Does season seven deliver beyond surface-level thrills? With all seven episodes aired in the penultimate season of “Game of Thrones,” the show is still a fun (dragon) ride. The Stark children reconnect after years apart, and long-awaited reunions give the latest episodes some weight within the larger narrative of the series. And yet, there is still an emptiness to the season. The show is completely out of book content at this point, and it shows. “Game of Thrones” was once known as an intricate and somewhat meticulous story of dozens of characters. And while the early seasons could sometimes feel confusing due to the bloated nature of the cast, the plots were air-tight. Seasons one through three of the series have almost no plot holes because of the direct nature of the adaptation from the book series. The same cannot be said for season seven. The creators and showrunners of “Game of Thrones” — David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — have suggested the final two seasons of the show be shortened to a respective seven and six episodes as the story finally wraps up. However, after watching all seven episodes of this season, it is hard to describe the story as anything but rushed. To be fair, Benioff and Weiss do not have an easy task. The show began with a set blueprint, but as George R. R. Martin slowed down his writing of the book series, the two producers have had to write the conclusion themselves. Still, the show now feels like it took 60 methodical and complex hours to deliver a rushed finale of 13 final episodes — all of which fly through content at such a fast rate, one can barely enjoy the plot threads which have been building for years. Season seven wasn’t terrible — “Game of Thrones” continues to be one of the most entertaining series on television. However, what makes the show interesting now is just different from what initially made the show so famous. Instead of a high-stakes poker game, the show is now merely a battle between humans and zombies. Even so, it’s hard to call a dead dragon breathing blue fire anything but really, really cool, despite the lack of complexity or logic behind it. While one could make the argument that the books themselves have lead up to this climax between the living and the dead, it is clear that the television show is a completely different story than the two upcoming novels in the series. Take the Winterfell storyline, for example. The show is so obsessed with the idea of pulling a fast-one on the viewer, it sacrifices episodes worth of logic to get a single shock. The arguments between Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) in episodes five and six of this season make no sense now after viewing the two team up against Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in episode seven. Perhaps the most egregious example of this lack of typical George R. R. Martin-delicacy is episode six, “Beyond the Wall.” It’s very obvious that the viewer shouldn’t pay attention to how time works within various plotlines anymore — but of course our gang of protagonists find sanctuary from the wights on a tiny island surrounded by cracked ice, of course Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is somehow a fast enough runner to make it back to Eastwatch to tell everyone and of course the ravens sent to Dany (Emilia Clarke) fly at super speed to achieve a timely rescue. With all of these criticisms, “Game of Thrones” is still insanely fun. From finally getting confirmation on Jon Snow’s true heritage to a single meeting of dozens of main characters in the final episode, “Game of Thrones” is still a force on television. The finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” makes up for a lot of the errors in the previous episode, “Beyond the Wall.” Clocking in at a lengthy 80 minutes, it is safe to say “The Dragon and the Wolf” is the best film of the summer. Looking forward to season eight The stage is set. The white walkers have their very own dragon, the wall has collapsed and the army of the undead is marching on Westerosi soil. So what comes next? For true fans of “Game of Thrones,” there is still hope the show’s final six episodes will be much more than a simple war where we can predict the outcome. While it may be too much to ask for, a conclusion to the story of the Night King cannot come quick enough in season eight. As for the stakes, “Game of Thrones” is now more conventional than the early seasons would have suggested. After all, the series became extremely popular for the bold move of killing off its main character in the first season. Season seven lacked this courage, instead favoring plot points that save characters just in the knick of time. This has to change in the final season. It has always been presumed characters like Cersei and Jaime Lannister — played by the incredible Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau — will not make it to the final episode, but the show has to regrow its spine in letting go of characters first. As for who will end up on the Iron Throne, perhaps the answer is none of the above. After the steamy conclusion between Jon and Dany in the final moments of the finale, it’s entirely possible the series will end with a certain unborn offspring finally ruling over a united Westeros after the sacrifice of his or her parents. For now, fans theorize and wait. The final six episodes have not even begun to film, which only signifies a grueling off-season. One thing is for sure, despite a rocky season seven, we will finally be given a conclusion — that is, until the spin-off.