Hi everyone and welcome to the seventh of the weekly episode recaps I’m doing for the new season of my favourite television series, „Game of Thrones“. These recaps contain MASSIVE SPOILERS, so please proceed with caution: DO NOT READ if you haven’t seen the episode yet and intend to do so later.
- Episode 1: „Dragonstone“
- Episode 2: „Stormborn“
- Episode 3: „The Queen’s Justice“
- Episode 4: „The Spoils of War“
- Episode 5: „Eastwatch“
- Episode 6: „Beyond the Wall“
- Episode 7: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
The army of the Unsullied is standing in front of the city walls of Kings Landing. On top of the battlements, Bronn and Jaime are supervising the Lannister army’s preparations. In other words, both sides have taken certain precautions just in case something should go wrong with the negotiations. Bronn wonders what motivates the Unsullied, as eunuchs, to fight in the first place. He also notices that Tyrion has sided with them, to which Jaime replies that he “has always been a champion of the downtrodden”. A war horn sounds, and the Unsullied are joined by an enormous horde of Dothraki on horseback. “I think we’re about to be the downtrodden”, Bronn remarks drily.
Jon, Tyrion, Davos, Missandei, Varys, Theon and many others arrive on a ship with Targaryen sails. Jon learns that there are a million people living in the city — more than in the entire North — and wonders why anyone would choose to live that way. “There’s more work in the city”, Tyrion explains, “and the brothels are far superior”. The Hound climbs below-deck and knocks on a heavy crate. It shakes heavily and a primal scream can be heard — the wight they captured during last week’s episode must be in there.
Meanwhile, Jaime has returned to the Red Keep where Cersei is talking to Qyburn. She wonders why Daenerys is not with all the other visitors and whether Tyrion is with them, which her Hand confirms. “If anything goes wrong”, the Queen commands the Mountain, “kill the silver-haired bitch first, then our brother, then the bastard who calls himself King”.
Jon’s group is on the foot march to the Dragon Pit, and they talk about how it came to be, protecting the city from the dragons the Targaryens could not allow to roam free. Tyrion thinks that it must have been a sad joke with the last few dragons, sickly creatures smaller than dogs, but “the most dangerous place in the world” in the day and age of Balerion the Dread. “Maybe it still is”, Davos jokes because a Lannister group is approaching from the other side. Brienne and Podrick are with them; Bronn, who is leading the soldiers, explains that they arrived earlier.
Tyrion and Podrick happily greet each other until Bronn urges them to walk on: “Come on. You can suck his magic cock later.” Then, the Hound and Brienne meet again; she last saw him when she left him for dead after defeating him in a duel. When he learns that Arya is alive at Winterfell, he asks who is protecting her when Brienne is so far away. “The only one that needs protecting is the one that gets in her way”, she answers. “It won’t be me”, the Hound decides.
Tyrion renews his offer to Bronn, to pay double of whatever the other side pays him. He also thinks that Bronn put himself at risk by arranging the meeting, but the former sellsword corrects him: he actually put Tyrion at risk and delivered two traitors right to Cersei’s door; she can chop their heads off if the meeting doesn’t go too well, “all thanks to Ser Bronn of the fucking Blackwater”.
When they arrive at the Dragon Pit, Sandor warns the soldiers about the crate with the wight, which is being pulled on a donkey cart: “Anyone touches it, I’ll kill you first.”
Everyone enters the ruins of the Dragon Pit. Jaime and Cersei arrive, too, with the Mountain, several other Frankensoldiers Qyburn has obviously created, as well as regular Lannister soldiers. Qyburn and Euron Greyjoy are with them. Sandor confronts his zombie brother and promises that he’ll be coming for him.
“Where is she?” Cersei asks impatiently. A moment later, Dany arrives on Drogon’s back, accompanied by Rhaegal. She dismounts, and the dragons take off to the air again. When Tyrion wants to start the formal meeting, he’s interrupted by Euron who reminds his nephew Theon that his sister Yara is his prisoner. “I think we ought to begin with larger concerns”, Tyrion takes up the original conversation again. “Then why are you talking?” the pirate asks. “You’re the smallest concern here.”
“We are a group of people who do not like each other”, Tyrion euphemistically takes up his speech for the third time. He explains that they’re perfectly capable of waging war on each other without meeting face to face. The gathering is about something much more important, Jon explains. “The same thing is coming for all of us: a general you can’t negotiate with, an army that doesn’t leave corpses on the battlefield. Lord Tyrion tells me a million people live in this city. They’re about to become a million more soldiers in the army of the dead.” — “I imagine for most of them it will be an improvement”, Cersei jokes. She realises that Jon and Daenerys are asking for a truce during which the other armies can defeat the White Walkers. She fears that it’s all a trick and that if she agrees, the joint Targaryen/Stark armies will come back to conquer the capital. Daenerys promises that they won’t, but Cersei scornfully says: “The word of a would-be usurper.”
