The dust has well and truly settled on season seven of Game of Thrones, having come to a chilling end almost six months ago, and leaving fans salivating until 2019 for its conclusion.
But each installment wasn’t about topping the last. Neither did it live up to the synonymous high standards of seasons one to six.
No doubt it struggled to fit everything into just seven episodes rather than its usual 10, but that was surely a creative decision they could have changed. It felt rushed and, regarding some stories especially, particularly skimmed over.
Something felt missing, but what was it that season seven lacked?
Lost in time
The time shifts and skips were noticeable at best. At its worst, the jumps were a huge distraction; taking away the epic struggles and journeys different characters embark on. Nothing’s ever a straightforward A to B walk, boat ride, or gallop. Season seven meant all that way removed. Now we’d see someone leave for a destination in one episode and having arrived in or by the next. Sadly, it removed all sense of time and scale which we’d been so accustomed to.
That Ed Sheeran cameo
Let’s begin by saying this caused quite a stir at the time. For some, it was hands-down the worst Thrones cameo in history. Others didn’t see the problem and thought his brief addition was just fine.
Whether you loved or hated the Shape Of You singer’s appearance is not the issue. The real problem was the social media frenzy that engulfed it, serving as an unpleasant distraction from what was going on. Over the course of other seasons we’ve seen plenty of familiar faces come and go and it’s not been problematic. Here, it felt like Game of Thrones had sold out and cheapened itself by plonking one of the most famous singers on the planet into a show that relies on breaching one’s suspension of disbelief to appear as real and raw as possible. This unequivocally ruined that.
All too predictable
With all the theories that had been bandied about, the big reveals, such as Jon’s parentage (R+L=J), came as no surprise. Fans have known about this for what feels like forever, so the scene where Bran explains Jon’s heritage to Sam is merely confirmation over anything else. Similarly, Jon and Daenerys getting together is of little surprise too; with season seven giving audiences what’s been coming rather than any sort of jaw-dropping plot twist no one anticipated, it lacked the element of the unknown.
At the time it’s difficult to process the viability and implications of what’s going on, until it’s discussed and reflected upon afterwards. And sure, it’s perhaps contradictory to be complaining about the logic of a show that revolves around fire-breathing dragons and an army of the undead, but this is something that’s cemented previous season. In the past it’s convinced us that what we are witnessing is – on some level – based in a real, organic, and logical world inhabited by genuine, clever, and often crafty characters.
Usual storylines and character arcs and their motivations are ell thought out – they make sense and we can believe them. However, there were plenty of times when this evaded both its scripts and characters.
Bran ‘I know everything about everything’ Stark shutting himself off from the world, rather than informing Jon and his allies with his insider knowledge.
How the undead army were able to defy the laws of gravity and drag a sunken Viserion out of the water.
Why Daenerys didn’t attack the Night King rather than the undead army.
Or how Jaime didn’t drown after falling into a river in full armour with the weight of a gold hand.
Unlike every other season and during a bulk of these episodes, the consensus was – despite George RR Martin thriving off killing key and beloved characters – there was very little main character death.
Yes, we may have seen Littlefinger finally get his comeuppance ever since betraying Ned Stark in season one; but there was a weird sense that our heroes weren’t about to snuff it at any given moment. For instance, where Tormund would have died on a number of occasions in other seasons, he didn’t in this. That removal of the ever-present, foreboding no-one’s-ever-safe fear that a fan favourite is about to die certainly removed some of the tension.
That’s not to say its latest episodes weren’t some of the most energetic and shocking, though, because there’s still a lot to be said about how the the final few played out.
We got our deaths, our twists, and big fist-bump moments as predicted. It just had too strong of an inevitability as opposed to prior creative flair.
Fortunately, we did see the devastating implications for its eighth and final season, so has set things up for a thrilling climax.
Game of Thrones season 8 returns to Sky Atlantic in 2019.