This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
Here we are: Like a tall, pale boy hooked up to a weirwood tree, we’ve come crashing through time to reach Game of Thrones Season 7. This is the the final instalment of ‘Again of Thrones’ before the grand finale kicks off on Sunday.
Season 7 is a bit of an odd beast for me; it’s a season that in some ways feels like it has returned to its character-driven roots but with someone kneeling on the fast forward button on the remote. There are some really nicely worked moments and touches, but it just flies by. As I’ve been compiling these articles, this is the season that has really struck me as having a lot of content in there. This is also the season where the characters finally unlocked fast-travel and are now able to warp between locations at will. It’s something that’s really helped to drive the plot forward, I suppose.
The previous seasons of Game of Thrones have basically been an excuse to stick the boot into the Stark family, Game of Thrones Season 7 feels like where everything changes. The three surviving Stark children are finally reunited, and after some engineered falling-out they seem to be reforming the wolf pack.
Arya finally puts her gap year at assassin school to good use within the opening moments of the season as she exacts revenge for House Stark on the loathsome Freys (Bentos). This particular scene definitely draws inspiration from the moment in the books where Lord Manderly, who is such a central figure in the original novels, serves up similarly gruesome revenge. It’s a nice moment in that it was seeded in earlier seasons when Bran talks about the ‘Rat Cook’ and pays off brilliantly, with David Bradley playing Walder Frey being played by Arya Stark. It’s difficult to explain but it is spot on.
There are some early tensions at Winterfell as Littlefinger seems to be trying to engineer friction between the Starks (and their cousin/brother). Perhaps the worst thing about this is that despite all of Arya’s training where she is meant to be able to see the truth in everything and Sansa’s experience of learning the ‘game of thrones’ they’re both easily played by Littlefinger. The pay off is still fantastic; the moment when Littlefinger realizes that the game is up is worth it, even if we do lose one of the most interesting characters the series had to offer. I suppose that in all his calculations Baelish never really factored in an omnipresent boy with a 1960s haircut.
While all of the fun is going on at Winterfell Jon is away, thanks to the aforementioned fast-travel, and we get the meeting that people have wanted for a long time – Daenerys and Jon finally come face-to-face (in more than one sense of the word by the end of the season). Given Kit Harrington’s acting ability is questionable at times, he actually does a very good job in the scenes with Daenerys. There’s growing respect between the two of them, which I found to be fairly genuine even on repeated viewings.
Daenerys has taken to Westeros like a duck to water; she’s not been there long before she’s out fighting and burning things. The ‘loot-train battle’ as it (terribly) called in Episode 4 finally gives us a chance to see just what her forces can do to a conventional army and it is devastating. A single dragon is able to decimate the Lannister forces and make short work of their supplies. Not even a well-placed wind lance, borrowed from The Hobbit, from Bronn can stop Drogon, and when you add the Dothraki and Unsullied into the mix things don’t look great for the lords of Westeros.
Perhaps the strangest part of Game of Thrones Season 2 is Tyrion’s plan to prove to Cersei that the threat of the white walkers is real. To say it’s a stupid plan might be a little unfair to stupid plans; this is outright ridiculous. Basically, the brain trust decides that the best way to prove all of this is to send seven key characters north of the wall to kidnap a wight. It’s not the best plan. It’s not like you could just fly in there on one of the three dragons and scoop one up, is it?
The plan does have some benefits though. It gets to throw together a Magnificent Seven of characters in the shape of Jorah, Jon, Gendry (he’s back!), The Hound, Thoros, Beric, and Tormund. Oh and there’s a helping of red shirts to act as cannon fodder. The core cast of characters play off each other brilliantly, and suddenly without realizing it, we’ve got the action-fantasy franchise I never knew I needed. It’s just a shame that the stupid plan manages to give the Night King a zombie dragon of his own. There’s also the issue of some damage to the wall that I don’t think even the Iron Bank can repair.
This season also finally reveals the least surprising secret in all of Westeros, and something book readers have suspected for over a decade. Jon is not Ned’s son; instead, he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and to top it all off, he’s not a bastard: he’s a genuine Targaryen with an arguably better claim to the Iron Throne.
Most unforgivable cameo: This could also be the ‘why didn’t they get killed off’ award. When Arya is wandering the countryside she comes across a group of Lannister soldiers who show her that sometimes people are just fighting because they have to and not everyone is evil. The problem? One of them is Ed f*****g Sheeran. I’ve never wanted a character to be killed off so badly.
Best return: Gendry’s back! It turns out that he’s just been in King’s Landing getting absolutely ripped and ensuring his muscles are well oiled at all times.
Most obvious wink to the fans: When Davos locates Gendry he says ‘thought you might still be rowing’. Perfect.
The biggest ‘f**k you’ moment: I was absolutely devastated to see Lady Olenna leave the series but she died as she lived, giving a massive f**k you to absolutely everyone. Her final scene, with Jaime, is magnificent as she manages to jab one final thorn in with her confession about her role in Joffrey’s death (‘tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me’). She also manages to plant some doubts in Jaime’s mind that I think eventually cause him to leave King’s Landing, which leads to…
Biggest ‘hurrah’ moment: Jaime finally seems to have had enough of Cersei, as she first goes back on her promise to help Jon defend the world from the white walkers and then she threatens to have him killed. It seems like he’s finally free of her grasp and hopefully on his way into Brienne’s arms and a life of heroism.
The ‘well that’ll be awkward in the morning’ award: It’s weird, most of the series everyone is rightly repulsed by the idea of incest, but despite having an inkling Jon and Daenerys are related everyone seemed super-pumped for them to get down to… well, super pumping I guess. The aunt and nephew pairing get to indulge in some boat sex, much to the displeasure of Tyrion, after their meeting in King’s Landing, perhaps the incest vibe from Cersei and Jaime was maybe too intoxicating?