Winter is finally here. After hearing this phrase uttered at least a dozen times (I might be exaggerating), the season finally arrives. With the season, the Big Bad, the Night King, is an unavoidable threat.

Jon Snow meets Daenerys this season in a prickly and antagonistic scene. She demands him to pledge fealty to her while he tries to tell her that this show of allegiance is trivial in comparison to the threat of everyone’s survival. The Night King is real, and they need to handle that before any talk of alliances regarding the Iron Throne. He’s a big picture, and she has her eyes on the prize. I loved this scene because these were more characters meeting for the first time, easily condensing the many storylines we were following from the first season. However, because their clear motivations were blatantly showcased in this scene, it was hard to read it any other way. The performances worked well for their meeting, but it was too on the nose.

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Which brings me to Cersei’s fashion. This is the first season I was so distracted by Cersei’s attire. Her frilly bright colored dresses disappeared in exchange for more regal wear like chains across her chest and shoulder pads that reminded me of Michael Jackson’s uniform during the famous Moscow concert special. I wanted to wear everything she had on this season – all.of.her.clothes. The strategic decisions to have Cersei’s wardrobe reflect the sense of power she held this season was brilliant. I couldn’t stop admiring her ensemble pieces, which meant the story was lacking in some way. When you can’t stop paying attention to an actor’s costume than get involved in the story, there’s a problem.

This season was truncated, seven episodes this time instead of ten, and yet there was still a story to tell. This season had climactic energy behind it because season eight was on the horizon.

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With that said, the first episode had a cold open, which varied in most seasons. Knowing that Walder Frey was Arya Stark the whole time in this scene had me rooting for her. The strong season opener gave me high expectations for the rest of the season. Daenerys returns to Dragonstone and having her crew surrounding a table map and ending the episode with “Let’s begin” thrilled me. This was it! The beginning of the end! I couldn’t wait to jump into the rest of this season.

Unfortunately, perhaps because I completed season seven in one day, the exact narrative of this season is blurry. I recall my favorite scenes or characters. My MVP for this season (and also season eight) was Sandor Clegane aka the Hound. He found the Brotherhood Without Banners last season after his little family is killed by some rogue men of the same collective. Whatever residue feelings I had for him from the beginning of the series, melted the season he and Arya were on the run (Season three). This season, he believes Thoros when they talk about the Lord of the Light and sees the future. And as always, provides great comic relief. He’s so raw, with no tact, and honest; it’s easy to relate to him. He says the things you want to say but wouldn’t dare out of politeness. That’s our man, Sandor, not giving a crap about how you feel when he’s mean.

I believe that once Jon and company capture a wight (zombie from the White Walkers), to show Cersei they need to join forces to kill the Night King, the story reads as preposterous. Cersei is shady and tyrannical at this point since she’s now the Queen – why on Earth would she provide support? There were many moments while watching I’d raise my eyebrow in confusion or even boo at the screen because I was dissatisfied with the outcome.

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Highlights: Sansa and Arya’s reunion, Bran returning to Winterfell, Tyrion and Bronn’s banter, the big arrow constructed to kill Daenerys’ dragons, and Varys being called out for switching alliances at the drop of a hat.

I’d say the reason this season felt so lackluster is that the story is winding down. We are coming to a conclusion, storylines are wrapping up, and this season was short. The battle scenes were few and inconsequential this time around because season eight has a ton o’ fighting. The showrunners left the best for last. Overall, while I devoured each episode quickly, I couldn’t grasp onto anything. I wanted to reach the end as soon as possible. That is the thing with bingeing, though, isn’t it? You’re trying to reach the finish line when everyone else has gone home.

The last few moments of the season, I appreciated, because it filled my gaps of knowledge when we learn Jon and Daenerys are related. Bran’s voiceover while showing Jon and Daenerys being physically intimate, was clever and sick, but in the best way. The Wall coming down was the ultimate ending too. The Night King is here and y’all better be ready for him.

This is my least favorite season overall. It’s the first time I was pulled out of the narrative while watching. The ride was ending, and the writers did the best they could within their means. It showed.

One more season left!