by Graham Pierrepoint
While the popularity of HBO’s all-encompassing fantasy serial Game of Thrones appears never to wane, the quality of the episodes that continue to come our way – leaked or otherwise – continue to receive critical praise and derision from various quarters. While the seventh season – which will emerge as the penultimate, and one of the shortest in the show’s run – has certainly developed many plotlines and has made leaps and bounds in terms of character development, many long-term fans are concerned that they are being given far too much of what they want – and then, on another hand, exactly what they don’t.
Spoiler warnings ahead – if you have not caught up with the current season as yet, do stop reading unless you are happy to know about a number of crucial plot points.
One of the main criticisms levelled at this current season stems directly from just how fast-paced everything is going. Characters are now able to travel from country to country without the long journeys and contemplation of seasons past – making the show seemingly self-aware of its own imminent conclusion next year. One of the most egregious examples of this occurred in the episode ‘Beyond The Wall’, where the character Gendry was able to send a raven to call for help from Queen Daenerys on the other side of the country – for her to respond and aid a battle in the North in just twenty minutes in show runtime. Certainly, while this does speed up things for viewers, it seems rather stark (pun intended) in comparison with earlier pacing.
The show also seems somewhat self-aware now – it is uniting characters we’d never see unite and is also bringing in fan jokes and long-standing theories by the bucketload. Characters that have been presumed to be long-gone such as Gendry and Hot Pie have resurfaced this season – while we have also been treated to a Stark reunion of sorts, as well as hints that a much-mooted ‘Cleganebowl’ fight between brothers Sandor and Gregor will occur soon enough. For many viewers, it feels as if the show is giving us everything we clamored for in earlier seasons – but all at once.
Is this necessarily a bad thing? While season six was ground-breaking in that it took the show beyond George RR Martin’s books and allowed a number of shocking twists to play out to revolutionize storylines, season seven has thundered its way towards what will likely be a hugely dramatic eighth season – and while come complaints may stand on their feet, it remains to be said that the show is just as entertaining as it ever was.