TV: Game of Thrones S7 – (2.5/4)

Fantasy is hard. With so many elements separated from our world we are still asked to relate and draw humanity. Through the years genre’s like Fantasy and Science Fiction have told us more about our humanity than many other real-life dramas.

Occasionally we get a Lord of the Rings or a Game of Thrones. They withhold elements of their mysterious world and let the audience earn more and more as they become intrigued.

Game of Thrones was so great early on, not because it was unpredictable or rode on a big scale, but because it was human.

Themes of war, terror, are minimized in this season to new lows. The dramatic weight becomes lighter and lighter. The stakes lower.

There are a few individual items I want to discuss. Click “more” to keep reading, but beware: This post is long and full of spoilers:

Time

The most common complaint of this season was time, more specifically it was travel.

It was entirely too obvious the restrictions the showrunners were given. At this point logic in travel is entirely out the door. Anyone can be anywhere at any moment.

This became a necessary logical restriction. We knew which characters were safe from one another and which ones weren’t. Now, as I mentioned, anyone can appear anywhere at anytime.

Why is this bad? Well it widens the view of mystery. Which is my next topic:

Mystery

I’ve argued before that the “mystery” elements are not only what makes Game of Thrones work, it is also what makes fantasy work.

In the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises we always took a breath or two to be enamored by their world. These worlds don’t have the boundaries ours has. It becomes a filmmakers job to keep the audience curious.

Remember how you felt when you first saw the Night King? Or how about what you felt when you saw those 3 baby dragons or a man change his face?

Suspension of Disbelief

This kind of incorporates my two first topics. Game of Thrones is constantly asking us, as an audience, to suspend our disbelief.

I’m not talking about dragons, creatures etc.

I’m going back to time. “How did they get their so quick?” or logic “How can Gendry run all the way back to the wall?”

Suspension of disbelief is when you say “Yeah, I don’t mind that.” or “I’ll give them a break on that one.”

The only problem is when you find yourself saying those two statements often.

“Why didn’t the white walkers test the ice?” “Why didn’t they initially ride out on horses?” “How did Benjen know Jon was there?” “Why is it when someone falls into water they live? (Theon, Jamie, Jon)”

What makes this even more difficult is when it’s tied to character motivations. My next topic:

Character Motivations

“If Gendry was so anxious to fight the big fight, why was he still there?” “Did Davos really care enough to seek him out?” “If Tyrion indirectly caused the death of Davos’ son, why doesn’t Davos hate his guts? Also why did this only come up once they arrived in King’s Landing and not on their long boat trip?”

There were a lot of moments like this, that paragraph above only touches on one 15 minute span.

At first I thought my example here would be Arya. However, the conflict she had with Sansa was so out of a character that it lead me to believe immediately that she was trying to out-Little-Finger Little Finger.

Character Confrontations

My example above of Davos and Tyrion is an example of how awful some of these moments were this season.

There are so many strong minor conflicts that it feels like more alarms would be raised by one of the two parties.

The gang they get together past the wall had so many internal conflicts that the writers chose to address them in poorly written dialogue exchanges that were intermittent throughout the episode.

It’s just sloppy.

There are no main characters in Thrones, but there are so many characters right now with strong character arcs. A few arcs were rushed (i.e. Jorah getting cured), other arcs weren’t explored enough.

Conclusion

Big battle sequences aren’t what makes Game of Thrones great. The scene where Tyrion confronts Cersei – that’s what makes Game of Thrones great.

A huge cast of characters that have the sharpest tension among one another have to band together to stop a seemingly unstoppable force.

It’s never been about the action, it has always been about the tension. The final episode was a strong redemption that restored my faith for the upcoming final season.

The Night King on the back of a blue eyes white dragon burning down a giant frozen wall should’ve looked cartooney, but it carried all the weight it needed to. It complimented the failed pact between Cersei and Jon/Dany.

Our minds: “Oh shit, they’re breaking through and our people don’t have their shit together!”

This is how drama and tension can really build up a big action sequence. It happened with “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” and the red wedding.

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