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Welcome to the Game of Thrones Season Seven Megapost. This post will be updated with my thoughts on this season’s Game of Thrones episodes and reactions. Spoilers will be writtem, exit now or cry in a corner.S07E01 Dragonstone
The season opener recapped the events from last season, notably Daenerys’ voyage across the sea after finally gathering her team to retake the throne, Cersei finally being crowned the Queen of Westeros, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark retaking Winterfell, Sam Tarly arriving at The Citadel, and Arya murdering Walder Frey and his sons for the events of The Red Wedding, among other events.
The season opened with Walder Frey inviting everyone back for a second feast, only to realize the wine is poisoned and kills everyone in the room, revealing Walder to be Arya in disguise, effectively wiping out everyone connected with the events of The Red Wedding. She then sets out for King’s Landing to murder Cersei and meets a troop with a guest star appearance by Ed Sheeran.
Bran and Meera finally make it back to The Wall and are retrieved by The Night’s Watch. Recall in the last season he saw the vision that correctly attributed Jon Snow to in fact be the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, whom Eddard took in after her death and lied saying it was his bastard to protect his identity. I expect this plot point to play significantly this season now that Jon and Daenerys are on the same continent.
Lyanna Mormont continues to be one of the current season’s most badass characters, in true bear fashion as she reminds the room she will fight for the north when Jon calls for able-bodied women and girls to train to fight. The threat of The Night King and the undead, the C-plot of last season, is being upgraded to the B-plot of this season behind the usual A-plot of the Westeros war.
Euron Greyjoy makes a grand entrance in front of Cersei, apparently with a full fleet, to help the queen in exchange for her hand in marriage. She refuses, but he claims to offer a gift. I thought this might be Tyrion, since she hated him the most and would want to see his head above all else. It also sets up Euron for a confrontation with Asha and Theon, who stole most of the fleet after his overthrowing of Balon in the last season to become king of the Iron Islands. The one curious point someone noted, was how he raised a fleet so quickly since Asha took most of it with her to link up with Daenerys.
Poor Sam, regulated to being the intern of The Citadel, having to clean up shit and serve shit. But here we find he discovers Dragonglass being below and around Dragonstone, where Stanis’ castle was and where Daenerys is landing now. He gets a message out to Jon before discovering another familiar face among the Maesters.
Finally, Daenerys and Co. land on Dragonstone and begin to plan their assault on Westeros.
It was a good opener, and Arya’s Play of the Game was pretty legendary, putting her ahead on the body count list for the season. The game of Risk is set up now, with all of the major players assuming their spots. Who will win? As long as it isn’t Cersei, I am okay with this. But I get the feeling that Jaime will live up to his name twice and may be the one who ultimately brings down Cersei in the end. But as to who wins the throne, hard to tell.
The episode starts out Cersei warning her bannermen of Daenerys’ landing and impending attack, appealing to their nationalism by reminding them that she brought Dothraki and Unsullied with her army. Meanwhile, Daenerys and Tyrion are planning their attack, and Tyrion cleverly anticipates Cersei’s move and chooses to use Westeros allies to besiege King’s Landing instead, and diverts the Dothraki and Unsullied armies to attack Casterly Rock. Melisandre shows up at Dragonstone and seeks refuge with Daenerys, and implores her to seek Jon Snow as an ally, which Tyrion agrees to. I love how the C-plot to this season is going to be Tyrion and Cersei’s chess battle between their armies, with Tyrion aiming to flex his wit above Cersei’s more raw display of power. Daenerys’ exchange with Varys is a curious one, but correct in assuming the loyalty of someone who has chosen to run from previous loyalty might be misplaced. It might also be an interesting foreshadow to Cersei and Jaime as well.
Apparently each episode this season aims to make people throw up their dinner or desert, when Sam decides he is going to try to perform a risky procedure on Jorah to cure his greyscale, which has advanced to the point of no return according to the maesters.
Jon receives Sam’s message as well as Tyrion’s message, and decides to go meet Daenerys. This, over the objections of everyone especially Sansa, but Jon leaves control of Winterfell to Sansa, and on his way out, has an altercation with Littlefinger whom he puts up against a wall and warns he will kill him if he lays a finger on Sansa. This is the moment fans have been waiting for since Bran’s vision from the last season, when they confirmed the Jon and Daenerys connection. The very book series title A Song of Ice and Fire suggests Jon is ice and Daenerys is fire. But as to what they do together is still a mystery, since Winds of Winter continues to be delayed so George R.R Martin can fap to HBO boobs or whatever.
Arya links up with Hot Pie (still alive and still making pies) where he informs her of how the Boltons have been defeated and Jon is the King of the North. Arya did not seem to be aware of this, and decided to reverse course and go back north. I am curious how she was not aware of this, if only because in her traveling back to Westeros and to the Twins and other destinations she did not somehow run into anyone talking about the conflicts around. I mean, she obviously knew Cersei was queen, implying she knew of the death of Tommen and Margery, how would she not know of the fall of the Boltons as well? I assumed she was aware of that and chose her revenge mission as priority.
