Entertainment

A fantasy-fuelled fight to the finish

Kit Harington in a scene from the seventh season of HBO's "Game of Thrones."   | Photo Credit: Helen Sloan

Game of Thrones has changed, a lot. Over the past couple of seasons, the palace intrigue and political games played out by central characters have slowly slid into the background, while fantasy elements such as fire-breathing dragons and the white walkers have taken centre stage, followed closely by some dead people coming back to life, thanks to the power exercised by the extremely shady Lord of Light.

This has meant that some of the magic of the relentless politicking, the fights to the finish, usually ending up in the losing party parting company with a head or limb, and the constant wining and dining has given way to entire armies being put to waste in spectacular fashion in the latest season of the series.

For a viewer, it has meant some superbly executed battle sequences (the Battle of the Bastards and the recent episode featuring Daenerys Targaryen burning up much of the Lannister army and supplies come to mind). However, it has also meant that characters such as Tyrion Lannister and the slimy Lord Varys have not much to do, other than mouthing inanities and sulking in the background. Jaime Lannister, another crowd favourite, has also spent much time this season brooding about his sister’s endgame.

This season, right from the outset, has been all about female power taking over Westeros, with the threat of the white walkers and the Night King lurking in the background. Cersei Lannister is struck at the much larger armies of Daenerys, using political skills and cunning to destroy the Dornish and part of the Greyjoy fleet, apart from managing to pay off the crown’s massive deficit with the Iron Bank by invading Highgarden, giving up Casterly Rock in the process. Old Olenna Tyrell confesses to murdering Joffrey, minutes after being poisoned by Jaime, resulting in a superb monologue. In the meantime, Daenerys gives up listening to Tryion and company, and puts her dragons to good use, managing to get the Lannisters to the negotiating table. After murdering the Freys, Arya returns to Winterfell and ends up in a nervy relationship with her sister Sansa. The ever-changing dynamics between the sisters will play a major role in determining what happens in the rest of the series. The look of shock on Sansa’s face as she watches Arya battle Brienne of Tarth is easily one of the highlights of the season. Meanwhile, in the citadel, Gilly stumbles upon what could be the secret to Jon Snow’s parentage and tells Sam, who, irritated with his cleaning duties and a thankless job, walks out and ignores it completely.

The men seem to have mostly lost their mojo. Jon Snow travels to Dragonstone to enlist Daenerys’ support for the battle against the Night King and to mine dragonglass, an important tool to battle the white walkers. He spends a lot of time brooding, before heading beyond the wall, to capture a white walker, with the newly healed Jorah Mormont and the back-from-the-dead Hound for company. At the conclusion of the latest episode, Daenerys has to rescue this motley crew with the help of dragons, and ends up losing one of them to the Night King. In King’s Landing, Euron Greyjoy delivers Dorne and the Iron Islands to Cersei, and is promised her hand in marriage, once the war ends. Bran makes his way back home, and does nothing much but creep everyone out with his utterances as the Three-Eyed Raven. Jaime Lannister’s bravado of charging at a live dragon makes him a prime character to be killed soon. Even Littlefinger spends much of his time trying hard to play on the rivalry between Arya and Sansa, though his constant attempts at intrigue do not seem to be winning him much support. Tyrion’s plans don’t work and he takes to drinking again. It is also good to notice that all the primary characters have realised the danger from the white walkers and the Night King, and an alliance to defeat this danger may be finally taking shape. In the past few seasons, barring Jon Snow, no one gave much thought to the Army of the Dead.

Time seems to travel rather quickly in Westeros this season, and the show runners have cut through to the chase than dwell too much on pointless sub-plots.

This means that ravens make it from one place to another in quick time and characters meet each other more regularly, for everything from negotiations to discussing strategy. This has made this season the most fast-paced and kept the viewers on the edge of the seat.

As the season reaches its final episode, it is hard to pick favourites. However, if I had to stick my head out to predict, I would think that it might be Cersei, aided by the evil genius Qyburn, who might be making the final stand against the Night King, as and when the long night does truly arrive.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 11:59:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/game-of-thrones-is-ramping-up-the-action-as-the-finale-draws-nearer/article19534028.ece

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