Nathalie Emmanuel slams petition to re-do Season 8, defends Missandei’s death; Aidan Gillen addresses Game of Thrones ending

Young Dragon,

”…Opinions have to do with one’s personal feelings. When people say that they are disappointed with season 8, that can’t be proven wrong, because that is how they feel.”

• Thank you for pointing this out.

As someone once said, people are entitled to their own opinions; they aren’t entitled to their own facts. (Or, to phrase it in terms of the current political climate, there’s no such thing as “alternative facts,” no matter what Kellyanne says.)

• A problem arises when what we see on the screen is ambiguous or unexplained – and then the showrunners later clarify their intentions (and describe their characters’ thoughts and emotions).

• You posited that when people assert “Daenerys forgot about the Iron Fleet, they are not expressing their opinion, they are factually incorrect.” The whole debate over this started when Benioff, in the Inside the Episode” segment, came right out and said “Dany kind of forgot about the Iron Fleet.” It’s kind of hard to blame fans for making a “factually incorrect“ statement when the showrunner himself stated it, isn’t it?

• I had a similar problem with Weiss’ explanation for Dany’s sudden decision to incinerate innocent civilians of KL after the Lannister defenders had already surrendered. Weiss said something like when Dany saw the Red Keep, it was a “symbol” of all that had been taken from her, and at that moment she decided to “make it personal.” I still don’t know how to interpret that.

If it was “personal,” one would think Dany would make a beeline straight to the Red Keep and blast Cersei and her wine glass off her balcony. I don’t know how zig zagging through the city and immolating children in the streets vindicated Dany’s “personal” grievances.

Also, I thought her rage was the culmination of losing her loved ones (e.g., Jorah and Missandei); the ingratitude of people she’d saved at great personal sacrifice; the betrayals of her supposedly loyal advisors; the backstabbing and subterfuges of folks who for some reason didn’t like her and wanted her out of the way; and the emotional estrangement from her boyfriend.

I did NOT sense that Dany was triggered by the sight of the Red Keep as a “symbol” or reminder of what had been “taken from her” or her family.

In fact, at that very moment she had triumphantly retaken the city and the throne from the Lannister/Baratheon “usurpers.” She has achieved her objective. She had freed the people from Cersei’s (supposed) tyranny. I could understand a little gloating; spiking the ball; or otherwise celebrating the vanquishing of her enemies. I would’ve been okay with Dany frog-marching Cersei through the streets and forcing her to do a perp walk before shackling her in the black cells to join the decomposing remains of Tyene and whatever was left of Ellaria. I would’ve imagined that after the firestorm she’d reassure the terrified population that the bloodshed was over and a brighter future lay ahead for them (just like the people she’d freed from servitude who were initially confused before hailing her as “Mhysah”).

I just didn’t interpret Dany seeing the Red Keep (which she’d never even seen before) as a reason to strafe the city streets with “fire and blood” – while Cersei herself almost waltzed away from the carnage. Should Weiss’ explanation be deemed “canon”? If so, it confounded me.

• In any event, in the absence of exposition by the characters, can fans be faulted for accepting the writers’ declarations of the characters’ motives as factual “canon”?

• I had a similar problem when Weiss, in an Inside the Episode commentary during S5, discussed Arya’s scene on the Braavos sock when she couldn’t bear to throw Needle in the water.

Weiss said [something like] Arya’s reluctance was because Needle represented an “instrument of Stark vengeance.”

However, from Maisie’s wonderful wordless, tearful performance – along with my familiarity with Arya’s iconic internal monologue in the books – I thought Arya couldn’t part with Needle because it reminded her of her home and family, e.g., “Needle was Jon Snow’s smile.”

I did not see anger or vengefulness in show! Arya’s expressions. I saw homesickness in her visage; I saw on the screen a teary-eyed girl reminiscing about happier times with her family in WF before they were murdered or scattered, and she was forced to become a lonely, homeless refugee and serial hostage/captive.

