EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP: Game Of Thrones Has Revelations, Betrayals, And Boat Sex
The penultimate season finale moves a bunch of pieces around to get where it needed to be: with an army of zombies about to destroy absolutely everything. Finally!
Return with me now to August 25, 2017. Remember that day? The sun was shining and birds were singing. I assume. I mean, if the sun had stopped shining for a full day, I'm pretty sure I'd remember it. My point is, that was the day of the Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones. Normally I'd cover the Previouslies, but that covers almost seven whole seasons. I'll bring stuff up as it seems relevant.
The opening credits roll, and we're treated to the usual stops at locations of interest: King's Landing, Dragonstone, Winterfell, The Wall, Eastwatch, and Oldtown. Eastwatch is the newest location, as it's where all the Wildlings went to go defend the Wall. Although I suspect that some Wildlings probably got there, looked around, and said, "Nerts to this." Sure, Tormund Giantsbane is still there, but surely some of the extras decided to quit. We also still have Oldtown, even though Sam ditched that place last episode. As we get toward the end of the series, it's probably time for the list of locations to start shrinking. And not to get ahead of things, but I suspect at least one of the places I listed is going to look very different in about eighty minutes.
Incidentally, I think it's interesting that the opening credits are literally a map of Westeros but a lot of people don't know how close, say, King's Landing and Dragonstone are. Dragonstone is in the mouth of the bay that King's Landing is on, so they're pretty close. But everyone skips over the map. In this respect, Game Of Thrones is exactly like an epic fantasy novel, because those also often have maps nobody actually reads.
Okay, enough stalling. Grey Worm and the Unsullied are massed outside King's Landing. Inside, Bronn is taking charge of the defenses. In case you ever need to do this, the key is just to order lots more barrels of pitch that you can set on fire and dump on the heads of your enemies. They make a point of letting us know that it's pitch, not oil, and that kind of ruins this great joke I was planning where I explained how to use the extra oil to make tempura. It would have been glorious. Instead, we get Bronn and Jaime Lannister musing about how the Unsullied don't have genitals, and it's really just an excuse for Jaime to say, "Maybe it is all just cocks in the end." Sure, it's funny, but it doesn't have the class of a good joke about fried foods.
The Dothraki are also riding around and whooping it up. And out in the water, Daenerys's fleet is besieging King's Landing. This is an opportunity for Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Theon Greyjoy, Davos Seaworth, Missandei, and Varys to all appear in one scene together. They don't all get lines, though. Even in an eighty-minute episode, some people are just going to have to stand there and look picturesque. We learn that there are more people living in King's Landing than in all of the North, which somehow does not lead to a discussion about equitable assignment of representation in the Electoral College. I bet it was there in the first draft. Anyway, I don't think the population figures for King's Landing are still correct. When Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor, I bet it killed more than just the named characters.
Sandor "The Hound" Clegane is also on the flagship, and he goes below decks to knock on a crate. It rattles around and snarls because this is where they're keeping the ice zombie (I know it's really called a wight, but I don't care) that they spent the previous episode capturing. As you may remember, Daenerys wants to call a halt to her war with Cersei so she can go deal with the armies of the dead. But to convince Cersei that the dead are real, they decided to go north of the Wall and capture one so they can show it to her. It's the dumbest thing. But here they are with an ice zombie in a box, so...good for them? I guess? I will say that it's not entirely clear to me why Daenerys didn't just burn the entire dead army to the ground last episode. But now she's down to two dragons, so she wants to be a little careful.
King's Landing. Cersei is meeting with her trusted advisor, Qyburn the creepy alchemist. Qyburn hasn't done a lot in this season, but he seems like he's got something planned. Jaime is also there, which is the only way I knew they were in King's Landing earlier. We don't see these castles from the outside very often, and it doesn't look anything like that clockwork version in the opening credits. After getting a description of the situation (I decline to recap one character recapping events to another character), Cersei turns to the reanimated corpse of Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, and tells him, "If anything goes wrong, kill the silver-haired bitch first, then our brother, then the bastard who calls himself king. The rest of them you can kill in any order you see fit." So that's Daenerys first, which makes sense, because she's the one that's trying to take Cersei's throne. Although Cersei hasn't put forth any real reason she ought to be Queen, other than that she didn't want to move out after Tommen died. And then she wants Tyrion dead, which is also understandable, although it's a little surprising that he's earlier than Jon Snow on her hit list. And then she's letting Gregor make decisions for himself, even though he seems to be fairly limited in his cognitive abilities ever since he died. Jaime seems uneasy about all this talk of killing. Grow up, Jaime. I know you've had this redemption arc and all, but you still shoved Bran out a window.
