Game of Thrones season 7 finale review: The Dragon and the Wolf delivers an epic spectacle
Oh. My. Goodness.
In recent times, there have been quibbles aplenty about how Game of Thrones' showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff have somewhat lost the plot, without George RR Martin's source material, the A Song of Ice and Fire books, to rely on.
The happenings in GoTverse have several times, in this seventh and penultimate season, been contrary to the rules of time, geography and plain common sense. There have been some brilliant moments in this season of course, notably those involving the two battle sequences — against the Lannister army at Tumbleton, and against the army of the dead beyond the Wall. But much of the painstaking detailing and trope-subversion that made Game of Thrones stand head and shoulders above anything else on the small (or big) screen, fans felt, had been lost.
The Game of Thrones season 7 finale — titled The Dragon and the Wolf — makes several missteps. But this seventh episode of the season also delivered what mattered: an epic, thundering,
The finale begins at King's Landing, where the two opposing sides in the war for Westeros are to meet for a parley.
Cersei, Jaime, Euron Greyjoy, Master Qyburn, the Mountain, Bronn and sundry other soldiers form one side; Jon, Tyrion, Brienne and Podrick, the Hound, Ser Jorah, Theon, Lord Varys, Ser Davos and Missandei (aka Team Life) form the other.
Pleasantries insults are exchanged between the two parties before Tyrion and Jon get down to the real business of the day: convincing Cersei to agree to a truce while they fight the Night King beyond the North. They reveal the wight they brought along — Cersei seems horrified enough by it to agree to the armistice, until she asks, as one of the conditions, that the King in the North swear an oath that he will take up no arms against Lannisters and not declare for any side once the battle beyond the Wall is over. Jon refuses, and says he's already sworn his fealty to Daenerys.
Cersei and the others walk off in a huff, and Tyrion decides to intercede. He speaks with Cersei alone, and realises that she is pregnant. He convinces her that the threat beyond the Wall is all that matters in the present moment. He brings her back to the negotiation table, where she promises that the Lannister armies will march to the North to help in the war effort. Whooo-ey!
While that is happening in the South, the North is dealing with its own little problems. Sansa is increasingly worried about what Arya is up to, and confides her fears to the ever-
oily helpful Lord Baelish. Jon has also — finally — sent a raven home to inform Sansa of having sworn allegiance to the Dragon Queen. Littlefinger advises Sansa to assume the worst of Arya's motives, and a council meeting is convened in Winterfell's great hall, for taking care of the threat posed by Arya. It is with no little satisfaction that we now see the tables turned on Littlefinger, who is accused of murder and treason — with Bran filling in all the details of Lord Baelish's many prevarications, schemes and sins. Arya puts her Valyrian dagger to good use, and the last we see of the most successful social climber in the Seven Kingdoms is him bleeding to death on the Winterfell floors.
Also at Winterfell, is Samwell Tarly (who we last saw leaving the Citadel in a huff), who's brought Gilly and the baby along to the Stark home. He meets with Bran (they last met when crossing over to opposite sides of the Wall) and the youngest Stark tells him he is now the Three-Eyed Raven, who can see the past, present (and the future?). Bran tells Sam that Jon must be told of his true parentage — and we finally have someone vocalise what has possibly been GoTverse's worst-kept secret: Jon is Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark' son! (Thank you, Weiss and Benioff!) Sam supplies the information Bran — for some odd reason — doesn't seem to have: that Rhaegar Targaryen had his marriage to Elia of Dorne annulled, and took Lyanna Stark for his bride. Jon is a Targaryen, the heir to the Iron Throne — and, as whispered by Lyanna into Ned Stark's ear when he finds her bleeding to death in the Tower of Joy, his real name is Aegon!
Aegon (who we will continue to call to call Jon, because that's who he is to us!) is meanwhile making his plans with Team Life to march against Team Death. It is decided that he and Dany shall sail to White Harbour (to show the Northerners they are true allies, which Dany showing up on the back of a ferocious dragon may not achieve) and their various other partners and armies also decide on the wisest mode of transportation.
Theon decides not to go North, but track his uncle, and save Yara if he can.
