It sounds a bit forced to say that series like "Game of Thrones", with the same expectations, the same resources and the same overall view, will no longer be made. We are in 2019, there are lots of players and lots of platforms; on April 12, the one of Disney was announced and at the end of the year Apple tv + will also arrive. "Game of Thrones" is the pinnacle of serial evolution: everything that could be done on the small screen and that was done; an effective set of multiple elements, of writing, of direction, of effects. It is the first real television blockbuster.
The last season, aired on Sky Atlantic and available on NowTv from April 15, has cost almost 100 million dollars. It took two years of work, ten months of filming; hundreds and hundreds of extras and experts. It is the jewel of Hbo's crown, and probably – this is not forced to say, no – it will remain for a long time. But what is "Game of Thrones" and what it represents (and what it will represent) are the two sides of the same coin, two different answers to the same question. And that is: where the TV is going.
"Game of Thrones": what is it?
"Game of Thrones" was born as the adaptation of a series of fantasy books, "The chronicles of ice and fire" by George RR Martin, and over time becomes something else: it moves away from the original plot, left behind, and takes another road. Revenge, power struggles, sex. "Game of Thrones" is the story of a group of people, on a continent reminiscent of the medieval United Kingdom, who fight to conquer the crown and to survive. It is not so much for his larger, larger story that "Game of Thrones" has succeeded in establishing itself. How much for that intimate, smaller, made of interactions and small clashes, of plots, plots and confessions. It's a show that likes so much, say the actors who worked on it, because it's human. And humanity is reflected in some characters more than others. Like Sam Tarly, played by John Bradley. Or in Ser Davos, played by Liam Cunningham.
The eighth season of "Game of Thrones" is the end of a journey: ten years of work, hundreds of hours of post-production, many, many professional skills, and a story that, in the small screen, is still unique and unpublished. It's the big event. The phenomenon. The maximum spectacle of a form of story. For some, it is also a representation – in a key, clearly metaphorical – of modern times. Of our policy. Of the birth and death of nationalisms. Of many, many things. And also for this "Game of Thrones" is a unicum, an exception, a case to be studied.
The story up to this point
There are several families, different families, fighting: on one side the Lannisters, on the other the Starks. Then the Targaryens, the legitimate holders of power, who return to Westeros, the continent of the west, to claim what is rightfully theirs. Each has its own goal and its own agenda. In the seventh season, it happened that those of the Starks and the Targaryens ended up coinciding. Jon Snow, King of the North, allied himself with Daenerys Targaryen to fight the Strangers, the undead, magical and glacial beings who are preparing to march south now that the Barrier has been destroyed.
In six episodes we will discover not only who will survive, whether monsters or humans will win, but also, hopefully, who will sit on the Game of Thrones: in King's Landing, the capital, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) awaits the arrival of a new army from Essos, the continent of the East, and to understand against whom – or what – will have to clash. Obviously, then, there are the sub plots: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is not only a Stark from mom, but also a Targaryen, the legitimate heir and nephew of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), with whom he has a relationship.
An ever new challenge
Every new season of "Game of Thrones", starting with the second, has always raised the bar of quality, and has always tried to do something different. Of totally new. The decision, strong enough, to kill the character – and therefore the actor – more important than the first season was, perhaps, the fundamental one. What then set the tone and expectations for all the others. Many, even today, find that it was Sean Bean, putting himself on the line, to give immediate credibility to "Game of Thrones" (and to think that the first pilot, the first trial episode, was terrible).
The center of everything: Benioff and Weiss, the two creators
Along with expectations, money, budget and resources have also increased, so the settings have changed, they have diversified, more actors and directors have been involved. At the center of it all are the two creators, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, who were able to find the right balance between possible and impossible, between what is credible and what, instead, remains absolutely extraordinary. An important example, and one that is worth mentioning, is how magic has been inserted into the world of "Game of Thrones": how, over the course of the various seasons, it has always been something extremely rare and difficult, almost random, of which it was impossible to foresee effects and success. Like when Melisandre, the red priestess played by Carice van Houten, brought Jon Snow back to life. The dragons themselves have taken on an almost marginal role in the struggle for the conquest of power, wisely limited and then balanced (in the seventh season Viserion, one of Daenerys' three sons, was killed and then reborn as an ice dragon) of the King of the Night).
What to expect from the last season
Predicting who, or what, will win, which faction of the many will prevail, remains difficult. And not only for the same admission of Benioff and Weiss, who have repeatedly said that with a show like "Game of Thrones" it is impossible to please all the fans (and therefore, consequently, adopt the simplest solution); but also for the work that Hbo and the various national broadcasters, like Sky in Italy, have done on the series. The first rule, the most important, was secrecy. The journalists, for this season, were not given early screener. There were only two previews: one in the United States and the other in Belfast.
Many of the most beloved characters are likely to die. And it is very probable that it will happen during the first episodes, during the Battle of Winterfell (which is one of the most anticipated moments of the whole season, when the Starks and the Targaryens will fight against the Strangers). And it is equally probable that none of the theories that are now circulating on the net are correct. Or at least, that no one really and concretely comes close to what will really happen in the end.
What will remain of "Game of Thrones"
The legacy of "Game of Thrones" is this: feeding curiosities, expectations; feed a story that has always gone beyond the small screen and broadcast, which has found its audience (and is a public, well understood, huge: "Game of Thrones" is the most pirated series ever, the most famous and sight of Hbo), and that has prospered even when, as in the last year, no episode has been aired.
The numbers say it, how "Game of Thrones" was important. The fans say it. It is not an exaggeration to define this series as a turning point within the history of the small screen; and it is not even an exaggeration to say that, from now on, it will be a goal and a challenge for all the other producers and channels. "Game of Thrones" is, and will remain for a long time, the demonstration that it is not only the economic offer or the brand of those who propose it to count; it is the demonstration that quality has a lot, a lot of value in an increasingly saturated market, and it is also the demonstration that it is not a kind to define the success or the luck of a TV series. "Game of Thrones", after all, has never been just a fantasy, and has never been aimed solely at fantasy fans. "Game of Thrones" has established itself as a series for everyone, addressed to everyone, with one or more elements very close to any type of audience, and this is what it means, today, to stage a timeless story, for all generations , which will remain over time.
What is asked for in this last season is an important test: do not disappoint expectations; do not destroy all the work that has been done. It's a big bet. That if won will make of "Game of Thrones" not only the most awaited, followed, loved, pirated and – at the same time – always criticized series; but also the perfect, exemplary embodiment of what "serial story" means.