Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 7 finale, "The Dragon and the Wolf" written by executive producers Benioff and Weiss and directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
In short: Jon Snow and Dany's power posse bring their Wight to Cersei in King's Landing to get her to understand the real enemy they all face. In Winterfell, the Stark sister drama comes to a head. Theon finally figures out the kind of man he wants to be (and it's not spineless!). Samwell arrives at Winterfell and Bran reveals to him Jon's true lineage. And at the Wall, the Night King unleashes his brand new zombie dragon to devastating effect.
As per usual with Game of Thrones season finales, there's a whole lot of exposition and character moments in "The Dragon and the Wolf" that help set the stage for what's to come, in this case the final chapter of the entire story. However, all of it is engaging and fraught with tension especially considering the entire series has been building up to some of the character reunions, or meetings, we got in this episode.
Plus, we got the much-anticipated reveal of who Jon Snow is, and as we've all put together per the clues, he's half-Stark but also half-Targaryen. He's Aegon Targaryen and the rightful heir of the throne. And to top all of that, we get a frozen cherry on top with the episode-ending destruction of the 8000-year-old Wall by the icy-fire breath of the Night King's game-changing undead dragon. It was just visually stunning to see the blue fire undo that Wall like it was made of paper. Not a bad cliffhanger to leave the season on!
As for the specifics, most of the story real estate played out in King's Landing, first at the ancient dragon pit where the Mad King used to house his dragons for sport. Of course, Cersei selects it as the place where she will meet with Dany, Jon and all of their power players. It's a genuinely tense assemblage of A-list players on the same field for the first time all together. Peter Dinklage is sublime in portraying Tyrion's resolute belief in his plan to present the undead soldier to Cersei to get her to redirect her attention on the North, as well as his showing his palpable fear and concern that this whole meeting could go down very, very badly for everyone. His run for the booze in Cersei's chamber later was perfect.
Overall, it's a real hoot to see all of the characters dealing with their discomfort and nerves, from Bronn's hilarious assertion to Jaime that man's great motivator is really only about the male anatomy, to Sandor reuniting with Tyrion and asking if he's going to die in this s*** city having escaped it with him long ago, down to Brienne shockingly telling Jamie to "F loyalty" and to tell Cersei that the threat from the North is beyond Houses now. (When did we ever think we'd hear the stalwart Brienne of Tarth be that real and desperate? When it comes to Jaime, of course.)
Have to hand it to Dany and her arrivals: she knows how to enter every room. She's casually late to the party, landing in the pit with a really pissy Drogon which achieves the intended impression on Cersei. But what really makes the best impression is when The Hound lets the Wight in the Box come out to play and it runs at Cersei like I imagine Bronn at the entrance of a brothel. This Walking Dead extra actually rattles everyone in the pit and lulls us into thinking that everyone from Euron to Cersei is in no mood to get eviscerated by the undead and are onboard with stopping their traditional war to pivot as a unified front in the North.
The great twist by episode's end is Cersei admitting to Jaime that there's no way they are helping Dany and Jon up North. Instead, Euron is going to fetch the Essos army to hep the Lannisters take the lower part of Westeros - and together they'll either fight what's left of the human alliance or what's coming from the Night King. Did we really think Cersei would have a change of heart? Her heart is gone. When her children were taken, she surpassed the Grinch with her heart being ten sizes too small. The writers did have me going for a second with her heartfelt talk with Tyrion and whether her new bun in the oven actually gave her something to care about again - but that allowed her to be even more self-serving in her interests now, not empathetic.
Jaime finally gave up on Cersei. Way to stay until the bitter end, my friend. It took practically a flow chart with pie graphs for him to get that she doesn't love anything anymore (except maybe her evil minion in the oven) and that she's got no loyalty for him in return. I'm glad he finally hightailed it out of King's Landing to parts up North. Will he now connect with Brienne? They've got mad feelings for one another but can they ever be? Not if Tormund is alive and has anything to say about it!
