Like most of Season 7 itself, tonight’s sprawling Game of Thrones penultimate season finale can be best encapsulated in five terms: betrayal, bloody, bullion, battle and big – very big.
Only rivalled in the rarefied pantheon of the current Peak TV era by The Walking Dead in many ways, the two-time Best Drama Emmy winner tonight fought off a summer of hacks, leaks, hype and repeatedly gained record viewership to deliver not only its longest episode yet in “The Dragon and The Wolf” but certainly one of its best.
Greyworm and the Unsullied stand in formation outside of King’s Landing, as Jaime and Bronn watch from above. As they joke about the army having no cocks, they hear a rumble from afar—the Dothraki come riding in, howling past the Unsullied army. Their horses stop right before the wall. Bronn recognises that they’re at a disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Greyjoy and Targaryen ships gather outside the Red Keep. Tyrion, Theon and Varys are aboard one ship together, along with Jon Snow. The Hound, who’s also on the ship, goes somewhere downstairs and knocks on a box, waking the wight they captured, which is inside of it. He better not do anything stupid again, like he did in the fight before the wall!
Daenerys is not aboard the ship. Cersei wonders why she didn’t come. If anything happens, she orders the Mountain to kill Daenerys first, then Tyrion, and then Jon Snow.
Tyrion and Daenerys’ squad meet with Bronn and Lannister army. Brienne and Podrick are already there. She and The Hound exchange a strange look. Pod and Tyrion have a short but sweet reunion. “I’m glad you’re alive,” Pod tells Tyrion.
Brienne and The Hound meet; she thought he was dead. She tells him Arya’s alive and in Winterfell. Pod and Tyrion talk again, this time walking with everyone else towards the Dragonpit. Tyrion questions Bronn’s allegiances and bribes that he’ll pay him double if he pledges to Daenerys, but Bronn says he’s taking good care of himself.
Everyone meets at the Dragonpit—Jon, Tyrion, Brienne, Pod, Bronn, Jorah, Missendei, The Hound, Dothraki men, and Lannister men. Pod and Bronn leave to have a drink, and who can blame them.
Cersei and Jaime enter, with Euron Greyjoy, Qyburn, and Ser Gregor Clegane in tow. The Hound notices his brother. Brienne and Jaime exchange a glance, and Euron and Theon Greyjoy notice each other. The Hound realizes his brother is zombie-like. He approaches him. “Remember me?” But he doesn’t fight, he leaves instead. “You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known,” he tells the Mountain before he exits. Sadly, no Cleganebowl takes place this season – will we ever get to see it?
Cersei asks where Daenerys is. She didn’t travel with Tyrion and everyone else. Right after she asks, the dragons are heard from a distance—Dany arrives via her favorite mode of transportation. Cersei looks unamused, even with Drogon roaring as he lands. Or perhaps she’s just trying to hide her shock. She’s never believed in folklore.
Tyrion begins his speech, but Euron interrupts, telling Theon that he has Yara and threatens to kill her if his nephew doesn’t submit to him then and there. Jaime and Cersei tell him to sit down or leave.
Tyrion tries to calm everyone down. Jon Snow tells everyone about the threat beyond the Wall, but Cersei thinks it’s another bad joke. Dany insists that it’s true, and they want a truce to fight the Army of the Dead in the meantime. “Your capital will be safe until the northern threat is dealt with. You have my word,” she tells Cersei. Tyrion tells his sister that the threat is real, and they have proof.
The Hound carrys out the box with the wight in it, on his back no less. At first it seems there’s nothing in there, but after he kicks it, the wight comes screeching out of the box and comes running for Cersei. It’s worth noticing the blue eyes here, is the Night King using this as a chance to see his enemies?” The Hound cuts it in half and it still moves around. This time Cersei really seems scared. Qyburn, on the other hand, seems intrigued. He inspects one of the severed hands. Jon Snow demonstrates that the way to kill wights is with dragonglass and with fire.
