wed 24/07/2024

Game of Thrones, Series 7, Sky Atlantic review – slow, but it's just the beginning | reviews, news & interviews

Game of Thrones, Series 7, Sky Atlantic review – slow, but it's just the beginning

Game of Thrones, Series 7, Sky Atlantic review – slow, but it's just the beginning

The fate of the Seven Kingdoms is hanging in the balance

Killer queen: Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

If nothing else, Game of Thrones has surely been the greatest boon to the British acting profession since they invented tights and greasepaint. Part of the fun is trying to think of somebody who hasn’t been in it yet.

So far we haven’t seen Maggie Smith or Sean Connery (though we’ve had Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell), but new in series seven is Jim Broadbent, playing somebody called Archmaester Marwyn, a venerable sage at that seat of scholarship, The Citadel.

Jim (pictured below) was his usual disarming self as he coolly dismembered the corpse of a deceased alcoholic on his anatomist’s slab, handing over the slithery internal organs to the appalled Sam Tarly (John Bradley-West) to be weighed. It looks as if Marwyn may also prove helpful to Tarly, who has been sent from the North to infiltrate The Citadel’s secret library and unearth arcane information about how to defeat the dreaded White Walkers. This ghastly zombie-army, who exist in the frozen wilderness beyond The Wall, has loomed over the entire history of Game of Thrones, and is now threatening to extinguish civilisation altogether. Confronting this looming Armageddon is the great and historic mission of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), now “the King in the North”, and this will doubtless take us all the way to the end of the show’s eighth and final series.

But trying to summarise GoT is a loser’s game, because you’re immediately floundering in a quicksand of bizarre names, impossible deeds and a treacherous knotweed of family relationships and betrayals. The show has blossomed into a global phenomenon, but if you’re not one of the illuminati its appeal can be difficult to fathom. On the face of it, it looks like a random lash-up of Harry Potter, Arthurian legends, Lord of the Rings and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, with episodes of horror and tragedy interspersed with shockingly inept dialogue and clumsy attempts at knockabout humour. Incest, torture, greed, revenge and murder are the dominant themes, and while spasms of soft porn and self-consciously crude language seem to be aimed at persuading us that this was designed for adults, you really need to be a teenager in a hormonal frenzy.

All that said, even though it opened with a brisk mass-murder, this season opener was slightly dull and seemed to be consciously downplaying expectations. It’s true that in this still-evolving era of streaming and box sets it’s no longer wise to judge a show by its opening couple of episodes, because we’re now into binge-viewing and repeated plays, but the temperature had been cranked way down from the storming climax to Season Six. In particular the “Battle of The Bastards” episode, which featured Daenerys Stormborn’s squadron of dragons sensationally destroying an enemy fleet with torrents of fire and Jon Snow’s terrifying, claustrophobic battle against Ramsay Bolton to regain Winterfell, was a milestone in any kind of TV and won seven Emmy awards.

But Seven is still at the scene-setting stage. Power-crazed Cersei (Lena Headey), whose bottom is currently warming the Iron Throne, is proposing to tighten her grip on the Seven Kingdoms with the aid of Euron Greyjoy (Borgen’s Pilou Asbaek) and his powerful Iron Fleet, though Euron’s ambition of getting it on with Cersei must surely end very badly. Meanwhile, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is on a personal mission to kill Cersei, though she did find time en route for a whimsical interlude in the forest, where she chanced upon Ed Sheeran (pictured above) having a campfire singalong with his soldier-buddies. “That’s a pretty song,” said Arya. “It’s a new one,” replied Ed.

Of most import was the landing of Daenerys and her fleet at Dragonstone. This is the first time in GoT that she’s ever set foot on her native continent, and Dragonstone was the original seat of power of her Targaryen ancestors in the kingdom of Westeros. History is on the march. “Shall we begin?” asked Daenerys, just before the final credits rolled.

Even though it opened with a brisk mass-murder, this season opener was slightly dull


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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