HBO (US), SoHo, NEON (NZ)
July 16th – August 27th, 2017
7 hours 23 mins
Seven episodes and that’s Game of Thrones for another year. No solid date on when Season 8 will come around, but it’s likely given the show’s scope and scale, it might slip into 2019.
Like we did with our impressions of Episode One, the Binge With Me team is each going to weigh in on the season finale, after the initial review. We’ll keep the season finale gossip below the review for spoiler-phobes.
Michael: Now that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have gone off-book, one thing that stood out to me was how much the writers were trying to wrap up the story and cover George R.R Martin’s unwritten plot points in this penultimate shorter season. Characters state their intention of traveling some place and then right there in the next scene, they are teleported halfway across the world. Okay, sure it makes sense on the back of a dragon, but walking and sailing, c’mon! Ridiculous plans are also concocted to get the plot where the writers want it to go.
Thrones is becoming more bombastic than ever. And this season didn’t disappoint with two giant episodes dedicated to cinematic battles: “The Spoils of War” and “Beyond the Wall”.
While enticing to the eye, “Beyond the Wall” failed in its attempt to create emotional stakes in any way. Our heroes clumsily stumble into a dangerous situation on their own accord on a ridiculous quest that may or may not help them and they stumble their way back out.
“The Spoils of War” on the other-hand, managed to forge an incredible battle that felt right story-wise and in character, but still failed to create lasting effects on the overall story being told. I won’t spoil anything here, but Thrones in the past was notorious for killing off characters and ‘special’ in the fact that anyone could be killed off at any time. Now, late in the game, we’ve entered territory where certain characters simply can’t be killed off. We’re teased again and again, “Oh shit, he’s done for!” and of course they always come back unscathed. Fool me once etc.
On the plus side, this fudging of travel distances and hand-wavy plot points helps get characters together; some meeting for the first time, others who haven’t seen each other for several seasons. And that’s always been the fun of Thrones for me; pitting characters with different ideologies like Brienne and The Hound together, both parental figures to Arya, and seeing them reconcile after their fight-to-the-almost-death in Season 4.
The Finale: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
So… it’s over. All those months waiting for the seventh season of Game of Thrones and it’s finished in the blink of an eye. On the plus side, now is the perfect time to delve deep into our opinions of what’s been going on this season.
While I intended to write about the season as a whole, I found myself constantly returning to scenes from the final episode when thinking about examples to give on what I did and didn’t like, so this discussion is going to be looking heavily at “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
I’ll start off with my favourite scene of the entire series, and one of the best in Game of Thrones history, in my opinion: the meeting between team Cersei and team Daenerys in King’s Landing. Not only is the reunion between Tyrion, Podrick, Bronn, Brienne, the Hound and Jaime extremely pleasing for fan’s of those characters, but the tension upon Dany’s arrival and the display of the wight was beautifully executed.
Unlike scenes where tension is expressed by long pauses and awkward side-glances, as in some of the counsel meetings in Dragonstone earlier in the season, the negotiations between Cersei, Daenerys and Jon contained the perfect amount of suspense. Each meaningful look between characters helped to remind us of their histories with one another and every pause kept you on the edge of your seat wondering when everything was going to go horribly wrong. And, of course, there’s nothing like watching an undead soldier wipe the contemptuous smile off Cersei Lannister’s face.
Additionally, both of the bigger fight scenes in “The Spoils of War” and “Beyond the Wall” were excellent. The decimation of the Lannister’s after they take Highgarden was short, sweet and brutal, and the suicide group versus the Army of the Dead was something we’d wanted to see for a long time and well carried out.
The unfortunate thing about both of these battles though was Danearys’ literal swooping in to save the day. It made perfect sense and was an exciting part of both scenes, but personally, I think the dragons are the most epic parts of the story and I don’t want to see them become overpowered and overused. Luckily the Night King seems to have similar ideas, and I’m sure dragon versus dragon will change everything, but for right now I would have liked fewer scales.
Which brings me to my biggest complaint. I wish I didn’t have to say it, but I really do: cramming this much plot into seven episodes was a mistake this season.
Game of Thrones has always been so good at dragging things out in exactly the right way. Each character’s journey across the realm is excruciatingly long and interrupted and frustrating to watch, and, call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s important because it means everyone has a real chance to develop and plots unfold in a more natural, believable way.
And yes, I KNOW that the writers want the story to wrapped up, and I KNOW we’ve been waiting what feels like our entire lives for these characters to finally meet and their stories to overlap, but personally it completely alters my experience of the show, and the world, when characters are suddenly able to travel up and down the country a couple of times per episode. Realistically, I think a couple of more episodes would have improved the whole season, and I am more than happy to fight about it.
Other than that, I loved the season. Even the moments I thought seemed unfitting such as Sansa growing steadily more suspicious of Arya, or Cersei practically surrendering to Tyrion’s request for help were, of course, red herrings (thank goodness!). Think you can take on the Stark children and live to tell the tale? Sorry Lord Baelish, guess again. Now the season’s over all that’s left is to knuckle down and rewatch from the beginning to fully prepare for the very end. Here’s hoping they get round to releasing season eight in this lifetime.
This season of Game of Thrones definitely had its twists and turns. There were several things I didn’t see coming. I wasn’t expecting Daenerys to lose one of her dragons so easily, especially after seeing one of them decimate the Lannister army.
Michael: I was actually happy to hear Cersei hadn’t given in that easily. Although it’s not a good plan, far from it (essentially, let them fight it out), there couldn’t be anything more boring that everyone teaming up and holding hands in the final season against the nameless ice zombies AKA the wights and white walkers.
Littlefinger’s death felt premature. I know he had it coming, but maybe if everything leading up to it was pulled off better, what with all the snooping and grown up Sansa and Arya being bratty sisters again, it wouldn’t have felt so trite? He was just another loose thread to tie off.
The whole Jon Snow parentage thing was stale to me by the time ‘Exposition-Bran’ explained it outright. I guess that’s what happens when you follow book theories.
That being said, I actually liked this episode. More than the previous ice adventure anyway. I’m always a sucker for good one liners and sight gags, whether it’s Jamie and Bron’s discussion on male appendages, or Bran holding up a raven scroll when Sam asks if he “saw” the news with his vision powers.
My hopes for the final season are some more heroic deaths, and The Hound and Arya reunited. Maybe even the two of them living together, along with Brienne, happily ever after. Sorry, Tormund. One can hope. Or is it, ‘no one’ can hope?