Well That Was Probably Game of Thrones Saddest Death

first_img There’s only one episode left in the seventh season of Game of Thrones, and if last night was any indication, we’re in for some insanity. The pace this season has been out of control, rocketing forward and running over anything and everything in its path. Story-wise, it’s made for some questionable decisions, but it’s sure given us some exciting TV. I could hand-wring over the fact that characters are acting stupid, or that spectacle has replaced character development and political intrigue, or that travel inexplicably takes no time at all now. I could do all that, but honestly? When each episode has me gripping the edge of my couch for over an hour, I find it hard to complain.The episode just before the season finale has always been the biggest and most shocking. Last year, we got The Battle of the Bastards. Last night gave us the first real fight with the White Walkers. We finally got to see the Night King in action, and everyone’s pretty well screwed at this point. Jon Snow’s forces were vastly outnumbered, and even with three dragons on his side, you still couldn’t call what happened a victory. But we’ll get to that in a little bit. For now, let’s talk about what happened in the rest of Westeros.Interestingly, the Lannisters (aside from Tyrion) didn’t make an appearance at all this episode. Even without Cersei doing anything, things just seem to go her way this week. By the end of the episode, Daenerys is significantly weakened, and her two greatest threats to the north are fighting each other. Daenerys and Tyrion spend most of the episode arguing about what kind of ruler she’s going to be. Tyrion has taken Varys’s advice to heart, and is doing everything in his power to prevent her from taking her dragons to King’s Landing. The last few episodes have done a decent job of showing Daenerys’ tyrannical potential start to show through. As she’s grown more desperate, she acts more like her father. In last week’s episode, it added some needed tension to her story. We’ve been rooting for her this whole time, and now the show was forcing us to ask if we were cheering on a tyrant.Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke (Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)This week, the argument serves to… lay the groundwork for a relationship with Jon Snow? Show us that Daenerys hasn’t planned for every possible outcome? It’s less clear. They argue over the rules of succession, which Daenerys doesn’t even want to discuss until after she’s won the Iron Throne. Given that she keeps riding dragons into battle, Tyrion thinks she’d be wise to figure that out sooner. After Gendry sends a raven to Dragonstone detailing what’s going on beyond the wall (those birds travel quick, don’t they?),  she gets on her dragon and flies north, despite Tyrion’s protests. The entire point of this argument is to set up a dramatic climax where Daenerys and her dragons save Jon and crew at the last possible moment. Contrived? A little bit. Exciting as hell? Oh yes.Meanwhile, in Winterfell, the dumbest subplot in the history of the series rages on. This is where the pacing brought on by the short season is actively hurting the story. After making a huge deal of the Stark sisters finally being reunited, the show is going to great lengths to make it not matter. Remember all that stuff about Sansa not trusting Littlefinger, seeing through him and knowing exactly what he wants? She’s apparently forgotten all of that. She tells him everything about her interactions with Arya, which is exactly what he planned. Why is Sansa suddenly unable to see through Littlefinger’s manipulations? Because the story needs to drive the sisters apart for some reason.Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams (Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)Arya acts even more illogically, this episode by first threatening Sansa with the note Cersei forced her to write. Again, she doesn’t even consider where she found it. Both of these women should know that Littlefinger is the world’s least trustworthy person by now, and they don’t even consider that he’s up to his old power-grabbing tricks in Winterfell now. Later, when Sansa goes looking for the letter, she finds Arya’s bag of faces. I’ll give these scenes credit where it’s due: Maisie Williams is at her creepiest and most menacing in this episode. These scenes are tense and scary, even if they don’t make a whole lot of sense. Good actors can elevate questionable material, I guess. The most frustrating thing is that the writers are seemingly unable to commit when it comes to Arya’s character. She rejected becoming No One last season, reclaimed herself as Arya Stark, and went back home. Now, it’s like the show regrets having her completely leaving the faceless men behind, so they’re trying to pull her back for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. It feels like they’re taking steps backward in her character development. This is one of those things that may have been more acceptable if it had more time to build. If we could see that Arya has a reason for acting like this. But with just over half a normal season to work with, the show didn’t have time for that. As a result, this character backtracking comes out of nowhere.Speaking of acting stupid, Jon’s plan for bringing back a white walker is pretty dumb. Instead of trying to set a trap or lure one close to the wall, they attack a small host. They capture one, but it screams loud enough to bring the Night King and his entire Army down on Jon’s crew. Hey, at least it led to some pretty great fights, including one with a zombified bear. The Red Priest is mauled in that fight, and though they’re able to cauterize his wounds, he still ends up freezing to death. It was smart to kill a character we have little attachment to here. It made us think that his was going to be the episode’s big death. It made us let our guard down for what was about to come next. The writing may get incredibly stupid at times, but Game of Thrones knows how to pull off some great and terrible surprises.Richard Dormer (Credit: Courtesy of HBO)Jon’s group gets trapped on a rock in the middle of a frozen lake. The walkers surround them, but dare not traverse the thin ice after a few of them fall through it. Of course, the ice hardens up overnight, which is made apparent when one of Jon’s men can’t help but throw rocks at the undead hoard. Is there anyone in this episode who isn’t a complete moron? A gigantic battle ensues, and just when everything looks hopeless, Daenerys and her three dragons fly in to save the day. Watching three dragons burn through an army of zombies is so much fun, it makes you forgive all the stupidity that got us here. And then… The Night King, who’s apparently been practicing his javelin throw, hurls a spear directly into Viserion. This might be the most devastated I’ve ever been by a death on Game of Thrones. Yes, it’s worse than the Red Wedding. Robb was a dumbass who put himself into that situation. Viserion did nothing wrong! We knew one of the dragons was going to die as soon as we saw that Cersei had that massive crossbow. But that made us assume the dragons were safe as long as that weapon wasn’t on-screen, making this death all the more shocking. As frustrating as Game of Thrones writers can be, they are experts at this kind of sleight-of-hand.If there is anything good to come out of this battle, it’s that Daenerys and Jon are working together in earnest now. Jon swore fealty to Daenerys, after seeing the kind of leader she really is. There is also an undeniable affection between them that is almost certainly going to lead to something more. How messed up is it that this show has us all cheering for an aunt and nephew to get it on? I guess after seven seasons of Cersei and Jaime; it seems downright normal. Of course, the episode couldn’t end without making things a thousand times worse. The final scene shows the Night King resurrecting Viserion. There’s a White Walker dragon now. Perfect.Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke (Credit: Courtesy of HBO)Story-wise, this was the most frustrating Game of Thrones episode we’ve seen in a long time. It sure made for some great spectacle though. It’s to the point where I’m thinking this is kind of what the show has always been. Maybe it’s never been as smart as we’ve given it credit for. In past season’s it’s had to spread its stupidity out over 13 hours. The spectacle was padded out with just enough politics and character development that the infuriating decisions felt more like occasional missteps than the norm. Now, the writers have half the time to get the characters where they need them to be. As a result, the stupid decisions and plot conveniences come at us fast and furious. Game of Thrones has always been about shock and awe over character and story. This season is just forcing us to come to terms with that. If you can accept that, it’s still a hell of a fun ride.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. ‘Game of Thrones’ Director Explains Why Arya Ambushed the Night King’Game of Thrones’ Star Sophie Turner Predicts Sansa Stark’s Future Stay on targetlast_img