We're just one episode away from the end of the last season of Game of Thrones and the general consensus seems to be that the writers are, uh, not exactly sticking the landing. The last few episodes may have had their moments, but every little sliver of brilliance—like that morose drunken hangout the night before the Battle of Winterfell, or Tyrion's tearful goodbye with Jaime, or basically any moment Peter Dinklage is on screen—feels drowned out by the hurried plot mechanics, exhausting battle sequences, and coffee cups. And extras on fire. So, so, so many random extras on fire.
Narrative arcs that would've gotten an entire season's worth of screen time in past seasons, like Jaime's brief and doomed romance with Brienne, are mashed into a few quick scenes and then brushed off. Euron Greyjoy? Killed off by the Kingslayer in one of the worst on-screen fights since Dorne. Even the season's biggest revelation, Daenerys's heel-turn as the Mad Queen, felt brutally rushed, regardless of the fact that the show's been telegraphing the twist since 2016. The show that once spent an entire episode focused on trying to cross a bridge is long gone. And this spectacle-heavy, character-light last season is what we're left with, apparently.
Of course, this is Game of Thrones we're talking about, and so expectations were almost unreasonably high heading into these last episodes. But at this point, it's hard not to feel anything but disappointed—and it sure seems like the show's cast is right there with you.
A truly incredible YouTube supercut appeared online last weekend: three excruciating minutes of the Game of Thrones stars in interviews seemingly trying to fake some kind of excitement about the new season and failing… miserably. They may be some of the greatest television actors of our era, but from the look of this footage, pretending to actually like the last season of GoT—and the outcomes for their individual characters—is still just too much for them.
Do you see Emilia Clarke's pained smile when Entertainment Tonight asks her if she's happy with "how things ended?" That's the exact same face we all made when the show biffed Cersei's valonqar prophecy or when we realized that Bran's climactic run-in with the Night King mostly just involved him staring into space under a tree for a while.
And then there's this clip of Dinklage, the man almost single-handedly carrying this limp season with his acting chops, who still can't summon anything nearing enthusiasm when he talks about the ending.
Are they just goofing around? Maybe. Do the clips seem a lot more damning taken out of context? Almost definitely. But these aren't the only examples of Game of Thrones cast members grumbling about the way things are wrapping up.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the actor who played Jaime Lannister, basically admitted to Vanity Fair that his whole Brienne love subplot felt supremely rushed to him, too:
But if Jaime’s decision to have sex with Brienne and then leave her feels like such a swift reversal your head is still spinning, Coster-Waldau is sympathetic: “We’re used to having a whole season to get to a point. Now suddenly, a lot of things happen very quickly.” The actor says he has to fill in a lot of the details for himself.
And look at what Conleth Hill (who portrays Varys) had to say in a recent interview with EW:
Were you disappointed not to have a final scene with [Littlefinger actor Aidan Gillen] last year?
I was very bummed to not have a final scene with him. I was bummed not to have any reaction to him dying, if he was my nemesis. That’s been my feeling the last couple seasons, that my character became more peripheral, that they concentrated on others more. That’s fine. It’s the nature of a multi-character show. It was kind of frustrating. As a whole it’s been overwhelmingly positive and brilliant but I suppose the last couple seasons weren’t my favorite.
When the interviewer asked him how audiences are going to feel about the last episode, Hill didn't sound particularly jazzed. "I have no idea," he told EW. "I don’t know how I feel." Seven Hells.
We've still got one last episode to go before Game of Thrones is done forever—at least until the inevitable wave of spinoffs and prequels hits—so who knows, maybe Weiss and Benioff can make us forget about this uneven season with a breathtaking finale. They've done it before.