Having watched the final episode of season seven in the Game of Thrones television series, I wonder if I am the only viewer struck by the irony that the closer the show moves to its explicit fantasy origins the less credible it becomes. While the typical tropes of the literary genre, magical events and creatures, may sit comfortably in the reader’s imagination, if you dramatise them on a TV screen… Well, plausibility takes a denting, even within the rules of the secondary universe as established by the show. Undoubtedly, GofT works best when it plays as a sort of revisionist Shakespeare in the Park, complete with modern language and sensibilities. And the odd bit of jiggy jiggy, as they say in certain parts of the country.
The latest episode, “The Dragon and the Wolf”, though impressive in some ways, did manage to stretch believability – and the special effects budget – to breaking point. A flying zombie-dragon shooting blue fire to bring down a gigantic, artificial wall of ice, while a Ray Harryhausen army of animated corpses looks on comes perilously close to parody. Of course, season five contained a similar episode, “Hardhome”, where a host of undead warriors attacked a snowbound harbour-town, and that one worked, giving us some of the best scenes in the programme so far. It is a balancing act, then, and perhaps a matter of personal taste too. But if things go awry the whole thing can look very silly indeed. When it comes to portraying the unnatural or the unlikely in genre movies or television shows, you should always follow the golden rule: less is more.