When she held Needle, I saw Arya thinking back to when her brother gave her that sword – as we were repeatedly reminded in her S4 scenes with Sandor (e.g., in S4e1, Arya: “My brother gave me that sword!” and in S4e7, Sandor: ”You say your brother gave you that sword.”)

• All of these scenes evoked certain “personal feelings” from me. I acknowledge that other viewers’ perceptions were different than mine. I also agree with you that whether viewers’ reactions to S8 ranging from disappointment to admiration – are opinions.

• I’d also suggest that many fans, like me, thought some aspects of S8 were great, and other aspects were not. I still don’t believe it has to be an “all or nothing” proposition. We can each applaud what we thought were grand slams while whinging about the whiffs, without being labeled “haters” or pigeonholed as sycophants of “Mr. Benioff & Mr. Weiss.”

• FYI: I may post links to well-reasoned reviews of S8, some of which laud the final season and others which condemn it. To me, this shows that there’s room for nuance, e.g., mixed opinions. They also illustrate that it’s not so easy to categorize viewers’ assertions as “factually correct” or “factually incorrect.”

For example, “Ozzy Man Reviews” of S8’s episodes are witty and complimentary. Those of Lindsay Ellis take a measured, analytical approach. Those of “Mauler” critique S8 as an epic failure. (Mauler’s videos, along with those of Lindsay Ellis, were cited by another commenter, prompting me to search for them and watch them.) Even when the critics’ exasperation – or exultation – seep through, they still back up what they say with evidence.

By contrast, long-winded, hours-long rants that do nothing more than pillory “D&D as hacks” and call them “Dumb & Dumber” make me cringe. (Yes, I’m referring to you Mr. The Dragon Demands.)

• For me, there were many unforgettable moments in S8 – and others that I’d just as soon wipe from my memory.

Discussing what I (and other fans) felt were “missing scenes,” missed opportunities, jettisoned story lines, unresolved mysteries, logical gaps, inconsistent character behavior, and underwhelming resolutions, don’t make us “haters.”

Likewise, expressing appreciation for the scenes we enjoyed doesn’t make us mindless D&D fluffers.

I acknowledge the challenges faced by the showrunners in concluding a complex saga after GRRM left them twisting in the wind, forcing them to finish the story for him: a task they didn’t sign up for when they undertook the TV adaptation of ASOIAF.

I have no doubt that if they had seven or eight years between seasons, they would’ve come up with better dialogue, better story lines, and better resolutions. They could have revised or rewritten scripts that came out wonky. They could have fine-tuned story lines and fleshed out character development. They might have summoned more creative energy and found more artistic inspiration if they had had the opportunity to relax and recharge.

GRRM has that luxury. The showrunners did not.

Do I wish they’d done a better job in many respects? Of course I do. Yet, I cannot say anyone else would’ve done better in their shoes. Nor do I presume to be qualified to opine that any competent screenwriter would’ve been able to keep the story fresh and exhilarating after ten grueling years. (Sh*t, most marriages don’t last that long, and many that do are completely drained of emotion and bereft of any excitement.)

At least the showrunners supplied an ending – something the Big Kahuna has been unable to do, and likely never will be able to do. In that regard, we’re fortunate that the showrunners didn’t have the option of repeatedly blowing deadlines, the “freedom” to give HBO excuses for indefinitely delaying succeeding seasons, or carte blanche to rewrite and re-shoot episodes after they’d already been filmed.

• A final bit of G-blaming. (Last one. I promise. For now. 🤫) His justification for divorcing himself from production of the show after S4 was that he needed to focus on writing the books. How did that work out?

• Though I know others disagree, I’m convinced that if he’d remained invested in the show, his head would’ve stayed focused on his fictional ASOIAF world and he would’ve been able to find the “voices” of his characters. It seems to me that after separating himself from the show’s production, it’s been all too easy for him to be distracted by other projects. (Targaryen histories? Really?)

• Plus – as I’ve said before – the four (?) scripts he wrote during S1 – S4 were among my favorites. I have to wonder how much time it really would’ve taken for him to contribute one script per season for S5 – S8. It’s not as if he’s used that freed-up time to complete the books. (Is there any indication he’s even made any headway since releasing a few TWOW sample chapters several years ago?)