What does that mean for Cersei? She's really go no one with any morals left around her. Will she marry Euron? Will the Mountain be her undoing? Will Jaime be the one to vanquish her hate and evil via death?
Back in Winterfell, I get points for believing in the Stark sisters as it's finally revealed that all of that seeming bad blood between Sansa and Arya was really a long con to get Littlefinger to implicate himself in all of the evil deeds he's perpetrated on the family. Sansa summoning Arya to the Great Hall to read out her sins, only to pivot to Baelish instead was a wicked moment of satisfaction. Littlefinger has never looked scared in all seven season of the series, so to witness him actually blanch and then beg for his life was almost as satisfying as what Sansa had done to Ramsay Bolton. Almost. Arya slashes his throat without a second thought and it's kinda awesome too. I know I'm encouraging her to be bloodthirsty but that creeper deserved it.
We also get the lineage of Jon and Dany completely explained via Sam and Bran's fireside chat. It's a huge moment for show and book readers. On the one hand, we totally knew that was coming yet it was nice to get it clearly explained and verified. On the other hand, if Bran was "seeing" the past of Rhaegar and Lynna's secret wedding, that means he's totally seeing Jon and Dany do it on the boat, right? As if Tyrion seeing Jon slip into her room isn't a little icky enough, I'm going to imagine the future introduction of Dany to Bran is gonna be hella awkward.
The news also tempered that love scene with Jon and Dany a lot. I was rooting for those two last week with the hand hold in his bedroom but when it all played out with the Bran narration, especially the aunt part, well, I had a thought that if the ship carrying that 'ship sunk....maaaaaybe it wouldn't be too bad (I'm kidding). Let's just say it's less hot with the incest part, much like sister/brother lovers Cersei and Jaime.
Of course, last but not least was the Night King just unloading his fancy new Listerine-breath zombie dragon at The Wall and changing the game once again. Tormund aside, the realization of the exactly the lives lost and the floodgate now open for the army of the dead to invade the North is chilling, exciting and frightening. Incredible work by the visual effects team for presenting a visual unseen before and making it look so incredible.
Do we care about Theon getting a redemption arc? Honestly, I shrug my shoulders in that story's general direction. It's a little hard at this point to care about Theon being a better man when he took the majority run of the series to grow back the pair that were snipped off by Ramsey. Ok, he had bad daddy issues. But he also had great foster daddy issues with Ned Stark setting a great moral example to look up to as Jon asserted in their little chat in the throne room. Jon is a pretty damn compassionate guy to forgive even some of Theon's boneheaded and just plain awful decisions, but that's the good leader in him. Do I forgive Theon? Again, I shrug. I certainly know Yara deserves for someone to come to her aid and if it has to be Theon, so be it. But I'm admitting now if he's got to give up his life to get her back from Euron, that's going to be a fair trade.
Things to Ponder ...
Tormund better not be dead under the rubble of the Wall! Come on, guys! Two weeks in a row threatening our Ginger Bear with mortal peril?? That's just mean and with no resolution to that answer in the near future, I'm going to have to set up a shrine to pray to the Lord of Light for the duration.
Who is coming for The Mountain per Sandor's warning to the thing that was once his brother? Will Sandor be the one to take down the abomination that is Cersei's muscle? Or is it someone else?
Will Tyrion turn on Dany for her Jon dalliance? Will Jorah get heartbroken again, or does he totally see it coming? I think he knows he's never gonna be Dany's choice.
With Sansa and Arya forming a new pack in Winterfell, who will be the ones to stand beside them to defend the North? Looks like Sansa has a real claim on Winterfell now as Queen and that's so earned now.
So what is a fight with an undead dragon and a fire-breathing dragon going to look like? I imagine it to be something like Harry Potter and Voldemort's wand battle in the last book. Will their breath cancel each other out? Who gets the better leverage? I'm going to bone up on my dragon physics before Season 8!
What did you think of "The Dragon and the Wolf"? What was your favorite moment amongst the many great small and large beats?