Fool Me Once

HBO’s been pushing its new “Premium Television” series that takes place in the same world as Game of Thrones. I haven’t been paying attention, but I think it’s a prequel. There’s dragons and shit, so it might be cool. But…

The final season of Game of Thrones was giddily anticipated. HBO was on top of the world, producing the most talked-about show for years.

The final season of Game of Thrones also sucked. It sucked in very apparent and obvious ways, and also in subtler ways as well. From the writing to the CGI to the Starbucks cup, it was a train wreck. I say this honestly and sincerely: I could have done better, for half the cost.

The storytelling failure is the least forgivable. Sure, they were setting up for season after season that there was one human on the planet that could kill the crazy undead snow skeleton. And in previous seasons, we watch her journey into something incredible and we are FULLY ON BOARD.

Then in the final season there’s the big battle: slaughter, slaughter, slaughter, a few heroic deeds, a heroic death or two, then the girl kills the supernatural symbolic threat from the north and everyone says, “whoo, that was close!” They wipe their brows and ten minutes later the threat to the very existence of humanity is forgotten.

Before the first frame was shot, that story should have been challenged. But it wasn’t. The writers who didn’t care were given a free pass by producers who didn’t care.

Even before production for the season began, when people are reading the story and deciding their own personal goddam legacies in the industry, that story wasn’t challenged. The thing that (we thought) symbolized the extinction of the human race is beaten in an ordinary battle, and there’s high-fives and hugs and then it’s on to the absurd conclusion. It’s video-game logic; just another boss to beat, all the symbolism of life and death trampled in the rush to just get this goddam thing over with.

It’s pretty clear the whole production ran out both of money and the ability to care. I can hear the director say, “fuck it, we’ll fix it in post,” and move on — without considering that maybe post didn’t have the budget to fix all that shit. But no one cared. Not even the people who hoped to extend this dynasty into other shows.

I don’t know the specifics of why that production ran out of steam. Why they stopped caring. Money, exhaustion, boredom with the subject. But the last season of GoT was a sloppy mess, and the brand will never be the same. It the goal was to be Marvel With Swords, they fucked up.

I will not be watching the new production. I like the dragons and whatnot, but I will not invest any time in this show until the final episode of the final season is aired. I do not trust these people. “OMG OMG OMG that episode was so awesome” my friend will say, and I will reply, “that’s where they get you.” Unless they put Vince Gilligan in charge of the ending, I will wait.

I don’t know how to calculate the cost to HBO of that shitty conclusion to their biggest show ever, but I guarantee the cost to fix that season is less that what they have lost because their new show isn’t must-watch, but simply “whatever”.

I suspect, (but I don’t know), that there were people at HBO saying of the final GoT Season, “We have to push the release. This is shit.”

“Do you know how much that would cost?” is the obvious response.

But none of the big-wigs considered the cost of not fixing it. The cost HBO is about to feel, no matter how much they spend on marketing. We don’t trust them anymore.

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