The Daily Gamecock

Head to head: 'Game of Thrones' season seven suffers from lack of source material

Maisie Williams, Aiden Gillen and Isaac Hempstead Wright in season 7, episode 7 of 'Game of Thrones.' (Helen Sloan/HBO)
Maisie Williams, Aiden Gillen and Isaac Hempstead Wright in season 7, episode 7 of 'Game of Thrones.' (Helen Sloan/HBO)

Every "Game of Thrones" season feels like an event everyone stops what they're doing to participate in, and season seven was certainly no exception. But, while season seven was certainly thrilling and exciting on the surface, it begins to fall apart when you look too closely. Ultimately the most anticipated season of the show’s history failed to live up to the quality we’ve come to expect.

Visually, I have little to no complaints about season seven. Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss made the absolute most of their higher budget to offer some of the most impressive action, set pieces and CGI in all of entertainment, much less television. With epic, exhilarating battles — the likes of which we traditionally only saw at the tail end of seasons — happening almost every single episode, this season was a visual feast. Unfortunately, this seems to have come at the cost of the show’s smart writing and pacing.

One of the largest complaints hurled at the show this season is the way it has played fast and loose with its timeline. Characters traveled across the vast continent of Westeros at unprecedented, break-neck speed, sometimes starting in one area, showing up in another, returning back and then setting out again all in the course of a single episode. While this accelerated pace would be jarring regardless, it would be more forgivable if it didn’t also come with leaps in logic and divergence from prior seasons.

This is where fans usually come in to say, “It’s a show with dragons and zombies and you’re complaining about travel time?” Yes, George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world is one with dragons, ice zombies and even creepy shadow babies that kill people. However, do you know what George’s world doesn’t have? Super speed. If we follow this “you can’t complain because it’s a fantasy world” to its end, then why doesn’t Jon Snow have heat vision and why doesn’t Daenerys go Super Sayian and Kamehameha Cersei into the sun? (I think that’s how Dragon Ball works?) Even a fantasy world has rules, and you can’t change them in season seven for the writing convenience and expect fans not to complain.

On top of the immersion-breaking pace, "Game of Thrones" also lost a bit of its magic touch that separated it from the pack when it comes to TV. Characters that before seemed like the most interesting and multi-layered people in all of television began to fall into tired tropes that the show got its reputation for breaking. Where before the viewer had legitimate reason to fear for their favorite characters’ fate, we now know that if a character is important enough the show will bend over backwards and come up with some ridiculous deus ex machina in order to make sure they live while all the no-name red shirts die around them. Just like every other show. 

The season seven finale was incredible, and I like where it left us, but the road to get here was awfully rocky. It feels like we are finally feeling the full effect of the show passing its source material. Unfortunately, after my favorite show’s penultimate season, my most prevailing thought is, "When is George going to finally release the next book?"

For a different take on GoT season seven, see Caitlin Burnham's review.