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Bassem “Bear” Dahdouh was hopeful when Game Of Thrones premiered in April 2011. Although he hadn’t read a single word of George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire book series, he was a fan of actor Sean Bean and decided to give the medieval fantasy series a shot.
He was immediately hooked.
“The series premiere had everything – action, drama, horror and a twist,” Dahdouh, an esports professional from Las Vegas, told HuffPost, noting that the show’s performances and thoughtful pacing kept him coming back for more.
And he wasn’t alone. A legion of devoted fans became enraptured with Game Of Thrones, a compelling story about powerful families – the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons and Targaryens – fighting for control over the fictional world of Westeros. By the final season, which aired last year, an average of 44.2 million viewers were tuning in per episode.
Although the final instalment saw record-breaking ratings, many critics and fans agree that the conclusion torched everything to the ground. Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams) killed the Night King, beloved heroine Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) turned bad, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) – the rightful heir to the Iron Throne – was shipped back off to the Night’s Watch, and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) – the all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven – became king. (Because “who has a better story than Bran the Broken?”)
The abbreviated season, which consisted of six extended episodes, threw character arcs out the window and rendered all the moments that came before it meaningless as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss made a mad, lazy dash toward the finish line.
Despite prior seasons receiving widespread acclaim, season eight got the lacklustre reviews it deserved. Many viewers agreed that it felt rushed, and that big battles and...