My favourite TV show is no longer my favourite TV show, guys.
(The cover image is a representation of how hopping mad I am about this season.)
(The dragon in me, apparently, has awoken.)
After Season 6’s EPIC ending, with all the women (well, except Margaery) and some of the slightly better men achieving so many of the goals we’ve cheered them on for, the audience, or at least me, was waiting for a befitting new start.
Did we get it?
At least, I didn’t.
Much of this season felt like a Dr Filibuster’s Wet-start, No-Heat firework that actually failed to take off- aka, a lot of damp foreboding building up only to fizzle out. And I’m going to tell you exactly why. There were some glaring faults in the way this season was constructed. I’m going to talk about this, because although I’m no expert, I took two semester’s worth of Film Studies classes.
Lettuce get started.
#The plot was too much to fit into a truncated season.
Every season’s plot is too much for the season. That’s the nature of Game of Thrones‘ storytelling- it’s an epic, world-spanning saga, so of course there’s a whole bunch of characters and places and things happening. The trick is how you handle it with delicate balance.
Every season, the writers have done a great job. (Mostly, at least.) Except for this one.
This time, with the shortened time limit, they did something unforgivable: they watered GoT down.
The effects were disastrous. The plot suddenly seemed illogical, moving forward in sudden lurches and backtracking abruptly. Characters seemed like weird, cardboard versions of themselves, with hardly any screentime and even worse dialogue (Bran. Baelish. Varys. Euron.). The dialogue, in places, was so stereotypical and stilted that I actually cringed (Bran and Sansa when they first met, Theon and Jon in the finale, pretty much everything the GoT A-team said while trekking up a goddamn mountain).
#Half the shit that happened off screen should have happened on screen.
Huge chunks of major movements were skipped by the creators this time. So many potentially jaw-dropping moments happened off-screen, taking away the entire impact of the season, that I almost lost count, but here are some I can talk about right now:
Euron getting the mercenaries
Why did we have to hear about this moment from Cersei? It was such a letdown! The whole point of having a show based on a book is to see things happening and not hear about it from the mouth of a character who’s not even there on the spot. Can you imagine seeing Euron triumphantly sailing into the Disputed Lands to meet the Golden Company? I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Even if we see it next time, we already have the knowledge and it won’t be half as thrilling anymore.
Euron travelling with ships to meet the other half of the Greyjoy fleet
I get that this one had the wow factor that we’re used to from Game of Thrones, but it still doesn’t explain how Euron knew where to find the fleet. Anticipating the Unsullied’s arrival at Casterly Rock is one thing: it’s a logical manoeuvre that Daenerys can be expected to make. Anticipating the fleet going to Dorne, on the other hand, doesn’t make sense; surely everyone, including Euron and Cersei, would expect a direct assault on King’s Landing instead? Did he just ‘trip‘ over the fleet? But why wasn’t each side equally taken by surprise? How did he even get out of Blackwater Bay, if Daeny’s fleet controlled the sea surrounding it? Was there a mole?
Euron isn’t the only one who kept magically transporting himself across pretty great distances offscreen.
The raven that informed Daenerys of Jon’s second Battle-of-the-Bastards style entrapment beyond the Wall did the same. So did Daenerys herself: I get that both Dragonstone and Eastwatch are on the, well, East of Westeros, but how fast is that dragon?
And don’t give that ‘this show has dragons, why you gotta nitpick logic’ bullshit- all fantasy novels follow a certain logic within their own worlds, especially a world as well-constructed as Game of Thrones’. This defies that logic too.
What about the Unsullied, who turned up at Dragonpit from Casterly Rock with no indication of their movement? Not a major point, sure, but after Greyworm and Missandei’s emotional farewell, shouldn’t we have had a chance to see them meeting again?
Dismay and mystery suits Game of Thrones. Plain and utter confusion doesn’t.
#Euron Greyjoy’s potential destroyed
It’s not entirely fair to compare Euron to Ramsay, because he’s had like 5 minutes each in 5 episodes while Ramsay had 3 seasons. But clearly, he was being set up as the show’s next devil-may-care psycho villain. Did he get there? Not in my book. (Heh. See what I did there.)
One of the most annoying things film director David Yates did to the Harry Potter world was destroying Bellatrix. She was given a very distinct look and an over-the-top manner, unravelling the complexity of the books’ Bellatrix.
In other words, she became a cartoon villain, with little impact, hardly real anymore.
The same thing has happened to Euron Greyjoy. All I see when I see him is a literal eye-popping display of brazenness. He hasn’t been set up properly, and the threat from him always feels distant, because we never quite see him in action, not the way we saw Joffrey or Ramsay. It’s almost like he is only there as an inconvenience. Why introduce a new character now, if you can’t round him off?
#Seriously, what the hell happened with Baelish?
I’ve seen dozens of fans complaining about this, so at least I’m not the only one screaming: Who the heck gives that ending to him, one of the cleverest and most scheming men in Westeros?!
Unlike a lot of people, I actually think that the Stark siblings uniting to execute him is a very suitable ending, given the way he’s jerked them around. The disbelief comes from how quickly the development happened: from Sansa and Arya being at each other’s throats to Arya being at his throat in literally half an episode. It doesn’t feel realistic when we remember the years of resentment we saw between them. The deleted scene that Isaac Hampstead-Wright (who plays Bran) talked about should have been included, I think. At least then that character-arc makes sense.
