****You’ve been warned: This post is dark and full of spoilers****
(For future reference, GRRM = George R. R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire series; and D&D = David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, producers of the show)
Another year, another Game of Thrones season finished. Only one more season to go (not until possibly 2019?!), a total six episodes left of this incredible world of Westeros.
With us living in South Korea this year, the episodes were available on Monday mornings. While this cramps on our usual Sunday night THRONES gatherings, I faithfully waited for my husband to come home from work so we could watch it together.
I sit here at my desk, two hours post viewing the final episode, and I am numb. Trying to process the entire seventh season is making my brain sprint in a thousand different directions. I’m not even sure how I want this blog post to present itself.
For what it’s worth – this is 100% my opinion. I don’t call myself a connoisseur of the Game of Thrones (only GRRM can truly claim that title), but I have read all the books, and am slowly dipping my toes in GRRM’s other novels that dwell in the same universe. So, with that in mind, take my thoughts at face value. I am no pro at the game, but I thoroughly enjoy analyzing word choice, speculating theories, and appreciating characters for what they’re worth in their world.
Needless to say – get ready for my unpopular opinion – this season left much to be desired. I wasn’t shocked by anything that happened. I wasn’t blown away with the finale. The only thing that surprised me was that not enough main characters died.
- POOR WRITING – I couldn’t help it, so much of the writing this season made me cringe. How many times did they think it was necessary to reiterate phrases (i.e. “Bend the Knee”)? What was with all this vague and awkward dialogue between Arya and Sansa? The contrived sexual tension between Dany and Jon? Why did it take 7 episodes to finally explain Bran’s role as the Three-Eyed Raven? Why did the writers feel the need to blatantly spell out that R+L = J when that was made obvious last season, and why did they also use Gilly to drop that annulment bomb in episode 5? I believe the huge problem here is it’s no longer GRRM’s words, and the show is sacrificing logic for action scenes. So much of the dialogue felt catered to the lowest common denominator – much of the wit, wisdom, and lyrical vibe from the past seasons has disappeared. The show rewarded thought and critical thinking, none of which really existed this season. It feels as if the story is working backwards – instead of the plot guiding characters to a logical conclusion, the characters decide what happens and railroad their way to it.
- THE FLOW OF TIME – I actually defended this point for a while. In the opening of A Storm of Swords GRRM includes “A Note on Chronology” which partly states:“A Song of Ice and Fire is told through the eyes of characters who are sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles apart from one another. Some chapters cover a day, some only an hour; others might span a fortnight, a month, half a year. With such a structure, the narrative cannot be strictly sequential; sometimes important things are happening simultaneously, a thousand leagues apart.” So, yes, some of the time jumps made sense. Especially in the beginning – do we really care about a long boat ride from point A to B, when they can just skip that entirely and get to the point? I mean for God’s sake, we dealt with seasons of Dany’s pointless rule over Meereen when clearly her rule duties were meant to be in Westeros. I think the audience was ready to get on with it.
HOWEVER – I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was episode 6 when the WESTEROS ALL STARS team was surrounded by White Walkers and Wights. Jon, who sends Gendry to run a marathon back to Eastwatch, orders him to send a raven to Dany asking for help. Dany, who somehow all the way from Dragonstone receives this raven, and immediately flees to protect them. While the show portrays this happening within 12 hours (day, night, dusk), it felt entirely too unrealistic overall. That journey for the raven alone would’ve taken days. Dany’s journey would’ve taken days. If the Westeros All Stars had truly waited a while (needing to eat, sleep, dispose of waste, wait for ice to melt a bit more, etc.) then the show did a poor job of showing it. Don’t even get me started about how some of the other characters are quickly getting around. Again, the show is sacrificing logic for action scenes.
- INCONSISTENCIES – Daenerys Targaryen, who constantly refers to her goal of “breaking the wheel” (a symbol for the politics of Westeros) wants to do so by….invading and conquering the throne. Jaime Lannister, who journeyed with Brienne, lost an arm, and truly learned the meaning of honor and loyalty….only continues to follow his psycho sister/lover despite how many times she’s shown her true colors. Bran Stark, who is the Three-Eyed Raven and is literally the Internet of Westeros….pretty much does absolutely nothing except for one last minute comment about Jon’s true parentage (while he’s conveniently boning his aunt – way to be cheeky D&D). Arya Stark, who was initially a little girl trying to find her place in the world and growing to be a badass assassin…..eventually morphed into this cocky, insufferable “badass” with the worst cryptic lines in the entire show. THE WHITE WALKERS, WHO ARE TAKING OVER THE WORLD, WE STILL HARDLY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT, SO WHY IS THERE NO PAYOFF OR INFO GAINED OUT OF SEVEN SEASONS?? Overall, character development has stalled off on some main characters, and in general things no longer feel consistent. Characters no longer have room to grow, they are now just reacting to whatever happens. Long story short – inconsistencies piss off the fans who spend hours dedicating their time to learning about the world that was built for their enjoyment – it’s sloppy writing.
