Game of Thrones Has Not Lost Its Edge

Why the show is still as good as ever


MovieChat Forums > Blog > Game of Thrones Has Not Lost Its Edge

by Christopher Bohorquez on September 11th, 2017

Game of Thrones is no doubt the biggest show of the modern golden age of television. The only show that competes with it is The Walking Dead, but many believe that show’s best years are behind it.

The latest season of Game of Thrones (season 7) was undeniably its biggest season, but also the most criticized. When anything in entertainment gets a big audience, it becomes no stranger to criticism, but this however feels different.

Game of Thrones has had detractors over the show’s graphic content, but that’s typical HBO. Nowadays you’ll see a lot of people saying on countless entertainment websites and YouTube videos about Game of Thrones season 7 not being what it used to be.

One of the biggest complaints is the faster pacing, where a lot of things are happening without the slow setup of past seasons, and that characters are travelling from one place to another too fast. Another big complaint is that this show is starting to feel more like a conventional TV show rather than the show in its earlier seasons that was known for breaking TV conventions. I personally think season 7 was some of the show’s best material, and I think the criticism has become a bit too harsh.

Complaint #1: Faster Pacing

The increased pace of this show is a legitimate criticism, but there are reasons for that. With the conclusion of season 7’s seven episode run, there are a reported six episodes left for Game of Thrones’ final season. The show’s first six seasons had 10 episodes each, with season 7 ultimately covering 10 episodes (if not more) worth of material in just seven episodes. Fans have also criticized the “fast travel”, because Westeros is a large continent. People are wondering how the show has the characters traveling from one end of the continent to another within minutes, when in the past seasons it could’ve taken multiple episodes.

Westeros map
HBO / via Polygon.com

The best critique against the faster pacing and traveling is that we don’t need to see as much set up as before, especially with the character development. The show in the past has used the slower pacing and travel to its benefit for Jaime and Brienne’s journey where we finally saw some good in Jaime, and Arya and the Hound’s travels through Westeros where got to see the growth of both characters. These characters who have benefited from a slow build up are already reaching the end of their arcs, meaning we already know these characters inside and out.

There are so many important Earth-shattering events going on in the story right that there is not a lot of time to waste. Daenerys has spent six seasons isolated from a majority of the main characters, so why is the show going to waste time with Daenerys trekking through Westeros. We’ve spent six seasons of getting to know the Dragon Queen and all of her complexities. And it’s not like the characters are traveling within minutes. The creators have stated that the appropriate time is passing by between each big moment, it’s just that they’re getting to them faster due to less episodes. Since there have been less episodes, the action this season has never been better due to more money going into each episode. The latest season gave us about four visually stunning action scenes, where in past seasons we were lucky to get one.

The war between Daenerys’ army and the Lannisters was at its peak in the latest season, so why waste time with filler, especially with only seven episodes. The White Walkers are also a huge threat that the show simply cannot avoid anymore.

Complaint #2: Too Conventional

When Game of Thrones started people were blown away for its unpredictability and deeper layers. This show presented a fantasy world with complex realistic storytelling and political intrigue that made it feel like a real world. This show quickly became popular through word of mouth as the series went on, and it is now one of the most popular shows ever. Whether fans actually have HBO or not, there’s a bigger audience for each new season, with the extended break between each season used to its advantage to allow people to catch up. With all that being said, everyone will have a different opinion of this show.

When fans say that this show has lost its hardcore edge that it was founded on, I’m actually quite baffled.

First off, nothing is unpredictable forever. How long can anything be unpredictable before it just becomes predictably unpredictable, especially a long-running TV show. The betrayal of Robb Stark is one of the best plot twists ever in show or literature, because it truly came out of nowhere, and shocked everybody. In fact, it was so good, the show has never tried to outdo it.

Some fans are disappointed that the show isn’t killing major players anymore like Ned and Robb. But how long can you kill important characters off until it becomes expected shock value?

Jon and Dany
HBO / via Fanpop.com

There’s criticism that Jon and Daenerys have been protected by “plot armor”, but if those two characters died off too early, then who would be left? Daenerys has the biggest most badass army with dragons, so if she dies then the Lannisters would’ve won easily. The creators and author George R.R. Martin have stated that Jon and Daenerys are the two most important characters in the whole Song of Ice and Fire saga. This show has foreshadowed their importance and killing them too early would’ve robbed the characters of their development and there wouldn’t be a lot of people to cheer for.

The dark hardcore edge reached its peak in season 5, but that season is considered the worst by most fans. A criticism of that season was that some of the events that occurred were so dark, that there was some controversy of the show going too far. The characters were all at their lowest points during this season. Season 5 in many ways signified the middle of a story where the characters have reached their lowest point where one reaches their rock bottom before making their redemption in the end.

Seasons 6 and 7 were essentially the characters finally getting their way out of rock bottom, but fans have also criticized that because the show is now giving the main character too many victories. You just can’t satisfy everybody can you? 

Complaint #3: It’s not George R.R. Martin anymore

This is by far the most outlandish criticism I’ve seen of the latest season of the show. George R.R. Martin deserves all the praise for creating this rich world and the wonderful characters that inhabit it, but he’s also an author that deserves criticism. A Song of Ice and Fire has a planned seven book run, and right now only five of the books have been completed.

