Game of Thrones' latest episode has received the series' lowest ever score on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator website. For many years, Game of Thrones has been the undisputed ruler of cable television, constantly breaking records and redefining what could be achieved on the small screen, all while making stars out of its largely unknown ensemble cast. With David Benioff and D. B. Weiss adapting source material from George R. R. Martin, it seemed there was no end to the plaudits and cash the series was generating.
The past few seasons have, however, been forced to overtake Martin's novels and have largely consisted of original material, albeit with the author's input and insight. Perhaps inevitably, this change coincided with a gradual decline in critical reception - something that became particularly noticeable in season 7, with pace, timeline and character development all coming in for criticism. Game of Thrones' currently-airing final season has experienced even more trouble as far as online reaction goes, with many fans believing the issues that plagued season 7 have become even more pronounced as the show nears its conclusion.
All this has now culminated in Game of Thrones' most recent installment suffering its worst-ever Rotten Tomatoes score. This week's "The Bells" attained a 53 percent rating on the site and was deemed "Rotten." The only other episodes to score similarly were season 5's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" with 54 percent and last week's "The Last Of The Starks" with 57 percent.
The overriding reason behind this week's negativity seems to be Daenerys' turn to the dark side, as she scorched King's Landing and its poor inhabitants despite their surrender - an act many fans felt was too out of character, despite Dany's previous moments of madness. There were further reasons for the fan discontent; some viewers felt it an anti-climax for arch-villain Cersei to be killed by falling bricks instead of one of her many enemies, others felt that characters such as Varys and Missandei were misused and there has also been criticism of how Game of Thrones has handled its female contingent, Sansa Stark in particular.
It's important to consider Game of Thrones' latest Rotten Tomatoes score in some kind of context. Firstly, the website only gives a snapshot view of general fan opinion and isn't always a true reflection of an episode's quality. Secondly, there are still plenty of fans heaping praise upon Game of Thrones' season 8 output and believe that the current flak is unwarranted. "The Battle of Winterfell" in particular was hailed as possibly the show's best ever episode, despite the darkness issues, and even this week, viewers were delighted with the arrival of the long-awaited Cleganebowl and the epic invasion of King's Landing.
However, it's also impossible to deny there has been somewhat of a turn of opinion towards Game of Thrones and where this final season should have been a dramatic conclusion to a universally acclaimed, groundbreaking series, it's instead proving to be highly divisive and fraught with controversy. Interestingly, it has been pointed out both on social media and via YouTube that some cast members have openly displayed their displeasure with Game of Thrones' last two seasons - a sure sign that the series has changed emphasis since overtaking the books of Martin.
Game of Thrones concludes May 19th on HBO.
Souce: Rotten Tomatoes