Game of Thrones’ opening credits have always showed where in Westeros the action will take place. But the new Season 8 animation sequence doesn’t just offer hints about where things might happen. It signals that the show’s gotten too big for its own good.
The new animation still glides over a map of Westeros, focusing on season-specific locations like The (burned down) Wall, Crypts of Winterfell and King’s Landing. (This changes every season anyway, based on where major events take place.) But the Season 8 version is sleeker and more intricate. And unlike previous animations, it ends with the Iron Throne, the ultimate prize for the game’s players.
It’s odd to center the animation on the throne room. The throne has less importance than ever on the show now that the majority of the power players understand that conquering the Seven Kingdoms is secondary to staving off icy extinction via the White Walkers.
But the new animation runs hand-in-hand with Game of Thrones’ rise to pop culture dominance. With more attention and casual viewers than ever, it’s featuring its most recognizable symbols and characters.
Oddly, Thrones’ pop culture ascension is happening at the same time when the show has lost its direction. The show runners ran out of George R.R. Martin’s source material two seasons ago and it shows. For the first time, nearly every major character is in the same place. Deeply emotional character reunions are gliding by because there are only six (now five) episodes to wrap up this sprawling narrative. And it will naturally disappoint a good chunk of them in the end.
There was nothing wrong with Game of Thrones’ old title animation. Paired with the show’s iconic theme, it made viewers giddy the way any quality show intro does. But good enough isn’t enough for a show that wants to remind you of its own importance. The new animation looks cool, no doubt. But I can’t help but wonder if some years from now it’ll serve as a reminder of when Game of Thrones gave in to the moment.