Okay, it's time to bring practically the entire cast to the same spot for the first time. To do this, a whole new location has been invented. Just outside King's Landing (but so far outside that you can't see that giant castle), there are some dragon pits, which Jorah Mormont explains were because historically it was inconvenient to have dragons burninating the countryside. Tyrion reminds us that toward the end, the dragons were no bigger than dogs, and now I'm furious that this whole series wasn't set back then. Sure, it's cool to have giant dragons that you can ride on. But couldn't we have a flashback to the days when the ruler of Westeros had a pack of teeny dragons romping around their feet like Queen Elizabeth's corgis? Or I hear they're considering a lot of possible spinoffs for when this show gets wherever it's going.
Team Daenerys bumps into the Lannister army, currently being led by Bronn and accompanied by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick. Starting now, there are a lot of thoughtful looks of recognition going on. Tyrion sees his old buddy Bronn, and also his old squire Podrick. For example. Pod and Tyrion have the first reunion, and Pod says he's glad Tyrion's still alive. Bronn walks into the shot and says, "Come on. You can suck his magic cock later." He's basically the Carla Tortelli of this show. His job is to lurk offscreen until a joke is needed, then stroll in and get a laugh.
Sandor cannot be bothered with talking to extras, so he ignores some dude who just wants to know what the deal is with the crate. Instead, he goes up to Brienne so that they can talk about Arya. He doesn't seem to hold a grudge about Brienne protecting her, and they both agree that she's grown into an adorable little murder baby.
It's apparently a long walk to the dragon pits, so Tyrion has time to do some catching up with Podrick and Bronn. Tyrion offers Bronn double whatever he's getting to switch sides, but he seems relatively comfortable with Cersei, even after his part in arranging this meeting. The way he figures it, if Cersei lops off some traitorous heads, it's good ol' Bronn who helped make that happen. Tyrion doesn't take offense, and they have a nice moment of being happy to see each other. I'd like to see more of them just hanging out. The Tyrion & Bronn Show is reliable entertainment.
The Dragon Pit itself has kind of a Roman Coliseum feel, except that it's maybe a little more decrepit. Team Daenerys looks around suspiciously at all the guards. Bronn takes Podrick off to get a drink while the important people get on with the plot. Because Bronn knows it's hard to get killed while you're offscreen. Sandor tells Tyrion, "I left this shit city because I didn't want to die in it. Am I going to die in this shit city?" He blames Lannisters for having stupid ideas all the time, and Tyrion blames Cleganes for always helping them. But they use some very naughty language to get that idea across. (The language in question is "cunt." In case you were wondering.)
And here comes Team Cersei! Led, of course, by Cersei herself, and accompanied by Quburn, Jaime, Gregor, Euron Greyjoy, and a ton of random soldiers. But to be fair, Team Daenerys has a ton of Dothraki. And no Daenerys yet.
Once everyone's sitting down and it seems like the meeting's about to begin, Sandor walks across the neutral area to get in Gregor's face. I love that he did this, because his weird relationship with his brother is genuinely more important to him than all the other stuff that makes up the plot. This sort of feels to me like a game of Dungeons & Dragons, where the DM has spent a lot of time arranging things for this important scene, and then a player suddenly announces that he's doing something completely different. I picture the DM of this show looking at the person playing Sandor in disbelief as Sandor strides up to Gregor and delivers a monologue that ends with "You know who's coming for you. You've always known." And then Sandor leaves. I know a lot of people are very hyped up for the brothers to fight, especially since each of them has been brought back from the dead. But we can put it off a little longer.
Cersei is a bit put out that Daenerys isn't there yet. She obviously wanted to show up last, so she could make a grand entrance. But Daenerys has dragons (and a swelling orchestral score on the soundtrack), and it's hard to compete with that. Drogon (that's the one she rides, I think) lands on the walls and then crawls down to ground level kind of like a bat; then the two dragons wheel about in the sky. It looks very expensive. Daenerys takes her seat, looks at Cersei, and we're about ready to begin. Tyrion stands and starts to deliver a very important speech.
But first! Euron has some personal business to take care of, and again I'm picturing the DM grinding his teeth. Euron wants Theon to "submit to me, here, now" or he'll kill Theon's sister. When Tyrion tries to get things back on topic, Euron says that, in the Iron Islands, dwarfs are killed at birth. I'm starting to think Euron's a bad guy. Jaime tells Euron to sit back down, and Cersei tells him, "Sit down or leave." Based on later events, I think that's a genuine offer. But even Gregor is stepping forward, so Euron finally decides to stop screwing around.
So. Finally. Tyrion has a speech. The gist of it is that there's been a lot of death. Jon Snow gets up to talk about the Army of the Dead, and how anyone who dies joins them. Cersei is unimpressed by all of this and addresses Daenerys directly. What Daenerys wants is a truce, so that she can go on what Cersei calls a "monster hunt." Or possibly, Cersei suspects, Daenerys just wants Cersei to pull back her armies so she can fortify her own position. This would be more convincing if we hadn't recently seen pretty much the entire Lannister army get destroyed in fifteen minutes.