#DAENERYS! What happened to the one of the cleverest women in the series?!
We’ve seen Daeny stand against impossible odds and win many times before. And every time, she did it by defying the wishes and expectations of the men around her, including Jorah, Daario and Ser Barristan. Her decisions were never purely tactical: often they were based on ideologies and emotions. But the one thing she never did was to make emotional decisions. Her choices may not have been tactically the most obvious, but they were always well-calculated. As time passed, she learnt how to create maximum impact with minimum damage.
Where is that logical idealist now?
She lost her dragon, which, apart from being a strategic disaster, must have been devastating for her. She lost so many of her allies. She gained nothing: no new ground and no new relationships, except for the one with Jon.
As this article pointed out, why couldn’t she have just targeted the Red Keep specifically? Her specialty was to find the middle ground between the most passive and the most brutal options available to her: sit and wait for others to fight her war, or use her dragons to burn her enemies to the ground. In this season, she swung wildly from one to the other, and ended up losing.
And I think it was because she did exactly what Olenna warned her not to: she listened to too many clever men, and relied on their counsel so much that she stopped acting on her own.
This hurts to say, but I think it was Tyrion’s strategies that hurt her chances the most. Tyrion did not understand how she redefined the political landscapes she found and he kept operating within the landscape that already existed. But Daenerys was not there to stop the wheel, she was there to break it.
The worst part is that Daeny understood what was happening. She berated Tyrion repeatedly for the failures of his plans. But instead of relying on her own counsel, she found another man whose judgment to trust: Jon. Remember the scene in which she asked Jon what to do, and Jon replied that she would be more of the same if she brought her dragons? Daeny was asking for advice from someone who had never seen her in action before. It was the wrong choice.
I’m waiting for Daenerys to realise why things went wrong. I miss my Khaleesi. I hope to see her back soon.
#Arya, Sansa, Bran
Okay, I can’t be the only one terribly disappointed with the Stark Siblings’ arc this season. Sansa did great: she has been on an upwards arc since Season 6. She’s clever and she learns quickly, and she’s survived and taken care of her siblings (well, as much as Arya would let her) while being in charge of the entire north. Leaving Sansa in charge was one of the only good things Jon did this season.
Literally everyone pointed out Bran’s thousand-yard stare (“of the teenaged cousin who has just discovered marijuana and Nietzsche”) and even worse conversation strategy (if he’s the Three Eyed Raven who knows everything, WHY DOES HE NOT KNOW THAT PEOPLE IN GENERAL DO NOT LIKE TO BE REMINDED OF THE NIGHT THEY WERE BRUTALLY RAPED?!).
Arya, meanwhile, killed some people and argued with her sister, and that’s about all she did, really. One of her early appearances was marred by a horrendous cameo, the ones in the middle by the strangely judgmental stance she took towards her older sister, and the one at the end by her equally strange reversal.
I honestly don’t know what is happening anymore.
#Dialogue was terrible.
I don’t even need to look further than the finale: look at the conversation between Jon and Theon. Here’s the full script if you want to read it.
My problem with the conversation is not that it happened: it’s the way in which it happened. The dialogue was so stilted that it became cheesy. Game of Thrones is never cheesy.
Even the prophecy reveal, intercut with pictures of a delectable butt (the true Big Reveal, let’s be honest) felt artificial and kind of a letdown. Maybe this moment had been hyped for so long that it could never really have lived up to the ruckus. At least it could have tried.
#Oh, and does anyone remember Gendry, Yara and Gilly?
Yeah, me neither.
I can summarise the good things that happened this season in 2 words: the Stark daughters (okay, 3). Sansa and Arya, my murder babies, you’re doing great, sweeties. Olenna was also kickass (duh)- the only who went the way she deserved to go. Maaaybe Jaime’s final redemption is on the way as well (Brienne certainly thinks so), although he’s gone from complicated to one-dimensional knight in shining armour.
Game of Thrones Season 7 was a major disappointment for me.
The pacing was uneven and weird. There was no space to for anything to unfurl or for us to get attached to. Would it have killed them to have enough time for exposition between all the jumping-about we had this season?
The real panic is that there’s only one season left of six episodes.
What if, during this time, the show doesn’t turn around? What if it never reaches the heights it had earlier, with its deliciously complex character, well-written dialogues and wonderfully choreographed action scenes? What if it never gets to be where it used to be?
For a brief moment, in the finale, I caught a glimpse of that show. The scene between Cersei and Tyrion was so intense, so filled with unspoken emotions, that it instantly made up for all the disappointment of the finale.
We finally saw some of the reasons behind Cersei’s hatred of her younger brother. A lot of this is owing to the fact that Lena Headey is an incredible actress, and Peter Dinklage can pick up the threads exactly where she left them. The scene was perfectly constructed and harmonized. It suddenly reminded me of the true brilliance of this show and everything it can be.
As a huge fan, I can only hope that Season 8 will make up for this season’s epic crash-and-burn.
But bearing in mind the sheer number of characters and subplots, and the even lesser number of episodes, I’m honestly very, very apprehensive.
Hey! Thanks for sticking around so far. This was a long ass read, so if you’re still here, just know that I love you. Comment “I love you” with your favourite emoji if you are!
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See you next time!