Glass Candle Dialogue: Game of Thrones Season 7 Overview

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Today, Luka and I take a step off the well-worn path with our first post-season dialogue. We look back on some of our favorite moments from season seven and from there, our conversation moves on to the ever-evolving identity of the Game of Thrones fandom, the nature of adaptation itself and the human drama inherent in the White Walker threat. Somehow, Harry Potter, A Clockwork Orange and Merlin get thrown into the mix!

Petra: So … this is going to be a different sort of dialogue since we don’t have the chronological order of an episode to follow. I thought we’d start off with some classic post-season questions: where do you rank season seven among the other six?

Luka: It’s challenging to judge any of the seasons in isolation, as many of their emotional beats were so affecting precisely because of the build up from previous years. These first encounters, in particular Jon and Dany for me, as well as the dozens of reunions and plot developments, meant so much because we’ve been in this world for so long.

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Luka: I was impressed with the first season because it managed to introduce the audience to a new world and a huge cast of characters and still tell a compelling seasonal arc, but it’s not one of my favorites: it was an introduction; the characters were new to me; and the show certainly hadn’t found its identity, cinematographically, so it looked almost generic compared to later seasons. So, if I were to rank season seven, it would probably be in first or second place, competing with season six, and the fourth season would be around there too. But the others only help to prop these up!

Petra: I get what you mean. These last two seasons are certainly my favorites, but so many of the emotional payoffs that make them special are only gratifying because we’ve had five to six seasons of prep work. I think the emotional highs of season seven were all-time Game of Thrones highs but, overall, season six was better paced. That said, if I had to pick one of them to re-watch I would go with season seven, because every episode contained some huge event, which is just more satisfying to binge watch.

Fleet Targaryen 6x10 (7)

Petra: I’ll admit that the season six finale is probably better but I like “The Dragon and the Wolf” more. Jon and Theon’s conversation and the Ironborn fistfight are now among my favorite Game of Thrones scenes, so they place the episode above “The Winds of Winter” for me. More objectively, though, I don’t know if anything will ever top Daenerys setting sail for Westeros, the moment people had been waiting for since season one.

Luka: I couldn’t agree more, but I think I’ll play devil’s advocate, here. Another big moment people had been looking forward to just as much, or perhaps dreading, since the very first scene of season one, was the Wall falling down. And that was our closing sequence this year. I can’t think of a better way to set up the endgame!

Petra: By that point I was a little drunk from so many huge moments. “Oh look, the Wall’s falling down. Cool.” It was the umpteenth amazing thing that’d happened in only seven episodes. Dany setting sail was a much bigger deal in the context of season six.

Luka: We were but sweet summer children in terms of spectacle, weren’t we? The Targaryen fleet sailing with dragons flying overhead was such an impressive sight at the time, but we saw stuff like that every episode in season seven, whether it was Euron’s fleet, or the Lannister and White Walker armies and the dragons roasting them both.

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Petra: Speaking of which, what would you say was your favorite battle?

Luka: I don’t know about “favorite,” but the Field of Fire was the most spectacular. Easily.

Petra: In terms spectacle and photorealistic CGI, the Field of Fire cannot be topped, certainly. But for a sequence in which a dragon roasted most of an army it didn’t have a lot of repercussions — lethal repercussions, anyway: Bronn was running around in his Star Trek red shirt yet he survived; Drogon was stabbed but apparently recovered by the next episode; Jaime went charging at Dany and Drogon with a spear, only for Bronn to save him not only from the dragonfire but from drowning in his heavy armor. The spectacle was much less impressive in the “Stormborn” sea battle, and the editing was choppy, but I felt there were clearer character beats and greater consequences. We had Yara realizing that her military campaign had failed and the anticlimax of Theon trying to get back to his sister only to freeze when she needed him most. At the same time, though, I can’t deny the brilliance of that shot of Drogon roasting the supply line.

Luka: The sea battle was more affecting, for sure. Actually, so was the frozen lake sequence in “Beyond the Wall.” It’s just that, visually, the sea battle and the frozen lake offered bigger versions of things we’d seen before, whereas the Field of Fire introduced us to a new kind of warfare. All in all, if you’re asking me to balance emotional resonance with spectacle, I’d have to go for the frozen lake, despite the controversies. But if you want to know which left me speechless when it ended, that’s gotta be the sea battle.

7x07 Littlefinger Death

Petra: Let’s leave mass slaughter behind and move on to favorite character deaths.

Luka: Littlefinger’s death was beautifully done, for all the reasons we explored last week. That said, Viserion’s death (and un-death) comes surprisingly close. It was brutal.

Petra: If Drogon had died instead of Viserion (for reasons I already bitched about in the dialogue for “Beyond the Wall” and will not waste space reiterating) that would easily be my favorite death scene. As things are, though, I’m going to go with Ellaria’s.

Luka: I may still go for Littlefinger for how well the pieces came together, culminating in that perfect ending, but Ellaria’s last scene is so good it’s difficult to watch. Though, I have to point it out: it’s technically Tyene’s death scene; Ellaria is alive and… not well.

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Petra: Initially I was going to pick Littlefinger too, but I’m just too glad that a scene featuring Indira Varma was well-received to overlook it. She’s such a great actress but, because she was involved in the derided Dorne plot, she never received the acclaim from Game of Thrones fans that she deserved. So I’m happy that that her last scene on the show left such a haunting impression on viewers. I’d say Ellaria’s cruel fate is one of those Game of Thrones punishments that stays with you forever. It’s now at the top of my “Greatest Fears” list, second only to becoming the B segment in a human centipede.

Luka: [Nervous laughter] Okay… Sure. Moving swiftly on. That scene also included the solidification of the “Light of the Seven” ostinato as Cersei’s Mad Queen theme.

Petra: And then Cersei followed it up with a messed-up sex scene with Jaime. That episode was all about Cersei’s madcap House of Horrors, complete with open incest and servants dressed just like her. It was probably my favorite setting of the season.