The episode closes with Asha and Theon’s fleet, ferrying the Sand Snakes to Sunspear, being attacked by Euron and his new Iron Fleet. Two of the three snakes are killed, and Asha and Ellaria are taken hostage, presumably to be given to Cersei as “the gift” Euron promised. Theon meanwhile proves he is still a blithering coward and jumps overboard rather than attempt to fight Euron who had his axe to Asha’s head. I honestly wish Ramsey had killed Theon, he has been nothing but dead weight, with only minimal character development as Reek. I’m not sure what GRRM has intended for him in the new book, honestly I felt the only reason he was kept around at all was to illustrate the cruelty of Ramsey, but without Ramsey anymore, it’s time for Theon to shine, and Theon PTSD’s off the boat.
A decent second episode, but as Erik Kain of Forbes deep-dives into, there are so many inconsistencies that for avid fans and those who have read the books, it’s becoming harder to reconcile these and maintain suspension of disbelief. Certainly, they are employing a lot of “fast travel” to move characters along the story between episodes, but his bit about why Dany’s fleet didn’t just drop the Snakes off at Sunspear in the beginning instead of going out of their way towards Dragonstone is something odd, and as Kain mentions, GRRM would not be so haphazard in the books to overlook a thing like that. Now, to be fair, the fact he does obsess over every little detail is precisely why the book is being delayed, and why the last two books (split from one) ended up the way they are. He is a dense writer trying to apply a screenwriting pen to a book writing pen. It’s the kind of books made for people who need to know every little detail. The show serves to abstract that and present it streamlined, but now that the show is somewhat on its own, it is taking creative licenses on characters that seem atypical. Dany’s threats to Varys, for example, just make her look bad compared to previous seasons. You might think she is “hardening” and that might be true, but she also is aware of what Varys brings to the table. Varys fortunately plays the part well and also tactfully puts her in her place. So I’ll take that.
As for Euron, the lore of the Iron Islands and the “Ironborn” have always been that they create nothing, they steal, they reap, they pillage, and they sow. So like Kain, I share in that curiosity in how he raised a fleet in so little time after Asha stole most of it during the coup last season. Did they get someone else to do it? Obviously, for the sake of brevity, we’re told he has a fleet willing to serve Cersei for a price. That’s fine, but now it feels like we’re ad-libbing just based on who we think the characters are and not where they are going.
Fast-travel seems to be how we’re moving this season along, and I can’t really say I am a fan of that. The show was done well in previous seasons by pacing them evenly appropriate to the events of the books. Without that last book being out, and assuming they have some pieces of it from the author, this season is running on assumptions, assumptions I am not sure the showrunners have exactly of the characters.
This episode opens with the fated meeting between Daenerys and Jon. Predictably, Jon does not bend the knee, but the sexual frustration in the room could be cut with a knife, because it really just sounded like two children arguing over who gets the front seat of the car ride to Disneyland. Jon looked like he did not want to be there, and Dany didn’t care for anything he had to say. So Tyrion pretty much had to play matchmaker. Varys steps in to inform her that Euron trashed their fleet and captured Yara and two of the four Sand Snakes.
Euron hauls the Snakes back to King’s Landing to face Cersei, and presents them as his gifts to her. She names him the commander of the naval fleet and promises marriage only after they win the war. He trades some vulgar remarks about her with Jaime, and heavily implies he is aware of their relationship both sexually and of the origins of their children, which suggests that what used to be more down-low rumors are starting to expand further. I really want to dislike Euron, but he might be the character this arc of the story needs in terms of raw personality, he literally gives zero fucks, and it’s fantastic. The only problem I continue to have is the between-episode fast travel. I simply cannot fathom how he can be in King’s Landing tossing the Sand Snakes at Cersei’s feet at one moment, and way out west at Casterly Rock sinking Grey Worm’s fleet. I also cannot fathom the size of his fleet considering Yara took the majority of The Iron Fleet with her when Euron killed Balon for the throne. It would be more realistic, and maybe amp up Euron’s character, to have a small fleet of maybe 10-20 ships just be that damn good at naval battles. At least that would be more plausible for me. But, I will wait for GRRM’s take on the naval battles when the book comes out. This is television after all, and the showrunners are looking to streamline this as much as possible in the second-to-last season.