- PREDICTABLE SCENES – I’m sorry guys, but were y’all REALLY that surprised when a dragon was overtaken by the White Walkers? There is no way Dany and her dragons are on God-tier levels of power. Or – my god – the hooking up of Jon and Dany. I wanted to like it, I really did, but I just couldn’t. These characters, who just met this season, somehow were crowned with this idea of pledging themselves to each other. The show writers put that in our hands like candy to babies, cradling us with painstakingly obvious and cheesy queues, spoon feeding us that part of the plot I almost didn’t want it to happen because I was expecting it. It felt like shit fan fiction come to life. The only way I will appreciate the incest relationship is if there is a payoff to it – perhaps a child (see my prediction below), then I will honestly find it useful – but at the moment it was too forced and shoved down our throats like political Facebook post. The beauty of Game of Thrones is in the shock value of it all; when sloppy writing and clichés overcome the plot, you’ve morphed an intricate world into a basic fairytale.
- CLICHÉS GALORE – Remember when GRRM/Game of Thrones used to defy clichés? The audience expected x and y was delivered. When we expected justice to be served, we were delivered more pain (who could forget The Red Wedding). We quickly learned not to become attached to any character, for they shall probably be killed off. Naturally you can’t always escape clichés – they exist for a reason – but in my honest opinion it deflates the type of writing that Game of Thrones has established for itself. We saw a plethora of “Deus Ex Machina” (dragons saving battles last minute, Benjen saving Jon, etc). Hot guy (Jon) hooking up with hot girl (Dany). We witnessed the death of random Wildlings past the Wall; redshirts – a trope as old as Star Trek. When you infiltrate your writing with clichés, the story itself loses originality and ingenuity.
- TOO SAFE – Arguably, ever since Arya’s “escape” from the Waif in Season 6, Game of Thrones no longer takes pride in surprises between life or death. Season 7 was muddled with convenient escapes (Jaime from the lake by Bronn, Benjen saving Jon, Tormound from the freezing lake by The Hound, etc), poorly planned battles that seemed to work out anyways (how did only Thoros die in the journey past the wall?), and somewhat empty threats (Cersei with both of her brothers). I was expecting to see more death and pain, but arguably all of the lovable characters survived. In the end of S1, it’s painful to see Ned die because he was such a solid character. We weren’t expecting the execution to happen. Now, instead of feeling cheated by death, I feel cheated by life – many of these characters survived under the most extreme, slim chances. When your story is too safe, it becomes unbelievable, and for me S7 began to lose its credibility.
Honestly? D&D’s Game of Thrones feels more like an HBO show, only with GRRM’s universe and characters, however we are no longer dealing with GRRM’s original story. Despite what I’ve just laid out above, I kept watching and pleasantly enjoyed the viewing experiece. I know I sound like a Debbie Downer with my points above, but I don’t deny that this season wasn’t my favorite. However I truly think the show redeemed itself in these ways:
- OLENNA’S FINAL WORDS – Right through Jaime’s heart, he learned that Tyrion was, in fact, not the one who poisoned King Joeffery. “Tell Cersei, I want her to know it was me,” were her epic final words right after she chugged a glass of wine laced with poison. Although we knew it was her (especially book readers), Jaime’s revelation that his brother isn’t a complete monster could potentially help pave the path on mending their relationship.
- RETURN OF GENDRY – Bless his heart, we honestly believed poor Gendry had been rowing all over Westeros since S3 when really he had been under our noses in King’s Landing this entire time. We also were led to believe that the Baratheon line had been wiped out, OH NAY, Robert’s hot and sexy bastard is back and armed to fight the White Walkers. Despite the ridiculous quest to bring a Wight from past the Wall down south to King’s Landing, I was excited to see Gendry as a part of the team.
- DOWNFALL OF VISERION – It was tragic. Emilia Clarke’s acting (she was in front of a green screen with little guidance or tools to work with these scene) was incredible as she saw one of her children fall to his death. You knew it was probably going to happen somehow (there’s no way all 3 dragons could survive this war unscathed), but you weren’t entirely sure how. But then when you saw Viserion turn into a White Walker, and then later on destroyed the wall with his blue-ice-fire-magic, you instantly thought, “Well shit, they are fucked.” That is the kind of plot twist that generates the high viewership and insanely dedicated fanbase.
