Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers from Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
So, that was it?
Game of Thrones Season 7 promised to be the most exciting, most electrifying season of a series that built its reputation on shocking its fans and breaking their hearts. The fantasy mastered the art out-of-left-field plot twists and deaths that landed with such emotion because every character was well-formed. No matter how unexpected, almost every twist made sense with the rules of the fantasy world it worked so hard to build.
In the Season 7 finale on Sunday night, nearly all of that was lost.
The Game of Thrones of now – one in which almost everyone gets along, where major characters are seldom in actual danger of death, where a zombie dragon breathing cold fire can take down an ice wall because the plot demands it – is a poor facsimile of seasons past. The finale episode, coupled with last week’s abandonment of logic, represent a turning point for the series. The spectacle rules above all else. There are dragons that breath fire, both cold and hot, but no believable stakes for its major characters. In a series where the characters are supposedly fighting for the survival of life itself .
The episode was all over the place with pacing and characterization, in one scene it wasted precious time on useless Theon, in another it forced its heroes into an incestuous romance. In what was meant to be a dramatic opener, it put its biggest characters all in one place for what appears to be a major development that ends up changing very little, but allows for fan-service moments between old friends and foes.
While “The Dragon and the Wolf” had many sins, perhaps its worst was being safe and predictable, letting loose “twists” that were anticipated or even wished for by fans. Littlefinger, long hated, dies in the most satisfying way. Dany and Jon act on their attraction. The Wall comes down. It all verged on becoming dull.
Going into an eighth season, it’s worth wondering how we are supposed to care about the survival of humanity on this continent when the series can’t make us care about characters we used to love, or love to hate?
Game of Thrones has been many things, but it’s never been boring. If Season 8 washes out its characters, its rules and its emotional depth in favor of an icy hot battle between good and evil, it might just turn into that.
With only six episodes left, we doubt it will get much better. But maybe Game of Thrones can surprise us, one last time.