Overall, I would characterize this season of Game of Thrones as a down season. There are a lot of contributing factors, but the shortened season clearly led to an increased pace that was fun as first but became overwhelming by the end. There is unique fun to be had when a show that has historically been the slowest of slow burns all of a sudden goes into overdrive, but it became too fast by the end. This season was filled with memorable moments and a couple of genuinely amazing episodes of television. Spoils of War and Stormborn come to mind, but those moments don’t take away the rushed nature pervades this entire season.
All of this is even more frustrating when you look at specific story-lines that made up a large chunk of the season. Arya, Sansa and Bran reuniting should have been a momentous, landmark moment. Instead we got a forgettable scene and a frustratingly stupid betrayal story-line for the entire season. At least it ended in a satisfying scene and Bran was able to do something to help out his family. Beyond the Wall was a fun episode, filled with amazing set-piece moments. It is unfortunate that the episodes fun is undercut by the bizarre plan that our heroes are trying to complete. Not to mention the even more bizarre plan that Dany has to save them.
One thing that I really appreciated about this season was the unpredictability. I think the consensus going into to the season was that Kings landing would be dealt with by the finale which would leave the final six episodes for our heroes to do battle with the Night King. That is not at all what happened and that was a good realization for me. The show still has some tricks up its sleeve, at least at the macro level. Now that the White Walkers are beyond the wall, with the Night King astride an Ice Dragon, I don’t see how the final season will be able to pump the breaks. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing, if they can write it competently.