The Dragon and the Wolf TV Review
Alas, the Song of Ice and Fire draws to a close once again.
Season 7 really has been one hell of a thrill ride. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) met Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) met, and brought down, a dragon, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) were finally reunited and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) managed to put yet another bun in Cersie’s (Lena Headey) oven. It’s also boasted the best battle scenes that Game of Thrones has shown yet, with the production team finally being gifted the budget the show has been dying for since day one. Indeed, spectacle wise, it would be very easy to label Season 7 as the best of all.
Things have seemed a tad – un Game of Throneish this year. Maybe it’s because the story is finally getting going, and characters are being reunited, that have been apart for a number of seasons. It’s almost like everything fans wanted to happen has finally started to happen – after years of the show going against convention and not doing what the fans wanted. Thus, we see dragons meet White Walkers, we see Jon interact with Daenerys, we see Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) return to King’s Landing – all in the space of three episodes. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been fantastic from start to finish. But it does make these big events, teased for so long, seem a little – less.
This is strongly highlighted in this season finale, and the shock death of one of my favourite characters – Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan).
From the start, Littlefinger was the personification of the game of thrones. He truly was the master of the game, building himself up from nothing to literally one of the most powerful positions in the whole of Westeros. His ability to manipulate people and make them do exactly what he needed has been one of the strongest parts of this entire story – and one of the most important. After all, it was Littlefinger who convinced Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) to kill Jon Arryn (John Standing) and to send a letter to Ned (Sean Bean) and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) blaming the Lannisters for his mysterious death – kicking off the entire saga in the first place. It was Littlefinger who betrayed Ned and ultimately got him killed. It was Littlefinger who facilitated the death of Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in correlation with Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). It was Littlefinger who sold Sansa to the Boltons. And it’s been Littlefinger doing his absolute best to turn Arya and Sansa against each other for the past few weeks.
It really did seem like Littlefinger would be around for the long haul. That, somehow, he would manipulate himself into a position strong enough to challenge Daenerys and become a huge threat. Hell, it seemed like, if anyone was making it to Season 8, it was going to be Littlefinger. Well, apparently not…
It turns out that Littlefinger very nearly succeeded in turning Sansa away from Arya, even to the point where she considered truly getting rid of her. But he overreached, and got just a little bit too confident. His advice to Sansa, on carefully considering the actions of everyone around her, was very good. Unfortunately, it took her attention right off Arya, and placed it firmly on him. All it took was a little conversation with all-knowing Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Littlefinger’s fate was sealed.
In a way, this is a perfect end for Littlefinger. It was always going to be incredibly unlikely that someone was going to outsmart him or trick him by playing him at his own game. It took someone who knows exactly what he’s been getting up to, such as Bran, to finally bring him down. If I’m honest, when Arya is summoned into the main hall, seemingly to be executed by her sister, I knew she was safe the second I saw Bran. What I didn’t expect was them to all turn on Littlefinger so quickly – and I certainly didn’t expect the scene to end with his death.
Aidan Gillan really is masterful here, as we see Littlefinger, who is always so in control, go from scheming, to begging, to sheer terror in the space of five seconds. You can almost feel pity for him as he realises all the lies he has told have finally spiralled out of control. Alas, he would have happily see that happen to Arya to further his schemes, just like he happily saw Ned Stark die horribly. Littlefinger reaped what he sowed, and whilst I’m sorry to see him go, I do think there really couldn’t have been a better ending for him.
So, it seems like Sansa and Arya are suddenly friends again, despite being at each other’s throats last week. Is this a permanent truce? Only time will tell. But Sansa is not going to like the fact that Jon has not only sworn allegiance to Daenerys – he’s also bedding her. More on that little development later.
So, with all that going on in Winterfell, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there wasn’t much else occurring. But a great chunk of the action in this feature length final takes place in King’s Landing, where, for the first time, the three main storylines of the show are thrown together. The politics of King’s Landing are forced to meet dragons, as the great Lords of Westeros meet to face to ultimate problem – a very ugly zombie.
The whole sequence in the ancient dragon theatre, were Targaryen dragons were famously locked away and slowly died out a hundred years ago, is just pure class. It’s not about the dragons or the zombies, but characters we’ve watched grow and develop for years finally coming together. Everything is just top notch – from Cersie’s little comment to Daenerys, “we’ve been here for some time,” to the Hound (Rory McCann) being reunited with his brother, the dead Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), to Jon Snow demonstrating the differing ways to kill a weight, to Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) basically saying “fuck this” when seeing a zombie for the first time, to Bronn (Jerome Flynn) observing that he’s happily playing both sides here and probably in the least amount of danger, to Cersie’s pledge to team up with everyone to take down the Night King – provided Jon Snow doesn’t pick sides between her and Daenerys.
And this is where things get really interesting. Jon, ever Ned Stark’s son, has already sworn himself to our favourite khaleesi. Plus, he’s lusting after her like there’s no tomorrow at this point. Plus, the Lannisters kind of killed his entire family. So, the burning question is – why the hell would he not side with Daenerys? Thus Cersei tells them all to go burn in the Seven Hells. It takes a one-to-one with her brother Tyrion to make her change her mind. A very brave Tyrion, who goes to meet her by himself knowing full well it’s highly likely it’s a meeting he won’t survive.
