The Queen’s Justice
The Spoils Of War
Beyond The Wall
The Dragon and The Wolf
After the incredible finale to Season 6 and all the twist and turns leading up to this season, it was never going to be easy to keep that momentum going. In many ways, Season 7 is an incredible, action packed ride that manages to nail its visual aesthetic, keep the story moving closer to its conclusion and deliver a good level of entertainment. However in doing so, logic, writing and world building fall to the wayside in favour of the visual spectacle.
With Daenarys (Emilia Clarke) finally landing in Westeros and starting her campaign to take over Westeros from the relative safety of Dragonstone, the attention shifts away from the political intrigue that’s always gripped the show and focuses on a more action centric plot. With numerous big battle sequences occuring this season, including an impressively rendered dragon attack and a slickly produced skirmish for Casterly Rock, Game Of Thrones manages to deliver the action but in doing so, sacrifices the storytelling.
Of course, some of the blame for this rests with author George RR Martin who’s inability to publish the next book before reaching this point has left creators D&D unable to draw any more source material, instead going in their own direction to wrap the plot up. However, blame must still be laid at their feet after refusing to produce 10 episodes that HBO initially suggested. This season in particular sees the story move at breakneck speed toward its conclusion and a lot of this is derived from the compact 7 episode structure, meaning every scene is either rushed or lacking the finesse and attention to detail that made Game Of Thrones so compelling before. With characters warping across the map in a matter of scenes, the sense of travel and scale of the world is now lost in favour of the big, CGI heavy action sequences. This makes season 7 of Game Of Thrones a fun visual spectacle but also a frustratingly disappointing venture from a storytelling perspective.
Its a shame too that the character interactions and dialogue this year, with the exception of the excellent Cersei (Lena Headley) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) who still manage to deliver the goods, is sub standard and at times really poor. With numerous “in” jokes that feel like fan service rather than moving the lore forward and some ill-conceived, illogical character decisions, Season 7 is jarringly bad compared to previous seasons. The Stark children in Winterfell are the biggest casualties this year though and despite a satisfying conclusion in the finale to their storyline, its hard to ignore the dialogue, pacing and plot work that’s poor throughout, even excluding the ill placed Ed Sheeran cameo. Even the overarching storyline involving most of the main players in Westeros (bring a zombie back from beyond the wall to show Cersei and zombie Mountain that zombies exist and unite to battle zombies) is an incredibly contrived, poorly thought out plot line that hurts the overall integrity of the show.
Disappointing characters and stories aside, there’s no denying that the production value and composition of the scenes are top notch again this year. The use of colour, the melodic score and some of the action proves just why this show is so well received the world over. There’s absolutely no denying that Game Of Thrones produces some of the best TV out right now. Seeing fully rendered dragons breathing fire, thousands of screaming Dothraki kicking up clouds of dust while riding into battle or hordes of wight walkers marching south toward the wall is unrivalled and really makes for some impressive scenes. However, it also asks some important questions about whether this is really what gripped people and drew people into the show in the first place.
In many ways this season of Game Of Thrones is a massive step down for the show. Illogical character choices, contrived dialogue and a rushed plot make for an uncomfortable watch, especially compared to what’s come before in previous seasons. Its still a fun ride and some of the action this year is as big as anything shown on TV but the storytelling and character work is far below what you’d expect from a show of this calibre. Ultimately, Game Of Thrones feels like the shell of a show that’s lost what originally made it one of the best shows on TV – its attention to detail and complicated characters – and for that, its hard not to feel disappointment as this season draws to a close.
Verdict - 7/10