After spending a magical, action-filled seven weeks in Westeros with our favorite characters, Game of Thrones Season 7 has come to an end. Despite not following the books, which have yet to be released by writer George R.R. Martin, Season 7 pulls from the best of previous seasons to create something amazing. Understandably, fans are upset about the wait for Season 8 in 2019 to see how the series wraps up. Season 7 answered some questions and created more. On top of all the mysteries surrounding the conclusion of the epic saga, Game of Thrones Season 7 stands out as one of the strongest seasons of the series so far.
This season had many highlights and strong examples of cinematic practices. Nearly every episode had something that made it stand out. Episode 1, “Dragonstone,” opened the season with a bang — or rather, one of the highest kill counts since the Red Wedding. Arya, now a faceless man, poses as Walder Frey in order to poison the remaining lords of House Frey. Her actions set up a season full of breathtaking action and demonstrates her frightening new strengths. The deaths provided a jolt for the rest of the season, and promised many exciting things to come.
Another stunning scene was when Euron stormed Yara’s fleet and captured her, Ellaria and Tyene. This scene is cinematically golden — the amount of time spent to capture everyone’s actions in a chaotic battle balanced the drama of killing (somewhat) major characters and Theon’s reaction to a traumatic event that pulls him back into his time of being Reek. Like most people, I was disappointed with him for not trying to save Yara, but perhaps if he had, Euron would have killed her on the spot. Forcing Theon to save her in that moment would also have ignored the deep trauma Ramsay Bolton caused and not allowed for Theon to grow into his last major scene in Episode 7, in which he fights a traitorous crew member to convince his men to go after Euron.
Despite its cinematic prowess, Euron’s attack couldn’t hold its own against Episode 4’s “Epic Loot Train Battle.” As Jaime transports his recently claimed gold and food from Highgarden to King’s Landing, Dany decides she’s fed up with losing battles and allies. The episode devotes a large portion of time to the battle, allowing us to see the power of Dany and her army. For the first time, we truly see how much damage can be done by just one of her dragons. Drogon incinerates the supplies and the Lannister forces as the Dothraki cavalry sweep in to clean up. It is obvious that even with the ballista, Qyburn’s giant crossbow, the Lannisters are outmatched. The digital editing team did an outstanding job with the CGI of Drogon, making the battle feel engaging and real. Seeing Drogon injured solidified that even though the dragons are strong, they can be damaged. This holds true to Martin’s goal to make every character face a risk of dying.
Season 7 also brought many characters together. Grey Worm and Missandei finally got together for a romantic night in. Arya, Sansa and Bran are all reunited at Winterfell and it is confirmed that Gendry isn’t still rowing and has been working in Fleabottom this entire time. This leads to many other incredible connections and events as well.
Jaime’s attack on Highgarden is one of these. The Lannister army quickly crushes the Tyrell forces and Jaime makes his way to matriarch Olenna Tyrell. Olenna’s death was sealed after she joined with Dany, but her death scene solidified her as one of the greatest characters in the series. In a quiet room, Olenna awaits Jaime, drinking a glass of wine. When he arrives, he explains that he talked Cersei out of many horrible ways to kill her, and gives her poison. After drinking the poison, she calmly tells Jaime that she killed his son, Joffrey. The beauty of the moment is that even in her death, Olenna held all the power. Jaime couldn’t have killed her because it would take away her slow death. Despite Olenna’s remarks, the Lannisters now have control of the Tyrell gold and crop supply. This led us to one of the most epic scenes of the entire season.
Episode 5, “Eastwatch,” also had a surprise in store. Cersei tells Jaime she’s pregnant. According to the prophecy delivered by a witch when she was a child, Cersei is only meant to have three children. While some believed Cersei lied to convince Jaime to be loyal to her, Episode 7 unraveled this theory at her shock at the wight and her conversation with Tyrion. A popular theory suggests that the child will actually be the Valonqar who is promised to kill Cersei, since the new baby may be the younger brother of her previous children. We’ll have to wait for 2019 to find out.
Of course, no review would be complete without mentioning Jon and Dany’s sex scene combined with the moment we find out that Lyanna and Rheagar are his parents. While the scene fulfilled the duo’s growing love interest over the season, the narration revealed to us simultaneously that Dany is Jon’s aunt. Although Game of Thrones doesn’t shy away from incest, the revelation that Jon is a Targaryen means that he has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Dany, which suggests their romance will not be long-lived, to the disappointment of fans of the duo.
Even though the season had so many reunifications and new connections and epic events, there were also shortcomings. Episode 7 left much unresolved. Of course, there needs to be fodder for Season 8, but for a conclusion of a strong season, the episode felt weak. Jon’s parentage was likely a surprise for casual viewers, for even somewhat engaged fans were left unsurprised by Bran’s dry narration.
Likewise, Littlefinger’s death, even with the tension-filled back-and-forth between Sansa and Arya leading up to it, felt predictable. His usefulness had passed and Sansa already established she did not trust him.
Even the White Walkers and the reincarnated dragon bringing down the Wall was predictable. If they didn’t bring down the Wall now, when would they? While the CGI was impeccable for the destruction, it wasn’t enough to distract from the inevitability of the event.
Lastly, the episode pulled from the original Game of Thrones roots, and forced viewers to spend 40 minutes of an hour and a half long episode on conversation and twisting politics. The entire scene felt reminiscent of the first season.
While Episode 7 dragged in the first half, other episodes lost all sense of time as the writers tried to cram as much as possible into each hour. Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall,” was most at fault. When Jon and the wight-catching crew are stranded on the lake, it appears only a day has passed, when according to the writers, nearly 5 days had gone by since Gendry was told to run to send a raven and when Dany finally arrived on scene.
This awkward pacing can be blamed on George R.R. Martin’s inability to finish the last books of the series. The showrunners are allowed to jump from event to event that Martin has provided for them instead of using the time to explore more between the characters. While faster pace is refreshing for the show and is necessary for the number of events in the season, it doesn’t make sense why the writers didn’t create a full season to allow for the space between events. This also acts as a caution to not blur time as severely as they did in Episode 6.
While every show has its flaws, and Game of Thrones is no different, Season 7 truly did an amazing job furthering the story and giving viewers something to engage with. Each episode was a mini masterpiece and yielded more answers to fans’ questions. Based on what the show provided in Season 7, I am hopeful a bombastic, epic conclusion to Game of Thrones is coming in 2019.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Arts Editor Stephanie Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org.