Kris Vieira: Guys, I feel conflicted. I really enjoyed so much of last night’s episode. But every time I try thinking about a plot line for more than a minute, I feel squirrely. There are just so many problems and so much lazy writing that I feel terribly frustrated. The show still feels exciting and brilliant in many ways, but we are absolutely getting short shrift when it comes to character and plot development. It feels sloppy and rushed.
Let’s start with the Kidnap-a-Zombie plan that I had such a problem with last week. I don’t know if I have ever actually used the word cockamamie, but it’s the word that most readily springs to mind. The plan was a terrible idea, and hardly worth the loss of a dragon (actually, it was worse than a loss--but we’ll get to that later) and the loss of a resurrection specialist like Thoros. The objective is to prove to Cersei that a truce is warranted. You’ll remember back in season one, Cersei famously told Ned Stark that in the game of thrones, you either win or you die. I don’t see Cersei giving an inch no matter how many twitching corpses they throw at her feet. She will win or she will die; peace is not an option.
Sarah Webster: Kris, I totally agree. The entire story-line north of the wall is garbage. The idea is completely ridiculous. Jon knows better. He's been beyond the wall and knows what to expect. Tyrion knows better. Cersei does not care about the greater good. The whole plot feels contrived. George R.R. Martin told the writers how the story ends. But it seems they have their own ideas about how to get us there. I cannot imagine it would play out this way in the books. This world, its characters and their relationships are so meticulously crafted. Our path would surely be more organic and plausible than this insanity Weiss and Beinoff expect us to buy.
KV: The whole “let’s talk about our awkward connections to each other” thing on their snowy hike seemed ridiculous. And they added all these rando no-name jabronis to the crew just to have people to kill off? It was for real like the red shirts on Star Trek. Cheap, cheap, cheap.
SW: I actually enjoyed some of the north of the wall banter. This bunch is an interesting lot and their relationships to one another bring back fond memories to when the show cared about the integrity of its characters. I have a serious problem with the sacrificial extras though. If you're going to kill off a bunch of no-name jabronis (as you so aptly described them, Kris) you have to at least establish that they're there. I kept screaming, “who is that? Who just died?” Only to realize every main character was still standing. It was baffling.
Elizabeth Hargreaves: That is too funny. My husband said the exact same thing about the red shirts.
KV: The frozen lake was pretty great. The horde of white walkers and wights is always a sight to behold. The response? Send Gendry to run all the way to Eastwatch (he’s the fastest? What? How was that established?)....to send a raven to Dragonstone (how long does it take a raven to fly that far?)….to send Dany with all three dragons? Never mind that the timeline is absolutely impossible. What I want to know is, was that seriously your Plan B?! Jon has seen the army of the dead before. He knows it’s a massive army, and yet they went with a small troupe hoping to catch some stray wights (which they magically did) and not run into the whole army? Did they think about what might happen if they did run into the army? Can someone explain this to me? I’m sorry, I’m really stuck on this, you guys.
EH: Yeah, it was such a bad plan. But I guess they pulled it off. Which was really surprising. It just seemed SO far fetched. I agree the timeline was a stretch. Were they only a few hours run from the wall? It felt like they were actually somewhat close still. Did they walk longer than a day? And why not assume that you’d want at least ONE dragon to follow you and “burninate the countryside” in case you ran into trouble. I mean they could have had preventative dragon insurance. But I was still an amazing battle scene. I was definitely on the edge of my seat.
SW: Stranding our heros on the frozen lake was thrilling and visually stunning. As soon as it happened I could only groan. Of course, the only thing that could save them was a dragon. I knew it was coming. I knew the scene would be awesome. And it was. But, come on...I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to some degree. After all, it's a show about dragons and ice zombies. This just takes it too far. They didn't send a raven, they called Daenerys on her cell phone. And her Dragons fly at the speed of light. Those guys were on that rock for 15 minutes and she showed up from thousands of miles away. Give me a break.
KV: This strange thing happens, too, where Tormund almost dies. I could feel that old familiar pain of losing a favorite character. But he lives! Which is great...except it didn’t feel like Game of Thrones. The anonymous members of the party die brutally, and Mr. Man Bun, too, but our favorites all come out OK. They attempted a fake-out Jon Snow death, too, which was cheap, because we all knew that wouldn’t really happen. And you just faked us out on Jaime’s death. Knock it off!
SW: Yup, Kris. After season three nobody really dies. For it to be truly suspenseful, we have to believe it may happen. But we don't. Thoros was a cheap sacrifice. I'd be willing to bet most watchers couldn't remember his name or how he fit into the story. They haven't shown the Brotherhood in several seasons and now we're supposed remember or care. Please.
