While this season was both shortened and almost devoid of any real meme-heavy moments that have hallmarked previous seasons, and as such didn’t find me reveling in –or posting– them. A quick recap of the moments that thrilled me the most about this shortened season, and the finale in particular. While fan art is still generated rather regularly, it seems that it doesn’t have the same intensity that it once did.
For starters we only lost one “major” character, in what many have argued was a bumbling plot line, and I’d have to concur. Littlefinger who has bedeviled us since the beginning seems to have been dealt with in an A-HA moment, but rather convoluted and dispiriting story arch. It had none of the hallmarks of previous high-profile deaths (Ramsay, Red Wedding, Joffery…) where there was a satisfaction. It felt more like an R-rated version of Scooby-Doo where the villain is unmasked and executed in a hurried way. Given the languorous way he bedeviled everything throughout the series, it felt off.
As to the lack of those culture defining moments in this prestige TV Drama, which has given us so many milestones, think Battle of the Bastards, Hodor’s Hold the Door reveal, Nightwatch’s Revenge on Jon Snow, itinerant grief & fan theories, or any of the other season’s memetic hilarities. Season 6 felt like a good solid run, and this one felt irrevocably rushed. Next season (8) promises mini-movies with their extended length, but shortened number of episodes. Yet we have to wait until when to see those? Continued below the memes of the finale→
How To Make An Entrance at Dragonpit 101
Having Brienne of Tarth say this about loyalty when that is her first and only calling card, and what she is known for as Ned Stark was for his brutal (if short-sighted) honesty, was so subversive that I gasped out loud when she said it.
The A-HA! Moment
Big Pay-Off: Blue-Fire Viserion
Unbeknownst to me in January, I found this fan art (?) which turned out to be very prescient for the Finale and the final season:
This leads us to what might just be a thrilling conclusion, or a let-down of epic proportions felt by fans of a series they’ve invested so much emotional energy and social media in. (Think LOST, or others) While HBO has a record of some amazing endings to their ‘prestige’ dramas — Six Feet Under, Sopranos — it is uncertain what D&D will be able to pull off. After this last season, it seems even more murky.
My investment in the show, as entertainment, is a given. Yet on this blog, I’ve tried to really highlight just two overlapping streams. One is the way in which the show (and its image) is crafted by the in-house team of designers & PR pros who shape the marketing for the show. Which seems to have waxed and waned rather drastically throughout its run. Living in NYC, and seeing the headquarters of HBO frequently, and how the streets were lined with posters, and events, and premieres all designed to foster the rather trenchant army of fans (not unlike the wights) who follow a code all their own, and truly made the show relational to current events or life by generating memes by the second.
Watching along with millions of other viewers, in real-time, with running commentary is often hilarious! Do not get me wrong on that. What used to be peppered with jokes/gag/memes which would then roll into a week’s worth of running gags has easily shrunk down to a 24-hour window in the past two seasons. Signaling that the cultural juggernaut and meme factory the show once was has waned somewhat. As we head into a more fast-paced and shorter season it has perhaps fizzled also on its topical nature. That isn’t to say that Night King jokes, awkward as hell incest memes and so forth don’t still roll on. They do, but not in the same vast network, with the greatest reach, that they once enjoyed.
Surveying Tumblr, Giphy, Twitter, or Facebook finds them lacking. Not cohesive as there isn’t really things to solidify around (i.e. Hodor’s death/origin story or Mountain vs Viper) which resonate. This isn’t to say that the final season next year won’t perhaps see a resurgence, renewal or otherwise give us something that dominates the cultural landscape. Part of the world-building of the series (and the books too) has been creating a rather wide net of an ensemble cast of characters, and having the fans and most ardent take ownership of that through fan fics, memes, a bazillion updates/tweets/etx… Which makes the last few seasons biggest contributions being fan theories (R+L=J, Bran is Night King, et al) as we are to point where they can or will be debunked/confirmed.
As you can see from the above post that even the brand manages to get in on it by toying with their fans most ardent expectations. Playing into all the chatter, blog posts, media coverage that they get. While this doesn’t supplant the memetic stream, it does seem to refocus it on a different participatory level, like a knowing wink & nod to all the hard work the fans investin. Like a madlib or choose your own adventure quality to major prime-time drama. Creating stakeholders in the audience really helps them feel as if they are playing along in some weird mainstream version of Dungeons & Dragons.
Will this pay off in the final season? Will we ever get the further installments in ASoIaF? These are the questions we ask bracing for a fall 2018 or *gasp* early 2019 premiere date. This is quite inline with the Sopranos-styled scheduling. As the above tweet from DragonCon indicates the shortened episode roster will feature longer run times which make them almost movie length. My personal prediction is there will be many lead character’s deaths, along with fan favorites, and secondary players.
Leave your favorite theories or predictions for the final season in the comments below. Also any memes overlooked this season.