Small Council: What was the worst moment of Game of Thrones season 7?


We love Game of Thrones, but it’s not above criticism. We’ve talked a lot about the highs of season 7, but what about the lows? What was the worst moment of the year? Let’s discuss…politely.

DAN: Okay, before I start, let me put out one final call to keep the discussion respectfully critical. We good? Good.

Now that that’s over, let’s talk about the wight hunt in “Beyond the Wall.” It’s stupid. I don’t think that’s a controversial opinion. It’s pretty and Viserion’s death is a big deal and there’s a zombie polar bear but it’s just…it’s dumb.

I think this episode fell prey to the shortened runtime of season 7. I see where the producers were going — they wanted to give the Night King a weapon capable of breaking through the Wall and set up the final act of the story, but they took too many shortcuts to get there.

Think about the scene where Jon kills a White Walker and then sees that every wight in the area has dropped dead (or deader) save one. This plays a little too perfectly into the reason the group came up here; it’s an “oh, come on” moment. Or the moment when Daenerys shows up with her dragons just in the nick of time to save the group before they’re overrun by wights, a rescue that can only happen because Gendry, who’s apparently “the fastest” member of the group, runs all the way back to Eastwatch in time to send a letter to Dragonstone, all while the lads freeze themselves silly on an island in the middle of a frozen lake. Or the bit when Benjen Stark, who also shows up just in the nick of time to save Jon, refuses to join him on the getaway horse because there’s “no time”…right before we watch a few long lingering shots of Jon riding away while Benjen stares down an approaching wight horde.

I don’t mind a few inconsistencies and conveniences popping up in my fantasy TV, but having this many in one place stretches my suspension of disbelief beyond the breaking point. When that happens, I’m no longer invested, and that’s not fun.

Worst of all is that the whole thing is built on one supersized contrivance: that Jon, Tyrion, and Dany, knowing what they know, would agree that heading north of the Wall on the slim hope of fetching back a wight on the even slimmer hope of convincing Cersei Lannister to help them is a good idea. Again, I see where the producers were going, but if they don’t play by the rules they’ve set up for themselves, they can’t expect all the viewers to follow.

SEBASTIAN: Great pick there, Dan! I am with you on that for the most part, although I have to say that as much this whole affair was pretty contrived, it at least created an opportunity for interesting interaction between several members of that merry band of apparent suicides. But I agree that it’s the most contrived, plothole-ridden part of season 7.

If not for Olenna, I might go with the Sack of Highgarden here. That one probably takes the cake as the most anticlimactic moment. At the end of the day, the worst moment for me must be the confrontation between Arya and Sansa in Winterfell after Arya has read the letter Sansa had sent to Robb and Catelyn under pressure from Cersei way back in season 1.

Why is that moment so awful? Most importantly because it makes little sense. It already made next to no sense to me when I first saw it, but it is much worse retrospect. The scene tries to convince the audience that there is a tension between the two sisters that I never managed to take seriously. After all those deaths, would they not be able to see that they must stick together? Would Sansa really continue to trust Littlefinger at all?

When Littlefinger finally dies in episode 7, we are left with more question than answers, but none of them will be answered in season 8. It seems to be implied that the tensions between Arya and Sansa are an act, at least at some point, while it is clear that their confrontation over the letter is sincere, since nobody seems to be watching. So, which one is it? Did they set their differences aside somewhere along the way and turned their very real tensions into a ploy to take down Littlefinger? And if so, what exactly did they achieve? Their apparent act achieved nothing at all, I think. Sansa could have put Littlefinger on trial at any time just as easily without it. In the end it was all just filler. A means to delay Littelfinger’s inevitable demise. I still cheered when he died. It could have been much sweeter, though.

COREY: Well, first of all, I’m going to follow instructions and choose a moment and not an entire episode, even if “Beyond the Wall” was one of the lowest points of the series for all the reasons Dan pointed out. I also won’t choose any of the more sickening moments of the series, both of which involve Samwell Tarly. And because I’m such a nice guy, I won’t rail about Sansa’s decisions throughout the season. Instead, I have to choose the moment Jon brought Dany into the caves below Dragonstone.

Where to even begin? Nothing about the entire sequence, other than the excellent memes about Jon taking women into caves, worked. The drawings were too convenient, they looked like a professional had drawn them, and it just felt ham-fisted. If you really wanted us to buy an alliance between Jon and Dany, let alone a romance, have the two monarchs actually hash out their differences. A giant cave full of drawings was like Jon finding a neon billboard that said “Jon is right. Listen to Jon.” It was a writing shortcut that robbed us the joy of watching Jon and Dany grow closer through dialogue and getting to know one another.

