There’s a moment in Act II of the brilliant musical Follies where the character of Buddy pokes his head out and exclaims, “Alright folks! We’re into the Follies now.” This moment is when Follies leaves behind any resemblance to a traditional book musical and becomes a series of sketches until it’s finale.
I think about this moment a lot when it comes to television, particularly long running TV, where shows evolve and become something different as they go along. Some people call this moment, “Jumping the shark,” but I’ve started thinking of it as “we’re into the follies.” For better or ill, shows push into the follies, and season 6 is when Game Of Thrones did it.
They had to let it happen, they had to change. (Another musical reference…sorry not sorry.) There were no more books to adapt, they had an outline and an ending but no more roadmap to go by. So they made it up, and while it feels a bit rushed and sketchy from time to time, I think they did an admirable job with making it up.
We get Daenerys out of Essos and to Westeros, Jon is The King In The North, the surviving Starks reunite and hold Winterfell, despite tensions between them.
But mainly, there’s “The Battle Of The Bastards,” watching this episode again was like breathing in air. Like “Blackwater,” I love this episode of TV so much, it takes my breath away. The technical aspects are stunning. Jon is at his most stupidly heroic. Sansa begins her journey towards being 1000% done with people who question her. The Deus Ex Machina of The Knights Of The Vale running in is heart churning.
There are moments of greatness in Season 7 too, the unleashing of the dragons in battle is incredible spectacle. But as much as I love the slide into home that we’re getting, it’s not as breathtakingly wonderful as those early seasons. The trick of the Follies is that you aren’t thinking about things, you don’t see the strings, just the flying.
Seasons 6 and 7 of Game of Thrones is magnificent as Folly, even if it’s not the great pop art that the first four seasons were. (My hatred of season 5 keeps it from entering into the conversation as either. It’s just so terrible.) Maybe season 8 will stick the landing in a way that redeems the quickness of the denoument, but that remains to be seen.
You guys, on Monday, we crown the first winner of the final season. I’m nervous and thrilled at the same time. I’m ready to go back to Westeros…winter is here. Let’s do it.