Cersei’s slow torture of Ellaria Sand by poisoning her last daughter and chaining them up both, forcing her to watch her daughter’s death and the body decompose, forced to be alive for it all, is yet another entry in the cruelty of Cersei Lannister. I knew she was going to do something to her for the death of Myrcella, but fuck man, she has pretty much abandoned all humanity at this point, and that is something I think Jaime is concerned about, but continues to go with the motions, including boning her without reservation. Many have speculated on if Cersei will die, and how, and book readers will remember the Witch’s Prophecy, but it is more likely that The Kingslayer will reprise his role, or, barring that, Arya Stark will disguise herself as Jaime and kill Cersei instead. It’s hard to believe Cersei will remain on top throughout all this, especially considering she and Jaime are the last Lannisters in name, and their power base is rapidly shrinking.
Bran returns to Winterfell and tells Sansa he is the three-eyed raven, which confuses her (and us all) but is expressly aware of her time spent in King’s Landing, which troubles her, as does her counsel from Littlefinger, who is positioning himself for something in next week’s episode, the preview showing his blade, Catspaw. Arya is also set to arrive next week, so there may be a confrontation between him and her, considering Sansa is key to his overall plans. I also assume that Bran will eventually divulge his learning of Jon to be a Targaryen and not Eddard Stark’s bastard, though how that will be handled will be interesting. I can’t imagine everyone knowing his true origin would be dissuaded from still backing him against the war to the north, but it could see his title as King of the North given to Bran or Sansa.
Sam’s operation to cure Jorah’s greyscale seems to have worked, with the maester proclaiming him free of the disease. He chastises Sam somewhat for performing the procedure, but praises him for accomplishing what seasoned maesters could not.
Finally, the Unsullied arrive at Casterly Rock to take the Lannisters stronghold only to find that Cersei read Daenerys’ move and shifted the bulk of their army to take Highgarden and capture Olenna Tyrell, and especially their gold to pay back The Iron Bank for debts owed. The Unsullied were successful in infiltrating the castle through Tyrion’s “whore tunnels”, a system of sewer entrances he designed to sneak women in when he lived there. Unfortunately for them, Euron’s navy destroyed their fleets on the water, stranding them without supplies which have been diverted to Jaime’s army towards Highgarden.
Meanwhile, Jaime’s army succeeds in taking Highgarden with ease, and rather than drag Olenna back to King’s Landing to face Cersei, he allows her to die by poison there. She swiftly drinks the poison and gloats to him about her role in Joffery’s death, making her the most badass old woman smugsnaking her way out of the series.
The chess army plays in this season are interesting, but somewhat confusing. The obvious pivot is insisting Cersei is a tactical genius like Tywin, It’s not hard to discern Daenerys’ tactics, given her disposition for trying to build support for her rule. She read correctly that Daenerys was not going to storm King’s Landing and played two steps ahead. Curious though why no support was given to the Tyrells, or why Tyrion thought taking Casterly Rock would be worth anything, he of all people should have known how depleted the Lannisters finances were after The War of the Five Kings. He should have known to back the Tyrells and reinforce Highgarden at minimum with the Dothraki even if he was still to commit the Unsullied to Casterly Rock. Again, these are all things we’re missing out of the show, which doesn’t have the time to explore, but I hope the books will go into more depth over.
The episode opens with the sacking of Highgarden by the Lannister army. Jaime and Bronn load up wagons with all of the gold bound for King’s Landing to pay The Iron Bank. Jaime gives Bronn his cut, and promises him a castle upon winning the war, to which Bronn questions peace under Queen Cersei. In King’s Landing, the Iron Bank praises Cersei for her swift repayment, and offers future loans for armies. She implies that she is looking to hiring The Golden Company to fight for her.
This is an interesting point given the Company’s standing in the books. Aegon Targaryen, the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, was thought to have been murdered along with his parents by Gregor Clegane during Robert’s Rebellion on the night Jaime killed King Aerys II. This slight caused the split between the Lannisters and the Martells. In the books, Tyrion sailed with The Golden Company for a short time and met Jon Connington (Griff) and “Young Griff”. There, he learns that Aegon was swapped by Varys for a commoner’s baby and upon the death of the fake Aegon, Varys smuggled Aegon across the sea and eventually put him in the hands of Jon. By the end of A Dance with Dragons, The Golden Company pledges to Aegon and begins invading Westeros in the Stepstones. No explicit mention is made of joining forces with Daenerys, but considering Aegon is thought to be part of the “three-headed dragon” prophecy, it could be interpreted that he, Daenerys, and Jon Snow (a Targaryen by birth) could complete that prophecy. How Cersei is going to hire The Golden Company, I am not sure, unless they are deliberately ignoring this backstory or will arrive with Jon and Aegon heading the company to realize Daenerys is here and break Cersei’s contract, to which the mantra of The Golden Company is their contracts are “as good as gold”.
Back in Winterfell, Littlefinger gives Bran his dagger, originally planned to kill Bran with. Bran, who continues to shock people with his knowledge of them without his presence, repeats “chaos is a ladder” towards Littlefinger, a quote that he told Varys once. Meanwhile, Arya returns to Winterfell and meets Sansa in the crypt. Later she is seen sparring with Brienne, and shocks her, Sansa, and Littlefinger with her skills learned along her travels. She jokes about “the list” with Sansa, but Bran later reminds her he is aware of her list. Neither of them know what to make of Bran’s all-seeing powers yet.
