Trolling Game of Thrones Season 7

Season 7 of Game of Thrones was largely a mixed bag. Grand spectacle and huge reveals made for some awesome moments and even some series highlights. But the good moments were too often offset by strange writing decisions, perplexing character choices, and a sense that the overall quality of the show took a steep nosedive after Season 6. Let’s look at the five biggest problems with the season as a sort of postmortem. And before we begin, I want to emphasize again that there was much I really did love about this season, and I wish very badly that it hadn’t been a measly seven episodes long.

1. Everything felt rushed and the sacrifice of realism ended up hurting the fantasy, too.

If you view Season 7 of Game of Thrones from a distance, it all kind of works. If you take a closer look, however, everything starts to burst at the seems. The details never quite add up, and this is largely because seven episodes was simply never going to be enough time to tell the story that this show deserves. So we not only have the problem with fast travel/teleportation, we have a show that trades careful plotting for a series of loosely tied-together plot points. The showrunners seemed absolutely determined to have lots of characters either reunite or meet back up for the first time, but they achieved this with next to no subtlety. In the final two episodes of the season we have two “Dream Teams” assemble, but as cool as it is to see these characters together, it still feels forced.Events that could have easily (and enjoyably) taken up more than one episode were wrapped up in half. Other stories (see point #4 below) were dragged out for no good reason. The entire season felt incredibly uneven, swinging between excellent spectacle and some truly great moments to head-scratching nonsense. I do believe the show would have benefited from two or three more episodes if only to help flesh everything out and tie up loose ends, but that would only help if the writing were to improve across the board.The biggest problem with a rushed season, however, is that we’re left with far too many questions that simply don’t have satisfactory answers:

  • Why has Tyrion become so bad at devising plans and strategy?
  • Why did Rhaegar and Lyanna name their son Aegon when Rhaegar already had a son named Aegon?
  • Why has Littlefinger become so dense?
  • How did Jaime and Bronn swim so far in armor, and Jaime in plate with a golden hand?
  • How on earth did Euron build all those ships?
  • What happened to the Dornish army and why didn’t Dany try to muster that army after the Sand Snakes were killed?
  • Why didn’t Daenerys go after the White Walkers with her dragons instead of just focusing on the zombies?

But the biggest question by far is….

2. Where is Ghost?

OK, maybe that’s not the biggest question, but Ghost is important and he didn’t even get one scene in Season 7. I guess all the CGI budget went to the dragons and to the nearly pointless reunion between Arya and Nymeria. That could have been a cool moment, but we never see Nymeria again so it feels more like fan service than an important part of the story. Ghost’s absence is, in a sense, emblematic of the core of the show’s current problems. Maybe the direwolf isn’t as important in the big scheme as dragons, but I think Ghost is essential in the way Jon Snow is essential. He may not be the Mother of Dragons, but Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne and likely also “the Prince that was promised.” But he’s much more unassuming and humble than Daenerys. He’s a Targaryen tempered by the nobility and humility of Eddard Stark. Ghost is the last remaining direwolf not counting his wild sister. He may not be as big or as dangerous but he’s a part of who Jon is, and what the North is. Some readers have suggested that Ghost died when Jon was murdered, but that isn’t the case. Sansa even mentions that the direwolf is at Winterfell. But the show seems content to never show him, as though the direwolves no longer matter. But they do. Indeed, this story began with Jon finding the direwolf pups alongside their dead mother, killed by a stag (foreshadowing the coming rift between the Baratheons and Starks.) Even just one episode with Ghost would have been enough, just a nod to his importance to the story and to fans. Alas, that never came.

3. Martin’s prose was sorely missing.Many of the show’s best scenes and best lines of dialogue were taken directly from George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire books. This season, more than any other, we feel the absence of his prose. Of course, that also means part of the blame lies with Martin. HBO and the showrunners only signed up to adapt the books, not to create their own story entirely. Still, earlier seasons had great moments that weren’t in the books that illustrated just how talented the show’s writers were. The scene between Robert and Cersei, or the scenes between Varys and Littlefinger, were all wonderful, and none of them were in the books. This is also linked to #1 and the sense that everything is rushed this season. I’ll use the battle of the supply train to illustrate my point. Let’s compare it to Season 2’s Battle of the Blackwater. In that battle, Stannis’s fleet was closing in on King’s Landing, and his armies vastly outnumbered those of the Lannisters. Tywin was thought to be battling against Robb Stark to the north, and the defense of the city fell in Tyrion’s lap. Here are just some of the things that transpired during that battle:

  • Cersei tormenting Sansa as the queen regent grew increasingly drunk in a room filled with noble ladies and Ilyn Payne, Ned’s executioner.
  • The Hound abandoning the city and cursing the king, then offering to take Sansa with him and her foolishly refusing.
  • Tyrion saving the day with wildfire, and a sea lit up in green flame as Stannis’s fleet burned.
  • Tyrion leading the charge through the Mud Gate and only barely escaping murder at the hands of one of the King’s Guard, rescued just in the nick of time by young Podrick Payne.
  • A second betrayal of sorts when the Tyrell army shows up to route Stannis alongside Tywin’s forces.
  • Cersei very nearly poisoning her children rather than have them fall into Stannis’s hands.

What did we get in the supply train battle? A big dragon and some fire. Dothraki killing Lannisters. Jaime and Bronn narrowly escaping death. No incredible conversations, no big character moments or revelations, no intrigue.