• I’m also convinced that if he’d been involved in fashioning the “connective tissue” for the show between where his books left off and the final destination, the show would’ve greatly benefitted from his input if not his guidance. Certainly it would’ve quieted the rabid “book wankers” who accused the showrunners of “butchering“ G’s masterpiece, dumbing down his characters, and turning his story into a Disneyfied shell of itself, with spectacle and cliche replacing intricate plotting and complex characters.

• In my mind, there’s no way in the world GRRM would ever give his imprimatur to the ridiculous S7 wight hunt, the absurd S7 Arya vs. Sansa vs. LF story line, the silly S8 Bran Bait Plan, or the tired old mothership device to defeat the WWs simply by killing their head honcho. I’m sure he would’ve insisted on more innovative and intelligent twists to advance the plot lines. Similarly, I doubt he would have sacrificed Tyrion’s wit and cleverness, Jon Snow’s nobility and virtuousness, Varys’s intelligence and instincts, LF’s credible duplicity, Jaime’s conflicting impulses pitting his self-loathing oathbreaker reputation vs. aspiring to live up to his honorable side, and Sansa’s courtesy (and evolving interpersonal skills) – merely to hasten hitting plot points, or to manufacture and extend conflicts over two seasons that could’ve been resolved in a single episode (e.g., nuking the Red Keep right away in S7e1 or e2 rather than pursuing a series not-so “clever plans” that all failed and only served to decimate Dany’s forces).

I’m positive GRRM would’ve integrated Bran’s superpowers and Sam’s book smarts into useful if not indispensable roles in defeating the WWs, and that the true backstory of the WWs and supposed first Long Night would’ve been revealed; there would’ve been a meaningful purpose for Jon’s resurrection, and the secret of his parentage would’ve had more impact other than just one of many reasons for Dany to go nuts; at least some of the prophecies would have been figuratively if not literally fulfilled; and the recurring dichotomy of “official” historical accounts vs what really happened would have had a big payoff. Arya’s post-Braavos story would not have been a cut and paste job of book! Manderly Frey pies, and book! LSH’s House Frey vendetta; Nymeria and her pack would not just make a quick cameo and never be seen again; Arya would not have been recruited to play Batman and single-handed my snuff out the existential threat while Jon yelled at an undead dragon and Bran warged into birdies for no apparent reason; Euron would’ve been excised completely rather than wasting precious screentime with his cartoon villain shtick; ditto the purportedly formidable Golden Conpany; kowtowing to fan service, e.g., Cleganebowl, would’ve been vetoed and replaced with a more meaningful end for Sandor fka the Hound; the WW threat would not have been neatly wrapped up in the course of one battle lasting a few hours, but rather would’ve posed a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” quandary for the two main protagonists.

Out of pride if nothing else, GRRM would have been spurred to come up with engrossing story lines and character conflicts to seamlessly bridge the gap between where his last book left off, and where the ultimate end game(s) would play out. Even if shocking, the conclusions would feel “earned” [the way book readers have described the Red Wedding]. He wouldn’t have been content to deflect concerns about the trajectory of the show by spouting platitudes like “the show’s the show and the books are the books“ or “ask Dave and Dan.”. He would’ve cared. Even if he only scripted one episode per season those scripts would’ve anchored the story in the world he had created, rather than the showrunners ad hoc version.

But once GRRM untethered himself from the show, the brilliance of his writing that had attracted readers to ASOIAF and had made the TV show a worldwide phenomenon (while it was based on the existing books), the adaptation began to have a different tenor and “feel.” Of course, it was completely unfair and unrealistic to expect the showrunners to write scripts from scratch in a compressed time frame that could measure up to the author’s standards and live up to his readers’ expectations.