On the ship, Dany and Jon surrender to the inevitable and take their position as *the* all-star couple of Westeros. We're sure as they cuddle up in post-coital bliss, they're thinking fondly of the time they first met, in the throne room at Dragonstone, and chatted most pleasantly of knee-bending and mining dragonglass. And while we'd have expected lovelorn Ser Jorah to have some feelings about this epic romance brewing in front of his Khaleesi-loving self, it is Tyrion who watches the lovers meet — with an odd, inscrutable look on his face.
Jon and Dany aren't in for a smooth ride: there's that ominous war with Team Death (with champion javelin thrower the Night King at their head) coming up, and they'll soon enough have to face Jon's real identity — and Cersei's perfidy.
Because the Lannister Queen has her own plans laid out. And no, they don't involve marching North. Instead, as she reveals to Jaime, Euron Greyjoy has sailed to Essos to bring the Golden Company's soldiers (around 20,000 men along with horses and elephants) to Westeros. With this handy addition to her forces, Cersei plans to exert her dominion over the Seven Kingdoms, finishing up survivors (if any) who return from the battle with the Dead. Jaime has had enough of Cersei's nutty ways, and decides to ride away by himself to join up with the Life-sters.
Just in time too, for as inevitably as Jon and Dany's coupling, the Wall (after seven long seasons of guarding the realm) falls:
Tormund and Ser Berric Dondarrion are keeping vigil at Eastwatch when they see the army of the dead emerge from the woods beyond the Wall. As the footsoldiers take their place, a distant roar, and the whoosh of giant wings is heard — hark, the Night King rides in on Viserion. All those questions we had about what raised-from-the-dead dragons breathe — ice or fire — are answered, as Viserion shoots particularly potent blue flames at the Wall. Over and over, until it cracks and crumbles — and falls completely, leaving us just as shook-up as Tormund and company.
Stray thoughts we had after watching this finale:
1. It gladdened our hearts to see old friends and foes meet at the Dragonpit, all of whom were suitably happy/irritated at seeing each other. The happy reunions: Bronn and Tyrion, Pod and Tyrion, surprisingly — the Hound and Brienne. The not-so-happy meet-ups: the Hound and the Mountain (no Cleganebowl yet!), Theon and Euron Greyjoy, Cersei and Tyrion. And the happy-but-we-won't show it reunion: Brienne and Jaime.
2. Jon-Dany, 2gether 4ever.
3. Our favourite Westerosi love cosy chats: they may be in for some major action, but for the majority of this finale, most of the power players were happy to just talk. Theon and Jon had an emotional chat, as did Arya and Sansa (after delivering justice to Littlefinger). Cersei and Tyrion had a long-drawn out conversation about all the wrongs they ever did each other, which expectedly enough, led to no happy conclusion.
4. Jon-Dany, 2gether 4ever.
5. Jon has great presentation skills! Note how he succinctly enumerates the properties of wights to Cersei: can be destroyed by fire, can't swim, will kill etc. All he needed was a laser pointer and some PowerPoint slides and he'd be set to change the world. Then, later in the cabin with Dany, he also showed off his other skills. But we won't speak of those. (Only swoon in private.)
6. Holy, moly! The Wall just fell!
7. The continuation of suffering-as-redemption theme for Theon: Theon Greyjoy continued to be Westeros' favourite punching bag as the Ironborn pushed him around a bit when he tried to convince them to help him save Yara. After getting beaten up bloody, Theon finally makes the Ironborn see his point of view. He needs to pick up Jon's presentation skills!
8. Jon-Dany, 2gether 4ever. But holy, moly! The Wall just fell!
9. Why are Bran's powers so shaky? Why did Bran not know that Jon was Rhaegar and Lyanna's legitimate son, and not a bastard? Why did he need Sam to tell him about the wedding before he could finally see it?
10. Sam *does* listen to Gilly, even when he appears not to! Good lad, Sam!
11. Jon-Dany, 2gether 4ever.
12. They're definitely having a baby. All that talk about not having children, Dany being the last of her line and then Jon telling Dany to disregard Mirri Maz Duur's prophecy? It's leading to a tiny Targaryen for sure.
13. What was up with Tyrion?
14. Hooray for Jaime Lannister!
15. Holy, moly! The Wall just fell!
16. Will we survive the nearly two years it is going to take for this story to resume? Could HBO please speed up with Game of Thrones season 8?
17. Jon-Dany, 2gether 4ever. But holy, moly! The Wall just fell!
18. Jon-Dany! The Wall!!