Every week for the seventh season of Game of Thrones, three Atlantic staffers have been discussing new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners were made available to critics in advance this year, we’ll be posting our thoughts in installments.
David Sims: In the end, I was tricked by the shorter season length, the extra-long wait for the show to come back, and the extended running times of the episodes. I forgot that this season of Game of Thrones was the penultimate one, a mere table-setter for the real war to come … next year. That isn’t to say the Season 7 finale wasn’t full of big plot turns—it absolutely was. Jon and Daenerys formally sealed their alliance, both militarily and romantically, just as Bran decided to spill the beans about Jon’s true parentage. Jaime finally turned his back on his sister, just as she fomented a drastic battle plan for survival. Littlefinger got his comeuppance, once and for all. And the Wall finally came down, after several thousand years of doing its job (that is to say, not falling down).
And yet, after all this chaos, after the burning of the loot trains, the loss of a dragon, and so much more death and destruction, it somehow doesn’t feel like that much has changed since the end of last season (when the truth about Jon’s birth was first confirmed). Daenerys is still waiting offshore, trying to decide how she wants to conquer. The Night’s King and his army of the dead are still approaching, having finally (after seven seasons!) made it to the top of Westeros. Cersei is still stewing at King’s Landing, plotting to rule a continent simply for power’s sake. And Jon is still as stubbornly noble as ever, resolute in his mission to stop the White Walkers but only by the most honorable means possible.