Sandor reappears, carrying a wooden crate on his back. He sets it down and cautiously pulls away some iron bars that allow him to take the top off. He backs away, but nothing happens. Cersei is unimpressed so far. Sandor eventually has to kick the box over so the zombie can fall out, and then it starts howling and running straight for Cersei. But the chain around its neck is exactly the right length to keep it an inch away from killing her and ending this show a season too early. Cersei shows her first actual emotion of the scene as she looks genuinely scared. The zombie thrashes and rolls around in standard "Fast Zombie" fashion until it lunges at Sandor, who promptly cuts it in half. And then the torso keeps crawling toward him. It's pretty cool, actually. But it's cool in a way that doesn't feel very Game Of Thrones, and I don't know how I feel about that. I was going to point out that you don't see dragons on The Walking Dead, but maybe you should.
Everyone looks unnerved, except for Qyburn, who gets out of his seat to get a better look at it. Sandor cuts off the zombie's hand, and Qyburn is absolutely fascinated. This guy's a good mad scientist character. Jon takes the hand and burns it to demonstrate one of the canonical ways to kill these things. And he has a big knife made out of Dragonglass, which also kills them instantly. So his point is that all humanity needs to band together to deal with these things, or else everyone will end up as zombies. Which would be kind of an interesting ending to the series, actually. I see the final shot as being the Night King on the Iron Throne with a mass of zombies at his feet, and as the camera pulls back, we see various core cast members in zombie makeup. Cersei looks concerned. (I mean, in the show right now, she looks concerned. In my hypothetical scenario, she's probably shrieking like all the other zombies.)
Euron gets up, pokes the zombie, and verifies that they can't swim. Or so Jon Snow claims, anyway. I don't see how he'd know. North of the Wall, it's mostly ice anyway. And somebody went down to the bottom of that lake to get the chains around that dead dragon. But that's enough for Euron. He's gonna bounce back to the Iron Islands and let all the dummies on the mainland die. "This is the only thing I've ever seen that terrifies me," he says, before telling Daenerys she'd be wise to go back to her island too. And he's out! I guess it's a good thing that he talked to Euron earlier, huh? Okay, pretend for a moment you don't know what's going to happen with this later on. I like that Euron has been established as enough of a wild card that it's plausible that he'd try to exit the plot like this.
Okay, back to the important people. Cersei says all the right things about how the zombies are the true enemy, and "The Crown accepts your truce." I like when people call themselves by the objects they're wearing. It's possible that I only like it because I know it's called a "metonymy," but that still counts. So! Everything's resolved, right? Nope! Cersei has a further condition: the King in the North (Jon Snow) will stay in the North and not choose sides. This is actually a remarkable concession by Cersei, because she's calling Jon "The King in the North." It's not like she calls Daenerys "The Targaryen Queen." No, Dany's "The Usurper." But Cersei seems to be ceding the North to Jon here. And you'd think that Jon would just agree to that, since all he wants is to stop the Night King's army and maybe retire to Winterfell, where all these furs he's wearing will look a little less ridiculous. But when Cersei says, "I know Ned Stark's son will be true to his word," Jon remembers that he pledged his loyalty to Daenerys. Remember? On that boat? When both of them looked like they were thinking about Boat Sex?
So Jon looks tortured. And then says he can no longer be neutral. Daenerys looks affected by this. Somehow. To be honest, she's just kind of staring.
There are a lot of shots of people staring. Most of them appear to be thinking "What a dumbass." Tyrion certainly is. This is not the first time that he's felt like everything would go smoothly if he weren't saddled with dopes. Cersei appears chagrined, but also possibly a little smug. This is because Lena Headey can register more than one emotion at a time. So Cersei announces that the deal's off, suckas. The way she sees it, the dead will kill Team Daenerys first, plus everyone in the North first, and she's okay with that. Meeting over!
Okay, back to the fun part, which is people checking with each other. Brienne has a moment with Jaime, and he says he can't do anything about Cersei's decision, because of loyalty. "Oh, fuck loyalty!" shouts Brienne, and that's a pretty big moment when you consider that every single thing her character has ever done was because she's all about oaths and loyalty and that stuff. She insists that zombie attacks are more important than Houses and oaths. Jaime doesn't care, presumably because he knows that Cersei's well past the point of taking advice from people. Unless that advice involves murdering those who would betray her.
Jon is still standing in the middle of the pit, kind of wishing he hadn't done that. Daenerys tells him that loyalty is nice, but also he's an extremely stupid and stubborn person who may have just doomed the human race to death by zombie, which is something he claimed he was trying to stop. She's nicer about it. But it's definitely what she means. Her biggest problem is that one of her dragons may have died for nothing. Tyrion also thinks it was stupid. Jon's defense is that when too many people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. It does not occur to him that too many people having unbreakable oaths to support each other can also be a problem, but I guess he wasn't likely to learn about World War I and entangling alliances in school.
