REVIEW: Game of Thrones – Season Seven (2017)

The following is a review of the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Expect full spoilers for the show in this review.

At the end of the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the show’s two most celebrated heroes moved into position to take on the final sets of challenges for them in this epic series. Jon Snow became the King in the North, and we all learned his true identity. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, was finally on her way to Westeros with her mighty dragons and her vast armies.

However, the antagonists seemed stronger than ever before. Cersei Lannister had blown up the Red Keep and become the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, while the Night King and his undead army were still getting closer to the Wall unbeknownst to most of Westeros.

The seventh season focuses on the much anticipated arrival of Daenerys (played by Emilia Clarke), her armies, and her three great dragons. Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington), the new King in the North, is only concerned with what is on its way on the other side of the Wall, while the help he needs may force him to ‘bend the knee’ to one of the two dangerous queens, neither of which the North trusts.

Jaime Lannister (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has never been more unsure of his sister, Queen Cersei Lannister (played by Lena Headey), and her actions as her relationship with Euron Greyjoy (played by Pilou Asbæk) is highlighting how little he means to her these days. Meanwhile, two important female leaders are being challenged by advisers that may not always see eye to eye with the women they’ve chosen to work for.

I adored the sixth season of Game of Thrones. It wasn’t flawless but it was such an exciting season of television that I barely had any major issues with it. While I ultimately enjoyed the seventh season of the show, I was also supremely disappointed with some of the leaps in logic that the show was asking us to take this season.

I’ve always thought that the complaint that everything done since season six is basically fan fiction is ridiculous. But this seventh season was the first time where I actually started to be a little bit bothered by some of the fan service at play in the plot.

Remember how popular those video reactions to the Red Wedding were? Yeah, we aren’t really getting those types of reactions anymore. One of the reasons why is that this seventh season didn’t really punish its main characters all that much. There weren’t very many character consequences this season and almost every character had such significant plot armor that unbelievable twists and turns became almost frustrating.

Beyond the Wall, the epic sixth episode of the seventh season, was the breaking point for many fans of the show. On the surface, it is a stunning episode with some of the greatest events that have ever taken place on the show. But the episode defies logic.

Characters and ravens fast travel from location to location, some argued that characters were acting out of character, and one character that has never been paid enough attention to on the show was wasted to save a fan favorite character. I really enjoyed the episode, but it is tough not to be annoyed with these problems.

Unlike most seasons of Game of Thrones, the seventh season peaked much earlier than in the penultimate episode of the season. The Spoils of War, the fourth episode of the seventh season, featured what is now known as the ‘Loot Train Attack,’ which wowed audiences with the awesome power of just one of Daenerys’ dragons. The episode, which was directed by Matt Shakman, put two beloved characters in danger while a power hungry would-be-queen attacked the Queen’s forces head on.

It contained some of the greatest moments of the season, and the episode may be one of my personal favorite episodes in the entire series. My other great surprise was how much better Euron Greyjoy worked this season. Pilou Asbæk is a good Danish actor, but his character’s storyline last season was very disappointing. This season it always looked like Pilou had so much fun. Euron had fan-favorite potential, and Pilou was one of the highlights of the season for me.

The seventh season of Game of Thrones was hurt significantly by its length. With only seven episodes they did admittedly have the opportunity to pepper in some amazing scenes that no other television show could possibly do. And they did. Game of Thrones is amazing like that. It is a blockbuster film on television.

Game of Thrones is at its best when the people behind the show manage to balance its two strengths: awesome expensive spectacle and great character-driven scenes. But, sadly, the season ran out of time. Characters took short cuts, and so did the writers. This season, more than any other, defied logic and that is much worse than forced fan-service. Sadly, most of the seasons greatest character-driven scenes were saved for the season finale.


B+

– Jeffrey Rex

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