Even The Best ‘Game Of Thrones’ Episode Is Ruined With A Cliffhanger Ending

The season three episode of Game of Thrones, “The Rains of Castamere,” is a nearly perfect hour of television. It’s powerful, well acted and beautifully-if-grimly shot, and naturally builds tension by saving the payoff, i.e. “the good stuff,” for the end, when Lord Walder Frey’s men viciously slaughter Robb Stark’s troops and pregnant wife Talisa (and Robb… and Robb’s mother — it’s a bloodbath), under the guise of a hospitable wedding. In that sense, the Red Wedding is everything “Last Day on Earth” wanted to be, and wasn’t.

The Walking Dead fans have very loud opinions about last night’s “infuriating” season finale, with good reason. It was a dramatic copout. Viewers have been hearing about this ruthless, wonderfully evil Negan character since last November, and that his introduction would be the “greatest entrance ever written.” Jeffrey Dean Morgan was good as advertised, but everything else? Not so much. The Walking Dead writers did it with Glenn, they did it with Daryl, and now they’re doing it again with [???], whose head got squashed like a pumpkin by Negan’s trusty bat, Lucille — the dreaded cliffhanger.

Cliffhangers can be effective. Lost‘s season one finale, for instance, is one of the best “what is going on here?” moments in recent TV history. But they have to be used sparingly and in a variety of contexts (The Walking Dead keeps returning to the “are they/aren’t they dead” well), because cliffhangers can just as easily ruin the suspense. As proof, YouTube user “BeBen” imagined if AMC had the rights to Game of Thrones for “The Rains of Castamere.”

It’s [scene cuts to black, James Bond blood drips down the screen]

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