Well, y’all…it’s finally here, and it’s just…it’s too damn soon. We’re all emotionally destroyed after that finale, and look. I’m just trying to get through this without breaking down because I’m going to have to wait at least a year until a new episode comes out. Regardless, it was a fantastic season finale, and since you’re not here to listen to me whine about it, let’s dive right into The Dragon And The Wolf!
As an intimidation tactic, Grey Worm and the rest of Daenerys’ Unsullied army wait in perfectly-formed ranks outside of the Red Keep, waiting for the parley between the two queens. Meanwhile, on the battlements, Bronn is overseeing the production of a thousand barrels of pitch, just in case shit goes awry. As he joins a nervous Jaime and the two discuss how the world revolves around cocks (ugh… MEN), they hear a horn in the distance followed by the telltale hollering of Dany’s approaching polar opposite army — the Dothraki screamers. Later, Qyburn informs Queen Cersei that the rest of the party has arrived and is heading to the Dragon Pit for their meeting, but Cersei is concerned that Daenerys is not with them. As a contingency plan, she gives the Zombie Mountain the order to kill Dany first if anything goes wrong… then Tyrion, then Jon, then a free-for-all. (Even Jaime looks concerned as they head on out to meet their guests.)
Meanwhile, Tyrion, Jon, and the gang sail toward King’s Landing, preparing to reveal the gift-wrapped cannibal they’d gone through actual hell to capture. Ser Gregor makes his way into the hull of the ship – where in an act of The Hound being…well…the friggin’ Hound, he curiously knocks on the wooden crate containing the wight. Obviously enraged by the noise, the crate begins to rattle as the undead creature thrashes about.
As Tyrion, Davos, Missandei, Jon, Jorah, Theon, the Hound, Varys et al arrive on land and march on towards the Dragon Pit, they muse about how it used to be a fearsome place before it was a home to sickly shriveled malnutrition-ed dragons; but as Bronn, Brienne, Podrick (the latter both of whom have just arrived) and the Lannister soldiers march to meet them halfway, Davos worries that it might have become a fearsome place again. As their escorts let them pass, Tyrion stops with Podrick for a friendly catch-up chat, before Bronn interrupts the trio’s reunion by hurrying them along. Meanwhile, as the Hound tells a guard to fuck off re: questioning his zombie-crate, he stops for an awkward reunion with Brienne, who expresses surprise that he survived their last encounter. The conversation turns to their mutual bud Arya, and Brienne notes that their little baby has now grown tougher than both of them. Farther ahead, Tyrion is trying to convince Bronn to reconsider his allegiances, and notes that if he wasn’t exploring his options he would’ve never helped them plan this meeting. Bronn corrects him, noting that he’s now bringing Cersei all the traitors that she wants to kill, so he’s doing just fine — causing the two to begrudgingly admit their mutual admiration for each other.
Entering the tensely quiet dilapidated Dragon Pit, the gang looks around for any sign of Cersei’s entourage as Bronn suspiciously escorts Podrick away for a drink. Just as things are starting to feel like an ambush waiting to happen, Cersei, Jaime & Ser Gregor Clegane enter — much to the Hound’s dismay — followed by the Queensguard and her posse. Tyrion/Cersei. Jaime/Brienne. Theon/Euron. Sandor/Gregor. Awkward reunions abound. Unable to stay silent, the Hound confronts his brother and, after commenting on how he’s even uglier now after Qyburn’s ‘procedure’, cryptically tells him that he knows who’s coming for him… he’s always known. As he saunters off, Cersei impatiently questions where Dany is, but they don’t need to wait much longer before a screech is heard in the distance. Cersei pretends to be unfazed as Drogon lands and the Mother of Dragons dismounts from his back to take her seat at the council. Tyrion begins to take centre stage but is interrupted by Euron, who is sending threats about Yara Theon’s way. When Tyrion tries to get the conversation back on track, Euron switches to heckling him — and only chills out when Cersei orders him to.