7x03 Cersei

Luka: The madness in “The Queen’s Justice” was what I expected Cersei’s rule to be throughout, which is why I could never picture her surviving the season. However, her story wound up retaining a pleasently surprising amount of complexity. We saw her discuss finances with the Iron Bank. We saw her win over some Lords of the Reach. She did more politicking than I expected. I thought it would just be a gothic torture chamber for the whole season. That said, now that Jaime has left her, and her only remaining allies are Euron and Qyburn (not the nicest guys you want giving you advice,) a city-wide gothic torture chamber may be exactly what we get until she inevitably dies.

Petra: Even though the showrunners supposedly once said that themes are for eighth-grade book reports, did you find any thematic through lines this season worth exploring? Do you know if they ever said that, by the way? It doesn’t sound right.

Luka: Benioff did, in an interview at Grantland. But the context was very particular, refering the more traditional, network TV “season-long arc.” On Game of Thrones, characters and plots come and go as needed, as do the themes that accompany them. Due to the show’s complexity, Benioff and Weiss can’t write an episode or a season by starting off with a single unifying theme and work from there, the way you traditionally structure a TV show. Benioff wasn’t saying themes aren’t important to a story; he was saying that theirs is a multi-layered story with dozens of plots and characters, so boiling it all down to a single theme — like one may do for a school paper — would be reductive.

7x07 Theon Jon

Petra: That makes more sense. Thematically, there was this recurrence we’ve mentioned before of characters being reunited with loved ones and realizing they’d changed and having to either accept them or cut them out of their lives. We saw this with Jon and Theon, who never exactly “loved” each other but did grow up as brothers.

Luka: Brothers who were both the black sheep of House Stark, for different reasons.

Petra: And Jon finally went “You’re not the same Theon, and I forgive you for as much as I can.” The best demonstration of this theme was with Sansa, Arya and Bran. They’ve all been shaped by trauma. Bran’s changed quite tragically but Arya and Sansa love him unconditionally. The real question became whether or not Arya and Sansa could accept each other. We were led to believe they couldn’t, but then, of course, it was revealed that they’d found a way to work together: Sansa as the one who passes the sentence and Arya as the one who swings the sword. They’d tweaked the dynamics of their relationship to accommodate their growth. And then there was Cersei and Jaime, the only example of my tenuous theme in which the strained relationship actually culminated in separation.

7x07 King's Landing Jaime

Luka: Has your frustration at Jaime’s inability to leave Cersei been subdued now that you can look back on the season as a whole, aware that the break-up was coming all along?

Petra: Yes, because I can appreciate Jaime’s misguided fidelity to her as part of his arc. It’s harder when you’re in the middle of it and you’re thinking, “How much longer is this going to go on?” That’s one of the benefits of binge watching. I can’t imagine getting invested in a show back in Ye Olde Pre-DVR times when you couldn’t re-watch at will because there are so many things I don’t appreciate until afterwards. Sansa, Theon, Jaime … when you don’t know where their story’s going, their mistakes can get annoying but once you know where they’re headed you can look at their darkest, most frustrating moments and appreciate them as necessary low points for a satisfying conclusion.

Luka: I think knowing spoilers relieves — not the dramatic tension — but the worry.

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Petra: This is something we’ve never addressed before: how knowing the spoilers affects your experience of watching the show. Sweet summer child that I am, I knew almost nothing apart from a few spoilers I stumbled across through no fault of my own. So season seven was like riding a roller coaster blindfolded, which was a lot of fun.

Luka: It’s certainly a different experience for me. The cliffhanger for “The Spoils of War,” for example, wasn’t particularly engaging to me because I knew that Jaime and Bronn were in no danger. But that’s not to say that I’m not just as engrossed in the story as everyone else, because I still don’t know how the plot points will really play out. Perhaps the greatest example this season was Arya and Sansa’s conflict. That scene from “Beyond the Wall” in which Arya pulled a knife on Sansa was way more hardcore than I’d expected. So I was surprised. And then, of course, I was completely satisfied with how that plot was resolved in the finale. I knew the plot beats but those are nothing to me. What matters to me is how the director frames the shot, how the dialogue is written and delivered. This is filmmaking; it’s an art with lot of bits and pieces working together. So knowing the outcome doesn’t ruin anything for me. It doesn’t even spare me many shocks. It certainly doesn’t turn my viewing of the show into a passive experience.

Petra: I don’t think watching this show is a passive experience for any hardcore fan.

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Luka: It’s fair to say people like us watch TV differently than most of the population. When something happens in Game of Thrones that we find troublesome in terms of character or theme — like Arya in “Beyond the Wall,” for example — we immediately turn to the writers and wonder about their intent. I noticed that when, say, my parents watch Game of Thrones, they never think in such meta terms. They always judge the characters as characters, as people making decisions. They never question the writing.

Petra: I watched “Stormborn” with my dad and when we got to Arya telling Nymeria, “That’s not you,” my dad asked me to explain that line. I said, “Well, that’s a reprise of something Arya said to her father in season one and it relates to …” and my dad went, “Noooo! No, I just want a simple answer! I don’t need a dissertation.” But those are our parents. Most people in the fandom seem to get it in the same way we do.

Luka: Well, most people in the fandom do. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s been a backlash against the show lately. It’s been coming for a while, in fact.

Petra: No! Really?

Luka: We’ve dicussed this before, in bits and pieces. The sped-up travel and lack of twists in particular are changes that are starting to really bother some people.

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Petra: Of course, there’s a distinction between making coherent critiques and being a “hater” or an “anti” (which I’m realizing, when said aloud sounds like “auntie.”)

Luka: But, coherent or not, I’m not surprised by the criticism. The story is nearing its end, so wherever it leads, it will be increasingly controversial, and the third act pacing will be too different for a fair number of viewers. I don’t know if there’s a solution, short of never actually undertaking the third act, which is by necessity more quickly paced and lacking in the sort of twists for which the story originally became famous.

Petra: Over a year ago I got into a conversation with someone whose Twitter account is dedicated to trashing Game of Thrones. I asked them if they’d ever discontinue the account and they answered, “If it ever stops being fun.” I found that… intriguing.

