If you have not seen the episode read this later. For those of us who have seen the episode, let’s proceed. HBO broke the Iron Bank spending upwards of $90 million on this final season, so how did the first episode turn out? Season seven of Game of Thrones was perhaps the worst in the show’s run, only possibly second to season five. The renowned wit of the first four seasons was dumbed down and replaced with nostalgia. Every character fast travels except the Others. What really made the last season worse was that the show fell into the standard good vs evil dichotomy which goes against the very spirit of the show. All the heroes and all the villains seemed to be on their respective sides, which is not how Game of Thrones is supposed to work. For all it’s flaws the seventh season was a masterpiece from a production standpoint.
Verdict: Episode one breaks free from the good vs evil but is undermined from excessive nostalgia.
A few positives are worth mentioning before we delve into the main takeaways. First, the Theon “rescue mission” was ended quickly. This was a bad story arc, simply due to lack of realism. However the show wrote ended it so swiftly before it wasted more screen time. Second, the new theme song which expanded upon the remaining locations where the show takes place. It’s worth noting that the Wall and Essos plotlines are indefinitely suspended. A few negatives. The show insisting that Raeghar Targaryen named both of his sons Aegon. Highly unrealistic, and possibly a ploy to work in the possible Targaryen, or Blackfyre, claimant in the books who arrives in the Stormlands with the Golden Company. The overbearing nostalgia was simply fan service and nothing more. The episodes best moments were when it was building to a future event instead of focusing on how great the past was. Is it just me or did Jon’s sword shrink? It’s a bastard sword which is fitting for his status, but it didn’t appear as such when Arya held it.
One of the best written plot points from this episode was the politics of the North. The North remember. They remember the Kings of Winter and the Stark Kings in the North. They remember the King Torrhen Stark as the King-Who-Bent-The-Knee and Robb Stark as the King-Who-Lost-The-North. Most applicably, they remember what the Targaryens did to the Starks. With all this, it is unsurprising that the North rejects its new Queen. More interestingly, the North feels abandoned by Jon Snow. The situation is confusing. The nobles reject Daenerys but they do not know who is actually in charge. After all, they chose Jon Snow, not Sansa or the Targaryen claimant. Jon Snow’s position is ambiguous, as is his place in the new regime. Jon Snow serves a single cause, while everyone else looks beyond. the Northern plot intensified with House Glover abandoning the Starks to fight on their own. There’s a clear lack of leadership in Winterfell and perhaps it’s because Jon Snow is blinded by love. Or perhaps it’s because Sansa Stark is a pitiful wartime leader.
Logistics of War
Jon Snow has chosen to consolidate the forces of the North and Targaryens at Winterfell and make a first final stand against the Others. The little Lord of Last Hearth was sent to bring the remaining strength of House Umber to Winterfell. As the battle of the Bastards depicted battle most accurately in the show’s run, season eight depicts the logistics of war more accurately than any other. Winterfell has the largest army since those who fell in the Field of Fire, maybe larger. However, it is winter; the North is depleted from the first and second phases of the War of Five Kings. They do not have the means to put up a protracted siege. They must fight or die. The North cannot feed the dragons, though one wonders how it an keep the Unsullied or the shirtless Dothraki hordes warm. This seems reminiscent of Alexander the Great marching his great host across the desert from India at great costs. This was a high point for the show’s writing.
Cersei predictably uses her cooch to maintain the alliance with the Ironborn. Euron Greyjoy reveals how uninterested he is in the politics of the realm, wanting sex and little more. Yara seeks to retake the Iron Isles. The Golden Company contracts with the Iron Throne. However the show, once again ignores the backstory of the Golden Company. They are exiles who have a long history of being on the losing side of Targaryen civil wars. The Reach, Stormlands, and Dorne are all irrelevant. An emotional moment occurred when Daenerys confronts Samwell Tarly, firstborn son of Randall Tarly who she controversially executed by dragon fire. The distraught Sam is then encouraged by Bran to tell Jon Snow.
Wars to Come
The highest point of excitement came when the expedition to Last Hearth found Lord Umber displayed in an murder tableau resembling the first scene in the first episode. This was the least annoying nostalgic moment in the episode.
Game of Thrones has finally painted Daenerys as a flawed ruler, selfish and unworthy of rule. In the books, she is whimsically incompetent, as evident in Mereen. The show shields her from these struggles, mostly having Tyrion bare the responsibility for setbacks. Daenerys also cannot bare a child meaning her reign would have no closure. But perhaps closure will not exist. The Seven Kingdoms could very easily slip back into their autonomous rule. The Ironborn seem to anticipate such as Yara heads back to Pyke. The North relishes the opportunity to do it right this time. But should the Seven Kingdoms unite, as most kingdoms are too depleted to muster an army Daenerys seems unlikely to come out on top. She is owed three betrayals. The last one being for love. Initially, Tyrion seemed the most likely candidate, as Daenerys was warned against trusting lions. But Jon Snow betraying Daenerys is the first set up for this final betrayal the show has undergone. Another interesting tidbit is the Azor Azai story of the man stabbing his lover to forge the perfect sword. Jon Snow has a worthy sword and a love for the realm that could exceed his love for Daenerys if he were to stop thinking with his appendage. But this author is on Team Lannister backing the rightful Lord of the Rock, Tyrion Lannister, and whatever schemes he conjures to usurp the Throne.
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