Need to refresh your Dornish wine? Check out the Episode 7, Part 1 recap here.
I never got around to writing a recap for the final episode, if only because S07E06’s Beyond the Wall was such an insane thrill ride, I ran out of gas. If they’d ended the season there, it would’ve worked just as well, which makes S07E07’s The Dragon and the Wolf a bit anti-climactic. With a runtime of 1:20 it’s frankly bloated. The fun stuff begins in the second half, so that tiny spoiler aside, let’s jump in feet first, shall we?
Deep in the dim, cold halls of Winterfell, Sansa and Littlefinger brood over Jon’s raven telegram.
“He’s bent the knee,” says Sansa darkly.
“An alliance makes sense,” replies Littlefinger. Unable to resist the urge to twist the knife further in, he goes on to imply that Jon may have been swayed by the beauty of the Dragon Queen and suggest that he be dethroned. When Sansa objects, saying Arya would never stand for it, he tries to turn sister against sister. Maybe it’s the amount of time he’s spent in the frozen North, but this attempt to incept the idea of Arya as Lady of Winterfell is ridiculous, especially to Sansa, who knows that being the lady of a castle is the last thing Arya would ever want. Whatever failures Littlefinger has, he’s always been the master of discretion, but this attempt to manipulate Sansa seems obvious and ham-handed. Still, she says nothing, preferring to keep her own counsel. Here’s hoping she won’t get manipulated into a Stark vs. Stark showdown.
Also debating strategies, Daenerys and co. are back at Dragonstone, mapping out their itinerary to Winterfell and beyond. Ser Jorah suggests that she fly, Jon insists that she float. “I think it sends a better message,” he says. Dany agrees.
I’m skipping over the part where Theon approaches Jon have a heart to heart about divided loyalties and wanting to be the best version of himself, because it’s boring and necessary only for Theon to get permission to rescue his sister Yara. I don’t know about you, but anything involving the Greyjoys just seems boring and unnecessary, and if this is supposed to be the turning point for Theon, hooray, I don’t care. He’s still a despicable louse except now he’s a eunuch with sad puppy eyes.
Speaking of someone who used to have sad puppy eyes, Sansa is on the ramparts of Winterfell, looking grim and having a moment. As if she’s suddenly come to a decision, she turns to a guard, and commands that her sister be brought to her in the Great Hall, and strides off looking all imperious and cloaky. Cloaky is not a word, but I like it and I’m keeping it.
Arya walks nonchalantly into the Great Hall, where everyone is lined up with their helms and staves looking all foreboding and stuff. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asks Sansa, presiding with Bran at her side.
“It’s what honor demands,” says Sansa.
“Get on with it then,” replies her sister, looking for all the world like she doesn’t care what happens, one way or another, which is great because none of us could have foreseen what’s coming next.
The smarmy Littlefinger is finally put on the spot, as Sansa lists a litany of his crimes in front of all and sundry and he is exposed as the author of the conflict between Stark and Lannister and the reason everyone is at each other’s throats by virtue of being a meddling troublemaker. He denies it, of course. “None of you were there to see what happened!” he protests. “None of you know the truth!”
Bran, finally proving his usefulness this season, calmly shuts him down with a blow by blow description of what actually happened. Brandon Stark, CCTV!
Littlefinger pleads for his life, but the student has become the master, and he’s up against the Starks, united once more. No one steps up to save him, and as he kneels, defeated, Arya calmly walks up to him and slits Littlefinger’s throat with the same dagger he used to pit the ruling houses against each other.
Sansa in particular seems destined to provide us with the satisfaction of seeing the worst characters on Game of Thrones die. We see them die through her eyes, whether she was directly or indirectly responsible for it. It was a jewel from her necklace that killed Joffrey, she fed Ramsay Bolton to his own dogs, and she watches calmly as Littlefinger dies on the stones of the Great Hall of Winterfells choking on his own blood.
I love the sibling dynamic in this particular scene, with the Stark children united in positions of power, especially after everything that’s happened to them in the past seasons. It’s a show where no one is ever safe, but for now we at least get to enjoy the thrill of seeing Sansa, Bran and Arya as victors rather than victims for once.
Further south, another sibling dynamic is on full display, as the Lannister twins discuss the expedition north and Cersei reveals the extent of her duplicity in the face of Jamie’s disbelief at her refusal to send their troops north.
“I’ll say whatever I need to say to ensure the survival of our house,” she spits.
“This isn’t about noble houses,” Jamie says, trying to pull his sister back from the dark side. “This is about the living and the dead.”
But it’s too late and his pleas fall on deaf ears.
“Let the monsters kill each other,” says Cersei, tone-deaf and as blind to her own monstrosity as ever.
Disgusted by his sister’s selfishness, Jamie leaves to honour his promises and the rift between the Lannister twins is complete. Littlefinger didn’t even have to do a thing! I do wonder what Cersei’s mention of the Golden Company means for Season 8 – will we get to see Dario Nahaaris again?
That’s a possible reunion, though. For now, let’s focus on the actual reunion, as Samwell Tarly, arrives at Winterfell as the snow starts to fall in earnest, stolen books from Oldtown in tow, and meets the boy he once helped past The Wall eons ago.
They make small talk, which is pretty much blah blah blah until the segue into the origins of Jon Snow, who is busy rolling around naked with Daenerys as Bran and Sam go over his ancestry in a voiceover that turns the lovefest into something far creepier.
As reveals go, it’s not as big a reveal as it is supposed to be, since anyone who’s anyone presumably has access to the internet, which has been buzzing about the R + L = J equation for years. Anyway, we finally get to see Rhaegar Targaryen, and meh. Based off the books, I’d visualized a handsome, brooding prince with long, straight white blonde hair, not some guy wearing the janky, cast-off wig of Viserys Targaryen. Also, we finally learn Jon’s real name. Not Jahaerys, which was bandied about by the internet grapevine, but Aegon Targaryen.
There are a few big takeaways here, of course.
As Rhaegar Targaryen’s legitimate son, Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne is stronger than Dany’s, who’s unused to sharing power. How will she take the news?
With Littlefinger dead, will Tyrion inherit the mantle of keenest conniver in Westeros? Having him lurk beneath the steps as he watches Jon enter Dany’s quarters does not seem to bode well for anyone.
Finally, it’s been seven years of Jon Snow, are we using Aegon next season? Aejon? Jaegon Starkgaryen?
It would’ve been fine to end the episode – and the season – on this suitable note, but they’re not done with us yet. So off we go, northward where the Stark sisters stare over a vast expanse of snowy landscape remembering their father, and even further north, to Eastwatch, where our beloved Tormund Giantsbane mans the lookout, Beric Dondarrion beside him.
And then the horn sounds. One blast for returning rangers. Two blasts for wildlings. Three blasts for the Others. As the third blast fades, Tormund and Beric stare at the full strength of the Army of the Dead, but any relief they may have had in the relative safety of the wall is short-lived. Out of the clouds sweeps the Night King astride a resurrected Viserion, breathing flames of blue.
Eastwatch falls, Tormund and Beric with it. Their fate is an unanswered question, but small potatoes compared to what could possibly be in store as the undead surge through the breach. The Night King has a dragon and an army that never dies. Winter has finally, finally come for Westeros.