Diehard fans of “Game of Thrones” have been vocal about all the reasons why they’ve been disappointed in the final season, but most of the criticisms boil down to not enough storytelling to give characters their proper evolution. In fact, poor writing has been cited in the online petition to remake Season 8.
“David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on,” the petition states. “This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!”
Now it appears that there’s e data to show that the writing has changed from when the series first started to how it ended. According to data that GitHub member Mr. Quart crunched from OpenSubtitles.org, The words spoken per minute in each “Game of Thrones” episode has gone through a decline from season to season.
The most words in an episode were spoken somewhere midway through Season 1, and the least amount of words spoken per minute reached an all-time low in Season 8. This looks to be around Episode 3 “The Long Night,” when all of Winterfell is engaged in a war with the Army of the Dead. This makes sense since many action sequences benefit from the “show don’t tell” approach. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) blowing up the Sept of Baelor with wildfire is one such effective sequence that didn’t require much dialogue.
Here’s a look at the chart that was shared by Joanna Robinson:
Of course, more words per minute isn’t necessarily an indicator that an episode or even a season is better. But the trend downward season over season shows how the storytelling has shifted. While Benioff and Weiss had author George R.R. Martin’s work in front of them, the narrative pace was established — one book per season — and therefore they could focus on the dialogue, often lifting passages straight from the novels.
The duo even found time to include additional, dialogue-rich scenes that revealed aspects of the characters or Westerosi politics. In particular, Season 1 included a scene in which Cersei and her husband King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) reveal their less than loving relationship, while a scene in which Loras (Finn Jones) shaves Renly (Gethin Anthony) reveals the opposite.
Season 8 was mainly devoid of those moments with the exception of Episode 2, “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” which takes the time to sit with the characters and give them meaningful moments that have very little to do with the headlong trajectory to the Iron Throne. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that this is the most highly rated episode by users for the season. In contrast, the finale episode was the lowest rated by users. For better or for worse, it appears that the viewers respond best to episodes that take the time to make the character moments feel earned.