Game of Thrones ends a rushed season with a pretty decent finale

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It’s the end of the season, and as such, I like to think about the characters in totality over the course of the season. Were they well served or screwed over? Did they grow or stagnate? Did they die or live?

Let’s start with the deaths. Olenna Tyrell died with a sharp comment that echoed to the end of the season, coloring the interactions between the Lannister siblings. That’s sharply done. The Sand Snakes died as they lived: Sadly and mostly pointlessly. Samwell Tarly’s father and brother died to make a point about Daenerys, that she was capable of incaution, like we needed to be sure of that. Thoros of Myr died by freezing to death when he was trying to save humanity. A dragon died so that the plot could move on.

And then there’s Petyr Baelish.

I found the Winterfell scenes wildly inconsistent this season, and although the ending had a very nice scene, most prior to that struggled with characterization. Why did Jon never write Sansa about anything until the very last episode? Why did Arya fall for the obvious ploy? Why did the “face” look so stupid?

Now, it’s clear from context that we don’t see a scene or two; the one where Sansa realizes from that speech from Littlefinger about imaging the worst motives (a brilliant moment when she turned it back on him) to see that Arya and her conflict was clearly manipulated by a man who wanted Arya dead because she was a threat to Sansa’s reliance on him.

Yeah, I get it. But I didn’t think it was executed that well, acting aside, which was uniformly excellent (those folk decrying Sophie Turner’s capabilities ought to be ashamed). Littlefinger really has had a very weird arc in the show; he started a master manipulator, but the very instant he sold Sansa to Ramsay Bolton, his character made absolutely no sense. And this is also what I thought at the time. His character has never recovered, and the show has never managed to recover it.

Sorry to see you go, seasons 1-4 Littlefinger, and not sorry to see you go, seasons 5-7 Littlefinger.

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But like I said, that final moment between the two sisters was beautiful, both visually and in writing, echoing the themes about the past and the parallels that keep repeating. Littlefinger attempted to repeat history by playing sisters against each other and died. Sansa and Arya parrot their father, the one time both have ever really said something as one.

I wanted real growth from the Stark girls this season, but we only got a little. It’s more like the conflicts were too manufactured and contrived to feel real, even if the good moments were indeed very good. That connection to family as an identity was also everywhere in the episode.

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First, a word on Bronn. He is great. That is all.

Back to family, everything with Theon’s storyline is meh, as predicted, with the one exception of the scene with Jon Snow. That felt real and meaningful, with Jon Snow only willing to grant the forgiveness he can grant, and nothing more. But when he said Theon was a Stark and Greyjoy, yes, it was everything Theon ever wanted to hear, but it was a clear and obvious message about Jon himself. Jon Sand, Aegon Targaryen, King in the North, whatever you call him, Jon isn’t just one thing.

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Now, I did feel that the Sam/Bran scene, while containing some good pieces, had some weird problems too. Bran’s powers are ill defined and inconsistent, but that’s more on the way they have Bran communicate. Sam’s reveal that he knew about Rhaegar Targaryen “annulling” his marriage (which is such a contrivance to generate conflict next season, it’s a bit frustrating; many of the Targaryen kings had multiple wives) was another “Scene Missing.” It’s only right that Jon’s biggest fan finds out the truth first, but I am still unsure about that final sex scene.

The narration of Bran over that scene was odd and jarring, but perhaps it was meant to be. To remind us that Jon and Dany, despite their intense attraction to each other, are technically related and rivals for the same Targaryen throne. Not that Jon Snow would likely care. And I did wonder about Tyrion hanging around outside, his face sad; jealousy or worry? I guess that’s for next season to figure out.

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I liked Jon this season, he’s an interesting character, one the show has a very good handle on. Many others aren’t as consistent, but ol’ Snow’s heroic nature and self-sacrificial nonsense felt sincere. An improvement over older ones, where his ideas were too subtle and seemed foolhardy.

One interesting thing about the season is all of the reunions. Continuity remembered, many times over. Usually they worked well; I did quite like the Hound and Brienne’s interactions about Arya, and Brienne’s fury at Jaime also felt right. Yet the Hound versus Zombie Mountain felt boring — more like “Hey, get hyped for the next season gang!” Zombie Mountain is not a character with any character, so all we have is the Hound’s memories. He’s great in the show, but I’m not sure it’s enough to be invested in this future fight.

I don’t think Tormund and Beric are dead because we didn’t see them die.

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On to the Wicked Queen. Cersei’s plan didn’t quite make sense, but I liked the lack of clarity about what she was really thinking at different moments. Sure, the plan to get Euron away made sense, yet her scene with Tyrion rang with emotional honesty too. Those Lannister actors boy, they are very good. Of course, the quality of actors on the show has very rarely been an issue (cough Shae).

I do not care about Euron.

But duality is more interesting. Jaime pulling away from the toxic twincest because he’s had enough? That works for me.

It’s weird, because I do like watching the show, but there are always so many little (and sometimes not so little) issues I often have. Logical missteps, mischaracterizations, odd writing choices. Yet the dialog often sparkles when you least expect it, and the CGI is the best it’s ever been.

I can’t bring myself to care about a zombie dragon, not yet. It’s a fun visual, but it’s nothing like the eldritch horror of Sam Tarly twitching in the snow watching a zombie pass him by. The show loves its big “moments,” and that’s why I like watching some of those live reaction videos online. It makes me think I’d like the show more in the moment if I was watching in a big crowd, instead of with one or two other people. But the show hasn’t lost me yet. This season was rushed and out of control, but it had some wonderful scenes too.

I still love that fantastic first season the best, despite Ros the prostitute, and I doubt the eighth will change my mind. But I hope they take all the time they need to make it the best they can.

What did you think of the season finale? What are you hoping for in the final season? Tell us in the comments below!


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