Besides: If GRRM himself has not been able to build the “connective tissue” in 8 years and counting, and for whatever reasons has not been able to tie up his story lines in logical ways; fire the “guns” he’d loaded early on; and craft satisfying resolutions to the mysteries he’d set up, why should the showrunners be expected to do all of that on their own? (One reviewer has suggested that trying to hew the show‘s conclusion to GRRM’s pre-determined ending actually handicapped the showrunners: Since their portrayals of the characters had evolved and their story lines had diverged since passing the books, some viewers perceived the final two seasons as forcing the characters to make unjustifiable inexplicable decisions and take inexplicable actions, and some plot lines seemed focused on hitting “checkpoints,” rather than letting the story proceed organically and allowing the characters to behave consistent with their established personalities.)

That GRRM could only impart to the showrunners the ultimate destination(s) in broad strokes, suggests to me that he has not even begun to figure out how to conclude his saga. Even worse (and this is pure speculation on my part), I have to wonder whether the showrunners were expecting some kind of outline from GRRM to guide them after passing the books, but he did not or could not provide even that – which might explain why the showrunners found themselves forced to resort to sci-fi devices and stale tropes (like the “mothership” solution to defeating invading aliens): they simply didn’t have enough time or advance warning to be able formulate other, more credible solutions.

• Often, they relied on their own instincts, e.g., “subverting“ expectations with “surprise” twists like choosing Arya to kill NK because everyone expected Jon (or Bran) to be involved in the culmination of “their” storyline – whereas Arya had nothing to do with the WWs or AotD up until Mel’s tortured reconfiguring of her “brown eyes, blue eyes and green eyes” line from S3. That made for a fist-pump, crowd-pleasing moment for the casual fandom, and a signature moment for a fan favorite character. However, it was not the kind of

“subversion” that drew in fans of the books and show. Thwarting audience expectations for the sake of surprise is not the kind of “subversion” or earned twist that an invested audience appreciates. I’ve often seen an “earned twist“ described by the reaction: “Damn! I did not see that coming but looking back I should have seen that coming.” (It is not the same as “WTF?” or “Well that came out of left field” or “F*cking fan service” or “Now that’s what I call a Douche ex machina”)

Still, I attribute the death of earned twists to the guy with the expertise in setting them up and executing them.

While I’m an unabashed Arya fanboy, even I came away feeling like Jon had been robbed of the denouement of his entire storyline – one that had been carefully developed since S1. Again, this was the showrunners’ choice. They said it “just didn’t feel right” to have Jon take out NK because it was expected. Whether that was a narratively defensible justification to bench Jon Snow with the game on the line and bring in Arya from the bullpen to nail down the win, and whether or not that scene “worked,” I cannot fathom that GRRM would have tried to pull off such a last-minute switcheroo solely to thwart fans’ expectations. Nor do I believe GRRM would elide Jon from the climax of his central storyline. (Ducking out from behind a rock to yell at undead Viserion, and ducking behind the rock again? Hardly a compelling role for Jon, especially after his rousing speech at Hardhome and his many face-offs with wights, WWs and NK throughout the first seven seasons.)

I do not blame the showrunners for this. Their comments made it clear that the manner and means of ending the WW threat had been left up to them; they chose Arya. GRRM has apparently not yet written anything addressing the WW vs. humankind “great war,” let alone the way this final existential conflict will be resolved.

While I may surmise from my tinfoil extrapolation of books-based “clues” in S1-S6 that GRRM likely intends for the combined brainpower of Bran and Sam to turn the tide (rather than brute force or a VS-wielding ninja), GRRM probably has not tied these clues together yet, and therefore couldn’t even give the showrunners a rough idea how Sam + Bran will come up with the solution to thwarting the AotD. As a result, the showrunners relegated Bran to the role of benchwarmer and Sam to an ineffectual fighter – rather than saviors of humanity – during “The Long Night.”

Sam’s extensive research, and his decision to drop out of the Citadel because Jon “needed” his help at WF, amounted to naught. Similarly, Bran’s super warging and supergreenseeing powers, and his urgency to develop those powers as indispensable to defeating the WWs (not to mention the sacrifices of Hodor, Jojen, Leaf, Summer, et al. because Bran’s survival was supposedly so critical), amounted to nothing. Like Jon’s resurrection, these books-based set-ups went nowhere on the show.

