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GAME OF THRONES Season 7 Review & Episode Scores

April 14, 2019

Game of Thrones Season 7 Review

Game of Thrones: Season Seven

We’ve scored every Game Of Thrones episode (excluding Season 8, of course), and there will be a master list of the ranked episodes forthcoming. The episodes were broken down at the granular level. Each storyline within each episode received score from 1-5 in each of the following areas: Story, Worldbuilding, and Entertainment. The component scores were then combined and used as the basis for the Episode Scores. We’ve published a review of every season to date, and Season Eight will get the same treatment once the full slate of episodes has had a fair chance to resonate.

Previous Entries:

Introduction & Rationale

Season 1 Review

Season 2 Review

Season 3 Review

Season 4 Review

Season 5 Review

Season 6 Review

Without further ado…


Season 7 delivered long-awaited reunions (Sansa and Arya) and first-time-meetings (Daenerys and Jon). Revelations bookended an eye-popping amount of dragon-related spectacle. As with all previous entries, Game of Thrones’ penultimate season delivers, even if it fades noticeably in its later stretch. This season drew increased criticism for eschewing some of the novel-esque method and rigor that the series had become known for. Characters moved across the map of Westeros at a head-spinning pace, and the fan-favorites seemed to dodge certain death at an unsustainable rate for a series that has shocked viewers repeatedly during its run. This is still Thrones, but with a shorter run of seven episodes and an overall breezier approach to storytelling, it often felt like a dragon of a different color.

Dragonstone [7.01]

Dragonstone Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 79

The season gets off to a strong start with Dragonstonewhich may be a chessboard episode, but it manages to position all of the pieces in highly entertaining fashion. Every character check-in is worth its screen time, but there are a few standouts. The Hound, now palling around with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr as they head north, reflects on his violent past and sees a vision in flames. In an almost-wordless final scene, Daenerys finally lands on Dragonstone and solemnly walks the grounds of her birthplace, having returned to Westeros at long last. At the Citadel, we are treated to what might be the series’ first comedic montage depicting Sam hard at work re-shelving books, serving food, and cleaning chamber pots. If there is a weak link, it has to be the Ed Sheeran scene. It’s not a terrible scene, though it likely would have benefited from relegating Sheeran to the background a little more. The scene’s blatant-celebrity-cameo quotient increases with every one of his lines and close-ups. Nothing against Sheeran, but the show probably could have protected him a bit more than it did. Dragonstone seems to be structured differently from previous episodes. The scenes feel a little longer, with a little more breathing room and less cross-cutting. This is a fitting way to start a season, giving the handful of truly special moments the gravity they deserve.

Stormborn [7.02]

Stormborn Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 75

Stormborn follows up Dany’s historic landfall with another pivotal episode for the Dragon Queen. In this chapter, Dany (perhaps for the benefit of viewers as much as for herself) challenges a few of her allies’ loyalty, and sets her attack plan in motion. Also, on the eve of launching said plan, Missandei and Grey Worm escalate their relationship. Unfortunately, Yara’s fleet is almost immediately decimated by Euron Greyjoy’s shiny new Iron Fleet. At Winterfell, Jon receives a raven from Dany summoning him to visit Dragonstone and kneel to his new queen. Jon, Sansa, and Davos discuss courses of action, but ultimately decide that Jon will go south and attempt to convince Dany to help them fight the army of the dead. Arya has a touching reunion with both Hot Pie and her long-lost direwolf, Nymeria. In one of Thrones’ grossest scenes ever, Sam removes Jorah’s greyscale-afflicted flesh in hopes of sparing him an awful fate. Outside of the naval battle, Stormborn is hardly a monumental episode, but it comprises a few memorable moments, and makes for a fine mid-season entry in the truncated seventh season.

The Queen’s Justice [7.03]

The Queen's Justice Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 80

The Queen’s Justice is one of Season Seven’s best installments, bookended by a pair of outstanding scenes. First up is the long-awaited meeting of Jon and Dany, which proves to be a song of ice and fire, indeed. Family histories and past oaths are dragged out into the light, and despite reaching a tepid understanding with one another, Jon withholds any knee-bending until Dany agrees to help him fight the White Walkers. The episode concludes with the Lannister invasion of Highgarden, and a tête-à-tête between Jaime and Olenna Tyrell, Queen of Thorns, who is magnificent in her final farewell. What comes between those two great scenes is more varied, highlighted by Cersei exacting her revenge on Ellaria, and Sansa coming into her own as the Lady of Winterfell, in Jon’s absence. The Queen’s Justice would have been the high point of season seven, if not for the sheer magnitude of the episode that follows.

The Spoils Of War [7.04]

The Spoils of War Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 83

In The Spoils Of War, Dany decides to end her losing streak. The scene in which she rides Drogon toward the Lannister army, with Dothraki ground support, results in probably the best battle Thrones has put on film yet. We’ve seen grand scale destruction on this show before, but with Dany making full use of a mature dragon to incinerate large swaths of the Lannister army and its supply train on their return from Highgarden, this particular scene breaks new ground in depicting the horrors of Westerosi combat. Not content to be merely a single set-piece episode, The Spoils Of War also sees Arya’s return to Winterfell followed by a spirited sparring session between her and Brienne. Notably, The Spoils Of War is the shortest of all Game Of Thrones episodes, and yet by handling each story thread with great clarity, makes for an exemplary entry that maintains the impact of a much longer episode.