Jon takes Daenerys into the dragonglass cave to show her the dragonglass, and then show her paintings from millions of years ago depicting The First Men and The Children of the Forest facing The White Walkers. He uses this to continue his appeal to her for her help in defeating the approaching armies of the dead in the north, but she continues to insist he bend the knee for her help. They are interrupted by news of their capture of Casterly Rock, but the fall of Highgarden. Daenerys initially wants to raze King’s Landing with her dragons, but after Jon suggests to her that her reputation would be tarnished in the process, they devise a new strategy.
That strategy sees her, on top of Drogon, and the Dothraki, attacking Jaime’s army on their way back to King’s Landing from Highgarden. Drogon razes the middle of their defense line, allowing the Dothraki to pour through the middle and cut down most of the army. Daenerys then circles around and razes their food supplies, which fell behind of their money wagons which reached King’s Landing sooner. Jaime attempted to counterattack with conventional arrows, but failing that, Bronn brought out the Scorpion crossbow and shot one bolt, which missed, but buried the second bolt in Drogon’s shoulder. When Drogon landed and Daenerys tried to remove the bolt, Jaime attempted to attack her, only to be narrowly barbecued by Drogon, saved by Bronn.
It was a good episode, certainly a good land battle as opposed to the sea battles highlighted this season with Euron’s fleet. It also was the first real use of Daenerys’ dragons in battle. But not to allow complete superiority, the presence of the Scorpion means Daenerys is going to have to either use her dragons sparingly, or commit ground forces to destroying them at top priority before flying. Regardless, I don’t think they prove to be particularly useful considering she was able to raze most of Jaime’s army and their supply line before taking the bolt, and they would need to land a lucky head strike to permanently put one down. The fact just one of her dragons could inflict that much damage calls into question how effectively three will be in battle. I’m also curious to see how they fare against Euron’s fleet on the water.
With three episodes left this season, it’s hard to tell what they’re going to end this year with. Presumably, it will probably end with a confrontation with the Night Army, setting the stage for that showdown in the final season. But as far as Westeros is concerned, I am still hedging my bets on Cersei being the major cast member to depart this season, either by Jaime, Arya, or maybe Daenerys or Jon Snow. Jaime is the most likely for me, because even though he still cares for her, he distrusts her. The show is setting things up for a DanyxJon power play, especially if Jon does not manage to get back to Winterfell before the battle in the north begins. It’s hard to really tell at this point, just about anything goes without books to fall back on.
Jaime and Bronn emerged from the water after a near-death run with Daenerys’ dragon, and Jaime begins to have second (or third) thoughts about this war, suggesting that if Daenerys were to commit all three dragons to the war, they would not win easily.
Meanwhile, Daenerys rounds up the remaining soldiers and gives them a choice, either bend the knee, or perish. Some begin to bend the knee, but Randyll and Dickon Tarly refuse, and although Tyrion tries to spare their lives by suggesting they go to The Wall, Randyll remarks that he cannot take the black from the illegitimate queen and chooses death. Drogon lights both of them up, reducing them to ash, and the rest of the soldiers immediately bend the knee to Daenerys. Honestly, this is not going to bode well for Dany’s character, and I think that is rather the point. Dany’s character throughout most of the books and show has been a counter to her brother, Dracarys, who embodied the spirit of “The Mad King”, wanting to take back Westeros at any cost. Her experiences led her down a different path, choosing to free people and to create a world free from strife. But after suffering so many setbacks, morally and physically, she is slowly sliding down the madness hole that seems to be the Targaryen legacy. However, she does realize that in order for anyone to take her seriously as a leader or a threat, she has to carry through with her orders. The immolation of the Tarlys was enough to spurn the other captured soldiers to bend the knee.
Meanwhile at Winterfell, Bran flexs his warg powers and sends a flock of ravens north beyond the wall to track the army of the dead’s whereabouts. Fairly certain the Night King was aware of his recon, he asks that ravens be dispatched all over the kingdoms to warn of the impending invasion. Elsewhere in the castle, Arya tails Littlefinger around the castle spying on his activities, until he is given a scroll that he locks away. She picks this lock to his door and find the scroll, which turns out to be the scroll Sansa had been forced to write by Cersei to persuade Robb and the others to bend the knee to Joffery before the The War of the Five Kings. She quickly leaves, but not before showing Littlefinger in the shadows reading her moves. Honestly, this is probably the most interesting part of the episode and perfect for a lull in-between action episodes, because Arya is the current fan-favorite, and certainly where I place my bets versus Littlefinger, whom I’ve wanted gone since the beginning. But the problem is he is very sly and cunning, and has been doing this a little longer than Arya, so I expect her to fall into some trap of his. But, I think she’ll be able to get herself out of the trap easily, and in fact, I imagine she will utilize her face-changing abilities to probably fool or even kill Littlefinger, but probably not before she exposes him and his intentions before Sansa. Bonus points if she kills him as Sansa.
