The seventh season of “Game of Thrones” has brought a deluge of bombshells. Going into the episode, it was difficult to predict how the finale would shock us — as the finales always have — especially after an intense sixth episode. “The Dragon and the Wolf” did not disappoint, bringing a sweepingly plot-heavy episode and promising a final season of epic proportion.
The episode opens with everyone preparing for the big King’s Landing meeting, which is ominously taking place in the dragon pit. As representatives from Winterfell and Dragonstone convene with their King’s Landing counterparts, many reunions are in store.
The first of these reunions unfolds momentarily when Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) expresses her shock at Sandor’s (Rory McCann) survival — shock that Sandor dryly shares. Soon, their tension melts away when they talk about Arya (Maisie Williams); Brienne, by way of apology, says that she fought Sandor to protect the Stark girl. Sandor responds with understanding and admits that he had the same goal in mind, once again emphasizing his growing warmth that even White Walkers couldn’t chill.
Soon, the negotiators from all sides begin filing into the stunning ruins of the dragonpit. Brienne and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) exchange cryptic looks; their much-missed chemistry was a breath of fresh air, but it also attracted the attention of Cersei (Lena Headey), who looks inquiringly at her brother.
Drogon saves Jaime an awkward conversation and swoops in with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) on his back and Rhaegal in tow. After what feels like ten minutes, he crawls clumsily down the crumbling sides of the ruins (probably to the dismay of King’s Landing’s archaeologist population), deposits Dany and leaves, safely out of range of any tricks Cersei might have had up her sleeve.
After his queen’s fashionably late entrance, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) stands, ready to present before the class. Right when he starts, though, Euron (Pilou Asbæk) steals the limelight, threatening to kill Yara (Gemma Whelan) if Theon (Alfie Allen) doesn’t “submit.” His hapless nephew looks confused until everyone, regardless of side, bands together for the honorable cause of telling Euron to sit down and shut up.
Soon enough, negotiations begin and go about as roughly as expected. Cersei is suspicious at the suggestion of a truce with Dany, a “would-be usurper.” Her doubt falters when Team Dany break out their petulant visual aid. The wight must have had some rehearsals on the boat ride over, because he wisely goes straight for Cersei’s throat, adequately frightening the Queen out of her dubiousness.
After Sandor more or less juliennes the restrained wight for some reason, Jon (Kit Harington) uses what’s left to demonstrate that they can be killed with fire and dragonglass. It’s at this point that, after spending the majority of his screentime mocking Theon’s cowardice, Euron decides to cut and run. No less stressed about the situation, Cersei accepts the truce with noticeably tense shoulders. Her condition, however, is that Jon extricate himself from the title fight and back neither queen.
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Well aware that complying would rob him of The Romantic Storyline That Was Promised, Jon refuses, and Cersei calls off the deal. Everyone on Dany’s side is understandably peeved at Jon’s pigheadedness; even Dany tells him “thanks, but no thanks,” leaving him even sulkier. He briefly tries to take the moral high ground, but Tyrion shoots him down and says that he will go to Cersei to assess the damage.
Cersei and Tyrion’s confrontation brings perhaps the most masterfully acted scene of the entire season so far, reminiscent of Tyrion’s spectacular trial from season four. Her younger brother is the only one who can crack Cersei’s facade, and her soft, measured tones explode in tearful anger as she blames Tyrion for all the deaths and challenges she has faced. He accepts fault, expressing sincere guilt at murdering Tywin and mourning his beloved niece and nephew, before hardening again and challenging Cersei to have him killed.
She certainly could, and the way Cersei’s eyes flick to Gregor imply that she wants to. Tyrion is the one she has always hated, and the one she has always suspected would bring her downfall. However, she just can’t bring herself to kill him; with a beautifully tense snarl on her disdainful lips, she turns away from him.
Tyrion visibly relaxes, draining a cup of wine before gingerly offering Cersei one, with the slow, deliberate movements one might use around a literal lioness. When Cersei softly tells Tyrion that she wants to protect what’s important, Tyrion deduces that his sister is once more pregnant.
Back at the dragonpit, the scene between Jon and Dany is also very pregnant — with sexual tension. As she laments the death of the Targaryens and dragons of old, talk inevitably returns to her barren womb. With a hint of a smile, Jon ventures to suggest that Mirri Maz Duur, the medicine woman who told Dany that she was infertile, was lying. Dany smiles back, as though this is the first time she has ever considered this possibility. For all intents and purposes, it looks like they’re about to test out Jon’s theory right then and there when Tyrion returns from his negotiations. Apparently moved by their conversation, Cersei pledges to fight alongside them on the Northern front.