Instead of arguing any longer, Tyrion says that they have something to show Cersei, and the Hound brings in the crate with the wight. He opens it, but for quite a while, nothing happens. It almost looks like the things slowly cease to be animated in the South, and a smirking Cersei seems to think that they’re all taking her for an idiot. Sandor violently kicks at the crate, makes it tumble, and now the wight comes out, screaming, and lunges at Cersei, yanked back only by a heavy chain around its neck. The Hound cuts it in half with his sword, but both head/torso and hips/legs continue to move independently. Now even Cersei looks a bit worried, while Qyburn stands up and walks toward the wight with a fascinated look on his face. He picks up the thing’s moving hand that Sandor has cut off next. Jon takes it from him and sets it ablaze, demonstrating that they can be defeated by burning them or using dragonglass, which he uses to kill the wight for good. “If we don’t win the fight”, he explains, “that is the fate of any person in the world”.
Euron walks up to the ex-wight and asks: “Can they swim?” When Jon denies that, the pirate decides that he will take the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands: “I’ve been around the world, but this […] is the only thing I’ve ever seen that terrifies me.” And off he walks. “The crown accepts your truce”, Cersei declares, “until the dead are defeated. They are the true enemy”. In return she demands that Jon remains in the North and won’t take sides in the Lannister/Targaryen conflict: “I know Ned Stark’s son will be true to his word.” He replies: “I am true to my word, or I try to be.” Meaning exactly what he just said, he explains that he has already pledged himself to Daenerys. His true Stark heritage shines through; his allies must think that he shows exactly the same traits that got Ned killed, and Cersei walks off with all of her court, saying: “Then there is nothing left to discuss.” Brienne tries to sway Jaime: “Fuck loyalty. This goes beyond Houses and honour and oaths. Talk to the Queen.”
When the Lannisters are gone, Daenerys and Tyrion both tell Jon that they’re disappointed; Tyrion thinks that Jon should have learned to lie, while the King in the North insists that stacking lie upon lie will never build anything stable. Tyrion makes a very brave decision: he will go to the Red Keep alone and try to talk to his sister (who probably still wants him dead for murdering their father).
When he arrives, Jaime has just left her chambers because she kicked him out after not listening. “I think we should just say goodbye”, he concludes, “one idiot to another”.
“I shouldn’t be surprised”, his sister greets him in her unique style. “She’s your kind of woman: a foreign whore who doesn’t know her place.” They argue about Tyrion killing Tywin, especially because Cersei thinks that his death was what got her two remaining children killed. Tyrion lists all the thing he did that she would consider crimes and challenges her to have the Mountain kill him immediately. Interestingly enough, she won’t. Tyrion helps himself to some wine. He slowly realises that she, unlike usually, doesn’t drink any. And when she holds her belly during the ongoing conversation, he understands: “You’re pregnant.”
Jon and Dany talk about the decline of her family, for which locking up the dragons in the very place they’re standing in was just a symptom. She also repeats that she can’t have children, but he thinks that “the witch who murdered [her] husband” might not be the most reliable source of information. In any case, they conclude: “We’re fucked” because of Cersei’s decision. But right then, Tyrion comes back, and Cersei, Jaime, Qyburn and several Frankensoldiers follow him. Apparently, Tyrion has managed the unimaginable: Cersei has decided to send her armies north and to fight the dead alongside the other armies. “Call our banners”, she commands, “all of them”.
At a later day, Jaime is discussing the march north with his generals. Cersei comes in and wants a word alone with him. “I always knew you were the stupidest Lannister”, she tells him. She says that she had never planned to cooperate with the Targaryens and the Starks, but to betray them. “This isn’t about Noble Houses”, Jaime tries to argue, “this is about the living and the dead.” His sister says that she intends to stay amongst the living. “I made a promise”, Jaime says. “Let the monsters kill each other”, Cersei counters. “And then we rule.” The Queen finally reveals to her brother that Euron didn’t really run away from the fight, but he’s sailing the Iron Fleet to Essos to pick up the Golden Company. “No one walks away from me”, she concludes. A moment later, Jaime intends to do exactly that. Ser Gregor gets in his way, and just like Tyrion, he tells her to give the order if she really intends to have him killed. She doesn’t, and Jaime gets the hell out of Kings Landing on horseback to ride north and to honour his pledge. As soon as he has left the city, the first snowflakes fall. Winter has come even to the South.
Littlefinger is playing his favourite game: make Sansa suspicious of her family. This time about Jon and his motivation to bend the knee to Daenerys, and possibly to marry her. “He was named King in the North”, Baelish whispers to Sansa, “he can be unnamed”. When she argues that Arya would never agree to it and murder everyone who betrays her family, he once again tries to play Sansa against her sister, too: “Sometimes when I try to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game: I assume the worst.” The worst reason for Arya to come back to Winterfell could be to murder Sansa, she muses in front of Petyr.