Luka: As someone who can happily sit and watch “good bad movies” like The Room, believe me: I understand the joy of watching something you consider so bad it’s funny. But hate-watching is another story. I obsess over things that make me happy, which isn’t necessarily the healthiest behavior but I can at least claim with some certainty it’s less harmful than dedicating so much time to something that makes you seethe with rage.

Petra: To some extent I get it, because these characters mean something to them. They are former fans who feel the show did a disservice to characters they care about, like Stannis and Sansa. In all fairness, if I felt that the writers had mishandled Theon’s story this season in a way that suggested to me they didn’t understand or care about his character, I wouldn’t stop watching the show but I would be really angry, because Theon means a a lot to me. So, I don’t want to purport a love it or leave it mentality.

Luka: I can think of several plot developments that would ruin the story for me: if everything’s been Bran’s dream the whole time; if everyone and their mother turns out to be a Targaryen; if compelling characters suddenly become villains for a cheap shock; if the series finale is all about defeating the Night King, without a proper denouement; if it’s all wrapped up in too much of a neat, happy little bow; or, conversely, if it’s absurdly grimdark, like some expect just because of the show’s reputation for merciless deaths.

Season 3 Ramsay Happy Ending GIF

Luka: So I get it, even if my personal standards are different. And I’m aware these people didn’t start off hating the show. But please, as I learned from personal experience by quitting other media, you’ll feel better in the long run if you just let go. It must be frustrating that the show isn’t doing what you’d like, but isn’t it a bit too late for that? What’s your endgame? I’m talking about frustrated haters here. There’s a difference between having problems with a show and just bashing it as misguided therapy.

Petra: I especially don’t like it when people are disrespectful to the show’s creators. Bryan Cogman has often expressed frustration with the trolling he’s suffered online. Don’t ever do that, guys, I don’t care how abhorrent you find their work. Also, even if you’re let down by Game of Thrones, I want to emphasize: it’s … it’s not a bad show! If you believe that, you haven’t watched a truly poorly made show. I love campy sci-fi and fantasy so I’m happy to watch material I can poke fun at, but this isn’t one of those. At all.

Luka: I think most viewers understand that, even if they are disappointed. After all, they only feel so let down because their expectations were so high. Of course, there are the outliers who truly think Game of Thrones is the worst thing ever and are bothered by any kind of liberty taken with the source material, but that’s another story.

Her real name is Asha Greyjoy and that's important because of very real reasons.

Her real name is Asha Greyjoy and that’s important because of very serious reasons.

Petra: I used to be a bit of a purist where book adaptations were concerned.

Luka: Me too, a long time ago. I was insufferable.

Petra: I used to hate the Harry Potter movies from The Prisoner of Azkaban onwards purely because they weren’t a word for word translation. I’ve calmed down a lot since then. Now I just accept adaptations are working in a fundamentally different medium.

Luka: The issue of adaptation always fascinated me. Now, I’m honestly more excited when a filmmaker decides to use a book to make their own thing. Take A Clockwork Orange. That’s a pretty famous example of an adaptation that is fairly faithful to the book’s plot, but the new ending completely flips the thematic intent of the story.

Petra: The book’s worldview is the opposite of the film, which the author hated.

Luka: Yet the film remains a masterpiece, even as it disregards the thematic point of the source material — which by the way, Game of Thrones very much does not do.

Petra: For me, theme is the most important part of an adaptation. Change all the plot points you want but keep the theme, the heart, of the source material.

Luka: We only say that when we’re fans of the original. There are adaptations specifically created to mock the source material, like the movie Starship Troopers, which satirized the book’s militarism by showing it as fascistic. The film is now a cult classic … at least for those who weren’t fans of the book first. I was merely pointing out that, even if Game of Thrones was a truly poor adaptation, it would still hold up as an artistic creation in its own right. That said, Game of Thrones is still telling the same fundamental story.

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Petra: The central character arcs and themes are there, except perhaps for a confused handling of violence, though I thought that was greatly improved in season seven. The show has done a good job at addressing its flaws, I feel. This season particularly excelled at readdressing the long-term consequences of trauma and the devastation of war.

Luka: The theme of war’s destructiveness and meaninglessness has always been present, but the handling of it has certainly improved. It’s more tonally coherent now.

Petra: It’s always been there in theory, but then, in “Battle of the Bastards,” we had a decapitated Son of the Harpy head come flying towards the audience in the same episode in which Jon and his men were crushed by the Bolton army. It was trying to cater to our darkest instincts and examine the horror of war at the same time.

Luka: Whereas, in season seven, the Field of Fire struck a perfect balance. There was no tonal disonnance, except when it was done on purpose, as a subversion.

Petra: Yes, exactly!

Luka: We were supposed to think it would be cool to see a dragon in battle. And it was. We all cheered when Drogon showed up! But then we saw the consequences, the Lannister soldiers screaming as they burned, and suddenly it got complicated. The moment that was unabashedly awesome, though, was when the dragons rescued the magnificent seven by burning the wights. That’s why zombies are so popular: all the action with none of the moral quibbles. You can kill as many mindless humanoids as you want. Sure, it’s a bit too damn convenient for the storyteller, but at least there’s no tonal dissonance. Of course, you don’t want all of your antagonists to be zombies, because dealing with difficult issues of morality is a large part of the show’s appeal.

7x03 Cersei Euron

Petra: I’m really glad that Cersei and Euron are both still alive because I fully expected them both to die in the finale and that would have left us with just the Night King, who I don’t find interesting as a character. He’s scary but I don’t find the conflict he creates compelling. So I like that there are at least two human adversaries left, particularly Cersei who is such a nuanced, multifaceted character.

Luka: For many years I was sure that, in both the books and the show, the human conflict would end and the story would move on to focus exclusively on the threat of the White Walkers. I think that was a very common thought and I have no idea what we were thinking. Seriously. Getting rid of Cersei so our heroes can move North now seems like such an incredibly boring setup compared to what we’re getting instead. I’m actually pleasantly surprised that the show isn’t doing what I wanted it to. I was so wrong.

Petra: Isn’t it amazing that the idea of an army of zombies lead by a Night King riding an Ice Dragon is less engaging than a sister and her dwarf brother having an argument?

