Game of Thrones series 7: spoiler-free review

“The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

The White Walkers are coming, bringing winter in their wake. Everyone agrees that they must work together to evade this global catastrophe, everyone except the most powerful person in Westeros: Cersei Lannister.

Cersei has the throne and the kingdom, at least that part of it that lies within the city walls. Her life has lurched from crisis to crisis, with her constantly winning Pyrrhic victories. She never learns the error of her ways, that winning is meaningless if you destroy your friends whilst making more foes along the way. As queen, her aims are only to see her enemies crushed, regardless of how many of her supporters she loses in the process.

Cersei is clearly the archetypal leader of our times, which future historians will undoubtedly dub ‘The Age of Idiocy’.

Thankfully, whilst we all dance happily on the edge of the abyss, the Golden Age of television continues. Series 7 of Game of Thrones is slow-moving at the outset but reaches the best conclusion yet. By now, we should be able to anticipate what will happen next, but the tricksy authors have a way of surprising us even after all this time.

With George RR Martin tied up on the as yet unfinished novel The Winds of Winter, the script isn’t quite as quotable as in the past, but it still has lots of the sharp wordplay that makes the characters feel like real people. I have a feeling that GRRM gets a sneaky peek at the scripts and has a chance to sprinkle a little of his magic dust over it.

Otherwise, the big question that remains is who and what are the White Walkers, these ghostly creations from beyond the wall. Through Bran’s visions of the past, we now know how they first appeared, but it is still unclear what power animates them and what dread purpose they have.

Despite having been a threat from the beginning, the Walkers barely speak and never give an insight into their culture or their thoughts. They are used judiciously through the series, as it is difficult to maintain drama with an enemy that is effectively mute.

Since the novel sequence is named A Song of Ice and Fire, we now know that the title refers obliquely to Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen respectively. I have a theory that it is also refers to two gods who are manipulating mortal affairs from afar. The God of Light is a deity whose works are performed through fire. He has ensured that key players among the humans remain alive to perform his bidding, cruel though he may otherwise be.

Surely, a god of cold and ice is also ruling the White Walkers and using the Night King to effect his (or probably her) plans. Thus we have war in heaven as well as on earth.

For now, we have to wait on the final season. Apparently, this will contain six one-and-a-half hour episodes, which is effectively like producing half a dozen feature films. The complexity is such that it won’t now appear until 2019, so we have plenty of time to wait before the final battle begins.

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