Firstly, let me say this. Game Of Thrones is an amazing television series, and has featured some truly phenomenal episodes and scenes, be it from a writing perspective or a cinematic one. I also want to say that overall, last night’s Battle for Winterfell episode was outstanding and had me on the edge of my seat. But I have a bone to pick with the writers of this excellent show, and it has to do with realism.
We’ve been building up to this battle between the living and the dead for years. In fact, the entire show hinged on it – we’ve been teased with the dead arriving on Westeros‘ doorstep since day dot, when the series opened with that creepy wight girl, remember?
It’s always been about the dead battling the living – even though the opening sequence has focused on the battle for the Iron Throne. While I’m not mad that the dead have been sorted out by mid-final-season, I’m kind of disappointed as to how that battle went down.
This is not about the cinematic production. That was PHENOMENAL. We were given some gorgeous scenes – the Dothraki running with their fire swords into battle, only for them to be extinguished in minutes, one of the most horrifying scenes we’ve ever been given in this show. The dragons racing through a stormy sky. Hordes of wights descending on the army of the living. It was beautifully shot and expertly directed.
My issue is with the plot line.
How did we not lose more beloved characters? There were so many right in the middle of shit fighting with swarms of wights, wayyyy out of their element. Some examples? Sam, who at multiple points was covered in the dead. He’s a noted terrible swordsman, how did he battle out of so many seemingly hopeless situations to emerge alive?
Not to mention Brienne and Tormund, who both seemed to constantly be on the verge of death. At one point Brienne was bitten by a wight, I’m fairly sure. And the last time we saw her fighting, she was slammed against a wall by dozens of wights, exhausted and trying to fend them off.
Jaime – who might still be a good fighter but is definitely less agile now he has to battle with his left hand – was also seen several times being inundated by the dead.
And the most ridiculous survivor, to me? Grey Worm – the head of the Unsullied army, who was on ground when the wights first swarmed over his troops, behind the barricades when wights started clambering over them, and in the castle while they overran it. HOW did he survive – no soldier is that good, surely.
For me, it wasn’t about how quickly the dead were defeated – we all knew that once the Night King was killed, the wights and White Walkers would disintegrate and the war would be won. It’s about the unrealistic survival rate of these fan favourites.
Clearly, as we’ve seen through this season, the showrunners are giving the fans what they want. We’ve had so many reunions and cute tied-in-a-bow wrap up scenes with characters, it’s hard to even cover them all off. Moments like Sansa and Tyrion holding hands in the crypt, harking back to their shared history and brief marriage. Gendry and Arya getting it on. Brienne getting knighted. Jaime apologising to Bran for pushing him out a window. A lot of this is great – it’s nice that as fans we are seeing some resolution and reward for characters we’ve loved for years.
But there’s a line where giving the fans what they want becomes a bit, well, cringe. And extremely unlike the show’s signature bleak realism. Guys – this is a show that had a KID PUSHED OUT A WINDOW after he saw Jaime and Cersei fucking, and killed off their lead character brutally mid-way through the first season. Not to mention killing off one of the best characters of all time, Khal Drogo, in the bleakest way possible. Game Of Thrones showrunners always erred on the side of shock-value over cautiousness and audience-pandering, so why are they pandering so much now?
We should have seen more death in that battle for it to feel as high stakes as it clearly was. You simply cannot tell me that we only lost Theon, Ser Jorah, Berric, Lyanna Mormont and Edd in battle (and Melisandre, but she chose to die so she doesn’t count). We didn’t even LOSE A DRAGON, even though I’m sure the Ice Dragon really got one of them good at one point.
I won’t write this season off just yet as being a pandering mess, but we’re halfway and so far it’s felt rushed and unrealistic. And before you hit me with “it’s fantasy”, I don’t mean unrealistic in comparison to real life. I mean considering the events and occurrences, the end result doesn’t make sense.