Alex Rivera | February 8, 2023
Take Your Throne, Fantasy TV Dream Job Winner
Self-Proclaimed Nerd Wears the Crown
Remember asking your mom for a poster of your favorite athlete Michael Jordan or Derek Jeter? Or maybe your dad introduced you to AC/DC, and you wanted to show off your fandom by owning all of their CDs? Not Chad Holt, our Fantasy TV Dream Job winner. He preferred Lord of the Rings, reading the novels and watching all the films (including the prequels). His favorite author was J.R.R. Tolkien until he discovered the works of George R. R. Martin, the acclaimed author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series which began with the novel A Game of Thrones.
We chose Chad due to his fanaticism for all things fantasy. Although we gave him a heavy task, he wore the crown with grace, providing us with reviews of the new fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon and a brand new ending to the Game of Thrones series on HBO. Sure, we paid him $2,000 for his efforts, but something tells us he did not mind watching 40 hours of fantasy TV.
One Does Not Simply Make a LOTR Series
The cinematography of Lord of the Rings: Ring of Powers was undeniably gorgeous, according to Chad, but unfortunately, there was nothing else going for the show. “I just wish they had spent more of that money on the writing,” Chad said while going into the issues he had with the LOTR series. He felt like the stories took liberties with the source material and the romance between Galadriel and Sauron didn’t work for him.
But his biggest gripe with the Amazon Prime series was the characters. He laments, “the characters are either bland and uninteresting caricatures or just not very likable… You can have characters that are deeply flawed and still sympathetic or, at least, compelling.” While Chad held back no punches, he still praised the visuals of the series, stating they “nailed the aesthetic” and it “looked and felt right.” His overall review, though? “It was a hot mess.”
When You Watch House of the Dragon, You Win or You Die
There were things to nit-pick about the Game of Thrones spin-off (too gruesome, inconsistent age progression), but Chad found House of the Dragon to be a solid showing for the George R. R. Martin book adaptation. “Overall, I have to say I’m extremely impressed,” Chad stated. “I had pretty low expectations after the way Game of Thrones ended, but I think these guys knocked it out of the park.” Chad enjoyed the show’s pacing and is grateful that the showrunners are taking their time setting up the overall conflict.
He praised the characters and the acting for solid storytelling and consistent quality. “The acting is pretty stellar in general, and it’s especially impressive with the young cast members,” noting that bad child acting has taken him completely out of a movie in the past (i.e., Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace). Even with his disappointment in GoT‘s ending, he’s confident that House of the Dragon will “stick the landing—fingers crossed.”
How Game of Thrones Should Have Ended, According to Chad Holt
The Game of Thrones series finale was widely despised, to say the least. And for Chad, it was no different. We asked him to come up with a new ending to the Emmy-award-winning series, but he was already ahead of us. He feels his alternate ending to the HBO series would have been more satisfying than what was portrayed on television. What do you think?
You’ve got the Night King; he’s broken through the wall and […] marching south with his vast army. Our heroes are hunkering down on Winterfell. They’re ready to have this epic showdown. They’re preparing all their defenses. They’re figuring that they’re going to have this massive battle at Winterfell. So the Night King goes around Winterfell and continues marching South, where they’re not prepared to fight him. He basically says, “Just hang on; I’ll be right back. I’m just going to […] get a few million more zombies. Sit tight.” And the heroes are panicking because, of course, they didn’t expect this. Their whole plan just went out the window. So they’re scrambling, trying to figure out what to do next. All they really can do is put as many of their soldiers on the boats as they can, and they sail South down to King’s Landing. Meanwhile, the Night King is marching South through the Riverlands, through the Crownlands, the zombies getting bigger and bigger. They’re trying to get there ahead of him because this is their last chance to put up a unified defense.
So they get to King’s Landing, and they’re like, “Cersei, we gotta work together; this is our last chance. If we don’t work together, if you don’t let us in so […] we can put up a unified front against the Night King, we’re all doomed. That’s it.” And Cersei says, “No. I’m just going to watch. I’m going to watch the Night King come and wipe out all of your forces; then I’ll deal with them.” Because Cersei has been planning, and she has all of these caches of wildfire that she’s built up. This is already established. So she figures the Night King is going to come, take out all of her enemies, everybody who’s a threat to her, and then he’s going to come into the city, and she can burn them all with fire.
And Jaime’s there with Cersei. He’s watching all of this go down. He never went to the North, he stayed with her in King’s Landing, but he’s been away for a long time. He’s come back to a very different version of Cersei, not at all what he remembers. She was always humanized by her children, and they’re gone now, so she’s really gone off the deep end. Plus, [because] she’s been cheating on him and sleeping around, their relationship has […] taken a turn. He still loves her, but she’s no longer the person that she used to be, and he’s having these flashbacks of the Mad King [Aerys II], where she’s saying, “burn them all” and having her pyromancer lay these traps where she’s going to set fire to the city. Jaime is presented with this awful choice yet again.
