***Spoiler Warning: This post discusses Game of Thrones events through Season 7, Episode 7, and A Song of Ice and Fire book events and theories. Spoilers***
With substantial somberness sporadically (thankfully) thwarted by Game of Thrones‘ trademark comedians, an odd feeling of unease stretched over the course of the episode enveloped viewers, none of us truly prepared for rewards the hour brought. Eighty-odd minutes found us fraught with unusual unknowing; this finale was dark and full of … tension.
In its seven season series history, there’ve been monumental happenings aplenty, but few felt the weight this Sunday slung across our shoulders, heavy with the uncertainty a pair of clashing queens might bring to a dragonpit assemblage. The pure anxiety of players and audience alike, carefully watching Cersei’s every nuanced expression, her reactions, every bitter word purposefully, seeping from between tightened lips and gritted teeth are a testament to Lena Headey’s commanding power. Whatever heft behind Jon’s message, Daenerys’ grand entrance, the Hound’s drama-tinged reveal, all paled in comparison to sardonic Cersei-speak, her companions’ and opponents’ bated breath alternately gasped in and defeated, slowly sighed out.
An inexplicable gamble provides the first standout sibling standoff; two brothers battle against their unstable sister, neither expecting their eventual individual outcomes. While Tyrion’s risk (ostensibly) rewards reprieve (and a well-deserved drink), Jaime’s encounter is further fraught with faithlessness, driving the struggling antihero far from the last of his family and perhaps, closer to his fate. As both Lannister lads offer their lives, Mountainous murder mere moments away, the internal struggle perfectly plays out on Headey’s, Dinklage’s and Coster-Waldau’s faces — bitter anger, shock, and disbelief at respite and betrayal, alike.
After years of deceit, a duplicitous dastard’s debt finally comes due. Seemingly successfully sown seeds of sisterly betrayal twist on the wily wind, reverse direction, and culminate in the most delicious dessert Sansa has ever imagined, leaving lemon cakes far behind. In the moment Littlefinger expects to watch another Stark fall, Sansa offers his offenses to a full Great Hall; Arya serves up revenge ice cold and sweet. It’s a testament to Aidan Gillen’s outstanding inhabiting of Baelish’s extraordinarily complicated character that the moment of his death is so bittersweet. Despite his obvious outward charm, we delighted to despise. Likewise, Sophie Turner completely commanded the room; the same Sansa we saw meting a Bolton bastard’s just reward inhabited the Lady of Winterfell here, as she turned the Lord of Vale’s expectations utterly upside down. The cold-hearted, odd turn Arya began last week completes its arc, as does her dagger, its intended victim correctly predicted.
A cockless Greyjoy further redeems (thanks, missing member!), and proves his merit (take note, Bronn); as Jaime notes, “Maybe it really is all cocks in the end”. History repeats in awkward revelation when in flashback, Rhaegar and Lyanna are revealed to be wedded, while in current time, their trueborn son — Jon Snow aka Aegon Targaryen — gets it on with his father’s sister. If anyone’s counting, that makes two prospective incestuous heirs on the way. Bran’s all-seeing visions, the ramifications of relations present and past may be as meaningless as the many machinations in motion; Tormund and Beric watch as winter’s forewarned warriors begin their march on the Wall. Still, nothing known prepared Brotherhood, Watch or Wildling for the last sight this hour would bring. An endless army of White Walkers descend from far North, their Night King riding Dany’s undead dragon, and with chilling blue flames, a resurrected Viserion aims its wrath against man and wall. Alongside Giantsbane, slack-jawed in horror, we bear witness to the beginning of the end, as the line of defense for everything south comes tumbling down.
What an unexpectedly taut and excellent season finale this was! Grand, in fact — in the wake of the rushed and somewhat flawed penultimate episode last Sunday, this hour (plus) rang vastly superior, in fact, I’d put it among the series’ best. Despite a rash of leaks and spoilers, most of which I managed to avoid, there was a complete lack of predictability in the whole of the King’s Landing scenes. In between the laugh out loud comedic efforts by Bronn, The Hound, and Tyrion, tension was palpable. So many cheers go out for great performances this hour — as mentioned above — to Lena Headey as Cersei. What a long way she’s come from her T: TSCC, where her stone-faced, emotionless delivery was so off-putting, here she’s gorgeously restrained, with layers of emotion visible behind her outward emotions. Honestly, this is standing ovation material, here … all the kudos and hopeful Emmy nominations belong at Headey’s feet.
