There’s a lot to talk about with Game of Thrones, especially as it reaches its final episode. The wildly popular HBO show has never had better ratings, but it’s also seemingly never been less liked by fans. Its penultimate episode, for example, was the least-liked episode on Rotten Tomatoes of the whole series.
Extra attention always brings extra criticism, but a lot of that has to do with the uneven nature of the show’s final season. A lot of factors are at play — the people behind Game of Thrones are trying to wrap up a massive show with sprawling storylines and it’s never easy to land a beloved show no matter what the story looks like.
Spoilers ahead here, but the way the show has dealt with a lot of things in its final two seasons has been uneven at best. And as fans discuss their problems with the show it seems that video game terminology often pops up. And so this tweet from a gamer and Game of Thrones viewer was especially prophetic about the season’s ups and downs.
Gamer Justin Wong tweeted about the show’s fifth episode on Monday and gave a list of “patch notes” for “The Bells” that reads like a video game patch, listing changes to certain aspects of the show.
It’s a really smart way to look at a show because one advantage video games have over other artistic mediums is that they are allowed to be imperfect: they can be changed. If a character or weapon is too powerful in a game, an update can move the sliders down a bit and make things a bit more sporting. Nerfing (reducing a character’s power) isn’t new in fighting games or RPGs, as a large sample size of people playing them can expose problems that need correcting. It’s just part of the process with games these days.
It’s not that simple in TV, especially when it feels like a show like Game of Thrones sways so severely from one week to another. Scorpions go from ineffective to wildly effective to completely useless against dragons from one week to the next. Fans have noticed so many little things about the show that have bothered them — characters making decisions that seem out of, well, character, is just the start of it. Imagining the show’s characters are like the robots from Westworld — easily modifiable every day based on the intent of the show’s creators — is certainly an interesting way to look at how things seem to have changed.
We’ve long accepted that fast-travel — another video game term — is something the show’s writers have embraced as the landing strip runs out on the show’s final 13 episodes. Perhaps it’s best to accept that other things the showrunners decided must be buffed out after the fact.