7 Things Game of Thrones Season 7 Got Right

Don’t talk to me about 2019... I’m still processing the idea of waiting that long for a return trip to Westeros. Yet if it’s as good as this past season, I think I’ll come to accept it (not yet... but soon). Season 7 was the year where size was everything. Where concerns about lesser episode counts were burnt alive, spectacular large scale action and big story developments as the War for Westeros began and the War for the Dawn took shape. For me, it didn’t quite better Season 6 but this was still a monumental achievement for the show in evolving its format towards feature length instalments that look set to dominate its 8th and final season. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss got a lot right this season but here are 7 things in particular I wish to commend season 7 with. Certainly not the only 7 but these are 7 that stood out for me.

You (hopefully) guessed it, this will contain spoilers for Season 7 so please don’t read on if you’re not up to date....

  1. The Scene-Stealing Euron Greyjoy

    For the first few episodes, this mad man of the seas was the whole damn show! While his Season 6 introduction was enjoyable, he never looked set to be a spotlight character, merely a disposable villain for Yara and Theon to face. Yet his transformation into Lord Flashheart meets Davey Jones made his every on-screen moment captivating. Whether he was cackling madly while storming from a ship or asking Jaime for sex tips with Cersei, he was the loud arrogant force of nature and the show had been missing since Ramsay fed the dogs. While it’s in keeping to see most characters honouring most traditions and protocols, we always need someone to give them the middle finger and tell people where to go. It was comfortably filled by The Hound for the show’s middle seasons and though this reformed Sandor still has the odd relapse, his, “**** it” crown has firmly been passed to Euron. Granted Euron did fade out of episodes for the second half of the season but got his shining moment in the finale and looks set to wreak more marvelous havoc next season.

  2. Getting the Stakes Right

    When considering the ending of Season 6, one of my biggest concerns was how they were going to make Dany’s invasion of Westeros into a story rather than a massacre. On paper, it looked like she was going to walk it with own armies, dragons and newfound allies in the Greyjoys, Tyrells and Dorne. Instead, the season delivered several excellent story swerves to not only make a credible threat out of Cersei but swing the momentum between this pair of Sarah Conners’ vying for the throne. Both were shown to win battles and take crucial losses with the feeling that they’re each being stretched to their personal limits. For Cersei, this was reflected well through her relationship with Jaime as he played the realist against their chances while she drifted further into madness. Then for Daenerys, it was the battle of conquering without being seen as a tyrant. From their first session on Dragonstone, it was well-established successfully taking leadership of a kingdom so big is not as simple as unleashing foreign hoards and beasts upon them. That changed the entire dynamic of her story by making her own desires and thirst for power her own worst enemy.

  3. The Fast Travelling

    Okay, this is a controversial one because I know it’s received a lot of fan backlash but like it or not, it was 100% the right choice for the season in order to incorporate all the desired events within the limited time frame. If the show had stuck to its historic methods and have such country-spanning journeys take characters out for 2-3 weeks, then the season would have gotten absolutely nowhere. Jon would barely have reached Dragonstone, let alone got off it again meaning nothing beyond the wall. Yes, there were some moments like Gendry’s sprint back to The Wall that really took the horse piss. Though in general, the looser regards to travel times allowed the season to operate at a faster pace and crucially preserve momentum. It even made the slower sections far more impactful by comparison. In the first half of the finale, much of the travelling happens at a slower or even real time pace which immediately those scenes feel more important because the show is taking its time over them. Love it or hate it, fast travelling made this season work and it’s so great to see the creators making such a risky call like that.

