So we did it. We got through the first half of the end of Game of Thrones. The finale wrapped up a few of the storylines that were introduced and/or carried over from previous seasons and left us with a pretty huge cliffhanger. The Westerosi are all aware of the impending threat from the whitewalkers, though it means different things for different people.
At King’s Landing, Jon, Tyrion, and the rest of Daenerys’s army and allies arrive for the parlay with Cersei and the Lannisters, which is to take place in the famed Dragonpit. Brienne and Podrick arrive from the North in time to participate, and so we get more fan service on the long walk to the Dragonpit, with conversations between Tyrion and Pod, Brienne and the Hound, and Tyrion and Bronn. It was nice, but felt a lot like the trek to the whitewalkers during the Terrible Plan of Season 7 -- rather than getting events that advanced the plot, we instead spent ten minutes watching characters catch up with each other and have conversations about things we already know about. Nothing new was revealed and nothing strange or exciting happened. It was just nice.
Podrick and Bronn leave before the meeting starts and it’s unclear why or where they went. Euron is back and he still isn’t the worst thing since Ramsay but at this point I only keep bringing it up because it’s funny how they even put that idea in our heads when this ends up being only the third time he’s shown up all season. Before I get deeper into Euron’s shenanigans though, we get a moment between the Cleganes and for one shining moment I thought it was time for CLEGANEBOWL but no lol the Hound just wanted to give his brother a talking to. He tells the Zombie-Mountain that he knows who’s coming for him and that he’s always known, which is confusing because isn’t the Mountain the Hound’s kill? He would be okay with someone else killing his brother? And is that person Arya? And why would the Mountain know that Arya is coming for him? Can he know anything when he’s a zombie? For such a small scene, it raises a lot of questions.
Cersei is annoyed because Daenerys is late, but she soon turns up on Drogon - with Rhaegal soaring in the background - clearly as a way to intimidate Cersei and her men. Once everyone is settled, Tyrion begins to explain the situation, but Euron chooses that moment to taunt Theon with Yara because all that time they were waiting for Dany wouldn’t have worked apparently. While I didn’t really mind this moment, as it seemed like an attempt to show us further what Euron’s character is about, I wish we had gotten more moments with him and Yara this season. We haven’t seen them since he paraded her through King’s Landing, and while Theon has been worried about her, no one else has even mentioned her. Learning more about Yara’s situation could’ve helped with the slower parts of the last two episodes and given us some good plot tie-ins for where Theon’s storyline is going. Anyway, both Jaime and Cersei tell Euron to shut up so they can get onto things that really matter and Tyrion and Jon explain the situation.
Cersei clearly doesn’t believe them until the Hound comes out with the box carrying the wight. For a moment, I thought the magic would have stopped working and that the wight would be a pile of rotting bones by now, but it jumps out of the box and comes barrelling at Cersei, who actually looks shook for once. Jon demonstrates how to destroy them and explains that they have to be a united front against the walkers if they hope to survive. Euron decides he’d rather just wait the winter out on the Iron Islands once he finds out the walkers can’t swim (and I guess none of them know the Night King can fly now - though Jon should have guessed).
Cersei agrees to fight alongside them so long as Jon doesn’t take sides in the war between her and Dany. Jon, ever the blood of Ned Stark, tells Cersei that it’s a no from him since he’s already pledged to Daenerys. And so Cersei says no to the truce and leaves. Everyone is angry with Jon for telling the truth but Jon decides he will never lie despite that being the thing that got Eddard killed in the first place. Brienne tries to talk Jaime into talking to Cersei, and while he clearly doesn’t agree with Cersei’s decision, doesn’t seem all that willing to stick his neck out.
