More a review than previous posts, but I’m saving some space for the wild-eyed rants at the end.
Okay, a slower-paced episode than last week, which could be like saying a 747 is slower than an SR-71. Almost anything would feel slow after the Battle of the Loot Train, so it’s a relative thing.
At the same time, the narrative seemed, ironically, sort of rushed. Look how many high points the story hits– the aftermath of the battle, Randyll and Dickon Tarly are executed (more about that later), Jon gets to pet Drogon, Jorah returns, the plan to snatch a wight and bring it south is hatched (more about that later, too), Gendry is found (after what appears to be a fifteen minute search), Jaime and Tyrion meet, Gendry meets Jon, Jon and company head north to connect up with Tormund, Beric, Thoros, and the Hound join the party, and they all head out into the north. That’s leaving out Arya’s spying on Littlefinger (and his disinformation campaign against her) and the fact that bat-fuck crazy Cersei is going to be a mother again. If I left anything out it’s because it all went by really fast.
Oh, yeah, Samwell missing the secret of Jon’s birth because he wasn’t listening closely enough to Gilly. Listen, son, if you’re going to be in a long-term relationship with a woman, you need to work on your listening skills….
Basically, I have the sense that the writers felt they had to cram a lot of sausage into the casing of one episode, in order to set up the climax of this season, and to properly lay the groundwork for Season Eight, which will have to be about the Great War, lots of major characters going down for the count, and that bittersweet ending GRRM has been promising us. Because this particular kielbasa link is tightly packed, we spent mere minutes on reunions, plans, spying, dragon-petting (don’t try this at home, folks), executions, plotting and Avengers assembling that could have occupied two or three or even more episodes in previous seasons. It’s not nearly as satisfying presented in this warp-speed manner, but I can’t fault the writers too much. They are running out of time (to be precise, scheduled air-time), and I suspect that they felt it necessary to cover this much ground quickly so as to make sure the climax of the season, and the beginning of Season Eight, work the way their supposed to. Hopefully the remainder of the season, and the remainder of the show, will be better paced.
Re: the execution of Randyll and Dickon– I agree with Tyrion, Dany shouldn’t have done it. At the very least Cersei will use it against her. Serious political mistake. More than that, though, it reminds us that Dany does have a dark side, a willful insistence on her way that sometimes leads to unnecessary deaths. It doesn’t make her mad, it makes her a frail, fallible human being who sometimes does things out of frustration and spite. Also, as I feared, she has arrived at the point of demanding fealty she has not earned. “Bend the knee, or die” is a threat as heavy as chains. As Varys put it, someone indeed needs to make her listen.
And then there’s the plan to capture a wight and bring it south to convince Cersei the threat from the Night King is real. Leaving aside the fact that Cersei will use any truce to her advantage, and that she will see anything Dany and Jon come up with as some sort of trick, the whole thing just sounds cockamamie to me. Capturing a wight, transporting a wight, displaying a wight– I’d almost say its a waste of time, considering how oblivious Cersei is to anything but the agenda spooling out in her head. I love the idea of a desperate raid into the North, but couldn’t the writers have come up with a better mcguffin than this for its object– a wonderblatt horn of the First Men, perhaps, or a pool of magic volcanic fire that would make effective ammunition against the Night King’s army? I do wonder, but then, I’ve never had to write for TV show, nor have I ever been under the kind of pressure the writers for GoT are under. The whole world, and probably a significant portion of the heavenly host, are watching, so I hesitate to criticize them too much.
But, as much as I quibble, it was a pretty good episode, and got us, however imperfectly, to where we needed to go. Along the way, I should mention that I like how the writers are handling Dany and Jon’s growing affection for one another– again, a piece of business that would best have been developed over a whole season, but, again, the clock is ticking. Instead they are doing it by expressions and looks and a few words spoken in just the right way. If you have only so much time to work in, this is the way to do it.
I think I can refine a few of my first predictions now–
- Jon and Dany will share one romantic kiss before Season Seven ends.
- The real hanky-panky will start after about the five minute mark of Season Eight.
- Then Jon’s true parentage will be revealed, and the two will break up with tears and heartbreak and disappointment.
- Jon will then die heroically saving the world of men,
- Just about the time Dany discovers she’s pregnant.
- At some point Arya will slice Littlefinger open like a seven-layer red velvet cake.
- And the Night King will end Season Seven by blowing up all three hundred miles of the Wall. Now that will be a season cliffhanger.