Things are getting chilly back up North, and not just weatherwise. Sansa (Sophie Turner) is bitterly disappointed that Jon unilaterally bent the knee. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) suggests that Jon wants to marry Dany through this alliance before reminding Sansa that Jon can be unnamed as King in the North. She demurs, but only because Arya wouldn’t go along with it quietly. To drive the nail in the coffin of Sansa and Arya’s relationship, Littlefinger convinces Sansa, with apparent success, that Arya only came to Winterfell to murder her and claim the title of Lady of Winterfell.
Later, Sansa orders that Arya be brought to the Great Hall. When her sister comes before her, Sansa looks about as nervous as we feel — could she really be taking Littlefinger’s ploy to completion?
“You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason.” Sansa begins as Arya stands defiantly before her and a smug Littlefinger looks on. Then comes the twist. “How do you answer these charges, Lord Baelish?” Finally, he’s caught off guard and stammers to ask what Sansa means. Littlefinger briefly tries to deflect the charges, but he’s no match for sly Sansa, observant Arya and omniscient Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright).
Littlefinger is on his knees begging for mercy as Sansa accuses him of betraying her and her mother before her, all while he claimed to love them both, before Arya easily slits his throat with the Valyrian steel dagger that started everything; thus ending House Baelish. Sansa and Arya bond over their first tag-teamed manslaughter, finally giving us the warmer reunion fans wanted so badly. Arya recognizes the challenges Sansa went through as well as her political acumen, and Sansa acknowledges Arya’s strength. With a now-unbreakable alliance, Sansa and Arya strengthen House Stark against enemies immeasurably.
A much less smooth sibling conversation is happening back down South, as Jaime prepares to head North as promised. Cersei insults his guilelessness — obviously going North was never actually on the table. Cersei’s entire performance at the meeting was all planned and rehearsed; the war against the White Walkers (and lack of suspicion on the part of the others) would leave Dany’s forces decimated and easy pickings for the Golden Company and Greyjoy fleet. Hold on, Jaime goes, didn’t Euron jump ship on a ship back to the Iron Islands, and aren’t the Golden Company back in Essos? Not so. Euron’s flight was also performed — in reality, he and his fleet are on their way East to bring back the talented mercenaries. When Dany’s ravaged army returns, they’ll be out of the frozen frying pan and into a well-paid fire.
While Cersei is evilly twirling her mustache, Jaime is clutching his pearls at his sister’s deviousness and insisting upon keeping their word. Cersei warns him that keeping his word would be treason and threatens death upon one of her brothers for the second time this episode. Just like the first time, it was a bluff, and Jaime rushes away, his relationship with his sister now all but destroyed. Cersei won’t let him go that easy, though; with his death already seeming very possible this episode, we’ll have to see how far Jaime can get into season eight.
Unlike Cersei, Theon, now back at Dragonstone, is desperate to save his sibling. Prompted by Jon, he tries to convince his men to kick off Saving Private Yara. His men still disrespect him for abandoning her, especially their ringleader, who even spits on and hits Theon. Raised as an archer more than a fighter, and probably still weak from his time as Reek, the fight doesn’t seem to be going his way until the man tries to hit below the belt. What he forgot is that there’s nothing below the belt anymore, courtesy of Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), and Theon’s greatest insecurity becomes a strength. The brief ensuing confusion gives Theon the window he needs to tackle his opponent to the ground, bash his face in and earn back the respect of his men.
Back up at Winterfell, Sam (John Bradley-West) returns, hoping to advise Jon about the coming war. He meets with Bran, who seems almost like a normal emotional being around Sam. After catching up for a bit, Bran decides that enough’s enough: it’s time for the real R+L=J reveal. Turns out that Sam was actually listening to Gilly (Hannah Murray) two episodes ago, because his jaw drops as both of them realize that Jon is not only Dany’s nephew, but also the current heir over her. Bran confirms this with a flashback of Rhaegar (Wilf Scolding) and Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi) lovingly exchanging wedding vows. This is when Bran realizes that “Robert’s rebellion was built on a lie.” Lyanna wasn’t kidnapped; she left with Rhaegar of her own volition.
Unfortunately, Bran’s revelation about Jon’s parentage and Targaryen blood becomes quite a bit more awkward when intercut with a steamy scene between Dany and Jon back on the boat North. They should at least enjoy their love while they can: Jon’s blood makes him Dany’s number one rival, for she can’t be the legitimate Targaryen queen while he lives.
There are more pressing matters about to greet the Targaryen lovers: up at Eastwatch, the White Walkers advance in prodigious numbers toward the Wall. The Night King is nowhere to be seen until Viserion emerges, the King on his back and directing him to destroy the Wall with icy blue flames. Soon, a gaping hole is made and the White Walkers advance toward its ruins, the tenuously protected civilization behind it and a darkly portended final season.
Sahana Rangarajan covers “Game of Thrones.” Contact her at [email protected].