TV REVIEW: ‘Game of Thrones’ – ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’

"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."

| August 28, 2017

Spoiler Warning for the Season 7 Finale of “Game of Thrones,” as well as all episodes of previous seasons.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister. (Photo credit: HBO)

Here we are…the very last Season Finale of “Game of Thrones” and shit has officially hit the fan. Years of character development, story progression and world-building has culminated into this epic episode of the greatest show on television. Alliances are forged, alliances are broken, siblings team up, siblings betray each other, identities are confirmed and the threat of the Dead becomes more real than ever. This season hasn’t been perfect, but this episode makes up for the problems and perfectly positions itself to deliver a remarkable final six episodes. This is A Song of Ice and Fire and it is absolutely beautiful.

In order to recap and review this episode as coherently as possible, events will be discussed by location rather than in chronological order.

King’s Landing

After the semi-successful journey north of the Wall to capture a wight, Jon and Dany make their way to the capital city to meet with Cersei and attempt to forge a truce. From atop the city gates, Jaime and Bronn watch as the Unsullied and Dothraki forces line up and stand at attention; meanwhile Jon and the collection of advisers follow, allowing for some long-awaited reunions and fascinating conversations, including Tyrion with Bronn and Podrick. We also see Brienne and The Hound together again after their crazy fight at the end of Season 4; the two have a great discussion about Arya and the fact that she doesn’t need protecting. Groups converge in the Dragonpit and there are more reunions, specifically Tyrion and Cersei, but also The Hound and The Mountain. In typical Daenerys fashion, she arrives fashionably late on the back of Drogon, giving Team Cersei their first look at a living dragon. The tension in this scene is palpable and having this many main characters in the same location is absolutely rewarding, but also terrifying.

The existence of the White Walkers is something that most people would have a difficult time believing, including Cersei, who writes off the claims as being nothing but a trick. That is until The Hound releases the captured wight, which charges straight for Cersei before it is pulled back by chains; there is a look of utter horror on her face as she realizes that the dead are real and are just as dangerous as she has heard. The Hound slices the wight up to show that they are extremely difficult to fully kill and Jon steps in to demonstrate fire and dragonglass as being the most effective weapons against them. There is a focus on Qyburn as he examines an amputated arm of the wight, obviously fascinated by this creature and its indifference to pain; I get the feeling that Qyburn will play a massive role in either stopping the White Walkers or utilizing them to Cersei’s advantage. The presence of the wight has an effect on everyone, but Euron seems to be deeply disturbed by it and decides to flee with the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands, where the dead can’t reach; we know that Euron likes to put on a show and this little performance plays right into Cersei’s greater plan. Seeing Cersei come face to face with a wight is a thrilling moment that I never really expected to see, but with the Army of the Dead marching south, this was bound to happen sooner or later.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy. (Photo credit: HBO)

A real power struggle erupts after Cersei declares that she will pledge her support under the condition that Jon and the North stay out of the conflict for the Throne. This proves difficult for Jon as he has already bent the knee to Daenerys, proclaiming her as his Queen. The treaty falls apart because of this and Cersei leaves the discussion as Tyrion and Dany question Jon as to why he won’t simply lie. Ned Stark is evoked as Jon quotes his father’s belief that one should never break an oath lest they wish to live in a world where the truth has no meaning; I don’t know about you, but that seems like the fantasy world of “Game of Thrones” blending with our current reality…just saying. Considering the risks that were taken to secure the wight, plus the fact that Viserion died, Tyrion realizes that he must step up and speak with Cersei alone to bring her back to the table. This gives Dany and Jon some time to awkwardly flirt while discussing the dragons and her inability to conceive children, something that he slyly questions; this episode seriously features some of the best conversations with the richest dialogue of the season.

