You know, we’re almost at the end of this season and it feels like we just barely started. Game of Thrones has felt accelerated for the past few seasons, and I’m not really sure if it’s for the better. Some have said that the show has cut out all of the boring parts, cut out all of the fat. We’re no longer going on long, spiritual journeys, no more road travels; if a character needs to be in a specific place at a specific time to advance the plot, they’re instantly there in the next scene, time and space be damned. In short, Game of Thrones has finally unlocked Fast Travel.
This is both to the show’s merit and to its detriment. Yes, the show is finally getting to the point after seven years and all of this “Winter is Coming” malarky and long suffering characters are finally getting to where they need to be plot wise, which is great for a narrative standpoint. Believe it or not, having a clear cut end makes for a great story. Hell, you don’t want to end up like some TV shows that long outstay their welcome with endless filler becoming mindless zombies of their former selves, shuffling along forever like some kind of walking dead. It’s a good thing that Game of Thrones’ brisk pace tightly wraps up storylines, condensing it’s 60 odd characters and putting them into their respective places so that the viewer isn’t disorientated by the camera shifting from 15 different locations with multiple plots, subplots, tertiary characters, etc. It’s great that we’re finally getting some damn plot progression. Winter is here dammit, let’s get to killing White Walkers already.
Where the detriment comes from is that seven seasons in we, the audience, have become used to that slow pace that the series has become known for. That slow pace bred some of the greatest moments on the show and gave some much needed attention to detail in both character development and world lore that other shows lacked. Now that we’re at the end, everything is feeling a bit rushed. Did season seven really need to be only seven episodes long? Is HBO in a hurry to wrap things up? Given the amount of money this show generates for HBO, it sure seems like that they could have easily had their usual 10 episodes for both seasons 7 and 8, but now we’re left with these truncated seasons where there’s a bit too much plot happening all at once. Ancillary characters that we haven’t seen in three or four seasons are popping up to join the plot. Other characters that might have had agency in the books (and presumably would have had more to do on the show) are killed with little thought. The whole thing is just a little bit jarring, almost to the point where it’s hurting the quality of the show. Thoughts on this? Share them in the comment section below.
Yeah Jaime isn’t dead. Neither is Bronn. We knew this. Nearby, Daenerys kindly requests that the surviving Lannister soldiers bend the knee else they be incinerated by Drogon. Everyone does except for Randyl and Dickon Tarly, who are promptly burned alive. I know this scene was meant to show that Daenerys might be a little bit too harsh in her “you’re either with me or against me” edict but c’mon guys. This is Game of Thrones. You win or you die. We’ve seen what happens when you try to play the middle ground with these Lords. The only way Dany will win is if she plays the game this way. She’s completely justified in executing anyone who’s not on board the Mother of Dragons train. No half-measures Walt.
Daenerys returns to Dragonstone to find that Drogon responds to the oh-so-secret-but-not-really Targaryen blood in Jon as he is not immediately eaten him, which pleases Daenerys. Jon also leaves for The Wall, which saddens Dany as she has grown “fond” of him. It’s at this point that I realize the show has officially gone pro incest as we are now rooting for this Aunt and Nephew to get together and usher in a new golden age of dragon ruling and brother fucking. Tyrion also suggests to Dany that in order to help the North with the fight against the White Walkers, they’ll need a temporary truce with Cersei. To accomplish this, he suggests quite possibly the stupidest idea yet on this show: capture a wight and bring it all the way down to King’s Landing in order to show Cersei how real the threat is. Right. Not sure which plan is worse, capturing an undead monster and traveling with it for weeks (months?) to King’s Landing or planning on Cersei not immediately murdering the whole lot of them the minute they set foot into the city. We’ll see how this plays out in two weeks I suppose.
Oh and Jorah is back. Yay! He’s probably going to die next episode. Boo!
Jaime insta-warps to King’s landing to tell Cersei that they’re essentially fucked, as it turns out a giant crossbow isn’t enough to stop three living weapons of mass destruction. Tyrion meanwhile arranges a meeting with Jamie (through Bronn) in order for him to pass on his great plan to Cersei. Cersei finds out that she’s pregnant with Jaime’s incest baby and might be slightly less crazy? Suicide Run Cersei was pretty bad, but now that she has something to live she’s even more dangerous. She plans to fight her enemies the way her father would. So…Red wedding two? Or maybe Tyrion actually isn’t as bad of a tactician as he’s proven to be and plans to kill Cersei with a fake truce? You know what? Forget it. One of these two factions is going to be dead in two episodes and I doubt it’s going to be Daenerys. We still need that money shot of Dany riding Drogon in the snow melting White Walkers. If the show is particularly uncreative, maybe they’ll kill Cersei the same way they Killed Rob Stark’s wife and unborn child. Yeah, this show is getting dark.
Oh and Gendry is back. Yay! He’s probably going to die next episode. Boo!