At the Citadel, Sam overhears the maesters talking about Bran’s note, and tries to convince them to take it seriously and warn the rest of Westeros about the threat, but none of them are very interested. He is unaware of the death of his father and brother, to which they were aware of but felt it not right to inform him. Later that evening, Gilly is reading from the book he is trying to copy down in which she inadvertently reads out loud how Rhaegar Targaryen divorced and remarried, presumably to Lyanna Stark. But unaware of Bran’s vision, Sam instead became frustrated with not making progress at the Citadel, and instead took as many scrolls and books with him as he could, packed Gilly and her son up, and began their trip back north to Winterfell. Poor Sam. In the books, his relationship with his father was strained, as Randyll tried to make him an honorable heir to the Tarly name, but Sam was more interested in becoming a maester and studying the world than the sword. He was exiled from his family to Castle Black after Dickon was born so as to make Dickon the legitimate heir. Now being the only Tarly left, and his abandoning both The Night’s Watch and The Citadel, I am curious to see if he will go back to reclaim his house upon learning of his father and brother’s fate. Certainly, with his accomplishments in the Watch and involvement in the dragonglass, he may be able to re-inherit his titles and assume lordship of his house. I rather hope he does, because he deserves it for all the effort he has done to possibly save Westeros from The Night King.
Back at Dragonstone, Daenerys and Drogon land, and surprisingly, Drogon allows Jon Snow to pet him. Jorah Mormont makes his return to Daenerys’ service, and Varys and Tyrion lament over the deaths of the Tarlys and wonder how they can reign in their queen from impulsive acts that would tarnish her reputation. Later on in a meeting, they discuss how they might prove the army of the dead’s existence to Cersei and others, and Tyrion suggests capturing one and bringing them south to show everyone, possibly motivating them to come together to fight the Night King. Jorah volunteers to accompany Jon back to Eastwatch.
At King’s Landing, Bronn arranges a meeting between Tyrion and Jaime for Tyrion to appeal to Jaime and Cersei to consider the dead army. Sir Davos meanwhile seeks out Gendry, who willingly decides to leave King’s Landing with him. As the three are leaving, two guards appear. Davos almost gets them to leave peacefully, but they encounter Tyrion on his way back and Gendry is forced to bludgeon them to death. Elsewhere, Cersei reveals she is pregnant again, presumably with Jaime once more. Jaime is suspicious of her meeting with Qyburn over matters she will not discuss with him. The story of Cersei is a perplexing one right now, because I cannot tell if she is interested in razing the world, or preserving her throne, and relationship with Jaime. Either way, with Qyburn involved, you can bet nothing good will come from it, and I am curious to see how this undead presentation will unfold.
Finally, at Eastwatch, Jon, Davos, Gendry, and Jorah arrive and discuss their plans with Tormund. They all agree to embark on this expedition north minus Davos, but find The Brotherhood without Borders and the Hound in the cells below, who also want to go north to find this dead army. So the crew sets off from the gate north towards the army of the dead to attempt capture of one. It’s like the snow glacier part in FF7, they’re basically seeking out Sephiroth and the Reunion.
With two episodes left this season, and the focus shifting back to The Night Army, I imagine that we’re not going to see much in the way of major conflicts happen in Westeros, although we might see Euron’s fleet maybe one more time, probably fighting for Casterdly Rock with Greyworm. The internal politics in Winterfell will certainly continue to be a focus, as Littlefinger no doubt is probably trying to shitstir to either pivot himself into Sansa’s graces, or pivot Sansa out in some way. Arya will no doubt be the one to confront him, and with any luck, eliminate him this season. Regardless, next week will probably focus mostly on our intrepid snow party, as we nervously hope they all don’t roll critical failures against The Night King.
As most of this episode concerns Jon and Company north of the wall, I am going to highlight the non-beyond-the-wall parts that occurred in-between scenes and then cover that entire segment.
In Winterfell, Arya confronts Sansa over the note she had sent pleading for their father to come to King’s Landing and swear fealty to Joffery. Arya suggests their father would still be alive had she not penned that letter, but Sansa insists she was coerced into doing so by Cersei. Arya then suggests that if word were to spread about this note to the other northern lords, it would destabilize Sansa’s hold on Winterfell and possibly impact Jon’s position as King of the North. Arya withholds for now, but later on, Sansa sneaks into her room and finds her many faces she had, including one of Walder Frey. Arya enters and tells her how she acquired those faces, threatening to take Sansa’s face, but does not, leaving the room after giving Sansa her blade. Honestly, I don’t like this development, and I don’t like it because while the two have historically not really liked each other (Sansa wanting to be a highborn princess and Arya wanting to be a common footsoldier) it’s difficult to really pick back up that animosity after so long, and I have to assume deep down that both of them understand the other has gone through significant hardship, which they did touch on briefly in their exchange, but I feel they need more time to really hug this one out. Because Littlefinger is pulling the strings, and fuck all if he is allowed to do something worse here, I really, really want to see him gone by either Arya or Sansa’s blade. Both of them really need to consult Bran and have him confirm their backstories, both to understand each other, and understand Bran’s abilities.
