Warning: This story contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7 episode 7.
Cape Town - And with the longest episode yet, Game of Thrones has closed off its penultimate season with an epic finale, and scenes that we will be talking about long after the show is no longer on our televisions. The finale gave us moments that we have been waiting for, for years: Characters meeting, characters reuniting, a very important death and of course plenty of setups for next season.
So what went down this episode? First, of course, a warning:
The show for Queen Cersei
The entire expedition north of the Wall last week was so that Jon and his squad could bring back a wight to show Cersei so that she can join them in their fight against the undead. Even though most of us who have watched Cersei on our screens for seven seasons know that all Cersei Lannister cares about is holding onto her seat of power.
Daenerys Targaryen, the queen that she is, arrived at the Dragon Pit in King’s Landing on top of a dragon, with her Dothraki and Unsullied armies marching, Jon, Davos, The Hound and co. arriving via boat, and of course Brienne having already arrived after she was sent to King’s Landing by Sansa in episode 6.
These arrival scenes gave us a chance to have a lot of the characters interact again, such as Podrick, Tyrion and Bronn bonding, The Hound and Brienne discussing Arya’s wellbeing, and moments that truly made this season of reconnecting and rejoining of characters perhaps worth it. The show has been filled to the brim with characters, when one lot dies it seems like another lot is introduced, it is often good to reflect on how far we have walked with some characters, and have them draw attention to their shared histories too.
The event in the Dragon Pit allows for more of these interactions such as The Hound getting all up in The Mountain’s face, teasing the Cleganebowl (the fight between the two brothers) which fans have been hoping for, for seasons; as well as Brienne and Jaime, with Brienne doing her best to convince Jaime to turn to the right side.
As expected, the presentation of the wight is a fearsome experience for the Lannister twins, and the rest of the King’s Landing’s crew. Euron Greyjoy takes his troops and hightails out of King’s Landing after hearing that the undead army can’t swim. Qyburn, a character who was thrown out of the Citadel because of his obsession with the dead, was characteristically entranced by the creature, even picking the moving arm up to inspect it. Cersei offers to join them if Jon will promise to stay in the North and not pledge fealty to any Southern queen, but as we saw last week he has already bent the knee to Daenerys, and he admits that to Cersei, in a scene which made Tyrion, Daenerys and I'm sure even the audience figuratively facepalm.
The scene itself was frustrating, knowing that the dragon Viserion as well as Thoros of Myr and other nameless characters died for a mission that ended with Cersei basically saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to our heroes because Jon Snow couldn’t just tell a little lie to save many lives. But it is obvious that this scene was meant to draw attention to the fact that Jon is not like Cersei, he is honest and values honour just like Ned Stark before him.
The Lannisters talk
For the past two seasons, we have been seeing mediocre Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, yes he is charming and as smart mouthed as ever, but he lacked that essence that he had in season 1 - 3 especially when he interacted with his family members, and this episode brought back why he is so acclaimed.
There were three poignant scenes between the Lannisters - the first was between Jaime and Tyrion when Tyrion tells him why he needs to convince Cersei to join the fight even though she refused. Tyrion and Cersei then meet, whereby Tyrion earnestly tells her that he regrets murdering their father because of what that snowballed into especially with regards to the deaths of Myrcella and Tommen, her children whom he loved. It was a beautiful, honest scene which showed the acting chops of both Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey.
After this scene, Cersei tells Jon and Daenerys that she will join in their fight, but we soon learn that she was merely scheming and intended to betray them and wait out the fight between the North and the White Walkers and meanwhile take back the rest of Westeros, with the help of Euron Greyjoy who was really going to Essos in order to hire another army of sellswords called The Golden Company.
This is the last straw for Jaime (FINALLY) who tells Cersei that he is leaving her and going North like she had originally promised. Cersei sees this as treason and threatens to have The Mountain kill him (which mirrors the earlier scene with Tyrion where she threatens the same thing) but she does not go through with it. It seems as if her brothers are still partially her weak point.
Throughout the seven seasons we have seen Jaime embark on a rough path for redemption - losing his freedom, his hand, and his children - but this seems to be his final task into becoming a true knight. He was always good at following orders until he fears that the person whose orders he is following is not of sound mind, he killed the Mad King because he was going to burn the city to the ground. He stuck by Cersei far longer than was healthy but in this scene it was obvious to him that there is no saving Cersei, Cersei is only concerned with staying on the throne, no matter the cost.
The return of Theon Greyjoy
Much like Jaime Lannister, Theon Greyjoy’s path to redemption has been extremely rough, he had to lose himself completely and become Reek, and in turn be reborn as this new version of Theon. In essence this was his own twist on the Greyjoy/Iron Islands religion of drowning people so that the Drowned God can bring them back anew.
