This season was disappointing. There’s really no way around it. For any fan of the TV show and the world it created through 6 seasons, it’s hard to see it any other way. Gam Tyrion came up with the worst plan ever, Arya and Sansa clashed for plot-convenient reasons, and some of the best characters (Varys, Littlefinger, and Davos to name a few) were reduced to arm candy.
The plot of this season was a vehicle rather than a naturally evolving story. Characters went along with Tyrion’s plan to capture a single wight from a hive-minded army of millions so that he can convince Cersei to stop being petty. Does that sound good to you? And nobody even mentions that it’s a bad plan.
What’s worse was when character development was rolled back in order to manufacture story. The Arya/Sansa/Littlefinger triangle of character regression featured Arya forgetting that she spent two seasons learning to detect lies and Littlefinger abandoned his MO of manipulating from three steps away to get his fingerprints all over this scheme. And here’s another question: why should Sansa be catching flak even if she was (she’s not) planning for a scenario where Jon doesn’t return? The last 3 Stark Lords to travel South have been murdered (Brandon, Ned, Robb). They all told him not to go because they were afraid of that, so why is it crazy to prepare for the worst? It’d be irresponsible not to.
Sam left the Citadel he’d spent 6 seasons dreaming about because he had a couple bad days? Apparently he thought learning to cure grayscale and discovering caches of dragonglass weren’t a big deal. The Artist Formerly Known As Bran knows everything but also none of the details because… well, who knows really.
This is a betrayal of trust to the audience and makes us all more aware of flaws and cracks in the show’s logic. The incredible compression of time and space isn’t inherently bad, but when things already feel off, those inconsistencies are highlighted. If you want a really detailed breakdown of how this season didn’t make much sense and failed its fantasy audience, I cannot recommend the Binge Mode podcast enough.
But for me, an even more annoying problem was that this wasn’t just an illogically written season, but that it drew attention to that bad writing through its execution. Why this season was seven episodes we may never know. Nobody told the creators they had to shorten the final two seasons and that structure failed to give most of its plots time to breathe and develop. “Beyond the Wall” wouldn’t have annoyed nearly as many fans if it ended with the Suicide Squad surrounded by wights in the middle of a frozen lake, given its audience a week to process that, and then start the next episode with Thoros dying and Gendry reaching the Wall. That episode break is exactly the kind of ellipses the show desperately needed but denied itself. Time can heal a lot of those poor character motivations too. By exploring them, they feel like deliberate choices rather than rushed mistakes. It’s not that you can’t make Arya and Sansa act in the ways that they did, but you can’t flip their motivations off-screen at the snap of your fingers.
Ultimately, I don’t have an issue with where the story ended up after season 7, but its road there was poorly planned and executed and betrayed the logic the show had spent 6 seasons building. And that’s bad TV.