At Dragonstone, Daenerys has her doubts about this meeting with Cersei and Jaime, believing it to be a trap. Tyrion tries to tell her he believes Jaime’s word, but that isn’t much for her to go on. She mentions how her dragons are her children, as she believes she is unable to have any children per the word of the Dothraki prophecy. Tyrion asks how that will impact naming her successor to the throne, to which she replied she will revisit that topic when she has the throne, briefly accusing him of plotting to overthrow her, or allow the Lannisters to. There has been a lot of back-and-forth to the prophecy that she cannot have children again, after events earlier in the series, but many believe that to only be the case for Dothraki, that she would be fine with a Westerosi male. Another theory is that considering Jon is the true heir, being the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, she will not end up on the throne in the end, although considering the Targaryens’ penchant for marrying/procreating amongst family members, she might wind up with Jon and somehow produce an heir.
Now for the events beyond-the-wall.
In the opening, we see the party making their way towards the area Sandor forsaw in his fire vision. Along the way, Jon tries to give Jorah Longclaw back, as it belonged to his family, but Jorah refused, saying that he had disgraced his family and felt that if his father had passed it on to Jon, that he should keep it out of obligation.
Before long, a snowstorm begins to swirl around them and a large bear attacks the party, mortally wounding Thoros before the bear is defeated. Soon after, the party comes across a small group of wights walking in a narrow pass leading out to a frozen sea. They ambush the group, and Jon kills the White Walker, causing all but one wight to fall apart. They proceed to take that wight and make their way back to the wall, but the screeches of the wight alerts the main forces, led by the White Walkers we’ve been seeing all series, to their location. They surround the party on a large rock in the center of the frozen lake, causing a long standoff. Prior, Jon sent Gendry back to the wall to send a raven to Daenerys, hoping for some sort of aid. Thoros does not survive, freezing to death. Then Sandor, being his usual self, provokes of the wights by throwing rocks at them, only to find out that his last rock slides across the previously-cracked ice has refrozen, and the wights take that opportunity to attack. The party holds off waves of wights, but before the battle could be lost, Daenerys and her three dragons come in and burn large swaths of wights as they evacuate the party. But before they could escape, one of the White Walkers throws an ice javelin, killing Viserion, who falls into the ice and slips beneath the water. Daenerys, the party, and her other dragon escape, but are unable to save Jon as he is pulled into the water. Later, Jon gets out of the frozen water, but is barelt able to stand. He is saved by Benjen Stark, who is somehow still alive, but puts Jon on a horse back to the wall and sacrifices himself to ensure Jon’s escape.
The horse reaches Eastwatch and Jon is retrieved, and everyone is back on a boat for Dragonstone. Jon eventually wakes up to Daenerys by his bedside, to which he apologizes for the loss of one of her dragons, and swears fealty to her claim to the Iron Throne, and says he will find a way to convince the northern lords to accept her.
Meanwhile, the lead White Walker has the wights haul Viserion up from the lake, and re-animates the dead dragon into an undead Dragon-Walker as the episode ends.
The AV Club’s Experts review of this episode pretty much summarizes most of my issues with this episode from a storytelling and pacing aspect. Obviously the highlight of this episode was to stage a big mini-battle between Jon and Company, the white walkers and wights, and Daenerys’ dragons. Only, it was so painfully obvious what was going to happen, you didn’t need the HBO Spain leaks to see what was going to happen. Send a raven to Dany, Dany comes in with three dragons, and one of them gets killed and re-animated. Even for those unfamiliar with the book series who knew about the previous Westeros encounters with the undead army, undead dragons were a thing, so it wasn’t far-fetched for us book readers to assume that when Dany brought her dragons in, one of them was going to be taken down. I will admit, however, that considering one Scorpion bolt was not enough to take down a dragon, an ice javelin does not seem like it would be able to really do as much damage as it did.
This is where the show’s deviation from the books really hits a major snag, the books, and especially its companion material, go over Westeros’ past with magic and supernatural powers, enough for the reader to understand that there may be forces capable of bringing down a large creature like a fire-breating dragon. The show has largely stayed absent from this, delving into the subject only enough to explain Bran’s warg powers. So most viewers will be shocked and dismayed by the downing of a dragon because they’ve used to conventional weaponry not being able to.
