It’s been a crazy seven weeks, which accurately describes both Game of Thrones and my analysis of it. I hope that my passion for this subject has at least convinced you to give the show a chance if you haven’t already. Season 7 has showcased both the subtle and pronounced reasons why this show is worth watching and the finale follows suit. For the first 45 minutes, there is a deliberate slower pace that documents the great meeting of the minds. Then everything furiously ramps up with shocking deaths and revelations. A tale of two completely different halves, but I still loved every minute. Here’s my final thoughts on it all.
Before we start: remember my Disney Princess Avengers script? If I learned anything from that exercise, it’s really difficult to write compelling dialogue. But the beginning 40-minute scene between all your favorite characters puts most TV writers to shame. There are brief interactions that may feel like fan service (Tyrion and Podrick, Brienne and the Hound) to the untrained eye, but wouldn’t you do the same with a friend you hadn’t seen in a long time? The whole affair also serves as a welcome respite from the accelerated storyline in the first six episodes; we can finally take a breather and just enjoy the political maneuvering.
What stands out from this exchange are the conflicting philosophies of each character. On one hand, you have Cersei refusing to back down even after seeing proof of the dead. On the other, Jon Snow feels compelled by honor to reject Cersei’s terms of armistice. Keep in mind that these two have never even met, so it further heightens the tension. When Tyrion comes back from facing Cersei alone with an agreement apparently in place, I didn’t trust her for a second. Then the realization that she had carefully mapped out every possible outcome (and secretly sent Euron to recruit the Golden Company) amazingly wrapped up one of the greatest “talking” scenes in the show’s history.
I would be remiss not to mention the fact that Cersei was given the opportunity to kill both of her brothers in this episode and chose not to in either case. I absolutely see this familial vulnerability playing a crucial role next season (although I thought for sure Jaime was going to die). I believed from the start that we would bid farewell to Cersei this season, but she lives to fight another day despite her shortcomings.
However, one of my predictions from last week did come true: Littlefinger’s death! I still don’t know whether Arya and Sansa (with help from Bran) were playing him the whole time or if Sansa figured it out in her final exchange with him, but nonetheless, I’m sure it was satisfying for most fans to see the former Master of Coin bite the dust. While I’m sad to see a transcendent actor like Aidan Gillen go (every “creepy man” role in Hollywood should belong to him if he wants it), his death was necessary to demonstrate that Sansa has become a fully independent and powerful force in this game. Thank goodness this forced storyline ended without any lasting repercussions.
So that’s all, right? Nothing left to cover. Wait, hold on…did Bran just reveal Jon Snow’s real name as AEGON TARGARYEN? There’s been a conscious attempt this season to pull back the layers on Jon’s lineage, but now all the cards are on the table. I’m very interested to see the reactions from Jon and Daenerys (who got it on in this episode) once they find out. I predict that Daenerys, who hails from a family of incest, might brush it off as just your average aunt-nephew romance. But Jon, who’s proven time and again that he places honor above all, can’t be too comfortable with it. I hope they continue to explore this burgeoning power dynamic that was set up so brilliantly by Benioff and Weiss.
There were several instances where I thought the episode would end (Aegon Targaryen, Arya and Sansa on the battlements), but I totally overlooked the fact that the only sensible ending is a shot of the zombie dragon bringing down the Wall. I mean, duh. A glorious yet frightening moment that only leaves me with one question: are we sure Tormund and Beric survived? True, the camera didn’t cut to them falling to their death, but Viserion tore down a huge section in one swift motion. Hopefully, it’s just deus ex machina again, but I have to wonder for the sake of argument. Even if they didn’t die, how in God’s name are they going to sneak past the Night King’s army and make it to Winterfell? So many questions that may not be answered for an entire year.
Since it’s the finale, it only makes sense to include one last rendition of “What Tiny Details Should Be Cut?” The Jon and Theon moment gave us a nice redemption moment for the latter, but it dragged on way too long for me and basically ended with a repeat of a Season 3 moment. Remember Yara vowing to rescue her brother after learning that he was Ramsay’s prisoner? Yeah, how did that turn out? This role reversal with Theon now saving his sister just screams of copycat syndrome that probably won’t amount to much.
Perhaps the jarring effect of a longer drawn-out scene knocks the finale down a peg, but “The Dragon and the Wolf” solidly wraps up the latest season of Game of Thrones. There’s no loud action scenes needed here; what has kept the show popular are intriguing conversations and earned character moments, which this episode provides in spades. Due to a weak premiere and the reckless juggling of logic/time, there are certainly better seasons. It sounds weird to say, but I’m also a little upset that we didn’t see more main characters die, seeing as how we’re speeding towards the finish line here. The only people of real consequence that bowed out were Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger; power players in their own right, but nothing compared to Cersei or Jaime. An online reviewer did calm my skepticism a bit by comparing Season 7 to the first part of a two-part finale. A lot that we saw happen will have greater impact once everything in Season 8 unfolds, so if they can sustain the momentum, I am confident I will be singing its praises once again.