Whether it’s a character jumping the length of a continent in a televised hour or massive armies and naval fleets inexplicably avoiding each other on their way to a shared location, there’s no denying that Game of Thrones has a perplexing grasp on geography. But that the show’s Westeros – a Kingdom said to be the size of South America – has devolved into an ever-dilating land where travel distance bends to plot convenience shouldn’t be taken as a show-damaging problem.
Season 7 of Thrones has been widely praised for its accelerated pace, bevy of long-awaited meetings, and finally doing something with those dragons, but one complaint from every section of the fanbase – be you a casual watcher constantly having to cross-reference with one of the many lore wikis or a decade-worn fan who can recite the entire of The World of Ice & Fire – is that the show has completely lost its sense of place. The land of Westeros has been well detailed in previous seasons and George R.R. Martin’s books, yet despite shoving maps in our faces at every turn (Dany plots her war on one in Dragonstone while Cersei spends most of her scenes on a giant painted layout) to remind us of that fact, the show constantly breaks its rules.
In the first four episodes of the penultimate season alone we’ve had so many cases of rushed travel or conflicted timelines it can only be clearly represented visually. Below is a map of Westeros and the various geography-breaking turns from the first four episodes of Season 7:
Gray: Jon Snow travels to Dragonstone from Winterfell via White Harbor in a negligible time gap between epsiodes.
Blue: Arya spends two episodes going from The Twins to the Crossroads (short arrow), then the same time going from the Crossroads to Winterfell (long arrow).
Brown: The Unsullied sailed from Dragonstone to Casterly Rock.
Green: At the same time as Euron sailed a similar, path-crossing route from King’s Landing, (both in seemingly no time at all).
Red: During the same period the Lannisters evacuate and Jaime attacks Highgarden.
Yellow: Dany somehow ferries hordes of Dothraki from Dragonstone to Tumbleton (despite any landing point putting her near King’s Landing) and attacks Jaime on his return.
Each of those are pretty head scratching when you try and craft a Season 7 timeline (indeed, the fact that Dragonstone is so close to King’s Landing has been completely sidestepped by HBO). The Unsullied-Euron-Jaime three-step is particularly confusing and – despite being an excellent dramatic beat – serves to only exemplify how much the show is now breaking its own long-set rules.
This has always been prominent in the series – in the final minutes of Season 6, Varys went on a cross-continental journey from Meereen to Dorne and back again in the time it took Cersei to light a fuse, while Littlefinger’s teleporting abilities are well documented – but is definitely becoming more flagrant as we accelerate towards the finale. We’re a long way from the first season, which spent several episodes detailing the Stark’s journey from Winterfell to King’s Landing; a journey that would probably done in a quick scene interlude today.
But while it’s certainly disappointing that a series with such strong mythology isn’t maintaining the most basic facet of world building, it may not be the worst thing. In fact, the reason why things are this way makes it all but unavoidable if you want great television.
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