Despite all its charm, grandeur, glut of legitimately great filmmaking and stirring moments, “Beyond the Wall” remains for me one of, if not the most frustrating episode of Game of Thrones to this point due to its relative abundance of logic holes and writing shortcuts. To be clear, I don’t think the flaws I’ll discuss below are enough to completely sink the episode, even in the the aggregate. Nor do they take much away from the experience of the viewing the handful of unforgettable moments the episode contains. However, based on the standard that the series has set for itself, I can’t ignore the amount of compromises made.
An area of particular interest to me when it comes to contemplating and debating A Song of Ice and Fire from a political perspective is the idea of legitimacy, specifically in terms of from where and whom legitimacy is conferred onto leaders/rulers given that democracy isn’t exactly a realistic prospect in this narrative universe. As the field of contenders for control of Westeros has shortened over the course of the series, questions around legitimacy have come into sharp relief this season, especially now that Dany and her army have finally descended on the continent.
As far as table-setting season premieres go, Game of Thrones season 7 lead off installment is pretty much as good as they come. Although I wouldn’t put “Dragonstone” in the pantheon of individual episodes, it did set up the board for the ensuing season, as Game of Thrones season premieres always have. It wasn’t the most riveting or challenging episode they’ve ever done, it certainly had its moments and that moved the narrative forward significantly, even though the most unexpected moment was a bizarrely orchestrated cameo by a pop star. Continue reading
Game of Thrones is so stylistically and structurally consistent that every time they do something completely normal for a television show to do, like cutting away from Stannis’ decapitation last season or starting an episode with a cold open as they did in “The Broken Man,” I jump out of my seat with a combination of shock and outrage, thinking that my cable is malfunctioning or that HBO screwed up the broadcast. When the “HBO Entertainment” card faded and the cold open began, I actually rewound the DVR thinking that the cable box had somehow skipped ahead of the opening titles. The reason for the first cold open Game of Thrones has ever employed on a non-premiere was quite obvious to me by the end of the scene, as it was, I suspect, to most viewers. Continue reading
It was almost jarring to see them end a season on something other than a big “creature reveal.” That’s not a complaint-and not that there’s anything wrong with big creature reveals, because of course there isn’t. But I really like when seasons (or series, for that matter) end with a central character boarding a vessel or entering a vehicle and going somewhere. It’s a beautiful if obvious metaphor for consuming a serial narrative and also for characters during a “hiatus.” This ending reminded me of the ends of Freaks and Geeks and Six Feet Under, which left me with an unsettling feeling given that those two were series finales. I’m certainly glad I’m aware that Game of Thrones has already been renewed for at least two more seasons. Continue reading
Weiss and Benioff earned their money on this one. This episode is a prime example of why you actually write the teleplays instead of just sitting there with the books cutting and pasting together an episode. Consider how much we as an audience gained from the “Craster’s Keep” deviation over the course of the last two episodes (so, credit to Bryan Cogman as well) and culminating in the climax of “First of His Name.” We have a wonderfully gory action sequence that provides a punctuation to an episode that despite its overall quality felt a bit stationary. Continue reading
Let’s just get right into it. I always try not to read other pieces on Game of Thrones before finishing my own, but I couldn’t hide from the amount of stuff written about Jaime’s rape of Cersei. Before I begin in earnest, let me be very clear up front that I am not defending rape, the depiction of rape or the use of it as a narrative tool by media-arts producers. As for the latter, I reserve the right, as any viewer does, to question and deride whatsoever I please within any piece of work. I will not do so, however, for the sake of propriety, personal preference, or moral outrage. The works I find to be morally outrageous are those which are wantonly intellectually dishonest or somehow produced in bad faith; I do not find Game of Thrones the television series in particular or A Song of Ice In Fire in general to be such works. Continue reading