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Luka: At the same time, I don’t want to knock the White Walkers. I think we just need to approach them from a certain perspective. You said you don’t consider the Night King to be an interesting character. I would agree with you, except that I don’t consider him to be a character at all. Listen to how Jon and Beric speak about him and his undead army; like death itself is coming. If you frame the White Walkers as a pandemic, or the very concept of death coming to get us, the conflict becomes quite compelling.

Petra: That’s true. Beric said it explicitly: “death is the enemy.” And he admitted that the enemy always wins, but that they have to keep fighting it anyway. You can read the inevitability of the Night King’s arrival as an allegory for mortality. So if you’re going to interpret the story from the angle that it’s about the human desire to evade death, then it’s not really about the impending conflict itself, or even how the conflict resolves.

Luka: It’s how the characters deal with it.

Petra: Do they come together, like Jaime intends to, or do they break apart, like Cersei does? Does the fear bring out their better selves or their worst selves?

Luka: I’m pretty confident the Night King won’t win in the end. There are some people who insist that Game of Thrones is grimdark but it really isn’t. It’s a story about humanity and it won’t end with the extinction of mankind. Still, they’re using the White Walker threat effectively, as a force that creates drama for our characters, even if there won’t be much interpersonal complexity within the White Walker ranks or in their interactions with humanity (though we may get more about their intentions, we’ll see.) It would be like complaining that a zombie movie doesn’t develop the zombie side enough. That’s not the point. The zombies may as well be a natural disaster — an opportunity for human conflict, for action, for stories of survival and humanity and redemption.

Wall - Eastwatch Breach 7x07 (18) Night King Viserion

Petra: As much as I love ambiguity and complex character interactions, it is difficult to create a climax of truly epic scale for a huge story like ASOIAF or Game of Thrones when you’re trying to focus on the personal stories on both sides. Merlin failed at this, with the single worst villain arc I have ever seen. Morgana started out as an interesting Magneto or Demona-esque advocate for the oppressed but then devolved into this two-dimensional cartoon villain who made no sense but needed to be de-humanized to the point that the show could write a series finale showdown around defeating her. For the sake of not doing that to flawed but nuanced characters like Cersei, we need a villain that represents death itself, like the Night King, to base our endgame around.

Luka: Crucially, this fight against the dead does not put an end to the compelling human conflict Game of Thrones excels at — that’s why Cersei is still alive, that’s why even the “heroic” characters still disagree on crucial issues. The drama is still there. The life-against-death stakes just give it an epic, climactic framework. And this doesn’t come out of nowhere, either: the very first scene we saw set up the White Walkers as the primary threat. So Game of Thrones doesn’t have to devolve into a simplistic good-versus-evil story. It’s going to be what it’s always been: a story about people facing adversity and the consequences of their actions … but with zombies, tits, and dragons.

Wall - Beyond Frozen Lake 7x06 Dragons Drogon Viserion Rhaegal Wights

Petra: We should save the rest of our ideas for how the show will end for next week.

Luka: True. We got our thoughts on the climactic themes out of the way, so next week it should be all about our geeky theories, our season eight plot predictions. Stay tuned!

72 responses

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    1. Really awesome read. I’m puzzled about the backlash as well, since it got really *loud* (even warranting a bumper at the end of a Rick and Morty episode saying “RIP -the writing in GOT”, though Dan Harmon argues it wasn’t his idea).
      To each their own, but as you say, it’s a bit late to start complaining about travel times, considering Littlefinger jetpack jokes have been around since S2. I’m not sure if more traveling scenes would’ve made people happy, or if they would have looked for other things to complain about.
      It was bound to happen in a way. The show is nearing its conclusion and everyone has different expectations. I do think D&D (plus Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill) kind of deserve more credit than most people are willing to give them. I don’t envy their position, trying to finish a story that is still incomplete in the book series.
      The show could’ve easily become a trainwreck and it became an astonishing success instead. There have been some slips here and there, but I think they’re going to stick the landing.

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    2. Great discussion.

      I would not be surprised if by Season 8 this “backlash” turns into unadulterated praise for the show. The hivemind of the internet is fickle and frequently devoid of original thought.

      I think your point about the white walkers is spot on. They are not characters. They are there to put the real human characters in difficult positions and see how they react. The choices the chracters make in the face of this threat is what is going to define them as humans which i think is one of the key things.

      The white walkers don’t need personality, similar to Zombies yes but also just to Nazis. How many world war two movies take the time to develop nazis into compex characters? Most of them don’t and are still great with dunkirk being just the most recent example.

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    3. Morgoth,

      They deserve a ton of credit. At the end of the day this show is going down as one of the great shows in TV history. Right now it is the highest rated multi-season scripted show in IMDB history. It is an incredible achievment.

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    4. Morgoth,

      I’m not worried about the show’s legacy. Characters won’t travel that much in S8. There will be big deaths and big battle scenes. There will be plot twists (we know about the third big plot twist GRRM gave to D&D) and so on.

      I mean I’m sure there will be fans who won’t be happy that Jon and Dany will rule together in the end( and that will happen) but overall I think S8 will have a great reception.

      It will be the end of Act 3. S4 and S6 as the end of the first two acts were really popular.

      Ofc book purists will find a reason to create some controversy, just like always. They never fail to find a scene to bitch about.

      You would assume that Yara vs Ramsay was the most important scene of S4 or that Dornish plot was the whole point of S5.

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    5. mau: You would assume that Yara vs Ramsay was the most important scene of S4 or that Dornish plot was the whole point of S5.

      I guess the writers should take it as a compliment when the criticism focuses on something that took like 20 minutes in a 9 to 10 hour season.

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    6. Luka Nieto,

      I thought that when I recently re-watched Season 5. The whole plot line people were bashing this whole season for takes up a handful of scenes.

      I also found it really interesting what you said about analyzing the meta reasons vs. just accepting how the characters acted and trying to analyze that. I personally find it much more interesting to just analyze what is shown and only if it doesn’t make any sense (vs. i don’t like how the characters acted) go for the more meta reasons.

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    7. mau,

      Why are you so confident Dany and Jon rule together in the end?

      I think that is the most likely outcome based on the foreshadowing, themes and the natural end for their arcs, but curious why you think so.