Likewise, I’d expect Peter Dinklage and possibly Nicolaj Coster-Waldau to both receive nods for their scenes opposite Headey. Tyrion’s resignation to putting himself on the line, knowing Cersei could and wanted to have him cut down on sight, and his complete willingness to put out all his emotions, accept all responsibility and invite his own death was amazing to witness, that moment he realized she wasn’t going to (immediately) kill him and went for the wine was glorious. Jaime’s broken-hearted acknowledgement of Cersei’s rejection, finally accepting what he had previously been willing to overlook (“Never betray me again”) — that he no longer has her love, was crushing. The Lannisters three were at the top of their game this hour, as were the actors who portray them.
Glorious reunions all: Bronn and The Hound, Bronn and Tyrion, Brienne and The Hound, Podrick and Bronn, Tyrion and Pod, Jaime and Brienne — it was so lovely to get a few private moments mixed in, and the comedy as well.
Speaking of, what did The Hound mean when he told The Mountain “It’s not how it ends for you, brother. You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.” Is he speaking about himself, or someone else? Did he have another vision, or is that his personal threat, that he’ll kill The Mountain as soon as he gets the chance?
The Hound and the White Walker in a box scene was wonderfully tense. For a moment, I thought Sandor was a goner, that he’d get attacked trying to let out the creature. Nicely done, all around, and Cersei’s reaction — everyone’s reactions — were perfectly horrified. All except Qyburn, of course, who — evil doctor that he is — immediately wanted to understand reanimation.
We have to talk about Littlefinger … and Aidan Gillen, whose consistently sublime performances allowed us to dream and wish for his death all these years, and yet still nurse a little bad boy crush. His brand of manipulative evil was delicious, in a way reminding me of Vincent Price.
While his death was predicted, expected, practically demanded, and we got the Stark sisters turnaround that had to be coming, both the prelude and execution were clunky. These reunited Starks would never have acted so hatefully, so inexplicably nasty toward each other after they’ve been through so much — family is everything to them. We knew that. So, last week’s events made no sense without a hint of collusion and this week, with not a single sign it was all a ruse, we witnessed the outcome. Was the outcome grand? Sure. But, the lack of background behavior, the flipping from one extreme to the other and nothing in between, played out terribly. This is purely in the hands of the writers, and no reflection on the pair of fabulous actresses who portray Sansa and Arya. Both Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams shone.
CleganeBowl didn’t really happen, even though the brothers reunited. I’m so curious if they’ll ever go up against each other — my money’s definitely on the wily Hound. But, if it turns out Sandor’s comments were about a vision he’s had, or that somebody else takes down the Mountain, I’m okay with that, too.
I’ve been reading up on the Jaime is The Prince That Was Promised theory, and the more I think about it, the more it works for me — he, the redeemed hero who will surely be the prophesied valonqar that kills Cersei, preventing an unforeseen child from ever being born. The focus on Jaime’s hand as he departed King’s Landing pushed it all forward, as well (and how oddly appropriate The Smiths’ Hand in Glove lyrics to the series’ incestuous relationships).
Speaking of New Wave music, Bronn’s “Men without cocks” comments inevitably lead to jokes about band names and potential lyrics: Men Without Hats’ Safety Dance breeds Men Without Cocks singing “We can fight if we want to, we can leave our worlds behind … ”
Though plenty of men will have died at the wall, it is with both relief and incredulity that we realize only Littlefinger is a death of consequence this season ender. I don’t for one second believe Tormund is gone, nor Jorah (though each man’s death has been teased many times over), and for that I’m grateful.
Thank the gods! Sam and Bran actually passed useful information back and forth, and have intentions of telling Jon who he really is. The whole war between families basically started because people didn’t tell each other important information — like that Lyanna was in love and married, not stolen away against her will. Robert didn’t need to kill Rhaegar, domino-ing Brandon and Rickard Stark’s deaths, and so on.
