Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7: A finale that didn’t drag on
A word of warning: This is our spoiler-filled recap and review of Episode 7, "The Dragon and the Wolf".
Though Game of Thrones has already had its fair share of monsters – the White Walkers, stone men, Joffrey, Hodor's tackle – none of those compare to the monster size of this finale. It clocks in at a ridiculous 79 minutes and 43 second runtime, so we've a lot to get through. Let's ditch the preamble and get you up to speed with what might be the beginning of the end of Westeros.
Obviously, the main thread of this episode is the titular dragon (Queen Daenerys Targaryen) and the wolf (Jon Snow, King in the North). Thanks to the oddly truncated nature of this seventh season, these two monarchs have rocketed past the milestones of outright distrust, uneasy truce and solid allies, and they're now on the cusp of *ahem* house-joining.
Speaking of coming together, the warring southern factions still need to be convinced that the Night King and his undead army will slaughter everybody. Jon and his allies go to a big parlay with Cersei in King's Landing, and the guest of honour/horror is a captured wight (who I've decided to name Walter). Before the festivities can commence, Dany grandstands with the best entrance one could hope for. Cersei, thoroughly upstaged by having her tower buzzed by two dragons, rolls her eyes at this, but makes a mental note of one missing dragon.
On the topic of mental notes, the sharp-eyed Tyrion notices Cersei display a weakness. She clutches protectively at her belly when the “Walter wight demonstration” unexpectedly enters an audience-participation phase. The Hound proves that he is the one who knocks, however, and all the non-believing major characters are converted when nothing less than fire and a dragonglass injection can break bad. A shaken Cersei now knows that the sum of all their childhood fears is true, and agrees to an armistice on one condition: Jon must take no side after the undead are sorted. Euron Greyjoy, the trash-talking tough guy who almost derailed the entire peace talks, suddenly becomes urine Greyjoy at this point. He nopes the hell out and leaves these mainland-lubbers to their zombie dinner fate.
To make matters worse, Jon states that he's already picked his side, and stubbornly refuses to serve two Queens. Tyrion follows his understandably pissed off sister into a private meeting in a very dangerous attempt to salvage the situation. Lives are threatened, wine is drunk and Lannister family values are debated on a knife's edge. Somehow, Cersei is talked around and Ser Gregor isn't ordered to turn the half-man into the quarter-man.
Not everybody escapes the chop, though. Up in Winterfell, Littlefinger is in Sansa's ear over Jon bending the knee to Dany. He points out that Jon can be easily unmade King in the North, just as Arya can be clapped in irons, or worse, for her usurper talk (the thinly-veiled threat she made last episode about giving Sansa a facelift). Sansa is unnerved by her little sister's collection of faces, and sees the wisdom in Baelish's words, and so she orders the guards to summon Arya to the throne room for a little chat.
When everybody assembles, Westeros's most dangerous assassin is front and centre when the treason charges are brought. That said – welcome plot-twist – the person on charge is actually Littlefinger. Oh, man, it's such a pleasure to see this scheming git get put completely on the back foot. He shrewdly doesn't deny the murder charge of killing Lysa Arryn (a headcase pretty much everybody in the world must have wanted to kill once or twice). However, his web of lies starts to fall apart thanks to the freaky all-seeing eyes of Bran Stark. The young seer gives the entire assembly a greatest hits recap of Lord Baelish. It was his knife that started this bloody great throne game. He also held it to Ned Stark's throat, captured him for the Lannisters and effectively got him beheaded.
Littlefinger tries to rally “his” knights of the Vale and make a quick exit, stage left. Nope, they're not into it. He then tries his hand at begging and blathering about his eternal love for the Stark women. It gets kinda weird, as far as speeches go, so Arya cuts it short. Literally. The great schemer finally gets his comeuppance and bleeds out on the floor. Good riddance. Somebody please burn him so he can't stage a wight comeback tour.
While we're talking of comebacks, Jon is planning his return to Winterfell from Dragonstone. He and Dany feel that sailing into Winterfell is the safest, less antagonistic, *cough* most romantic *cough* way to arrive together in Jon's homeland. Before the loveboat can set sail, Theon and Jon have a D&M about the concept of forgiveness and being of mixed houses (something Theon always struggled with). Jon insists he needn't have one or the other – and this is an important foreshadowing of the struggle the young Stark-Targaryen will soon face himself. Thus inspired, Theon gathers his non-balls in a sack, and goes to save Yara by beating the ship out of a Greyjoy crew intent on fleeing.
Staying the hell away from the undead is still a solid option it seems. Cersei tells Jamie that she actually has no intention of going north to be die with the foreign scum and their dragon queen. “Let the monsters kill each other” is her motto, and whoever's left over gets mopped up by her Golden Company, a rent-an-army of 20,000 men (plus elephants, with every 100th soldier purchased!) Euron is getting them. Of course he didn't walk away from her... no one does.
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At least, that's the theory. A livid Jamie manages to stroll off, even though Cersei comes within a heartbeat of having him cut down by Ser Gregor. The Queen's ex-Hand rides away north, bereft of his gaudy Lannister lobster armour and symbolically covering his gold fist with a glove. As he leaves, Winter finally rolls into sunny King's Landing. The place has seen better days.
So too has the past-watching Bran Stark. When Samwell Tarly arrives at Winterfell, their talk turns to Jon's parentage and the old visions that have come to the young Three-Eyed Raven. He reveals that Jon is the product of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Given that he was a bastard born in Dorne, Jon's last name ought to be Sand, not Snow. Sam mentions the annulment he read about in a Maester's journal, and the two deduce that our favourite bastard has in fact been the heir to the Iron Throne all along. That...er, also makes Dany his aunt. As we learn this, the show cuts to a sexual liaison between them. Ew.
As disturbing and steamy as that scene is, the legion of undead arriving to melt The Wall still tops it. Tormund watches in terror as the Night King swoops in on an undead Viserion, who is then employed as the world's greatest blowtorch. Bloody great blasts of blue fire makes short work of the tallest monument in Westeros and the Eastwatch wildings die en masse. No word on the Giantsbane himself, but he's as tough as they come and could have made a safe exit seaward. We can hope.
Which is more than we can say for the rest of the continent. The dead are a hundred thousand in number, at least. I have a feeling that this Song of Ice and Fire may become a funeral dirge for the living.