Our watch may have ended, but the Game of Thrones cast returned to SDCC’s Hall H for one last hurrah!
While the final season of Game of Thrones shouldered its fair amount of legitimate criticisms and controversies, there’s no denying that the show is and will continue to be a pop culture phenomenon, with performances and characters worth celebrating.
Writing issues and narrative disappointments aside, this is a cast filled with talented performers — ten of whom have been nominated for their performances in the final season — who, over the last decade, made us laugh (sometimes), cry (often) and pulled us all completely into the world of Westeros.
Which is what was the focus of this last panel, aimed at being a celebration of the show. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, though originally scheduled to be part of the panel, dropped out, along with director Miguel Sapochnik and actors Ian Glen, who played Jorah Mormont, and Nathalie Emmanuel, who played Missandei.
However, there were still quite a few cast members in Hall H, with Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Raleigh Ritchie (Greyworm), John Bradley West (Samwell Tarly), and Conleth Hill (Varys) joining the Hall H celebration.
Hypable was in Hall H to take the final lap with the cast of Game of Thrones, one that I’d describe as an overly moderated ‘victory’ lap that was plagued either by willful ignorance or a malicious kind of spin.
I do want to be clear and say that of course, I love the actors. However much I thought the writing did many of them a disservice in that final season, I still love them, their work and what they were able to bring to their characters.
So part of me was glad to see them reunited, interacting with each other and celebrating all the good a show like Game of Thrones has brought them and us fans.
As the fantastic trailer from the beginning of the panel reminded us when it pieced together all the storylines and greatest scenes from the show — when Game of Thrones was good, it was really, really fucking good. And that is absolutely worth celebrating.
However, it wasn’t all good. Game of Thrones — like many shows that have gone on for 8 seasons — lost its way a few times as time went on, and especially after the show ran out materials from the books. All this culminated in the highly anticipated final season, which drew increasingly harsher criticism and whose series finale episode proved to be either highly divisive — if we’re being kind — or deeply, maddeningly disappointing — if we’re being honest.
And while I’d wager to guess that most of us fans in attendance for this final Game of Thrones panel (and Hall H was nearly packed to capacity) had no desire to see the cast raked over the coals or to turn their victory lap into the funeral dirge of a desiccated corpse, I was — perhaps foolishly so — expecting some kind of honesty or rawness in their responses, especially given that the showrunners ended up cancelling.
However, this wasn’t the case at all.
EW’s James Hibberd moderated the panel, and while he certainly touched on the hot button issues related to Game of Thrones final season, he mostly lobbed softballs to the cast and didn’t push for any follow-up questions. And though many of the cast themselves (some who were attending this very panel!) have voiced deep disappointment — some of them even bordering on outright dislike — of the final season, that wasn’t the case here.
Conleth Hill, who was initially one of the loudest voices of disappointment from the cast, said that his words were misconstrued by the media at large, even going so far as to call the backlash a “media-led hate campaign,” which is as untrue as it is troubling.
In fact, there was quite a laundry list of common defenses against the disappointment of the final season. Liam Cunningham addressed the reaction by saying it was about the journey, not the endpoint, while Nikolaj Coster-Waldau brushed it off by saying you couldn’t please everyone.
Finally, Game of Thrones fans were assured at the start of the panel that there would be time for a fan Q&A, the panel ended up going right up to the end of time, and we couldn’t get to the fan questions. Which seemed like a rather deliberate move, as with about fewer than 10 minutes left, James Hibberd asked a long-winded question that he wanted each cast member to answer.
It was a jam packed hour, filled with a lot of laughter (Conleth Hill and Liam Cunningham are hilarious) and levity, if not too much substance or critical engagement.
Below is our live blog, in reverse chronological order, so you can read through all the questions the Game of Thrones cast were asked and come to your own conclusions about that final Game of Thrones season and how the actors felt about it.
Edit: This panel is now complete.