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    8. House Monty,

      She will have a child so she won’t die. Jon is legitimate Targaryen, so that has to serve some purpose in the story.

      Ending the story with the stable rule and united realm after 8 seasons of chaos is something that makes sense. I don’t see a point in further destruction of the Seven Kingdoms.

      And we know from S7 that Jon is not KITN anymore, he doesn’t care for the independence of the North. And I don’t think that Sansa or other lords will either after the Great War.

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    9. I didn’t read the books yet, and only will do it after season 8. And i’m one of those who felt that this season had more cases of bad writing than the previous ones! It felt sometimes like i was watching some really bad fan fiction, especially episode 7.06! I really hope that they’ll be able to do better for the last season…

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    10. Though I find the pacing argument overrated, writing and pacing moments existed this season which didn’t resemble season 1-6. Dialogue at times, seemed off. The praise and criticism both, falls to their feet, because they stated they could wrap it in 13 episodes.

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    11. orange,

      D&D (and Cogman and Hill) do write dialogue differently than Martin, I don’t think anyone can deny that. That doesn’t mean they should try to emulate him, though, and there’s no source material to actually copy. As for the pacing, yes, it’s different. This is the endgame, the third act. It’s going to be faster. So should it be in the books. The pace of books four and five may be appropriate for the second act of a huge story like this, but not for the third and final act.

      Patrick: It felt sometimes like i was watching some really bad fan fiction, especially episode 7.06!

      In what sense?

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    12. I urge anyone who complains about “bad writing” to actually read the transcripts of the episodes. They are quite good.

      Look, I wish the show could devote three hours a week for 50 weeks a year to cover every detail and nuance. But it’s just impossible. I for one would’ve loved 40 minutes of “Beyond the Wall” devoted to Sandor, Jon, Beric, Thoros and Gendry reminiscing about Arya. Realistically, everyone’s got their pet story lines. Theon-lovers wanted more scenes for him.

      Ya can’t please everyone…

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    13. As usual, amazing discussion. I second everything you guys said about the controversies, translation x adaptation and the option to go for the more cinematographic approach at this point in the story.

        Quote  Reply

    14. I guess the writing could have been improved in S7E6 by having Jorah tell Jon instead of we will freeze if we are out here much longer…. Jon, we have been out here a couple days already, we are going to freeze soon or something to that effect.

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    15. I can’t wait to read your theories on how the show will end next week. I loved how you compared the zombies to a natural disaster, that really is a great way to put it! I never thought I would read about “The Room” in a WotW article, as a fan of MST3K/Rifftrax it was a pleasant surprise.

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    16. While I do LOOOOVE GoT and the ASOIAF series, I was definitely one of the ones who criticized this season. Not necessarily because of the time travel – I can definitely tell time has passed within the context of the show/dialogue, but my issue was more that the writers sacrificed a lot of character conversations or interactions in order to progress the storyline quickly. This season could’ve easily been 10 episodes as it had so many great moments and great reunions, I just wish there was time to breathe between them. And to be honest … I’m a little sad Dany didn’t do more to save Yara. I know i know, with the Dragonpit meeting, and the Night King, how could she? But they had a connection in Meereen! I thought they were homies. But definitely loved Season 7 overall.

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    17. Luka Nieto,

      Plotwise, all the nonsense of going in a quest to catch a wight for Cercei, i did enjoy the moments between the characters and some dialogue but it doesn’t erase the rest like When John kills the white walker, just 1 of the wights survived; Gendry runing to Eastwatch, sending the raven and Daenerys arriving in time to save the day with her Dragons… The Winterfell plot between Arya, Sansa and Little Finger was imo handled badly, maybe they needed more time to develop it…
      I’m not saying all was bad this season there were great moments and epsiodes but it wasn’t a cohesive season. It’s not because D&D don’t have the books anymore to guide them because imo they did a great job in Season 6.

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    18. House Monty:
      I guess the writing could have been improved in S7E6 by having Jorah tell Jon instead of we will freeze if we are out here much longer…. Jon, we have been out here a couple days already, we are going to freeze soon or something to that effect.

      We can agree on that. These time concerns were an issue of clarity, at most (though I personally needed no clarification, but I can get why others did.) As I’ve said before, more an issue of storytelling than an issue inherent in the story. I just can’t stand all the “Plot hole!” shouts left and right.

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    19. Ten Bears,

      I think the writers could have written a few simple sentences mentioning Arya, the arrow that struck Drogon.. Tyrion concern for Jamie’s as he was attacking Daenerys that would have taken maybe a minute or two on screen to make the show more believable.

      I also think Queen Cersei should have had a more dramatic arrival to the Dragonpit in episode 7… Queen Cersei walked into the Dragonpit.
      That doesn’t make sense. Queen Cersei should have been carried to the Dragonpit by a good amount of Lannister soldiers.

      Joffery and Margery used to carried around King’s Landing in carts. Tyrion did too. Some man who gave a lot of gold to Daenerys in Essos was carried in a cart too.

      Season 7 is very good but it could have easily been better.

        Quote  Reply

    20. Gfx,

      Uh, the natural disaster trope is straight from GRRM’s mouth – has been repeated for years. Credit due/given.

      I loved reveals, battles and resolutions this season (and the set up for next) but not crazy about the season as a whole. In a way, seemed like the show runners and actors just want it over with. Hope it improves in the larger context of the series as a whole.

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    21. Apart from this amazing discussion, I know Luka’s first language is Spanish (hopefully I’m not wrong?), but WOW!! You have such a great command of English, any tips?! 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    22. firstone,

      Yes I found it very strange that the squad beyond the wall didn’t mention Arya when most of them had her in common, or even ask each other what happened to her, especially Gendry who was her friend. but I thought maybe they’re preparing big reunions next season that would have a better dramatic payoff if things were left unspoken of.

        Quote  Reply

    23. Luka Nieto,

      I agree. I personally have no trouble making the timelines work and assume they were there for a while. We already saw one night fall and Jorah complaining about them being about to freeze. I said that more because it would have helped other people. Not sure we can even assume a day is 24 hours on Planetos since that would mean the relationship between Planetos and its sun is exactly the same as earth which seems unlikely.

