As we inch ever nearer to the finish line, Game of Thrones is refusing to slow down. We no longer have time to spend seasons watching characters traverse the great continent of Westeros. Instead we are travelling at a breakneck speed, filling every minute with a spectacular battle or character reunion.
But what effects did this pacing have on the storytelling this season?
Well if you have read any Game of Thrones comment section on the Internet, you would probably notice that the main point of contention has been the seemingly instantaneous travel time from point A to point B.
Back in the early seasons, our main characters had most of their development take place on the open road, fending for themselves. Arya’s maturation didn’t happen in the safety of one location. She learnt how to be independent by living as a nomad, never settling in a single place for too long.
Without the safety of shelter, there was also a constant, foreboding sense of danger. Anyone’s fortune could unexpectedly take a turn for the worst, and when it did it often had lasting consequences (just look at Jaime’s encounter with Locke and his men back in season 3 as a prime example of this). With Season 7’s lack of travelling scenes, it would seem that the writers are underestimating the power that this plot device had.
On the other hand, with so many plotlines starting to tie up do we really have the patience for scenes like these this late in the show? After all, we are still getting plenty of tension and character development in other ways. Episode 7’s Dragonpit meeting felt like it was on the brink of slipping into total chaos, and Tyrion’s many one-on-one’s with Daenerys saw him shift from confident advisor to concerned friend.
At this point, every character has arrived at their final phases of development. By coming together in one place, whether it be Winterfell or Dragonstone, they are combining the skills they have gained with their allies to face their greatest enemies yet.
Sure, sometimes Season 7’s travel times could get a bit ridiculous. I am choosing to believe that Jon and his suicide squad were trapped on that island beyond the Wall for several days, just to explain how that raven flew so quickly to Dragonstone. Perhaps scenes like this could have been planned out better. But does Tyrion’s boat trip to King’s Landing really deserve the screen time that so many fans have called for?
Season 7 has drawn a divisive line in the fandom. Some have even accused the show of going downhill completely. To me, this judgement seems unfair. Game of Thrones has always been a consistently well-made show, and a slight decrease in writing quality does not change the fact that Season 7 still made for exceptional television viewing.
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