Game of Thrones Season 7 Review
Game of Thrones Season 7 – Breakneck Pacing Aids and Harms The Show
In Season 6 of Game of Thrones we started to see the fantasy show move past the books creating interesting new scenarios for characters that went beyond the previous predictions of fans who’d read the series. Now, with Game of Thrones Season 7 being the penultimate season of the show, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have put the show into overdrive with just seven episodes this season. There were some big pay-offs in terms of reunions and conflicts this season that all came at a very brisk pace especially when compared to previous seasons of Game of Thrones. There was also some stunning action set pieces this season, new characters and revelations that go back to the very early questions the show posed such as Jon Snow’s lineage.
First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room which is the pacing of Season 7. For budgetary reasons and the need for more impressive action sequences, this season was seven episodes long, three less than previous seasons. While this isn’t a problem in itself, it led to a faster pace than fans of the show were accustomed to when journeys across Westeros took weeks not moments and careful political moves wouldn’t come into play until many episodes down the line. The good news in Game of Thrones Season 7 was that we got some long-awaited moments such as reunions between Tyrion and Jamie or the reappearance of Gendry not to mention many of the Starks themselves. As a result the show is giving us some very satisfying, well-acted scenes that author George R. R. Martin hasn’t even got round to writing yet.
On the other hand, the breakneck speed of the show left some pretty sizeable plot holes, suspension of disbelief and worst of all, rushed character interactions. Whereas characters previously took days and weeks to travel across Westeros, Season 7 made it seem those journeys were being undertaken in the blink of an eye. Granted the travelling happens off-screen but it feels at odds with the show generally and left some scratching their head to how much time had passed between scenes. There’s no doubt that some characters and their interactions which have been built up for so long felt rushed such as Jon and Gendry meeting the Brotherhood or Melisandre briefly popping up. In my opinion, these interactions are the core of the show not dragons or set pieces. While many will point to the fact they don’t mind since the show is finally gathering a lot of momentum, I found the pacing a little off-putting as we moved away from scenes I was enjoying faster than is typical for Game of Thrones.
On balance, this was still a strong season of Game of Thrones giving us some awesome moments from newer, compelling characters like Euron or Jim Boradbent’s Maester who mentored Sam or world-changing events such as the fall of the Wall or the White Walkers finally becoming a real threat. There were some great scenes and dialogue for actors to get into too such as Tyrion’s uncomfortableness with Daenerys’ penchant for burning enemies alive or Jamie (maybe) finally switching allegiance away from Cersei. The action and big set pieces were better than ever and it was so cool to see Dany’s dragons take full flight in battle and the Northern suicide mission beyond the Wall.
Most of the story beats were enjoyable this season despite many characters now felling pretty invincible until the final season – the battle against the White Walkers felt way too convenient as the writers essentially manoeuvred things around for the sake of the overarching plot. One side plot that didn’t work for me was the dynamic between Sansa and Arya. The direction the writers took both characters so shortly after reuniting (or was it actually a long time, who can tell) was disappointing and felt out of touch for both characters. This naturally led to the assumption that it wasn’t real and was a staged feud for Littlefinger. This is fine on paper but I never really felt the Stark siblings were about to stab one another in the back after being through so much making the twist a bit predictable although very satisfying when Littlefinger finally got his comeuppance. The development of Jon and Dany’s relationship has led to where most assumed it was heading as did Jon’s lineage but it will be interesting to see how it develops next season.
Overall, Game of Thrones Season 7 gave fans some very satisfying moments and some frustrating ones too. While the increased pace of the season led to a very high-energy season it also left some character interactions by the wayside and left some lingering questions over certain developments. The new additions this season such as Jim Broadbent were excellent and for the most part the story is holding its own as we rush headlong into the final season.
Those were my thoughts on Game of Thrones Season 7. What did you think of this season? Was the pacing too much for you?
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