As much as Screen Critics loves Game of Thrones, here are the top 10 things that left us feeling somewhat frustrated with the latest season.
With Season 7 of Game of Thrones wrapped up, the long wait for the final outing approaches. As fans begin to mull over the developments of this last run of episodes, we can’t help but feel that the show really messed the bed when it came to certain aspects. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that the show is bad, but there was certainly a lot of creative decisions that really left us scratching our heads when the dust settled. Here are the top 10 things that we ultimtately felt the show should have done better, and thus got wrong, during Season 7.
10. Varys Becomes Irrelevant
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I kind of enjoy Game of Thrones best when it’s busy plotting and toiling away. Varys was a huge part of that back around Season 3 and 4 – yet in Season 7, he effectively got relegated to a background player.
Worse than this, he seemed pretty useless in the grander scheme. Part of the appeal of his character was that he had his pulse on every possible outcome. He knew more than the people playing the Game of Thrones. Yet his only useful moment was in bringing allies for Danerys to work with – but that was at the end of Season 6. Most of this season, he’s sat round twiddling his thumbs and very occassionally passing the odd line of dialogue. Once Dany brought him on board, he pretty much stopped being interesting.
I’m not saying he had to do much more – but it’s a shame that in the rush to get to the big moments, it seems the lack of quality character moments dwindled. Speaking of….
9. The Winterfell Melodrama
I get it, Jon Snow wasn’t going to be spending much time up at Winterfell – and the writers had to address this. Season 7 saw Sansa spend a good portion of her time brooding awkwardly as everyone else did things. As Jon Snow stepped up to be King in the North, Sansa was there to challenge him. Once he departed for Dragonstone though, Sansa basically just became a mopey teenager again.
Littlefinger became the pantomime villain, whispering in her ear that the North was hers for the taking. Even as Bran and Arya returned, she more interested in brooding than actually giving fans the Stark reunion they wanted. By Episode 6, the show was painting everyone as idiots up north, not able to form coherent thoughts without Littlefinger seemingly dancing in the shadows. It was dull and arguably the weakest thread of the show, concocted to give audiences something else to watch.
Littlefinger demise (and that twist) was certainly a crowd pleasing moment, but it didn’t really deliver in logic. Audiences spent most of the season thinking eveyone was idiots – but nope, the Stark’s were working together!
8. Littlefinger’s Demise
A lot like Varys, Littlefinger’s character seemed to collapse into a one-dimensional caricature. For a guy who’s managed to manipulate his way so easily through Westeros, he certainly didn’t come off as smart throughout this season. There were attempts to paint him as dastardly – in particular when he setup Arya and that note – but it really fell flat in the grander scheme.
The final scene with him though was arguably the worst treatment of his character. Having overcome all the odds and managing to get some of the shows biggest characters killed (or at the very least, played a hand in said killings) he seemed bizarrely taken aback by the sudden revelation that other people were also scheming. It didn’t fit his character and I was disappointed to see such a strong villain being cast to the side so brazenly. I guess they needed to kill at least one major character in the finale, but Littlefinger arguably deserved much better.
7. The show losing all interest in Dorne and the Sandsnakes
Arguably the most tedious part of Game of Thrones, the Sand Snakes didn’t exactly top many fans lists of popular characters. But at the close of Season 6, there seemed to be a renewed sense of purpose for the group. Taking over in Dorne and siding with Daenerys, it ultimately gave a sense that the show was finally going to deliver solid moments for the group… and then they killed them off.
No lie, they pretty much got on a boat and all died. The writers seemingly throwing their hands up once and for all, deciding that they just weren’t worth the effort and reducing them to plot fodder. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except it really shines a light on the laziest aspect of the shows writing. Instead of making the characters worth a damn, they were just walking plot conveniences. With no mention of who took over in Dorne after their leaders were killed – the show effectively signaled that it didn’t care.
RIP Dorne. You deserved better.
6. De-powering Daenerys
The show spent a good six seasons forcing fans to wait for Daenerys to make the short trip to Westeros. That wait saw her rise, fall and rise again – attaining huge power along the way. But it seems that heading into Season 7, the writers decided that she was just too powerful – so they worked at sorting that in some silly ways.
Getting the Dornish and Tyrell’s on board made sense for the show – but within two episodes their advantage was entirely nullified. Add in the fact that Daenerys fleet of ships was destroyed in one swoop (in a sneak attack that two well-seasoned sea goers arguably should have seen coming) and the show effectively rendered a lot of that build pointless. I understand that they had to make Cersei look strong – but to do in a way that comes off as lackluster ultimately robs the show and makes those seasons of build feel hollow.
There were plenty of better (and more organic) times that the show could have done this without drawing too much attention to it. As it happens, it made Dany look hapless and out of her depth for a good while. Speaking of….
5. Tyrion was an idiot throughout
Having been promoted to Daenerys hand of the Queen – you would have thought Tyrion would come under more scrutiny when he messed up. After all, it was his idea to send the entire Dany fleet down to Dorne while also sending the Unsullied over to Casterly Rock. Both of these ideas were complete busts, and Tyrion really should have felt the heat from both – but never really did. Dany did call him out on them – but she never really went as far as to outright scold him. She seemed very immune to his idiotic choices.
It only got worse, as Tyrion became a walking plot device. He was able to arrange secret meetings, sneak into Kings Landing and even drank wine in the presence of Cersei, who could easily have poisoned that wine. Tyrion’s razor sharp mind was dulled incredibly this year, as he made a series of endless bad decisions that robbed from his characters gravitas.