But apart from the dragons, we continue to have a geographical issue and speed of travel disbelief. The pacing of the first half of the show suggests that our party had to travel at least a night or two’s distance to get to where they were. But then when Gendry is sent back to get a raven to Daenerys, he appears to have reached the wall within hours. Why wouldn’t everyone just make a break for it, or split into two groups accounting for the captured wight? Second, once that raven gets to Dany, for her to dispatch her dragons from Dragonstone, which is far south, how was she getting to the north in record time to save the day narrowly? Now granted, it appeared from the sleep shifts that they did stalemate on the rock surrounded by the undead army for at least a night, or say, eight hours, but that is still a pretty short time frame for A: Gendry to make it back B: A raven to get to Dragonstone and C: Dragons to get to beyond the wall. Serious fast-travel issues. If this was the pacing set from the very start, I doubt anyone could complain because it would just be explained as “Well we’re editing time for brevity and television” and that’s fine, but the show has done so well at pacing itself out in six seasons that to get to season seven and all the sudden RAMMING SPEED just disorients us all.
But stepping back from production issues, the party succeeded in capturing a wight at a tremendous cost, but it remains to be seen if that dragon remains under the white walkers’ control, or if Dany can somehow bring it back under her control. Presumably, the only way a walker can control someone is when they’re dead, but we don’t know the extent of that, so it’s a tossup. Still, two dragons is more than a show of force against Cersei and Co., but now that Daenerys has seen the undead threat, it’s up to all of them to be able to sell the Westeros’ kingdoms on the real threat coming from the north. I have my doubts on how all of this will work, but I think the season finale will set us up for a season eight showdown between Westeros and the undead armies.
Jon and Dany’s relationship, eh. It’s forced, and I can’t help but feel it’s going to be forced not only to please GoT fans on Tumblr, but also to give Jon something to fight for after his title of King of the North is relinquished. His plot armor has depended thus far on being a strong fighter and well-liked, but he is a terrible leader, continuously leading people into botched battles. Hopefully Winterfell will be given to Sansa proper and Jon will command their army, which is something I think the northern lords will accept, and Lyanna Mormont will have to square off with Dany for Jon’s affections.
How is the season finale going to end? Good question. I am betting on the big meeting either being crashed by someone (like Euron) or someone being assassinated. Season eight is either going to be a Westeros versus Undead war, or it’s going to be a two-front Westeros war while the undead steamroll over Winterfell. I dunno. But I am still holding out for Arya doing away with Littlefinger before this season ends.
In the final episode of the season, the big meeting in King’s Landing occurs between Cersei and Daenerys, as Jon and Co. bring in the captured wight and let it loose on a chain, where it lunges after Cersei before being reeled back, cleaved in half, and killed by fire and dragonglass as various people inspect it. Euron insists he is legit scared of it and vows to take the fleet home to The Iron Islands, after taunting Theon over the fate of Yara. Maester Pycelle inspects the wight’s hand, but makes no comments. Cersei then agrees to the truce and the commitment to sending forces to help, but only if Jon, as King of Winterfell, agrees to remain neutral between The Crown and Daenerys. Jon unfortunately informs Cersei he has pledged to House Targaryen. Cersei declares the deal dead and walks away. However, Tyrion makes a last-ditch effort risking his life to meet Cersei one-on-one and tries to negotiate a compromise.
Here, Tyrion tries to plea that despite his killing their mother and father, accidentally and deliberately, he tries to appeal to what little humanity or emotion Cersei has left for the good of all people, before realizing for himself she is pregnant. Presumably, off-screen, he is successful at appealing to her sense of family and safety as she returns to everyone else and agrees to a temporary truce and mutual aid to defend the north from the undead threat.
Back in Winterfell, Littlefinger attempts to persuade Sansa to confront Arya about Arya’s suspicions regarding her regent role and the various events that have led to now. She seems receptive to his deceptive line of thinking, and he believes she has come to his same conclusions that Arya is plotting a takeover of the family. Later, she calls Arya to the Great Hall and appears to confront her, but by surprise, names Littlefinger as the accused. With Bran by her side, who recounts the words Littlefinger used before betraying Ned Stark, she accuses him of the various crimes, including the poisoning and murder of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King to Robert Barathon, as the event that began the conflicts for The Iron Throne. Rather than dispute it, he attempted to leave, and then dropped to his knees begging for forgiveness, before being executed swiftly by Arya holding his dagger Catspaw.
Meanwhile, back in King’s Landing, Cersei reveals to Jaime as he is preparing to ride north that she lied about committing Lannister armies towards the north, saying she actually sent Euron east to Essos to bring The Golden Company back, and that she intends to fight whomever wins up north, be it the undead, or Jon and Daenerys. Jaime objects to this, believing the threat in the north is real and having gave his word they would assist. She threats Ser Gregor on him, to which Jaime rebukes her bluff and walks away.
