Why Game of Thrones season 7 is both the best and worst season yet

There were many enjoyable moments this season, but the writers lost their way after they got ahead of the book material

This shot shows seven people walking beyond the wall, then out of the blue three extras appear when it’s convenient for someone to die. (Image courtesy of HBO)

By: Alex Bloom

First of all, I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones and I read all the books, so I really wanted to love this season. Second of all, spoiler alert: I will be discussing many events from throughout the season so if you haven’t watched it yet then stop reading here.

     Season 7 was bittersweet, and I think many book readers will agree. There were several moments that were anticlimactic compared to what readers may have imagined, such as the reunion between the Stark siblings and Bran’s return home. Looking back, the decision to make Arya and Sansa’s reunion antagonistic had a lot of potential, however, I think that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss took things too far: the scene where Arya threatened to kill Sansa was a laughable moment of false suspense.

     Furthermore, Bran saying that he was no longer Bran and remembered everything could have been a powerful plot device, yet it seemed like his role in the season was to try and fail to convince the maesters in Oldtown that the undead were coming. With the power that he is supposed to have, there better turn out to be a good reason why Bran didn’t use his extensive knowledge to prove to them that the undead are real, or it was just plain, stupid writing.

“Season 7 was bittersweet, and I think many book readers will agree.”

     These weren’t the only characters who fell flat this season. Tyrion made bad tactical decisions repeatedly and Varys seemed to be doing almost nothing. It seemed like the writers didn’t really know how to handle these characters and more could have been done with them. If George R. R. Martin had still been writing for the show, their parts would likely have been quite different. I’m curious to see how the books will differ.

     This season seemed like things just happened because the story needed them to happen, not because the story had properly set up and earned these moments. For instance, the suggestion that a wight needed to be taken to King’s Landing to prove to Cersei that the undead were real made sense, but the idea that it had to be Jon, the Hound, Jorah, Gendry, Thoros, Beric, and Tormund who actually went to capture one was contrived.

     Sure, the Hound, Beric, and Thoros were well-suited for it, but the fact that all the leadership on Daenerys’ side decided it was a good idea to send the king in the north on an extremely risky mission with only three anonymous red-shirts to support them was far-fetched. I found it out of character that neither Davos or Varys spoke out against this idea. This scene seems to have been designed only to put as many fan favourites at risk as possible and to create some artificial tension.

     In the end, though, there were some fantastic moments this season. Viewers and book readers alike finally got what they had been wanting since the first book: to see a dragon used on the battlefield. To top it off, we even saw a Dothraki horde unleashed against infantry on an open plain in the same scene. There was also the long-awaited reunion of the Stark children as well as the follow-through from Jaime’s story arc we had been waiting on so long with his decision to ride north and defect from Cersei’s side.

     As a huge fan of the series, I’m left conflicted: yes, we have to acknowledge that the book and the series are a different beast, but a lot of the season fell short. At the same time, there were several huge payoffs that had been in the works since the beginning. I enjoyed it, but it just missed the mark for me. Don’t even get me started on the zombie dragon.