Plus that scene at the end when he see’s Jon and Dany go into the cabin together felt entirely out of place. No offense Tyrion, you should know better than anyone that relationships of convenience are ultimately the name of the show. Game of Thrones spins on them – yet his look suggested we’re getting jealous Tyrion in Season 8. Not more melodrama, please!
4. Jorah’s Greyscale (And it’s sudden ease of cure)
Jorah’s story is one of endless devotion to Dany. Even when exiled, the guy couldn’t stay away from his Queen, fighting to return all the way. But his greyscale had reached such an extent by the close of Season 6 that even he had to go and seek help elsewhere. It was a touching moment – one that made fans wonder if he’d ever get to see his Queen again. Turns out that, yes he would.
Despite no real build and no real hope, the show opted to give Jorah an off-screen procedure that magically cured him of the disease. Administered by Samwell, the cure was supposed to be this almost impossible remedy. But given the relative ease and speedy recovery that Jorah experienced, it’s a wonder the Maester’s don’t just do it every day. There didn’t seem to be any build to the cure, nor any real payoff other than removing the plot device. Jorah was free to go and ultimately went straight to Dany.
The problem this whole thing created is that it made the greyscale feel like a cheap storyline. Him getting it was this huge moment – but ultimately didn’t hinder him at all. Because the show wasn’t willing to kill Jorah off, a cure was farted out of thin air and administered on the fly. It’s just cheap in my opinion and while it got Jorah back where he should have been all along – the rushed nature of the storyline ultimately only added to the pile of pointless side stories that littered Season 7 of Game of Thrones. If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all. It cheapens other big moments if audiences think the payoff will be weak sauce.
3. The shows increasing reliance on characters as exposition dumps
Game of Thrones has always kind of had this as a problem – but this season it went to a whole new level. Now there wasn’t just one character – there were 2 dumping exposition with convenience.
Bran Stark’s return to Winterfell was arguably the worst for this. He existed to dump out convenient plot moments when required. His meeting with Littlefinger, referencing Sansa’s wedding dress. Heck, I’d go as far as to say that his role in providing the evidence that ultimately brought down Littlefinger really showcased this. It seems that Bran really didn’t have a role outside of offering plot development – which ultimately is just lazy on the writers part. Instead of creating organic moments and shocking twists that the characters can experience, it takes Bran whittling off one liners to set things in motion.
Samwell also was guilty of this to an extent. To say that he spent the whole of Season 6 venturing to Old Town, he only took several episodes to decide he wanted back out again. In his time there, however, he learned enough to push along both the Jon Snow story arc, as well as fix Jorah’s greyscale. Again, somewhat lazy in the grander scheme. For a character that’s always dreamed of being where he ended up – he was relegated to a background info dump – that wasn’t good for the show.
Season 7 relied a bit too heavily on these characters, in particular to solve or push along major plot points. It’s not good television if a character robs the show of potential moments.
2. The show’s desire to not kill main characters
Game of Thrones has earned a reputation for being ruthless when it comes to killing off main characters – but it seems Season 7 was the point where the show went a bit soft. Sure characters died (The Sand Snakes, The Queen of Thorns, The Tyrells) but none of the main characters fell to death this season. Heck, by the time Littlefinger was offed, he’d long since passed the point of usefulness as a main character.
This desire to protect and keep main characters safe harmed several key moments in the series. In particular when Jaimie Lannister pretty much survived certain death thanks to the convenient positioning of Bronn and when none of the main guys who went north of The Wall were killed off. Heck, the show even went ahead and teased the Stark girls turning on each other, didn’t have the balls to go in that direction.
I’m not saying that the show has to kill main characters – but there’s a sense that in protecting so many of the key players this season, the show lost a little bit of its edge. That sense of hopelessness and desire to not see your favorite character be killed off disappeared for the most part. When Jaimie can survive a dragon attack, Tyrion wander into Kings Landing without harm and Jon Snow and his team of B-players can’t be in mortal danger – something is seriously wrong. Season 7 put characters in danger, but didn’t seem willing to pull the trigger.
1. The Messy Timeline
This is the one most fans have been complaining about – and rightly so. Game of Thrones has always played fast and loose with its timeline, but Season 7 saw this get thrown into the Black Water Bay. Suddenly time was being skipped with alarming inconsistency. Samwell’s season-long journey to Old Town in Season 6 felt hilariously out of touch when he was able to make the journey back to Winterfell for the finale in two episodes. Likewise, Daenerys was able to mobilize her entire Dothraki horde in one episode – to a place that’s arguably well out of that range.
The problem is that by messing with the timeline so much, it robbed focus from the finer points. Instead of seeing cool moments, fans had to watch and hope that plot points wouldn’t be relegated to afterthoughts. Moments like the Tyrell’s being defeated were casually overlooked, while we bizarrely had to watch Jon Snow leave The North and seemingly not return for a hell of a long time. It also created awkward plot holes (How did the Unsullied get back to Dany?)
The inconsistency of it all really harmed the shows flow this year, and ultimately made me feel that the attention to detail just wasn’t there. For a show that revels in the detail, this year really didn’t seem to mind skipping it for the convenience of a faster tone. I’m not sure if that was a good trade off, in the end, because it robbed Season 7 of coherency. When the show got it right, it was fine. But when it didn’t, it really did make you wonder how quickly events in Season 8 will unfold.