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‘Game of Thrones’ Review- The Lone Wolf Dies But the Pack Survives

Well, that was something, eh? There were a number of ways that “The Dragon and the Wolf” could have played out, especially when one considers the epicness of season six’s finale, but “Dragon…” decided to go another way. Instead of giving us giant wild fire explosions and the pronouncing of new kings, season seven decided to go out a little more quietly. Instead of giant set pieces, fire breathing dragons, or armies of the undead, season seven chose to let the characters shine and the result was a captivatingly tense episode that was rooted in the significance of the show’s past while prepping for its future. We were given a scenario within this finale where all of our major characters were in one location at the same time, something that might not have seemed even remotely feasible four seasons ago. We lived in a world where a single episode could hop through seven different locations and now, with the way the story has played out, the most we visit is four. If that’s not the biggest sign that things are coming to an end I don’t know what is. We’ve come a long way from having our characters spread out so vastly to finally coming together and confronting each other. We’ve lost a lot of friends and watched as characters have finally come face to face. We’ve lost dragons and direwolves and learned kidnappings were marriages and incest is fickle when it concerns characters you love. Most of all we’ve learned that happy endings tend not to exist in Westeros, and that’s one of the bigger take aways from this finale.

The massive meeting in Kings Landing was hands down one of the best aspects of this episode as each character shined brighter than the last. With there being no more source material the “anything is possible” mentality is exactly that. Anything can happen at any time. This is a show that burnt a little girl at the stake and almost killed an entire family at a wedding reception, who are we to believe that this meeting of truce would go peacefully? The stakes and the tensions were high and with each mini reunion that occurred (starting with Pod and Tyrion and moving to the Hound and Brienne) the importance of what was unfolding on our screen became more and more apparent. This is it everyone, this is what the endgame looks like. No longer are there seven kings fighting for the throne. No longer is Daenerys in Slavers Bay. Jon Snow is no longer bound by the Night’s Watch. Cersei has cleared the board of the majority of her enemies. The board is set and winter has arrived.

We had to know that there was no way that Cersei was going to go along with this plan of truce. Everything we love to hate about Cersei concerns her selfish outlook for self-preservation. Yet, she’s never wavered in presenting herself that way. This is a woman who was told that this was a man’s world. All her life she’s dealt with men like Robert and Twyin who brushed her aside because she was a woman and didn’t know any better, and here she is now queen of Westeros. In her own way, Cersei has broken a form of the wheel and while it’s different than what Daenerys aims to accomplish there is an aspect of Cersei’s behavior that is admirable. Everything she has ever obtained she scratched and clawed and schemed for all while serving the best interest of herself and her family and all achieved by being “just a woman” in a man’s world. So, it’s understandable while Cersei would be apprehensive about an alliance between the houses to fight the army of the undead as she has the most to lose here.

There’s another thing about Cersei we know too, and it might be more important… she’s effin’ mad. Seriously. I know that this show has an undead ice zombie who just killed a dragon, but Cersei might be the shows biggest villain. Just look how masterfully she orchestrated the talks of alliance. She went from no, to yes but only if Jon and the North stay put once the Long Night is over, to no again, back to yes with no demands, to quietly behind the scenes “no that’s not a real thing”. The worst part is, I believed her. After she spoke with Tyrion, which is hands down my favorite scene of this episode. I forgot just how masterful Peter Dinklage and Leana Headey are together. Their ability to speak and play off of one another screams Emmy nominations and has been an aspect of the show I’ve missed a great deal. There’s so much contempt and hate fueled love between the two. Tyrion pieces together that Cersei is pregnant, again still not sure if I’m buying this, and the two some how reach an accord. Everything seemed great and I got caught up in the moment and failed to realize that it seemed too easy, and it was.

I wasn’t the only one though as everyone’s favorite character searching for redemption, Jamie Lannister, believed Cersei too and even went so far as to devise war plans for Lannister soldiers. Plans to head North along with time frames were given and it seemed that all of Westeros was really going to take the war to the White Walkers. Seemed to us anyway before Cersei quickly dismissed the very notion. In no way would she be sending Lannister forces to the North to assist her enemies, she’ll say anything to keep herself and her family alive, she has also hired the Golden Company to aid in the war with the surviving side, aaaaaaand Jamie is a traitor. Yeah, that was a thing and this scene was tense because it really seemed like Cersei was going to let the Mountain kill her brother/lover. There may have been some slight hyperventilating but once everything settled and Jamie was able to walk away without getting stabbed in the back (no irony today!) I felt relieved, and that Jamie’s redemption arc has reached its highest point. He gave his word that he would help defend the North and he would not go back on that even if that meant spurring Cersei. Jamie leaves Kings Landing right as winter arrives and snow starts to cover the ground. I loved the imagery here and the way these two events juxtaposed each other as now Cersei has lost her only ally and Jamie heads towards the great unknown very much alone.

Although Jamie’s destination is not without its complexities either. Jon Snow has officially bent the knee to Daenerys (no that’s not a sex pun) which is what caused all these Cersei problems to begin with (see, told you it wasn’t a sex pun). Jon’s proclamation that he could not “serve two queens” reminded me so much of Ned Stark in an episode that saw his spirit loom largely. Out of all the characters that we’ve met within this series, there was no one more honest and genuinely good than Ned Stark. This is a man who bore the shame of a bastard son in order to preserve his sister’s dying wish and keep the baby alive. A baby that just so happens to have the largest claim to the Iron Throne. A man who built his reputation on doing the right thing and being honest allowed himself to be marked this way for family despite the tensions it caused within his own marriage. Ned was a man who confessed to treason, even though he did not conspire to, in order to keep his daughters safe. His confession was gutting and did him no good anyway as his head still landed on a pike. Jon Snow seems to be the living embodiment of Ned Stark and one has to wonder if his honesty is going to get him killed as well. It certainly muffed up the chances of alliance with Cersei and the Lannister forces.

