Friday, December 15, 2017

Game of Thrones (Season 7)

Game of Thrones (Season 7); fantasy series, USA, 2017; D: Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod, Matt Shakman, S: Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Aidan Gillen, Sophie Turner, Conleth Hill, Iain Glen, Rory McCann
In the North, Zombi White Walkers are steadily approaching and threatening nearby towns, so Jon Snow decides to risk everything to go towards South to meet Daenerys Targaryen, who arrived at Dragonstone with her army and three dragons, in order to persuade her to join forces and join the more important battle: the dead vs the undead. Daenerys ceases her battle over the throne against Queen Cersei Lannister, and accepts Jon's reasoning. Jon, the "Hound", Jorah and the others manage to kidnap one White Walker from the North, but one of Daenerys' dragons is killed by the Night King. Jon, Daenerys and the others then go to King's Landing and display the Zombie to Cersei and her generals, begging her to agree upon an armistice and direct their armies together against the most urgent threat to whole of humanity, the White Walkers. Cersei ostensibly agrees, but later on admits that she lied, hoping that Daenerys' alliance and the White Walkers are going to destroy each other, which causes her brother, Jamie, to quit in disgust as her commander. On the North, the Night King turned the dead dragon into a Zombie, and used it to destroy the wall in order to start the invasion against humans.

The 7th and penultimate season of the "Game of Thrones" series managed to continue the high quality streak of the saga, offering again several exciting battle sequences and clever, sometimes even philosophical thoughts on the nature of the neverending greed for more power. The concept of the "rightful throne" alone is subversive and questions the whole system of monarchy-dictatorship through a triple dilemma: inheritance through lineage (Joffrey as the illegitimate child of king Robert Baratheon), usurpation (the right of the stronger) and insanity of the ruler (Targaryen as a "mad king", which makes him unfit to rule), all clashing with each other to show the flaws of each argument. It seems the authors refined some of the 'rough' edges of the storyline, expanding on expertize and delivering a more concise season overall by narrowing it to only seven episodes, thereby abandoning some of the 'empty walk' or overlong babble in previous segments (seasons 2, 3 and 5), and also toning down some of the unnecessary violence. Some of the dialogues are just plain inspired (when Daenerys questions Varys' loyalty, since he switched sides many times, he says this: "Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty... You wish to know where my true loyalty lie? Not with any king or queen, but the people. The people who suffer under despots and prosper under just rule.") or resonate in a "delayed reaction" when the viewers are reminded of their brilliance from previous seasons (such as when Bran repeats "Littlefingers'" legendary quote: "Chaos is a ladder") or are just plain concluded full circle (Jamie discovers that Olenna poisoned Joffrey, explaining to Cersei that this is logical since Olenna's granddaughter, Margaery, could have controlled her second husband, the insecure Tommen, much more than the first, the wild Joffrey).

As with many previous seasons, this one also starts off slow, yet picks up speed with time and ends on a high note. The unexpected plot twists give it spark, since the viewers are never sure whom of the characters might be executed next: there are simply no rules, and sometimes even the leading characters bite the dust, which causes surprise and suspense. Two highlights are definitely the excellent, virtuoso 20-minute battle sequence between Daenerys' warriors, including the three dragons, and Jamie's army on the field in episode 7.4, which is arguably the best action sequence of the series till date (it starts off by Jamie observing how the Dothraki warriors approach on their horses, with the three dragons flying above in the sky; just as it seems that the dragons have the upper hand, since they burn all the soldiers with their fire, another twist unravels, when one of the soldiers reveals a giant crossbow that aims at them) and Jon Snow's dangerous excursion deep inside the White Walker's territory, in order to capture one of the Zombies in episode 7.6, which ends in a dangerous stalemate on a rock on a frozen lake. The White Walkers are maybe an allegory on some global problems that threaten life (climate change, environmental pollution, infertility...) but are so abstract that they are unnoticed by the ordinary minds in charge who are so preoccupied with their greed and interests that they neglect the future in the long term. Some of the locations are also an incredible find (Gaztelugatxe, for instance, which is an island connected to the coast through a wall). The story does not work on all levels, though: the feeling of "endless stalling" is still somewhat present in a few redundant subplots, a couple of routine, ponderous lines and a final episode, 7.7, which is somewhat an anticlimax since it ends once again, for the third time, in the White Walkers marching. While not as strong as the great previous season 6, this is still a very good addition to the saga.


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