- REUNIONS – Arya and Sansa. Arya and Jon. Tyrion and Bronn. Tyrion and Jaime. Davos and Gendry. Brienne and Jaime. Brienne and The Hound. THE HOUND AND THE MOUNTAIN *tasteful airhorns*……..while some of these reunions weren’t completely joyous, as a fan it was comforting to see these characters and their worlds collide after so many seasons apart.
- JAIME’S DEPARTURE – FINALLY, to what I hope is the upswing of his character arc, Jaime ditches Cersei and makes way to the North. While the cinematic portrayal wasn’t as epic as I had hoped (the last you see of his interaction with Cersei in the books is him burning her leading pleading for help – that alone shows how he’s completely done with her shit), he begins his journey on horseback just as Winter has come down south. While this act is small compared to all of his actions throughout the season, I sincerely believe we will be promised with greatness from his end.
- NED’S LEGACY – We all loved Ned. He was the main character in the very beginning of the show – a loving father, husband, and Lord of Winterfell. He generally put his family first, and every one of his children strived to be just like him in his advice, followings, and leadership. (Compare this to Tywin Lannister – who put his Kingdom before his family, the majority of his children dismissing his teachings (with the exception of Cersei, who is a monster in and of herself) – they are literally foils at this point.) Because Ned was our original main character, we took a liking to the Stark children. They were “ours,” too, and it broke our hearts to see them suffer.Fast forward to S7 finale. Ned is brought up three times – by Arya/Sansa, by Theon/Jon, and even by Cersei. His presence has lasted through with the remainder of the main characters, which is rare in this series. His ideas, sincerity, dedication to Lyanna’s request (to protect her son, Jon/Aegon), and respect are discussed to this day. What is GRRM trying to teach us here – family over power? Love over wealth? Don’t be an asshole vs being an asshole? Either way, his legacy lives on.
- Jamie will kill Cersei, his twin/ex lover. The prophecy from Maggie the Frog stated that Cersei will (1) Wed the King; (2) Will be cast down by a younger, more beautiful Queen; (3) Will have 3 children, “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds, she said. And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” (A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.) “Valonqar” is High Valyrian for “little brother.” Cersei always believed this to be Tyrion, but it could easily be Jaime as she was born before him by mere moments. Given their complex and intense relationship in the books, it would be absolute poetic justice if the King Slayer also became the Queen Slayer. End of Jaime arc.
- Dany will be pregnant with Jon’s baby. She will give birth to their child, who will be both Ice and Fire. Due to his parentage and lineage he will be the Prince that was Promised, and his existence will tie in with the saving of Westeros from the White Walkers.
- Another dragon will die in the war. No doubt during a battle, I haven’t really thought of how. CGI will be epic.
- CLEGANEBOWL!!!!! The Hound vs. The Mountain. Will the brothers fight at last?
- Arya Stark will use Littlefinger’s face to her advantage.
- Tyrion – I’m not sure how I feel about this prediction, but in the books Dany will experience 3 betrayals – one for gold, one for blood, and one for love. While the show hasn’t even TOUCHED this idea, I also wouldn’t be surprised if D&D held our hands through this prophecy last minute just to add some extra *umph* to the situation. Could Tyrion possibly be her betrayal for love? Would explain that last scene with him hesitant outside her door…
- Samwell Tarly and Bran will have a larger role to play. While I could get on board with the theory of Bran being the Night King, it would fuddle within the time travel trope and *literally* mess everything up. I LOATHE the time travel trope – it invalidates every character’s choice and reasonings, thus making it a cheap plot trick. Not only is that tricky, it’s cliché. Y’all know I have feelings about clichés! Back to my main point – these two are no doubt a power couple.
- Theon will murder Euron and save Yara. Granted, it’ll be a tough fight, but I think he’s been through enough. I think Reek is forever gone.
- Bronn will get his castle. About damn time, right?
- Tormound and Brienne will hook up and having large amazing babies. How could you not love that?
As you can see, I love discussing Game of Thrones. This story is so unique in that the show has surpassed the books. While the stories are almost different at this point, you have to remember that quite rarely are the movies the same as the books. The movie is it’s own art from the books. I constantly have to remind myself that. As a loyal book reader and avid writer myself, I treasure the printed word. It has been years since I experienced a show/book releasing each year, faithfully following the story and discussing the world with friends. Honestly….it’s been since Harry Potter. It’s a magical experience, and Game of Thrones is a perfect world to engross yourself in. The depth, history, and thought that GRRM has contributed is mind blowing. Now….if he could just finish the books, that would make even more people happy. 😉
Forever Nerding Out,