  4. Dragons Unleashed!

    Hands up if you were growing impatient over the years for some full on dragon action? Yep... everyone! Granted there was some nice progression to the growing dragons over the season, each coming with a step up in their strength and destructive capability. While Season 5’s feature Dragon rescue and the Season 6 Meereen ship-torching showed the scaly fellows being more powerful, it wasn’t until this season that the show finally unleashed their full potential. While the North of the Wall rescue was cool, episode 4’s attack on the supply caravan that really showcased how monstrous and formidable they can be as Drogon alone wreaks utter devastation. The battle looked spectacular featuring some of the biggest scale effects the show had used to date. Not to mention how epic the showdown with makeshift dragon slayer Bronn became. It was an immediate sense of gratification to any long term fans watching that all those tears of watching them squirt less fame than a Zippo lighter were worth it in the end. Not to mention the Night King drawing Blue Eyes out of his deck.

  5. Bringing Big Characters Together

    We started to get some of this last season as Tyrion met Daenerys but this year really brought the sense of all the different character paths converging. It really made this season feel like the beginning of the end, even culminating in the biggest gathering since the first ever episode in the Dragon Pit. This gave us amazing sequences and exchanges like the North of the Wall Avengers. Big heartfelt reunions like the Starks returning to Winterfell; along with fan favourite throwbacks like Tyrion & Bronn back together along, Mountain & Hound staring down and Jon forgiving Theon. Every big meeting felt significant in its own way. Then of course, there was the biggest meeting of all as fire met ice, as Jon Snow (yes we’re still calling him that) met Daenerys Targaryen to form the biggest character relationship of the season. A romantic arc so well-developed through progressions of mutual respect, friendship and compassion that it actually got many fans cheering for incest (and outside Alabama for a change). There are still some paths yet to cross so this looks set to continue as a strength through Season 8.

  6. Rewarding Deaths

    There were less big deaths this season but they mattered. As much as I’ve enjoyed Littlefinger as a character, I absolutely revealed in watching his scheming and lies unravel before his execution. The setup was perfect with a swerve on the building Sansa/Arya conflict only to have Sansa outplay him at his own game. It affirmed the new union of Sansa and Arya while providing use for Bran’s all seeing three eyes and solidified the North/Veil alliance by making them both victims of Littlefinger’s betrayals. He’s been one of the great love to hate characters on the show since the beginning but as the final war looms and people are putting aside their differences, it makes to have him caught out now as he’ll struggle for purpose going forwards. Next up, there was the Queen of Thorns herself, Olenna Tyrell. She was another wonderfully-watchable character throughout her duration on the show whose final scene became an engaging reflection on accepting defeat. Along with a killer checkmate from the grave as her final words confess Joffrey’s murder, denying the Lannisters the chance to pay that debt with the proper revenge. Speaking of Lannister debts, there was the axing of The Sand Snakes and Ellaria. While Ellaria had her merits, the Snakes were largely regarding as disappointments by the show’s adaptation. Yet the deaths still served purpose in affirming Euron’s status as a killer to be feared and allowing Cersei to reach the full potential of her cruelty. Even though Thoros of Myr being the red shirt for the North of the Wall party carried significance for how that loss impacts Beric Dondarrion (he can’t be revived again. Plus the indignity of his succumbing to the cold amidst the threat of the undead battle was a nice reflection of the cruelties of fate.

  7. Not Forgetting the Night King

    Yes, there were a few jokes about him doing a Trump and playing golf for the first few episodes but this season could have easily benched him and his horde entirely to focus on the fight between Cersei and Danaerys. It certainly looked that way going into the season but thankfully, the two wars were integrated rather than tackled separately. Even when off-screen, the notion of a Westeros truce to fight the dead was a key subject from as early as episode 2. Then of course, he and the rest of the Blue Man Group got to take the stage in the lake battle. In fact, the he was even given the two biggest money shots of the season in ice-spearing Viserion (downing a dragon with ice... nice subtle Pokemon reference) and of course, blasting The Wall and Eastwatch to pieces. The dead have been used as the end shot for season finales in the past but only to feel like a weak tease. This time, they smashed it and it’s the main reason why fans are drinking essence of nightshade over the thought of waiting 2 years to find out what happens next. 

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