WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Season 7, Episode 7 of Game of Thrones.
World’s collided and winter came in the penultimate season finale of Game of Thrones. For the first time in seven years, almost all the main characters from the show came together in one scene, winter reached King’s Landing, and the White Walkers got past the Wall. In true Game of Thrones fashion, there was deceit, lies, honor, betrayal, and twists throughout the Season 7 finale.
“The Dragon and the Wolf” started with the buildup toward the meeting between the two sides, led by Daenerys and Cersei. The Lannister army was in preparation to defend the walls of King’s Landing, while the Unsullied stood on call and ready to breach the city in case anything happened to their queen. Then the savage Dothraki came charging to stand with the Unsullied—it’s clear the Lannisters have no chance against them, and Jaime said as much in previous episodes and later in this episode. This was simply a standoff and peace through strength from both sides to prevent anything from happening to Queen Cersei or Queen Daenerys.
The conversations during the walk to the meeting was fascinating. First was the nice reunion between Tyrion and Podrick, who thought they’d never see each other again and hadn’t since Season 4. The banter between The Hound and Brienne was great, as Brienne sort of apologized to Sandor while also telling him Arya was alive and safe in Winterfell, adding “the only one that needs protecting is the one that gets in her way.” Hearing this news brought relief to The Hound, as you could see it in his face when he cracked a bit of a smile.
In another satisfying conversation, Tyrion reminded Bronn he’d pay double whatever he’s getting paid if he switches sides. Adding some ambiguity to the upcoming meeting, Bronn insisted arranging the secret meeting between Tyrion and Jaime helped himself because it brought two traitors’ heads (Tyrion’s and Varys’) right to Cersei. Tyrion cut the slight tension when he responded by telling Bronn, “it’s great to see you again.” And Bronn agreed. While they are on opposite sides now, the two went through a lot together and in a way, they might be closer friends with each other than they are with anyone else.
Despite the Unsullied and the Dothraki ready to attack outside the walls of King’s Landing, there was concern Jon Snow, Tyrion, Jorah, and company (Daenerys was the only one not with them) were ready to get massacred. Cersei and her bodyguards, including The Mountain, did arrive. No words were exchanged as everyone took their seats—just intense feelings and looks being exchanged, with Cersei’s glance at Tyrion being the most menacing.
To kick off the unofficial start of the meeting, The Hound went up to his (zombie?) brother, The Mountain, and told him it’s not over for him yet, despite his half-dead appearance. “You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known,” he warned. The “Clegane Bowl” people have been very much anticipating looks like it might happen in the final season.
As the sides sat there awkwardly, including a look between Cersei, Jaime, and Brienne, Cersei was exasperated at Daenerys not being there. But after a few seconds, Drogon and Rhaegal screeched and flew overhead to the amazement of everyone there—except Cersei, who tried to not act too impressed. Daenerys was gracefully brought down by Drogon and took her seat the meeting. Cersei, probably full of jealousy over Daenerys’ arrival, scolded the Dragon Queen, “we’ve been waiting here for some time” (which of course was only about a minute). When Daenerys only calmly said, “my apologies,” Cersei—while she didn’t necessarily show it—became even more enraged.
Tyrion—not before getting picked on by Euron, who also toyed with Theon over having Yara as his prisoner—started the meeting with a solid speech, setting up the gravity of the situation. The King in the North also stepped in when Cersei questioned the purpose of the meeting, as he can explain better than anyone how serious the army of the dead is.
When the wight was taken out of the box by Sandor and ran right up to Cersei’s face, that made her realize this is a real issue, as indicated by her normally-steely look fading slightly. Jon, who has become an expert on the army of the dead, showed the wights can be destroyed two ways: by fire and by dragonglass. The quote from the first tease for Season 7 by Jon came at this meeting: “There’s only one war that matters. The Great War. And it is here.”
Daenerys immediately added, “I didn’t believe it until I saw them… I saw them all.” An already-concerned Jaime asked how many there were, and he looked petrified when Daenerys answered “100,000 at least.” It’s obvious Jaime understands the situation completely—if they don’t fight, the army of the dead will come marching and they will all become a part of it.
Euron also seemed to understand the situation, stating that he’s seen a lot of stuff but the wight is the only thing he’s ever seen that terrifies him. It’s unclear if he was actually frightened of the wights, or if it was just a part of the scheme by Cersei to make it appear the Greyjoy navy was out of the picture.
Using her prior knowledge of the Starks and their honor, Cersei declared she would accept the truce on one condition: Jon Snow return to the North and not choose sides between her and Daenerys when the war against the dead is over. Cersei admitted she couldn’t trust Daenerys, but she knew she could trust Ned Stark’s “son” being true to his word. And Cersei was right that she could trust Jon, because he told her the truth—he could not accept her request after he already pledged to Queen Daenerys.
The meeting ended by a petty Cersei, who had no interest in helping without Jon accepting her terms. While Cersei does have a point that she would be helping Daenerys and Jon, only to have them both fight her when the Great War is over, there are bigger concerns than who sits on the Iron Throne. Brienne attempted to get this through Jaime’s head before they left, but Jaime is basically powerless in the situation.
