Game of Thrones: The Conflicting, Exhilarating Journey That Was Season 7

We’re in the endgame now.
By  · Published on August 31st, 2017

We’re in the endgame now.

The following contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7.

Now that Game of Thrones season has officially passed and we’re now at a loss as to what to do with ourselves until the next season (or book) is released, we are once again out in the open to ponder over and dissect every mysterious look and revelation from the season. Never before have we had such free range to speculate, so this off season should be one filled with the most interesting of fan theories, which is definitely something to look forward to in the long waiting period that is to come. Especially considering this was no ordinary season of Game of Thrones. While there were lots of mixed feelings amongst the fandom regarding this season, it can probably be universally agreed upon that Game of Thrones this year provided us with lots of significant information and interactions that have begun to tie up key stories that we have followed since day 1, signaling to us that we are indeed very close to the end of Thrones.

Looking back on season 7 as a whole, it really did feel like an endless number of episode 9s and season finales. The shortened season, with all of its adventures, meetings, shocks, and spectacle, consistently provided us with epic images we have been imagining forever. And so much of it was absolutely stunning. Daenerys and Jon meeting, the Stark siblings together again, and dragons being taken into war are all things we have been building ourselves up for since the end of season 1. It’s difficult to put into words the rush of amazing feelings that resulted from those spectacular scenes.

However, something that was frequently discussed this season is that by giving us all of this spectacle in such a hasty manner, we were torn between what to feel regarding the whirlwind of story that was shown to us. While at times the pace felt somewhat frustrating and even illogical, especially for a show that was always so great at setting up the long game, it was also hard to deny we were also witnessing some of the most historic moments of the story; plot points that Game of Thrones will be known for in television history.

The show undoubtedly feels like a new show now, and though that has a lot to do with the separation from the books and the choice to shorten the remainder of the series, part of it is also because the show has entered a new era in the story: the end. A series almost notorious for plot points that felt reckless in terms of execution but extremely clever in terms of narrative inevitably had to become a little predictable near the end in order to finish up the series.

I agree with much of the fandom that some of this season would have felt less hollow had any characters of consequence (other than Viserion and Littlefinger) entered the last stage of their Game of Thrones story, especially in “Beyond the Wall.” But I can also kind of see why the writers’ hands are tied. Game of Thrones has always felt like it killed characters effortlessly and fitted the story around those deaths later, but in reality, those deaths really were mapped out and advanced the story in ways that even continue to affect it now. It’s a tricky thing to pull off, and you need a long term expansive amount of story to do it, and there is currently no long term left.

But GoT feeling like a new show is not necessarily a bad thing if it’s done well and in a way that is true to Game of Thrones. “The Spoils of War” was evidence of this as it has made its way to many fans top favorite episodes list, including mine. It’s just when things feel rushed or overlooked that is not so great, and this season did have those moments as well. Much of the criticism this season though was, for the most part, well natured. It was from devoted fans just looking to support the show they have loved for years and trying to come to terms with the reality of this new version, or era, of the story.

Fortunately, however, the finale this past Sunday was exciting, satisfying, and overall, a well-executed end to a pretty wild season. Was it the best finale yet? In my opinion, not exactly. My top 2 remain the season 1 finale, “Fire and Blood, and last season’s finale, “The Winds of Winter,” with the season 4 finale somewhere in between, which are all pretty difficult to top. This is not a unique opinion, but those are fan favorites for a variety of interesting reasons.

That being said, this finale was great, but a little harder to appreciate in terms of payoff. All season I felt like each episode in a way, was as grand as a finale might be (aside from the first). Plot points and reveals we would have usually had to wait until the end of the season to see, we got immediately in episodes 2 and 3. This is not completely a bad thing, and with the decision to create a shortened season, it was necessary as well as expected. What I am trying to convey however is that after watching the Stark siblings unite, Daenerys and Jon meet for the first time, and Drogon vs. Jaime in war all before episode 5, I got a little spoiled somewhere along the way. Not in the sense that I was actually spoiled on events that were to come, but that I got spoiled because I was already given so much earlier in the season that when the finale arrived I was still extremely excited, just not exactly in the same way. I started to take these meetings for granted, even though I had just been exposed to them. Although, I must admit the finale pleased me to no end with Dany’s fashionably late arrival and Cersei’s terse reaction to it. That meeting was one I have wanted more than anything for a very long time.

But even though this finale was not my favorite finale, I do recognize that it is probably the most important and the most consequential finale we have ever had. It is a pretty remarkable episode in and of itself, with endless chess pieces being put into place. The incestuous relationship that started it all has basically come to an end, just in time for another to begin. The legitimacy of Jon Snow was confirmed. Littlefinger, the man who basically started every conflict of the story since season 1 was finally cornered and fell to his end. We saw the Wall come down due to an invasion by the Night King and his new zombie ice dragon, which is something I can’t even believe I just wrote down. And on top of all that, most all of our favorites were finally together in the same scene. It was exhilarating, breathtaking, and befuddling all at the same time. It was the kind of stuff fans have been waiting years to see and may have thought they would never get.

Now looking toward the last season of this beloved show, I am getting a little nostalgic for finales that provided a temporary conclusion to a story that felt endless. GoT finales are always known for shocking deaths and sending characters traveling elsewhere in preparation for their journeys in the next season, and while we did get those things, I couldn’t help but think about this being the last finale to truly analyze and savor. Instead, we watched these characters venture elsewhere to continue what is their last piece of the story through their final journey, and these were the last deaths before some truly major characters start to die out. The next finale we get will be the ultimate one, and the story will end.

At this point in time, we have no clue what to expect for the next season. We might have to wait a year and a half for season 8, and perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. The showrunners can take their time perfecting the final piece of the show, and in turn, we are given a little more time to have fun speculating, and are given more time for Game of Thrones to be a current part of our lives. If this season has confirmed anything, it’s that the fandom is strong. This was the most watched season of the show yet, even with all of the hacks and leaks, and next season is sure to be a record-breaking phenomenon. We’re in this for the long haul and with the end currently in sight, we can only hope to spend this next off season savoring each moment of our last off season where the ending to Thrones still remains a mystery. So all in all, I leave this season of GoT feeling hopeful and excited for what comes next. We only get one Game of Thrones television show, and I am determined to enjoy what I assume will be an epic end to an epic series, just as I am sure the writers, cast, and crew are determined to make it an enjoyable final season.

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