Many days later, Sansa walks the battlements of Winterfell in a black cloak and hood and tells a guard: “Have my sister brought to the Great Hall.” There, she and Bran are sitting at the High Table when Arya is led into the Hall. Many Lords and knights are are gathered, including Littlefinger. It must look to everyone like Arya is standing trial. Baelish is smirking, and Arya asks Sansa: “Are you sure you want to do this?” — “It’s not what I want”, her sister answers. “It’s what honour demands.”
“You stand accused of murder”, Sansa continues, “you stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges…” She takes a long break during which Petyr’s smirk intensifies. And then Sansa finishes the sentence: “Lord Baelish?” His look is surprised, shocked even, while Arya looks quite pleased and adds: “My sister asked you a question.”
Sansa clarifies that she accuses him of murdering her aunt, Lysa Arryn, as well as having conspired to poison her husband, Jon Arryn, with Lysa’s help before that. He tries to tell the Starks that Lysa was “a troubled woman”. Sansa, however, paints the whole picture of how he singlehandedly created the whole Lannister/Stark conflict, had their father murdered, and so on. “None of you was there”, he tries to tell them, but Bran tells him: “You held a knife to his [Ned’s] throat. You said, ‘I did warn you not to trust me’.” Arya goes on about the knife which was not Tyrion’s, like Baelish claimed, but his own.
Littlefinger clearly starts to feel desperate and tells Sansa that he could easily explain everything if only he could talk to her alone. She just coldly repeats his own words about assuming the worst to him. “That’s what you do”, she concludes, “turn family against family, turn sister against sister”. Baelish then tries to command Lord Yohn Royce to escort him back to the Vale, but of course the old knight just replies: “I think not.” So Petyr finally falls to his knees and begs Sansa for forgiveness. “I loved your mother since I was a boy”, he practically cries. “And yet you betrayed her”, the Lady of Winter fell answers. “I loved you!” — “And yet you betrayed me.”
With this implicit sentence, Arya steps forward and slits Littlefinger’s throat with the Valyrian Steel dagger that he once gave to the assassin he sent for Bran. He tries to say a final sentence, but then he collapses on the floor of the Great Hall.
Another few days later, Samwell, Gilly and Sam jr. arrive at Winterfell. Sam proceeds to talk to Bran immediately. He tells him that he came back to help Jon in the fight against the Night King’s army, and Bran replies that Jon is on his way back to Winterfell with Daenerys. “You saw this in a vision?” Sam asks, but Bran shows him a raven scroll. And then Sam learns the truth about Jon’s real parents: Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Since he was born in Dorne, Bran concludes that his last name should really be Sand, not Snow. But Sam remembers the information about Rhaegar’s annulment and remarriage in Dorne that Gilly found, and he concludes that Jon isn’t a bastard, but the true born heir to the Iron Throne.
Bran goes back to their wedding in a vision (we see that Rhaegar looks somewhat similar to his siblings, especially Viserys), and he confirms: “Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie. Rhaegar didn’t kidnap my aunt or rape her. He loved her…” (cut to Jon who reluctantly knocks at Daenerys’s cabin door on the ship) “…and she loved him” (Daenerys opens the door). We also get full audio on Ned’s last encounter with his sister: “His real name is Aegon Targaryen. You need to protect him. Promise me, Ned. Promise me.” Meanwhile, in the here and now, said Aegon and his aunt Daenerys are consummating their alliance and their love. For some reason, Tyrion is walking up and down the corridor in front of the Queen’s cabin, looking very worried.
Arya and Sansa are standing on the battlements and discuss the aftermath of Littlefinger’s death. Arya tells Sansa that she did the right thing by passing the sentence on him. They have truly started to forgive and to understand each other. “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives”, Sansa quotes her father’s words. “I miss him”, Arya says. “Me too”, Sansa answers.
Back from Kings Landing, Daenerys plans her next moves with her allies and advisors at her castle. She agrees to Jon’s suggestion to sail to White Harbour together instead of heeding Jorah’s advice to fly there on her own for safety reasons: “I’ve not come to conquer the North. I’m coming to save the North.”
After that, Theon talks to Jon; he thinks that back when they were young, Jon was the only one who always knew what was the right thing to do. Theon argues that choosing between Stark and Greyjoy was impossible for him, which made it hard for him to try and do the right thing. Jon says that Ned was more of a father to Theon than his own father Balon ever was, and that Ned will always be a part of him despite the fact that Theon betrayed him. “It’s not my place to forgive all of it”, Jon says, “but what I can forgive I do”. Theon then decides to go and save his sister, just like she once tried to save him when he was Ramsay’s prisoner.