Tyrion gets back on the rails and starts his speech about the purpose of the meeting, but Cersei is too annoyed to listen. Jon takes over and warns about the army of the undead, but again, stubborn. Daenerys even tries to explain that this is the reason she called for a truce, but Cersei won’t listen. Finally, to convince her, Tyrion explains that they have something to show her — and the Hound emerges from the cellars underneath, carrying the crate on his back. Removing the bolts and lid, he cautiously stands back before hesitantly booting the crate over to jostle its undead contents. The zombie scrambles to his feet and charges at a terrified Cersei, only to be yanked back by a chain held by the Hound, who then cuts the wight in half as it retaliates. No matter, though — this guy don’t care, and he begins his slow crawling descent at his would-be victim before he lops of it’s hand as well. Qyburn curiously picks this still-animated hand up (musing about how he could do better, no doubt) before Jon takes it back and shows the gang the two ways to kill them: with fire, or with dragonglass. The Lannisters sit in horrified silence before Euron pipes up asking if they can swim. When he learns they can’t, he redraws his support for Cersei and announces he’s taking the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands to wait out this war, advising everyone that can to do the same.
Showing some brains for once, Cersei accepts Daenerys’ truce until the war against the undead is won… on one condition: that Jon Snow returns to Winterfell and declares himself neutral. Being stubbornly honourable like his ‘father’, Jon declines these terms and advises that he has already bent the knee to the Targaryens. Bitterly, Cersei withdraws her offer and storms out, wishing them all the best with their own slaughter. Chasing after the Lannisters, Brienne tries to reason with her old pal Jaime, but he notes that they must follow their loyalties. In a very un-Brienne-like move, she says that this is more important than oaths and houses, and she urges him to talk to his sister. In the pit, Davos, Tyrion and Daenerys commend Jon for his loyalty but scold him for being a dipshit. Jon claps back that lies just create more problems, and Tyrion agrees — but notes that the more pressing problem is that they’re now fucked. Finally, after some convincing to the others, Tyrion volunteers to meet with his sister alone to reason with her, and heads off toward the Red Keep. Being escorted by Ser Gregor, Tyrion stops to chat with Jaime — who has just been kicked out of Cersei’s room for trying to reason with her — and, surmising that they’ve both been idiots, say goodbye from one idiot to another, as this could be the last room Tyrion enters.
Entering her chambers, Cersei immediately cuts to the jabs, accusing Tyrion of only siding with Dany as she’s his type: a foreign whore. Getting heated, she accuses him of trying to destroy their family, but Tyrion argues that he reasoned with Daenerys to come parley instead of fight and that his goal has never been to ruin the Lannisters. She accuses him of not only killing their father, but also being responsible for the deaths of Tommen and Myrcella (BOTH HER FAULT, REALLY), and won’t listen when he tries to dispute this. Frustrated, Tyrion invites her to kill him if he’s such a threat, egging her on by reminding her of all the people he’s harmed in her life and all the times he’s wanted to kill her and begging Ser Gregor to do it. Cersei chokes, however, and can’t give the order, leaving a relieved Tyrion to pour them each a glass of wine. After things calm down and he apologizes, the two ask each other what they even hoped to come out of this meeting, and Tyrion lays out why he thinks Dany is a better queen. Cersei admits that she doesn’t want to make the world a better place or check her impulses, she just wants to keep her family alive — and Tyrion, noticing that she hasn’t touched her wine and that her hand has gravitated to her stomach, correctly realizes that she’s pregnant.
As they wait for their Hand of the Queen, Daenerys Targaryen approaches Jon Snow and calmly advises him that while she wishes he hadn’t done it, she respects his choice. Collecting a tiny dragon jawbone, she tells him all about how the Dragon Pit was the beginning of the end for her family, and how dragons never should be kept as slaves — equating her family’s power and awe-inspiring ability with the dragons that they kept. Pulling her into a private nook, Jon tells her that she’s not like other people — and her family isn’t gone, because she’s still here. She notes that he can’t have children, but he points out that since she learned that from a witch that murdered her husband, that’s not necessarily the most reliable source of information. After weighing that none of their options left are good ones, Jon agrees with Tyrion — they’re fucked. That is, until Tyrion slowly reenters the Dragon Pit… eventually following by Cersei and her party. Inspiringly (and very unlike herself), she tells Team Dany that she will not stand down; instead, her soldiers will join the North in the fight against the undead, and perhaps they can come to an agreement after the Great War is over.
