Why Game of Thrones has become so incoherent

This show is over-relying on offscreen conversations to explain onscreen behavior — to devastating effects

A scene from "The Dragon and the Wolf"
(Image credit: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO)

I said last week that Game of Thrones has gotten terrible. I more or less stand by that, but there's no denying that "The Dragon and the Wolf" was a thousand times better than the two preceding episodes. For one thing, it had a lot of what makes Game of Thrones not just fun but interesting: good dialogue. This show improves when it relaxes the action enough to let people talk and sparkles when the characters talking actually know each other well. We've been getting more of that, and some of those long-awaited reunions really paid off: I loved watching Brienne and The Hound share a proud parental moment over Arya, and it was heartwarming to watch Podrick and Tyrion, Tyrion and Bronn, and Brienne and Jaime all touch base. That Brienne continues to double as Jaime's conscience makes it feel right that his decision to turn away from Cersei came at her instigation. This was an episode heavy with moral counseling, and Brienne is to Jaime what Jon is to Theon.

Still, those exchanges were brief. It was a particular treat, then, to watch Tyrion and Cersei finally come face to face and talk through some of their dysfunction. Tyrion needed to talk. He needs absolution from his siblings every bit as much as Theon does, and Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey killed in that scene. Sadly — and this is why I maintain that the show hasn't pulled up from its nosedive — the episode's reliance on black boxes that enable fun but improbable plot twists meant the scene was undercut in retrospect. To clarify: The crucial part of that scene — the part where Tyrion says whatever he presumably said to convince Cersei to join the fight, and she convinced him she'd agreed — was missing.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at TheWeek.com. She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.