Here there be Spoilers!
For the last few years, after the season finale of Game of Thrones has aired, I have usually written a post to this blog complaining about the quality of the most recent season (read Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!, When Good Television Goes Mediocre, and Why I’m Done With Game of Thrones (On Television Anyway)), and calling into question whether or not I will watch the next. This post will carry on with part of that tradition, as I am here to complain about some of the flaws of season seven, but I will not pretend that I have any intention to skip over season eight, the series’ last. In this far, I may as well go to the end.
It was never certain that I would watch season seven of Game of Thrones, not as it aired anyway, but I had already subscribed to Sling TV earlier in the year in order to watch Fargo and Better Call Saul, and figured I’d just extend my channel lineup for a couple of months to include HBO. That would also give me chance to check out WestWorld. And more important, it would allow me to again watch Game of Thrones on Sunday nights.
Season seven is probably the worst season of Game of Thrones. It is also, paradoxically, one of the most entertaining. The so-called Loot Train Attack was something of a cinematic masterpiece. But much of the rest of the season seems to have been about checking off boxes. Stark reunion 1. Check. Stark reunion 2. Check. Finish off Dorne story-line. Check. Finish off Tyrell story-line. Check. Stark meets Targaryen. Check. The fate of Littlefinger. Check. Let’s just get all of this shit out of the way so we can focus on the end. The more boxes they routinely checked off, the more muted the impact of each of these resolutions became. Not that it wasn’t satisfying to see Littlefinger get his throat cut, but the drama leading up to it was manipulative and trite, and his end was hardly worthy of his Machiavellian genius.
Other characters didn’t fare much better. Tyrion hasn’t been a fraction as interesting as he was when they were writing scripts from the source material, even if Peter Dinklage continues to put in a great performance. Daenerys alternated between channeling her father, Mad King Aerys, and swooning over Jon Snow, with only brief moments of queenly behavior. And Snow, nothing if not consistent, was as blandly honorable as ever. He also did a lot of stupid things without consequence, at least to himself. Between them, Jon and Daenerys proved very useful to the Night King, delivering the dragon he needed to destroy the Wall.
Of course, it is impossible to ignore the various flaws in the storytelling, Euron Greyjoy’s perfect ambush of Yara’s fleet, the chess game precision of Lannister armies abandoning Casterly Rock and arriving at Highgarden, the supersonic speeds of ravens and dragons and Gendry. The US military rarely delivers air power as absurdly quickly as Dany’s dragons appeared beyond the wall. And then there is the whole Wight Dragon problem. It seems the Night King set a trap, but how did he know Jon Snow would venture beyond the wall, or that Daenerys would mount a rescue mission? How many events did he manipulate to ensure that Dany and her dragons would be in Westeros in order for him to kill and turn one? Did he have any plan to get past the Wall in the event his spear missed its mark? I’m sure the dragon vs. dragon fights in season eight will be spectacular, but I have a feeling that the writers haven’t really thought this through as well as they should have.
I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming, the continued deterioration of what was once an excellent program. I wrote three whole posts about it after all. But I guess the quality of those early seasons keeps me coming back, even in the face of such overwhelming mediocrity. I want to know who will survive, who will die and if anyone in a place as fucked up as Westeros is ever going to get a happy ending.