Tyrion's got a new plan: he's going to go talk to Cersei. Daenerys thinks she'll just murder him, but Tyrion is slightly more optimistic. But he thinks she'll definitely murder Jon Snow, so he has to stay behind. Now, remember the instructions Cersei gave Ser Gregor earlier? Tyrion is actually higher on her to-kill list than Jon. So Tyrion walks off, and I guess this place is within walking distance of the Red Keep, because the next shot is of him and Ser Gregor. Which is fun, because that's the tallest guy in the cast with the shortest. A little challenge for the camera operator.
Ser Gregor leaves Tyrion outside Cersei's chamber, where he gets to talk to Jaime. He's also been ejected from Cersei's good graces. The last time Tyrion saw Jaime, things were much more tense, but now they seem to like each other again. At least, Jaime doesn't threaten to kill him this time, and looks kind of sad as Tyrion walks in to what could be his doom. But it won't be. Don't be dumb.
Ser Gregor bars the door behind Tyrion. Cersei says that Daenerys is Tyrion's kind of woman: "A foreign whore who doesn't know her place." She's fun! They squabble like siblings, but like siblings where one of them loathes the other. Tyrion insists that he's not trying to destroy their family. In fact, he's the reason that Daenerys hasn't just burned King's Landing to the ground. So if you're a backseat general (or whatever the term is), it's Tyrion's fault that there hasn't been more dragon-based destruction. Cersei points out that Tyrion did kill their father, but that was basically self-defense. She thinks that killing Tywin left them open for attack, so even if Tyrion didn't kill Joffrey, it's his fault that Myrcella and Tommen are dead. I will just point out that in actual fact, Tommen killed himself because Cersei had just blown up his wife, so if anyone's to blame for Tommen's death, it's Cersei. Tyrion wisely does not take this line of defense. Instead, he tells Cersei, "Put an end to me." She looks up at Ser Gregor and considers it.
"If it weren't for me, you'd have a mother. If it weren't for me, you'd have a father. If it weren't for me, you'd have two beautiful children." Cersei really wants to do it. Ser Gregor is ready. But...nope. She can't do it. The tension breaks, and Tyrion gets himself some wine. I like that he knows where the wine is kept in this room. After draining his first cup, he fills another, sets it on Cersei's desk, and assures her that he loved those children. Cersei doesn't care. The loss of the children meant the loss of their future.
Cersei asks why he's on Team Daenerys. He thinks she'll make the world a better place. I'm not convinced of that. She talks a lot about "stopping the wheel" or whatever, but mostly she's just burned a lot of places down. Cersei points out that Daenerys wanted to burn down King's Landing, which I think might be a step in the right direction. Tyrion thinks that appointing him as an advisor meant that she wanted he worst impulses checked, which is not something that, say, Cersei Lannister ever thinks about doing. Cersei says she doesn't care about the world, and then make a super-obvious "I'm pregnant" move.
Tyrion picks up on it, but he politely waits for her to stop talking about keeping those zombies away from her family.
Back at the pit, Jon picks up a tiny dragon mandible and Daenerys comes over to talk to him. She respects his dumb feelings about honor, even though they're inconvenient. Then she muses about this dragon pit, and how it meant the eventual end for her family's rule over Westeros. Their dragons "filled people with wonder and awe, and we locked them in here." And the Targaryens weren't extraordinary without dragons. See, to me, this doesn't sound like someone who wants to bring a new era of equality and happiness to the people of Westeros. It sounds like someone who wishes people were still terrified of her family. Jon pitches some woo at her, and Daenerys tells him she can't have children, which is something she learned from the witch who killed Khal Drogo. Jon is correctly skeptical of the source of this information, although if you can't trust witches, who can you trust? They look at each other for some time. Daenerys knows Cersei will take back half the country if she marches north, but it seems like she's still going to do it.
And then! Tyrion returns. And shortly after that, Team Cersei returns. They must have given him a bit of a lead. Cersei announces that her armies will not stand down. Instead, they'll go north to fight at the Wall alongside Daenerys's armies because the darkness is coming for them all. I still think the armies are mostly a sideshow, and proper use of dragons, maybe with some practice in dodging ice lances, is the more relevant part of the battle plan. Anyway, Cersei says they'll face the Army of the Dead together. "And when the Great War is over, perhaps you'll remember I chose to help with no promises or assurances from any of you. I expect not." So there, jerks! Cersei's doing the right thing, after all! But there's still half the episode left to come, so maybe don't start building her solid gold statue just yet.
