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GAME OF THRONES’ Current Pace is Annoying (Even When It Makes Sense)

GAME OF THRONES’ Current Pace is Annoying (Even When It Makes Sense)

Editor’s Note: this post contains minor spoilers for the past 7 seasons of Game of Thrones! You’ve been warned.

Listen, Game of Thrones: we’re not mad, we’re just disappointed. Like the Ironborn Fleet that came into magical existence this season (there are NOT that many trees on the Iron Islands), the series’ post-book pace is mystifyingly, exhaustingly, overwhelmingly fast compared to seasons past. And we’re not the only ones saying it: most of the internet has felt metaphorical whiplash, going from the steadied pace of 1 – 6 to these final 13 episodes in seasons 7 and 8. So what gives? Is it justified to feel that way, when the series has gone out of its way to reiterate that this is David Benioff and Dan Weiss—the series’ showrunners and creators—take on George R.R. Martin’s epic, novelized story? A story that, we should note, has drawn frequent criticism for how SLOW and drawn-out it often feels (to say nothing of the length of time between GRRM’s gargantuan tomes)?

For better or for worse, Benioff and Weiss have a plan for how and why the series’ machinations and physical movements have changed so drastically, be it the lack of insight from GRRM or their own desire to hurry up and get to the final battle before obsessive book-readers and show-watchers figure out what’ll happen in the end. But there’s also no denying the satisfaction there is in seeing such highly anticipated moments finally coming alive on-screen. So what’s the over-under on this season’s new pacing paradigm? Let’s dig in and see.

Pro: We Get There Quicker

OK, hear me out: I know I just said I hate how fast it is, but at the same token—AIN’T IT NICE TO HAVE DANY AND JON SNOW FINALLY MEET? I, for one, assumed we’d have an episode or two of travel and philosophical contemplation that provides allegorical and/or historical context for everything that’s happening with Ser Davos and Jon Snow on a boat. But nay, we did not.

Con: It Removes the More Intimate Character Study Moments

And this is exactly why we hate the pace the most: without the breathing room of seasons past, the more human moments of this series about dragons and dead people walking becomes something far different than the allegorical-but-magical story it once was. It removes the moments for the more natural comedy of someone like Tyrion and replaces it with a far more bombastic, and far less clever, comedic relief of someone like Euron. Which isn’t to say you can’t have both: quite the opposite, in fact—this show could always do with a bit of that sort of tone. But when Tyrion must spend 90% of his time politically maneuvering, there isn’t exactly time for his longer monologues peppered with wit.

Pro: It’s Satisfying to Watch

OK, we’ll admit it: there’s a lot to like about just hurrying up and getting there. It’s thrilling to be surprised by how much a single episode can get through. In a series that’s so often pushed Daenerys and her storyline to 5-second asides (at least that’s how it felt), pushing the story’s pace has moved the Targaryen more actively into the game. Which, let’s be real, is something we’ve all been dying to see writ large. And to see everyone crossing paths so frequently is really, really nice—especially for those poor, beleaguered Stark kids. So hey, yes: we’ll give y’all that.

Con: The Dialogue is Less Poetic

This one’s been happening since the series started to move farther away from the books in season 5, but it’s still worth noting now: we miss the GRRM-tinged dialogue.

Con: And It Creates Some Timing Paradoxes

OK but seriously though HOW COULD EURON GO FROM KING’S LANDING TO ATTACK YARA AND ELLARIA AND BACK AGAIN AND THEN TO CASTERLY ROCK BUT ALSO ZIP OVER TO HIGHGARDEN IN LIKE 3 DAYS? That is simply not feasible. And while we’re here: WHY DID IT TAKE JON SNOW 5 SECONDS TO GET FROM WINTERFELL TO DRAGONSTONE? I am just saying, if you create distances and travel time frames, please stick to them.

Con: It Means the Show is Ending Sooner

This is 90% because I’m a deeply selfish person. I realize it’s problematic but ALSO: it’s not like HBO wants y’all to stop doing this show, and your next endeavor doesn’t sound like a surefire hit, either. Why not stay here in Westeros? IT CAN BE WINTER FOREVER IF YOU LET IT!

Con: It Just Feels Like Something’s Missing

Do we love Brienne and Tormund? OBVIOUSLY. Does it feel as though, every time they’re on screen together, their relationship is based more on fan service than actual forward momentum? We love Lady Mormont and want as many ass-kicking ladies on screen as possible (if nothing else it feels like a make-good on how shitty the series is to many of its women), but need her every waking moment now serve as a Feminist Slam Dunk About The Strength Of Women? No thank you! Where once there was the dimensionality of time to gain circumstance, Game of Thrones has left us wanting more and feeling short-changed.

The unintended corners that were cut in the series’ pace-tightening are noticeable and, ultimately, hurt the series more than help. Yes, GRRM’s pace is often glacial and can feel overwrought, especially when being translated for the screen, but there was a magic to the way his language flowed and how it showcased the interconnectivity of all that’s happening in the Realm. And, frankly, it makes us wonder why, exactly, they’d choose to barrel through what could have easily taken them another 3 full seasons to do. Did they really want to move onto Confederate, their highly controversial new series, that quickly? Perhaps we’ll never know.

But what do you think? Are you a fan of the quickened pace? Let us know in the comments below.

Images and GIFs: HBO

Alicia Lutes is the managing editor, host of Fangirling!, and Archmaester of Thrones for House Nerdist. Find her on Twitter!

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