Season. Seven. Am I right, folks? We got a hell of a lot of epic awesome-sauce packed into fewer episodes than we are used to. As to be expected, I enjoyed every minute of it. However, I have made the recent mistake of checking Tumblr, Reddit, and other such social media sites for similar reactions from my fellow GoT enthusiasts. (Does the fandom have an official name, by the way? I really should look into that.) While most simply had an immature fixation on the idea of “Boat Sex” memes throughout the season, a few others thought my favorite parts of this season are its weaknesses.
Does it really make me more of a fangirl than a critic that, after stewing in weeks worth of complaints from these people, I want to defend Game of Thrones like I’m its knight in shining armor? Not that most fans or even most critics are saying that the latest season was bad. But it seems like the same people who would complain about a plot arc dragging on too long or “too much talking” are now complaining about things moving too fast in this season. (Don’t get me started on the people who complain certain events aren’t “realistic enough.” Remember how GOT is a fantasy, people.) It really does seem like there is no pleasing people when it comes to writing or adapting fiction.
So in this season’s wrap up, I’m not only going to list my favorite parts, but defend why they are awesome:
*SPOILERS ARE COMING*
Reunions and Meetings Galore!
I’ll get what is quite possibly the most evident “fan service” element out of the way. In this season, way more than any other season, characters that have never had a plot anywhere near each other are suddenly meeting and interacting. Samwell met (and awesomely cured) Jorah Mormont. The Hound met Tormund (And I could have watched a spinoff series entirely about those two.) Jon met pretty much everyone he hasn’t previously met yet. What’s left of the Starks are finally back at Winterfell. I will admit, seeing this many awesome characters in the same scene seems like the most delicious form of fan service that HBO could feed us. But keep in mind that everyone living (and not a freakin’ wraith) needs unite together at this point. All of humanity, whether previously good or bad guy has to unite under the cause of defeating The Night King and his army. Jon Snow spells it out numerous times to anyone who will listen. If they don’t serve to unite for this cause, what use are any characters left living? Case in point: Littlefinger out-lived his usefulness to the plot. Since he probably will not be particularly helpful in fighting the army of the undead at this point, he got killed off. I’m actually surprised Cersei is alive at this point, considering her selfish self still refuses at this point to care about anyone but herself. I have a feeling she still has some importance yet to the plot.
Ok, I’m slightly bias here. The Jon/Daenerys ship is something I’ve had in my head since season one, (even when I had the suspicion that Jon was secretly Rheagar’s son.) I understand why some people are against it given the fact that she is his aunt (not that they know it yet.) Yes, in real life, I absolutely agree incest is gross. But Westeros is not this world. It is a known fact that the Targaryens married within the family, preferably as close as brother and sister. Daenerys herself is a product of a brother and sister marriage. Had Robert’s Rebellion didn’t happen, she would have still married within her family. Granted, even within this world, incest pairings did not always produce the most mentally sound children, with Mad King Aerys and Joffery being prime examples of this. But it is said, the other half of the time, the children of such pairings go on to be great kings. Also, for those who simply didn’t like Jon and Daenerys as a couple because they thought it was “fan service”, I would like to remind you of the fact that according to G.R.R. Martin himself, those two hooking up is the key to the plot of the entire series. I’m sorry if you don’t like the pairing, but this is not just something that the show runners came up with for cheap subplot. This was fated to happen. (And they look really pretty together!)
When someone is making fun of a classic fantasy series like Lord of the Rings, what is the first thing they go for? “All they do throughout the whole book is walk! I just want some action!” I will say now what I always tell them. The purpose of showing characters on the long journey to their goal is because the journey itself is just as important as the destination. It gives the chance for youths to become true heroes, anti-heroes to discover the noble part of themselves, and villains to reveal their true hand. Most of Game of Thrones itself has been a journey whether literally or metaphorically speaking. In a story in which the lines between good and bad are especially blurred, the character development opportunity for this “journey” was especially important. Daenerys had to practice being a queen for a while in Essos. Arya had to constantly run into hardships on her journey back to Winterfell (how else would she be such a badass?) But now the “journey” part of the plot is over. The characters that are left alive are the people we need them to be to reach the end of the story. So at this point, showing the longer, more tedious parts of their travels is no longer necessary. That is not to say that the travel does not happen. We just don’t experience as an audience because we don’t need to. If the show has any flaw, it is it doesn’t spell out each time a seemingly “fast” journey happens, that the appropriate amount of time has taken place. Because it looks instantaneous, many viewers assume it is instantaneous. We don’t know how long Jon and crew traveled past the wall. Who is to say that a fast sprinter couldn’t have made it back to the wall in a short amount of time? Also, its safe to assume that Dragons can fly extremely fast across a continent.
Wraith Dragon…aka RIP Viseron!
This was actually a deep personal blow for me. I knew that any humans could die in this story. I accepted it as painful as it was. But I thought the Dragons would always be immune. Why? Because I loved them. They are the symbol of all that is magic and impossible in an otherwise dark and cold fantasy universe. I always envisioned the end battle would be Daenerys riding in with her three dragons to fight the night king. How could the sigil house Targaryen be a three headed dragon if she only has two now? The real salt in the wound is that now the Night King his very own pet zombie dragon. The only way that I can comfort myself on this is that this helps raise the stakes for what will be an insane battle at the end. Even with his vast army, the duel between the Night King and the forces of good will be much more interesting, (and scary!) Until the story ends, always assume that even the worse things that happen are to make a better, more engaging narrative. No matter how much it hurt to see one of those precious dragons die.
Revenge of the Stark Siblings!
I am actually disappointed in everyone who believed for a second that Arya actually fell for Littlefinger’s bullshit and really wanted to kill Sansa. People really thought the show runners would derail her character to that extent? This was really the time for the Starks to shine and prove what they learned on their journey. It was highly realistic that between Sansa’s sharp political savvy, Arya’s killer instincts and street smarts, and Bran’s Three Eyed Raven abilities they could put a stop to the likes of Littlefinger. He was a final test to see if they had developed their abilities and learned to truly value their family over other petty bullshit. They passed the test. It was beautiful and heartwarming.
While it is true that this season moved at the speed of light and was dizzying for even the most hardened GoT viewers to keep up with the pace, it was overall a satisfying season with an almost legendary feel. The final player pieces are finally in place and we see the end in sight. While it in itself provided some amazing payoff, season seven is the build-up for an epic final season to end all final seasons.