Let's go to Winterfell! Remember Winterfell? It's where the rest of the core cast is. Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is Littlefinger-ing his ass off, advising Sansa Stark that Jon has been derelict in his duty as King in the North, because he shouldn't have pledged himself to Daenerys without consulting her first. But she's got a note in Jon's handwriting saying that he's bent the knee. It's nice that he's taken the time to let her know what's going on, although I think he could have stopped by when he was jetting north of the Wall. I realize Eastwatch is a lot farther, well, east, but still. Littlefinger says he's gossip that Daenerys is very pretty, which could turn the head of Jon Snow. This is technically gossip, but it's also 100% correct, and it sure looked like that's why Jon went to Daenerys's side. Littlefinger is standing in the shadows and speaking in rasping whispers, just in case he doesn't seem weasely enough. He gently suggests that maybe Jon could stop being King in the North. I mean, he's not even "in the North," right? Sansa thinks Arya wouldn't go along with that. "And she'd kill anyone who betrayed her family," she adds. But Sansa's also family. Littlefinger asks if Arya would really kill her own sister, and...well, she might. She's like that kitten who thinks of nothing but murder all day. Littlefinger seems quite pleased that he's getting Sansa to consider Arya a threat.
Okay, here's where I think Littlefinger makes his big mistake. He's got Sansa and Arya quarreling, and he's got Sansa, in particular, questioning her sister. So he says, "Sometimes when I try to understand a person's motives, I play a little game. I assume the worst. What's the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do? Then I ask myself, 'How well does that reason explain what they say and what they do?' So, tell me what's the worst thing she could want?" Sansa's answer is "She could want me dead because she thinks I wronged my family." But that's not super-convincing, I don't think. If Arya wanted Sansa dead, she'd be dead already. She would have died in that episode where Arya had a giant knife, right? So Arya probably didn't come to Winterfell to kill her. But this way of examining people's motives is new to Sansa (although with the life she's had over the last seven seasons, she should be used to people being the worst). Littlefinger leads Sansa down this chain of reasoning, where Arya is doing all this to become Lady of Winterfell. But all the way back to the first episode of the series, we and Sansa have seen that Arya doesn't want to be Lady of Winterfell. So I think right here is where Littlefinger has outsmarted himself. He doesn't actually know the people he's trying to manipulate, and he's accidentally shown Sansa that Arya doesn't have the worst motives after all.
Okay, back to Dragonstone. Pretty much all of Team Daenerys is gathered around that big table that Stannis was using. it's got a big map of Westeros on it, so it's perfect for planning strategy. Or, one assumes, playing Risk. Jon lays out his plan for taking all the armies north, in which the Dothraki will meet the Unsullied on the Kingsroad and go to Winterfell. Jorah thinks Daenerys should fly ahead, rather than sail with everyone else to White Harbor. Jon thinks they should sail together, so that the north can see them together. You know, instead of the foreigner flying in on her dragon alone. I don't think he's wrong, but I also think everyone else in the room thinks Jon just wants some of that Boat Sex he missed out on. And there are a LOT of people in this room.
Daenerys says she's coming to save the North, not conquer it. Sure, she's already gotten Jon to bend the knee (and she'll get him to do more later, exaggerated wink), so technically she's already conquered it. Daenerys will sail with Jon. And if this plan actually happens, practically everyone will be at Winterfell. That'll be exciting!
In the big, empty Dragonstone throne room, there's this ridiculous throne that looks like a lava flow. People in this world have weird ideas of what thrones should look like. Personally, I like a throne with some cushioning. And where's all the gold leaf? Anyway, Theon and Jon finally have a real conversation. Theon is impressed that Jon told Daenerys the truth, even though it was a huge risk. Jon values honesty pretty highly, and Theon isn't sure what he values anymore. Jon says he's done plenty of things he regrets, but Theon's got him beat on that score. Theon wants to be "the right kind of person," but he doesn't know what that means. He's always been torn between Stark and Greyjoy. Jon insists that Ned Stark was more of a father to Theon than Balon Greyjoy ever was. This is going to be important later, I think, because Jon is taking a strong stand that your father is the man who raised you, not the person you're related to by blood. So if he has some kind of personal crisis next season about something that's going to come up later (cough cough), I hope he remembers this. But for the moment, he's bringing this up because Theon betrayed Ned's memory. Theon agrees. And Jon says Ned's "a part of you. Just like he's a part of me." And Jon forgives Theon for whatever is his place to forgive. Theon's a Greyjoy and a Stark, as far as Jon's concerned. Theon says that his sister Yara tried to save him from Ramsay Bolton, and now she needs him. Jon asks, "So why are you still talking to me?" Look, Daenerys has plenty of people on her side. She can probably spare Theon, right? Go have a sidequest. It'll be good for you.
