinion if you are not happy with the end.”
At GoT there is another reason to be nervous before the end. The makers followed the books of writer George RR Martin for the first few seasons, but since season 6 the source material has been used up. Martin is still writing at The Winds of Winter and the question is whether the 70-year-old author will ever finish it. He advised Benioff and Weiss, but said he wasn’t sure if the books would end up the same as the series.
In the previous season there was an overdose of excitement and spectacle, but some fans complained about the lack of unexpected twists. “The question is how long you can survive freewheeling without the books,” says Akkabi. “With Mocro Mafia we have years of basic material. The liquidation in the Staatsliedenbuurt was in 2012,” says Akkabi, who has already thought about the end. “I have an endgame in my head, but the question is how long it will take you to get there.”
What makes an end good? “For me, a good ending is not too round and neat,” says Ribbens. “The end must do justice to the theme, tone and characters of your series. It must say something about the premise of the series. In Hollands Hoop it is all about the polder model versus the conflict model and to what extent protagonist Fokke is involved. my end too. ”
“With the end, you also want to overthrow the viewer’s expectations, but within the parameters of the series,” says Ribbens. “You must not let your character do something that is not in his psyche.”
As far as Game of Thrones is concerned, it is mainly about two things: revenge for all the suffering that has been inflicted on the Stark family in particular and whether people can stop the upcoming army of White Walkers (think: a pack of almost immortal snow zombies). Both promises were made in season 1. In fact, the series started with the threat of the White Walkers.
“Some of the revenge of the Starks has already been redeemed in previous seasons,” says Akkabi. “I have had a lot of satisfaction with that, so I wonder to what extent that will go even further. What is interesting is the question whether everyone will be on one side in the fight for survival, or whether you will still get parties for that. gain your own. ”
What if power is the only currency? According to Ribbens, that is the comprehensive theme of GoT. “Within that theme they have to solve it. All love, loyalty, et cetera is subordinate to power in the series. How do you deal with that when an enemy, the Night King, does not care? How are the mutual power relationships? if such an enemy advances?
And what happens afterwards? Does the power game around the Iron Throne begin again or does a status quo arise? I hope they can meet the high expectations. ”
Everyone will have to decide for themselves after May 20, the day of the last episode. In any case, Benioff already told Entertainment Weekly how he will spend that day:” Me intend to get very drunk and stay away from the internet. “
Longest film battle ever
The biggest fight of season 8 is not in the final, but in what is probably the second to last episode. In The Great Battle of Winterfell, the people of Westeros will fight for their lives against the White Walkers, the snow zombies who are the biggest threat from the first minute of episode 1.
The episode is expected to contain the longest battle ever recorded on film. Director Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy for the GoT episode Battle of the Bastards – also a long battle, came out in his search for earlier battles on film at the siege of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers that lasted almost forty minutes. This episode is probably clocking in an hour.
Sapochnik’s approach can be called rigorous to say the least. 750 people worked 55 nights for the episode in a cold, muddy and wet Northern Ireland. The crew had jackets made afterwards with the imprint ‘We survived the long night’.
And the actors, who are not contractually allowed to tell anything about the plot, clearly stated in interviews that they thought it was terribly difficult. “We all pray that we will never have to do this again,” said Rory McCann, who plays The Hound.
Where had we gone again?
The fantasy series is sometimes called ‘blood, sex and dragons’ by non-enthusiasts, but GoT is all about power, revenge and survival.
The series made a name for itself in recent years with unexpected and brutal plot twists, in which nothing or nobody seemed safe. The battle for the Iron Throne is central. Whoever holds it rules the Westeros empire.
While the inhabitants of Westeros make each other’s lives miserable, few realize that an army of White Walkers (snow zombies) is advancing. In season 8, the focus is expected to shift from the battle for the throne to that against the White Walkers. The big question is who survives and how to do it afterwards.