      I mentioned this in another thread but curious to get your thoughts. If I had an issue with this season other than the characters I like not always making the decisions I would want them to make, it was that they could have spent more time on the two critical decisions that drove the plot: 1.) not attacking King’s Landing and 2.) thinking a truce with Cersei was achievable.

      Do you think we were given enough to understand the character and strategic motivations that lead to those decisions?

      Overall though, I loved the season. The best marker of that is that I still want to talk and analyze it a week and a half after it finished.

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    24. Luka, Petra–This Glass Candle is your crowning achievement. You not only dissected why the last episode (mostly) worked, but the entire season. And your insights into writing concepts, narrative necessities, audience reaction, human nature, and more were very apt. But Luka, you hit the frustrating nail on the head:

      “I don’t know if there’s a solution, short of never actually undertaking the third act, which is by necessity more quickly paced and lacking in the sort of twists for which the story originally became famous.”

      IMO. that is a large part of GRRM’s dilemma. I’ve waited almost 20 years for a conclusion…and no longer think his will ever see publication. Thank the gods that D&D, for all their flaws and decisions I agreed or disagreed with, will finish the tale. You can’t please all the people all of the time, but such a wonderful tale with so many memorable characters deserves closure.

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    25. Stoneheart:
      Apart from this amazing discussion, I know Luka’s first language is Spanish (hopefully I’m not wrong?), but WOW!! You have such a great command of English, any tips?! 🙂

      I just spent so much time on the anglosphere (with movies, shows, podcasts, newspapers, the Internet in general) that I absorbed it all… and started to forget my native language 😛

      House Monty,

      Tyrion could’ve been more skeptical of the notion that Cersei’s sanity would prevail, I guess. But Cersei is not as crazy as in the books, especially when Tyrion last saw her. I don’t know; someone has yet to explain convincingly to me why the wight hunt is such an obviously bad idea. Sure, it’s dangerous and desperate; but they ARE in a dangerous and desperate situation. Maybe Jon and Dany could’ve insisted on Cersei inviting other southern Lords to the dragonpit, not just Jaime, and Euron? Maybe people would find it more believable that way.

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    26. Luka Nieto,

      “Maybe they could’ve insisted on inviting other southern Lords, not just Cersei, Jaime, and Euron? Maybe people would find it more believable that way.”

      When I first caught wind of this scene through spoilers I envisioned the dragonpit filled with not only other southern nobles but also KL commoners. In hindsight, Cersei would never allow for this to happen, but yeah, that would’ve been a highly more effective tactic for Daeny/Jon and co to take. Enlighten other southern houses and the people of KL to the truth of the wights and then leave it to Cersei to deal with a panicked populous when she turns down the protection of dragons.

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    27. Luka Nieto,

      I actually don’t think in general the idea of capturing a wight to pause the war in the South and unite against the common enemy is a bad idea. High level, Dany crushed the Lannister armies after the field of fire so she now can militarily control the Reach and the Westerlands. However, given she doesn’t want to burn King’s Landing, winning the war would require a long and protracted siege they don’t have time for since Bran tells them the army of the dead is marching on Eastwatch. So sending a commando team to capture evidence of the threat to get to an armistice so they can move their armies North and deal with the army of the dead makes sense I think.

      The tough part of the plan at least for me was that they had to negotiate with Cersei. And given how we as audience members see her PoV we know she is the worst and would look to take advantage of the armistice in any way she could. I buy that Dany and Jon wouldn’t see her as horrible enough to do what she in the end does. The tougher pill to swallow was that Tyrion wouldn’t assume the worst of his sister given their history together and given how much he talks about how well he knows her. But in fairness to him, she has gotten even worse over the last couple of years since he last interacted with her.

        Quote  Reply

    28. House Monty,

      It’s interesting that you brought up war movies. One observation I made that we had to omit for length was that war movies that humanize both sides of the conflict tend to tell smaller scale stories than those that frame the conflict as good vs evil. Take Joyeux Noel, for example.

      Similarly, I think GoT needs a straightforward, unambiguous villain for the sort of large scale climax an 8 season run of this magnitude warrants.

        Quote  Reply

    29. Ten Bears,

      Absolutely true! And I really believe the show is doing its best to wrap up its many plot threads in a satisfactory manner. I don’t envy Weiss & Benioff the pressure that’s on them

        Quote  Reply

    30. Patrick,

      I sort of understand the criticism that s7 felt like fan fiction insofar as it included a lot of things that fans had wanted to see for years (Jonerys & an ice dragon most notably). What I don’t understand is the accusation that it is like BAD fan fiction, particularly since a lot of fan theories & fiction are based on clues in the text. In your opinion, what would have been a preferable route for GoT to take?

        Quote  Reply

    31. mau:
      House Monty,

      She will have a child so she won’t die. Jon is legitimate Targaryen, so that has to serve some purpose in the story.

      Ending the story with the stable rule and united realm after 8 seasons of chaos is something that makes sense. I don’t see a point in further destruction of the Seven Kingdoms.

      And we know from S7 that Jon is not KITN anymore, he doesn’t care for the independence of the North. And I don’t think that Sansa or other lords will either after the Great War.

      Is it possible that Dany could die during childbirth?

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    32. Patrick,

      I’d like to know that as well.

      “Fan fiction”, I sort of get, though I still believe it’s a misunderstanding of what ‘fan fiction’ and ‘adaptation’ are; and, if meant as criticism, it’s unnecessarily demeaning of fan fiction. But anyway, what makes it “bad fan fiction”?

        Quote  Reply

    33. Petra, you said:

      “I can’t imagine getting invested in a show back in Ye Olde Pre-DVR times when you couldn’t re-watch at will because there are so many things I don’t appreciate until afterwards.”

      You are absolutely right about that! This season moved fast, and not just because it was only 7 episodes. In fact, it moved so fast for me that I had to watch episodes 3 or more times before the next one would air. What a horrible problem to have. :))

      But, like you said, that technology really allows me to appreciate later what I would gloss over on an initial viewing.

      Looking forward to the next Dialogue….and the comments that follow!