When he comes down to the beach and tells the remaining Ironborn of his plan, the commander who fished him out of the water weeks ago says that “she’s dead”. They want to leave and find their own island, just like Euron said he would leave. He spits into Theon’s face and insults him once more before he starts to seriously beat him up. But he hasn’t taken two factors into account: that Theon has a remarkable tolerance for pain (from his horrible experiences at Ramsay’s hands), and that a kick in the groin won’t fell him like it does to men with intact genitals. And so Theon wins the upper hand against all odds, leaves the commander for dead and tells everyone else to set sail for Yara’s rescue.
Bran watches what is happening at the eastern end of the wall, warging into a flock of ravens as usual. Tormund, Beric and some other rangers are on top of the Wall when the army of the dead steps out of the frozen forest. They come to a halt in front of the Wall, but suddenly, the Night King appears on Zombie Viserion, flies over the Wall, and the beast breathes blue fire against it. The Wall starts to crumble and to fall. The rangers run down the stairs as fast as they can, but more and more fall to their death when part of the Wall comes down. The Night King’s army marches over the ruins and invades the Seven Kingdoms.
- Did anyone really think that Cersei would agree to fight alongside her enemies? Of course she betrayed everyone and plans to conquer all of Westeros while they’re distracted fighting the zombie army. What she fails to understand, of course, is that each and every fallen Stark or Lannister soldier and any civilian who has the misfortune to cross their path will be added to the Night King’s forces. By the time they reach Kings Landing, they will crush the city like an avalanche.
- Kudos to Theon for standing up to the commander and for his brave decision to try and save his sister.
- Even greater kudos to Jaime for finally realising what his sister has become and for walking away from their toxic relationship.
- Jon/Aegon’s true origins have now been fully revealed, and it will be interesting to see how he and his aunt/lover/Queen will react to the news. Since Targaryens used to wed brother to sister for centuries, a relationship between aunt and nephew wouldn’t even seem incestuous to Daenerys, but what would Jon think? And how does Dany feel about only being second in the line of succession? (Not that it really matters: Jon has pledged fealty to her and will stay true to his word even under the changed circumstances, and besides it looks like they will get married and be King and Queen anyway.)
- One thing that has been pretty obvious for some time will now definitely happen: Jon will ride Rhaegal, the dragon named for his deceased father.
- Littlefinger’s death was the most satisfying since Joffrey’s, even more so than Ramsay’s. He took the phrase “overstaying one’s welcome” to a whole new level. It’s also remarkable how masterfully the three remaining Stark siblings staged the whole event. A nice plot twist, too — not quite of “Prisoner of Azkaban” proportions, but still great.
- Now the army of the dead is truly upon the Seven Kingdoms, and upon the living. It will take Jon’s and Daenerys’s full attention to try and defeat them. This may have been the main reason for Tyrion’s concerned look after Jon went into Dany’s cabin: how can they celebrate their young love when everyone is doomed and needs to fight for their lives?
- Have Tormund, Beric or any others stayed alive through the collapse of the Eastwatch part of the Wall? I guess Tormund will (we need to see these monster babies who will conquer the world, or him joining Ser Jorah’s friend zone club if Brienne should end up with Jaime or no one), but Beric was warned by the Hound that he was on his last life, which now looks like foreshadowing.
- Speaking of the Hound: Cleganebowl was teased this season, but hasn’t happened yet. There’s still hope that it will.
- Will Arya travel to Kings Landing, wear Littlefinger’s face and give Queen Cersei the gift (preferably after Sandor has killed his big, bad brother, for he might be too much even for Arya)? After all, we don’t have the valonqar part of the prophecy on the show, and so the showrunners could go for it. In the books, my money is still on Jaime as the Queenslayer.
- Speaking of which: What will come out first? Season 8 or “The Winds of Winter”? I’m not sure.
A solid finale to an overall good season, this episode deserves another five out of five Gold Dragons. And now the Long Night comes, in which we have to wait for the last season. Reports say that they will start shooting in October and that it may take up to 10 months, so I guess the release date will be late autumn of 2018 or even winter 2018/19.
The episode also fulfilled two of my predictions from last week: 1. The dagger which was passed around between the Stark siblings was indeed used to kill Littlefinger, and of course by the person everyone would have expected to do it (a nice story arc for Arya this season: she started it killing the remaining Freys and ended it removing one of the most dangerous players from the board, by her sister’s command). 2. The Night King has indeed both flown over the Wall on Viserion’s back and brought part of it down.
That’s it for the recaps, but I’ll be back next season with more of them. There will be one more followup article with conclusions for the current and predictions for the upcoming season. During the Long Night, I also plan to rewatch all seven seasons that have been released so far, and there will be posts about them, too.