Game of Thrones - S7E7: The Dragon and the Wolf - Review: The Season Ends in Style
Has Game of Thrones goten so big that it’s actually become its own crossover? For so long, its kept so many of its characters on different isolated story paths that now in Season 7 where so many paths are finally meeting, it feels as bigger deal as Hulk showing up in Thor: Ragnarok. There were a lot of meme jokes about last week’s North of the Wall group being Thrones doing an Avengers-like team-up but in many ways, that’s how it felt. Now, in this week’s finale, we get a character assembly that’s akin to the show doing Infinity War.... and yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
The Dragon and the Wolf – The great leaders meet in King's Landing in the hope of agreeing to Tyrion’s truce to fight the army of the dead. In Winterfell, Littlefinger’s manipulation of Sansa against Arya leads to charges of treason.
Even in the early stages the sheer quantity of major characters converging on King's Landing for the gathering makes this feel so epic. It’s character and dialogue-heavy affair that stretches almost the length of normal episode but there’s no denying quality here as Benihoff & Weiss’s script makes full use of such a gathering and the vast emotional journeys many characters have been on together. Like last week’s North of the Wall Avengers assembly, there’s superb fan fulfilment in the various reunions and first time meetings. Getting Tyrion and Bronn within speaking distance was good enough as the pair express just how much we’ve missed them together. Yet my favourite reunion was actually Brienne and The Hound in the way it embedded the themes of putting their differences aside prior to the meeting; as the pair reconciled over the common differences of their last bitter encounter. If they could do it then, maybe so could Cersei and Daenerys. The unveiling of wight was handled exceptionally-well. The sheer contrast in Euron’s character before and after the unveiling immediately changed tone and established the serious comprehension of all involved. However, my MVP for the entire episode was Lena Headly. She excels in showing that Cersei is incapable of forcing back her shock and fear behind her usual steely composure when the wight comes raging for her. Then in her conversation with Tyrion, she delivers a powerful mix of vulnerability and spite. The over-arching themes of the gathering and the show itself are well represented in the hesitation to put aside their personal conflicts for fears over trusting each other. Of course, they held off from giving us Clegane-bowl despite getting those boys back together for fears of upstaging Maywaether Vs McGregor; but their (what’s left of) face-to-face affirms that the super fight is on the cards. I’m gonna throw this one out there: IfThe Mountain is technically dead (being revived by Qyburn), could we see The Night King taking control of him to up those stakes even further?
Now I had my doubts about the developing Sansa/Arya Winterfell story going into this finale. Yet I’m very happy with eventual pay-off that showcases just how much Littlefinger has manipulated and used Sansa over the years and seasons in the way he leads her towards the idea of Arya’s betrayal. The ensuing trial scene is marvelous affair of tension and twists that really highlights Sansa’s progression throughout this season. Just like her dark haired emergence in season 4’s finale, it signalled her transition from girl to woman. This scene affirms her stance as a Lady and commander of men. It’s part of a nice collective theme across several of the characters in how Ned Stark is still alive through the impression he’s left on original young assembly of Winterfell. While the Sam & Bran reunion was little more than the convenience of some, “Bran vision” exposition of Jon’s parentage but Sam’s befuddled reactions contrasted Bran’s deadpanning well. It was also great to finally see this all spelled-out. However, it places Bran’s character in a newfound state of vulnerability. Given everything that transpires, it seems like his key purpose was to deliver this information and reveal the truth over Jon. Now that he’s told Sam, we could well see Bran getting killed off because leaving only Sam alive to convince people is a much more interesting story that also gives Sam some new purpose.
It did feel like it came too late in the season but I did like Theon’s revival following a good man-to-man exchange with Jon. Having to rescue Yara gives him good purpose while bringing Yara’s story full circle of being rescued by Theon after trying to rescue him. The beach fight worked well to show Theon shaking off his cowardice and earning the elegance his men like a true Iron Born. His grins after being unaffected by groin shots were particularly fun. By contrast, the “culmination” of the Jon & Daenerys romantic arc felt like a suitable payoff after strong progression across the season to cement the pair as the show’s new power couple. As a result, I can’t help feel like the prior embedding over Daenerys not being able to have children was setup for a swerve next season. It’s long been established that Targaryens used to wed family members together. Maybe that was more than keeping their bloodlines pure. Maybe it takes 2 people of their bloodline for certain things to happen? Like producing dragons?
It’s a finale that favours story over action (save those highly-spoilery final minutes) but comes across like a meaningful consolidation of the bigger events across the last 6 episodes. This season has been a clear success in escalating the scale and spectacle of the show without compromising its character focus and still holding enough back for the final season. The more immediate problem is that we’re fucked. now waiting at least 12 months to find out what happens. In the mean time, keep your wolf pack close over winter, for the nights are dark and full of crappy reality TV.