Yet it was the voice of Ned that loomed the largest throughout this episode. Jon’s talk with Theon where he proclaimed him to be both a Greyjoy and a Stark was touching and seemed to foreshadow Jon’s own future. Bran has now told Sam that Jon is, in fact, a Targaryen. Even though Bran is seemingly the worst Three Eyed Raven ever. Telling Sam that he sees everything only to ask what he’s doing there next. Smooth. More seriously though it’s through Bran that we learn that Jon has the rightful claim to the throne, as he’s not a bastard, through a voice over as Jon bends the knee to Daenerys (that was a sex pun). Seriously, the timing of this revelation couldn’t have come at a worse time as fandom seemed to be buying this incest relationship out of love for these characters, only to have it thrown in their faces as the act was being committed. It was all types of uncomfortable and the fact that Tyrion was doing his best Littlefinger impression while it was occurring didn’t make it any better. It appears that Tyrion has lost an unbiased voice with Jon and now everything he does or says will be marked with his love for Daenerys. The true question here though is what will happen when they find out. If Bran tells Jon alone I doubt Jon will be able to keep this secret to himself. His inner Ned Stark won’t allow him to. How will Daenerys view him then? As a lover, as a friend, as family, as an enemy, or as “ewww ewwww gross don’t touch me“? Oh, and say what you will, his name may be Aegon Targaryen but he’ll always be Jon Snow to me.

Ned Stark didn’t just loom heavily over Jon though, he was present with his daughters as they outed Littlefinger for the weasel that he is. I’ve had a feeling that there was no way that Sansa and Arya were being played this heavily by Littlefinger and was happy to see them turn the tides on him. I mentioned the other day that I felt like a Littlefinger death here would be a disservice to the character but after watching Arya cut his throat I couldn’t feel any more different. This is exactly what Littlefinger deserved and it’s kind of ironic too. Listening to his long list of crimes and how everything that has transpired within this story has been because of Littlefinger’s actions it became easy to view Littlefinger as a master of puppets. Working behind the scenes getting people to do his bidding without even knowing they were. The task he set out for himself this season should have been easy. Manipulate a couple of children and take the North. Easy peasy, right? It was delightful seeing his plan blow up in his face as he begged and pleaed and gave excuses for his actions. One more player off the board. I guess Tyrion is looking to take up the creepy shadow stalking for now. I loved how Arya and Sansa acted as one here as Sansa gave the sentence and Arya performed the execution signifying a unity between the two sisters. You could almost see Ned smiling.

Although I wonder if this small victory in the North will be short lived. As I predicted (#humblebrag) the Wall has fallen… or a part of it anyway. The army of the undead arrived at Eastwatch and the Night King and his ice dragon used their ice fire (right?) to crumble a large portion of the Wall. I am slightly worried about the well being for Tormund but feel confident that he was on the part of the Wall that did not collapse. I am not as confident for the North. The White Walkers have entered Westeros and they have the numbers, giants, and an undead ice dragon. With Cersei and her forces staying in Kings Landing and Jon and Daenerys still traveling I wonder if there will be much left of the North before the war begins. The Long Night has arrived and Tyrion might have put it best when he said everyone’s effed.

Some quick thoughts before I leave you-

  • The Hound and Brienne mending fences and talking about Arya was an excellent little scene. I loved the smirk the covered the Hound’s face when he learned that Arya can take care of herself.
  • Speaking of the Hound, I really dug the way he called out the Mountain and foreshadowed what we’ve been waiting for. Season eight, the season of Cleganebowl!
  • Sansa was a beast in this episode. “I loved your mother”/”Yet you betrayed her” and “I loved you…”/”Yet you betrayed me” cemented how far this character has come. She’s learning, admittedly slowly, but she’s learning.
  • The irony of the dagger that started all of this being used to kill Littlefinger was not lost on me.
  • Seeing Tyrion, Bronn, and Podrick together filled my heart with delight and the three of them fell into sync almost effortlessly. It’ll be interesting with Jamie gone now to see what Bronn of the Blackwater chooses to do.
  • Tormund’s alive, right? Right?!
  • Peter Dinklage had a tremendous season as did Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke. All the actors really upped their games this year.
  • Watching Theon get kneed in the groin was rather funny but not as funny as Tyrion downing the glass of wine after he told Cersei to kill him. There was a great deal of humor in this episode that helped break the tension.
  • Euron bouncing out because of the undead was hysterical. It totally fit my notion of that character. Like Cersei, he’s really good at self-preservation. Finding out that Cersei had planned his exit all along just shows how far ahead of everyone she is. It was a very Godfather moment to me.

Phew… I think I did it. Thanks for hanging with me this long Geeklings as this episode really had a great deal to unpack. I can’t believe it’s over. I miss it already. Let me turn it over to you guys. What did you think of the season seven finale of Game of Thrones? Were you surprised by Cersei’s actions? Were you happy or grossed out by Jon and Daenerys? Were you happy to see Littlefinger go? Does the North stand a chance? Sound off in the comments below and as always if you’d like to talk more Thrones you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32.

In a more personal note, this has been an absolute blast for me coming here every week to discuss Game of Thrones with you guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as I’ve enjoyed writing. It was a dream come true in a lot of ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and spending the time and I’m already looking forward to coming back here for next season.

Much like winter the long wait for season eight is here. May it move quickly and be shorter than our wait for book six. And don’t forget, the night is dark and full of terrors so please believe in the buddy system. I’ll miss you all!

Images from HBO