Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have made it clear there was only enough story for seven episodes in Season 7 and six episodes in Season 8, rather than the usual 10 episodes per season. But the shortened seasons have led to a breakneck pace that has diminished major storylines and killed off minor storylines, says Ben Lindbergh. "The perplexing part of Thrones’ hurry to remove itself from our screens is that almost no one was rooting for a rapid resolution," says Lindbergh. "Viewers don’t want it to end. The media doesn’t want it to end. HBO doesn’t want it to end. Only the showrunners are ready to wrap things up ... It’s always tempting to keep a good thing going, and plenty of profitable franchises have overstayed their welcomes, whether out of a reluctance to cede the stage or a naked desire to make more money. If the showrunners were right about the series’ natural lifespan, their decision to walk away would be commendable. But the past two seasons strongly suggest that they’re pulling the plug prematurely, ending it all when the story had lots of fulfilling life left." Lindbergh adds: "If Thrones loses its last war because its stewards wanted their watch to be over, the series’ rushed ending could be remembered as one of TV’s all-time unforced errors. Shepherding Thrones is a draining responsibility, and D&D can’t be blamed for wanting to do something different after working on the show for more than 12 years (although they can be blamed for Confederate). Handing off the series they started to someone else would have been a difficult decision, but it may have been the best one if their hearts and minds were far, far away. Pushing to end a series sooner than the network and audience dictated isn’t always a worrisome sign, but the only winner will be George R.R. Martin if the results in this case are closer to Lost’s than Breaking Bad’s."
Game of Thrones' biggest enemy was its own hype: "Between the show’s latent popularity and the long wait for new episodes, the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere was hyped like no other scripted television event in history," says Meghan O'Keefe. "The show took over branded Super Bowl ads, Oreos, and even Mountain Dew cans. It was billed as more than just a TV show; it was a unifying monoculture event in a time when monoculture is gone. What does that mean? Well, that it’s not going to actually live up to all that hype. Because, guys, it is just a TV show. It’s a very good TV show that occasionally hits peaks of artistic genius, but it is still subject to all the foibles inherent in any work of art produced by people for people. (Even Shakespeare’s got flaws, folks.) The expectations for these last six episodes of Game of Thrones are so high they are basically untenable. There was no way this show was going to live up to those lofty expectations and please everyone."
This isn't the Game of Thrones we've loved: "Even for the best TV writers, resolving Game of Thrones would be a test, finishing up an intellectual exercise that has rivaled Lost for complexity," says Matthew Gilbert. "This isn’t only a matter of giving audiences an emotional sense of closure, the kind of final gesture that Six Feet Under delivered so brilliantly. This is also about placing those last remaining pieces into the elaborate puzzle the show has built over its seasons, letting us know that it has all been carefully designed and not a random accumulation of plots." Gilbert adds: "I'm sad to say that, so far, in terms of both emotional and intellectual wind-down, the final season of Game of Thrones has been a dud. The reasons for disappointment abound, in terms of character continuity and logic, but they all share one thing in common: pacing. The show is heading into its denouement at a much greater speed than everything that came before it — accelerating when it should be decelerating. Now is the time when the writers should be letting us savor each last development, each decisive twist, not rushing forward and throwing bouquets of fan service at us as a kind of subliminal apology."
Season 8 has turned Game of Thrones into a video game: "If you look at it through the lens of a video game, the lapses in logic start looking like rewards for playing this long," says Peter Allen Clark. "The characters have collected Valyrian steel and discovered dragonglass. Armies have been amassed and plenty of points have been put into intelligence. Jon leveled up to fly a dragon. So why would fast travel be that hard of a concept to grasp? The video game logic in Game of Thrones has been growing more and more apparent as the show speeds towards its finale. Every decision, every kill, and every death (not to mention every miraculous, heavily damaged survival) are no longer to develop characters, they are now about riding the story’s momentum to the final few confrontations."
No one knows what makes a good Game of Thrones episode anymore: "For some, Thrones’ remaining pleasures lie in the feats of production that place it at a larger scale than any TV show in history," says Alison Herman, "if you didn’t appreciate the Battle of Winterfell’s outcome, you still have to respect the two months of night shoots, hundreds of extras, and millions of dollars that went into it. For others, including myself, Thrones’ remaining highlights are concentrated in quiet moments between tremendously charismatic actors; even if you can’t justify what got them in a room together, you have to respect the chemistry between Bronn, Tyrion, and Jaime."
Cersei Lannister is the best TV villain ever: "We haven't ever seen a villain like Cersei before," says Gael Fashingbauer Cooper. "She's beautiful, she's sexy, she's wickedly smart, she's powerful, and no man or woman (yet) can keep her off the throne. No question, there have been powerful female villains lacking a conscience before (Maleficent, Hela, Bellatrix Lestrange, even the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz). But no one can compete with Cersei when it comes to her sheer will to do anything to anybody to stay in power."