(Bran was merely a “memories“ repository? That’s it? No way. And surely his “training,” his compatriots’ sacrifices, and his 3ER 2.0 superpowers could not have been for the purpose of ensuring he’d become king at the end. If that were his objective all along, then “Bran the Broken” is the quintessential Machiavellian villain – Meera should’ve left him behind instead of dragging his sorry ass back to WF, and Jon should’ve assassinated Evil King Bran along with Mad Queen Dany.)

I cannot envision GRRM building up Sam as an intellectual powerhouse and traveling to WF because Jon “needed” him, only to have him abandon his research and flail at wights instead of providing any valuable insights. Nor can I envision GRRM building up Bran and his superpowers as keys to humanity’s survival, only to have him sit around and parrot other characters’ catchphrases and then sit around and do nothing during the WWs assault on WF while even more people sacrifice themselves protecting him; I can’t fathom that GRRM intends to cast Bran as the WWs primary target just because they want to wipe his hard drive of “memories.” No. There had to be more to it.

Regrettably, after the Hodor/Hold the Door reveal, GRRM hasn’t gotten around to formulating the reasons why 3ER fka Bran will be critically important in humanity’s fight against extinction – and so GRRM had nothing to impart to the showrunners when they were scripting S7 and S8. That’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for reducing Bran to a GPS device in a half-cocked “bait” plan: a scheme that made no sense to begin with, and was about to fail spectacularly until Arya Super Ninja Assassin Warrior Princess beamed down to NK’s coordinates and materialized just in time to shank him using her nifty dagger flip. (Why NK had a bug up his ass for Bran, and why NK would even come anywhere near a potential trap especially when an errant DG tipped arrow or a single blow from a VS weapon could annihilate his entire army, left me confounded. l’ll chalk up these open-ended questions to GRRM’s failure to supply the showrunners with the big payoff to Bran’s transformation into 3ER 2.0. I’ll also assume he has not begun to address, even tentatively, how the WW threat will materialize and (presumably) be neutralized in the books.)

Bottom line: If there were shortcomings in S7 and S8, GRRM should shoulder some or most of the blame. Benioff and Weiss, two relative neophytes to scripting and producing a TV show, had expected to adapt GRRM’s novels. Instead, midway through the series, they suddenly found themselves at the helm of a juggernaut – HBO’s flagship TV series – without even a rudimentary map from the creator of the source material to guide them the rest of the way. Without a template from GRRM to tie up his loose threads and complete his intricate yet unfinished storylines, it’s not surprising that they jettisoned those incomplete story lines, and opted for expedient, simplified versions instead of trying to extrapolate whatever reveals and solutions that GRRM may have intended. If the details and mechanics of his own reveals and resolutions have eluded GRRM for going on 9 years, the showrunners can’t really be faulted for failing to do his heavy lifting for him, can they?

• Benioff and Weiss had once mentioned in an interview that after a certain point they stopped checking out internet fan theories and critiques, since there were always factions that would criticize whatever they did. Arguably, there were many ardent fans who’d studied the books and posted intelligent, canon-based theories about the trajectories of GRRM’s stories and their probable resolutions. I’ve read many such well-reasoned theories here on wotw. I’ve been amazed that commenters here have gotten into GRRM’s “mindset,“ pulled together his disparate storylines, and predicted how his characters will act, react, and interact. (They’ve also pointed out the fallacies of certain proposed scenarios.) I will say that in many respects some commenters here seem to have a better handle on the source material and show! canon than the showrunners themselves.

In hindsight, maybe it would not have been so terrible if GRRM had checked out intelligent commentary by his audience – not to change his story to trick those who figured out his riddles (he’s said that’s a no-no), but to give him inspiration to forge ahead with his writing. [Shout-out to Kevin1989, who’s probably covered every permutation and combination of potential books’ storylines; to Arianacandle, Pigeon, Efi, Mr. D, Tron, Mango, (and so many others whose names I’m forgetting; sorry), who have encyclopedic knowledge of book text and show dialogue, and are able to forecast

with logical precision where characters can likely end up and how storylines will likely unspool based on foreshadowings, embedded “clues,” and established behaviors and motivations.]

