Can Game of Thrones‘ final episode allow us forgive and forget a season with supersonic Dragons ex Machina, wormhole-riding navies, and characters acting completely out of character? Could it bring the shortened, crazy season to an end with the things that have made this the greatest show on Earth: Excellent pacing, tense storylines, and characters you love to hate and hate to love? Could it end on a note that makes us howl with frustration because we know we’ve got ten long months before we get a new episode? Find out all this and more, after the break.
The answer is “HELL YES!”
In many ways, “The Dragon and the Wolf” was the consummate Game of Thrones season-ending episode, with surprisingly little action, but a whole lot of tension, storyline, and a great glimpse of what we have to look forward to. Such as:
You did good, kids. We’ve spent the past few episodes really annoyed that Arya and Sansa were getting played so easily by Creepy Uncle, and, while there were signs this might be a long con on their point, the show did a great job at addressing those and pointing you back to the belief that Baelish once again held the upper hand. The earlier scene, as Baelish introduced Sansa to the question game (harkening back to Arya’s game the prior week), was masterful as it showed how good the Slimy One was at this, first giving real good advice (Jon should marry Dany to form an alliance) and then prodding the conversation to allow Sansa to come to her own conclusions. that Arya is a threat that needed to be dealt with.
I had pretty much given up hope by the time Sansa had Arya brought into the Great Hall, awaiting some tragic ending that would leave the family fractured and find Jon returning home to a divided North. And when Sansa read the charges and then added “Lord Baelish.” to the end I gave an actual “Woo Hoo”. It was nice seeing Bran putting his Weirwood vision to work, and good to know he wasn’t too ‘above it all’ to help out his family. Aidan Gillen did his usual excellent work, and as each new (and true) accusation was flung at him, his face went from the usual smarmy confidence to mealy-mouthed begging as he realized everything he had built was coming to an end. If I have one complaint, it’s that his actual death seemed almost anticlimatic, not to mention a waste of a good villain. I admit, I’ve wanted Littlefinger dead for four seasons now, but he’s one of the more compelling characters on the show, who could have continued driving plots from a jail cell.
I’m hoping Bran will continue to drive some more plots. His conversation with Sam revealed a few key points, the most interesting thing is he doesn’t know everything. He knows Jon’s parents, but without Sam’s prodding would have missed the annulment and secret wedding, and it was a good way for the writers to let us know that Bran is not omniscient. It will be interesting next season to see how our two main sources of knowledge – the mystic and the historian – work together to fill in the important gaps.
And just as the Starks are pulling together, the Lannisters fall apart. It’s funny, through the entire Dragonpit scene, I kept waiting for it, waiting for the moment when Cersei would take the action, set the trap, make the decision that would drive her twincest partner away. I waited for wildfire, rampaging Mountains, secret scorpions that would make Jaime decide she was insane and to chose another side, and in the end it was probably her best, most Queenly decision – to do what Jon Snow couldn’t and feign a truce – that sent Jaime packing. Cersei’s continued alliance with Euron, the little bit of play-acting to throw Dany’s folks off the scent as he brings in the Golden Company, her decision to spare Tyrion were all masterful, political ploys. I think of all the surprises we’ve gotten this season, the fact that Cersei – as evil and self-interested as she is – is actually pretty good at this queen stuff is perhaps the most surprising.
Also quite surprising is how marginalized Tyrion’s role is becoming. Even this success, bringing the wight down to Kings Landing to prove the need, ‘convincing’ Cersei to go along with the truce, we know are tinged with failure because we already know she will betray them. Beyond that, Dany rarely takes his advice, his character screen time has been greatly reduced, and he really had no storylines that were his own. I think his troubled look as he stood awkwardly outside the queen’s chambers listening to her and Jon Snow get busy is very telling, his time is dwindling to an end.
And, yup, I’m including the former Mr. Jon Snow in this small group! We really didn’t get that much Dany this episode, it was really all about Jon/Aegon, whether it was his undead TED demonstration (you can kill them with fire…) his forgiveness of Theon, or his shipping Dany on a ship (the writers were being cute there, weren’t they?), most of this episode focused on all the good reasons why the former mopey bastard would be a good king, not the least of which is that never-ending Stark honor.
One of the interesting things this show has always played with is the idea that Ned’s honor got him killed, and that Jon is foolishly following in his non-father’s footsteps. He even says it in this episode, as he explains why he wouldn’t lie to Cersei about keeping the North out of the war. But the truth is, honor didn’t get Ned killed, it was going against his usual character. It was only after he agreed to lie, to support Joffrey’s legitimacy in exchange for his family’s safety and the ability to take the black that he was killed. And while this is more a writers’ trick, and probably wouldn’t happen in the real world, Jon is living in a writers’ world. His reluctance to lie, that Stark honor that’s been drilled into him, may be what’s keeping him alive.
Everyone and Everywhere Else
Brienne had two tiny, but very noteworthy scenes. Her quick words with Jaime are probably what echoed in his head while he confronted Cersei later in the episode. She has always brought out the best in the Kingslayer, here’s to hoping they end up with a lot of share screen time next season. Her discussions with the Hound were almost sweet, as two warriors with a lot of respect for each other (and who tried to kill each other a few seasons back), included a check in on Arya. “I was trying to protect her,” Brienne explains. “So was I,” The Hound counters. His smile when Brienne tells her Arya is alive and kicking ass tells you all you need to know about how he felt about everyone’s favorite faceless assassin.
Speaking of the Hound, we didn’t get Cleganebowl, but we did get another mystery. “You know whose coming for you,” he shouts at his mostly dead brother. No idea who that is… perhaps there’s an even bigger and scarier Clegane brother we hadn’t heard about?
I couldn’t believe the wight plan worked! I thought for sure when he opened the box the thing would have gone from mostly dead to dead dead. Kudos to the show runners for an excellent jump scare, and some call back to earlier episodes (the lopped-off hand harkening back to season two when the Night’s Watch sent a wriggling wight hand down as proof). Perhaps best of all was Qyburn’s reaction, as everyone recoils away from the horrible thing, he moves closer filled with wonder.
Well, I had one prediction right. The Wall came down, and while exactly not the way I predicted (no magic horn), the final scene of the undead walking through the breach in the wall was exactly what I’d hoped to see and a great way to end the season. The visuals here were, once again, top notch, and Viserion Wight, who breaths some sort of anti-magic cold fire – is definitely a site to see. Still not sure how he’ll fare against dragon flame… and I hope they saved some CGI dollars for next year because this is going to be epic!
So season seven is in the books, and we have to wait until June of 2018 to get six more 80 – 90 minute episodes. What were your favorite reveals of the season? What are you looking forward to next year? And what are you going to do for the next ten months to fulfill your Game of Thrones fix? Let me know in the comments… I gonna need all the help I can get!