Since its debut nearly a decade ago, HBO's Game of Thrones has been one of the most popular series on television, with fans being forced to say goodbye to the series earlier this year. Few other shows have captured the attention of audiences, as the fantastical storyline inspired endless discussions about who could eventually sit on the Iron Throne come the narrative's conclusion. With the final season of the show landing on home video, so does the entire series in a comprehensive set, with the episodic series and its supplementary materials offering the show an all-new life and sense of appreciation for what it accomplished in its eight seasons.
In the mythical land of Westeros, a variety of powerful families all believe they have a right to sit upon the Iron Throne in King's Landing and rule over all seven kingdoms, all while an otherworldly threat is believed to be descending from the north to lay waste to all of existence. When king Robert Baratheon is unexpectedly killed while hunting, the Throne finds itself temporarily vacant until his son takes the seat, with various clans all seeing this as the appropriate opportunity to seize power by any means necessary.
It's difficult to overstate the effective storytelling of the series over the years, thanks in large part to the world created by author George R.R. Martin. When audiences saw the series premiere conclude with a royal brother having sex with his sister, only to subsequently push a small child who witnessed the tryst out of a window, we knew that we could never anticipate what might happen next in the dramatic series. As the first series concludes and we see a character we believe to be the main protagonist get executed, it became clear that all bets were off and no character would be safe.
Given the cycles of social media and its reactions to pop culture stories, various moments and events from the series have lost gravitas due to being turned into memes or viral videos, lessening their impact within the narrative. When revisiting the overall storyline with that detachment from the show's episodic debuts, they hit you just as hard as the first time you witnessed them, serving as a testament to the talents of the cast and crew who brought the ambitious narrative to life.
If viewers experienced any delay in watching new episodes of the series as they aired, you would potentially risk being spoiled to key events, leading to streaming services becoming the prominent ways in which most audiences consumed the program. Sadly, the limitations of streaming services have prevented fans from truly appreciating the staggering amount of work that went into each episode.
From the Battle of Blackwater to the Battle of the Bastards to the Battle of Winterfell, the series' stunts and visual effects are more astonishing than ever, with the Blu-ray format allowing for a more pristine picture that does more justice to the events unfolding on screen. Especially given the number of complaints the series has earned for being too dark during pivotal sequences, the physical media release allows audiences to witness these events as they were meant to be seen, offering more clarity to such sequences to be appreciated as they were intended. The same can be said of the sound design, adding more power to each sword swing, dragon cry, and, of course, the iconic opening theme.
The final seasons of the series might not have been as well-received as earlier entries, resulting in fans sharing their passionate anger all across social media, even targeting those responsible for creating the show with vitriol. The set's supplementary materials, however, offer fans a new appreciation of just how devoted the series' cast and crew were to telling the best story they could. As if the feature-length Game of Thrones: The Last Watch wasn't an impressive enough sendoff to the final season, each season of the series has its own behind-the-scenes special features, allowing audiences to see the series evolve and amplify its scope and scale over the years.
One of the most entertaining highlights of the Blu-ray set is the exclusive reunion special hosted by Conan O'Brien, which unites many members of the cast and crew to offer their input on the series, whether that be with behind-the-scenes anecdotes or by addressing how the show had been received in pop culture. Given the grim subject matter of the narrative, it's both endearing and refreshing to see the cast offering their more lighthearted interpretations of their time in Westeros, reminding audiences why we fell in love with their on-screen characters in the first place.
Now that Game of Thrones has come to an end, former audiences might be more interested in sharing their disappointment with the series' various reveals, but the comprehensive boxed set of the series will give you a new appreciation for everything it accomplished both behind the scenes and within its narrative, reminding us of how it deservedly became one of the best TV shows of the decade.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The complete series of Game of Thrones is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD now.