So Tyrion volunteers to talk to her, despite the risk of getting his head cut off. They talk and despite knowing now that he didn’t kill Joffrey, Cersei blames Tyrion for killing Myrcella and Tommen indirectly by killing Tywin. Cersei has always been one to reach, and I hope she made sure to stretch before this one. Yes, Tywin’s murder publicly showed a weakening Lannister family, but Cersei giving King’s Landing over to the faith militant and not honoring the alliance her father made with the Tyrells is what really killed Tommen while her and Tywin’s persecution of Tyrion for a crime he didn’t commit and the subsequent killing of Oberyn Martell is what killed Myrcella. Anyway, we also find out that for all her talk, Cersei can’t actually kill Tyrion, which I found interesting and would like to see further explored. We also get more parallels between Daenerys and Cersei when Cersei tells Tyrion that she doesn’t care about making the world a better place - only about her and her family. We’ve seen this time and time again with her, and Tyrion - realizing she’s pregnant - decides to use that to convince her to come back to the Dragonpit, where she agrees to send the Lannister army north to fight the walkers.
While they wait for Tyrion to come back, Jon and Dany have a chat meant to move their clunky love plot along and Dany brings up again that she can’t have kids. Jon says that it could be a lie, which makes me think we’re going to have a Targaryen baby by the end of this show. One of the other things I noticed was Jon telling Dany why he decided to bend the knee, saying that she’s not like anyone else. While this narrative has been a big part of Dany’s character throughout the seasons and is the reason why she has the Unsullied and dothraki in the first place, it felt strange because Jon hasn’t actually seen anything different about Dany other than her dragons. It feels very much like and tell rather than a show moment, with the writers relying on what we already know of Dany to back up Jon’s claim.
Later, after Dany and everyone has left, Cersei finds Jaime planning the trek north with the other Lannister commanders. But plot twist, Cersei reveals that she has no intention of marching north. Instead she tells Jaime that she has Euron going to Essos to bring the Golden Company back to Westeros, that she plans on taking over the south while Dany and Jon and the others are fighting the walkers. In Cersei’s head, the dragons can defeat the whitewalkers and so they aren’t a thing to worry about - which is strange because she also noticed that there were only two during the parlay and doesn’t stop to wonder what happened to the third? Jaime, who is finally being reasonable, tells her that regardless of who wins the north, there is still an army coming for them, that this fight isn’t about Targaryens and Lannisters but the dead and the living. Cersei, who at this point is a Twister pro, tells him that she plans on remaining in the land of the living, WHICH SIS HOW DOES THAT WORK IF JON AND DANY LOSE HOW YOU GONE STOP THE NIGHT KING? HOW? She seems to really think that a group of sellswords won’t swim their asses back to Essos the minute they see an ice zombie and I am confused about what she thinks this is.
Fully aware now that his sister is completely irrelevant to the plot and his life, Jaime decides to go north on his own. For the second time, Cersei threatens to kill one of her brothers but balks and as Jaime leaves it begins to snow. Winter Has Come for King’s Landing.
Up in Winterfell Sansa finally gets a raven from Jon, this one telling her that he’s going south to King’s Landing. She’s frustrated because not only did he not ask for her council AGAIN, but he gave up the North while at it. I don’t even want to think about how angry she’d be if she found out about the Plan Beyond the Wall. She’d probably take over for real as Queen in the North and I wouldn’t be mad at her. Of course, Littlefinger is still around and is STILL trying to get Sansa to betray her family. He tries to manipulate her into thinking that Arya will kill her to become the Lady of Winterfell but literally when has Arya ever had any interest in being a lady of anything. I was legitimately worried at this point, not because I think this makes any sense but because this season seemed to have such a poor understanding of Arya and Sansa’s characters that I was convinced they would have no problem having one of the sisters kill each other off. Thank the Seven that’s not how it went down.
Instead, Sansa gathers Arya, the lords of the North and the Vale, and Bran in the great hall. Once I saw that Bran was there, I had a feeling things wouldn’t go as I’d dreaded they would - he can see everything so he would know Littlefinger was twisting the situation. Sansa then accuses Littlefinger of murdering Lysa Arryn, conspiring to kill Jon Arryn, starting the conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks, betraying Ned, and AND attempting to murder Bran when he was still in a coma. At this point, Littlefinger is the Mr. Krabs meme -- he did NOT see this coming and I love it. Using his own tricks against him, Sansa brings up his persistence in turning her against Arya and how it mirrors the way he turned Lysa against Catelyn. Littlefinger tries to beg her to listen to him and when that doesn’t work tries to appeal to Ser Royce because of course he would help him after learning he killed his Lady Bannerman, right? WRONG. Littlefinger then has no choice but to get on his knees and declare his love for Catelyn and Sansa, with tears in his eyes, and before he can get any grosser, Arya slits his throat with his own knife. I just hope they burned the body. Later, Sansa and Arya have a genuine conversation where Arya acknowledges Sansa’s strength, Sansa acknowledges and appreciates Arya, and we finally get what I’ve been wanting all season. I just hope we get more of it in the next.
