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Game of Thrones

It’s not often that the finale of a television show transcends the limitations of entertainment and evolves into a cultural phenomenon, but within a matter of weeks, the world will be glued to their screens. Looking to join the elite ranks of M*A*S*H, SEINFELD, THE SOPRANOS, and BREAKING BAD as a defining pop culture moment, HBO’s GAME OF THRONES will reach its conclusion on May 19, and fans have been obsessing for well over a year on how it will end.

Whether you watch the program or not, chances are, you’re familiar with the series. Its rabid fan base has become so enamored with the characters and their plights, that there isn’t a space on the internet that is free from theories and speculation. From Halloween costumes, to fashion, to absurd Presidential ad campaigns, the influence of GAME OF THRONES has reached every conceivable corner of our public consciousness.

Based on the continuing book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin, the series proved to be bombastic and influential from its very first season. With cinematic production values, and a flare for gratuity, it featured drama, comedy, love, hatred, sex, violence, friendship, and betrayal. Unabashed in its savagery and sexuality, it tested the boundaries of decency and censorship. For the casual viewer, it either repulsed those who were even mildly prone to being offended, while deliciously titillating others who were not expecting its shocking and brazen display of sins.

Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington & Emilia Clarke.

Though any show can use sex and violence to push their product, it became apparent, very early on, that GAME OF THRONES was much more than generic softcore smut. For anyone who has read the novels in which the series is based, bringing Martin’s expansive, complicated, and daunting universe to life seemed virtually impossible, and yet the resources afforded to a premium cable outlet like HBO made it a feasible reality. And, despite the astronomical cost of producing each episode, the immense popularity and profitability (not to mention its 18 Emmy wins) has guaranteed that the saga will live on in other forms. Multiple spin-offs are already in the works, ensuring that Westeros will remain firmly within the pop culture lexicon for years to come.

Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner and Rory McCann.

Gearing up for the final season, I recently went back and watched the series over again from start to finish. Rather than playing out as a mere rehash of everything I had already seen, I was struck by the complexity of the characters and storylines, some of which are yet to be resolved. It gave me a better appreciation of the foreshadowing and groundwork that was laid from the earliest episodes, and allowed me to witness the progression of the characters and the actors portraying them as an entire body of work. Stars Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Kit Harrington, and Lena Headey have all drastically evolved since season one, embodying their characters so completely that they will forever be synonymous with their THRONES counterparts. While virtually every person (and creature) seen on screen is vulnerable, the expansive and talented cast has made the most of each appearance, effectively creating heroes, villains and everything in between. And, though there are countless performers who get ample screen time, it is the memorable villains Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) who are utterly unforgettable, and whose presence is sorely missed when they aren’t around. They enliven virtually every scene they are a part of and as much as you want them to meet some satisfyingly sadistic end, at the same time, you certainly don’t want to lose them forever. There is also no denying that the tremendous scope of the series is downright astounding. Beautiful, sprawling set pieces, expansive blood battles, an unfathomable amount of extravagant costumes, and superb special effects bring this grandiose world to life with such consistency, that the audience almost takes it for granted at this point.

There are countless theories on how GAME OF THRONES will end, and the beauty of it is, no one truly knows will happen until the end credits roll.  In finales like BREAKING BAD and THE SOPRANOS, the main question was, will Walter and/or Tony make it out alive? With GOT, there is so much more at stake than the simplistic fate of a main protagonist. Knowing the levels of depravity and heartache that has been doled out since season one, there is every reason to believe that there is nothing but chaos and devastation in store. And, like every other fan, I am hoping for an epic, memorable conclusion, and not another disappointment in a long list of mediocre finales.

Game of Thrones premieres on HBO on April 14 and will conclude on May 19.  

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.