Later, as Jaime is in the courtyard with his Kingsguard planning the trip north, Cersei confronts him and ask for a moment alone. Once the men have left, she confesses, much to Jaime’s dismay and bewilderment, that she was lying to Daenerys — and that she’ll say whatever she has to to keep their house alive. Jaime argues that they both saw the wight, but she points out that if the northerners and the Dothraki and the Unsullied and the dragons can’t stop them, they’ll all die anyway. Jaime tries to repeat Brienne — that this goes beyond loyalties — but Cersei won’t budge and considers him a traitor for wanting to side with the enemy, instead stating that she wants to focus on reclaiming Westeros as the fighting rages up north. Jaime angrily points out that this plan is broken; if the dead wins they’ll march south and kill them all, and if the living win, and they’ve betrayed them, they’ll also march south and kill them all. Cersei notes that since Daenerys only had two dragons with her something must have happened, and that means they’re vulnerable.
She also reveals that Euron was lying as well — he is actually sailing to Essos to ferry the Golden Company (their hired company of 20,000 sellswords) back to Westeros to take back the kingdom. Infuriated with her keeping secrets from him and for her stupidity, Jaime advises that he is heading north anyway, but Cersei threatens to kill him if he commits such treason. Ser Gregor draws his sword and Cersei gives the order… but, tearing up, Jaime calls her bluff and storms out, (hopefully) severing ties with his sister. As he rides out and puts a black glove over his golden hand to (HOPEFULLY) symbolize turning his back on the Lannisters, he’s surprised to see a snowflake land on him — in fact, Winter has now come to all of the south of Westeros.
Sansa meets with Littlefinger after receiving a raven from Jon telling her that he has bent the knee to Daenerys without consulting her. Littlefinger suggests to Sansa that Jon may be interested in marriage to the Daenerys, who is both beautiful and would make a powerful ally. He also notes that Jon was named King in the North but that could easily change. Sansa tells him that, even if she wanted to depose Jon, Arya would never go along with it and would likely kill her for betraying Jon. Littlefinger asks if Sansa really thinks her own sister would murder her and she informs him that Arya is one of the murderous Faceless Men now.
Sansa asks Littlefinger what he thinks Arya’s goal is and he tells her about the game he plays when he tries to understand someone’s motives: he assumes the worst about them and then asks himself how well that explains what they say and do. Sansa says that the worst case scenario is that Arya wants to kill her for betraying their family and replace her as Lady of Winterfell.
The tension between Sansa and Arya for the past several episodes reaches its conclusion as Sansa has Arya brought to the Great Hall to pass judgment. But in a satisfying twist, it is not Arya who is accused of murder and treason – but instead Littlefinger who is called out. Thanks to Sansa’s knowledge of Littlefinger and Bran’s knowledge of everything ever, they discovered and revealed the true extent of Littlefinger’s crimes. He was responsible for poisoning Jon Arryn and turning Stark against Lannister. It was his dagger, not Tyrion’s, that was used in the attempt on Bran’s life. He betrayed Ned Stark, leading to his execution and starting the War of Five Kings. He murdered Lysa Arryn to seize control of the Vale. And most recently he conspired to turn Sansa against her siblings in the hopes that she would execute Arya and depose Jon. He tries to weasel his way out of it and get the Knights of the Vale to protect him but their allegiance to him is over. In a fitting end, Arya slits Littlefinger’s throat with his own dagger.
The whole Arya/Sansa murder thing was never particularly convincing to me and I was happy to have confirmation that ultimately the Starks were working together against Littlefinger. As satisfying as it was to watch Littlefinger get what was coming to him, I don’t feel that the show did a good enough job establishing this as their end game. It was a plot twist but one that did not feel earned.
After Littlefinger’s execution, the Stark sisters stand together on the ramparts, finally on the same page after all the nonsense that’s gone on between them. They finally seem comfortable with each other’s roles and share a mutual respect. They will always be very different people but they have come to accept those differences because, in the words of their father, “When the snow falls and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”
Our scenes at Dragonstone were brief last week. Team Dany spent most of their time at King’s Landing and only a little bit of time strategizing at Dragonstone before heading North.