Out at the Dragonstone beach, the Iron Islanders are packing up their boats when Theon comes down to them. He gives something of an inspiring speech about not leaving Yara behind, but the biggest and mouthiest Ironborn (named Harrag, if you care) says she's dead. And also, from what I know about these guys, leaving people behind is absolutely what they do. Theon tries to appeal to the mouthy guy's better nature, since Yara's his queen. But everyone remembers that Theon already left her to die once, and since Yara's his sister, that counts for more. Theon admits that he was a coward, which fails to dissuade anyone from their plan to find an island, kill everyone on it, and live there until the zombie thing blows over. Eventually, this turns into a fight. And Theon's kind of weedy. All that torture isn't good for a fighter. So the big guy just pummels him over and over. Theon gets up and is knocked down again. Repeatedly. He takes longer to get up each time, but he keeps getting up. Everyone else is just standing around and watching, and it seems like Theon is earning their respect for his guts if nothing else. It's a lot like a scene in Cool Hand Luke. Harrag tells him, "Stay down or I'll kill you." Theon gets back up. After a lot of this, Harrag knees Theon in the balls. And that turns out to be Theon's secret weapon, because his balls are long gone. While Harrag looks confused, Theon goes on the offensive. It's like in pro wrestling, where some wrestlers are immune to headbutts, so when they get their faces pounded into the turnbuckle, they get an advantage. This is true! In the 1980s, this happened in every one of the Junkyard Dog's matches. Also most Samoan wrestlers have this trait. And that explains why Theon can win a fight against a much bigger guy in spite of being covered in blood and having no strength left. He punches Harrag's face until he's out (possibly dead, but it's not like they show anyone check his pulse), then drags himself to his feet. Everyone else basically shrugs and decides they might as well do what this lunatic says. Theon washes his face in the ocean water, which probably hurts a lot, what with the salt water. But it's nicely symbolic, since they worship the Drowned God. Remember how Euron did that thing where he was drowned in the ocean and then came back to life?
Back to Winterfell! Sansa is standing on the battlements, looking out over the snowy landscape. Then she gets a look of determination and tells a random guard to have her sister brought to the Great Hall. The next scene, logically enough, is in the Great Hall, where Arya is being brought. It's just Storytelling 101, really. Sansa is seated behind the big table, with Bran next to her. Various soldiers are arrayed around the room, and Littlefinger is off to the side, smirking. Arya asks if Sansa's sure if she wants "to do this," and Sansa says that honor demands she defend her family from those that would harm or betray them. Littlefinger continues to smirk.
Sansa says, "You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges...Lord Baelish?" At this point, Littlefinger stops smirking, and Arya starts. It would seem that he underestimated the Stark kids, presumably because he didn't know just how much they'd been through. Littlefinger claims to be confused, so Sansa runs down some of the things he's done. He murdered Lysa Arryn, who was Sansa and Arya's aunt. He claims it was to protect Sansa, but it was obviously because he wanted to rule the Vale. He also gave Lysa that poison to kill her son. Littlefinger has had a moment to collect himself and starts to present a defense. But Sansa knows a lot more than he thinks. Littlefinger had Lysa send a letter to the Lannisters blaming the Starks for trying to kill Jon Arryn, which was basically what kicked off the Lannister-Stark conflict that developed into the seven seasons of this show. Littlefinger sensibly denies this, because he doesn't think there's any way anyone could connect that to him. Sansa also accuses him of conspiring with Cersei and Joffrey to imprison Ned Stark, which she was there for. So that's definitely his fault, way more than it was Sansa's. He goes with a firm "I deny it" and follows it with a very weak "None of you were there to see what happened." That's more of a Bart Simpson denial than you want in this situation, I think.
Then Bran gets involved, describing the scene in which Littlefinger held a knife to Ned's throat. So I guess it's not strictly true that nobody saw anything, huh? Arya speaks up from behind Littlefinger. Remember that Valyrian steel knife from a million seasons ago? The one that Littlefinger said was Tyrion's, and that Arya currently has? It was Littlefinger's. He's freaked out now, because people are saying things they're not supposed to know, so he starts pleading with Sansa, saying he protected her. Well, he sold her to Ramsay Bolton, which isn't the best kind of protection in the world. He offers to explain things in private, and she repeats his line about imagining what someone's worst motives could be. At this point, Littlefinger's face falls. He's tried denial, he's tried bluster, and he's tried weaseling. He's running out of tactics. Sansa says he's been trying to turn her against Arya, which is clearly true. He turns people against each other. He asks for a chance to defend himself, and I don't really understand the legal system in Westeros. Sometimes people get to have trial by combat that doesn't even involve the people being accused of anything. But I guess not here.
Littlefinger turns to the soldiers and says that, as Lord Protector of the Vale, he commands them to escort him safely back to the Eyrie. This doesn't work, possibly because the soldiers of the Vale just learned that he killed Lady Arryn and tried to kill her son. You know, the people who actually ruled the Vale? People in this world are very into their rulers. Littlefinger falls to his knees and tries begging. How about his love for Sansa's mother? And his love for Sansa herself? Well, since neither of those loves was strong enough to stop him from betraying them, they don't seem to have been that important, huh?
