August 28, 2017
Needless to say, this recap has MAJOR SPOILERS. Read only after watching the whole Season 7.
This Season 7 of Game of Thrones that just concluded this morning was the most controversial one of this celebrated TV series. These controversies involved both its shortcut storytelling style, as well as the advanced leaking of a couple of episodes.
Many people were complaining how this season eschewed the cherished GoT tradition of slowly building up the story in several episodes, especially since the distances between the various locations in Westeros would take a lot of time to traverse. In this season though, characters looked like they were teleporting from one place to another, most particularly in Episode 6. Even messages by raven seemed like they were just text messaging each other.
There was also a minor controversy in Episode 1 where there was a needless scene featuring pop star Ed Sheeran as a friendly Lannister soldier who sang a short rustic ditty, then later shared a meal with Arya Stark. This was a charming scene, no doubt, showing a calm Arya. But yes, it had no contribution to the storyline except to give GoT fan Sheeran some screen time as guest star.
There were two episodes which were leaked several days in advance. Episodes 4 and 6. The leak of Episode 4 ("The Spoils of War") was from Star India. Four individuals with company credentials were eventually arrested because of this leak. The leak of Episode 6 ("Beyond the Wall") came from HBO España and HBO Nordic five days early. These leaks though did not affect the ratings of these highly anticipated episodes.
Controversies notwithstanding, I personally found the quick pace of the developing story in Season 7 very exciting. This was done without losing the beauty of the dialogue being delivered by characters we have known and grown to love or hate for the past six seasons.
Season 7 Episode 1 ("Dragonstone") opened immediately with a major kill. Arya Stark, disguised as their (already dead) patriarch Walder Frey, killed off the entire Frey family right in the very banquet room where the infamous Red Wedding (where her mom Catelyn and brother Robb Stark were killed) was held back in Season 3 Episode 9.
For every episode after that, there would at least be one or two major characters killed off. The Sand Snakes Obara and Nymeria Sand were killed in Episode 2 ("Stormborn") when Euron Greyjoy attacked their ship. Their youngest sister Tyene was killed in Episode 3 by Queen Cersei with the same poison they used to kill her daughter Marcella. The final scene of Episode 3 ("Queen's Justice") was the final scene of the Queen of Thrones -- Lady Olenna Tyrell-- mercifully with poisoned wine offered by Jamie Lannister.
There was no one character of note who died in Episode 4, but that was the episode where we saw in full spectacular display the firepower of Daenerys's dragons (and her Dothraki horde) during the so-called "Loot Train Battle," practically decimating the Lannister army on that field that day, nearly killing Jamie Lannister himself.
Episode 5 ("Eastwatch") had the noble deaths of Randyll and Dickon Tarly via Drogon's dragon fire upon order by his mother. Episode 6 saw the deaths of fire priest Thoros of Myr (after being mauled by an undead bear) and Uncle Benjen Stark (who appeared one last time to save Jon Snow before sacrificing himself to the Night Walkers). But the most memorable death was that of dragon Viserion from an ice spear to the neck thrown by the Night King himself, who later turned the beast into his own undead monster.
My most favorite death of this season happened in Episode 7 ("The Dragon and the Wolf"), when Sansa, Arya and Bran Stark turned the tables on and eventually executed the sneaky and snarky Petr "Littlefinger" Baelysh, the very master of chaos himself. This man had been behind a lot of the mayhem in Westeros, including the deaths of Ned Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Jon and Lysa Arryn. To see Littlefinger's slimy neck slashed by Arya's Catspaw dagger while he was on his knees and crying (!) was very satisfying.
Season 7 is a season of jubilation for fans of the Stark family because ever since they were split up in Season 1, the three surviving Stark siblings are now finally all together with Sansa in Winterfell -- Bran in Episode 3, and Arya in Episode 4. While their reunion scenes seemed cold at first (especially because Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven, and Arya is now a master Assassin), by season's end, we know they will work together well. In Ned Stark's own words: "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."
In Episode 2, Arya met Hotpie again first time they met since Season 3. Later that same episode, Arya met her direwolf Nymeria while she was en route to Winterfell. In Episode 5, Jorah Mormont, healed of his greyscale by Samwell Tarly, was finally reunited with Daenerys after they parted ways in Season 5.
Episode 7 alone is fun to watch because of all the mini-reunions that happened like Brienne and the Hound, Brienne and Jamie, Tyrion and Podrick. Brothers Sandor (the Hound) and Gregor (the Mountain) Clegane had a face off. All the Lannister siblings (Cersei, Jamie and Tyrion) were all together since the Purple Wedding in Season 4. For the first time, the three main contenders to the Iron Throne (Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow) were all in one place to talk about joining forces against the Night King.
The biggest revelation of Season 7 was the true nature of Jon Snow. All this while, he was known as the bastard son of Ned Stark. However, throughout the seasons, hints have been dropped about his real identity, and this was finally revealed in Episode 7 via a conversation between Bran Stark (who had seen visions of a dying Lyanna Stark endorsing a newborn infant to her brother Ned) and Samwell Tarly (whose wife Gilly read him a passage from a private diary saying how crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled to marry someone else).
It was previously thought that Rhaegar (Danaerys' eldest brother) kidnapped Lyanna Stark and held her captive, an event that triggered the revolt of Robert Baratheon (Lyanna's betrothed) against the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. It is now confirmed that Jon Snow was in fact a legitimate child of a Targaryen (R + L = J), and is therefore higher in the line of succession to the Iron Throne than his aunt Danaerys. However to further complicate things with a little more incest, the writers decided to have Jon and Dany succumb to their carnal desires in Episode 7 (after they just met for the first time in Episode 3).
The whole season ended on a somber note as the Wall comes crashing down from the icy fire breath of the undead Viserion as piloted by the Night King and the Army of the Dead go charging on beyond it. I cannot wait for the final Season 8 to know what will happen next in the Great War. Season 8 reportedly will have only 6 episodes, all more than an hour long. However, word is that we will have to wait for more than a year (late 2018 to early 2019) for it.