Game of Thrones season seven has finally come to an end, leaving us with only seven more hours of the show to enjoy. Supposedly, we won’t be getting the final season until 2019, which leaves us waiting in agony after the plot twist of all plot twists last Sunday.
However, something felt different about this season. It wasn’t the lack of sex or the travel time getting reduced to Amazon Prime-like speeds. Rather, it was the lazy writing that focused more on spectacle rather than content. What made Game of Thrones so great was its ability to create a compelling storyline merely through its characters. Every sentence and facial expression meant something, and it made us care about these characters because we were experiencing their nightmares first-hand. We got to be in Sansa’s shoes as she experienced King Joffrey’s wrath and in Lady Catelyn’s shadow as she witnessed her son get brutally murdered. These terrifying moments are earned because we’ve seen these characters grow so organically over just a few seasons.
However, as the show went on, certain people and plots were getting thrown away for shock value purposes or just because showrunners David Benioff and D.B Weiss had no idea what to do with them. Eventually, the storytelling went from tightly structured to messy.
While some might call season seven the best season yet, I’d argue that it’s probably one of the worst. Yes, we have gotten big battles and twists nearly every episode, but at what cost? The character development that made Game of Thrones so unique got reduced to the Hound saying the word “cunt” every other sentence and Tormund acting like a love-sick puppy during most of his scenes. It’s as if Weiss and Benioff cruised through Reddit and took all the memes and condensed them into actual dialogue. It was funny the first time, but got more cringe-worthy as the season went on.
There’s also the problem of Jon and Daenerys’ fast-budding relationship. Because the title of George R.R. Martin’s series is “A Song of Ice and Fire,” it’s long been speculated that Jon and Dany were destined to meet (and possibly fall in love). However, this relationship developed so fast that my milk hadn’t even gone bad yet. Perhaps I’ve watched one too many British dramas in my time, but I was expecting some courting or declaration of love between Jon and Dany before clothes came flying off. Weiss and Benioff were so focused on making this romance happen that they forgot to spark some chemistry between the leads.
Every story is guilty of using a deus ex machina at least once. It’s the most convenient way to bring in a conclusion. However, when it’s used repetitively, it cheapens the scene and overall story. In season seven, almost every battle had a deus ex machina and ultimately lowered the stakes for the characters. Suddenly, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat anymore because I knew there was going to be something (or someone) that was going to save the day. Episode six was a significant example of this with the raven fiasco. Not only could Gendry pull a Usain Bolt and get to the wall within hours, but he could also get a message out to Dany so she could save Jon in the nick of time.
Game of Thrones’ universe has always been built on a set of rules. Weiss and Benioff used Martin’s solid framework to keep the chaos in check. But now that Martin has stopped collaborating on the show, Weiss and Benioff are struggling to keep it together. What some people don’t understand about fantasy is that wizards or magic spells do not solve its conflicts; it’s solved by the humans at the center of the story. Game of Thrones may have been in a fantasy setting, but it was very human at its core and based off of real human events. Now, that complexity has been replaced with blockbuster-like spectacles and fan service reunions.
It’s obvious that the showrunners are trying to wrap this epic journey up as quickly as possible, but it’s depressing that the show had to lose its original identity to do so. Will any of the past theorizing be worth it considering how many plot holes have now been added in the show? Only season eight will tell. But, after this ridiculously lazy season, I’m not too positive.