In the strategy room, Jon, Daenerys, Jorah, and a few others spoke of how to travel North to prepare for the Great War. Jon suggested that he and Dany sail together to White Harbor, where they’d act as a united front to the Northern Lords. Jorah disagreed. He suggested that Dany ride Drogon up North…because many still see her as a threat up there. Not the best suggestion, really, but we know the real reason he said it was because you can cut Jon and Dany’s sexual tension with a knife and that intimidates him. Of course, Dany agreed with Jon. She’s his partner, now. She’s saving the North, not conquering it. They sail together. *My Miiiiiind’s Tellin’ Me noooo.*
As Jon exits the throne room, Theon approaches him. Inspired by Jon’s consistently heroic and moral actions, Theon wanted guidance…and forgiveness. Say what you want about Jon Snow…he may make stupid decisions when it comes to his life and the life of his fellow “soldiers”, but he’s a natural leader and incredibly inspiring. Just…a damn good man. He reassured Theon that he could still turn his life around and he was forgiven for anything Jon himself could forgive. Theon never needed to choose between Stark or Greyjoy. He could and can always be both. Somehow, this was enough to light a fire under Theon and he went out to the beach to urge the Ironborn men to go with him to save Yara. The leader of that pack fought Theon on this, but for the first time in years, Theon didn’t give up. He kept fighting. And he emerged victorious! As he fell into the water to clean the blood off of his face, it’s like he emerged reborn (a tradition among the Ironborn). Here’s hoping we continue to see the empowered Theon next season. A Theon who’s also thankful and supportive of the good guys (especially Jon).
As snow falls outside, Samwell Tarly arrives at Winterfell and calls upon Brandon Stark, who sent the Citadel the letter. Sam is surprised that Bran remembers him, but Bran assures him that he ‘remembers everything’. Alarmed, Sam asks what happened beyond the Wall, and Bran tells him he became the Three-Eyed Raven, further confusing Sam. Bran explains that he can see things happening anywhere in the world, past or present. Ignoring his powers, he asks why Sam came to Winterfell. Sam says he came to help Jon, and Bran tells him that Jon is gone, but on his way back with Daenerys Targaryen. (He didn’t see it in a vision, he just got a letter.) Bran is anticipating Jon’s return so he can tell him the truth that no one else knows: Jon isn’t the Northern bastard of Eddard Stark, he’s the Dornish bastard of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, and his name is actually Jon Sands. It all clicks for Sam, and he tells Bran in awe that he transcribed the High Septon’s personal diary, who secretly annulled Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage to Elia Martell and wed him to Lyanna Stark. If this is all true, Jon isn’t a bastard at all – he is a true-blood Targaryen. Sam asks Bran if this is something he can see.
Decades ago, Bran watches as Rhaegar and Lyanna are happily wed in the woods. He realizes that Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie; Rhaegar didn’t kidnap Lyanna at all. He loved her. Bran returns to the memory of Lyanna on her deathbed. She tells Ned that the baby’s name is Aegon Targaryen, and makes Ned promise to take care of him. Jon Snow’s real name is Aegon Targaryen and he is the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. As Bran narrates, in present day, Jon (or Aegon) approaches the Daenerys’ quarters aboard her ship and enters her room. In a moment of dramatic irony, Aegon and Daenerys make love aboard the ship, unaware that they are in-fact nephew and aunt. Bran resolves that Jon must know, as Tyrion stands outside Daenerys’ room, looking perplexed. A romance could certainly complicate things further politically.
Later in the Winterfell Godswood, Bran sits next to the heart tree – or his body does, at least. His mind is warged into ravens, flying over the castle of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea at the Wall. Through the eyes of the birds, we see Tormund Giantsbane and Ser Beric Dondarrion staring off the edge of the Wall when the Army of the Dead approaches through the Haunted Forest. They’ve finally reached the Wall. As horns sound, the White Walkers plus human and giant wights (including the band Mastodon, who played wildlings in Season 5’s Hardhome) shamble forward by foot and undead horse before stopping at the ancient magical barrier keeping the dead from crossing the Wall. This is no issue for the vast legion of the dead, as the Night King flies in aboard the tattered wings of the undead dragon Viserion and begins to destroy the foundations of the 8,000-year-old fortification with blue flame. The ragtag crew of manning Eastwatch do their best to escape as thousands of feet of the Wall collapse to the ground. Tormund and Beric’s fate is left unknown. Seizing the opportunity, the undead march silently onward into the North of Westeros. The Wall has fallen. The Night’s Watch has failed.