Details: Aired on HBO in 2017. Seven episode at around an hour each.
I’ve read and talked a lot about the new season since it aired. A lot of my opinions on the season are the same as many others. In short, I enjoyed the season, but the pacing was too fast and a lot of the elements of this show that made Game of Thrones unique were not present in this season. No spoilers ahead.
Season seven picks up where the last season left off. Daenerys starts her war against Cersei for control of the seven kingdoms. Jon Snow looks for ways to fight the White Walkers and the Night King.
Firstly, this season was some of the fastest paced season of television I’ve ever seen. It’s as if they had a checklist of plot points they needed to reach and then sped right through them. In prior episodes, it took whole seasons to get from one place to another. Here, it happens almost instantaneously. Sending notes by raven are apparently as fast as cell phones. All of these things I can ignore, but what is obvious is the lack of build up to events. In a way, the last six season were build up to what happened in this season. However, I would have liked to have seen more build up to the events of this season. Instead, you get a quick run through of seemingly big events taking place, one after another, which is sort of okay since there is little waste of time. I don’t know why they decided to squish the show into seven episodes when Game of Thrones makes so much money for HBO and more episode would have meant more money, but that’s what they did.
Secondly, on of the things I’ve loved most about Game of Thrones is its ability to subvert the standard tropes of fantasy and television storytelling. In the first season, you thought you knew who the protagonists were and who would live and who would win, but you were wrong. Same with the second, third, fourth, etc. Game of Thrones is excellent at forcing the audience to realize that there are not good guys in this story and that no one is truly safe. We don’t even really know who the protagonists were. Things were just happening, out of control. That ended in season seven. Season seven takes what was special about Game of Thrones and turns it into something predictable and average. I’m still attached to these characters and I do want to see what happens next, but that speaks more to what was accomplished in the prior season rather than in this season.
In this season, some of the characters in this story have some of the finest sets of plot armor I’ve ever seen. There are some deaths, but none of them are particularly shocking nor are they built up to since there are only seven episodes.
You can almost feel the disappearance of George R. R. Martin’s influence on the show and the return to your standard, predictable, fantasy story. You see, season seven is the first season in which the show did not have the books to draw on. I’ve read articles where George R. R. Martin has given the show runners a general outline of how things are supposed to play out, but without the books for them to draw details on, the show runners seem to be making things up as they go along.
The entire premise of episode six is a good example of this. The motivations of everything that happens in that episode are just idiotic and do not make sense. It’s as if the characters have completely forgotten who they were in the last six seasons and have taken up the personas of the characters from the Lord of the Rings. Characters this season do a lot of things that don’t mesh with the behavior that’s been established in prior seasons. Episode six is still a good episode with a lot going on and ample budget obviously being spent, but this isn’t Game of Thrones. This is predictable old Hollywood, being predictable and ordinary again. This is HBO and the show runners ignoring the six seasons of character history that they’ve spent years developing.
Overall, I enjoyed the season, but I wasn’t wowed. I wasn’t surprised. The only amazing thing about this season was the budget allocated for computer generated and practical effects. Almost every prior season of Game of Thrones had some gut wrenching death or plot development that shocked and surprised audiences. There is nothing like that here. It’s still a good show. It’s just not the great show that it used to be.