After being separated for three seasons, Tyrion and Cersei have their first interaction…and it is intense. He visits her chambers in the Red Keep against the warnings of Jaime, who is so worried that he says goodbye to his brother. With The Mountain standing guard, Tyrion tries to make Cersei see his side of things, apologizing for murdering Tywin and for the deaths of her children; there is a real sense of regret here, but also a feeling of anger from Tyrion similar to that of his trial from Season 4’s “The Laws of Gods and Men.” Tyrion knows his sister and decides to test her by listing all of the reasons she has to hate him before ordering her to kill him; she can’t go through with it, making it clear that while Cersei has no problem murdering her enemies, family seems to be off limits. Going back to Tyrion knowing his sister, his spots that she is rubbing her stomach and deduces that she is pregnant; although it is entirely possibly that she may be bluffing, this seems pretty legitimate. Cersei refuses to drink wine from Tyrion, providing more evidence that she may actually be carrying the Lannister heir; I mean, have you ever seen Cersei turn down alcohol? This scene features spectacular performances from Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, who have always had remarkable on-screen chemistry; this just may be their best scene to date, making me hope for more conversations between the two in the future.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister. (Photo credit: HBO)

Cersei comes back to the table and pledges the full support of House Lannister and their banners to defeating the Army of the Dead. Her chilling declaration of peace actually feels genuine and honest, but this is still Cersei Lannister and she CANNOT be trusted; after the Jon/Dany delegation leave, Jaime meets with her as he prepares to head north and learns that the truce is nothing but a ruse. She explains that listening to their father has given her the intelligence to maneuver through their current predicament; the gold collected from Highgarden will allow them to purchase soldiers from the Golden Company. Euron was part of Cersei’s plan and is currently traveling across the Narrow Sea with the Iron Fleet to ferry the soldiers across to Westeros to help fight in the war.

Jaime realizes that his sister has passed the point of no return and has no logic to her decisions; with few allies and greater threatens, House Lannister stands no chance, even with the Golden Company. There is a tense standoff between Cersei and Jaime that parallels that of Tyrion and Cersei earlier that one again proves the strained, yet still present loyalty among the Lannisters. I wholeheartedly believed that this was the end for Jaime due to him regularly questioning Cersei, but I’m glad to see that he survived as he has quickly become one of my favorites. Jaime flees King’s Landing as an eerie sight is shown; winter has come for the capital city as depicted by a light snowfall, something that has never been seen in the series before. King’s Landing has long been separated from the dangers of the North, but there is no escaping what is coming.

Dragonstone

Thanks to more fast-travel, Team Dany and Jon get back to Dragonstone and begin their discussions for what comes next. Jon and Dany are planning on heading to Winterfell, but they aren’t quite sure which way is safest to travel; Jorah believes that Dany should ride Drogon to avoid any anti-Targaryen wannabe heroes on the ground, but she ultimately decides to sail to the mainland with Jon and travel on the Kingsroad so that the people can see them together. Before departing, Jon and Theon have a heart-to-heart about the pent up animosity between them; Theon makes it clear that he can never make up for the horrible things that he has done and Jon states that while he can’t forgive him for everything, he does forgive him for some things. There is a powerful declaration wherein Jon tells Theon that Ned is part of both of them and that Theon is a Greyjoy and a Stark, signaling a necessary reunification of these two splintered houses. This seems to spark new life in Theon and he gathers the remaining Greyjoy soldiers to go on a rescue expedition to save Yara; there is a bit of resistance from one of the soldiers, but Theon finally stands up for himself and makes it clear that his days of being a coward are over. There is a real sense of pride I have in watching Theon, especially after seeing what he has gone through in the series; he really has changed and this proves that he has had some of the best development. Alfie Allen continues to shine in the role and I really hope that Theon survives the war to come and receives a “happy” ending, but who am I kidding? That isn’t going to happen.

Aidan Gillen as Petry “Littlefinger” Baelish. (Photo credit: HBO)