Indeed, this is a very interesting scene for both characters. We see how much Tyrion regrets killing Tywin (Charles Dance), despite everything his father did to him. After all, it was Tywin’s death that left the Lannisters wide open to attack, and definitely played a role in the death of Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free). The deaths of the children seem to weigh heavy on Tyrion, even though, if we’re being honest, he really shouldn’t be so hard on himself. Tywin Lannister was a tyrant who would have brought the whole country to ruin if left unchecked. Those annoying Sand Snakes were always going to try and kill Myrcella, whether Tywin lived or not. And it was Cersei setting those psycho Sparrows loose on King’s Landing, purely to get rid of the Tyrells, which led to Tommen’s (Dean Charles Chapman) suicide. Tyrion, unfortunately, is a victim of circumstance, and he does raise a valid point when he tells Cersei that Dany could have destroyed them all at any time, but held back thanks to him. It’s the pregnancy revelation that finally tips the scales for Tyrion – and it seems it’s what helps him to convince Cersei to help after all.
Or so it appears.
It turns out that Cersei never intended to help, which, to be fair, is very true to her character. It also turns out that Euron didn’t run away at all. Instead, he’s sneaking over to Essos to recruit the Golden Company, a group of twenty thousand highly trained and equipped sell-swords, also boasting the best archers in the world and a couple of war elephants. Whilst Daenerys and co are busy fighting the White Walkers, Cersei is going to slowly take the rest of the country, finishing off whoever survives the battle of the North. A cunning plan, only worthy of Cersei Lannister. And a plan that Jaime is utterly disgusted by. Finally, it looks like he’s had enough of Cersei, despite the baby growing inside of her. And it seems Cersei cannot bring herself to kill him, despite him deliberately disobeying her. Things are left very awkward indeed between our favourite incestuous twins. And Cersei is a bloody idiot.
Hot on Euron’s trail, it seems, is Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). It’s been a hell of a difficult few years for Theon, and to be honest, it really did look like he was a broken man for a while there. But, finally, with a little bit of a pep talk from Jon, he’s ready to get serious again. Thus, we get that sweet scene on the beach where Theon stands up to the dickish Iron Islanders and manages to beat them down. In doing so, he finally stops being a coward, and gains a good couple of hard men to assist him in saving his captive sister Yara (Gemma Whelan). Theon may well be the straw that breaks Euron’s back and deprives Cersei of her army. Not bad for a guy with no balls.
Meanwhile, things are looking great for team Daenerys, who are blissfully unaware that Cersei is planning to completely betray them the first chance she gets. Thus, they all plan to head up North together, making a big point of showing that Dany and Jon are allies by having them arrive together on the same boat. A very small, cramped boat.
And thus, we get something that some shipping fans will have been delighted to see – Jon and Dany finally get it on. There had been obvious attraction since day 1, and now it spills out in all its glory, much to Tyrion’s dismay. Thing is, this will only mean that Jon will want to marry her now, something that Dany may not want to do. And there’s that other little problem as well – the fact that he’s actually her nephew.
Finally confirmed, after years of internet debates, is the R + L = J theory. As Bran observes, and as Samwell (John Bradley) confirms, Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding) married Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi) in a secret ceremony, after annulling his first marriage to Elia Martell. Rhaegar never kidnapped Lyanna – they both fell in love, and both paid the ultimate price for it when Lyanna’s husband Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), started a war to win her back. They also bore a legitimate son, who Lyanna called Aegon Targaryen, named after the famous invader who conquered Westeros on the back of his dragon three hundred years previously. The son we’ve known for seven seasons as Jon Snow. The same Jon Snow who is the legitimate heir to the Seven Kingdoms, with a claim stronger than the aunt he’s just bedded, who’s help he needs to defeat a group of Ice Zombies in the North.
Only on Game of Thrones, guys.
Just when you’re left reeling over Bran’s emotionless revelation, we cut up to the Wall to hang out with Tormund
(Kristofer Hivju) and Beric (Richard Dormer), looking incredibly cold and still a little bit freaked out by last week’s events. Unfortunately for them, they don’t get chance to hang out for long, as they receive some uninvited guests in the shape of the army of the dead, led by the Night King on the back of un-dead Viserion.
First of all, how cool is it to see blue fire? Second of all, how cool is it to see the Wall finally fall to the dead dragon’s breath? All along, the Wall was the only thing that held back the Night King and his army. And it seemed all he needed to pass it was a dragon. Thanks to Jon and Daenerys, he got that dragon. Now the army has crossed the Wall, and has finally come into the Seven Kingdoms. End season. And what an ending.
Despite some unfortunate short cuts in writing, there is no doubt season 7 was an absolute blast, with fantastic visuals, incredible characters and just set piece after set piece of damn entertaining television. We leave Westeros for now knowing the next time we return it will be the last time. And it looks like nobody is truly safe.
So, will Dany reign supreme? Will Jon take the Crown? Will the Night King destroy King’s Landing? Will Ned Stark turn out to have survived after all? Questions that may not get answered until 2019. But it’s going to be damn fun speculating until then.