Back in Winterfell, Sam Tarly arrives and speaks with Bran, where Bran informs him of Jon’s true identity, as Jon Sand, Sand being the surname given to bastards born in Dorne. However Sam fills in Bran’s missing link by informing him of the excerpt read from the maester who secretly annulled and remarried Rhaegar Targaryen to Lyanna Stark. Bran used his warg powers to go back and see that event in real time, and learned Jon’s real name is Aegon Targaryen, the legitimate heir to The Iron Throne. As this is being told on screen, Jon and Daenerys, on a boat back north, have sex in her cabin as Tyrion laments to himself outside the door having seen Jon walk in.
Finally, at The Wall in Eastwatch, the army of the dead arrives, and The Night King, riding the Undead Viserion, uses his blue flame to completely obliterate the wall and allow the army to flood into Westeros, ending the season.
In terms of a final episode, it wasn’t bad. Certainly, it wasn’t flashy as the battles we’ve seen this season, but for a season that felt incredibly rushed to set up the final season’s war with the undead, the last episode took care to slow down and sort of explain some of the things we should have probably knew earlier in the season, like Cersei’s true motives with The Golden Company, Bran and Sam cracking the case of Jon’s true lineage, and Littlefinger’s fate. By the way, the setup for accusing Littlefinger, very well-played misdirection both in and out of universe. The producers hinted at Sansa being “hated” this season, but far from it, they intentionally played her character as the shady quasi-evil one so that together, her and Arya could bait out Littlefinger and have Bran seal the deal. Only problem is, how do you explain Bran? They did not have a scene beforehand where Sansa and Arya sat down with Bran and unpacked his warg powers, implying that occurred off-screen. Because that level of trust would have to be implied for Bran to be able to correctly assert Littlefinger into a corner. Honestly, I am surprised Littlefinger fell so easily. Here you have a man that has survived countless conflicts and knives to his throat literally and metaphorically felled by no one, literally and metaphorically. I almost assumed Arya was going to use her abilities to seduce Littlefinger somehow, as Sansa, and backstab him eventually as Arya. But apparently it was far less interesting than that.
As for the big meeting, I didn’t think anything large-scale was going to happen, other than Dany’s grand entrance. No mention of losing Viserion was made or the expedition north, which I figured was calculated to not reveal the loss of the dragon, but sooner or later they’re going to realize that the undead have one on their side. Cersei continues to be Cersei, but I am amazed at how Tyrion risked himself to appeal to her, and how Jaime finally got his golden balls back and told her off, even in the face of The Mountain. This sets up Jaime to be part of the wider prophecy explained in the books and featured on the show. I’ve always interpreted her death in the prophecy to be at the hands of Jaime, not only because of his title as Kingslayer, but because he would be the one to likely mercy kill Cersei either to save the kingdom from her, or save her from herself. Duty and obligation has seen him ignore her actions thus far, but apparently lying and deceit this time went too far. The books go into better detail, but for the show’s sake, his disillusionment of the world began when he was captured by Robb Stark, but really manifested itself during his journey back with Brienne, and confronting Olenna Tyrell. He began to see how the game was played from outside the soldier’s perspective, and he began to fear it, as he did when Aerys was king before.
Then there is Bran and Sam coming up with Jon being Aegon. This doesn’t shock many, considering we had the signs from the start, but in the books there was already an Aegon that was sailing west with The Golden Company to challenge The Iron Throne. So either there are two named Aegons, or one of them is not the true Aegon. Then, of course, Jon goes and bones Dany, and everyone probably turned away and said “Gross, the nephew is boning his aunt.” even though that’s par for the course in the Targaryen family. It will be interesting to see how they both understand this when they get back to Winterfell and Bran and Sam make the reveal, if they choose to. By lineage, this makes Jon the heir to the throne, not Dany, so she will probably not take this news particularly well.
Finally, the undead dragon broke the wall, and the war against the undead has officially begun. This makes season eight, the final season, pretty much all about the war north. As my wife asks, however, what are they going to do about the throne? Chances are, that series-long question will be left open-ended. I do believe Cersei will end up dying, but I am putting odds on either Jon (Aegon) or Dany becoming the next ruler only to dissolve the seat and either return power to the individual kingdoms, or attempt to free everyone. It would be within Dany’s character to do so, and Jon wouldn’t object. The other arc is, in true Targaryen fashion, Jon and Dany become King and Queen of Westeros and re-establish the Targaryen dynasty, promising peace and prosperity, perhaps even a stronger connection to Essos. This is, of course, assuming the show just doesn’t Tomino-end with everyone dying and the undead setting themselves up for The Walking Dead of Thrones spinoff show.
All in all, great season, great fights, but again, it felt rushed, forced, and in need of a 1000-page detailed guidebook. So, you know, George, any day now.