Season seven of Game of Thrones has ended and there is a lot to reflect on before the show returns for its final season.
Let’s dive into some of the things the show got right this season, starting with Lady Olenna’s death scene in the third episode, “The Queen’s Justice.” Most people fear death, but not Lady Olenna. Olenna, the last surviving member of House Tyrell and one of the oldest characters on the show, proved again this season she can scheme better than most on a show full of conspiracy and secret plots. Diana Rigg’s portrayal of Olenna’s witty and blunt nature resonated with the audience.
With her armies defeated and her family dead, Olenna knew her own death was imminent. She still had one twist of the knife for her enemies. Granted a painless death from poisoned wine by Jamie Lannister, Olenna revealed that she had been the one to poison Lannister’s son, Joffrey Baratheon. The revelation was a satisfying conclusion to Olenna’s arc on the show and answered a question viewers had been speculating about since Baratheon’s death in season four.
The following episode was also well done, not for its character arcs and schemes, but for the incredible and terrifying battle sequence. The “Loot Train Attack,” as it is now being referred to, was stimulating both visually and emotionally. The full extent of the skill in battle of the Dothraki horde was gruesomely captivating.
Director Matt Shakman made the right decision by placing the audience in the perspective of Jaime Lannister, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. He is on the ground, witnessing the devastation of the Dothraki horde and the fire raining down from the dragon mounted by Daenerys Targaryen. For the first time, the show did a great job of showing us rather than constantly telling us the power Daenerys has.
Yet, for many, this season fell flat.
The world George R. R. Martin created in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the book series “Game of Thrones” is based on, never made it easy for our beloved characters. In many cases, the story has been completely unforgiving. There were consequences to the actions our heroes and villains made, at times even costing their lives.
In season seven, regardless of merit or impact, actions seem to be rewarded with surviving through to the next episode. This new reality is a luxury no character has had before. Few major characters died despite countless situations where the consequences once would have dictated otherwise.
One of the biggest issues with season seven is the plan to go north of The Wall to kidnap one of the White Walker’s wights in order to convince Cersei Lannister to declare a truce in a war for the Iron Throne. While the motive might be semi-reasonable — Jon Snow estimates there are over 500,000 of these snow zombies — the plan to basically have a show-tell presentation to Lannister seems ill-fitted for the show and the characters.
Lannister, portrayed by Lena Headey, is one of the most developed characters on the entire show. The audience knows her and understands her motivations. Within the show, her brother Tyrion is one of the only people that truly know her and understand her. It made little sense for him to believe that this ridiculous plan was going to convince Lannister to join their efforts. Allying with enemies, for any cause, is not in line with her characterization throughout the series.
A show that began as a pioneer in storytelling and legendary scope is finding it hard to end it in the same never-before-seen fashion we all found exciting at first. A sad truth we as fans are just going to have to come to terms with between now and the final season.
These are issues all remarkable television shows go through. As a show in its seventh season, it is inevitable that the audience will begin to compare its older, more groundbreaking plots to its newer ones.