The last book was released in 2011. It took Martin six years to write the fifth book after the fourth one was released. Fans consider the last two books that have been released to be the worst, because of their lack of focus on characters and story lines fans are interested in. There a lot of things the show will never introduce because of the lack of time and how unnecessary they are to the main plot. These books are massive and full of detail and it seems like Martin bit off more than he can chew, and is completely unmotivated/too burned out to finish these books in a reasonable time frame. Season 5 adapts the fourth and fifth book into one season, and it’s no coincidence that it’s considered the worst season.

Seasons 6 and 7 was the first time the show went past the books, and there are people who think the show has gone downhill because they aren’t basing it off of Martin’s work. That is such a flawed critique because the first four seasons are based off the first three books which are considered the best in the series, while season five is based off the two worst books in the series. While Martin has given us great material, he’s also given us underwhelming material.

Martin’s word isn’t God, and the books will most likely go a similar path if he ever finishes them.

I shouldn’t be surprised that this show has this much criticism at the peak of its popularity. When something gets this much praise and accolade, people will start looking for the flaws to deconstruct it. It happens with anything in media when it becomes too popular. Game of Thrones is by no means a perfect transcendent experience that saves lives, but it is a damn great show that has become an example of what a TV show can be with the right people behind it.

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Comments (8)
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You bring up some good points here, but neglected a few as well.

I definitely agree with you about the "time travel" argument; there simply isn't enough time to show everyone going everywhete. Yes, it is disorienting, but it's common in fantasy/sci-fi where characters have a huge setting to wander around in.

Plot armor, fan service, etc are more common now than in previous seasons. Some of that is good. Some of it... not so good. Twice characters survived sure drowning. The fact that Cersei didn't kill either of her brothers is odd. But we got Arya home, Gendry back, and Jon/Dany romance!

However, I definitely see some decline in the writing quality. I will never stop being frustrated about the wight dragon, for instance, and the wight hunt plot was poorly thought out. GRRM isn't perfect, but the reason he takes so long to write is because he tries to prevent plot holes and inconsistencies.

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Like I said, if the remaining main characters died in season 7, who would be left and what would make the show interesting? Jon and Dany even though related were meant to meet, because they are so similar to each other. I will admit the wight hunt isn't the best written material but how else can you prove to everybody about the threat? Respect your opinion by the way

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I'm not saying that all the main characters should be killed off; that would not be a good thing. I do like most of the characters remaining, but some of them are less necessary. I was fully expecting Cersei to be killed this season, for instance, but I suppose that would make it too predictable. At least Littlefinger kicked the bucket.

The main problem with the wight hunt is that Tyrion should have known that Cersei wouldn't play nice. Maybe if Varys or Jon had suggested the idea, it could have been a tiny bit better. It did convince a good deal of people that the threat is real, but not everyone.

Season 7 did give us some great moments... towards the start of the season.

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Good point about GRRM. He's getting old and senile. Fingers crossed for the next books which hopefully come out next year.

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This show never lets my expectations down. I don't think I can name any show that calibers to its standard.

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Yes the faster pacing from the condensed seasons is disorienting and annoying, I'd prefer longer seasons. But that doesn't touch upon my main gripes from this past season.

I actually do think there's been a drop on production quality because they're ad libbing instead of following Martin's blueprint. They appear to not have had the time to thoroughly consider plot holes in what they're portraying and it just ends up looking like poor writing because that's exactly what it is.

Case in point was the whole pulling-dragon-carcass-out-of-frozen-lake-with-chains-for-resurrection scene. That shot demands that we believe the zombies are capable of swimming, or least walking around underwater at the bottom of the lake to secure chains around the dragon carcass to haul it up. But if they were capable of that, why wouldn't the undead army have just marched through the portion of the sea that would have allowed them to circumvent the wall?

It was just a very poorly thought through detail that Martin would have not attempted to portray because of its obviously problematic implications of zombies swimming.

Also had a major problem with the shot of Jamie swimming out of the river with his armor on. That the producers would stoop to insulting our critical thinking faculties with a shot like that is why I think its gone downhill.

Apparently the early scripts for that episode mentions other soldiers falling into the river struggling to get out of their armor to prevent themselves from drowning, with a shot of the armored drowned bodies of those that didn't manage to disrobe in time.

But I guess the producers so fell in love of that shot of Jamie emerging from the river with his armor on that they chose to insult our intelligence in order to keep the shot. Sorry but that is some colossal bullshit as far as I'm concerned.

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I agree with all your points. ...
Basically I really enjoyed there finally being a little pay off to the last several seasons..
Anymore doom and gloom and killing off any more characters would kill off the plot..There'd be no one to root for and no point in watching
I'm ok with a few plot holes that seem to rub others the wrong way. I don't care about Jaime's armor or the faster travel..
Here dragons fly and the dead walk.
It's near the end and it won't end well so enjoy what you can while you can.
And I don't think GRRM is taking too much time because he's trying to avoid plot holes or because he's lazy.
I think too much time has passed and he has fallen out of love with the world and characters he created..His babies grew up and moved away.
The thrill is gone and he doesn't know how to get it back again.

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