Game of Thrones’ season 7 finale was the most-watched episode in the show’s history. While it had its satisfying sequences, the consensus across social media was mixed. In typical Game of Thrones fashion, the finale left a lot of unanswered questions to set up a final season a year or two from now. But there were also rushed, predictable plot points that left the fans frustrated, and sparked a good deal of online debate.
1. A justification for Theon’s ongoing story
I probably have more sympathy for Theon than most Game of Thrones fans, but seriously, how did he survive that beatdown at Dragonstone? His conversation with Jon, which marked his transformation from victim to attempted hero, was satisfying, but his first step toward that heroism — a fight with Harrag over whether the Ironborn survivors would go rescue Yara — looked like a fatal misstep. Then Theon got his moment of eunuch glory, and with one headbutt and some punches, he takes out a guy who’s twice his size. And that show of machismo suddenly wins back his people. Why didn’t Theon try to learn where Yara was while he was in King’s Landing, where she was last seen? Why didn’t he enlist the help of Brienne, Jon, and Jorah, some of the best fighters on the show? Who even cares about the Greyjoys at this point? Yara and Theon are not about to stop the White Walkers, so why the focus on them? Maybe because they have a fleet, and zombies can’t swim? I really hope that’s the reason this storyline is being stretched out.
2. A resolution for Tormund and Beric Dondarrion
The showrunners kept virtually all of the key characters alive through season 7, so it’s safe to assume Beric Dondarrion and Tormund survived the destruction of Eastwatch. We saw other Night’s Watch members falling to their deaths, but Beric and Tormund got to watch in horror, then make a run for it. Their story is probably going to echo Jamie and Bronn mysteriously escaping Drogon’s flames, and we’ll likely still see them in season 8. But if they’re dead, why not show it? If they’re alive, how? They managed to run from a dragon-sized cataclysm and then the entire army of the dead? Who knows!
3. An explanation for Tyrion Lannister, jealous stalker
One of the scenes that came as a surprise was Tyrion lurking despondently outside Dany’s chambers as she and Jon consummated their abrupt feelings for each other. His expression was pure jealousy, which the show hasn’t exactly justified. There have been hints: Tyrion was responsible for shipping off Jorah in Mereen and keeping Daario behind in Essos. He tried to keep Dany from flying North to rescue Jon and Jorah. It does seem like he’s weeding out the competition. He also had an interesting line in the season 6 finale, after advising Dany to leave Daario behind: “He wasn’t the first to love you, and he won’t be the last.” His questions about Dany’s successor could also be an indicator that he wanted to marry her under the pretext of allying their houses. Were these events meant to indicate that Tyrion is in love with Dany? At the time, all those moves seemed politically calculated, but maybe the writers were just playing coy. Tyrion worrying about Dany for political reasons seems more plausible, given what we’ve actually seen. The jealousy aspect doesn’t feel earned. Plot-wise, though, Tyrion’s jealousy could drive a wedge between him and Jon, causing tension in Dany’s ranks.
4. Any lead-up to the Stark siblings’ awareness of Littlefinger’s plot
Arya savagely slitting Littlefinger’s throat with his own dagger was deeply satisfying, and arguably one of the finale’s best scenes. For the last couple of episodes, we’ve seen nothing but clear evidence that Littlefinger was successfully playing the Stark sisters, especially as he runs through a list of motives for Arya to murder Sansa. There wasn’t a single scene that hinted at their suspicions, or that they were colluding with Bran, who’s apparently been psychically spying for them offscreen. That all seems too convenient, given the comparative helplessness and bafflement we actually saw onscreen, from all of them. Sure, a lot of people guessed that the Starks were manipulating Littlefinger, rather than vice versa, but those theories were mostly wishful thinking until the finale. Still, it’s good to see Sansa pass sentence on the creep who sold her to Ramsay.
5. Cleganebowl, or even a dramatic lead-up to it happening someday
For fans hyped about “Cleganebowl,” the seemingly inevitable grudge match between Sandor “the Hound” Clegane and his brother Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, their actual face-off in the finale was anticlimactic. For a brief moment, Cleganebowl seemed almost certain. Before the summit in the dragon pit even started, the Hound walked right up to his brother to insult him. But the Hound walked away with a vague threat — “You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.” That could be a hint that the Hound means to take out the Mountain himself. Or is he referencing a vision he had in the flames, or the Mountain’s current undead status. Either way, the Mountain didn’t even flinch, and the Hound got nothing out of the exchange but a chance to talk shit.
6. Gilly getting credit for her research into High Septon Maynard’s diary
Bran Stark tells Sam Tarly the tale of R+L=J, confirming Jon as Dany’s nephew, at the same time those newly confirmed relatives are having incestuous sex. Nicely played, Game of Thrones. Sam brings up something he learned in Oldtown — former High Septon Maynard left notes in his diary that confirm Jon isn’t a bastard, he’s the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. There are three problems with this. First: In the scene where Gilly read this information to Sam, he clearly wasn’t paying attention. And yet he mentions it casually, as out of all the notes in the diary, this was the one that stood out. Second: he completely fails to mention that Gilly dug up this information, and was the one who cared about it. Why wasn’t Gilly in that room, interjecting with her own research? Third: why had Bran never looked back on Lyanna and Rhaegar, whose relationship kicked off Robert’s Rebellion? Did he really need Sam to unveil that piece of information to him in order to go there? It all just seemed to fall together too quickly and easily.
7. Any useful accomplishments from Cersei and Jamie
Cersei finally got her moment to shine when she had all her enemies inside a dragon pit, and what did she do? She lied. She could have easily murdered everyone there and continued on her quest. Instead, she went for the long con of conquering Westeros while everyone else fights the army of the dead. Why waste the time? Mostly to keep all the other characters alive until the next season. It’s almost unbelievable that she let everyone leave King’s Landing unscathed, and didn’t even take the chance to murder Tyrion, whom she’s wanted dead since he was an infant. Why hold back? Because of her “love for family”? Then why not avenge her father, mother, and children? I thought for a brief moment that she’d poisoned the wine in the nearby carafe, knowing her brother would go for it the moment he got a chance. But no, Cersei is still focusing on taking over Westeros the hard way, even though Jamie keeps telling her she’s miscalculating. Meanwhile, he also does nothing. He’s been shown time and time again that Cersei is totally insane, but he doesn’t try to contain her, and he only barely tries to convince her. He shows his disapproval with diluted pupils and slightly more gritted teeth than usual. And in this case, when he finally takes a step, it’s running away. Come on, Jamie! How whipped can you be by this madwoman?