After a bittersweet, severely shortened season seven (Part I), I find myself emotionally exhausted, full of anxiety, yet without an ounce of cathartic release.
While the finale was certainly a decent episode, and maybe decent is understating things slightly, it struck me as a divergence from the spirit of George R.R. Martin’s source material and… well… I just have to say it: there were some real cheap, uninspired moments in this episode.
Without discussing the arch of season seven at great length, it is worth mentioning that the second-to-last episode was probably the most exciting, the most inspired, the most satisfying. However, without a ten-episode season, I lost my favorite tradition of all-time. Every ninth episode, a king dies. Not so in this season (although, as mentioned, it did keep up the tradition of the second-to-last episode being excellent and, more often than not, better than the season finale).
What follows are some very, very random thoughts. I wish I were a better writer and planner with a longer attention span; however, since that isn’t happening anytime soon (and the only time I find to write these things are during my prep period, when I should be grading papers or exercising), I’ll have to simply spew forth my reactions.
Bran Done F*cked Up!
Sam: At the Citadel, I transcribed a High Septon’s diary. He annulled Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia. He wed Rhaegar and Lyanna in a secret ceremony.
Bran: Are you certain?
Uh… yeah… the Three-Eyed Raven, the guy who has access to all of history through his awesome dreams just made a mistake about what happened in history. That’s not unlike asking God to make you a burrito, then taking a bite and realizing he put in black licorice and pickled herring, and froze it solid before handing it to you on a live crab.
While this fact was supposed to be a bombshell, it really only was for those of us who hadn’t figured it out like four episodes ago. They’ve been hinting at it for some time, and even the more observant of us started to see that the look of guilt on Ned’s face (when thinking of Jon Snow) wasn’t about his own infidelity, but the severity of the secret he was entrusted with by his sister on her “bed of blood.”
Now, at this point, we know that George R.R. Martin’s source material is no longer being used, or at least that’s the rumor (I’m currently reading the first book). Poor David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who I’ve often wondered what their purposes are (since the series so closely follows the books, hence not really needing writers), are more or less on their own (and remind them that I’ve met them back when they were small potatoes visiting a private college in southern California… yeah, I’m name-dropping).
I am placing blame squarely on them for much of my whiny rants in this post. HOWEVER, is this whole Bran The Omniscient making a mistake thing intentional? I’d like to give them credit and hope that this hints at something more than Sam Tarly’s perspicacity, and I hope that it’s GOOD for the living, not good for the Others.
Last note: I give credit on this observation to a student of mine. He actually caught this very crucial point while I was dozing in my glass of Dornish red.
Perhaps the worst, worst, WORST moment in this episode was Theon Greyjoy getting kneed in the crotch. I have at least a couple of reasons for it, but the first goes like this: A NUT SHOT! IN GAME OF THRONES! David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, I’m officially coming for your souls.
Theon, of course, had his manhood cruelly removed (is there any other way) by Ramsay Bolton. What a dick!
In this episode, a renegade Greyjoy (are there any other kind) declares himself leader and aims to sail away with the rest of the Ironborn to capture a small island and weather the storm, so to speak. When Theon insists that they save his captured sister, Yara, the nameless Ironborn fights Theon.
After a few rounds of whipping his ass, he tries to knee Theon in the junk repeatedly, but, to his chagrine (and Theon’s literal grin), it doesn’t work because: Theon no have penis.
In addition to not being funny in the slightest (yeah, I just judged you for laughing), Theon magically finds the energy (and the strength, and the stamina, and the pugilistic prowess) to kick this guy’s ass and, somehow, inspire the rest of the Ironborn to follow him.
The saddest part of this is that Theon has truly, truly gone beyond saving or anything akin to redemption. If you didn’t lose respect for him during his conquest of Winterfell days, his burning children alive days, his losing command of his Ironborn soldiers days, his days spent as Reek, his refusal to be rescued by Yara days, his inability to act or fight well ever again days, his chance to redeem himself and save his sister from his (really, pretty stupid) uncle Euron and jumping into the ocean to save himself days… you knew there was no coming back for him.
To me, this was a major mistake on the part of the writers. Theon is BEYOND beyond saving, but we are somehow going to see the show go there. The only way this will work is if he ultimately returns to his acts of cowardice and actually does let us down. Theon saving the day days… those are long gone.
Cersei to a Fault; Big Ups for Jaime!
Character archs in this universe are usually amazing and epic, and characters you once hated you somehow find yourself sympathizing with. Jaime Lannister is a terrific example of this.
Sadly, Cersei is not.
Cersei, after being attacked by a White Walker (and having some quality time to “reflect”) announces to the leaders of Westeros (legitimate and otherwise… get it? A bastard joke and a Danaerys joke!) that she’s ready to play ball, to ride north and contribute to the defense of Westeros from the oncoming undead horde.
Except she didn’t. She just lied again (she may actually be unable to tell the truth) to get her way. I actually DO think this is in the spirit of Martin’s original conception of the character. I paraphrase (if anyone can find the quote, it’d be useful), but Martin says something to the effect of: she’s ambitious and she thinks she’s terribly clever, but she’s mostly just vindictive and kind of stupid.
That probably wasn’t terribly accurate.
Anyway, in deceiving the makeshift alliance intended to save Westeros, I truly believe Cersei has wrought her own unmaking. I believe she thinks she’s clever in doing so, but crossed such a line with Jaime as to actually make him look honorable. To cut this short (sorry, Theon): Cersei is so much a Cersei that she ends up shooting herself in the foot with a crossbow (sorry, Tywin).
On the other hand, big props, ups, kudos and the like to Jaime for not only having the courage to defy his (admittedly horrifying) sister and her (is there a phrase that is bigger than “admittedly horrifying”) bodyguard, the Mountain: Undead Edition. He rides north as snowflakes begin to fall on the once temperate terrain of King’s Landing.
“Oathbreaker Finds his Honor” read the headlines of the King’s Landing Gazette the following day.
Deus ex Machina?
Finally, the moment every fanboy (or girl, or Other, or Braavosi) was ready to masturbate to:
The undead dragon co-opted by The Night King destroyed the wall. And I have exactly this to say as I clap slowly and sarcastically:
I’m not sure if it fits the true criteria for Deus ex Machina, but it sure was convenient. So, riddle me this Night King (and bearded assistant): WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU PLANNING TO DO BEFORE YOU HAD THAT DRAGON?!
I expected a sweet, sweet battle at Eastwatch by the Sea, and instead I get 30 seconds of pure convenience.
Let’s ignore the fact that, say, the dragons only ever spewed flame (or ice… or ice flame… or very blue flame… what the fuck ever) when Danaerys uttered the Valyrian word “dracarys.” Let’s ignore the fact that the dragon is DEAD, yet can spew flame. It can spew enough flame to take out the whole wall? The entire wall? However many feet tall and thick and all that AND all of the debris was far enough out of the way for the undead horde to march (pretty comfortably, I might add) right through it.
I’ll end on a very happy note, at least for me.
One of the series biggest bad-asses, and my current man-crush (other than you, Ross), made it out of that mess alive and ready to “make babies” in Season Eight.
If you made it this far, crack open a bottle of that Dornish horse-piss, dig into a honeyed chicken, and cry a little bit for what will soon be the death of one of the best TV shows ever.
Thanks for reading. I’d love any feedback on my views, or to hear some of your own reactions to the season seven finale.
Valar Morghulis, Westerosi.