To say that season 7 of HBO’s flagship series, Game of Thrones, was expected is an understatement. Every season of the fantasy series is an event. And season seven was no exception. To gauge the interest in Game of Thrones, one only has to look at the extremely high number of articles, YouTube videos and spoilers that have invaded the web over the past seven weeks. But hey. I’m preaching to the choir, aren’t I? So let us take stock of this season, and see if it has lived up to the previous ones.Before we go any further, I’d like to say that I’ll do my best to remain as objective as possible: but then again, I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones, which is my favourite series.
Warning, this article contains spoils
While Game of Thrones had accustomed us to a relatively slow pace (which was both its strength and its charm), the writers chose to speed up the story, at an almost unimaginable speed. In this season, the actions follow one another at breakneck speed. If, moreover, this acceleration of the narrative has, in the eyes of some, been the greatest weakness of this season, by creating inconsistencies from a geographical point of view (the movements are indeed extremely fast, like Gendry’s sprint), it seemed to me that it was also one of its greatest strengths. Because, like it or not, the series is nearing its end. At the end of season 6, the series’ team had announced that there were only two seasons left, 7 and 6 episodes respectively, for a total of 13 episodes. Just over a regular season of Game of Thrones. You will agree that with such a limited Number of episodes the writers were forced to speed up the plot, focusing on the two great wars to come (Daenerys’ army versus Cercei’s, the army of the living versus the army of the dead). It would be totally illogical for these two great wars to be dispatched in three-four episodes, all to set up the various stratagems, considering that the war between the Stark and the Lannisters lasted much longer in terms of episodes (from season 1 to the end of season 3). One could retort that it was enough to make more episodes (and thus more seasons).
However, this would not take into account a certain number of contingencies, which may explain this choice of screenwriters. First of all, each episode of Game of Thrones has an extremely high cost. It can be assumed that prolonging the ad vitam eternam series could be at the expense of another series, also very promising and very expensive : Westworld, Jonathan Nolan’s masterpiece, also produced and broadcast by HBO. Then the writers also have another series project, which they want to create : Confederate. Finally, playing in Game of Thrones is also a constraint for the actors, who are forced to refuse a very large number of projects. It could also be added, and this is my point, that restricting the number of episodes, and therefore accelerating the plot, makes the events that take place in the story more powerful.
Season 7 has a lot of high impact events: the arrival of Daenerys at Dragonstone (episode 1), the naval battle between Yara Greyjoy’s fleet and her bastard uncle (episode 2), the arrival of Jon Snow and Davos at Dragonstone, the terrible death of Tyene Sand, the defeat of the Unsullied, the death of Olenna Tyrell and her revelation about the slaying of Joffrey Lannister (episode 3), the Lannisters’ stinging defeat (yes that is the word) at the hands of the Dothraki, accompanied by Daenerys riding his dragon (episode 4), the death of the Tarly (episode 5), the expedition beyond the Wall, the death of Viserion, his resurrection as a zombie dragon by the King of the Night and the alliance between Jon and Daenerys (episode 6), the summit meeting between Cersei, Jaime, Bronn, Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon, Euron, Theon, The Mountain, The Hound, Brienne, Varys, Podric, Qyburn, Davos (in short, 90 % of the main characters gathered in the same place for the first time since the beginning of the series), the execution of Littlefinger, the revelation of Jon’s real name, the sex scene between Jon and Daenerys, Jaime who almost gets killed under the orders of Cersei and the King of the Night riding Viserion to destroy the wall (episode 7). It felt like we got an episode nine a week. I can tell you that my adrenaline was at its highest level.
So, yes, there have been some geographical inconsistencies. But frankly, given the quality of the season, I’d be remiss if I blamed him for that…
One of the great strengths of Game of Thronessince the first season is its perfect execution and sublime images. Every season manages to thrill me. I’ll remember the Battle of the Bastards in season 6 all my life. I’ve never seen such a realistic battle scene… and Season 7 continues that tradition. The special effects, scenery and costumes are as beautiful as ever. When I saw the resplendent images from Episode 6, when Jon and his acolytes were sent beyond the wall, I was blown away. Other images come to mind, each one more beautiful than the last. The sequence plan of Daenerys’ arrival at Dragonstone, the capture of Casterly Rock by the Unsullied, or Jaime Lannister riding, throws in his hand, on the fiery battlefield in the hope of killing Daenerys. The execution is of a very high level, and places Game of Thrones well above the other series.
In the beginning, Game of Thrones was the series with characters we loved to hate. Today, apart from very rare exceptions (Euron and Cersei), I find myself loving (or even adoring) all the characters. Many of them have undergone a most exciting psychological evolution. If my heart’s desire is still for Tyrion (the best), I love Jon Snow Jaime Lannister and Le Limier more and more. Starting as a fragile and melancholy little brown boy, Jon Snow has become the most bad-ass character in the series. As for Jaime Lannister, he is, over the seasons, one of the most touching characters of the show.
Since the end of season 6, the different characters are at the peak of their evolution: Cersei is now a ruthless queen, Daenerys is a proud conqueror whose victory was (until episode 6 of season 7) almost assured, Jon is King of the North. Arya masters the art of the faceless to perfection, Sansa has become a fine strategist, Bran is omniscient. And season 7 takes advantage of these developments, which gives the show an extra tension.
Nevertheless, it is regrettable that some characters have seen their role diminished, like Varys, who we hear too little of, whereas we were stuck to the least of his words in previous seasons. The same was true of Tyrion, whose role in the early episodes of the season seemed to serve mainly as a springboard to show the dark and impulsive side of Daenerys, and to demonstrate the newly acquired ingenuity of Cersei. One is nevertheless reassured to see that Tyrion regained his superb afterwards, notably in his fantastic (and touching) dialogue with Cersei, in the last episode of the season. For a few seconds, Peter Dinklage was on the verge of giving us an interpretation as intense as the Tyrion trial in episode 6 of season 4.
Another actor’s performance that I find particularly striking is that of Sophie Turner, the interpreter of Sansa. While at the beginning of the series I found this character particularly bland (and sometimes irritating), I find that she now has a charisma that has nothing to envy to that of Arya.
After the stunning original soundtrack of season 6 of Game of Thrones (special mention for Light of the seven, which a year later still haunts me with as much acuity) and the first season of Westworld, I was waiting for Ramin Djawadi at the turn. And I wasn’t disappointed: the original soundtrack of season 7 is magnificent, and reminds us, by tracks such as The Queen’s Justice or Winter is here that Ramin Djawadi is perhaps the best composer of film music/series.
And what did you think of season 7?
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