What’s the word for ‘dracarys’ in White Walker? Because I’ve got a feeling we’re gonna be hearing a whole lot more of that round these parts next season…
Spoiler Note: This is our book reader’s recap, intended for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section may contain spoilers from the novels, whether or not that material has appeared on the show yet. Because no, we are not all Unsullied now. If you have not read the books yet, we encourage you to check out our non-book-reader recap, by Oz of Thrones!
A hearty hello again to all of Sue’s weekly readers! Our fearless leader is taking the finale night off. I, however, am here to collect my thoughts and impart them with all of you. Anyway, enough chatter – How did the meeting go between the dragon and the wolf (and the lion)?
This is a unique thing, GOT fans. It has been tradition for the last 7 seasons to bounce around from plot to plot when reviewing the show, as the larger narrative has always been composed of smaller parts. But here, all those smaller parts coalesced into a made-for-TV movie. I mean, HBO does this multiple times throughout the year, so they’re basically pros at this point! With minor exception to the goings on in Winterfell (more on that later), this episode can be largely summarized with a very brief synopsis: ‘A bunch of people get to together to decide the best way to ensure the survival of the human race; disagreement ensues.’ And the theme that I found most eminent throughout the riveting finale was the dichotomous loyalties many of our characters confronted, and the paths they ultimately chose.
The prelude to the meeting in the Dragon Pit was just delicious. Tyrion and Bronn finally get the reunion we craved several episodes ago but didn’t receive. Bronn, whose ‘cock jokes’ kicked off the episode in smashing form can’t help but smile when he and Tyrion are back at it. Bronn is a man who’s always followed the gold, but has also forged friendships along the way – Formerly to Tyrion, but more recently to Jaime. Should Jaime and Tyrion ultimately ally to the same side (which from the looks of it appears to be rather likely), Bronn may yet emerge richer than ever and with both of his friends in tow. For now? Seems like he and Pod never returned from the brothel to which I assume they journeyed. I pine for the spinoff of ‘The Sellsword and the Squire.’
Meanwhile, Brienne and The Hound, in a brief but revelatory reunion appear to have a shared fondness for Arya. To see how truly proud the Hound is of the woman Arya has become brings as much a smile to my face as it brings a dry smirk to his. I’m so happy David and Dan found an authentic way to reunite these two characters! Brienne is inspired, having found a young woman in whom she can finally see herself, and Sandor is, well, bemused, to hear that the pseudo-daughter he fostered for a season and a half is coming into her own. Who cares about Cleganebowl hype? I want a Hound/Arya reunion next!
As the dust balls roll past, and the entire Game of Thrones casts sits and plays 2048 on their phones, Daenerys decides to arrive when she sees fit, giving everyone an entrance as befitting the one true queen. Talk ensues as to the best way forward, and when it appears that the conversation has at last reached an impasse, The Hound gets his backpack from his locker to present his show and tell for the class. His parents didn’t teach him very good manners, as instead of the usual book, or perhaps stuffed animal, he’s brought an undead monster. The slow but deliberate lead up had me on the very edge of my seat, leading me to believe that the wight was either playing dead or that the plan was just not going to work. But then it lunged at Cersei and the tension ratcheted right back up.
After Cersei’s heartbeat settles back down, she is first presented with her question of loyalties – is it to family or to country? She’s nothing if not a Lannister to the end. Siding with the Targaryen/Stark alliance would be to her a betrayal of everything she’s worked towards since ascending to the queendom. Instead of outright deciding, she cedes the microphone to Jon and asks him to recuse himself from allegiance to either queen. Jon, ever the spitting image of loyalty that
his father Ned represented, will not make a promise that he knows he cannot keep, and promises that after the ‘Great War’ he will continue to pledge fealty to Daenerys. His loyalty wasn’t too hard to choose.
With Cersei ultimately choosing her family over that survival of humanity, Brienne pleads to the only Lannister with whom she has any relationship, and besieges Jaime to “Fuck loyalty. This goes beyond houses and honor and oaths. Talk to the queen.” They each face a crossroad here. Brienne has gotten a gold star for loyalty to the multitudes of people to whom she has pledged allegiance, but she comes to her senses quickly, and knows that loyalty doesn’t matter if there’s no one left to whom she is able to be loyal. Jaime, meanwhile, is unable to remove himself from Cersei’s ‘warm’ embrace…for now.
Cersei’s stubbornness and unwillingness to align to save humanity prompts Tyrion to risk his life by facing Cersei alone in the first of two Cersei-centric scenes that damn near gave me a heart attack. Note how Cersei now sits in Tywin’s chair…He has been long absent from the show, but his presence hovered all over this episode, as the strained Lannister tensions unravel slowly but surely. As Cersei and Tyrion exchanged grievances and regrets, I got increasingly more nervous – could Cersei actually kill Tyrion? I didn’t think so, but there was a moment there where I really held my breath. So does he, clearly, by the look on his face before he went and chugged himself a cup of wine, thereby signaling further to Cersei that he is not trying to pull a fast one on her by poisoning her or something sneaky. He begs her to rethink her decision, pulling every skeleton out of each of their closets along the way, and recapping half their storylines as they go; I loved every damn minute of it.