Dany says she, too, had to see the Dead with her own eyes to believe they exist, and adds that there are a hundred thousand at least. They can’t swim, Jon tells Euron. Relieved, Euron takes the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands. “This is the only thing I’ve ever seen that terrifies me,” he tells the Lannisters. He makes a gross pass at Dany before making his exit. Classic.
Cersei seems convinced. “The crown accepts your truce,” she says. “Until the dead are defeated, they are the true enemy.” Her one condition is that the King of the North does not choose sides in the Targaryen-Lannister fight. But Jon Snow says he already pledged himself to Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen. Cersei quickly changes her mind and leaves. She says the Dead will come for the north first anyways.
Brienne tries to grab Jaime as he leaves. She says this danger is beyond houses and oaths and loyalty. She urges him to talk to the Queen.
Meanwhile, Davos, Daenerys, and Tyrion all berate Jon for not lying. But Jon is too honorable—like Ned Stark—to do that. Tyrion decides to talk to his sister, even though he knows it’s dangerous.
Tyrion sees Jaime before going into Cersei’s room. They say an awkward but heartfelt goodbye, knowing Tyrion’s upcoming meeting will probably get him killed. He enters Cersei’s room and Ser Gregor Clegane follows closely behind.
Cersei scolds Tyrion for tearing the family apart. He urges her to get it over with and order the Mountain to kill him, but she doesn’t. He offers her a glass of wine and apologizes for the death of her children, because he did love them. Cersei tells him that when the wight came for her all she wanted was to protect her family from it. As she speaks, she holds her stomach. Tyrion figures out that she’s pregnant (Cersei not drinking the wine probably helped too).
Back at the Dragonpit, Dany explains to Jon Snow that King’s Landing was the beginning of the end for House Targaryen. She regrets that the dragons her ancestors had were kept in the pit, even though “a dragon is not a slave.” When she once again tells Jon she can’t have children, because the witch who killed her husband told her so, he questions the prophecy. Since when is a witch is a reliable source of information?
Tyrion returns to the Dragonpit, this time with Cersei, Qyburn, Jaime, the Mountain and some Lannister soldiers. Cersei assures that the Lannister forces will march north with them to the Wall. She hopes they’ll remember she decided to help when the war is over. She calls all of their banners.
Over at Winterfell, Sansa has received a letter from Jon stating that he’s bent the knee to Daenerys as Queen. Littlefinger thinks they’re trying to form an alliance, since they’re both young and unmarried.
Sansa tells Littlefinger what Arya is now—one of the Faceless Men. Littlefinger tells Sansa he figures out a person’s motives by imagining the worst thing he or she could want. Sansa figures it out: Arya came to Winterfell to kill her in revenge for wronging the family. She unearthed the letter to provide justification for killing her. And after she kills her, she’ll become Lady of Winterfell. Now, is this the truth or is Littlefinger just trying to plant ideas into her head?
At Dragonstone, Daenerys decides to sail to the North to White Harbor with Jon and his men rather than fly there with her dragons. Theon has a moment with Jon. He praises Jon’s honesty, even in the face of enemies, when he couldn’t have done the same. Jon assures Theon that his “father” Ned Stark is still a part of them both, and he forgives him. Theon tells Jon he needs to save his sister Yara, just like she did for him when he was Ramsay’s prisoner. He finds the Greyjoy men outside, just before they sail away. He orders them to find and save Yara, but one man challenges him, and beats him up. He tries to knee Theon in the crotch, but little does he know, Ramsay already took care of that a while ago, giving Theon a secret weapon of sorts. Theon beats him up instead and the men follow his lead, for Yara.