Everyone else let Jon have it about being so honorable that he couldn’t tell a lie. Daenerys told him that her dragon died fighting beyond the Wall to rescue them and bring the wight to King’s Landing, and it’s all for nothing if Cersei doesn’t agree to help them. And Tyrion angrily asked Jon if he could learn to lie, every now and then, just a bit. The honorable King in the North defended himself and said you can say he’s doing what got his “father” killed, “but when enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies. And lies won’t help us in this fight.”
Jon deserves a lot of respect for being honorable and never lying, but it did ruin the entire meeting. The Lannisters had his thought-to-be father executed (though Cersei did just want to send him to the Wall), and his thought-to-be brother (and Catelyn) massacred at the Red Wedding. If there’s anyone Jon should be able to lie to, it’s the Lannisters, and Cersei specifically.
So, Tyrion had to walk into a near-death trap with Cersei and The Mountain, in an attempt to convince his sister to fight up North. Before the closed-door meeting with Cersei, Tyrion and Jaime appeared to be on much more amicable terms than they were during their secret meeting. They’re both alive, after all, so Jaime probably sees them as being on the same side again.
This was the first real discussion between Cersei and Tyrion since he killed their father, so there was some hashing out to be done. Not only did Cersei lose Tywin since Tyrion left, but Myrcella and Tommen also died—two things Cersei claimed would not have happened were Tywin alive. Cersei baited Tyrion perfectly, allowing him to discover that she is pregnant with another child. As indicated on the “Inside the Episode”, Cersei hasn’t been necessarily in power from the beginning, but she’s always been around power—and she’s become one of the best at playing the game.
Cersei got Tyrion—and thus, Daenerys—to believe she wanted to live long enough to have her child, so the army of the dead had to be defeated for that to happen. The Lannister Queen made the announcement to Daenerys and Jon that she would march her armies north, while stating, “the darkness is coming for us all. We will face it together. And when the Great War is over, perhaps you’ll remember I chose to help, with no promises or assurances from any of you.” Cersei said to call her banners, and it was really looking like a moment of redemption for her (which there have obviously been very few). Unfortunately, that feeling of some return only lasted for a short time.
When they arrived back at Dragonstone, Theon asked Jon for a moment alone to speak. Remember, Theon and Jon were basically like brothers, both being raised by Ned as their father figure, with Jon believing Ned to be his father. The young Greyjoy’s remorse was clear in his face, as he told Jon of the “impossible choice” he always felt, being a Greyjoy raised by Starks.
The King in the North gave some words of wisdom, as he stills sees the good in Theon, and told him Ned is still “a part of you, just like he’s a part of me.” Being the honorable person that he is, Jon forgave Theon—not for all of it, but for what he can forgive—and told him “you don’t have to choose. You’re a Greyjoy… and you’re a Stark.” Because Yara is his sister and she tried to save him, Theon knows it’s only right he tries to save her (and while he doesn’t say it, it could help him get more redemption after he helped Sansa escape from Ramsay). “So why are you still talking to me?” Jon asked rhetorically, as he walked away to end one of the better conversations we’ve seen in Game of Thrones.
Jon’s talk to Theon will also likely apply to himself, as he’s totally unaware that he’s a Targaryen. If/when he does find out, you can bet Jon is not going to forget how he was raised. He’ll always be a Stark. This is very much related to the second episode of the entire series, when Ned told Jon during their farewell, “You are a Stark. You may not have my name, but you have my blood.”
In the North at Winterfell, Arya was brought before Sansa (and Bran) in what looked like could be the end of the faceless assassin. After Littlefinger told Sansa earlier that she should expect the worst from people, it certainly looked like Sansa was going to protect herself by having her sister killed or imprisoned. “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges… Lord Baelish?”
It instantly sent shock and chills right when Sansa said the name, “Lord Baelish,” as it was one of the biggest twists in the entire series (which is saying something). The first huge twist like this came in Season 1, when Littlefinger turned on Ned and put the dagger to his throat—in some ways, the moment that let you know Game of Thrones was for real. It’s only fitting that Lord Baelish dies at the hands of Arya by the same dagger he used against Ned.
Seeing Littlefinger cry and beg for his life made his death that much more satisfying. His betrayal of Ned was a huge factor in the eventual death of the Lord of Winterfell, but he was able to survive all these years in a seemingly untouchable position—always several steps ahead, plotting out every possible move. Lord Baelish’s death was perfectly executed, as he was at first baffled (“I’m a little bit confused”), and then in a position of no power or influence and forced to helplessly beg—the opposite of where he was for quite a while.
The buildup of tension between Sansa and Arya throughout the season was also beautifully done. It led to this scene being more of a surprise when Littlefinger was finally taken off the board. Petyr Baelish was a truly great character that’s been around from the beginning, but it’s good to see some justice served after all his treachery.
