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Here’s a question I can’t help but wondering: What happened in Game of Thrones Season 7?
By that, I don’t mean what were the series of events that took place on the series. It’s easy enough to compile a story summary that makes the seventh season sound reasonably coherent. I mean what was the purpose of anything that transpired? What were the more profound themes or character dynamics being explored?
Or, to be more exact: Was there a single plot that didn’t continuously run in circles while waiting for the Wall to come down and the White Walkers to march into Westeros? Game of Thrones Season 7 was, by and large, a waiting game.
We knew Jon and Dany would perhaps hook up — but we needed to wait. We knew somebody would find out Jon’s parentage — but we needed to wait. We knew the White Walkers would somehow bring danger to the Seven Kingdoms as they never had before — but we needed to wait.
This led to what might probably be Game of Thrones Season 7’s strangest season yet. The seventh season was often outstandingly fun (look at those set pieces!), but it felt more weightless than even some of its weaker predecessors (I’m talking about you, season five!). Right at the worst possible time, it’s become all but extremely hard to make out just what anything on the show means.
Game of Thrones Season 7 has lost the plot when it comes to anything other than showing the audience a good time
Let’s take the seventh season’s Sansa and Arya plotline as a microcosm for its problems as a whole. After Arya comes back to Winterfell (and the two have a tear-jerking reunion), Littlefinger starts to plant seeds of dissension in the sisters’ relationship, seeds that culminate in Arya threatening to kill Sansa in the season’s penultimate episode. However, it turns out that Littlefinger was the one in danger, as Sansa and Arya catch onto his ruse (with help from Bran, who can see into the past). Arya ultimately slits his throat.
The result of this plot — Sansa and Arya’s bond is stronger than never before, and the North also has a hold over the military forces of the Vale (who were used to be under Littlefinger’s command) — isn’t bad. But all of the legwork to get there was far too convoluted and makes little to no sense if you think about it for more than a couple of seconds.
My first thought was that Arya and Sansa were planning this eventuality all along, which is why they went along with Littlefinger’s scheme just long enough to put him in a position in which they could kill him. But if that’s the case, why were there so many sequences involving just the two sisters, sequences that Littlefinger couldn’t plausibly know about?
And if going along with Littlefinger wasn’t an act, then the plot is even weirder, since Sansa and Arya spent a lot of time fighting about things that looked largely out of character, as opposed to all of the stuffs they really did have to fight about (as The Ringer’s Alison Herman outlines here). This interview with Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran on the show) suggests the latter interpretation — but the shot cut from the episode only emphasizes even more how the series chose to obfuscate its storytelling instead of be straight with its audience.