Theon has a poignant scene with Jon, where he talks about how he admires that Jon always does what is right and how he always attempted to do that. He speaks about how he wrestled between his identity as a Greyjoy and what he felt he learnt as a Stark, and Jon encourages him that Ned Stark always saw him as one of his children and that legacy should be the only one he should be trying to live up to.
Theon sees this as the sign that he should make saving his sister his sole mission, especially since when he was held captive by Ramsay Bolton, it was Yara who tried to save him. If anything, this loops the story of Theon, it helps him become the best version of himself - someone who embraces his strength from Iron Islands but uses it to be courageous and honourable as he was taught by Ned Stark. It is the ultimate example of nature vs. nurture, and might foreshadow the internal conflict that Jon will undergo when he finds out that he is half Targaryen.
The end of Littlefinger’s meddling
The Arya/Sansa plotline this season has been one of the more problematic ones, the drama between the two sisters seemed manufactured and it was a difficult pill to swallow that these two girls who have been through so much could so easily be suckered into one of Littlefinger’s plots. It seemed messy; it seemed out of character and frankly quite uncomfortable to watch.
This all came to heed in the finale, when Littlefinger overplayed his hand trying to convince Sansa that because Jon bent the knee to Daenerys she needs to oust him as King of the North and that Arya wants to kill her to take her place as Lady of Winterfell so she needs to remove Arya first. It was unbelievable to watch Sansa playing along with his schemes because we know she has had a front row seat to the Schemer Superbowl, she knows Littlefinger, and she’s knows what he has done, she knows what he is capable of.
But it seems we didn’t have to worry about Sansa for too long, as in the apparent trial of Arya Stark in front of all the Northern lords and the lords of the Vale, she turned the tide on Littlefinger by accusing him of treachery against the Starks. With the shared knowledge of what she witnessed and Bran (Westeros’ Google) getting ahold of his Littlefinger file, they listed all of his treacherous deeds and all the Northern lords as well as the lords of the Vale were not interested in protecting him.
Poetically the scene ends with Arya slitting his throat with the same dagger that he held to Ned’s throat when he betrayed him.
The final Winterfell scene has the two sisters standing on the top of Winterfell in a similar way that Jon and Sansa stood at the end of last season, and they shared how much they admired the strengths of the other one. It was a sweet moment that the sisters had been lacking since they were reunited and reiterated the pack metaphor that surrounds the Starks and what Sansa quoted in the season 7 trailer: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."
The dragon and the dragon?
Game of Thrones isn’t necessarily a show that is synonymous with romance but this season they have been teasing a romance between two main characters - Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. What became as a political alliance, flourished into a crush, and as we saw this week a fully fledged romance.
We heard Davos and Tyrion making mention of Jon’s feelings, and there were a few touching moments but it all came to light when on the way from Dragonstone to Winterfell, Jon went to Daenerys’ chamber and the two had sex, which is sweet and all but…at the same time Google and Wikipedia a.k.a. Bran and Sam were combining their databases and realised that Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and his real name is Aegon Targaryen.
So what does that mean for the lovebirds? That at the same time that they are finally finding love together, they are shortly going to find out that they are really aunt and nephew. As some people put it, as one incest relationship ended (Jaime and Cersei) another has begun.
Another awkward moment was Tyrion watching as Jon goes into Daenerys’ chambers with an unreadable look on his face. Is he jealous of their relationship? Does he have feelings for Daenerys as well? Or is he worrying what this will do for their political alliance?
In perhaps one of the greatest scenes in Game of Thrones history, the Night’s King and his army of White Walkers and wights marched on Eastwatch, bringing with them the new reborn Viserion, who apparently breathes blue flames now. Viserion flies to the wall and begins to obliterate it with his flames, burning down what probably took the First Men years to build, and apparently the magic in the Wall is nothing against a blue fire-breathing ice dragon.
It was a beautiful piece of television production as the Wall tumbled, Tormund, Beric and company ran, and the army of the dead crossed over the Wall and started marching on Westeros. It was stunning, but terrifying as well, as the last line of defence against the dangerous army has now fallen.
This season of Game of Thrones was tumultuous as the writers had to deal with a lot of criticisms of the show moving too fast, time not making sense and some plot points that seemed nonsensical. But regardless of this, they managed to close off the season with an episode that resolves many of the questions that we’ve had this season and also set the groundwork for the final season.
With some of the greatest production work in television history, they managed to shock us, terrify us, make us laugh and gave us characters to root for and root against. In the 79 minutes and 43 seconds, they reminded us what we loved about this show as well as gave us plenty to ponder about in the offseason.
- Will Tormund, Beric and Gendry survive the White Walkers march on Eastwatch?
- Is the showing setting up a love triangle between Jon, Daenerys and Tyrion?
- How will Jon (and Daenerys) react once they find out that they are related and that Jon is in fact the heir to the Iron Throne?
- Will Jon and Daenerys have a baby together?
- Will Theon complete his quest to save Yara?
- Will Jaime be reunited with Brienne?
- What more will Bran discover during his Three Eyed Raven-ing?