Back in King’s Landing, another big twist occurred. As Jaime was gathering the troops to march north and fight the army of the dead, Cersei asked “are you a traitor or an idiot?”—the Lannisters were not going to march north and help Jon and Daenerys. Instead, Cersei wants to take back their lands and hire the Golden Company, a group of 20,000 mercenaries, horses, and elephants, while also revealing Euron didn’t sail back to the Iron Islands—he’s going to Essos to bring the Golden Company to Westeros.
Jaime—who’s character arc might be better than anyone’s in the entire series—finally, and thankfully, had enough. He was obviously perplexed with Cersei not caring to help fight the army of the dead, and he said he made a promise to march north and fight, so that’s what he’s doing.
When The Mountain blocked Jaime from leaving, I thought that would be it for Jaime. When Cersei gave the nod and Ser Gregor pulled out his sword, I thought that was definitely it for Jaime. However, the Lannister knight called his sister’s bluff, stating “I don’t believe you,” and walking past The Mountain and out of there alive.
As Jaime was leaving King’s Landing and putting a glove over his golden hand, a drop of snow hit the glove. As he looked up, the snow was falling in capital of the Seven Kingdoms for the first time in Game of Thrones. It was truly a sight to behold, and the scene was beautifully done. Jaime fighting up North with Jon and the others is one of the things to most look forward to in Season 8, as Jon and Jaime had an interesting conversation in Season 1, and perhaps Jaime will apologize to Bran for shoving him out the window in the very first episode. Again, Jaime’s character arc has been one of the best things about Game of Thrones, and it’s awesome that he continues to do good as he rides to Winterfell.
Speaking of Winterfell, Samwell Tarly just arrived after leaving the Citadel and goes in to see Bran, who he knows from when he helped take him to the Wall. Bran, perhaps because he knows Sam knows Jon well, revealed to someone else for the first time that Jon’s real parents are Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. We basically already knew from last season that Jon was the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, and Gilly saying about Rhaegar getting a marriage annulled gave a strong indication that he was re-married to Lyanna. But the episode did a great job of telling the story so that it was powerful and impactful.
Sidenote: if Shireen did not teach Gilly how to read, she wouldn’t have been able to find out about Rhaegar getting his marriage to Elia Martell annulled. Everything comes together in Game of Thrones, and it’s part of why it’s an all-time great show.
Bran was unaware of Rhaegar and Lyanna getting married, as he thought Jon’s real name would be Jon Sand because he thought he was Dornish bastard. So as the Three-Eyed Raven watched the secret marriage and re-watched and heard Lyanna tell Ned Jon’s real name, he was narrating and talking it out as he put the pieces together over the past (the marriage and Ned with Lyanna) and the present (Jon with Daenerys)—likely both inspirations for the name of the episode.
“Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie,” he started, which is very crazy to think about and—even though we pretty much knew it—kind of blows your mind when you think about it. And Jon’s real name, which Bran hears this time in his vision of Ned and Lyanna, is Aegon Targaryen— “he’s never been a bastard…he’s the heir to the Iron Throne.”
While, again, we knew this, it still floors you when you hear it (and when you hear Lyanna call him “Aegon Targaryen”). And it sets up an interesting dynamic between Jon and Daenerys for the final season. They have fallen in love with each other, but Dany has been working towards getting on the Iron Throne. She might not like it that Jon is the rightful heir—something she’s thought she was for several years now.
After coming together so quickly, it’s possible the two remaining Targaryens break apart quickly too. Jon might not even be interested in sitting on the Iron Throne, though. He didn’t ask to be King in the North, but he took it on anyway when named king by the Northern Lords.
Jon and Daenerys might also be freaked out when they are told of their relation. The King in the North in particular, being raised as a Northerner, might believe a relationship with his aunt is wrong. It’s a precarious situation that can go any number of different ways.
For Jon personally, it’ll be interesting to hear what he thinks if/when he finds out he’s a Targaryen and not the son of Ned Stark. While he’s been known as the bastard Jon Snow for much of his life, he’s actually Aegon Targaryen—the son of Rhaegar (who everyone seemed to love) and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Jon Snow became an absolute legend, and he did it all without a prestigious and noble name or his birthright. He twice declined the opportunity to be named Jon Stark, and finding out he should be sitting on the Iron Throne might not even change the man that will always be known as Jon Snow.
In the chilling conclusion of the final episode of Season 7, the Night King made his effortless attack on Eastwatch, as he rode in on a wight Viserion. It hurts to see Viserion being used by the Night King, but it was still breathtaking to see the dragon shooting out blue fire (or ice?) to take down the Wall, allowing the dead to march past in a terrifying moment to end the season.
Game of Thrones’ penultimate season lived up to the hype, which comes as no surprise. Despite being only seven episodes, Season 7 was arguably the best season of the series yet, with the world shrinking and main characters coming together. The end is near, as the story can now go in any number of directions and end in any number of ways. We only have six episodes left, and it’ll be sad when it’s over, but it’s sure to be as epic as you can imagine.
Let the hype for the final season of the greatest show in television history begin.