Perhaps the showrunners could also have benefitted from fresh eyes and fresh ideas.

Would it be impertinent for me to suggest, as I have before, that

– (1) The two showrunners unwittingly isolated themselves in an echo chamber? (Who can blame them. Accolades and awards reinforced that they must have been doing something right); and

– (2) Sheer physical and mental exhaustion after ten years, coupled with the ever-growing responsibilities of overseeing a massive production, may have sapped some of their creative energies, such that it had to become difficult to continue to bring their “A Game” after 50 or 60 episodes; and

– (3) The absence of a traditional, fully-staffed writers’ room limited the availability of constructive feedback and the infusion of diverse perspectives and fresh ideas; nobody can claim a monopoly on ingenuity and insight; and

– (4) Unintended consequences of exhaustion and working in a bubble might have contributed to: over-reliance on actors’ facial expressions rather than spoken words to convey emotions [e.g., lots of S8 scenes consisted of Tyrion or Jon walking around with distressed looks for several minutes without saying a word]; attempted callbacks coming off as recycled dialogue; abrupt cutaways and presumptive imparting of information offscreen that diluted scenes’ emotional resonance [e.g., omitting the Jon/Aegon parentage reveal to his sisters, and any reaction by Jon to the upending of his “I’m just a bastard” defining self-image]; redundant “jokes” that were funny at first but fell flat upon repetition [e.g., Tyrion’s thrice-told, punchline-less jackass & honeycomb story; the incessant “c*ck,” “c*ckless” quips that after a while seemed like fishing for cheap laughs]; stripping away context in the expectation that the audience could fill in the blanks; the inevitable “short-changing” of certain characters and plot lines in the abridged final season in order to focus on one or two characters’ fates [e.g., Dany’s descent into lunacy], and conversely, diverting screen time to extraneous scenes [e.g., Euron fighting Jaime because… reasons; Cersei drinking wine and staring out from her balcony; and conspicuously extended scenes of grimacing while walking around]; and

– (5) Downgrading certain assertive, first tier protagonists to subservient second-tier side characters [e.g., neutered Jon “she’s my queen” Snow looking befuddled most of the time]; and

– (6) Odd behavior and inexplicable actions functioning more to manufacture tension or drama to move the plot along rather than conforming with natural behavior and logical actions [e.g., Sansa snarking at Dany instead of using her charm to ingratiate herself to her; Arya telling Jon that Sansa was “the smartest person I’ve ever met” (with nothing to support that), apparently to promote the “we don’t like your girlfriend” theme but detracting terribly from what should have been a tender, evocative scene: Arya’s long-awaited reunion with Jon; and Mr. Self-Preservation “I keep paddling” Varys committing treason out in the open, after going from “I choose you,” Dany to “I’m gonna poison you” because… because why exactly?]

– (7) Working in the two-man “bubble” or echo chamber was probably efficient and effective when adapting text from the books. I suspect the dynamics and demands were quite different when they had to start creating story lines and drafting dialogue.

In particular, I’ve always felt that with rare exceptions, to construct credible, natural sounding dialogue for a character, it helps to have a writer whose life experiences approximate those of the character. For example, when scripting a conversation between two sisters it’s be a good idea to have the “voices” of a woman or women who grew up with sisters.*

GRRM says he’s able to inhabit each of his characters when he’s writing for that character. I’ll take him at his word. I still think that as a general rule it’s a good idea to draw on life experiences of the closest real life counterpart of a fictional character. I often questioned whether the showrunners could have benefitted from an expanded team of writers for this reason.

*[Note: Additional commentary on this to follow once retrieve an article I read about composing the script for “Frozen.”]