 Winterfell

If you read my previous review, you would know that I was not a fan of the way the Winterfell storyline was going, but after seeing this episode, it was clear that I lacked faith in Arya and Sansa. My fears were furthered as Sansa meets with Littlefinger in a panic to discuss the growing “threat” of Arya; Littlefinger plays his games and seems to get in Sansa’s head, urging her to look deeper and figure out what exactly Arya is planning. In the great hall, Sansa and Bran hold a gathering of the Northern lords as Arya is brought in; Sansa lists treason and murder as charges before turning the tables on Littlefinger as it is revealed that she and Arya were playing him all along. I have never seen Littlefinger so stunned before and his confusion slowly turns into fear as he realizes what is happening; Arya and Sansa state several different crimes that Littlefinger has committed, including framing Ned, the murders of the Arryns and his conspiring with the Lannisters to murder Bran. With a stern face, Sansa thanks Littlefinger for the lessons he taught her before Arya steps forward and slits his throat with the dagger; Littlefinger falls to the ground and dies as blood spews from his throat. After seven full seasons of scheming and shadiness, Petyr Baelish has met his end and what an epic end it is. Aidan Gillen absolutely delivered in his many performances, but this just may be his standout scene; the look of fear, shock and even a bit of pride for his role in developing Sansa make this a near perfect death.

All seems right with House Stark as the apparent sibling rivalry vanishes and is replaced by a strong bond. Sansa and Arya commend one another for being incredibly strong and upholding the memory of their father; seeing these two sisters united together reinforces my belief that House Stark is the best family in the series. Their dedication and loyalty is unwavering, real and pure. As night falls, Sam and Gilly arrive in Winterfell, allowing for a reunion with Bran and one of the best scenes in the series. Sam hilariously expresses his confusion as to what exactly the Three-Eyed Raven is before Bran reveals Jon’s true parentage; Sam fills in the missing pieces of Jon’s birth by telling Bran about Rhaegar’s annulment to Ellia Martell and the secret wedding to Lyanna Stark.

This prompts Bran to travel back to the wedding, giving viewers an emotional look at the love between Rhaegar and Lyanna; “Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie. Rhaegar didn’t kidnap my aunt, or rape her. He loved her…and she loved him.” Bran visits the Tower of Joy once again and hears Lyanna telling Ned the real name that she gave to Jon, Aegon Targaryen. This powerful sequence is edited together with Jon and Dany on a ship, meeting each other and having passionate sex. With an amazing musical score from Ramin Djawadi and the fantastic editing, this scene will go down as one of the most emotional moments in the series. “He’s never been a bastard. He’s the heir to the Iron Throne.” Jon was born out of love and if that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what will.

Wilf Scolding as Rhaegar Targaryen and Aisling Franciosi as Lyanna Stark. (Photo credit: HBO)

Eastwatch-by-the-Sea

The episode and the season comes to a shocking end with quite possibly the most catastrophic event to ever occur in the series. Tormund and Beric stand on a lookout point atop the Wall and quickly sense that something is very off; from the forest line, several horses can be seen approaching the Wall. The Army of the Dead has finally arrived and the are ready to head south; the eerie sound of a dragon roar can be heard in the background just seconds before blue fire lights up the sky. The Night King rides Viserion through the skies, using the blue fire to burn the Wall and cause it to become weakened; Tormund and Beric try to flee to safety as Eastwatch collapses and men fall to their death. After several passes, Viserion’s flame causes the end of the Wall to crumble to the ground, allowing for the Army of the Dead to pass. In the words of Tyrion, “we’re fucked.”

Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” has had its ups and downs, but this finale solidifies my belief that the show is still at the top of its game. With major developments on every single front, this episode is packed to the brim with fantastic character moments, conversations and bits of action. Jon Snow continues to be my favorite character in the series and this reveal of his true parentage will go down as one of the best moments in the show’s run; having confirmation of the popular “R + L = J” theory is absolutely rewarding and really adds an additional layer of depth to the story. Jon’s birth shook things up in Westeros and the fact that Ned kept the truth a secret from everyone proves that he may be the most goodhearted character in the series. The death of Littlefinger is pure poetic justice, especially considering his role in starting the overall story and the War of the Five Kings. Aidan Gillen will absolutely be missed, as will the character of Petyr Baelish, who played the game quite well until he made the mistake of underestimating the Stark sisters. With extraordinary performances across the board and strong emotional depth, this season finale is what makes “Game of Thrones” such an incredible story.

The Final Season of “Game of Thrones” will feature six episodes and while the official release date hasn’t been announced yet, it will surely be the talk of the world when this beloved series returns for the last time. Stay tuned to the Niner Times for continuing coverage of “Game of Thrones” ahead of Season 8.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

Twitter