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Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
The morning after Game of Thrones.
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett and sponsored by the Westeros Tourism Board
Last night Game of Thrones aired its final episode. Maybe you’ve heard. Like so many TV show finales, it annoyed a whole lot of people - just as this final season has been for the past few weeks.
The thing with serialised TV is that it is ultimately about the journey and not the destination. TV thrives when you spend time with beloved characters and join them on their quests of discovery. It isn’t really built to end with a definitive statement. This is why the final episode of almost every show has a very different feel to the series as a whole. It’s the only episode of a show that is built to have an actual ending.
Is The Game of Thrones final episode one of the all-time great episodes of TV? I don’t think it joins the list - if only because there was no real iconic moment in the episode. Last week’s thunderous destruction of Kings Landing will likely be better remembered - it was a visceral powerhouse of an episode. Though, there were some stunning shots in this final episode.
Before I launch into a lengthy list of interesting articles about Game of Thrones, can I make some viewing suggestions for people looking to dive into a meaty TV show?
You have a subscription to watch Game of Thrones already set up - why not sample a few other HBO shows while you have it? I’d recommend giving The Leftovers a look. It’s a lot more somber than Game of Thrones and that first season is a really tough watch. But it’s probably the most rewarding show I’ve seen since Mad Men finished. Also maybe try the Murdoch-inspired family comedy-drama Succession, western Deadwood, or 1930’s period circus drama Carnivale.
If you haven’t watched Mad Men, what are you waiting for? It is, in my opinion, the best TV drama of all time. You should be able to find that streaming via Netflix.
Game of Thrones
The show acknowledged Ghost as being the very good boy that he is. Source: Vox
13.6 million people tuned in for the 9pm Game of Thrones broadcast in the US, which makes it the most watched HBO telecast in the networks history. But, that doesn’t include everyone who watched last night via streaming platforms, bringing the figure up to 19.3 million viewers. Source: Variety
Game of Thrones didn’t air/stream in China due to the US-China trade war. Source: Complex
Vanity Fair has all of the easter eggs from the final episode. Source: Vanity Fair
Who were all of the Lords making the decision on who shall be King? Here’s your guide. Source: Vanity Fair
Much like the much-discussed cup of coffee, the series finale was not without a beverage-based gaffe. One tense scene involved bottles of plastic water in the background. Source: The Verge
Did Game of Thrones betray its central themes with its final episode? Here’s a rant on that subject. Source: Vox
Twitter’s reaction to Sansa slamming her uncle Edmure Tully. Source: Uproxx
Last week’s destruction of Kings Landing is why the production of Game of Thrones moved from Dubrovnik to Belfast. Source: RTE
No culture writer working on Game of Thrones coverage has been more revered than Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson. If you’re going to read one piece today, make it this one: “Our Unforgettable, Uncontrollable Ride”.
When they first pitched HBO on the concept of Game of Thrones in 2006, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had never written a single second of TV and I had never written a single word professionally. But as a bookseller in an independent shop in Northern California I knew the same thing they did: George R.R. Martin had written a series of doorstopper novels that were popular, dense, and, according to anyone who knew anything about it, completely unfilmable. But none of us, not even Martin himself, knew where all of this would lead.