Later, with battle plans for the northern alliance underway, Cersei sticks a knife in Jaime’s heart when he realizes she withheld crucial information from him in favor of another man’s confidence. This was the other pulse-pounding scene to which I was referring. Jaime is completely blindsided by this news, and for the second time this episode, I genuinely feared for the life of a male Lannister. Her ruthlessness is terrifying, and if anything was up in the air for Cersei earlier, her allegiance is made frightfully clear here. Euron’s cowardice earlier was all a ruse, and he’s off wooing the Golden Company with all the wealth of Highgarden. Jaime’s fear at what his sister has become is palpable, and it shows. His journey towards redemption has been an ongoing struggle since season 3, and his commitment to following through with his promise is an attempt to be as noble as Jon was, and Ned before him. I got a chill as Jaime rode north, and from the looks of winter, so did he. I believe this was a subtle nod to Jaime’s final chapter in A Feast for Crows, when Jaime considers Cersei’s plea for help, as a single snowflake falls, before tossing her letter in the fire. In both, winter’s arrival signifies Jaime’s decision about whether to or not to ally. Winter has come at last, and like Jaime, we are here to witness it firsthand.
Meanwhile, in a classic case of torn alliance, and the sequence that sold me on the definite theme of the episode was Theon’s identity crisis experiencing full tilt. Look, Theon has been through more than anyone can comprehend. Simply reaching out for help has got to be one of the hardest things he’s ever done. Just think for a second about how big a step asking your foster brother whose family you attempted to murder for advice would be for you…now imagine how hard it would be for Theon when taking into consideration the rest of the living hell he has endured. Jon convinces Theon that he doesn’t have to choose between Stark and Greyjoy – he is as much one as he is the other. This sends him to confront his remaining Greyjoy armada and assert himself as their true ironborn leader. Not having anything dangling between his legs gives him the surprise upper edge in the fistfight, and he impresses the lads so much they agree to go with him to rescue Yara. Anyone else note the parallels to the season 3 finale when Yara gathered the troops to go rescue Theon from Ramsay? GOT is coming full circle…
Moving north to Winterfell, there was a lot of work to do to make up for whatever nonsense had befallen Arya and Sansa these past several episodes, so color me incredibly surprised and happy that they are no longer needlessly at each others’ throats. Littlefinger deliciously plays into the theme of the episode, in that he’s been straddling the lines of different loyalties for years. In a scene that’s leading us to believe that Arya is being led to trial, Sansa uses the hallmarks of dramatic twist, and turns the smug look on Baelish’s face into a big ‘ol frown. His little showman routine reminds me of my college acting teacher’s routine, where she’d hold a dodgeball in her hand, and we had to beg for the ball, using all sorts of tactics until she decided we had ‘earned’ it. He tries everything, from asking to speak alone with Sansa, to commanding Lord Royce to stand up for him, to falling to the floor and begging for his life through tears. Sansa has learned from the best, and most importantly, outsmarted Littlefinger, using every one of his tricks against him. Her allegiance is to Arya and her family, not to Littlefinger and his machinations. Should this be the last we ever see of him, let’s say a hearty farewell to Aidan Gillen, who has been a main cast member since season 1. And yet – I can’t quite shake the feeling that his face will come highly useful to Arya in season 8…
Meanwhile, Bran receives an unlikely visitor in the form of Sam, who pops into Winterfell to see how he can be of assistance. In the moments we’ve all been either waiting for or dreading, it’s officially confirmed: Jon Snow is actually Jon Sand is actually Jon Targaryen is actually Aegon Targaryen. And we have the montage footage to prove it! The lost book plot of Young Griff appears to finally be coming into focus – unless I’m mistaken, they’ve officially transitioned wherever this A Dance with Dragons plot is going into Jon’s narrative for GOT. Personally, I’m very ok with this if it’s the case. Jon’s name being ‘Aegon’ added an extra layer for people (me at least) about which to be surprised during the reveal that we all know was coming. And of course they overlaid it with the montage of Jon and Daenerys finally doin’ it (on a boat!). The thought of them learning of their aunt/nephew relationship kind of reminds me of Harry Potter’s Seamus Finnigan: “Dad’s a muggle; mam’s a witch. Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out.” But hey – the Targaryens have traditionally kept it within the family for generations, right? Nothing new here. The question is: Where will Dany’s and Jon’s allegiance to each other stand if/when they find out?
The season ends with The White Walkers breaching The Wall and setting out to unleash holy hell on Westeros the likes of which we’ve never seen. Tormund and Beric have seen it all – They’ve seen undead zombies, they’ve seen dragons….but they’ve never seen undead zombie dragons. They barely escape with their lives, and will live to fight the undead in season 8. Who do you think will be the first casualty of the ‘Great War?’ And no, I’m not talking about Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
- Grey Worm escaped Euron’s siege seemingly unharmed and owned the incredible opening shots of the episode…but then he didn’t do anything else – boooooo! It is my hope that he plays a large part in the Great War next season.