Sansa summons a meeting with Arya in the Great Hall, where Bran, Littlefinger and other northern lords are also present. The Lady of Winterfell says: “You stand accused of murder, you stand accused of treason, how do you answer these charges… Lord Baelish?” THEY WERE PLAYING HIM THE WHOLE TIME. Sansa confronts Littlefinger for his many transgressions against their family: killing Lysa Arryn, organizing Jon Arryn’s murder, and most importantly, framing Ned Stark. Bran, thanks to his Three-Eyed Raven skills, knows what happened. “You held a knife to his throat. ‘You said, I did warn you not to trust me,’” he tells Littlefinger. Sansa plays his “little game” right on him, assumed what worst of what he wanted, and figured out why he tried to turn her whole family against each other. Littlefinger gets on his knees and begs for mercy. Just as he calls out her name, Arya walks out and CUTS HIS THROAT WITH HIS OWN KNIFE.
Cersei, unlike Jon Snow, was lying in that meeting in the Dragonpit. She does not want to fight alongside her enemies north of the Wall. She believes that the Dragons, Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northern men will be able to hold it off, while her forces stay south and take back Westeros. Jaime is surprised. He, for one, actually believed in the threat of the North. No matter which side wins, the dead or the living, they’ll come back down South and defeat the Lannisters. But Cersei has a solution, thanks to the Iron Bank and their sack of Highgarden, they were able to buy an elite mercenary troop in Essos, the Golden Company, which consists of 20,000 men and then some. In fact, Euron Greyjoy didn’t actually go back to the Iron Islands, he’s on his way to Essos to pick up the new mercenaries. She also noticed that Dany is missing a dragon, which means it’s probably dead, and dragons are vulnerable.
Jaime wants to honor his pledge of going north, but Cersei says if he does so, he’ll be charged with treason. Like Tyrion, he urges his sister to order the Mountain to kill him. She gives a nod, but he’s able to walk away. While he’s on his horse riding off, he notices it’s snowing—in the South, in King’s Landing – Winter is here.
Sam and Gilly arrive in Winterfell. He meets with Bran, whom he once helped get to the Wall. Bran reveals to Sam that he became the Three-Eyed Raven. Sam reveals he left the Citadel because wants to help Jon fight the Army of the Dead. Bran then reveals Jon’s true identity to Sam (though he didn’t tell any of his Stark siblings)—Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and he was born a bastard in Dorne, so his last name would be Sand.
However, Sam corrects him, after Gilly made her bombshell discovery in the Citadel episodes before (he does listen!). Rhaegar’s marriage with Elia was annulled, and he and Lyanna actually had a secret marriage, so Jon isn’t a bastard, he’s their legitimate son. Bran has a vision of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s wedding and realizes it’s true. He also revisits Jon’s birth scene and realizes what Lyanna whispered into Ned’s ear: it was Jon’s real name, Aegon Targaryen. Bran and Sam realise this means Jon is the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, and they need to tell him. Meanwhile, during this mind-blowing sequence, Jon visits Dany’s room in their ship, and they have sex. Tyrion notices where Jon went, and probably knows what’s going on.
Sansa and Arya have a sister moment at Winterfell. With Littlefinger out of the picture, we finally see them being warm and to each other rather than fighting. They’re both okay with the fact that Sansa remains Lady of Winterfell. Arya quotes Ned Stark and Sansa continues the phrase, ending with: “the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” They bond over how much they miss their father.
Bran has another vision in the Godswood. This time, he sees the Wall at Eastwatch, and Tormund and Beric Dondarrion are there. They see the Night King and some of the dead emerging from the forest and approaching the Wall. (There are even giants among them.) But the army stops at a distance from the barrier. Then, the wight dragon (AKA dead Viserion) emerges, breathing blue fire at the Wall, slowly breaking it down. Tormund, Beric, and other men of the Night’s Watch run for safety, but the whole part of the wall from Eastwatch into the sea BREAKS DOWN ENTIRELY, crumbling into pieces and into the ocean. The dead walk forward and cross through the broken barrier.
As The Hound said to the Mountain “you know whose coming for you brother, you’ve always known.”