Game of Thrones season 7 finale: The worst episode in the show's history
Ever since the first season, Game of Thrones finales have generally been a thing of beauty. From the birth of Dany's dragons, to last season's destruction of the Sept of Baelor, they never fail to impress. This season, with dragons finally coming to the fore, and White Walkers at the wall, the finale should have been the greatest one yet. Instead, it contrives to disappoint at every turn as the show limps clumsily across the finish line.
This disappointment isn't entirely surprising. The show has been called out in recent weeks for abandoning the clever politicking and merciless plot progression in favour of unimaginative fan service and bizarre timelines. However, with a run time of 79 minutes, the show's longest ever, one imagined that The Dragon and The Wolf would resurrect the show's flagging quality. It absolutely doesn't.
How, why, wtf?
Right from the start we see more careless furthering of the plot that has disappointed so many this season.
Somehow, the Unsullied, previously under siege at Casterly Rock, have magicked their way to King's Landing. There's no explanation as to how they got there. Brienne and Podrick have likewise made it to King's Landing on horseback, riding through snow no less, faster than Dany's merry bunch. Jon is wearing his usual furs in The Land of Always Summer, but doesn't break a sweat. What in the name of the seven is going on?
The meeting of all the key players, built up so well in the trailer, seems unplanned as well. Characters awkwardly jump out, almost as afterthoughts, as if to reassure viewers that showrunners Dan and Dave haven't forgotten the many loose ends they've created. The effect, though, only reinforces the fact that the show seems to have lost the nuance that made it so special.
Similarly, the alliance-that-may-or-may-not-be-an-alliance seemed like it was cobbled together by Rube Goldberg. The needlessly convoluted 'will they, wont they' nonsense did nothing but showcase Cersei's impeccable maternity habits, with logic sacrificed in favour of filler.
Meanwhile in Winterfell, Petyr Baelish's death, an increasingly pleasing thought with every passing season, finally became a reality. Given the incredibly annoying build-up with Sansa and Arya's season of needless bickering, this was something the show should have hit out of the park. However, the way it played out was rushed and ham-fisted.
For a show where every scene is usually important, and every dialogue a clue, Baelish's end was exceptionally simple. There was no great reveal, no flashback of a grand Stark conspiracy, a Bran revelation. Nothing. Instead we were just told to believe that everyone knew everything, with Baelish's death rammed down our throats in an instant.
His final actions, grovelling before Sansa, is also completely at odds with who he is as a character. We've seen this repeatedly throughout the current season, with characters acting in ways that contradict their essence.
It seems that now, after seasons of hooking fans with intrigue and guile, the show believes that anything it serves up should be gladly welcomed by fans without thought or question. The result is lazy plot development with a heady dose of fan service thrown in to paper over the rapidly widening plot holes.
John's not a bastard, but Sam seems like one
At long last, the saga of Jon's true parentage is finally at an end. However, once again this incredibly important revelation was conveyed without much thought. Bran, who has known about Jon's parentage since last season, finally decides to reveal the information to Sam. Incredibly though, for someone who should know everything, Bran needs clues from Sam to realise Jon isn't a bastard, but the legal son of Rhaegar and Lyanna.
Strangely, the information that Sam provides Bran, is information that he shouldn't have. In episode 5, when Gilly reveals the truth of about Rhaegar and Lyanna's marriage, she's shushed by an irate Sam. He doesn't realise what she is telling him, and the show offers no clue that he figures it out afterward. For him to suddenly become the source of this knowledge, completely undercutting Gilly, makes one wonder if the show creators even care at this point.
The final reveal, with Bran's vision of Rhaegar's marriage to Lyanna, is also intercut with Jon and Dany's inevitable hook-up. This addition of heavy overtones of incest only making a love scene already devoid of chemistry even more cringy.
An epic ending?
At this point, some 76 minutes into an episode that is unnecessarily long, we finally get the climactic season finale ending that fans of the show are accustomed to. The ice dragon makes its inevitable appearance, bringing down the wall and seemingly killing everyone on it, including Beric and Tormund.
However, once again, this was so predictable that it seemed like the plot of a far lesser show. For years now, fans have speculated as to the many different ways the undead invasion would happen. All of those theories are preferable to the one the show eventually went with. In fact, the show had seemingly teased many of those theories, but eventually decided that an ice dragon breathing lightning was the way to go.
We need GRRM back
As a fellow fan pointed out, this is what happens when TV adaptations move past their source material. The brilliance that George RR Martin crafted carefully in his books is clearly missing from season seven, and it's starting to suck as a result.
Gone are the merciless deaths, gone is the political intrigue, the complex solutions. What we're given instead is fare that we would expect from far simpler, less interesting shows.
Prior to the release of season 7, HBO announced that season 8 would only come in 2019. This was ostensibly so that the showrunners could do the final season justice. Evidently, HBO realised that this season had failed to live up to its predecessors. One hopes that Dan and Dave take the extra time to give us a send off that both fans and the franchise deserve.