2017: the year “Game of Thrones” ran out of dragon fire.
Despite over one billion illegal streams the latest season of HBO’s Game of Thrones proved disappointing and underwhelming for even this self-proclaimed super-fan.
Inevitably the story would contract as the show draws to a close, but unfortunately the scale of the fictional world was compromised; plot holes regarding distances travelled by characters proved distracting from the battle unfolding on-screen in the season’s penultimate episode. This year’s shorter, seven-episode season was expected to be one of the best as a tangible effort was made to ensure quality was sustained with the limited story remaining. However, the writers could have utilised the forgone runtime to redress this season’s weaknesses. The much-anticipated reunions between the Stark siblings fell emotionally flat, and the destined meetings between principal characters several seasons in the making – namely Daenerys and Jon – felt underwhelming and featured heavy-handed conversation. Memorable scenes from the past, including Tywin Lannister’s introduction in season one and Tyrion Lannister’s speech at his trial in season four, prove the writers’ capability in crafting memorable dialogue, so a great opportunity was missed this season.
The writing used to feature much more intricate storytelling too, but this decline in quality was less noticeable because practical and visual effects were used in flawless harmony to produce stunning set pieces. However, these epic scenes lacked the dramatic build-up that elevated the stakes. It is for this reason that “Beyond the Wall” can’t hold a candle to “Blackwater”. Because the show has surpassed its source material it is just a fan-fiction now, and not a particularly worthy one.
Nobody doubts that viewers will stay until the end. This season broke ratings records despite two advanced leaks of episodes from HBO’s international distributors. In fact, it was reported that pornography searches across the US dropped 4.5% during the season premiere. Some aspects of the show are consistently strong, including Lean Headey’s portrayal of Cersei Lannister, and production value is higher than ever. The show will undoubtedly be remembered for its ground breaking cinematic scope. Unfortunately, the inconsistent quality denies the show the chance of being the best television show ever, despite the strong promise shown in earlier seasons.
I will wait for the remaining books to be published to provide the true ending of the series that it deserves. I still look forward to the next season, but with lower expectations.