The dragon is the wolf and the wolf is the dragon. Jon Snow is Aegon Targaryen.
Game of Thrones big Season 7 finale revelation wasn’t greeted as a big surprise; many fans had followed the breadcrumbs to Jon’s lineage long ago. But the cementing of this reality now casts a shadow across the long-foreshadowed sex union of Jon and Dany.
Elsewhere in Westeros, Cersei plotted a double-cross, Littlefinger crossed his last double, and a blue, fire-sptting death dragon took us to the credits, leaving everyone to shriek internally: “OMG IS TORMUND GOING TO BE OK??”
(He is, for now. Putting aside the Brienne factor, Tormund is far too popular to suffer the indignity of an off-screen death.)
Lots of plot developments, minimal plot movement. The crumbling of the Wall set up a series of looking confrontations, but it didn’t happen until the episode’s final moments. Here’s what the experts are saying as we all stare down the bleak, unforgiving reality of a year-plus wait before this story finally ends.
Mashable‘s Laura Prudom spent a large portion of her recap discussing Jon and Dany’s union, which is only the latest in a disturbingly long line of incestuous pairings on Game of Thrones. It’s difficult to pin down at this point what the scene — played against Bran’s revelation of Jon’s true heritage — meant, but there is plenty of precedent in Westeros for this kind of situation.
Does Game of Thrones want us to root for [Dany and Jon] (because we kind of are) or to recognize how destructive it is to perpetuate the dynastic model that ended up destroying the Targaryen family? It feels like the latter — especially since Jon helpfully pointed out to Dany that maybe the witch who murdered her husband wasn’t the most reliable source of information on her childbearing capabilities, meaning that there could be yet another incest baby heading to Westeros in Season 8.
If the show is setting up a seemingly perfect pairing just to tear it down, I’m all for it — that’s the kind of subversiveness we expect from George R. R. Martin’s plotting, where nobility and honor get the heroes killed instead of rewarded.
While Jon was (still) away, cavorting with Auntie Dany, siblings Sansa and Arya wrapped a bow around a plot of their own back in Winterfell. For seven seasons, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish has managed to evade death and come out ahead every single time.
Littlefinger was tried, sentenced, and — at long last — executed in the court of Winterfell. He tried to play a game with the Stark sisters, but they turned things around on him. For The Hollywood Reporter‘s Josh Wigler, that turn of events is merely a sign of the times in Westeros.
Love him or hate him, Littlefinger was a character who added enormous amounts of intrigue to the show’s more politically-inclined storylines. His loss isn’t quite as grand a symbolic gesture as the fall of the Wall, but it’s nevertheless one that reinforces the show’s current mission statement: Game of Thrones has little time left for scheming and manipulation, not when there’s an undead army breathing down humanity’s neck.
If you’re feeling whiplash from the way the Stark ladies played Littlefinger, that’s understandable. Season 7’s abbreviated episode order left a lot less time for foundation-laying character moments.
As enjoyable as it was to finally say goodbye to Littlefinger’s schemes for good, it was the scene right after — as The Guardian‘s Sarah Hughes observed — that delivered some much-needed context.
The real joy came afterwards, as Sansa and Arya looked over the snowy ramparts of Winterfell and made common cause. They might not have always been the best of friends or closest of sisters – they might still have issues festering from that childhood that was so abruptly sundered – but after all the bloodshed and suffering and betrayal and loss, they are family. And as Sansa noted, if the Starks know anything it’s that the pack survives.
Hey. Let’s not forget about Cersei.
The ice queen of King’s Landing had a double-cross in mind all along. Dany and Jon appealed to her humanity, but — as we learn at the end of the episode — all Cersei desires is vengeance and victory over her enemies.
And yet… maybe she’s not blinded by it? Is there any other reasonable explanation for Tyrion surviving his sitdown with a sister who despises him? Brandon Norwalk of A.V. Club thinks that’s the case.
Tyrion points out two things, one calmly and one in the height of passion, that prove Cersei is not just some evil villain. First, why take the meeting if she didn’t hope for something to come out of it? If she didn’t have any hope at all? Second, he dares her to kill him, really dares her, reciting all the crimes he’s guilty of and telling her how much he’s wanted to kill her, and still she can’t give the order. It doesn’t mean they’re on good terms. When she next speaks she is pure cold fire. But it does prove that somewhere in there, she knows he’s not the monster she pretends. Tyrion offers what she’s always claimed to want, and she can’t take it because she knows deep down it’s not really what she wanted anyway.
Cersei’s later exchange with Jaime, her brother and baby daddy, reinforces that same idea. She has a chance to kill him before he walks out to consort with her enemies. She even seems to give that order to the Mountain at one point. But then, the moment passes and Jaime is gone.
By all appearances, we leave Season 7 with the belief that Cersei has no one left in the world other than Euron, Qyburn, and the mountain of debt she’s surely accrued in hiring the Golden Company. She’s pushed away her whole family in favor of paying out a Lannister blood debt.
Probably. Cersei’s scenes with Tyrion and Jaime are ultimately rather difficult to read. The Washington Post‘s Alyssa Rosenberg blames “muddy writing” for the lack of clarity, but allows for the possibility that there’s a larger Cersei plot in play here.
It’s not clear to me if Tyrion betrayed Daenerys and Jon once he learned that Cersei was pregnant; it’s a possible reading of those events, but not a definite one. I’m also not entirely sure what Jaime intends to do by riding North, or why Cersei would let him go unless it’s part of some larger game that she and Tyrion are playing. If “The Wolf and the Dragon” was going to spend this much time fracturing the Lannisters for good and all, and to such good effect, I wish it had set them up for next season more clearly.
On that fittingly ambivalent note, we now say goodbye to Game of Thrones uneven seventh season. With Season 8 set to wrap things up, there’s not a lot of time left for any of these players.
What are you bracing for in the final season? Here are some theories and thoughts to chew on.