If there’s one thing we can glean from the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 trailer, it’s that it will be like nothing we’ve ever seen.
In a recent episode of A Storm of Spoilers, my co-host Joanna Robinson and I attempted to find a parallel for what we expect — from a scope and scale standpoint — in Game of Thrones season 7. What we concluded, having only seen the first trailer, was that it’s entirely possible that season 7 might end up being the television equivalent of a Michael Bay movie.
In hindsight, we may have been a little zealous in our comparison. It came from a place of seeing Thrones throw itself wholeheartedly into the final 13 hours of its story with extreme pace and budget-bombing action. At this point, the show has earned the right to spend whatever it wants to spend and do just about any wild action thing that lives in the hearts of its two showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss.
Having just sat through a punishing three-hour tour of Transformers: The Last Knight — the latest offering at the altar of Bayhem — and having now seen a second full trailer for Thrones S7, I’m ready to make an adjustment to our comparison. In the worst case scenario, this season is going to be a 7-hour Michael Bay movie. It’s best case scenario: 7-hours akin to Mad Max: Fury Road. And as much as we may continue to bemoan the loss of methodically crafted character moments and court politics, the latter is a proposition that may well propel Game of Thrones into the annals of television history. These days there’s a lot of talk about the “cinematic” nature of television. The drama is there, sure. The comedy as well. But TV has always operated on a level of scope below that of the big screen, mostly for budgetary reasons. Game of Thrones season 7, at least based on what we’ve seen thus far, is ready to break that barrier once and for all.
The season was shot by four DPs, all interesting in their own right. Jonathan Freeman, best known for previous episodes “The Door” and “Two Swords,” returns to shoot episode 6. Robert McLachlan, who shot “The Dance of Dragons” and “Mother’s Mercy,” returns for episodes 4 and 5. Both the premiere and the finale were shot by Gregory Middleton, who previously delivered “The Red Woman” and “Home.” And P.J. Dillon, who has been with the show since season 3’s “What Is Dead May Never Die,” shot episodes 2 and 3. These cinematographers’ familiarity with the show means that we’ll get a lot of familiarity in the way it’s shot. It also means that their confidence and comfort with the show may lead to some new, more vibrant lensing. That’s something we see in this second trailer.
These cinematographers’ familiarity with the show means that we’ll get a lot of familiarity in the way it’s shot. It also means that their confidence and comfort with the show may lead to some new, more vibrant lensing. That’s something we see in this second trailer. For example, in the North we see the same muted, blue tones that have defined the past 2-3 seasons.
With the exception of Brienne and Pod getting a wardrobe upgrade, this is all very familiar. The striking color of Sansa’s red hair or the red leaves on the Weirwood tree behind her are things we’ve seen in recent seasons. Although they pop a little better than the last time Sansa was at Winterfell, as back then the show was really dragging out every bit of misery under the reign of the Boltons. On a story level, it’s nice to see that Bran has finally made his way back to Winterfell (and into a chair, saving Meera Reed from becoming the Gendry of the latter seasons — pulling around Bran on a sled forever). Note, though, that during their time under the Great Weirwood tree with the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran was touched (and thus, marked) by the Night King. This is what broke the magic of that tree’s perimeter, leading to the horrific sequence at the end of “The Door.” Will Bran passing through The Wall have an impact on its magic?
Further south (and east) of Winterfell, we get a lot more of Daenerys at Dragonstone, the place of her birth and former base of operations of Stannis Baratheon. We’ve observed the evolution of Daenerys and her dragons for 6 seasons. She was once a lost little girl in a white dress. She’s been many things since then, but this is easily her most down-to-business look. It’s also fantastic to see wider daytime shots of Dragonstone, one of the raddest places in the whole of Westeros.
Oh look, visitors.
Season 7 also promises to take us further west than we’ve gone before. Now that power has been condensed into essentially three areas of Westeros — the Starks of the North, the Targaryen army at Dragonstone, and the Lannisters in the South — we’re going to get a good look at the Lannister seat of power.
Casterly Rock, as described in the books, is “carved out of a great stone hill colossal rock beside the Sunset Sea. It is popularly believed to resemble a lion in repose at sunset.” It’s one of the most impressive, impregnable castles in the whole of Westeros. The first shot of this seaside fortress is below, as Jamie Lannister walks along its embankments. The hope is that we get a chance to explore the seat of House Lannister before Grey Worm, a bunch of Dothraki, and at least one dragon show up for a good ole’ southern battle.
The most impressive of these shots from the trailer is that of Jamie riding through a flaming battlefield, charging desperately with a spear in hand. What chance does a one-handed Kingslayer have against an army of the world’s finest fighters (and a dragon)? Are we witnessing the moments before the fall of one of the show’s most prominent characters? Or is this the moment before he goes from Kingslayer to Dragonslayer?
Another narrative promise that season 7 is making is that we’re going to go deeper into the great war to come (or the great war that’s here) between the living and the dead. This means another snow-pummeled battle between a legion of men led by Jon Snow versus an army of the dead led by the Night King and his White Walkers. You’ll note in two of these shots that The King in the North has help from our favorite undead Knight, Ser Beric Dondarrion. Who, at this point, has book readers all kinds of confused. But we’ll talk about that during the season.
Among the odds and ends of this second massive trailer are a few shots checking in on characters who are still spread around the map.
This includes Arya Stark riding a horse in slightly southern-lit areas of the country; The Hound preparing to go to battle in a sourthern, warmer climate (hopefully his big brother is just out of frame); and the adventures of the Greyjoys (including Euron’s fancifully-sailed ship “Silence” approaching King’s Landing, his army being welcomed by the denizens of King’s Landing; and Yara and Theon in what appears to be a lot of trouble.
There’s also this curious moment. Someone looks happy to have landed wherever they have landed. Could this be a certain Greyscale-inflicted Knight landing somewhere he may be cured? Could it be another character from our past who’s been missing for a while? Either way, they appear to be home — or some facsimile of home.
The lesson of this second Game of Thrones season 7 trailer is that if you’re expecting a monster of a season, you’re right on the money. While it will be the shortest season, it will likely still be the most expensive and expansive. And based on what we’ve seen thus far, it offers some brilliant visual poetry to coincide with the gathering storm that is The Great War between the living and the dead.
Related Topics: Game of Thrones