Last November, Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger) was the Bram Stoker Medal of Cultural Achievement by the University Philosophical Society at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Part of the honor involves an interview that was just posted to YouTube last week. Gillen talks learnedly about working in film (he is not a fan of his brief appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, FYI), the “novelistic” turn that TV has taken, and the reaction to the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones.
And what was the reaction to Game of Thrones season 8? It was, to put it mildly, passionate. A lot of fans were very upset, and many had no qualms about proclaiming their anger online, often in less-than-charitable terms. See what Gillen thought of it below, and we’ll hit the highlights:
“There was a lot of flak about the last season of Game of Thrones,” Gillen remembered. “I was astounded. The mentality there’s nowadays, when people go on Twitter, and slag the fuck out of everything; I really hate it…It’s a really nasty strain of behavior…For people to turn on the writers of something that people had adored for seven seasons in such a nasty fashion, as they did, I was really taken aback. I really was.”
"I thought that some of the best scenes, the best sequences, of Game of Thrones were in the last season. I don’t have any doubt about that. They ended it the only way that they could end it; which was strangely reminiscent of how it began: there’s people sitting in this land which seems to have some kind of stability, but there’s also uncertainty and threat, which is, I suppose, what the world is like all the time."
So count Gillen as a fan of the way the show wrapped up, although that doesn’t mean he loved everything. “There was a part of me that wanted it to end about 20 minutes before it did,” he said. “It’s just that it was an image that was so fantastic–the dragon flying away, carrying Daenerys Targaryen–that was stunning. I thought the episode before was fucking amazing, too.”
You know, I think enough time has since the end of the series that we can consider the rancor that followed it in a more measured way. Obviously, if people hated the ending, they’re free to — Gillen may have liked it, but there have been cast members who’ve had problems with the way things wrapped up, which is fine. I had plenty of issues with it myself.
But there’s a big difference between offering good faith criticism of a work of art and making personal, ad hominem attacks against the people who made it, something that happened way too often to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss. At the time, I don’t think I was as “taken aback” by it as Gillen was, because I’m on the internet a lot and I’ve gotten used to seeing vitriol-fueled backlashes to cultural events, but that doesn’t make it any less gross.
Anywoo, there’s a world of great TV we can enjoy while we brace for the next one of those. For example, the second season of Gillen’s inspired-by-true-events alien investigation drama Project Blue Book is airing right now!