It took 7 seasons, but Game Of Thrones fans are now finally smarter than the show they're watching
It has finally happened.
Congratulations fans, you've successfully bypassed the object of your televisual infatuation.
Now, before anyone starts kicking off, let it be said that we're all pretty much HUGE fans of Game Of Thrones here in JOE, and it was great to see Season 7 finally kick the show into the mega blockbuster we always knew it could be.
We've written dozens and dozens of articles on the most recent season (all here in case you've missed any of the insights), but we've finally got to face facts... the seventh season is when the show finally stopped surprising us.
While we've already covered the fact that how the deaths were delivered didn't measure up to some of the jaw-dropping moments in previous seasons, the problem is actually a little more far-reaching than that.
This is something that we will have to refer to as The Lost Conundrum: given a certain set of circumstances, viewers can predict any number of potential outcomes for a story-line, so only if the show gives us a complete surprise, there's no way the audience can be surprised, because they've already predicted it.
It happened hard with Lost - the island is hell, heaven, in the future, in the past, a dream, a virtual reality system, and dozens of other potential outcomes - so when it was finally revealed what was going on with the survivors of the plane crash, and it happened to be one of the outcomes that the fans had guessed, then the rug-pull moment is taken away.
For better or worse, it occurred incredibly early in Westworld, where the options were either (A) That person is a robot, or (B) That person is really a human, and when the options are boiled down to that, there is zero chance of it being a surprise. Fingers crossed it is a problem the writers can get around for the second season now that everyone's human/robot origins have been spelt out.
This most recent season of Game Of Thrones had fans more rabid for new information than ever before, with long-reads going over every frame of each episode with a fine comb to dig up as many potential titbits as they could source.
Even if you were more of a passive viewer than that, the fact that we're getting so close to the end means that there is a very limited sandpit left for the writers to play in. Sure, a lot of the fat was cut away from the lean, mean season this year, with entire powerful families killed in single scenes, leaving behind only the primary players who will actually have any influence or desire on the Iron Throne.
With that limited number of characters to interact, Season 7 more often than not felt like fan-fiction than anything, a series of "Imagine if X meets Y" made reality, but this was more than likely due to necessity than anything else.
Sure, we all waited with giddy anticipation for Tyrion and Cersei's reunion, or The Hound and The Mountain to finally get a face-to-face, or Jon and Dany to finally get it on, but everything those meetings delivered wasn't anything that fans of the show (not even including fans of the books, who may have more info on potential proceedings than most) hadn't already anticipated, and more often than ended with an anti-climax.
Or in the case of Jon and Dany, an auntie-climax. (Sorry.)
Ironically, outside of the shackles of what George R. R. Martin had written in his books, the writers of the show had an opportunity to shock us all. While the folk behind the show haven't exactly treated Martin's books with nothing but reverence, and have been happy to mix and match and add and remove for the sake of a different medium of storytelling, but now that they don't even have his guiding light, it almost feels they've decided to take the most direct path from the end of Season 6 to the end of next year's Season 8.
If you allow us a moment of pure geekdom, the thing that comes to mind most here is Scott Pilgrim VS The World. It too was a product that was adapted before the books it was adapting were finished telling their story, and the as anyone who has seen the movie and read the books, the movie's ending is far inferior to what the author had in mind.
Of course, putting all the blame at the feet of the writers of the show is wrong, as a lot of the fault is our own.
By getting so obsessed, and for loving the show as much as we do, our minds light up with the possibilities of what is to come, and just like with The Lost Conundrum, in Season 7, we came up with scenarios that were exactly what we got, or in some cases, even better. Where is our Lady Stoneheart, damn it?!
With at least a year until we get the final season of Game Of Thrones, fans will have all this time to continue stewing up potential fates for all of their favourite characters, but similarly, the writers of the show will have that time to hopefully inject a little bit of that shock value back into the show, and take the viewers by surprise.
Season 7 spent a lot of time clearing the chess board of all the pawns, and setting up where all the important pieces will be as we get closer to the ultimate check-mate moment. Here's hoping Season 8 chucks the whole board into the closest fire and tells us we're all playing another, different game - a game we've never seen played before, a game we don't know the rules to.
Y'know..... like the Game Of Thrones.