How Game of Thrones season 7 went awry

Here’s a question I keep asking myself: What happened in the seventh season of Game of Thrones?

By that, I don’t mean what were the series of events that transpired on the show. It’s easy enough to compile a plot summary that makes season seven sound reasonably coherent. I mean what was the purpose of anything that happened? What were the deeper themes or character dynamics being explored?

Or, to put it another way: Was there a single storyline that didn’t endlessly run in circles while waiting for the Wall to come down and the White Walkers to march into Westeros? Season seven was, by and large, a waiting game.

We knew Jon and Dany would probably hook up — but we had to wait. We knew somebody would figure out Jon’s parentage — but we had to wait. We knew the White Walkers would somehow threaten the Seven Kingdoms as they never had before — but we had to wait.

This led to what might be Game of Thrones’ weirdest season yet. Season seven was often incredibly fun (those set pieces!), but it felt more weightless than even some of its weaker predecessors (looking at you, season five). Right at the worst possible time, it’s become all but impossible to figure out just what anything on the show means.

Game of Thrones has lost the plot when it comes to anything other than showing the audience a good time

Let’s use season seven’s Sansa and Arya plotline as a microcosm for its issues as a whole. After Arya returns to Winterfell (and the two have a heartfelt reunion), Littlefinger begins to plant seeds of dissension in the sisters’ relationship, seeds that culminate in Arya threatening Sansa’s life in the season’s penultimate episode. It turns out, however, that Littlefinger was the one in danger, as Sansa and Arya catch onto his ruse (with an assist from Bran, who can see into the past). Arya ultimately slits his throat.

The outcome of this plot — Sansa and Arya’s bond is stronger than ever, and the North also has a hold over the…

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