It’s the very last episode of season seven of Game of Thrones! And what an episode, with quite a few interesting fates for some characters, interesting reveals about the backstories of certain characters, and the usual twists, turns, and double-crosses.
So, since it is probably literal months since the final episode aired, and I’m horrifically late to posting this, I won’t necessarily recap this episode scene for scene. Rather, I’ll discuss the big revelations/major plot points of the episode, and what impact they had on me as a viewer. In a season that had a whole lot of big action moments, how did this final episode stack up, the one that’s meant to be the most action-packed and impactful of all?
Spoiler alert: If you somehow haven’t seen the episode yet, beware! This entire post is filled with spoilers!
1. The meeting in King’s Landing and Cersei’s betrayal
Everyone gathered together in King’s Landing to discuss the Army of the Dead, the deadly threat to Westeros at large. ‘Everyone’ included Daenerys and friends, Lord of the Friendzone Ser Jorah Mormont, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Theon Greyjoy, Euron Greyjoy, Cersei and Jaime Lannister. The Hound met his undead brother, the FrankenMountain (do we think there might be a possibility for CLEGANEBOWL after all?). Daenerys showed up late, arriving by dragon, and there was a cute, snarky moment between her and Cersei that I enjoyed. The purpose of the meeting was to show Cersei an undead zombie from Beyond the Wall, and to prove to her that this is a serious problem for everyone, probably the most important problem of all. Hence, perhaps they should all have a truce whilst this real war is fought. Jon Snow was stupidly honest like his supposed father Ned Stark, and almost ruined everything by saying he won’t bend the knee to the Lannisters and has already bent the knee to Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen. However, Cersei came to the party eventually and agreed to a truce after a revealing chat with Tyrion. Whilst this segment of the episode was necessarily tense, it almost felt too easy for our protagonists. And as it turns out, it was.
Daenerys and Jon had a discussion mid-meeting about her being unable to have children which makes me think that they are totally going to have babies together. Somehow, I predict that Jon Snow will be able to cure her infertility. He really is an all-around great guy.
Later, Cersei tells Jaime that her agreement at the meeting was all a front and that they won’t be truce-ing it up with the Targaryens and Starks after all. It wasn’t surprising to me that Cersei backed down from the agreement that she made during the big meeting. She is Cersei Lannister after all, and she really only cares about her own family’s interests, and her unborn child’s destiny to rule Westeros and further the Lannister legacy. Jaime is clearly disturbed by Cersei’s degraded moral compass, but it’s interesting that this was the line for Jaime – Cersei breaking her word to everyone in the face of zombie danger, and not all the other crazy shizz she’s partaken in (e.g. blowing up a Sept full of people and family members). To note, Jaime had already come to the realisation that Cersei is really bad news by the fifth book. So he sets off towards the horizon as snow falls on King’s Landing. North, to defend against the White Walkers? Who knows. What I do know, is the sight of snow in King’s Landing was so eerie and creepy, as we’ve only known the King’s Landing as a hot, humid, Summer city. The music by Ramin Djawadi was beautiful during this scene as well.
Can Lena Headey just get an Emmy now? Can we just give it to her? It’s her time. I have no idea what will happen next season but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good time for Cersei. Our adventures across this show have shown that whilst good guys are not immune to tragedy, the bad guys generally do get what’s coming to them. I feel really anxious about what’s next for our Lannister friends.
2. The Stark kids in the North and goodbye to Littlefinger
Littlefinger continued to attempt to turn Arya and Sansa Stark against one another this episode, and it seemed like it had almost worked, as he attempted to play a logic game with Sansa and convince her that Arya is trying to kill her to become the next Lady of Winterfell. What’s so interesting, though, is that Littlefinger’s attempt to out-logic Sansa actually helped Sansa beat him at his own game. Using his own game of logic, Sansa convinced Littlefinger that she was buying in to his plan, and was able to see exactly what kind of shenanigans he was trying to implicate her in.
In a scene that some have criticised as having a lack of respect for a character who has been pretty iconic across the life of the series, the Stark kids (as a pack) basically wreck Littlefinger at his own game. It initially looks like Sansa is accusing Arya of treason and murder, but actually she’s charging Littlefinger – the guy who has been picking apart the politics of Westeros since before the series began, for his own benefit. He’s murdered Lysa Arryn, he was involved in the death of Jon Arryn (precipitating all of the events in the show), he encouraged Lysa Arryn to blame the Lannisters for Jon Arryn’s death, putting the Starks and Lannisters against one another, and he was involved in the double-crossing of Ned Stark which led to his execution. Littlefinger denies these claims, because after all, no one was around to see it happen.