What shall we call Jon; Jaegon, Aejon, Jongaryen? His is the eighth Aegon, (the second so named by his father, unless Lyanna chose it without Rhaegar’s knowledge) with one other — the seventh Aegon, also Rhaegar’s son (with Elia Martell), who is possibly still alive, somewhere. Though the blue-haired “Griff” may exist in GRRM’s books, it’s possible he’s not significant in a way that the character will be included in the series.
Tyrion is obviously and rightfully concerned about Jon sleeping with Dany, what the implications might be, that he’s lost any sway over Dany’s decisions to Jon. Can’t wait ’till he finds out they’re family.
I have a strong feeling Jon will die, perhaps in protection of Dany and their heir, telegraphed by their conversation about her not being able to get pregnant, but surely growing in her belly by the time Season 8 returns (in 2018 OR 2019). As a solid non-shipper, I’m thankful that cheesy love scene (yeah, I said it) was tempered by the alternating Bran and Sam, and Rhaegar and Lyanna wedding shots. Let’s hope that was a one-time indiscretion.
By now, I’m certain everyone has read the Bran is the Night King theory to which I don’t subscribe. But, if it’s somehow true, perhaps Jaime is heading north to finish the job he started (pushing little Bran out the tower window). Could be interesting.
Bronn to Jaime: “Men without cocks … You wouldn’t find me fighting in an army without a cock. What’s left to fight for?
Jaime to Bronn: “Gold.”
Bronn: “I’ve spent my life around soldiers; what do you think they spend their gold on?”
Bronn: “Not without a cock, you don’t.”
Jaime: “Maybe it really is all cocks in the end.”
Bronn: “And yet your brother has chosen to side with the cockless.”
Jaime: “He’s always been a champion of the downtrodden.”
Bronn: “I think we’re about to be the downtrodden.”
Jon to Tyrion about King’s Landing’s crowdedness: “Why would anyone want to live like that?”
Tyrion: “There’s more work in the city, and the brothels are superior.”
Bronn to Tyrion, who was chatting with Pod: “Come on, you can suck his magic cock later.”
Tyrion to Bronn: “Here we are, the heroes of Blackwater Bay … ”
Bronn: “I put yourself at risk. Important difference. It’s your head Cersei offered a bag of gold for, not mine. Now, thanks to me, two traitors are walking through her gate.”
Tyrion: “It’s good to see you again.”
Bronn: “Yeah, you too.”
Hound to guards: “Anyone touches it, I’ll kill you first.”
Hound to Tyrion: “I left this shit city because I don’t want to die in it. Am I gonna die in this shit city?”
Tyrion: “You might.”
Hound: “Seems every bad idea has some Lannister cunt behind it.”
Tyrion: “And some Clegane cunt to help them see it through.”
Hound to The Mountain: “Remember me? Yeah you do. You’re even fucking uglier than I am. What did they do to you? Doesn’t matter. It’s not how it ends for you, brother. You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
Tyrion to Euron: “I think we ought to begin with larger concerns.”
Euron: “Then why are you talking. You’re the smallest concern here.”
Tyrion: “Do you remember when we discussed dwarf jokes?”
Cersei to Euron: “Sit down or leave.”
Tyrion: “We have suffered at each others’ hands, we have lost people we love at each others’ hands, if all we wanted was more of the same, there would be no need for this gathering. We are entirely capable of waging war against each other without meeting face to face.”
Cersei: “So instead we should settle our differences and live together in harmony for the rest of our days?”
Jon: “This isn’t about living in harmony, this is just about living”.
Tyrion: “There is no conversation that would erase the last fifty years. We have something to show you.”
Euron to Jon: “Can they swim?”
Euron: “Good. I’m taking my fleet back to the Iron Islands.”
Cersei: “I know Ned Stark’s son will. I know Ned Stark’s son will be true to his word.”
Jon: “I am true to to my word, or I try to be. That is why I cannot do what you ask. I cannot serve two queens. And I’ve already pledged myself to Daenerys of House Targaryen.”
Davos to Jon: “I wish you hadn’t done that.”
Tyrion to Jon: “Have you ever considered lying, just a little bit?”
Brienne to Jaime: “Oh, fuck loyalty. This goes beyond houses of honor and oaths. Talk to the queen.”
Jaime: “She thinks I am an idiot to trust you.”
Tyrion: “I’m about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world, who’s already tried to kill me twice, that I know of. Who’s an idiot?”
