REVIEW: Game of Thrones 7.05 ‘Eastwatch’ is a dip in form
Game of Thrones has already given us more than we could have asked for this season – dragon battles, ship battles, Stark reunions – so we can forgive it for a dip in form. And that’s what ‘Eastwatch’ was.
A lot happened in ‘Eastwatch’. A little bit too much, probably. In the space of 56 minutes, we caught up with Jaime, Bronn, Cersei, Dany, Tyrion, Varys, Jon, Jorah, Sam, Gilly, Sansa, Bran, Arya, Littlefinger, Gendry, Davos, Tormund, Beric, Thoros and the Hound. It felt like several episodes in one – and consequently very cramped. Big decisions were rushed and characters (and ravens) sped across the continent at an impossible pace. Undoubtedly, this is setting the scene for what looks to be an astonishing finale. But was it good storytelling? No.
‘Eastwatch’ disappointed for the same reason ‘The Queen’s Justice’ and ‘The Spoils of War’ impressed. The shortening of season seven into seven episodes has meant that Game and Thrones can channel its budget into scene-stealing action sequences, but it’s neglected what needs to happen to get from A to B. It’s a double edged sword. For this reason we can’t judge it too harshly, though it is a shame that pacing and development were sacrificed.
Naturally, there was so much happening in this episode that some huge moments were reduced to minor pockets of screen time. Gilly revealed Rhaegar Targaryen annulled his marriage in order to marry someone else, although Sam didn’t listen. This is more or less confirmation that Jon Snow was never a bastard – which is a massive twist. Jon Snow petted a dragon, but he and Dany didn’t really talk about what that meant. Gendry’s back, but he’s not really interested in an explanation as to where Davos is taking him. Arya’s picked up on Sansa’s interest in power. Littlefinger’s finally started playing his usual games, but is it too little, too late?
Any episode was going to look tame following the spectacle that was ‘The Spoils of War’, but what happened in ‘Eastwatch’ really drove home the consequences of a shortened season. Rushed narrative and contrived character actions make the series look unintelligent, and that’s an honest shame. However, as the series races towards a splendid end – can we blame it? So far, this season is proving to be a blessing and a curse.