“Fleabag” is Ridden With Exceptional Writing and Great Performances
Shortly after season two of Fleabag dropped on Amazon Prime in 2019, Barack Obama put it on his list as one of his favorite television series of the year.
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It’s been nearly a year since Game of Thrones ended, and yes, as it’s been that long, it’s time to move on. Well, when one of your favorite shows of all time ends on a disastrous note, it’s kind of hard to ignore it.
Excitement for the season quickly turned into a typhoon of disaster as audiences watched in horror as one of the greatest television shows spiraled into disarray. Character arcs were assassinated, plot points went nowhere, nothing made sense, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria.
Game of Thrones was a phenomenon. It once subverted expectations in a good way rather than doing so to add a cool “twist,” even if it didn’t make any sense. The show changed ways of television, such as killing off main characters at every chance it had. In season eight, instead of just main characters getting killed, it was their personalities. Ripped apart into itty bitty pieces until the character becomes nothing more but an empty husk of their former self.
Okay, let’s reel back a bit, because the problem didn’t start at season 8, it started all the way back in season 5. Yes, that far back, because the writers were running out of source materials for the books the show way based on (George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), and so they had to come up with new material. Now, some of the new material was good.
Battle of the Bastards and the burning of the Sept of Baelor were great, especially the latter. Everything about that scene was perfect, and the music used was the best in the series. Quick shout out to Ramin Djawadi, he composed the music for Game of Thrones and practically carried season eight on his back.
Nooow back to the bad material. Some fans said it started with the introduction of the Sand Snakes, others said it was when Littlefinger decided to send Sansa off to marry Ramsey for some stupid reason. Either way, we saw the quality slipping, but we tried to brush it off. ‘This wasn’t the end’, we told ourselves. ‘It’s going to get better’, we assured. It’s going to get better. This is a critically acclaimed, award winning show, so of course the series is going to end with a bang.
Hahahaha — no.
It took writers D.B Weiss and David Benioff two years to give us a promising final season. Two. Years. It was just going to be six episodes, which was short considering that all the other seasons — except season 7 — were 10 episodes. 10. 6 wasn’t enough, and even HBO wanted to give the writers more episodes. More seasons, even. However, the writers wanted to get out of the show as quickly as possible to work on other projects. This abruptness is clearly shown in this season.
Plot threads that would’ve been delightful to see spread to another season were instead smashed together like a train crash. The most prominent being Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clark) descent to madness.
Oh boy, where to begin with this? Fans would say that Dany had been descending into madness ever since she nonchalantly watched her brother, Viserys (Harry Lloyd) brutally murdered. Moments before that, Viserys threatened to rip out her unborn child from her stomach. And if Dany really was going mad, why would she bother saving hundreds, if not thousands, of slaves? Plus, she had mentioned countless times that she didn’t want to be her father who threatened to slaughter an entire city? And guess what Dany did? Slaughtered an entire city because she heard bells.
Okay, that’s not exactly why she did it, but watching that episode makes it seem so. The drastic change in her character was so abrupt. Yes, she lost some of her closest allies, but it didn’t mean she had to kill thousands because of it. Oh and speaking of one of Dany’s allies, let’s talk about Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
There aren’t that many POC in Game of Thrones. Considering that the story’s set in a world that mirrors medieval Europe, it makes sense, but some of those characters aren’t treated too well, particularly Missandei and how she died. She first appeared in the show as a slave, but Dany saved her and countless others. However, Missandei becomes a captive again, and never gets freed as she gets beheaded while still in chains.
Yeah…it’s pretty poor taste when one of the only important female POC dies as a slave. Did I mention that the writers wanted to write a show about the Confederates winning the Civil War? Thankfully, that got scrapped.
Another POC is Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), and his character was also botched up. I mean, he didn’t have much going for him personality wise, but they managed to turn his blandness into sheer infuriation when he goes along with Dany’s madness and kills surrendered soldiers. Though it’s weird that he doesn’t bother killing the character that killed his queen.
Let’s talk about Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Actually, there’s nothing much to talk about him since he barely does anything this season. Yes, one of the most important characters of the series barely does anything in the last episodes. Oh, sure, he kills Dany and…does some fighting. Not enough fighting, actually. He doesn’t even fight the Night King. Arya (Maisie Williams), whose arc never revolved around the White Walkers, killed the Night King.
The writers apparently wanted to “subvert expectations.” They thought it would’ve been predictable if Jon was the one to do the deed. Yes, we can’t let the one character who has had conflict with the zombies through out the series not be involved in a duel with him because it would’ve been predictable.
Y’know, not everything has to have a twist. I know that this is Game of Thrones and twists happen all the time, but the twist has to make sense. You can’t just throw in a twist just because it’ll be cool, there has to be a logical reasoning behind it. This was supposed to be a great moment for Jon, but it was dashed away just like audiences hopes as they kept watching.
I think one of the characters that got ruined the most was Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Unlike other characters, his arc went on a decline since season 5. Somehow, the writers were able to make the cleverest character into the dumbest. He kept making one dumb decision after another, and it was just sad. Tyrion even tried to reason with his sister who tried to kill him countless times.
This is more insensitive than dumb, but Tyrion declares the new king, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) as ‘Bran the Broken’. Yes, Tyrion call the disabled kid that. I never really liked Bran, and my distaste for him grew when he wound up doing nothing this season, but another title would’ve been better. Considering that Bran holds all the knowledge of Westeros’s history, why not ‘Bran the Wise’ or something?
Tyrion suggests that Bran has the best story out of everyone. Yes, the character whose story got skipped over entirely in season five because the writers didn’t know what to do with its fantasy elements — has the best story. Bran had become the Three Eyed Raven, a being who can gaze into the past and future, but he never does anything useful with it. In one scene he looks into the past just to learn about a wheelchair his ancestor made. Yes, we should declare him as king.
Y’know, despite my ramblings, I’m not angry, just…disappointed with how this series ended.
Some of the plot threads could’ve worked, such as Dany slipping into madness. However, the execution of it was done poorly. It happened too quickly and you could tell that the writers didn’t care and wanted to wrap everything as soon as possible. The writing is what really hurt this season. It used to be so strong in the earlier seasons that it’s just so baffling that we get awful dialogue such as Arya saying, “I know a killer when I see one” after she saw Dany killing thousands of innocents.
Apparently George R. R. Martin is trying to finish up the book series while we’re stuck in quarantine. So maybe something good will come out of this pandemic.
Originally published by by Lauren Massuda on April 3, 2020