Jaime: “I suppose we should say goodbye, one idiot to another.”
Cersei to Tyrion: “I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, she’s your kind of woman. A foreign whore who doesn’t know her place.”
Tyrion: “A foreign whore you can’t abduct, beat or intimidate. That must be difficult for you.”
“Daenerys didn’t want to debate or negotiate, she didn’t want to bring you words, she wanted to bring you fire and blood, until I advised her otherwise. I don’t want to destroy our family, I never have.”
Cersei: “You killed our father.”
Tyrion: “After he sentenced me to death for a crime I didn’t commit. Yes, I killed him. Hate me for it if you want, I hate myself for it in spite of what he was, in spite of what he did to me.”
Cersei: “Oh, poor little man. Your papa was mean to you. Do you have any idea what you did when you fired that crossbow? You left us open. You laid us bare for the vultures, and the vultures came and tore us apart. You may not have killed Joffrey but you killed Myrcella, you killed Tommen. No one would have touched them if father was here, no one would have dared …”
Tyrion: “I’ve never been more sorry for anything.”
“All right. You love your family, and I have destroyed it. I will always be a threat, so put an end to me. If it weren’t for me, you would 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. I’ve thought about killing you more times than I can count. Do it! Say the word.”
Cersei: “I don’t care about my worst impulses, I don’t care about making the world a better world. Hang the world. That thing you dragged here, I know what it is, I know what it means. When it came at me I didn’t think about the world, not at all. As soon as it opened its mouth the world disappeared for me, right down its black throat. All I could think about is keeping those gnashing teeth away from the ones who matter most, away from my family. Maybe your Euron Greyjoy had the right idea. Get on a boat, take those who matter.”
Tyrion. “You’re pregnant.”
Dany to Jon: “I respect what you did. I wish you wouldn’t have done it, but I respect it.”
“A dragon is not a slave. They were terrifying, extraordinary, they filled people with wonder and awe, and we locked them away in here. They grew small, and we grew smaller with them.”
“I can’t have children.”
Jon to Dany: “Who told you that?
… Have you ever considdred that she wasn’t a reliable source of information?”
“It appears Cersei’s assessment was correct: we’re fucked.”
Sansa repeating Littlefinger’s words back to him: “Sometimes, when I try to understand a person’s motive, I play a little game. What’s the worst — what’s the worst reason a person could?”
Theon to Jon: “Always seemed to me there was an impossible choice to make, Stark or Greyjoy.”
Jon: Our father was more of a father to you … You never lost him. He’s a part of you just like he’s a part of me.
It’s not up to me to forgive, but what I can, I do.
You don’t need to choose, you’re a Greyjoy and you’re a Stark.”
Theon to his men: “All of us chose to follow Yara, we left the Iron Islands for Yara. She would never leave one of us behind. We’re not leaving Yara behind.”
Arya to Sansa: “Are you sure you want to do this?”
Sansa to Arya: “It’s not what I want, it’s what I’m bound …
You stand accused of murder, you stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges … Lord Baelish.”
“I’m a slow learner, it’s true. But, I learn.
You told me there’s no justice in the world unless you make it. Thank you for all your lessons, Lord Baelish.”
Cersei to Jaime: “The monsters are real. Let the monsters battle it out.”
She [Daenerys] came here with all her power. Something happened. We have something better. We have the Iron Bank. You should have listened when father talked about the importance of gold.”
Jaime: “You plotted with Euron Greyjoy …”
Cersei: “You plotted with Tyrion …”
Sam to Bran: “I wasn’t sure if you’d remember me.”
Bran: “I remember everything … I became the three-eyed raven.”
Sam: “I don’t know what that means.”
Bran: “Rhaegar didn’t kidnap my aunt or rape her.”
Bran: “He’s never been a bastard. He’s the heir to the Iron Throne.”
Sam about Jon: “He needs to know. We need to tell him.”
Arya to Sansa. “You did it. I just did the execution.”
“I never could have survived what you survived.”
Sansa to Arya: “You would have. You’re the strongest person I know.”
Arya: “I believe that’s the nicest thing you ever said to me.”
Tormund to Beric at the top of the wall: “It’s a long way down.”
Beric: “Yeah, the crows keep telling me I’ll get used to it.”