        Quote  Reply

    34. Mr Derp,

      It’s possible in the theoretical sense, but it’s an awful ending for the series’ main female character, so I don’t think it warrants realistic consideration.

        Quote  Reply

    35. Mr Derp,

      Yes, it’s possible she’ll die in childbirth, but I’m hoping it won’t happen, or if it does, that a red priestess brings her back. One theme of the show is how bad the patriarchy is that got Westeros into this situation. To me, it would be disappointing to stop short of the logical conclusion and put Dany in charge at the end, even as a co-ruler or constitutional monarch. Also, if her remaining dragons have to die, I’m hoping she gets twins or triplets (death having paid for life).

      As for Jon being legit, that also means he’s a suitable husband for her, in addition to the heir to the throne. Speaking of legitimacy, wouldn’t it be ironic if Jon and Dany discuss marriage or get engaged while en route to White Harbor (since we know she has thought about making an alliance through marriage, and this isn’t a casual affair), and she offers to legitimize him as Jon Stark before he finds out he’s Aegon Targaryen? I think he would tentatively agree but would want to discuss the legitimization (but not necessarily the engagement) with his “siblings” first so they wouldn’t feel threatened.

      Also, I’ve been picturing a scene where Jon, Dany and company arrive at Winterfell and she meets his family for the first time. Do you think it would be like the scene where Robert, Cersei, Jaime etc. arrived at Winterfell and everyone stood in a line and bowed down? Do the dragons just land on the walls and scare everyone to death?

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    36. House Monty,

      NOTHING could improve the perfect absurdism of a bored Sandor deciding to throw rocks at the ice zombies.

      Everyone else is probably thinking “I’m freezing to death and surrounded by hundreds of undead.” Sandor’s thinking “dumb c*nt”, after nailing a wight in the face.

        Quote  Reply

    37. Rightful Queen,

      “Also, I’ve been picturing a scene where Jon, Dany and company arrive at Winterfell and she meets his family for the first time. Do you think it would be like the scene where Robert, Cersei, Jaime etc. arrived at Winterfell and everyone stood in a line and bowed down? Do the dragons just land on the walls and scare everyone to death?”

      🙂 I’ve tried to imagine how this scene will go down and I inevitably think back to the king’s arrival at WF in S1 too!
      Only, I don’t think it will be as dreary as that scene was. A reunion between Arya and Jon will distract from any tension.
      As for the dragons, I hope they will be looked upon by the northerners as their salvation from the icy threat. More awe than dread.

        Quote  Reply

    38. ramses,

      If Jon/Dany make it to Winterfell before the Night King does then I expect a pretty icy reception. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had Tyrion make some remark about the reception being warmer, along with the weather, the last time royalty came to visit.

      It’s hard to tell these days whether the producers will maintain their narrative consistency from one season to the next, but they appeared to deliberately highlight the potentially hostile reception Daenerys could expect.

      Jon’s advice to have them travel together was apparently based on his concerns about how Dany would be received.

      But Jon has been an absentee king. He has just given away The North’s (and presumably The Vale’s) independence. He is understood to have struck an alliance with the hated Lannisters. And the Northern and Vale lords’ support for him was clearly shown to be wavering.

      As things stand, his decision to present a united front would be more likely to reflect poorly on him rather than improve Dany’s image.

      Torrhen Stark’s moniker, The King Who Knelt, was not meant affectionately. And Lord Glover reminded Jon on more than one occasion of how Robb, “The King Who Lost the North”, lost his kingdom while mixed up with a “foreign w***e”.

      They’ve laid down so much groundwork for dissent and resentment from the Northerners that it’d be a shame if they just glossed over it all.

      As for how they see the dragons. They don’t necessarily recognise the seriousness of the threat from beyond The Wall yet. If the dragons turn up, along with Daenerys’ legions of Dothraki and Unsullied, before the Northerners have come to appreciate the gravity of the threat posed by the White Walkers then they are unlikely to be viewed as their saviours.

      It’s hard to tell how Season 8 will go though. With so little time left, they’ll probably make all the politics pretty straightforward. But I think there’s so much scope for exploring the consequences and complexities of this uncomfortable alliance and Jon’s decision to surrender The North.

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    39. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      It’s possible the dissent shown by northern houses was established specifically for this season in order to explain Jon’s reticence to join with Daeny.
      But it might carry over into next season if they don’t yet grasp their dire situation by the time Jon and Daeny arrive.
      IDK where the army of the dead will hit first, maybe last hearth.

        Quote  Reply

    40. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Since Bran is there, the news of the Wall’s fall will already be known well before Jon arrives.

      I agree that you would think, based on Season 7, that there were setting up conflict amongst Jon’s supporters, but I’m not sure that that would come across as anything but really stupid given the gravity of the situation at that point. Beyond that, the show has typically had little interest in characters not in the main cast, and since all of the Starks are apparently onboard with the Targaryen alliance, there’s no main character conflict this could feed into.

        Quote  Reply

    41. Stoneheart:

      Yes I found it very strange that the squad beyond the wall didn’t mention Arya when most of them had her in common, or even ask each other what happened to her, especially Gendry who was her friend. but I thought maybe they’re preparing big reunions next season that would have a better dramatic payoff if things were left unspoken of.

      What I also found perplexing is when Jon got a RavenGram at Dragonstone that Arya was in WF, he said “I thought she was dead.”

      Why? She was last seen alive and well by Brienne and Pod.

        Quote  Reply

    42. House Monty,

      Yah maybe but wouldn’t someone say that she still may be alive since people had seen her not that long ago? Just seems odd – along with many many little odd things here and there this season.

        Quote  Reply

    43. Cersei’s Brain,

      I don’t know. If my sister had disappeared and I hadn’t seen her in 6 years and no one had seen her in two years I could imagine I would start thinking she was dead.

      Two years is a very long time. And in fairness, Arya probably should have died in those two years had it not been for her extra strong plot armor stomach.