KV: We see a giant bear wight, which scared the hell out of me. But it also felt like a little bit weird that this was the first animal zombie we had seen. I mean, there are zombie horses, I know. It just felt like they wanted to establish that the Night King could raise beasts from the dead, too, just in time to show us the dragon. Also, where did they get those chains?!
EH: That bear scared the crap out of me too. Stephen Colbert warned us for years that “Bears are godless killing machines”. He was so right.
SW: The bear was spoon fed foreshadowing. "Don't forget everyone, animals can be brought back, too." As soon as that dragon went down you knew it was coming back. I thought for a second he might fly out of the water for Jon Snow to ride. That may have been an implausible plot I could get behind. Instead we have a zombie dragon and a way to get Walkers over the wall. I suspect this was the plan for the books as well but I bet they would've gotten us there in a way that didn't feel so cheap or insulting.
KV: I feel like people are generally into shipping Jon and Dany, but I’m thinking the vibes are way lame between these two. Remember Dany and Khal Drogo? Jon and Ygritte? There was conflict and tension and development. This feels positively cringe-worthy high school-level stuff--and I don’t even care that they’re related!
SW: I'm not into it either. There is no chemistry. It feels forced. Both actors have fine moments when they're in their element but their shared scenes are too cheesy to be taken seriously. I chalk it up to bad writing and the show moving at warp speed to get us to the end.
EH: Agreed. It feels like a hallmark movie.
KV: Also, it’s offish that Tyrion is dead weight on this show. He has almost completely lost his sense of humor, he’s barely drunk anymore, and I am pretty sure he has not had sex in over a year. Who even are you, Tyrion! What is this whole line of questioning about the succession of the throne? Dany is right to tell him to piss off, no? Were we seriously just establishing that she can’t have children so that the dragon death would be more painful?
SW: Yes! I’m sick about the way they've written Tyrion. He is so bland. He has no edge or no sense of humor. He's not even clever anymore! The succession conversation was completely out of line and a clear attempt to spoon feed us the loss of Viserion. Trust me, losing a dragon is devastating regardless.
KV: The other plot-line is even worse. Arya and Sansa do not resemble the people they were last season. I simply do not understand how we got from point A to point B with these two! I loved Arya’s memory of her father. And I thought that line about knowing that the rules were wrong was really powerful. But then she goes full psychopath on her sister, and I just don’t get how both of them could fall this easily into Littlefinger’s trap.
EH: I am also feeling less sympathy with Arya. She just seems so soulless now. It’s kind of depressing to see how dark she’s gotten. I mean it’s still bad-ass that she’s an assassin, and has become more of the kind of person she wanted to be (a soldier of sorts) but lately it feels like there is no vulnerability left in her and that’s what makes it depressing. She’s less human now and more a killing automaton.
SW: The scene where Arya threatens Sansa was terrible. It felt like something from Passions or some corny Lifetime made-for-tv movie. Lame.
KV: I am also wondering why Sansa sends Brienne away when Littlefinger’s suggestion was to ask her to protect her from Arya? Is she planning on taking out Arya?? Thoughts on that?
SW: I think sending Brienne away is Sansa showing Littlefinger that she's not going to fall for his trickery. The writing is so bad this season that it'll likely turn out that he wanted her to do that all along.
KV: There are rumors out there that Arya and Sansa are plotting together against Littlefinger. As much as I like the idea, it still doesn't make that scene make sense.
All of this being said, I somehow still manage to love this show! The production is outstanding, The Hound still crushes with humor, I totally eat up all the fan bait of Tormund crushing on Brienne. But it feels a bit like enjoying the aftertaste of something special, rather than savoring the present flavor... Is everything just too condensed this season, and that’s why it feels like we are skipping over character development and logic just to get to the damn point?
SW: Right after the finale of Lost I saw a J.J. Abrams interview where he said he knew the series would begin and end with Jack opening and closing his eyes. He wasn't sure how he'd get from point A to point B, but that was his vision for the premiere and finale. We've seen how that show lost its way somewhere in the middle. Could the same be said for GoT? I know George R.R. Martin shared the ending with the show runners. They seem to be flailing a bit without the books as a guide. The plot is driven by whatever results in the most drama or action. Character motivation feels shallow and baseless. The timeline is completely implausible. All that matters is getting us to the desired conclusion. It's like watching GoT brought to you by Michael Bay. Or the Cliffs Notes of GoT. Having a few extra episodes would help. They could slow things down and have the action unfold more organically. Sadly, they're in too big of a hurry to get Confederate into production. The way they've bungled the writing this season, I have little faith they'll handle a show about racial tension with the delicacy it deserves.
You're right about the production value and the action. I still love these characters and I have to know how it ends. Maybe George R.R. Martin is more involved next season and gets things back on track. I'll tune in each Sunday regardless :).
KV: It's still the best damn show on TV! See you all next week for the season finale.