BIG, BIG SPOILERS, DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOT DONE WATCHING SEASON 7!
So there have been a lot of critics pooping all over this season of Game of Thrones, wailing that it is past its heyday, blah, blah, blah, blah…
In my opinion, overall, this season was fantastic. The pace of the truncated season was increased so that things happened faster than a raven can fly across Westeros. Several set-piece sequences outdid those of previous seasons. Answers to questions book readers have been waiting for over 20 years were finally given.
Sure, it had its downers, but even Season 4, designated by many critics its “Imperial” season, had them, too.
Let’s break it down!
Episode One Cold Opening:
The scene of Walder Frey passing out wine to the male members of his family to thank them for their part in the Red Wedding took me longer to figure out than it should have. Was it a flashback? We had just seen a “previous scenes” segment that showed Arya murdering Walder Frey.
Well, of course it was Arya in a mask, poisoning en masse the entire Frey male line. “Winter has come for House Frey,” she tells Walder’s final child bride.
Perfect beginning to the season.
Cersei Turning Out to be an Effective Leader:
Most of us probably thought Daenerys, with Dorne support, advice from Tyrion and Varys, part of the Iron fleet lead by Yara, the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and three grown dragons, would be close to unbeatable.
That’s why their early defeats were pretty shocking. While the Unsullied easily took over Casterly Rock, the bulk of the Lannister army captured Highgarden, and all the Tyrell gold. Olenna Tyrell was forced to drink poison. Euron Greyjoy, now allied with Cersei, easily defeated Yara’s fleet, capturing Yara, Ellaria Sand and two of her daughters. The alliance was crushed with astonishing speed.
Who’d have thunk it? Seems Tywin Lannister wasn’t the only one who underestimated his daughter. Not to mention it would have been pretty darn dull if Daenerys had easily taken over Westeros.
The Loot Train Battle
Since the Battle of the Blackwater at the end of Season 2, Game of Thrones has set a standard for television battle scenes that often out-do movie battle scenes on a fraction of the budget. This season was no exception. While Jaime and Bronn transfer spoils they won when they took over Highgarden, the Dothraki show up to wup some Westeros ass, capped off by Daenerys arriving on her dragon Drogon. The Lannister army is decimated.
The look on Jaime’s face said it all. His foolish attempt to assassinate Daenerys said it all. At this point, we’re back to believing Daenerys is utterly unbeatable.
The Westeros Seven
There has been a lot of negative commentary about the penultimate episode, Beyond the Wall. Sure, it’s easy to pick apart what seemed like a massively foolish plan to go beyond the wall and capture a wight to show Cersei. Why didn’t they go on horseback? Why did they tease the wights into fighting? Why didn’t they take more men with them? Why does anybody listen to Jon Snow, ever?
I loved the Dream Team of disparate heroes: Jon, Jorah Mormont, the Hound, Beric Dondarrion, Gendry, Thoros, and Tormund. Many of them hated and distrusted each other. It was a perfect visual for the situation in Westeros: they have to unite to fight a common enemy or all die.
The Ice Dragon
Talk about a game changer. As I said, after the Loot Train Battle, Daenerys seemed unbeatable, even when it came to the Army of the Dead—until the Night King took down her dragon Viserion with an ice javelin and turned him into a zombie dragon.
How do you beat THAT?
Sansa and Arya Take Down Littlefinger
Another storyline critics have been complaining about is the one where Littlefinger tries to sow seeds of distrust between Sansa and the recently-returned to Winterfell Arya.
Dudes. Did anybody REALLY think Arya would fall for that crap so easily? I wasn’t even that convinced that Sansa would fall for it. She had been watching Littlefinger in action for a LONG TIME. She used his ambition and “love” for her to get the army from the Vale to support Jon.
Watching the surviving Stark children (including Bran) cause the fall of Littlefinger, the man who directly and indirectly caused much of their misery, was immensely gratifying. So was seeing Sansa and Arya acknowledge they respect the other’s strengths.
The Hound’s Redemption
Every moment more the Hound appears on screen, the more I love the character. I’m not a big fan of redemption arcs in general (see my comments on Theon’s below) but this one WORKS.
Why? Because the Hound has always been capable of empathy. Under all his gruff and grumble is someone who genuinely cared about Sansa and Arya. His regret over the two peasants he killed rang true because he initially thought he was doing them a kindness by saving them from starvation.
“I’m sorry you’re dead. You deserved better.”
I believe he really means that.
At the moment she took the poison, the Queen of Thorns told the truth about Joffrey’s assassination—SHE had killed him, not Tyrion.
Perfect end to the character. Diana Rigg was spectacular in her last scene.
The Final Outcomes of This Story Can’t Happen Without Gilly
Gilly makes two key discoveries while reading books at the Citadel:
Where to find the dragonglass needed to fight the White Walkers.
Rheagar Targaryan annulled his first marriage and married Lyanna Stark, making Jon Snow not only not a bastard, but the true heir to the Iron Throne.
Annoyingly, Sam takes credit for discovering both.
A lot of women can relate, Gilly.
Jon and Daenerys’ Lack of Chemistry
Beyond the whole “Ew, she’s really his aunt” thing, I found Jon and Daenerys very blah onscreen together. Maybe it was so many years of anticipation that made it impossible to meet expectations.
Look. I don’t care if Theon is ever redeemed. No, I didn’t wish on him what he suffered at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. No, I don’t blame him for running away when his uncle captured his sister. He’s been through a lot and that is a totally understandable reaction for someone who is so obviously dealing with PTSD.
But they seem to want to rewrite history. “I always tried to be the right kind of person.” Uh, no, he didn’t, including in the beginning before the Starks’ fortunes cratered. He was an obnoxious, self-involved ass. Unlike the Hound, he never showed empathy for others.
I hope Yara is rescued, but don’t expect me to see Theon as a hero. Even his motivation for rescuing her is selfish.
The Burning of the Tarlys
I am still trying to puzzle out the purpose if this scene. Sure, Sam’s father was a total creep, and his brother Dickon was a dope. But burning them up seems to have served no storyline purpose whatsoever.
I highly doubt it will turn Sam against Daenerys. (Doesn’t he now become the heir to the fortune he was denied as the eldest brother?)
We get that Daenerys is a badass and can be a ruthless ruler. We didn’t need any more proof that she can sometimes give into the worst of her Targaryen impulses.
It was also weird that they replaced the actor who played Dickon during Season 6 with Tom Hopper, who played Billy Bones in the Starz series Black Sails. Because of this, it seemed the character would have some storyline importance.
I’m glad Jorah is not going to turn to stone. I’m also very appreciative of Sam’s heroism in attempting the cure for Jorah’s greyscale, risking his own life.
That was SUPER-GROSS to watch.
Or, should I say, Non-Emo Bran?
Since he’s become the Three-Eyed Raven, he’s become SO CREEPY. It was especially horrifying to hear him recount to Sansa the details of her wedding night with Ramsay Bolton. And poor Meera Reed, who got a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” response when she said goodbye to him. The woman risked EVERYTHING for him.
The evolution of Bran’s character has been one of the most disappointing. Hopefully, there’s more to come that will make him less of a soulless ghoul.
Season 8 Might Be Delayed Until 2019
Are you frickin’ KIDDING ME???? The final scene was such a massive cliffhanger and we might have to wait more than a year to see the conclusion????
(INCOHERENT INTERNAL SCREAMING)