At this point, the three Stark children are all looking at Littlefinger in judgement. Sansa thanks him for his many lessons, and Arya cuts his throat. Now technically, it ought to have been Sansa who did it. The lesson from the very first scene of the series was that the person who pronounces the sentence ought to swing the axe. But Arya's right there, and she doesn't hesitate to kill someone. She also puts her knife back in its sheath without wiping the blood off, which I think is gross. Even if there's something about Valyrian steel that makes it easy to clean later on, it's going to make the sheath all sticky and smelly. Anyway, Littlefinger's dead. So much for that guy. He was fun! I mean, evil and scheming, but still. He got things done.
Now, let's swing by King's Landing. Cersei walks into her big map room, where Jaime is giving orders about getting their armies up to the Wall. You know, like Cersei said she was going to do? Guess what? Cersei dismisses everyone and tells Jaime she always knew he was the stupidest Lannister. I always like that even though she despises Tyrion, she acknowledges that he's smart. I don't think it's nice that she's waited until now to tell Jaime that she has no intention of sending her armies north, though. She had plenty of time to let him know what the plan was, but she waited until he was actually giving orders, just so she could ask him if he's a traitor or an idiot. Jaime protests, but Cersei thinks that the dragons will probably do a pretty good job fighting the armies of the dead. That zombie was pretty flammable, and they'll also have the Dothraki and the Unsullied, both of which are better than the army Cersei could add. Jaime says it's not about anything but "the living and the dead," which allows Cersei to say that she intends to stay among the living. You walked right into that one, Jaime. She's not going anywhere. Jaime says he made a promise, which Cersei thinks sounds just incredibly naïve. Cersei says that all the stories about monsters like dragons and White Walkers and Dothraki screamers are real, and she's going to let them fight among themselves while she consolidates her power in the south. I admire her single-mindedness. It's like she's the only one who remembers that it's called Game Of Thrones, not Game Of Zombies. I think she'll count it as a victory if the last person alive is a Lannister, as long as that Lannister sits on the Iron Throne. She's not worried about angering the Targaryens and the Starks, because they already want her dead, so what's the difference? Also, there's one Targaryen and no more than five Starks, and that's counting Theon.
Cersei also makes a great point about Daenerys only bringing two dragons to their meeting, because she definitely would have brought three if she had them. So maybe Daenerys beats the Night King, but she takes enough losses that Cersei can beat Daenerys when she comes back south. Cersei condescends to Jaime about how she now has the Golden Company, which is a giant mercenary army that's been hanging out offscreen this entire time, waiting for someone to pay them to get involved. Jaime protests that they're in Essos, because sometimes logistics matter on this show and sometimes they don't. But it turns out that Euron's exit from the parlay was a feint, and he's actually taking his fleet over to Essos right now to ferry Cersei's new army. I find this disappointing, because it's more fun if Euron just leaves. As it is, I guess Theon's going to go to the Iron Islands and find that Euron's not there? I don't think he has the forces to stop Euron in a giant sea battle. Although Daenerys could ride a dragon over there and completely wreck Euron's entire fleet if she wanted to. She's going to be busy burning zombies, though.
Cersei tells Jaime (sorry, I got distracted. That scene's still going on) that Euron would never abandon the chance to marry the queen: "No one walks away from me." Jaime tries to make her feel shame for plotting with Euron without telling him, the commader of her armies. She points out that he met with Tyrion in secret, which she considers conspiring against her. And if he follows through on his promise to march north against her orders, that will be treason. Jaime starts to leave, but uh oh! Ser Gregor bars the way. That really is a big dude. Jaime dares her to tell Gregor to kill him. She doesn't. Gregor takes his sword out anyway. Jaime says, "I don't believe you," and walks away from her. See, Cersei talks a good game, but this is the second time in this episode that she couldn't bring herself to order the death of one of her brothers. And now the only named characters on Team Cersei are herself, Ser Gregor, Qyburn, Bronn, and Euron Greyjoy. And I guess Brienne and Podrick are there too, but I don't think they're actually on Cersei's side.
Jaime rides out to a hill outside King's Landing and puts a glove on his gold hand. A snowflake lands on him, which means that Winter is here. Which is ominous, but it's also how last season ended. But it's pretty to see the snow falling on the various parts of Westeros that usually don't have it.
