Game of Thrones, Season 7
Now that it’s approaching its endgame, Game of Thrones is undeniably primetime TV. I also can’t deny that it’s gone from a great television show to simply a good one.
That’s not to say that this season is without quality or magnitude. We’re treated to some of the biggest moments of the show’s run thus far — the loot train attack’s cinematography is visually stunning and has drawn comparisons to other masterful action set pieces from films like Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan. Highly anticipated meetups and reunions abound: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, the Stark siblings, the Clegane siblings. Jon fully shines in his protagonistic glory now that history has been revealed. That zombie ice dragon is pretty lit.
But I can only highlight certain moments throughout the season. That’s because too much of what filled the space between those moments felt rushed, trite, or sometimes even ridiculous. Since the sixth season began, the pacing has been expedited to slot all the main players into positions and alliances necessary for the story’s climactic moments. Moreover, without George R. R. Martin’s brilliant source material, the writing for the show has failed to match its previous level. These newest episodes lack the depth of narrative and adept plotting that defined the earlier seasons. Too often events or character choices feel like they only exist for the writers to get the story to a desired outcome. Tyrion suddenly becoming a boneheaded advisor serves to quickly strip Daenerys of her commanding advantage so that she can grapple with moral questions about using her dragons. I abhorred Littlefinger as much as anyone else, but the poorly-written Arya-Sansa “feud” wasn’t the deftest way of getting us to him gurgling on the floor. The writers handed Jon’s Suicide Squad mission two deus ex machinae in order to give the Night King one hell of a present.
I enjoyed the seventh season, and I am still invested in the final season. Game of Thrones, however, has lost some of its magic for me. It is difficult to sustain a show’s greatness. Wrapping up Game of Thrones must be especially challenging, given the sheer number of character arcs and plotlines that must be addressed. This is a tradeoff we must accept: more plot twists, action scenes, and huge reveals, and less of the prestige TV feel that marked the show’s ascent. I’m disappointed the show has to sacrifice some of its greatness now that its watch is ending.