But wait! The Stark kids have the best weapon on the show and are finally using him to their advantage – Bran Stark and his psychic vision powers, who proves that Littlefinger was involved in the capture and execution of Ned Stark back in season one. I’m not sure this would be admissable in Court in a modern context, but hey, it works for the show. Littlefinger begs Sansa pathetically, but she recalls his pattern of pitting family against family, sister against sister, betraying everyone around him to only benefit himself. She shows strength in her power to make a good and right choice, to defend her family and the North as a whole. And Arya Stark executes Littlefinger by slitting his throat with his own blade.
I mean, this was brutal, letting Littlefinger bleed out and die on the floor as Sansa breathes a sigh of relief. She’s finally free of all the men who have sought to control her over the years, Littlefinger being the last of them. Normally Starks cut off heads to execute and get the job done, but it seems like Arya is a bit of a different executioner than the norm. I don’t even know where to start with this one. I certainly expected something a bit different for Littlefinger. His influence has been so pervasive across the series that I almost expected a more dramatic death for him, e.g. blasted by dragon. At one point I even wondered about whether he would survive everyone and rule over whatever was left after the White Walkers are done with Westeros. This was one of the more satisfying moments of the season for me, though, to see Littlefinger beaten at his own sneaky game. Rest in peace Littlefinger, it was fun.
Later, Sansa and Arya meet and discuss Littlefinger’s death. Whilst I was underwhelmed by Arya and Sansa’s first meeting this season in Winterfell after so long, all of my worries were repaired by this one scene. Arya and Sansa acknowledge their different experiences of trauma, and acknowledge one another’s pain. Whilst they have experienced different types of pain, they see their experiences as building their respective strengths and encouraging them to look after one another. After all, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.
3. Greyjoy good times
At the meeting with the Lannisters, Starks and Targaryen crew, Euron Greyjoy decided to take the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands because he was too scared about the scary undead zombie. But as it turns out, this was a prank, like Cersei telling everyone she agreed to a truce. Euron will continue to support the Lannisters by going and getting mercenary soldiers from the East to bolster up the Lannister troops whilst the Starks and Targaryen armies are focused elsewhere (e.g. on what’s really important a the moment). Can I just say, Pilou Asbæk is quite a fantastic actor and I have ended up enjoying his portrayal of creepy uncle Euron. I’ve been recently watching the Danish political drama Borgen and he’s so great in that as well.
Theon Greyjoy also made the choice to leave Daenerys, Jon, and friends, to save his sister Yara who had been captured by Euron episodes and episodes ago. After getting the approval from an icy Jon Snow, Theon showed physical strength and dominance towards his Greyjoy kinfolk which ensured that they would follow and support him on his quest to rescue Yara. For a character who has been so traumatised and weakened for so long, Yara is finally the reason for Theon to get his strength back.
The Greyjoys are so freaking cool in the books (so many awesome ship battles) and I wish they were more explored in the show. They’ve had a relatively small role this season and I’m unsure if the show has really convinced us to care enough about Theon’s lost sister (even though I love her so much) to warrant a rescue mission subplot. One can perhaps expect that Yara and Theon will have some kind of important role for next season, particularly given Euron’s shenanigans with the Lannisters. I hope so, because Alfie Allen has been one of my favourite actors (along with the resplendent Lena Headey) in this godforsaken show since approximately season two, when there was more opportunity for his character to show depth and complexity. I love those Greyjoys. I want to re-read the books now.
4. Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen
Daenerys and Jon agreed to sail to Whiteharbor together earlier in the episode, to send a message of solidarity that the Starks and Targaryens are allied in this crazy undead war. Daenerys and Jon on a romantic boat trip together, what could go wrong?
In one of the final scenes of the episode, Samwell Tarly visits Bran at Winterfell. Bran reveals himself as the Three Eyed Raven who can see things from the past and things that are happening in the present. Sam is visiting Winterfell to be with Jon Snow and the Northerners to help with the battle against the undead. Bran casually drops that Jon isn’t actually Ned Stark’s son, he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark (Ned Stark’s sister), born in a tower in Dorne, which, you know, we had already seen last season. It’s just that at this point in time, the writers and showrunners are deciding to beat us over the head with this information to make sure that we really, really understand it. Whilst Bran seems to think that Jon is a bastard born in Dorne, and hence his name should really be Jon Sand, Sam fills Bran in with some information that he and Gilly found in their research at the Citadel in Oldtown. Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage to Elia Martell of Dorne was annulled. Rhaegar re-married, to Lyanna Stark in a secret ceremony. Hence, Jon Snow/Sand is not a bastard after all, and is a Targaryen.