I get it that people were acting and behaving in weird ways to create and exacerbate a confluence of isolation, ingratitude, sadness (over loved ones’ deaths), estrangement, and betrayals: predicates for the perfect storm that caused Dany to become unhinged. (Or was it the triggering of the genetic 50%-50% Targ coin flip? Or seeing the Red Keep? Or that the KL residents didn’t spontaneously overthrow Cersei and embrace Dany with open arms? Or that her boyfriend didn’t want to f*ck her? Or that since nobody loved her she’d opt to use fear to subjugate people? Or that she merely adopted King Stannis’s philosophy (“If they don’t fear you they won’t follow you”)? Or that low blood sugar from her crash diet induced a psychotic break? I’m still not sure.)

Anyway, I’ve read lots of compelling ideas here that would have organically justified the ending without burying Dany under an avalanche of “what else can we do to f*ck with Dany’s mental state?” contrivances.

My own tinfoil theory was completely off-base. I was fixated on the 1,000,000 population mentioned twice in S7e7: Tyrion to Jon as their ship approached the city, and then Jon to Cersei at the dragonpit show-and-tell. I had speculated that by the end of S8, the AotD would be about to overrun KL. With a million new recruits in the AotD, (to borrow Private Hudson’s lines from “Aliens”) that would be “Game over, man!”

Jon’s impulse would be to charge in and make a valiant attempt to defend the civilians – but Dany would overrule him and (correctly) reason that

incinerating the invading wights along with all of the KL residents was the only way to be sure the AotD didn’t exponentially multiply its forces into an unstoppable 1.1 million strong horde. (Channeling Ripley and Corporal Hicks from “Aliens,” “I say we nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”), Dany would make the harsh decisions to nuke the entire city: “It’s the only way to be sure.”

While Dany would forever be remembered as the Mad King’s daughter who burned a million people alive, her action wouldn’t be the wholly indefensible mass murder committed by a deranged lunatic who’d gone off her meds or had her genetic predisposition to madness triggered. Rather, it would have been compelled by the necessity to make a terrible choice in the kind of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” quandary that I assumed would comport with GRRM’s fictional worldview. She’d likely wind up being second-guessed, ostracized and condemned, especially by armchair quarterbacks and grieving survivors who’d excoriate her for rejecting Jon Snow’s proposal, even though it had little chance of success and the price of failure would have been worldwide extinction.

Still a tragic ending for the self-professed Breaker of Chains and Protector of the Realm, but more palatable (to me) than the female heroine of the first 81 episodes suddenly turning into the supervillain in the final two episodes.

Other commenters scenarios were better attuned to both the books and show. I enjoyed reading them. I thought they made a whole lot of sense, and abided by the letter and spirit of GRRM’s writing. Without fawning over other commenters here, let me just say that the showrunners might well have benefitted by filching some of the commenters’ ideas when formulating the story lines of the final two seasons of GoT.

As long as GRRM left them hanging, why not seek out other sources of potential scenarios when finishing the series? Emerging from their bubble and entertaining different possibilities might very well have enabled them to quell the backlash and mitigate the divisiveness that have overshadowed their achievements in the eyes of a substantial portion of the fandom. How could it have hurt? Meanwhile, the Big Kahuna, who still hasn’t given any indication that he’s made any progress in completing his story (after kneecapping the showrunners and exposing them to ridicule), gets to bask in public adulation, with just the occasional whinging by impatient book readers to interrupt his reverie. As far as I can tell he’s never expressed any contrition for letting them down, e.g., “Sorry I left you guys up Sh*t’s Creek without a paddle.

Does anyone doubt that the showrunners would have done a bang up job adapting TWOW and ADOS if those books had been released before the show’s run was over?

(I don’t buy into his excuse that the show could have kept going for 10 – 13 seasons. I’ll bet that when 2024 rolls around the books still won’t be finished. The cast wasn’t going to put their careers on hold indefinitely. Despite HBO’s support for its cash cow, I doubt HBO could justify shelling out the mega-bucks required to pay the cast to sit around indefinitely in the hopes that Big G someday gets around to finishing his saga.)