There was a time when the idea of blurring the line between content creators and distributors and their audience seemed like a good thing. Fan petitions have saved more than a few great television shows and given them a new life in one way or another, and the power of audience feedback often seems greater than it has ever been before.
And then a petition to redo the final season of Game of Thrones comes along with just one episode left to remind us all that great power doesn’t always come with great responsibility — or at the very least, an ounce of sense.
At the risk of being the raven who carries bad news for the 835,377 people who have signed the Change.org petition (at last count), you should probably know that Hodor will sit on the Iron Throne before HBO remakes the final season of Game of Thrones, folks.
Is the season disappointing for many fans? Clearly.
Could the conclusion to the eight-season saga have been better served by a more fleshed-out script that didn’t sacrifice character development for expediency? Possibly.
Will the network rewrite and refilm one of the most expensive seasons of any series to date, spending hundreds of millions of dollars while simultaneously endeavoring to find time in the busy schedules of cast members who have booked the next few years solid with other projects, all to produce a fan-approved final season that appeals to a wider audience that can’t even agree on who should win the titular “game” (you win or you die!) at the heart of the series? Not a chance.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand the sentiment.
Fans of Game of Thrones have invested eight years in the adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy saga, watching one favorite character after another get killed off — quickly if they’re lucky, but for many, in excruciatingly drawn-out ways that verge on torture porn. You’ve done irreparable damage to your moral compass and questioned whether being a fan of the series qualifies as masochism, all while arguing with friends, co-workers, and strangers on the internet about who would be the last person standing when the series reached its end.
The Battle of the Bastards has nothing on the eight-year struggle you’ve endured as a Game of Thrones fan, and now it all seems poised to end in fire, blood, and questionable (at best) character arcs.
But here’s the thing: Game of Thrones doesn’t owe you a satisfying ending.
The only contract that exists between audience and content is an unspoken agreement. You promise to keep watching as long as the show holds your interest — nothing more. HBO is under no obligation to give you the ending you want, or bring characters’ sagas to a fitting conclusion. Heck, the network isn’t even obligated to give you an ending to the show.
That’s why a petition to have HBO go back and remake the last season of Game of Thrones is so ridiculous. It assumes a balance in the relationship between audience and content that simply isn’t there. HBO holds all of the cards, and fans have, well … as much leverage as Jon Snow has things he knows. (It’s true. Seasons later, and he still knows nothing.)
On the financial side, the network would take a massive loss if it tried to remake the final season. Television networks aren’t in the business of losing money, and even if HBO did consider the notion, there’s no chance of bringing the primary cast together again for that long of a shoot anytime soon. The popularity of Game of Thrones propelled most of its cast to in-demand status in Hollywood, and they’ve likely had to pass on more than a few passion projects due to the demands of the show’s filming schedule.
If you think they’d put off their big-screen careers to provide a mea culpa on season 8 of Game of Thrones, I have some bad news for you about the machinations of the television industry.
But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom, Game of Thrones fans. You might not be getting a redo on season 8, but you can take solace in the fact that you’re getting a conclusion to the show you love — even if it doesn’t turn out to be the ending you hoped for. Not every fan can say the same. (Try complaining about not getting the ending you wanted to fans of Pushing Daisies or Firefly. Be prepared for tears.)
On top of that, the conclusion to Game of Thrones is coming while the show’s creators are still involved (albeit possibly distracted by projects looming on the horizon), without any major behind-the-scenes drama (outside of Coffeegate, that is), and within the series’ original run. Consider that it’s taken HBO 13 years to give Deadwood fans an ending to a series widely regarded as one of the greatest television dramas ever made, and take solace in the fact that you’ll see who ends up on the Iron Throne before fans of a show that ended in 2006 get any closure for their obsession.
So sign the petition if it makes you feel better, but don’t think for a minute that HBO will ever give season 8 another pass.
And if all else fails, just have faith in this one, absolute truth about the impending conclusion of Game of Thrones: It can’t be worse than the end of Lost.
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