        Quote  Reply

    44. Ten Bears,

      Yep, that was great. I rolled up LMAO when he threw that rock removing the lower jaw of the zombie! The zombie didn’t seem to give a shit, but certainly had the intelligence to know the lake had refrozen when Sandor’s second rock slid along the ice failing to reach him… Then shit really hit the fan, hehe 😀

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    45. I agree with all you guys are saying, but I just wanted to add one more very notable death scene. In an article about dialogue, we can’t simply forget the Queen of Thorns’ death scene. So beautiful, so simple, such amazing acting, writing, set-up. An amazing closure to a gigantic arc and an important plot point for the rest of the great scenes from this season. Hats and veils down for Diana Rigg!

        Quote  Reply

    46. Petra,

      Oh i don’t mind that they are giving what the fans wanted or predicted.
      John and Daenerys plot i actually enjoyed and i think they did a great job with it. I think the biggest problem i have with this season are decisions to develop the story, getting from point A to point B. Sometimes it felt rushed or silly. It kind of felt like i was watching another show and not in a good way.
      Saying that season 7 wasn’ all bad, i enjoyed almost everything in the first 4 episodes and i hope D&D will be able to get back on track and give us a satisfying last season.

        Quote  Reply

    47. mau,

      Jon has to die. He’d never want to sit on the iron throne or live in King’s Landing. So he’ll be sacrificed. However, Dany will take the throne and have his child, so Jon will live on in a way. That’ll be the bitter-sweet ending GRRM promised.

        Quote  Reply

    48. QueenofThrones,

      Yeah. There’s a bunch of episode transcript sites. I haven’t figured out how to cut and paste links yet. I actually type up my own for favorite scenes using multiple rewinds + closed captioning, because transcript sites aren’t always accurate and often don’t specify who’s talking.

      One transcript site is
      It only goes through S6, and again, I question its accuracy.

      Another is
      Their GoT transcripts are up to date, but again, for the most part they don’t attribute the speaker to the dialogue, and I don’t vouch for their accuracy.

      Nevertheless, reading transcripts makes me realize how much detail in the dialogue I miss because the acting* or action is so awesome; or because I’m cracking up.

      * I typed out, and will never tire of reading Rory McGann’s “monologue” to Arya in S4e7, when he tells her how Gregor burned him. He goes from lashing out at her to empathizing with her in the course of 2-3 minutes. When you read the words, you can hear Sandor’s voice and see his face.

      Another great scene that’s enjoyable to read (and relevant to S7) is Jon unchaining Tormund in S5 and proposing to save the Wildlings. I forget which episode; may be 5 x 5.

        Quote  Reply

    49. House Monty,

      As a matter of fact, Brienne had this talk with Sansa in S6 & Sansa accepts that she’s probably alright. Just strange continuity (or non-continuity) in writing. Not a major thing but just too many little glitches like this in S7.

        Quote  Reply

    50. Team Arya,

      Right, the Jon Snow who never wanted to rule, who considers the north to be his home and would be devastated to learn that his real birthright is King’s Landing, who considers death easier than life at this point, and who has been trying to nobly sacrifice himself every other episode (and already “died for his people” once before) is going to brood over a reveal that was 20+ years in the making for five minutes before making a sperm donation and peace-ing out again. Because if there’s one thing we can count on in this series, it’s characters getting precisely what they want and a series-long mystery that took two full seasons to fully reveal having no impact on the endgame. Why deal with “the human heart in conflict with itself” when we can just wave the biggest inner conflict in the series away with a conveniently placed heroic sacrifice? Sounds legit.

        Quote  Reply

    51. Ten Bears,

      Thank you! I will check them out.

      I was astonished by how good the writing this season was in terms of dialogue. I think (hope) when people complain about the writing what they really mean is the plotting which I agree was at times a little ham handed.

      But the characters were practically spot on in terms of their dialogue and associated acting. I was afraid for My faves Dany and Jaime particularly because of so many haters that wanted Jaime to stab Cersei randomly and die or wanted Dany to try to burn Jon alive. Fortunately the writers know the characters a lot better than the fans…

        Quote  Reply

    52. elybe,

      You should probably begin steeling yourself for disappointment.

      The consequences of that series-long mystery are apparently going to be resolved in 6 episodes.

      At this stage I honestly wouldn’t rule out the sperm donation then death scenario.

        Quote  Reply

    53. elybe:

      and a series-long mystery that took two full seasons to fully reveal having no impact on the endgame.

      Wholeheartedly agree. As mentioned before at another post, Jon’s death at this point would be against his arc and would mess up the entire story. If someone is to be sacrificed it won’t be Jon. 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    54. Patrick,

      As I told one of my BFFs with whom I watched every Sunday night, the production values (costuming, CGI, cinematography, etc.) were higher than ever, but I felt that S7 sacrificed a lot of nuance and character development (which were at the core of prior seasons) for spectacle. As I’ve noted in other threads, I do understand that the urgency of the Great War against the White Walkers requires accelerated pacing, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of logic or continued character development. Human nature doesn’t change in wartime; it simply reveals itself in different ways.

      Hope that makes sense.

        Quote  Reply

    55. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Glover and the rest of the northern “lords” are a bunch of blowhards ignorant of what is coming for them. Dany will fight for the north whether the sexist xenophobic northerners want her to or not. But hey I’m sure in northern logic it would be better to die and become a zombie enthralled to evil incarnate than to bend your knee and admit you need help. Without Aejon and Dany the north is lost but at least it will be “independent”.

        Quote  Reply

    56. Sean C.,

      Exactly. Glover already looks like an idiot every single time he opens that big loud mouth. If the northerners value their “honor” or whatever it is that makes them blind to the reality of any situation over survival then they need to fall.

        Quote  Reply

    57. Team Arya:

      Jon has to die. He’d never want to sit on the iron throne or live in King’s Landing. So he’ll be sacrificed. However, Dany will take the throne and have his child, so Jon will live on in a way. That’ll be the bitter-sweet ending GRRM promised.

      Oh I really hope not because the ending will seriously suck if that happens. Did you read the S8 predictions by James Hibberd and Kim Renfro? Both are convinced one of Jon or Dany will die and rate her the more likely of the two. An ending where Jon ends up ruling despite never wanting to fits a lot better to me than Dany having to try and rule.

        Quote  Reply

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