Season 7 Game of Thrones is over and we may have to wait at least a year before heading about the final season. Last night’s episode left a lot of questions but did present one very obvious direction: people are going to be fucked by winter. However, as a whole, how does Season 7 stand up?
To be fair, I want to put it out there that I had known the entire plot for at least 9 months now. Someone on reddit leaked the basic script. Originally, when I read the plot, I was somewhat horrified at the direction the show was going. The biggest concern was the Wight Hunt. It sounded like a terrible idea on paper. On screen, episode 6 was fun but it still didn’t make up for some really poor decisions both with the characters and the writing itself.
With only 7 episodes, much of the plot had been rushed as if to nail down the primary points. Much of it was what we expected: Arya continuing to get revenge, Daenerys making her presence felt, Jon Snow connecting with Daenerys and becoming an item, etc. Some things I expected as without the spoilers such as just the convergence of the world as well as the White Walkers finally taking down the Wall.
Still, I did not feel emotional the way say Hodor was killed off or Lena Headey’s Walk of Shame performance. Maybe there were a few moments such as the aftermath of Sam’s curing Ser Jorah or the tender moments between Jon and Daenerys. And there were a few real surprises that can be chalked up to excellent performances, most notably the psychotic Euron Greyjoy.
However, the spots where I think the writers meant for us to feel pathos such as Viscerion going down did not have the same level of impact. It still looked visually cool but I didn’t really feel positive nor negative in a strong way. Sadly, the best episode happened to be 4 where Daenerys ended up unmercifully burning down the Lannister army.
In most cases, I could not entirely fault the actors for some of the bad decisions being made. An example is when Viscerion crashed, Daenerys displayed very little emotion for someone who claims the dragon is one of her only children. That possibly could’ve been due to poor direction or not enough examination on how the writers needed to emphasize Daenerys’ reaction to that event. Nonetheless, it was handled quite poorly.
Then you had that useless, boring Northern plot that practically went nowhere. Honestly, if they had cut out Sansa, Littlefinger, Arya and even Bran, I wouldn’t have minded. Outside of Littlefinger dying and Bran’s revelation of Jon’s true identity, the entire Northern plot was just fast forward material. I suppose the worst for wear was Littlefinger because his situation made zero sense at the end of the day. Yes, we know he’d risk everything and maybe he was out of his league, but his death really came out of nowhere. It just happened, wasn’t even “fair” (if you want to call it that).
Before someone starts chastising me about my bias as a book reader, let me just say that I enjoy both. But even talking to my coworkers after each episode, people have noticed a dramatic drop in quality when it comes to the basic writing. Sure, we get the main plot points but there’s something missing right now structurally.
Most people blame the shift in timing. You have things moving at a ridiculous pace compared to previous seasons. Some things are just frustratingly nonsensical like Gendry managing to run to the Wall to alert Daenerys who saves the Wight Hunt group at the last second. It becomes too much of a Hollywood thing to be even remotely believable.
And I suppose that could be the crux of the primary issue. People were hooked in this fantasy world because it felt real to them. This season with the way things moved and direction made it feel as though there was too much fantasy and not enough reality. Some of it wasn’t even dealing with White Walkers nor Dragons but things like Ser Jorah getting instantly cured of Greyscale.
For myself, I miss the politics, plotting and complicated characters arcs. A few characters were interesting like Euron, Theon and occasionally Tyrion. However, a lot of the remaining people are flat out boring. When I would watch prior seasons, I felt like I was receiving an MBA. Tywin discussing what makes a good ruler, the downfall of leaders through personal, irrevocable character flaws, the ways someone moves up in the game, etc. Those elements were clearly missing for the most part.
That isn’t to say the remaining story lacks complexity. The biggest and most obvious issue is Daenerys and Jon Snow hooking up as aunt and nephew. Also, you have what seems like Tyrion’s growing obsequious behavior towards Daenerys. And of course Cersei’s ultimate role in the upcoming war.
Nonetheless, I think part of the flaw is that the characters have become slightly stagnant since the majority of their development has been done and assumes much about the audience’s inherent knowledge. For instance, what seems like Tyrion falling in love with Daenerys feels ambiguous. We see the gestures and subtleties that he has a certain proclivity towards her. But I don’t understand why. The only reason I can see is she has dragons and she’s the only beautiful woman who made a gesture of kindness towards him. Other than that, I can only guess that he secretly masturbates in his room while starring at a painting of her late at night.
Those little moments of development have been a huge key that would fill in the blanks as the series goes from story to story. With the season cutting down the series to 7 episodes, we miss out on a lot of these smaller interactions that add depth to these characters.
Not all of the cutting has been bad. The elimination of Dorne probably is one of the fan favorites no matter what. It’s sad because I feel that the people involved were not given the same due. Yet again that can be faulted to poor and misguided writing. It feels as though that whole part of the book plot could’ve been eliminated entirely to a degree since nothing really good came out anyway.
I know that part of the reason for this shift is that the producers wanted to have more Battle of the Bastards type of moments where they could have bigger battles. Also, the top five actors were given raises. It feels though that this sacrifice has made the series take a hit, even though the battle scenes themselves were well done (as opposed to say Stannis vs Ramsay which lasted a minute or two at best).
At any rate, having to wait for nearly 2 years will be quite painful in terms of a resolution. I feel that it might be to partly give GRRM a little distance to finish at least one book. It might also be to allow him to provide more detail on what’s to come. But from the sound of it, we might hear about the series filming again in October. If anything I can move on and focus on other series and aspects of life once again.