When HBO bought the rights to adapt George R.R. Martin’s book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ into an eight-season TV show, they knew they were creating a show based on unfinished source material.
‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have created one of the most critically-acclaimed series of all time thanks to their cast, crew and collaboration with George R.R. Martin. However, many fans and critics alike believe that the show has declined in quality as the story has moved beyond the last published book’s ending. The seventh season finale of Game of Thrones solidified to fans that the show isn’t at its best without a solid foundation.
‘Game of Thrones’ is sprinting towards the end of their contract (which is the maximum number of seasons HBO allots), so the writers have opted for condensing as much of the remaining plot as possible. Even though the production value and acting are still unrivaled by nearly any other show, the strange time gaps, inconsistent character development and poorly written sections of dialogue are an unfortunate byproduct.
This is evident in how two major recurring characters, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), have been handled this season: Jon is continuously saved by one poorly written ex machina after another in order to build false tension during the season, push a rushed relationship with Daenerys and underwhelmingly reveal Jon’s own Targaryen heritage. Daenerys is reduced to a near-passive protagonist that continues to make foolish choices when she doesn’t seek the counsel of others.
The unpredictability of ‘Game of Thrones’ (now long gone) is part of what made the show so captivating. The idea that a major character could die at any moment created suspense in every episode. Taking that suspense away this season has reduced the show to its spectacle and lore alone.
The world-building of ‘Game of Thrones’ is still enticing, but the quality of its storytelling has diminished as the show gears up for full-scale war in the final season. Overall, it felt as though the seventh season was just a rushed attempt to towards placing characters in positions that would please the audience later on. However, season eight still has great potential to end the show on a high note but it will be a long time until we viewers find out.
Header image: one of the promotional posters for the seventh season of ‘Game of Thrones’ featuring the faces of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady). Photo courtesy of HBO.