Is Game of Thrones SE7 “Badly Written”?

It’s somewhat of an understatement to say that the latest season of GoT has been controversial. And to be fair, ultra-popular, long-running shows tend to attract nit-picking and frustration as part of the game, not to mention that the television series has out-paced its source material and is attempting to tie together one of the most complex interconnected story-lines in recent history.

But its seems more than that, both the blogosphere, and my work buddies (my two key sources of GoT interactions) have noted something a little off about this series. Reddit in particular in a hot-bed of critiques, rebuttal, justifications and memes.

So prior to the final episode of this season I thought I better weigh in on the issue, not because I think I know better than the show writers OR GRR Martin but just to analyze some of what might be irking fans.

 

In no particular order:

Do GoT characters have TP scrolls now?

One aspect of SE7 that has bothered people is that characters have been able to zoom around Westeros at record pace. Jon Snow has popped from Winterfell to Dragon Stone to the Wall the latter being within a single episode. Davos is going to have to add speed-boating to his resume getting Tyrion in and out of Kings Landing faster than Cersei can get up in the morning.

I suspect the reason this fast travel has bothered folk is that prior seasons established that travel and distance were important parts of the setting. Many characters spent entire seasons traveling the country, distance was at times an antagonist for example preventing Rob Stark from assaulting the Lannisters to rescue his father back in season. Thusly to see characters travel without issue is somewhat jarring.

Personally I don’t find the travel too bothersome, after all as a story progresses one expects pacing to increase, not to mention that good writing means chopping out the ‘boring bits’

But one critique I could offer is that good writing adequately prepares viewers for the story they’re about to experience – not that everything has to be spoon fed, or explained however its important to realize that you can’t retcon a viewers discomfort, for example if Jon Snow zooms ultra fast to the wall, this can’t be fixed by showing that time has passed (because we already feel uncomfortable) but if beforehand we are presented with Jon planning a fast route with Davos this might ease the discomfort.

Far be it for me to haughtily ‘fix’ GoT but I thought a cool solution would have been to have someone like Littlefinger, everyone’s love-to-hate yet awesome orator talk about how ‘things are moving fast now’ a speech which would aid viewers accepting fast travel.

Dead-weight characters

Something to be mindful with a story like GoT is that the huge number of characters is likely to condense under the key players as a matter of course. This is rather obvious with Dany recruiting none other than Tyrion, Varys, Ollenna, Theon (and sis), and Dorn-lady (so sue me there are way too many names to remember). This means that characterization is going to suffer for those dragged into other’s story arc.

Nonetheless I found myself being pretty annoyed at some moves. Tyrion a usual favourite has been written as a caricature of himself, winking and 3rd wall joking with the audience more than actually doing anything in the story – taking about his own drinking, Jon’s Brooding, Jorah’s Smoldering and being offended by Dany’s ‘small’ joke (serious WTF)

There were some amazing moments with Tyrion in this series – his desperation to have Jon and Dany get along, his torment seeing Lannisters getting toasted and Jamie almost die, but none of this really came to anything. There were some ripe pickings to really push the character further, mostly he just whines at Dany to do the right thing.

The Suicide Squad

Where is to start with this.

I heard a really good critique of Marvel’s Civil War where the writer pointed out that too much of what happened in the movie occurred because it needed to not because the story drove events but because the writers needed the Avengers to divide and fight with each other (with appropriate quipping).

That’s how the beyond the wall mission felt in GoT. It basically seemed like a sequence that needed to happen to achieve certain plot points, NOT because any of the characters in their right minds would decide to do any of it. Here are some examples of character problems with the sequence:

  • A zombie isn’t going to convince Cersei not to be a totally B**** (and let face it hardly evidence that their is a whole army of them approaching the wall
  • If Dany (I’m going to be honest I use Dany because I don’t know how to spell Daneries) allows this mission it suggests she is somewhat swayed by the possibility of the coming armies of the dead why didn’t she just fly up to the wall and chat to the Wildings and Night Watch – and then come to Winterfell and state her case as Queen?? The North is stubborn but not looking to attack her.
  • If Jon is so serious about respecting the Northern Lord’s wishes not to bend the knee to Dany why is he so keen to get himself killed in a stupid mission that the Lords almost definitely wouldn’t approve of, risking antagonizing the Night Knight (which they did in spectacular fashion)

It’s important to note that also like Civil War the sequence was badass, funny and hella visually appealing, it’s just it was obvious that the sequence ‘had to happen’ rather than believable happened because that’s what the characters would have done.

and finally

The Winterfell Conundrum

This plotline is driving me crazy. Like really crazy. In summary the plot is basically: Bran, Arya and Sansa are reuinted in Winterfell, however Litterfinger is scheming and Arya and Sansa are tense/murderous/counter-scheming?

The tension of the story is basically “what is everyone up to” The problem is its in that bad writing way that doesn’t so much leave things ambiguous and mysterious but just makes no fracking sense, actions and conversations just seem like random arguments and statements with no goal but to show ‘conflict.’

I’m sure people will jump to the defense and say – it’ll all make sense, Arya is tricking Littlefinger and confirming Sansa is innocent and Bran is watching everything. The big problem is though, because we don’t really know what any of the characters want (honestly NOT ONE) Sansa likes ruling but does she want to take over? Arya is revenge driven but she changed her mind to go back to Winterfell so what does she want? Littlefinger is schemey AF and wants Sansa but what is he aiming for here? Bran is gone full Dr Manhattan so who knows.

The point of the rant is with no character goals in mind we have no contact to judge the conflict going on. If we at least had an idea of what LF was up to we could see the conflict between Arya and Sansa in a context. The problem with what we’ve go so far (actually similar the traveling conundrum) its jarring and uncomfortable and you can’t retcon enjoyment with a justifying conclusion.

So in conclusion I do believe that the writing of SE7 has its weaknesses. It’s still an amazing show, and I am looking forward to the finale.

 

 

 

 

 

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