Look, can Arya just kill this guy already? There’s always a certain amount of intrigue on the show, however this season, all of the intrigue has been solely localized to Winterfell. Really it’s just Littlefinger slithering around sowing discontent amongst the Northern Lords which, as we know, isn’t all that difficult to do. Sansa is doing her best to not show that she’s concerned and Arya is there to point out that Sansa is getting a little too comfortable as Lady of Winterfell (“these are mother and father’s chambers”). Out of all of the plots this season, this whole Sansa is going to turn on Jon bit is by far the weakest. It’s not really in keeping with Sansa’s character, having her just turn on the brother than she loves based on the advice of the guy who sold her to the Boltons for…well, that whole bit wasn’t really explained was it, at least from Sansa’s point of view. This whole plot feels forced, as if the writers needed conflict among the Stark siblings where there really shouldn’t be. Littlefinger as an agent of chaos is one of the show’s most interesting characters and quite possibly the true main (living) villain of the show; however his plotting here seems wasted and despite what I said earlier, I really hope they don’t kill him off just yet. At least not before he sells the humans out to the White Walkers…which I predict he absolutely will do. If he lives. Oh and there’s a whole bit about Arya not trusting Littlefinger and finding some scroll that he clearly wanted her to find so he can drive a further wedge between the Stark siblings…blah blah blah. Sorry, this forced conflict bores me.
Oh yeah, Jon isn’t exactly a Stark sibling is he? Speaking of…
Nothing like your sort of, live in girlfriend annoying the shit out of you with annoying trivia while you’re trying to work eh Sam? You know, stupid things like how many steps there are in the Citadel, or how many windows are in the Great Sept of Baelor or Prince “Ragger” being secretly married to Lyanna Stark thus making Jon Snow the true heir to the throne for really reals. Wait, what? Benihoff and Weiss, you cheeky bastards! Well played. Sam tries to get the old men at the Citadel to warn the kingdom about the White Walkers however like all figures in authority they are going to choose to ignore this threat until it swims up and bites them on the ass. They need more proof that the threat is actually real. Maybe if someone captured a wight and brought it to them that might…nah that’s pretty stupid. Who would ever come up with that idea? Anyway, at the end of it all Sam grabs some books, a few scrolls and promptly drops out of med school. Wow Sam, just wait until your father hears about…oooh, awkward.
Yeah, you said it Tormund.
And faster than it takes for my computer to boot up Skyrim, Jon, Gendry, Jorah and Davos arrive at the freakin’ Wall all the way from Dragonstone (did he stop by to check in on the plot at Winterfell?) and ready to get a raiding party together for what has to be the stupidest plot ever on the show. Beric, Thoros, The Hound and a bunch of redshirts are here, having been captured trying to go on the other side of the wall, and of course they want to go with but there’s a little bit of tension amongst our heroes. Gendry fucking hates Beric as Beric did sell Gendry to Melisandre to be sacrificed a few seasons ago, Tormund fucking hates Jorah’s dad for the decades long abuse the Lord Commander inflicted upon the wildlings, Thoros needs a fucking drink since they refuse to give him alcohol and The Hound, in his usual, wonderful, blunt matter just wants to fucking get on with it.
“For fuck’s sake would you shut your hole. Are we coming with you or not?” – The Hound
I love The Hound. Please don’t kill him next episode. Thank you.
Actually, that bring me to something that I’ve been debating whether or not to do in these reviews. As this is the first half of the last season, I was thinking about doing a death watch list for all of the remaining main characters. That might be a bit more fun for the second half of this season next year, however next episode we’re definitely losing some dead weight, so here are my predictions:
Tormund (chance of death 50%) – I think we still need a wildling character since he’s really their only representation at this point so I don’t think we’re killing him off quite yet. We’ll need Wildlings for the winter battles next year. Also, the Brienne/Tormund thing HAS to happen. He can’t die yet.
Jon (chance of death 0%) – C’mon.
Jorah (chance of death 70%) – If RR was still writing the show, I’d say the odds of this would be lower because Jorah has to have a more heroically fitting death saving Daenerys from a stray arrow or something right? They didn’t just go through this whole greyscale business just to have him killed by a wight in the middle of nowhere, did they? But when Tyrion gave him that symbolic coin and flat out said that he HAS to come back otherwise he’ll be sad…yeah, the show is going to kill him off.
The Hound (chance of death 30%) – I still want Cleganebowl to happen. That’s the only way The Hound can go out, symbolically fighting his brother to the death. Look, he’ll probably be maimed in some way by a skeleton warrior or something, but to kill him here would just be silly. Perhaps he’ll actually be killed and brought back by Thoros so we can have an Undead Hound. Ooh, Undead Hound vs. Reanimated Mountain? Yes, please.
Beric (chance of death 100%) – Sorry Beric lovers (are there any?) this character is dead. Well, I mean he’ll be killed off for real this time. His entire mission is to die fighting white walkers, so it’s perfectly fitting for his end here. Keep in mind that Beric has been dead in the books for quite some time now.
Thoros (chance of death 100%) – Ditto, though, I’m hoping that when Beric dies again, he transfers his undead aura (or whatever it is) to The Hound.
Gendry (chance of death 80%) – Yes Virginia, they did bring this character back to kill him in the next episode. Poor Gendry never had a chance. Other than being a possible romantic partner for Arya (she’s…18 on the show right?), I’m not really sure what other purpose his character has. The show needs bodies and Gendry fits the bill.
And so it ends, Jon’s ranging party goes beyond The Wall to capture a wight and I guess that’s it until next week. Overall this episode, like all of the episodes this season, is quite good despite it feeling really rushed. We have two more episodes this season, the obligatory battle episode and the epilogue. Doubtful if they’re able to bring a wight with them all the way to King’s Landing, but we’ll see. Despite my grievances, I’m still on the edge of my seat, I can’t really ask for more than that.