With the ‘Game of Thrones’ finale many months behind us, one might think that news about the storied series would be coming to an end, but since there was such criticism to how it all concluded, it seems there are still many who have strong opinions about how it all went down. Those still weighed down with thoughts about the finale include the director of the final two episodes, Neil Marshall (who is also the creator of ‘Hellboy’), and the man who started it all, George R.R. Martin.
During an exclusive chat with Metro recently, Marshall spoke on his time directing on ‘Game of Thrones,’ especially after his initial hits ‘Blackwater‘ and ‘The Watchers on the Wall,‘ and some of his thoughts on what went wrong with the finale. He starts by speaking of his earlier episodes, saying:
“Inevitably, I would’ve taken a different approach to directing. One of the greatest experiences I had with working on both those episodes was that they were so open to bringing my ideas, particularly about battle scenes and how battles worked.”
He goes on to quietly put some of the blame on series producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, claiming they put a lot of their own ideas into the finale, and did not leave him the opportunities to change and add his own style the way they had with earlier episodes, especially in regards to how the battles were portrayed, claiming:
“I would’ve definitely added my strategy and knowledge to that.. It’s very difficult to second guess those guys because they are geniuses and they have done such an amazing job.”
His most controversial thoughts are about the fan reaction to the finale, which he seems to think makes sense:
“I kind of agree with a lot of the criticism that it was really rushed…Everyone ended up where they were meant to end up but they got there in a little bit of a rush in the end.”
Which fits with a lot of the statements made by George R.R. Martin since the finale aired, especially in one interview with Fast Company, where he claims that the ending was not exactly what he envisioned for the characters and the story, but that he was going up against the show-runners who had their own mandate from HBO:
“It can be… traumatic. Because sometimes their creative vision and your creative vision don’t match, and you get the famous creative differences thing — that leads to a lot of conflict…The [final] series has been… not completely faithful. Otherwise, it would have to run another five seasons.”
He also pointed out that network interference led to some story-lines and characters given greater weight than they needed, while others that he felt were important were given little screen time:
“You get totally extraneous things like the studio or the network weighing in, and they have some particular thing that has nothing to do with story, but relates to “Well this character has a very high Q Rating so let’s give him a lot more stuff to do.”’
Now while I do not totally agree with creators pointing the finger at each other or the network when a project is not well-received, in this context these statements do help shed some light on that final season, and the final episodes in particular. It did feel like the HBO series felt beholden to where Martin wanted the characters to end up, but were not all that concerned with how they got there, especially with characters like Daenerys where it seemed like her turn to villain seemed very abrupt at the end, especially since the show had been building her up to be the hero of the series. But, this is television, and a show running as long as Martin wanted (i.e. an additional 5 seasons) does seem a bit crazy, especially if they had already strayed so far from the source material. Far more interesting to me are Marshall’s thoughts about how he was not given as much creative freedom for his final episodes and seemed to be instructed to stick to the ideas that the network and showrunners wanted to see done, almost making it a waste to use Marshall at all for the end.
What are your thoughts on Marshall and Martin’s words? Have you warmed up the ending of ‘Game of Thrones’ at all since it aired? Or did you think it was fine the way it was from the beginning? Do you think it is unprofessional for everyone to blame Weiss and Benioff (and HBO) for pushing out that ending, when they were the ones who had produced the series that fans had loved so much up to that point? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below!