Bran looks back in time, and we see the wedding of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, a beautiful affair by a river. As a result of this vision, we definitively learn that all of the events that have precipitated this entire series and all the shenanigans that led up to Robert Baratheon’s death, and Ned’s death, and the War of the Five Kings, and all the other plot stuff across seven seasons… everything was based on a lie. Robert’s Rebellion (the war the led to Robert Baratheon ruling Westeros) was based on a falsity. Lyanna Stark wasn’t kidnapped, but this was a consensual and loving marital relationship. Lyanna died in childbirth, and Ned swore to secrecy and promised to protect and care for Jon Snow, full well knowing that Jon was actually named Aegon Targaryen, and has been the actual heir to the Iron Throne the whole time.
Also, keep in mind that Rhaegar Targaryen is Daenerys Targaryen’s older brother. Which means that Daenerys is Jon’s biological aunt.
Cut to – Jon Snow visiting Daenerys Targaryen on the ship in a secret meeting at night time. And of course they’ve fully fallen in love with each other, because everyone could see this coming from a mile away (especially Tyrion, spying on Jon entering Daenerys’ room). And of course they fully have sex with each other, because we could all see this coming from a mile away (deja vu?). The way this bit happened, made me wonder if they’ve actually been having an affair this whole time, or at least after Jon agreed to bend the knee to her. I suppose we’ll never know. In any case, gross, because:
Yeah, if we’re meant to feel a bit grossed out by Cersei and Jaime maintaining a romantic and sexual relationship, then I’m going to be grossed out by this one, no matter how aesthetically pleasing both Daenerys and Jon are, and no matter how positively we’re meant to feel towards them as the show’s protagonists. It will be very interesting indeed to see how this pans out for next season. Some may say that the Targaryens commonly practiced inter-family marriage/incest/child-bearing in order to keep the bloodline pure, and that technically they’re just doing what was relatively normal for them. But still… no.
Even though I already knew what was going on regarding Jon’s parentage, because we had been told about it last season, this was still an emotional experience for me. I remember watching this part for the first time and having a single tear roll down my cheek. Something about the definitive reveal, the music, and the linking of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s wedding to Ned’s promise to keep Jon safe, was really effective emotionally. The whole thing was stitched together well.
5. That final scene
In Winterfell, Bran is sitting beneath a weirwood tree, observing the present time up at the Wall. Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr also observe the massive Army of the Dead as they approach the Wall. As the army approaches, so too does the Night King, riding the undead dragon Viserion towards the Wall, who was turned last episode. Viserion blasts the Wall with some kind of icy blue fire blast, causing the Wall to crack and splinter, and fall apart. Please don’t let Beric Dondarrion and Thoros die, because they deserve better than an off-screen death.
Viserion blasts a massive hole in one section of the Wall, enough for it to be levelled to the ground. This is massively significant, because the Wall has existed for thousands of years, protecting the Realm from what lies beyond. The final shot of the season is the Army of the Undead making its way through the gap in the Wall, and as the camera looks down from above we see the huge numbers of this Army as it heads South, with undead Viserion and the Night King leading the charge. I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to be in for some serious battles next season.
6. Overall thoughts?
I mean, holy moly. I’m unsure if I could encapsulate all of my thoughts about the entire season in one final paragraph. In fact, my buddy Cameron and I already talked about the entire season on an episode of Partial Credit Podcast, which is linked for your convenience below, if you’d like to have a listen:
Sorry for all the swearing in that episode, some television shows just bring out the sailor in me. What I can say though, is that this final episode had enough plot reveals to keep me on my toes and on the edge of my seat throughout. It was characteristically well directed by Jeremy Podeswa who has done some of the best episodes, the music was beautiful, and my favourites acted the heck out of some interesting plot developments. Whilst some aspects will be criticised for being fanservice-y (Littlefinger’s death, Jon and Daenerys hooking up), on the whole this was an exciting episode which had me wanting more.
But, as it turns out, we’ll have to wait until bloody 2019 for the next season, so we have quite some time to wait to find out what happens next! I also heard a rumour that each episode will be two hours long next season, which I’m unsure what I think about.
What did you guys think of this episode, or the season as a whole? I know it’s been ages since this episode actually aired, so… search your memories and let me know!