“Game of Thrones” Season 7 recap
Patrick McKelvey | Wednesday, September 6, 2017
After just seven episodes, the dreaded “Game of Thrones” offseason has already returned. Fortunately, Season 7 was the most jam-packed in the show’s history, so we have plenty to talk about.
This season had the highest expectations yet, and for the most part, it delivered with countless unforgettable moments.
Cersei’s monologue to Ellaria in “The Queen’s Justice” (Season 7 episode 3) was horrifying, but I can’t pretend I wasn’t happy she finally got her revenge.
In the Loot Train Battle of “The Spoils of War” (Season 7 episode 4), the Dothraki finally took to the Westerosi battlefield, to great success. The battled showcased complexity, so it was difficult to decide who to root for. Each faction sported main characters, as Daenerys and Drogon confronted a Lannister army led by Jaime and Bronn. Having heroes on both sides heightened every second of the battle, forcing viewers to hold their breaths as they waited to see which of their favorites would survive.
“Beyond the Wall” (Season 7 episode 6) saw the Army of the Dead in full action for the first time since the fifth season, and it was undeniably terrifying. Their sheer numbers were enough to overwhelm Jon and our other heroes, reminding us of the dangers that threaten a divided Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys coming to the rescue with her three dragons was as incredible, just as Viserion’s death at the hands of the Night King was devastating.
Season 7 also gave us some of the show’s best performances. Emilia Clarke brought profound depth to the character of Daenerys unseen in previous seasons. Her on-screen chemistry with Ha
rington was so organic, it made the Jon-Dany romance wholly believable. Likewise, her reaction to Viserion’s death was gut-wrenching. Additionally, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gave a nuanced performance as Jaime. You could feel his character’s lifetime of disgust with Cersei boil over when he finally left her and headed north.
Though Season 7 did a lot well, it had a few striking faults. Some of its plot lines, for example, were difficult to believe. The Sansa-Arya conflict felt manufactured at every turn. I never doubted the two of them were working together to betray Littlefinger. The idea of seven men going north, fighting against the entire Army of the Dead, capturing a wight and bringing it south was perhaps the most ridiculous plot line in the show’s history. The fact that it worked was an even greater miracle.
Season 7 also failed to continue the logic that successfully guided the show for years. Early seasons demonstrated something that separated “Game of Thrones” from other similar dramas — a savage unwillingness to protect its heroes. When good people made bad decisions, they died. The untimely demise of Ned, Robb and Catelyn all proved this. In Season 7, Jaime should not have survived his charge on Drogon. Jon should not have escaped his solo fight with hundreds of wights. By placing its main characters in a safety bubble, the show made it difficult to suspend disbelief. In a world as magical as “Game of Thrones,” viewers needed all the suspension of disbelief they could get.
As the show transitions to its conclusion, large-scale battles and fast-paced action will move to the forefront. It’s important to remember, though, that CGI battles didn’t make “Game of Thrones” a cultural phenomenon. It wasn’t dragons, flaming swords or White Walkers, either — it was character and dialogue. The show took the time to develop storylines and give its characters remarkable depth so we could truly care about them. Unfortunately, Season 7 didn’t seem to have much time for those little human moments that made previous seasons of “Game of Thrones” so extraordinary.
Despite its faults, I genuinely enjoyed Season 7. As Tyrion once said, “A true history of the world is a history of great conversations in elegant rooms.” Hopefully, somewhere amid the greatest battle Westeros has ever seen — Season 8’s The War for the Dawn — we’ll see more of those great “Game of Thrones” conversations that drew us all so deeply into “The World of Ice and Fire.”