Sam and Gilly arrive in Winterfell! Sam goes to talk to Bran to say hi and Bran tells him he’s the three-eyed raven now, which means nothing to Sam until Bran explains (in a way he could’ve explained to Sansa episodes ago, but I digress). Bran then tells Sam about Jon’s parentage, that he is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Bran apparently didn’t do any more digging than that because he just comes to the conclusion that Jon is actually Jon Sand because he was born in Dorne. But Sam, taking credit for Gilly’s finding, tells Bran that Rhaegar and Lyanna actually got married and so Bran goes back in time to see their wedding, and tells Sam that Jon’s real name is Aegon Targaryen and that he’s the real heir to the Iron Throne.
Of course, because it’s Game of Thrones, while this happens, Jon and Daenerys have sex without knowing that they are actually related. This is clearly going to be a problem in the next season, but at the same time I don’t think Daenerys will care all that much given that she originally assumed she was going to marry her brother. It will definitely present complications on her claim to the Iron Throne, but I don’t think Jon actually wants the throne so they can probably work it out. Meanwhile, Tyrion is lurking and doesn’t seem too happy about this change in Jon and Dany’s relationship.
Before that though, they are all on Dragonstone, planning their trip to Winterfell. Jorah suggests that Dany fly there because it’s safer, but Jon says it would be better if they sail together to show allyship (and also cuz he wants to be with her). Personally, I would’ve liked the best of both worlds, with Jon and Dany arriving at Winterfell together on dragons. But Dany agrees with Jon, saying that she’s coming to save the north not conquer it.
On their way out, Theon stops Jon to talk. Jon forgives Theon, telling him what he’s always wanted to hear, that he’s a Greyjoy AND a Stark and that it’s okay to be both. Theon decides he has to go find Yara and rescue her from Euron, and so he goes to the rest of the ironborn to convince them to come with him. One of them says no and so Theon has to prove himself to the ironborn by getting into the WWE ring and going a couple of rounds. He wins and the ironborn agree to go with him on his rescue mission.
At the Wall, Tormund, Beric, and the others watch as the whitewalkers arrive. They get ready to hold them off if necessary but then THE NIGHT KING COMES FLYING AT THEM WITH VISERION AND DESTROYS THE WALL WITH ICE. Who knows what happened to our favorite wildling, but the wights are now south of the Wall and it is extremely real.
Thoughts about the Season
Overall, I thought this season was a let down. While “The Spoils of War” was a shining light, it wasn’t able to hide the lazy writing and character development that was clearly sacrificed for the big budget spectacle that are the dragons and whitewalkers. While I of all people am not one to complain about more dragons, I still maintain that that shouldn’t have been the reason the writing was so poor. There were a lot of holes, flouting of rules established earlier on, and clunky pacing. Some moments felt like they were moving too slow while others seemed to go by too fast. The stakes didn’t seem as high, which was strange considering the main focus on the whitewalkers and the approaching Long Night. The big battles didn’t kill off any of our characters (except Viserion RIP) which made them not feel so big and hopeless. And while I don’t necessarily advocate for my faves to die, I am kind of advocating for some of my faves to die. One of the things I love about Game of Thrones is the idea that anyone can go, that their choices or where they end up can mean they don’t make it. Scenes like Ned being beheaded, the Red Wedding, and the Night’s Watch betraying Jon are what make this show and I think in their rush to get to a point where the Night King takes down the Wall and in their excitement about zombie polar bears, they forgot that. Still there were moments I loved, from Arya continuing her revenge on the Freys to the Battle of Blackwater Rush. This season had a lot of good pieces, but everything around it brought it down. Still, there are only six episodes left and I am looking forward to seeing how the story ends.