Last week, after the penultimate episode of the final season of “Game of Thrones” — which featured the complete, literal meltdown of Daenarys Targaryen — a fan created a petition to “remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers.” Within a span of 24 hours, the petition had amassed over 200,000 signatures. So now with the final episode in the books, where does the petition stand? It’s topped 1.2 million, and the signatures continue to stream in rapidly.
“David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on,” the petition reads. “This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!”
That fans want a redo of the beloved show’s last season should come as no surprise — and not just because it’s inevitable that not everyone would be satisifed with how the massively popular and massively expensive show wraps up. Criticism has come from all directions and has stemmed from everything from stylistic choices (like the overly dark Battle of Winterfell) to character arcs to key thematic decisions. But, as The Daily Wire has highlighted, the pushback that has gotten the most attention is ideologically driven:
Among the complaints is that HBO “literally shattered” the show’s global warming theme, which book series’ author George R.R. Martin famously helped promote in an October 2018 interview with The New York Times, in which he touted the “great parallel” between the series’ “winter is coming” theme and climate change. … But the rather easy destruction of the Night King by a single character “shattered” that theme for ThinkProgress‘s Joe Romm. “One of the show’s heroes single-handedly ended the existential climate threat with a clever knife trick — abruptly returning the storyline to a conventional tale of humans fighting among themselves for political power,” Romm wrote in a piece for the left-wing site. “In the real world, climate change is far too challenging a threat to be ended by one person — or even one battle that doesn’t include all of the major powers.”
The most impassioned criticisms, however, have revolved around some of the show’s key female characters. “Until recently, you could make the argument that Game of Thrones was a stealthily feminist show,” The Guardian‘s Abigail Chandler wrote. “In its early years it might have lured in the typical male fantasy crowd with sex, violence and alpha-male characters like Ned and Robb Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jaime Lannister, but before you knew it a woman was on the Iron Throne, her main challenger was also a woman, and Westeros was stuffed full of female assassins, knights, wily politicos and Dame Diana Rigg. … Which is why it’s so frustrating to see the show slip back into its old ways in this final season. Coming off the back of The Long Night’s excellent twist ending – where Arya, rather than the expected hero Jon Snow, killed the Night King – the latest episode is especially disappointing. So many of the show’s strongest female characters were undermined by showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss, who also wrote this episode.”
One widely criticized moment in the season involved feminist icon Sansa Stark, who suggested in a conversation with The Hound that being raped helped empower her. “Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger,” actress Jessice Chastain wrote in a tweet that went viral. “A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.”
Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger. A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.#GameOfThrones pic.twitter.com/TVIyt8LYxI
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) May 7, 2019
While blowback from critics and fans alike from Episode 5 was fierce, response to Episode 6 has been a bit more measured, with review site Rotten Tomatoes currently giving the series finale a 58% on the Tomatometer.