- Qyburn, the Hand of the Queen, picking up the Hand of the Wight, and looking at it like he’s preparing naughty fun time in his bedchamber was everything.
- Sorry CleganeBowl shippers, not today. Although we were teased to a vengeful Sandor Clegane confronting his brother for all the misery he’s caused, it appears to be simply fighting words for the moment. The duel will have to wait until sometime in season 8, most likely when they’re surrounded by white walkers and wights on all sides, and the drama can be escalated to 11/10.
- Can we talk about the music of season 7 for a second? Since the days of LOST, I cannot remember a TV soundtrack this smashingly good. What makes it so incredible is not just all the distinctive tunes (though they are of course hauntingly good), but their evolution over time. The themes and motifs that Ramin Dijawadi created over the years have grown and changed effectively, tailoring themselves to the characters and the emotions of the scene. The best example of this I’ve yet found was the latest rendition of The Rains of Castamere, playing a newly haunting rendition when Tyrion was walking the battlefield in the aftermath of the
Battle of the Pelennor FieldsLoot Train Battle (episode 5). The song is about the decimation of House Reyne by the Lannisters, and paired so nicely with the image of a Lannister mournfully searching the ruins of the Lannister army for his brother who may be among the dead. While we’ve already heard The Rains of Castamere many times, this one felt different. It’s awesomely poetic and a terrific dramatic twist on the song. There were so many incredible examples of the evolution of the music in this season – What were some of your favorites?
- All of that effort to bring Gendry back, and he wasn’t even in the finale?
- Rhaegar really is the spitting image of Viserys, eh?
- Lastly, as much as I understand Tyrion not feeling so great at the thought of Jon and Daenerys being shipped on a ship, I feel like the drama would have been better served if Jorah were instead the one to oversee it. I’m 100% all in for Jorah being Dany’s queen and I don’t have time for Jon to get in their way. Who knows – maybe once it’s revealed that they share relatives, Dany will turn to Ser Jorah Mormont the Andal of Bear Island and ask him to share her throne. A man can dream.
- I really loved the episode so much. The last two episodes had far too many missteps for my liking, but this one righted so many wrongs that I think I can forgive it. We’ll have to see if next week keeps the forward momentum going. Wait, hang on, a raven just arrived. *Reads raven* What??? What do you mean there’s no episode 8? That’s it??? The longer winter has come??? It might be 2019 before the next season of Game of Thrones???
- Really, the whole dialogue between Jaime and Bronn, but in particular:
“Maybe it really is all cocks in the end.” – Jaime
“Yet your brother has chosen to side with the cockless.” – Bronn
“Yes. He’s always been a champion of the downtrodden.” – Jaime
“I think we’re about to be the downtrodden.” – Bronn
- “If anything goes first, kill the silver-haired bitch first, then our brother, then the bastard who calls himself king. The rest of them you can kill in any order you see fit…Come, Ser Gregor. It’s time for us to meet our guests.” – Cersei
- “Come on [Pod + Tyrion]. You can suck his magic cock later.” – Bronn
- “The only one who needs protecting is the one that gets in her [Arya’s] way.” – Brienne
“It won’t be me.” – The Hound
- “I left this shit city because I didn’t wanna die in it. Am I gonna die in this shit city?” – The Hound
“You might.” – Tyrion
“This is all your idea. Seems every bad idea has some Lannister cunt behind it.” – The Hound
“And some Clegane cunt to help them see it through.” – Tyrion
- “I’ve been around the world. I’ve seen everything – things you couldn’t have imagined. And this – this is the only thing I’ve seen that terrifies me.” – Euron
- “I’m about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world who has already tried to kill me twice…that I know of…who’s an idiot?” – Tyrion
- “That thing you dragged here. I know what it is, I know what it means. And when it came at me, I didn’t think about the world, not at all. As soon as it opened its mouth, the world disappeared for me right down its black throat. All I could think about was keeping those gnashing teeth away from the ones who matter most – away from my family.” – Cersei
- “We’ll face it together…perhaps you’ll remember I chose to help…with no promises or assurances from any of you. I expect not.” – Cersei
- “When I try to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game. I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say…doing what they do? Then I ask myself, ‘How well does that reason explain what they say and what they do?’ So tell me, what’s the worst thing she [Arya] could want?” – Littlefinger
- “You don’t need to choose. You’re a Greyjoy and you’re a Stark.” – Jon
- “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges, Lord Baelish?” – Sansa
- “I’m a slow learner, it’s true…But I learn.” – Sansa
- “I wasn’t sure if you remembered me.” – Sam
“I remember everything.” – Bran
“What happened to you beyond the wall?” – Sam
“I became the Three-Eyed Raven.” – Bran
Oh…I don’t know what that means…” – Sam
- “You did the right thing.” – Arya
- “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” – Sansa
- That wight they brought to King’s Landing. RIP.
- Lots of people on The Wall.
- Cersei/Jaime shippers
- Jorah/Daenerys shippers (including me)
- Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish – Pour a glass. Have a pint. Do something to commemorate the Gillen.
What did you guys think of season 7? What will you do during the long winter to bide the time?