'Game of Thrones' place all time
"A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home." — Arya, "Game of Thrones"
Last night was the eighth episode of season six of "Game of Thrones." Now we have 58 episodes in the cannon, and only a handful of episodes left. It's at this point that most shows begin to discuss the idea of legacy.
The show runners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, have said that after this sixth season the show is likely to have two shortened final seasons — seven episodes in season seven and six episodes in season eight. That means there's just 15 episodes left total for this series.
I moderate a chat room that discusses the show on a weekly basis, and a lot of talk has begun about whether "Game of Thrones" is the best show of all time. That's a lofty claim, but not surprising given how radically this show has changed the landscape of television.
My answer is always the same: Not right now, but maybe. Let me explain.
First, I don't think that you can judge a show's final place in the pantheon of shows until it's complete. You can't possibly know where it's going if there are still episodes left — unless you're one of the writers. Think about that in terms of other shows.
At the end of the fourth season, I thought "LOST" should be in discussion for the greatest show of all time. Then it offered 32 final episodes, two middling seasons, that somewhat diminished fan enthusiasm and its legacy. That's hardly the only show that has fallen off at the end. Think about "How I Met Your Mother," a great comedy with a passionate fan base, that completely burned a lot of viewer good will with a head scratching finale that continues to irk viewers more than two years later.
So with 15 hours left and plenty of threads to pull, "Game of Thrones" has a lot of ground to cover. Do I think it's going to blow it? No, at least I desperately hope not. But the ending of a series is just as important as what came before, so it's impossible to place the show without seeing the complete picture — especially a series that is a serialized as "Game of Thrones."
Second, I don't know if this is the kind of show that can be No. 1 for me. Picking the greatest show of all time is incredibly subjective, however you can add an objective metric to it. That metric would be impact on society — what does the show have to say about the world.
In the case of "Game of Thrones," there are observations about the nature of man you can take away, but it exists in a completely fictionalized world. To me, that might be the difference between it being top five and No. 1 on my life.
Right now my top show is "The Wire," which is not only narratively rich but says something powerful about the decline of urban America. It wants to make a statement that is easily applicable to the world we live in today, which puts it on a slightly different level.
But we have 15 more episodes to figure it all out, beginning with the final ninth episode of a season ever. And this one promises to be a doozy. Talk of whether it's the greatest of all time can wait, for now it's time to savor "Game of Thrones" for what we have left.