Game of Thrones - in its third episode (of six) in its final season - just delivered an episode that reminds me a lot of the Last Jedi.
Has every reason to be spectacular and they manage to fuck it up in the most bizarre ways possible.
I'm going to try not to spoil anything, basically it was a big battle between the 'living' (most of the main cast being there) and the 'dead'.
So much hype; the 'best' director; the biggest budget; the longest episode; the biggest battle sequence on TV; the (we assume the beginning of the) payoff to a storyline built up since the first scene and chapter, over eight seasons; two pretty slow (though good) episodes building up to it, the second episode especially seems to be all about everyone preparing for their inevitable death in this unsurmountable situation.
It looks like it's going to be the best episode the show has ever given us.
They fuck it up.
They fuck it up to such an extent that I am honestly completely puzzled.
You literally cannot see fuck all for most of the episode. This is an example of the grand battle we saw on TV:
Versus what it should have actually looked like.
But forget about the lighting, maybe it will look great when the Blu-Rays come out and I invest in a plasma TV for better blacks or whatever.
How about the directing? Yes, Sapochnik has a lot of talents, but apparently he has a lot of flaws too. How about the complete dissolution of tension when the entire army of the living seems to be completely wiped out within the first 20 minutes, yet the dozens of 'named' characters that were initially at the very front of the battle end up surviving the entire episode? For essentially the whole second half of the episode it's literally just the named characters being swarmed by the dead. Formula: a named character looks completely fucked, camera cuts away, cuts back - they're fine. Repeat over and over and over.
This is Game of Thrones. It's supposed to avoid these kind of tropes. The writer of the book series George R R Martin even complained about this very same thing here ~2:30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cspPt3-PFjw&feature=youtu.be
There were character deaths in the episode, some were very well handled - albeit strongly telegraphed beforehand - but it completely takes you out of this supposedly impossible stakes situation when a named character has escaped from a mortal situation for the 20th time in that one episode.
There were other problems with the episode but hey, there were enough great moments to offset that at this point. A lot of it was handled really well. We're coming to a close with this beautiful montage - reiterating that everyone is completely fucked. How are they getting out of this? I'm sitting there thinking of a dozen mind-blowing ways this could play out, based on crazy shit that we've seen before on this show.
This is THE main storyline. This is the whole point of the series. So obviously this isn't going to end with three episodes left and where most of the main characters - especially those very much tied to this particular story - haven't done anything all episode, with related arcs to complete.
Nope. A character that has NOTHING to do with this storyline literally falls out of the sky and 'ends' it.
The threat is gone. The main storyline of the series is over half way through the final season. Most of the character storylines we've seen over the course of Eight Seasons are rendered pointless.
Now ... I don't want to believe this is true. Surely this is a fake-out? It makes no narrative sense for this plot to end here and in these circumstances. I can think of a few ways the fake out could work.
I want to say this is definitely a fake-out, but I don't want to risk false hope. It's certainly not unforeseen for a great TV series to have a shit, almost series-ruining ending - maybe that's what we're in for. The (generally very good) writers of the show have made some pretty stupid decisions before, moreso recently - but not with the ending, surely?
If they DO fix the ending the episode might be elevated to 'good' status. Fix the lighting as well please bois.