Back to Winterfell again. It's Samwell Tarly! He got there pretty quickly, really. He just took a cart and it brought him right there. He goes straight to Bran's chamber and is pleased that Bran remembers him. Bran claims to remember everything. Sam asks what happened to Bran, and, like everyone else, doesn't understand what it means to have become the three-eyed raven. I mean, you're clearly still a two-eyed person. Bran says he can see what happened in the past and what's happening now, all over the world. At this point, Bran has mostly abandoned his old character traits (to the extent that he had any past "is a kid") and is like an audience stand-in. He theoretically knows everything that's happened everywhere, but he has to focus to remember anything specific. Like if you've watched every episode but sometimes have to check the internet to get the details straight. For example.
Sam's here to help Jon lead the fight against the Dead. Bran says, "He's on his way back to Winterfell. With Daenerys Targaryen." Did he see that in a vision? No, he got a letter. I love that joke! I saw it coming a mile away, but I still love it. I also like any time Bran can seem a little bit normal. Bran wants to tell Jon the truth about himself. He knows that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. FINALLY. This is the theory that fans have had since before the show started, and it's what everyone's been whispering about all this time. It's why there are extra-special-no-spoiler forums, really -- just to keep people from blurting that out. And now two people know that Ned Stark isn't really Jon's father, which lessens the possibility that they'll die before telling him. Jon's still a Stark, but on his mother's side. And his father, Rhaegar Targaryen, was the older brother of Viserys and Daenerys, which means that he's Daenerys's nephew. That's probably going to come up, since they've been sleeping together. For what it's worth, apparently the Targaryens have made a habit of marrying within the family. But still.
Bran mostly considers this an interesting novelty, since it means that instead of Jon Snow, his name ought to be Jon Sand, because that's the last name given to bastards who are born in Dorne. But! Sam has the other half of the news. When Gilly was reading out that thing about an annulment, everyone got mad that Sam wasn't listening, but of course she was reading a book he'd transcribed. So Sam tells Bran the real news: Rhaegar's old marriage to Elia was annulled, and he got a second marriage to Lyanna Stark. And it was a full, official marriage that was registered in Oldtown. Sam didn't care at the time, but now the full truth is out there. Bran checks his three-eyed raven powers (which, again, work almost exactly like going online to a fan wiki to see what's canon) and sees the wedding. There they are. Young Rhaegar and Young Lyanna. That's not a kidnapping. They seem very much in love. Robert's Rebellion was wrong. And as Bran comes to this conclusion, we see Jon enter Daenerys's cabin for some long-awaited Boat Sex. Tyrion's watching from the shadows. Now that Littlefinger's dead, someone has to do that sort of thing.
Bran is now watching Jon's birth. We see Lyanna whispering to Young Ned, saying that his name is Aegon Targaryen. This is intercut with the Boat Sex, so if you want to see Jon Snow's butt, there it is. So the big news is that he's the legitimate son to Rhaegar, which means he's the heir to the Iron Throne. Bran figures he and Sam ought to tell him.
Out on the Winterfell parapets, Sansa and Arya check in with each other. Sansa thinks Littlefinger probably did love her. In his weird, creepy, manipulative way. Arya reminds Sansa that she's the one who passed the sentence. Because Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell, which Arya thinks is right. She had to become something else. She echoes an earlier conversation as she says she never would have survived what Sansa had to. Sansa says she's the strongest person she's even known, albeit strange and annoying.
Arya and Sansa share memories of their father and his wisdom, which mostly consist of aphorisms about winter and snow. The one they like best is "The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives." They miss him, which seems entirely reasonable. I'm very happy to see the sisters on the same team. Meanwhile, Bran is out at the Godswood, doing three-eyed raven things with the tree.
Now, Eastwatch. The eastern end of the Wall. An unkindness of ravens swoops around, and I guess it means that Bran is watching through them. Tormund and Beric walk through a bunch of Wildlings and Night's Watch who don't get lines because we're not made of money. They go up to a lookout point and see the first zombie come out of the trees. And then there are more. And then there are hundreds, all walking slowly toward the Wall. There are White Walkers on those cool skeletal horses. And a few zombie giants appear out of the fog, as the Wall's horns begin to blow. The Army of the Dead stops.
And then a giant zombie dragon comes out of the sky, being ridden by the Night King. It breathes blue fire, which rips out the side of the Wall. Everyone starts to run, but it's hard to run down ice-covered stairs that are five hundred feet tall. The dragon continues to breathe fire, and the Wall starts to collapse. People fall to their deaths in the avalanche as the zombies silently watch and wait. It's not clear if Beric and Tormund die (which means they definitely live somehow) but the Wall they're standing on completely collapses.
The Army of the Dead advances, walking slowly past the spot where the Wall used to be. The Night King and his dragon fly overhead, and I wonder how the dragon got those holes in its wings so quickly. It wasn't dead long enough to start rotting, was it? Anyway, it looks pretty cool and ominous.
And that's where the season ends! I'm kind of surprised at how many people are still alive, considering how close we are to the end of the series. I think it's going to be an absolute bloodbath in Season 8.