Created by: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin)
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Gwendoline Christie
№ of Episodes: 7 (50-79 min)
[SPOILER WARNING! READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL, MORTALS]
Despite a shorter episode count (seven instead of the usual ten), the penultimate season of ‘Game of Thrones’ felt like it was packed with several seasons’ worth of content. This is partly because the episodes were a bit longer, slowly inching towards feature length, but mostly because the story itself is rapidly approaching its conclusion. As the army of the dead marched ever closer to the land of the living, many of the show’s large ensemble cast found themselves crossing paths, giving us some terrific pairings along with long overdue reunions.
Season 7’s sheer sense of forward momentum is both its biggest strength and greatest disadvantage. With the show now firmly ahead of the books, it has opted for a kind of rapid storytelling that helps emphasize the urgency and stakes of the conflict brewing in Westeros – but the transition to this new approach can feel a bit jarring.
This season of ‘Game of Thrones’ reminded me a lot of the final season of ‘Samurai Jack’, as both always teetered on the edge of going too fast for their own good. Functionally, both shows hit all the right notes, but at times you can’t help but wish they slowed down a bit, either to dig a little deeper into the characters or just to let you take a breath. After all, season 7 capitalizes on plot points and character relationships that have been set up over several years’ worth of storytelling (or hell, much longer than that if you’ve been following the books).
The early episodes had a bit of a slow burn to them, but things quickly pick up and never really let on afterwards. There’s rarely a dull moment, which made for a pretty entertaining season overall – and while at times the show felt it was rushing things, it always stayed true to its characters.
The season’s penultimate episode, ‘Beyond the Wall’, is easily my favorite. It has the most relentless pace, a clusterfuck of a timeline and several other glaring problems, but it was also exciting as all hell. Every single scene had either a really fun, interesting character dynamic or a cool fight scene going for it.
Character wise, the show’s weakest link is Bran Stark. His evolution into a blank-faced, emotionless dullard that’s important to the plot without actually being interesting has always been a chore. I would call him a necessary evil, but he’s more like a necessary bore – his scenes are nobody’s favorite, but how else would anyone have known that Jon is actually the true heir to the Iron Throne?
Arya’s return to Winterfell was way more interesting. Her character journey has certainly been one of the weirdest on the show and it was great to see how uneasy and weary others are of the person she’s now become. The animosity between Arya and Sansa, and the way Littlefinger was pitting them against one another was a solid subplot with a great payoff that finally saw the great schemer of the Seven Kingdoms miss a step.
Jon and Daenerys’ blossoming romance was, of course, undercut by the knowledge that they’re actually blood relatives. I doubt they’ll take the Lannister approach and just go along with incest. Worse still, Daenerys is sure to be dismayed when she finds out Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne. At least Jorah may still have a shot here – fingers crossed.
In the final episode, Cersei finally crossed a line that Jaime could not abide by and the two parted ways. Now the bitch only has the The Mountain by her side, but more importantly, Jaime has a shot at redemption and maybe even making it out of the show alive! For a while there it was looking like his love for his sister will be his downfall.
Olenna Tyrell certainly got a more dignified death than Littlefinger. Even in defeat, she went with out head and both middle fingers raised high. Good on her.
On, and less we forget, THE NIGHT KING HAS AN UNDEAD DRAGON NOW! That, much like the White Walkers finally making it on other side of The Wall, is one of those things you basically knew were going to happen, but it’s still incredibly cool to see.
This was a solid, very enjoyable season. I’d go as far as to say it’s the most fun I’ve had watching this show yet. In many ways, it feels like a different show with the same story and characters, which is not going to be to everyone’s liking – but I’m in favor of it. It’s the only season of this show I can actually see myself going back and rewatching.