Kyra Power ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor
This season of Game of Thrones has a difficult task: progress to a point where the final season can take place and have all the characters meet up. What initially seemed like a fun idea is slowly turning into some awkward scenes with clunky dialogue.
Honestly, who wasn’t excited for Jon (Kit Harrington) and Dany (Emilia Clarke) to meet up? But, now that they have, the show feels strange. This goes for every character who has linked up: the Hound (Rory McCann) and the Brotherhood (and now the whole Northern Squad), Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Dany’s battle, the Stark reunion. We have watched most of these characters in their own parts of the world as the protagonists of their own stories, but now that they are in scenes together, who exactly is the protagonist? This struck me especially in this week’s episode when Dany and company are planning how to get an armistice with Cersei (Lena Headey). Dany, Jon, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Davos (Liam Cunningham), and Jorah (Iain Glen) all weighing in with opinions and it’s a lot. Yes, these characters should be butting heads in terms of Westeros, but it feels more like a struggle over who should run the scene. Writing dialogue for such a large group of main characters can not be easy, but this episode does not manage it as well as earlier episodes.
I found that scenes with pairs are my favorites. Maybe that’s because it’s more traditional GoT style: two people planning, threatening, arguing, etc in secret. The biggest stand out scene is between Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray). Gilly basically tells Sam that Rhaegar and Lyanna were married, which means Jon is a true-born Targaryen, not a Blackfyre (those weren’t her exact words, but it’s assumed) and he ignores her, too caught up in his own misery. That scene feels like the Game of Thrones of much earlier seasons. Information is overlooked, secrets harbored, and even though someone has the answer literally right in front of them, they don’t know it. Everything has seemed too easy this season: Jon makes it to Dragonstone without any problems, Tyrion sneaks in and out of King’s Landing and everyone is on their merry way to fighting the White Walkers. The show has lacked the feeling of conflict and tension that makes the viewer want to scream, “No, what are you doing?!” The Sam and Gilly scene brings that back.
The other great pair scene is between Jon and Dany when Jon pets Drogon. Both Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington work excellently together and the tension between them feels real. Dany seems genuinely terrified of what Drogon will do to Jon and also incredibly offended when he calls him a beast (and, Drogon basically acknowledged Jon was a Targarynen, right?). Like always, Tyrion and Varys (Conleth Hill) are great together, and Varys’ warning of what it means to work for someone who burns people is important. Surprisingly, Cersei telling Jaime she was pregnant was one of my favorite scenes. It lays out how they stand. Jaime killed Dany’s father and Cersei has declared war on her; Dany will kill them no matter what, so Cersei has chosen to die fighting with all she has. These episodes have been so focused on streamlining the plot that I often forget each character’s past.
That seems to be the main issue with this season and this episode in particular. It is moving too fast. Every scene that I enjoy is a stand alone moment. The rest of the episode passes probably months of time. We go from Westeros, to Dragonstone, to King’s Landing, back to Dragonstone again, and then all the way to East Watch all in one hour. Coming from the show that spent all of season two preparing King’s Landing for a siege, that’s an incredible span of time. It leaves little room for the important character growing moments, especially at a time when different characters keep meeting up. Tyrion is reunited with Jaime in a scene that lasts only a couple minutes, and although both actors give great performances, and dramatic close-ups are used, I feel no emotion between them. These are small complaints, but why doesn’t Jorah mention Sam to Jon, or Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and the Hound mention Arya (Maisie Williams)? Most lines in the major scenes feel like they serve one of two purposes: important plot progression or humor.
While this episode is not up to the usual standard, I do hope it pays off in the long run. A battle between the living and the dead seems to be coming up, political strife is brewing in the North and South, and we may possibly get Jon and Tyrion as dragon riders, Jon because he’s a Targaryen and Tyrion because he managed to tame and pet them last season. Here’s hoping we get more personal scenes and tension and less speeding through plot.
Episode Grade: B-