4. The Winterfell storyline still doesn’t make sense.

So it turns out that Arya, Bran and Sansa were tricking Littlefinger all along and that’s why Arya was acting so stupid and Sansa was acting like she was going to turn on her and why Bran was *apparently* not telling them any important details. That’s all well and good and I’m glad it was Baelish who got the knife and not one of the Starks. At the same time, I have to say something: None of it makes any sense. I’ve been told that the reason they had to go through all this pantomime was so that they could reveal Littlefinger to the Lords of the North and the Vale and execute him without upsetting the balance. But what did their plot actually achieve? They already knew what he was guilty of. During his final scene they didn’t offer up anything as concrete evidence of his sins. All they did was accuse him. They didn’t reveal his scheming any more than if they’d just accused him of all of this from the get go. Why not just drag him before all the assembled Lords weeks ago and make those charges? What did pretend arguing actually do to change the outcome? Nothing. The answer is nothing. So why even go to all the trouble? Well, the answer, sadly, is quite simple: To fool you and I, dear readers. It wasn’t so much a scheme to set up Littlefinger, since they could have just as easily done that without the melodrama. No, this was designed entirely to fool us. I don’t much care for this kind of manipulative plotting. It’s basically what The Walking Dead did with Glenn’s character in Season 6 of that show. I hated that then (and went into great detail as to why) and I hate it here even more simply because Game of Thrones has traditionally been a much better written show. It’s tugged at our heartstrings, it’s surprised and horrified us, but it’s never been so blatantly manipulative. (I discuss why this storyline was so bad here, and discuss how it was probably a bait-and-switch here.) The heavy-handed, ham-fisted way they went about this storyline is a new low for the show. Probably even worse than #5 on this list. Not only did Littlefinger deserve a better death, Sansa and Arya both deserved better stories. Arya’s character has been almost as wasted as Tyrion’s lately.

5. The plan to catch a wight was still tremendously stupid.So it turns out that Arya, Bran and Sansa were tricking Littlefinger all along and that’s why Arya was acting so stupid and Sansa was acting like she was going to turn on her and why Bran was *apparently* not telling them any important details. That’s all well and good and I’m glad it was Baelish who got the knife and not one of the Starks. At the same time, I have to say something: None of it makes any sense. I’ve been told that the reason they had to go through all this pantomime was so that they could reveal Littlefinger to the Lords of the North and the Vale and execute him without upsetting the balance. But what did their plot actually achieve? They already knew what he was guilty of. During his final scene they didn’t offer up anything as concrete evidence of his sins. All they did was accuse him. They didn’t reveal his scheming any more than if they’d just accused him of all of this from the get go. Why not just drag him before all the assembled Lords weeks ago and make those charges? What did pretend arguing actually do to change the outcome? Nothing. The answer is nothing. So why even go to all the trouble? Well, the answer, sadly, is quite simple: To fool you and I, dear readers. It wasn’t so much a scheme to set up Littlefinger, since they could have just as easily done that without the melodrama. No, this was designed entirely to fool us. I don’t much care for this kind of manipulative plotting. It’s basically what The Walking Dead did with Glenn’s character in Season 6 of that show. I hated that then (and went into great detail as to why) and I hate it here even more simply because Game of Thrones has traditionally been a much better written show. It’s tugged at our heartstrings, it’s surprised and horrified us, but it’s never been so blatantly manipulative. (I discuss why this storyline was so bad here, and discuss how it was probably a bait-and-switch here.) The heavy-handed, ham-fisted way they went about this storyline is a new low for the show. Probably even worse than #5 on this list. Not only did Littlefinger deserve a better death, Sansa and Arya both deserved better stories. Arya’s character has been almost as wasted as Tyrion’s lately.5. The plan to catch a wight was still tremendously stupid.

I’ve harped on this almost as much as #4, but it remains an incredibly important point nonetheless. So much of what follows hinged upon Tyrion’s plan to catch a wight and bring it back to show Cersei. Here is what happened because of that silly, terrible plan:

  • Cersei only pretended to agree to a truce because it’s Cersei.
  • Thoros of Myr died.
  • Dany lost a dragon which was then turned into a White Dragon and used to topple the Wall, letting in the army of darkness.
  • Everyone wasted tons of time traveling back and forth, hither and thither and yon. And Winter is HERE!But just because bad things happen doesn’t make a plan bad. What makes it bad is that it had no discernible positive outcome. What was Team Dany hoping to achieve through an armistice with the Lannisters? There was much talk of Cersei “taking back lands” that Daenerys had taken, but what lands were those exactly? They already admitted they couldn’t hold Casterly Rock. Do they mean Dragonstone? That was empty when the Mother of Dragons arrived. Cersei doesn’t care about it. So what happens if there’s a truce? Well, Cersei still has time to restore her diminished might and Daenerys still has the ability to come back and pummel her later. Basically the same exact thing happens. Nobody even expected Cersei to lend her troops to the cause. So the best case scenario was a truce that allowed Cersei to do almost everything she would have done if they were still at war. What she needed more than anything was time and she gets that either way. Also, assessing risks is kind of a big part of any good plan, and nobody does that at any point in the show. Sending a dozen warriors to go capture a wight beyond the Wall when everyone knows the wights are traveling in a huge army led by powerful magical White Walkers is insanely risky. So is bringing dragons north. But everyone just goes along with it regardless. So all of these bad consequences, from losing a dragon to the Wall itself toppling all stem from a stupid plan that made no sense. It would have been much better to not have such a convoluted plan serve as the most crucial moment of the entire season. For instance, and I’m just spitballing here, Jon could have convinced Dany to go north with her dragons to simply scout out the army of the dead. They could have flown up there and Dany, impulsive as she is, could have decided to swoop in for the attack at which point the Night King kills Viserion. This would make far more sense. And we really didn’t even need the meeting with Cersei. Tyrion could have simply gone to meet with her on his own to try to convince her. She could have still lied to him and agreed to help…LET THE TROLLING BEGIN!

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