Game of Thrones, S7 E7: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
Written by Dave Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
“The only one that needs protecting is the one who gets in her way.”
I have never been so relieved to watch a season finale because it didn’t contain a huge epic battle scene. After last week’s death of a dragon, we were spared the sight of the dead dragon turning on and fighting its siblings and its mother. I’m sure that scene is coming, but at least we won’t have to watch it until next year. Make no mistake, this episode contained many fight scenes, all of them satisfactory: just not that one.
The first big battle, kind of a prequel for The Great War in the North, could be called The Battle of the Ovaries in the South. Tyrion, John Snow, Brienne, and the Hound arrive in King’s Landing to a tense welcome after a tense trip: all of these people have fought each other at various times before and now they’re on the same side. This marks the reunion between the two brothers, The Hound and The Mountain. They never got along after The Mountain put The Hound’s face in the fire when they were toddlers. The death and revival of The Mountain as some sort of undead automaton does not improve their relationship. Another epic battle the producers of Game of Thrones reserved for the final season next summer must be the penultimate conflict between these two siblings. Unlike the battle of the three dragons, that’s a fight I do want to watch. Brothers Tyrion and Jamie also meet again, and find that they share some common ground. They both realize that Circe does not grasp the realities facing the Seven Kingdoms.
Ever conscious of her power position, Circe keeps the allies waiting for her. By doing so she intends to diminish their importance and bolster the impression that she controls the situation. Daenerys blows that strategy completely apart by not only arriving even later than Circe, but flying in on the back of one dragon while accompanied by another. At this moment I realized that my all-time favorite characters on this entire TV series are the dragons.
The Hound releases the dead soldier brought back from the North at such a high cost. It lunges directly at Circe. The Hound cuts it in half, and Circe and the other southerners watch in horror as the corpse continues to fight. Euron Greyjoy asks if the dead soldiers can swim. When told they can’t, he bails, saying he’s returning to his island. After John Snow finally kills the dead soldier with a dragonglass blade, Circe agrees to a truce – but only if John Snow agrees to stay out of any future conflict between Circe and Daenerys. Noble to a fault, John Snow refuses. He explains that he has pledged his loyalty to Daenerys. Everyone wishes he lied, especially after Circe withdraws her offer and leaves the meeting.
Circe and Tyrion reunite, finally coming face to face under circumstances that literally constitute the possible end of the world, and all Circe can talk about is how Tyrion betrayed the Lannister family. She’s gone mad, mad, mad. Even as she relentlessly harps on Tyrion’s unforgivable injuries to her precious Lannister family, she contemplates executing first one brother then the other. And one brother she almost kills is not only her lover but the father of her unborn child. She has turned into the crazy queen from Alice in Wonderland, shouting “off with their heads!” about the very members of that family about whom she says she cares so much. But this is not Wonderland: this is Westeros, where mad rulers get slain by the people who have sworn to protect them. Circe’s brother, Jamie, carries an alternate title to all of his official ones. He is The Kingslayer, because he executed the last ruler of the Iron Throne who went completely bonkers. Circe does not order Jaime’s death, at least not this season. Whether he arranges hers will have to wait until next season. He rides to the north to keep the promises that he made just as it starts snowing in sunny, southerly King’s Landing.
Tyrion succeeds in getting Circe to resume negotiations. She agrees to fight alongside Daenerys and John Snow against the Army of the Dead. When, however, Jamie prepares the Lannister Army to march north, she stops him from doing so. She actually thinks money can win the war between the living and the dead. Euron Greyjoy did not abandon her; he went on her orders to fetch the Golden Company, a mercenary army of 20,000 soldiers. Even though Daenerys told her that the Army of the Dead contains 100,000 fighters, Circe somehow thinks she can win with some extra men. She’s so obsessed with holding on to the Iron Throne that she will not see that survival is almost impossible, let alone winning.
The next battle takes place on the beach. During Circe’s mad tea party, Euron trash-talks Theon Greyjoy. He tells Theon that unless Theon bows to his authority, Euron will kill Yara. Theon explains to John Snow (and thereby to the audience) that Yara was the only person who ever thought Theon was worth saving. He tries to convince the Ironborn to go with him to rescue her. They flat out refuse, planning to go find some island to invade and wait out the war between the living and the dead. One of the Ironborn lieutenants punches Theon. He keeps punching him. He tells Theon not to get up as he continues to beat the crap out of him. If Theon gets up, the lieutenant will kill him. Theon keeps getting up, even though he’s losing the fight. The Lieutenant miscalculates, and knees Theon in the groin. He does not realize that he is attacking Theon’s least vulnerable body parts, because those body parts were removed by The Bastard of Bolton. Theon smiles, the tide turns on the beach, and he beats the lieutenant to a pulp. The Ironborn depart to rescue Yara. Theon finds his courage in order to help his sister, just as he did to help Sansa.
At Winterfell, Sansa receives the news that John Snow bent the knee to Daenerys. That Bastard Baelish insinuates that John Snow and Daenerys must be contemplating at least an alliance and probably a marriage. He also implies that Arya must possess ulterior motives for returning to Winterfell. Sowing discord between the sisters, he convinces Sansa that Arya wants her dead so that she herself can be Lady of Winterfell.
It appears that That Bastard Baelish’s seeds are producing fruit when Sansa summons Arya to the Great Hall for what looks like a trial. Sansa raises charges of murder and treason, but not against Arya. She indicts That Bastard Baelish instead. She charges him with murdering her Aunt Lysa, conspiring to murder her uncle John Arryn, and betraying her father Ned Stark to his death. He tries to deny everything, and claims that there are no witnesses. But Bran Stark can look in on past events. Though he was not there when these things happened, he can look back through time and watch them unfold, and testify about them in the present. He tells what he saw. Arya tells what she saw. That Bastard Baelish’s men refuse to help him.
In the only scene that could possibly make up for having to watch a dragon die last week, That Bastard Baelish drops to his knees and bursts into tears. As he whimpers and slobbers and grovels, Arya cuts his throat. I’ve been waiting six years for that.
Samwell Tarly arrives at Winterfell. He tells Bran that he wants to help John Snow fight the dead. Bran knows that John Snow is the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Samwell knows that Rhaegar did not abduct and rape Lyanna: he married her. About the same time they share their respective knowledge and discover that John Snow is the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, John Snow and Daenerys consummate their relationship on the boat taking them to Winterfell. Actor Peter Dinklage has summarized GOT as sexy sexy sexy/stabby stabby stabby/incest incest incest. He certainly got this episode right. Yet another incestuous couple strives for world domination! Actually, Jamie and Circe strive for world domination. Daenerys and John strive for world survival. Let’s hope that Daenerys’ and John’s relationship, and their ambitions, fare better than Circe’s and Jamie’s.
Bran enters another one of his trances and sees Eastwatch. He watches through ravens’ eyes as the Army of the Dead arrive at the castle. Tormund and Dondarrion are stunned by the size of the force massing beneath the wall. It includes giants. Most terrible of all, it also includes a dead dragon. Ridden by the Night King, Daenerys’ dead child attacks The Wall with blue fire. It cuts through the ice like a laser. The Wall just falls. It was built to keep the White Walkers from invading the South, and stood for 3000 years. Now it lies in rubble. With the help of Daenerys’ dragon, the dead can now just walk right through to the land of the living.
The Battle at The Wall constitutes the last fight of this season. In the next and final season, we know people are going to die. We know that the dragons are going to fight. Ultimately, I wouldn’t put it past GOT to just kill them all. We have a year to live with the feeling of impending doom.