*Stop reading if you haven’t watched Game of Thrones season 7 episode 5*
Jaime and Bronn live! Randyll and Dickon get roasted alive! Jon charms a dragon! Jorah returns! Sam leaves the Citadel! Jaime and Tyrion reunite! Gendry returns! Cersei reveals she’s pregnant! Arya stalks Littlefinger and finds a secret letter! Jon and the Brotherhood head beyond the wall!
Game of Thrones episodes have been getting more and more eventful in season 7, the show racing towards its final season and consequently having to pack them with a ton of plot information.
This is a good and bad thing for viewers.
One the one hand, it means we’re guaranteed an absolutely gripping ~1 hour of television, involving so many twists and major character reunions it’s easy to forget some of them.
On the other, it means really big moments in the show’s story are given about three minutes to address, raced through so they can get to the next one.
How Game of Thrones characters have changed
Consider Arya’s time with the Faceless Men in season 6 for instance; under the pacing of season 7 that season-long arc would have been completed within a single episode (that’s a bad example as I wished Arya’s time in Braavos had been shorter, but you get what I mean).
I could happily have spent a whole episode with Tyrion and Davos sneaking into King’s Landing or Jon preparing his White Walker kidnap mission, but instead they were rolled together in one eye-gougingly exciting episode.
This swiftness makes some plot points harder to swallow (like Daenerys falling for Jon after about five conversations) and journeys take place as though via time travel (consider, for instance, how long it took The Hound and Arya to make their trips, compared to Davos getting to King’s Landing and back or Jon making it to the Wall from Dragonstone this episode).
I know the show dropped down from 10 episodes to seven in order to boost the quality of each one (though surely HBO could have stumped up the cash for 10 lavish instalments given how big the show is?) but watching Twin Peaks season 3 air the 14th of its 18 parts tonight, I can’t help but wish Game of Thrones could take its foot off the gas a little and spend more time with each sub-plot.
Still, it looks like we may get that next week, in what promises to be an almost entirely White Walker hunt-centric episode.
Game of Thrones continues on HBO, Sky Atlantic and through NOWTV on Sunday nights.