Eastwatch [7.05]

Eastwatch Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 70

Season Seven’s troubles begin in Eastwatch, the episode that manufactures an unconvincing beef between Arya and Sansa. Does it make sense that Littlefinger would attempt to wedge himself between the Stark sisters? Absolutely. That the best he could come up with was a scroll Sansa penned six seasons ago, one that can (and has) easily been explained away as coercion, feels like a letdown. At least the cat and mouse game between Littlefinger and Arya was entertaining while it lasted. Compounding the Winterfell scenes is the silly mission to capture a wight and bring it to King’s Landing. Setting aside that it seems like an enormous risk for little payoff, and given what the show has taught us about Westerosi travel times, this plan seems like something that would take several months too execute. Somehow, given the supposed urgency of the situation, they opt for this overwrought plan. It’s still good television, but calling this a reasonable course of action is a serious stretch. So, Eastwatch has a few problems. It’s also buoyed by a very interesting debrief post-loot-train-debacle between Jaime and Cersei, as well as Sam concluding that he doesn’t have time to wait around cleaning chamber pots at the Citadel and finally leaving with Gilly and baby Sam to help the realm more directly.

Beyond The Wall [7.06]

Beyond the Wall Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 69

Even with the baggage of a few clunky stories continuing from the previous episode, Beyond The Wall is a monumental chapter in the Thrones series. Winterfell disappoints, as the Stark girls are at each other’s throats the whole time with Arya acting like a psychopath, or maybe just a teenager who happens to be an elite killing machine. After all they’ve been through, doesn’t it make more sense that they wouldn’t let this tiff come between them? In the North, the logic behind the mission notwithstanding, what actually happens with Jon and company is a very exciting and colossally important stepping stone in the grander story. That the sequence nets a dragon vs. White Walker showdown and the successful capture of a wight—and intentionally vagueness of what the mission entails—somewhat mitigates the sillier moments, including Gendry running all the way back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Dany. The loss of a dragon to the army of the dead is appropriately tragic. In the end, the show’s steadiness as a storytelling vehicle experiences a few hiccups, but the mission is ultimately accomplished.

The Dragon And The Wolf [7.07]

The Dragon and the Wolf Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 77

The Dragon And The Wolf washes away the sins of the two uneven episodes preceding it. The panacea for the Sansa and Arya friction (and I think we all saw this coming as early as The Spoils Of War), was really just to execute Littlefinger. To the episode’s credit, and to all of our viewing satisfaction, it finally happens in this installment. The summit in the dragon pits of King’s Landing was a grand setting for a series of entertaining speeches as well as an emotional conversation between Cersei and Tyrion. The stakes of this sequence felt right even if it was a bit anticlimactic. The real treasure was the consummation of Dany and Jon’s relationship, played out in parallel to Sam and Bran puzzling out that Jon is actually the true-born son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister), making him Dany’s nephew. That this scene can feel so right, while also being so explicitly perverse, is a microcosm of what is arguably Game Of Thrones’ greatest strength as a series. The final shots of the Night King breaching the Wall at Eastwatch with the help of the freshly reanimated Viserion, deliver fantasy spectacle on par with anything Thrones has shown us in its entire run. All in all, The Dragon And The Wolf is a more-than-serviceable season finale.

Analysis

Dragonstone was a strong start for the season and effectively establishing the circumstances that would define this septet of episodes. Entries 3 and 4 (The Queen’s Justice and The Spoils of War) were the season’s best and the only two to reach or surpass the 80-mark. This season is tasked with a lot of heavy-lifting. There has been mention of “chessboard” episodes throughout this series of reviews in which the episodes seem to primarily exist to position the characters for bigger and better things that will occur in a future episode. Season 7 often feels like a chessboard season. There are many thrills packed in — the “Loot Train” incident, for example — and yet this season feels predominantly concerned with setting the stage for the final season. The means of doing so sometimes defy logic, and the primary culprits are episodes 5 and 6 (Eastwatch and Beyond the Wall). These episodes contain a dizzying amount of shaky planning carried out with whirlwind execution. The speed with which these episodes are resolved arguably undermines their gravity. This may have felt odd to many viewers as this gravity was consistently hard-earned throughout much of the series’ run. With both of those episodes failing to reach the 70-mark, this 7-episode run was doomed to finish at the bottom of the season-by-season power rankings list. Though it does seem to come up short when compared to previous seasons, this isn’t meant as an indictment, as Season 7 finished only a few tenths of a point behind the next lowest. It’s still Thrones even though it seemed to be saddled with the goal of whetting our appetite for Season 8 rather than carving out its own unimpeachable place in the canon.

Minutiae

Season 7 Episode Averages:

— Episode Score= 75.81

— Story= 75.29

— Worldbuilding= 70.71

—Entertainment= 82.57

The Spoils of War was the season’s top entry, with a score of 83.

The Spoils of War also scorched its way to the highest Story score, with an 87.

Dragonstone scored highest in both the Worldbuilding and Entertainment categories, with an 84 and 90, respectively.

Season 6 Episodes Ranked By Episode Score

  1. [7.04] The Spoils of War (82.22)
  2. [7.03] The Queen’s Justice (80)
  3. [7.01] Dragonstone (78.89)
  4. [7.07] The Dragon and the Wolf (76.67)
  5. [7.02] Stormborn (74.67)
  6. [7.05] Eastwatch (69.33)
  7. [7.06] Beyond the Wall (68.89)

Season Scores Ranked (1-7)

  1. Season 6 (80.69)
  2. Season 4 (79.30)
  3. Season 3 (78.56)
  4. Season 1 (78.29)
  5. Season 2 (76.11)
  6. Season 5 (76.09)
  7. Season 7 (75.81)

With the first seven season reviews published, now we can all sit back and enjoy Season 8. Stay tuned for our forthcoming master list of episode rankings, and more Game Of Thrones stuff in general. Season 8 will eventually get the same treatment on this site, once we’ve had enough time to digest it in its entirety.

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