Our long-national nightmare is over. Two of HBO’s longest running shows are back for their final seasons, although only one may have needed to return…
“Game of Thrones”…Yes, it’s been two long years, but let’s be honest–we would’ve waited a decade to see the resolution of the best fantasy series of all time. [Certainly, the only one to ever win “Best Drama” at the Emmys, and multiple times.] Did the final six episodes really need to be their own season? Probably not, especially considering the leisurely pace of the first episode, and how short it was.
Still, who can really complain about spending more time with one of TV’s best ensembles and characters we’ve either grown to love or love to hate? [Or, in the case of Dany, Sam Tarly, and Jon Snow, feel strangely aloof towards.]
Although the highlight of the first episode might’ve only been a (somewhat unconvincing) dragon race, it’s the callbacks to the very first episode that may have captivated the most: a child watching Dany’s royal procession, the North receiving Tyrion (and Jaime), the Lady of Winterfell (then Catelyn Stark, now Sansa) being suspicious of royalty, a reluctant Stark man greeting them more warmly, White Walkers dismembering people in spiral patterns, and–of course–the episode ending with a memorable interaction between Jaime and Bran. Here’s hoping Jaime Lannister lives long enough to tell those Northern fools (except Sansa) that Cersei’s armies aren’t coming to help them–quite the opposite–and then fulfill his eventual destiny as the Queenslayer. Grade for First Episode: B+…Anticipation for the rest of the season: A+
Predictions for the rest of the season: the Northerners will get their butt kicked by The Night King in the next episode or two, then have to flee South where they’ll be facing Cersei and her army until the penultimate episode–when Jaime finally kills her. Then the final episode will be the ultimate confrontation between a united Seven Kingdoms and The Night King, perhaps as far South as King’s Landing.
There, Jon will sacrifice Dany to become Azor Ahai and possibly die himself fighting The Night King. Jon will either die or move to the Far East to help rule Dany’s freed cities to honor her legacy, and it’ll be Tyrion (possibly with Sansa) who finally sits on the Iron Throne when the dust settles.
“Veep”…Unlike “Game of Thornes,” “Veep” actually had a real reason to take two years in-between seasons: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (whose excellent work as the repugnant Selina Meyer put her over-the-top as the most Emmy-winning actress in history) was diagnosed with cancer. Unlike “Game of Thornes,” it may not have needed a last season at all since it seemed season 6 would’ve ended the series on a high-note.
Now we’re back with a final season 7–the first one where we’ve had time to get used to the horror of a Trump presidency–and watching people in politics behave like selfish morons isn’t as shocking (or as funny) as it once was. “Veep” used to have the catharsis of scabrous gallows humor in a time that had grown overly safe and PC–and the new episodes certainly try to take us there again with jokes on abortion, police shootings, school shootings, and bi-racial politicians–but it now feels more like assholes reveling in things we can see on CNN nearly everyday. Worse, the series following another Selina Meyer Presidential run only reminds you of how much the series has replayed certain plot lines throughout its run.
Still, the jokes are as sharp as ever (“Not Me” is a hilarious send up of Me Too and Kevin Dunn’s character had a killer line about dark money in episode 2), and I love seeing Patton Oswalt rejoin the series as Jonah’s hapless Presidential campaign manager. It’s nice to spend a last few episodes with characters that aren’t all that nice. Grade for season 7’s first three episodes: B+…Anticipation for the rest of the season: C+
Predictions for the rest of the season: Does anyone really care if Selina Meyer wins the Presidency at this point? Since this is “Veep,” it wouldn’t surprise me if the show denies her again or she winds up as somebody else’s Vice President. And the rest of the characters end the series mostly where they began it–and possibly Gary and Selina finally sleep together.