Not to mention, why had no one ever “discovered” these paintings before? Wouldn’t Melisandre have wanted to use them to convince an unbelieving Stannis? And how does Jon know the Children drew them and not say, Shireen after reading all about it in a book? And since when were the Children a sea-faring folk? The Children of the Forest loved THE FOREST! Not the open sea, and certainly not a tree-barren island like Dragonstone.

RAZOR: I have never understood why people have a problem suspending belief over the cave paintings on a show with ice zombies and dragons…but I digress. I would also like to humbly submit my annual complaint about the previous season: No Lady Stoneheart.

Phew, okay. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to talk about those goddamn huge chains the Night King conjured out of thin air to retrieve Viserion’s body from the bottom of that frozen lake.

Oh look, we’re talking about another plot hole from “Beyond the Wall.” 

While it hurt my heart to see Viserion take one for the team, I knew it was coming, and despite the fact that the Night King chose to call his shot on a moving target, ignoring Dany and the massive Drogon just chilling on the ice right in front of him, what really ground my gears was that those chains weren’t shown before that moment.

And it’s not like the show didn’t have a chance to do that. In Episode 701, “Dragonstone,” we saw undead giants for the first time. Why couldn’t one or two of those big bastards have been carrying big chains over their shoulders?

The chains open up a whole new can of worms, as well. Did the Night King know he would need them? Does he have the power of prescience.

I know I’m nitpicking, but unless there is an undead Home Depot near that frozen lake, then there has to be a legitimate explanation for how they got there in the first place.

DAN: I gotta chime back in here for a second. I still don’t understand why those chains give fans so much pause. They’re chains. The Night King has them. I don’t get why this is a mystery that requires an explanation. It doesn’t contradict anything we already knew; it’s just new information.

Now how the wights managed to attach the chains when it’s been established they can’t swim…that’s a little dicier, but I’m getting off track.

I don’t understand your concern over the cave paintings, either, Corey. I don’t think they were irrefutable proof that Jon was right. I think they were cave paintings. As for why no one had “discovered” them, who’s to say they hadn’t? And why would it matter if they had? Melisandre wouldn’t know what they meant, and even if she did, you think Stannis is gonna be swayed by art?

It’s also unfair to ding them as looking “like a professional had drawn them” and then to wonder whether Shireen, a pre-teen non-professional artist, could have made them. Personally, I thought they looked kinda simple, but they were supposed to be all elemental and spooky, so…

And as for the Children of the Forest not being sea-faring, you don’t know their life. And besides, they were drawn thousands of years ago. Who’s to say there wasn’t another way of getting to Dragonstone back then, and that it wasn’t covered in trees? There did used to be a land bridge between Dorne and Essos before the Children severed it.

If you get to make things up to invent plot holes I get to make things up to fill them.

Oh, so we can’t make a boat, now?

RICHARD: I guess I’m chiming in as tail-end Charlie here, and that’s fine. Everybody above has selected some darned fine clunker moments in Season 7. I’ll focus on Winterfell, where the producers made some less-than-perfect choices.

Sebastian already mentioned the unexpected lack of trust between Sansa and Arya concerning Littlefinger. Yes, the sisters have been separated for a long while, but their willingness to immediately suspect each other comes out of nowhere, especially when they would both be on their guard in the vicinity of Littlefinger.

That brings us to the Jon Snow/Sansa Stark dynamic at Winterfell. We know these characters very well. They’re smart. They’re experienced. They were raised in a household with politically astute parents (Ned seemed to fare quite well as long as he didn’t leave the North). But now, with Sansa installed as the head of the Stark House and Jon elected The King in the North, they’ve gone a bit daft.

Arguing in front of the Northern Lords, and doing so repeatedly? What is that? Jon and Sansa need to exhibit a united front in order to lead, and they are surely aware of this. As political partners, they know enough to work out their problems in private so their public message is one of unity and certainty. But, instead, the producers have them surprising and opposing one another with right in front of the assembled lords of the Northern Houses, many of whom don’t suffer fools gladly.

Why do this to Jon and Sansa? They’re not dumb. They understand leadership and what is at stake. If we compare the unfortunate Jon/Sansa public bickering to the off-kilter Sansa/Arya suspicions, we expose a similar narrative pattern: the Thrones producers don’t seem to trust their own material in these storylines. They have a sense that the stories need more drama, so they layer in more intrigue and conflict.

The problem is that the producers didn’t earn it, so the conflict feels forced and artificial. Public disarray and contention may feel like it’s adding more drama to the Jon/Sansa pairing, but it does little more than make the characters look bad.

Honestly, with all the powerful narrative lines weaving through season 7, I don’t think the producers even needed to go there.

What do you think was the worst moment of season 7? Select from the poll below and tell us in the comments!

What was the worst moment of Game of Thrones season 7?