Wildly popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ just ended an 8-season run, with a finale which polarised its teeming millions of viewers. Daily Trust Saturday spoke to some of the show’s celebrity fans in Nigeria, and their views are as varied as the emotions stirred by the record-breaking episode.
To call ‘Game of Thrones’ a global phenomenon would be an understatement. The TV show has held in its thrall millions of viewers, ranging from regular folk, to world leaders, and celebrities themselves. Based on a series of fantasy books by George R.R Martin, and on a fictional kingdom’s distant past, the story revolves on who sat on, who sits on, and who will sit on the titular throne.
The story, sometimes controversially loaded with violence, also boasts well-realised characters, all woven together in a world sometimes eerily mirroring real-life, and occasionally offering lessons in statecraft, politics, and even humanity. Following several plotlines – and ruling houses – with the aid of a large ensemble cast, one story arc follows a web of alliances and conflicts among the noble dynasties either vying to claim the throne, or fighting for independence from it. Another follows the last descendant of the realm’s deposed ruling dynasty, exiled and plotting a return to the throne. Yet another follows the Night’s Watch, a brotherhood defending the realm against legendary creatures, including the Army of The Dead, led by the Night King.
Helped by brilliant writing, and a cast to match, the directors of ‘Game of Thrones’ went about creating a story so engrossing that then-US president Barack Obama once requested for an advance screening of episodes at the White House, and of course producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss obliged. Then, surprisingly, Hilary Clinton, when asked by a journo which TV show best-resembles life in politics, answered: “Oh, probably ‘Game of Thrones’,” drawing laughter from the audience.
Probably the most surprising ‘Game of Thrones’ fan, is Queen Elizabeth II, as showrunners Benioff and Weiss once revealed a royal visit to their set in Northern Ireland. The Queen, and Prince Philip, met with them in 2015, along with cast members Lena Headey (Cersei), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark). The queen reportedly got a close look at the infamous Iron Throne, though she didn’t sit in it.
Other famous fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ include Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z, Madonna, singer Ed Sheeran, and many, many more. Here in Nigeria, the story is no different, with Twitter being set ablaze every post-episode morning by some of the country’s biggest celebrities, from showbiz, the literati, and more.
Daily Trust Saturday spoke to a number of celebrities, to weigh in their thoughts on the controversial finale, which by the way broke records by scoring 19.3 million viewers, the biggest-ever for a HBO TV show. The following, are some of the views:
Lola Shoneyin (Writer):
I found the finale, episode 6, very satisfying. ‘Game of Thrones’ started with the Starks, and ended with them, and with each one embarking on a journey of promise and potential. I didn’t see Bran as a potential leader, but I don’t think it was a poor choice. Leadership demands an acute sense of history and justice, so that mistakes are not repeated.
Rahama Sadau (Actress):
I’m still trying to understand why they should end it the way they have. I mean, I was expecting so much more from the finale. Many things remain unclear, and I at some point thought I was the only one, then I saw the whole deluge of negative comments from fans around the world.
The final episode could’ve been better, no matter how long it would take. Everyone waited two years, patiently, for a befitting ending, only for it to end in a basic way. We definitely weren’t expecting a happy ending, like Daenerys Targaryen marrying John Snow and having kids, no. I don’t mean to judge, because I understand the nature of filmmaking, and like I saw during an interview with the showrunners, that they had to finish a story that is unfinished in the source material, which is okay.
But for a show like ‘Game of Thrones’, it’s difficult, because there will be loads of conversations, conferences, etc., on how to end it. But it will definitely not satisfy everyone. The producers and writers, honestly, owe millions of fans an explanation to thousands and millions of their fans from around the world. Right now, my own watch has not ended, as I’m still watching the finale, to understand why it ended the way it did.
Toni Kan (Writer):
As a writer I know that any story which ends without clutter is a bad story, and here is why: Stories are supposed to mimic life. They are shadows of the real, as Plato wrote, but because every good story must strive for verisimilitude, the really good ones must be messy, cluttered, annoying, and able to move 800,000 fans to demand a do-over of the final season. Good stories must make you care.
So, how should it have ended; with indecisive Jon I-don’t-want-it Snow as King? No. With Arya, who doesn’t want to be a lady? No.
Why are we shocked that Daenerys took a flying flame thrower to the city? She was grieving on many levels, and such loss can turn you murderous. And didn’t Lord Varys warn us that her temperament is not well-suited to leadership? Who else would have taken the throne? Sansa? No, she had a healthy disdain for the South. So, that leaves us with Bran the Broken, whom if you were paying attention in Season 1, his father Ned Stark said to a young Arya that he will sit on the King’s council.
Truth is, the people complaining are those who were looking for a fairy tale ending. But ‘Game of Thrones’ is no fairy tale. It is life, and life is messy, and unpredictable.
Sope Martins (Writer):
I have a coping mechanism for approaching tasks I’d rather not do: Procrastinate, compartmentalise, and think of better things. When I found myself implementing this three-step strategy to watch the series finale of ‘Game of Thrones’, a show I had invested eight years of my life in, I knew there was no salvaging this hot mess.
The seeds of disappointment had been planted in Season 7, when the characters began zipping between continents as though they were stacking up frequent flyer miles. But I never thought things would get to the point where many, many years of painstaking character-building would be wiped out as quickly as Drogon took out King’s Landing. That’ll teach me to invest in fictional people’s lives!
There were definitely great moments throughout the season, this is ‘Game of Thrones’ after all, but sadly the only thing I was thinking as I watched the finale was ‘You’ve watched the other 72 episodes, you might as well watch this one’.
I have learnt a valuable life lesson: I need to watch less TV. Also, never name your child after an inspirational character. She might turn into a mass murderer!
Kenneth Gyang (Director):
I was in Yola, Adamawa State, making a documentary about marginalized people in Nigeria’s political space with funding from the European Centre for Electoral Support when I watched the finale of one of the biggest shows ever made. ‘Game of Thrones’, for its 8th season, was in production, and anticipated for two years. And there were loose ends to be tied from Season 7.
Now, the first three episodes were smashing, and the episode wherein the Night King and his Army of the Dead were defeated was something to behold. We all wanted to see the forces of good, marching towards King’s Landing after that. But alas! I was greatly shocked by the direction of the final episode, which saw our beloved Khaleesi’s motivation for destroying King’s Landing after the surrender was a forced attempt at pushing her character towards madness, with zero motivation.
Like the political documentary I am working on, the beloved Khaleesi’s role in liberating oppressed people – by obliterating enemies – gets downplayed, and she ends up an unloved villain. Is this how strong women are viewed? Most people weren’t happy with that portrayal. I’m one of them. The show deserved a befitting finale, but it didn’t get one.
Richard Ali (Writer/Poet):
The final episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ was disappointing, and underwhelming. Considering the trajectory of the series prior to that, one would have to hope the series ends on a high note, or with a lot of plot lines ties up. Instead, what we were served is melodrama.
The Jon Snow character arc was just as disappointing as Daenerys’ over the last six episodes. Fearsome baddie The Night King is killed, just like that. Countless characters, also act out of, well, character. The producers and directors did a bait-and-switch on us, and if there’s any proof needed, the final season provides it. I guess it’s back to reading the books.
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