Game of Thrones is the adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s series of books A Song of Ice and Fire. The series is a medieval struggle between noble families for the Iron Throne, sets in the fictional lands of Westeros and Essos. First aired in 2011, the show’s seventh season is now underway.
“Heroes do stupid things and they die… They all try to outdo each other; who can do the stupidest, bravest thing…” It is fitting that this was the opening line of this week’s episode, entitled “Beyond the Wall”. The line is a blunt critique of the irrational machismo that features heavily in the show as a whole, but especially this week.
Most of the episode centres on Jon Snow and company wandering around in the snow and trying their best to get killed. After they manage to capture one of the non-dead, they are cornered by the whole army of White Walkers. Jon, Jorah, Tormund (leader of the Wildlings) and the Brotherhood Without Banners (followers of the Lord of Light) find a safe spot at the centre of a frozen lake. Meanwhile, Gendry manages to reach the Black Castle after being told by Jon to send an SOS crow to Daenerys – which ends up saving their lives. During this sequence, Dany’s opening line seems particularly prescient, particularly when Jon keeps fighting back the White Walkers unnecessarily, delaying Daenerys’ departure. This gives the Night King the advantage to kill one of Daenerys’ dragons – the ultimate victim of the ridiculous bravado of Jon Snow’s crew.
However, the prescience of Daenerys’ bittersweet opening line is ruined by the annoying and unrealistic pace of the episode. All the previously mentioned events happen in a time frame of two days. As I have noted in previous reviews, the need to create unpredictability is starting to damage the logic of the plot; things are happening too fast to be realistic. This time, the illogical series of events have reached a level that has not gone unnoticed; both The Guardian and The Independent have complained about it. The Game of Thrones writers have justified these choices, arguing that what is assumed to be unrealistic is more like a “plausible impossibility“. Call it what you will, it doesn’t work for me. As The Guardian observes, the most emotional moments – in particular the dragon’s death and his transformation into a White Walker – are not moving at all because events unfold in an unrealistic way. This leads to the viewer questioning the narrative rather than enjoying it.
This is also the case with the events in Winterfell. Arya suddenly goes completely nuts and attacks Sansa. Littlefinger shows Arya the letter that Sansa was forced to write in Season One by the Lannisters. In this letter, Sansa implored her brother Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey. Arya refuses to listen to Sansa’s side of the argument, calling her a traitor and threatens to blackmail her if she doesn’t comply. Even though the sisters have always been opposites, Arya’s behavior is too irrational and erratic to be merely explained by differences in personality.
Be that as it may, the White Walker has been collected, and as the trailer for the next episode shows, the meeting between Westeros leaders will finally happen. Right now, the quality of the show is going downhill. Will the finale be able to save this season or definitively sink it? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Game of Thrones Season 7 airs on Sky Atlantic every Monday at 2am and 9pm in the UK. Image source: Draysbay.com