So we’ve come full circle with Jaime; he’s in this terrible situation where Cersei is the one who is dooming all of these innocent people to die because of her paranoia and her desire to cling to power. So Jaime kills her, not only to save the entire human race but also to save Cersei from herself instead of letting her become a complete monster.
[…] at this point, the Mountain and the Hound have already had their duel; they’ve already died, gloriously murdering each other. So maybe Jaime has to fight Euron at this point, and they have their epic duel. Ultimately, Jaime prevails and opens the gates to the city at the last second. All of the forces of the North, all of Daenerys’ armies, are able to work together with Cersei’s forces and all of her mercenaries. And then they have this epic showdown with the Night King at King’s Landing. That’s who the ultimate villain of the story is. They set it up right from the beginning: the Night King and the Whitewalkers and the Wights are an allegory for climate change or other seemingly insurmountable challenges that we, as fallible humans, are too busy bickering with each other and fighting for power in our own self-interest to deal with effectively. So that really is the ultimate challenge; that’s the final goal at the end.
So they’ve defeated the Night King, and Daenerys finally has the Iron Throne in her grasp, [which] she’s fought and sacrificed so much for. They come into the Red Keep, and they see Jaime there. He tells them what happened with Cersei and how it was just like the Mad King, Daenerys’ father, and how she had planned to destroy the city and burn everyone alive for the sake of holding on to power. Daenerys recognizes that she has some of these same impulses; the paranoia, the flare and temper, wanting to burn people alive, the waking of the dragon. But a lot of her worst impulses have been tempered by the wise counsel of the people around her, which is one of Daenerys’ great strengths: she’s always surrounded herself with intelligent, thoughtful principled people, and sometimes she listens to them. So here she is, in this situation. She has this dilemma, and all of these people around her, all of these counselors, that have been telling her the tales of the tyrants and the people that they’ve served and left. And Daenerys, more than most, has been able to witness what it’s like to be at every point on the wheel, to be crushed underneath it where she was essentially sold into slavery, to then being the most powerful person in the world. She’s gone through all of it and knows that the way things are is not right. She realizes that no one person should have that much power.
And she’s kind of been struggling towards this idea for a while now. She tried to set up a democracy in one of the cities in Slaver’s Bay, and it didn’t go very well, but it’s a start, and she’s learned from that experience she’s one of the few people that [are] in a position to do it right because it’s a difficult process. You have to set up guardrails, and she’s learned that the hard way. So she sets up […] kind of a proto-republic. She’s got all of these great people that she can put on this council of lords or leaders, senators, whatever you want to call them. You’ve got Ser Davos to be the Lord of Ships, you’ve got Tyrion to be the Master of Coin, and you’ve got Samwell to be the Grand Maester. You’ve got Varys to be, probably, the Head of the Council because he’s the one person who has always had the good of the Realm as his top priority.
And sure, you can have Bran on there, but not Bronn. That’s totally crazy. He’s the most cutthroat mercenary and should not be running anything. Send him off to live on an island somewhere, give him a castle. He can go live his life happily; he’s earned it but should not be in charge of anything. You’ve got Missandei, you’ve got Grey Worm, tons of people she’s surrounded herself with. Ser Barristan Selmy, maybe he’s not dead. Why not? Ser Jorah, if he survives the battle, he can be on the council. […] But she’s got all of these great options to choose from, and it should be these people that she has slowly collected over the course of time, and Daenerys gets to fly off to live on a tropical island in the Summer Isles, and she can take Jon Snow with her if you like that particular pairing. Or maybe she goes back to pick up Daario Naharis. It doesn’t matter. The point is that she gets to be happy. Jon Snow can go off to the North and find himself another redhead. There’s plenty of people to run the council; he doesn’t need to be there.
And through a lot of sacrifice and heroic effort, the world gets just a little bit better, a little more just. That’s what the moral of the story should be: when we do come together and put the greater good first, we can overcome great obstacles and do incredible things. It should not be that if you have a genetic predisposition or mental illness, that you are doomed to that fate, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s a terrible story. And I don’t need a perfect Hollywood ending, but it shouldn’t be bleak and depressing and history repeating itself over and over again because if I wanted stories like that, I would just read the news.
Did you catch all of that? What do you think? While this ending might not fit everyone’s ideal finish to one of the most-watched TV shows in history, it’s still probably better than what we were given.