Spoilers for Episode 6 of Season 7

The good: All of the banter between team #SquadGoals. Dany’s winter coat.

The bad: everything else?

Perhaps I am alone in this sentiment, but I wasn’t a fan of this episode. Nearly everything fell flat, save for a few glorious minutes in the front half where Tormund learns new words, Gendry gets ragged on, and Beric drops some wisdom. Also, at this point, I don’t even care who sits the Throne. As long as Brienne and Tormund end up happily ever after, I will be satisfied.

Unfortunately once the banter died down we were subjected to the payout of last week’s ill conceived hostage wrangling mission. And was still stupid. How were there literally no contingencies in place? They didn’t even bring a Raven with them? And how convenient was it that they not only found an elusive small band but that only a single wight of the bunch wasn’t created by Walker escorting them. It’s just lazy storytelling, as was the same dude who has never seen snow in his life being able to run an Ultramarathon through a blizzard.

To be fair, the showrunners signed up to adapt a book series. I think they expected the fat HBO paychecks to motivate GRRM into finishing his books, but we all know that there is only one thing that motivates GRRM: The Jets. So now you have these guys trying to finish this monster series that the author can’t even deal with and their writing is suffering. “Beyond the Wall” gave me the Tormund/Hound team-up of my dreams, but it just hammered in how shallow the show has become. Intrigue and plot buildup seem lacking; spectacle is all we have left.

Second case in point- Arya and Sansa. What the devil is the point of their plot? What is Arya’s end game in needling her sister and trying to lose support? Yes, Sansa wrote a letter and bent the knee, but she was a child, and a child held captive at that. What Arya failed to mention in her deranged ravings was that neither she nor the young Lyanna Mormont was even really in Sansa’s shoes. It’s easy to say you’d never betray your family when you have never been held prisoner by those betrayers and both physically and psychologically harmed. I have a feeling this will play out in some stupid way that results in Littlefinger dying, which bothers me greatly. Not to say he doesn’t deserve death- his scheming has really screwed a lot of things up- but that death happening at the tail end of yet another lazy convoluted plot seems cheap for a character who deserves a more impactful ending.

The deaths of Thoros and Visereon are yet two more examples of action at the expense of development. You knew going in that one of our magnificent seven would die, so for it to be the least developed of the bunch was unsurprising to a groan-worthy level. Visereon’s demise likewise produced an eyeroll. Of course Dany would be able to teleport north with her Dragons who honestly should’ve been chilling at Eastwatch as a contingency anyway. Of course one of the non-Drogon’s would eat it. (I actually only know it was Visereon due to the closed captioning). Of course the Night’s King is Aaron Rodgers with a javelin. And of course they have industrially sized steel links at the ready. Was Visereon killed because it parallels his namesake? Or was the writers just a really big Yu-Gi-Oh fan?

So all of that leads to Jon bending the knee, as well a with about half a dozen references to Daenerys being barren. So obviously they’re going to get together now and she’s going to get knocked up with her nephew’s child. Great?

Sorry, I’m feeling oddly pessimistic today with this write-up.

The season finale hits next week (while I’m on vacation and unlikely to have HBO access… awesome). Maybe the plot blunders of the past few weeks will pay off. Maybe the weird conference won’t just be Cersei setting up trap. But it will probably be a trap. It would be a lie to say things haven’t been shocking this season, or really any season since the show outpaced the books. I just want those shocks to feel more earned again. Is that so much to ask?