The season finale of Game of Thrones rolled around far too soon with The Dragon and the Wolf. In many ways it marked a return to everything that makes GOT great, and everything that has been woefully absent from season 7 so far: tight scenes pairing key characters together for intense, cloistered conversations of great import; slow burning tension, dark portents and an impending sense of doom; highly satisfying twists; and a bucket load of political manipulation and deceit.
The highlight of the episode (and arguably the season) was, by far, watching Arya and Sansa out Littlefinger the previously unbeaten Littlefinger. It was not quick, it was slow and painful, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one screaming “Take his face!” at the TV.
Something tells me that, despite the fact he’s dead, we’ve not seen the last of Littlefinger.
The episode ended as the season began, with a butt-clenching view of the army of the dead, and the wall coming tumbling down. I’m glad that Tormund and Beric survived and weren’t killed off as an afterthought like poor Benjen Stark last week. It was very well handled and sufficiently epic, between the zombie dragon breathing blue fire (glad they didn’t fall into the trap of having a being that’s destroyed by fire breath normal fire, that would have been unfortunate), and the absolutely massive army surging through the gap, it really was a great end to the season.
Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but feel it was a let down.
The earlier events of the season between Sansa, Arya and Littlefinger were hardly dramatic or important enough to warrant the epic conclusion to the arc. Had they put a little more time, thought and effort into the interactions between these three in earlier episodes, the pay off would have been even bigger.
Tyrion had a more active role yet he was still far from the larger-than-life dwarf we all know and adore.
Cersei finally showed her true colours and Jaimie took a colossal step closer to redemption, fleeing King’s Landing with full knowledge of her plan, having called her bluff and correctly guessed she wouldn’t actually kill him, yet there was something missing from their final exchange. Cersei’s passion has vanished. While I have always thought her quest for power would ultimately destroy everything in her life, including her love for Jaimie, I expected it to be considerably less…cold.
Possibly I am simply disappointed that he’s still not stabbed her in the back (which he will inevitably do, as he must, in order to complete his journey to redemption, full-fill that ridiculous prophecy, and appease the gods of literary symmetry).
In some ways I’m glad, because I still have this to look forward to next season, and now Cersei has Euron shipping the Golden Company over and Dany has already lost one dragon, she actually poses a threat again. I was getting quite tired of her sitting at King’s Landing banging on about how she was going to rule the world, while it was patently obvious she was hopelessly out numbered, out dragoned, and running desperately low on allies.
Now she’s a real threat again.
Or is she?
Tyrion bated her to kill him, and she didn’t. Jaimie abandoned her and she let him go.
While I’m still not entirely convinced she didn’t lace that wine with poison, knowing full well Tyrion would go straight for it, if she did poison him she used something slow-buring and that’s not like her.
Was it for political reasons, and the fact she wouldn’t be able to continue her charade as the Good Queen if she killed him, or was it because all her protestations of family coming first are genuinely true? Despite the depth of her hatred for him and her (unfair) belief he is responsible for the deaths of her mother, father, and two of her children, she didn’t kill him.
When he was literally asking for it.
Daenerys now has both her brothers and the only two (currently) living members of her family at her side. When it comes to it, will she be able to pose a true threat to Dany knowing it means killing both her brothers and the love of her life?
It’s an odd contradiction in her character. Either there’s more going on, she will come to regret her decision, or she’s genuinely going to prove everything she’s been saying this whole time is true, and she loves her family more than anything.
In which case, she’s got most of them killed for nothing.
I find this an unsatisfactory possibility for her character, and it poses the problem of what she can possibly do now that will convince Jaimie to kill her (as he must), when she’s spared both him and Tyrion.
Beyond that, I found the revelation of Jon’s true parentage poorly handled. They made a big deal of it, sure, and they got in a seriously uncomfortable ‘Oh my god, that’s you’re aunt you’re banging’ moment. But anyone who has followed the series closely, read the books, or is well up on the R+L=J fan theory saw this coming years ago.
It was hardly a great WTF moment for the audience.
It was, however, a MASSIVE WTF moment for the show. This isn’t about Jon. It’s not about the fact he’s not really a bastard, or even the fact he has a really stupid name. It’s not even about the ick factor of Dany falling in love with her nephew.
It’s about the fact he’s the true heir to the Iron Throne.
Daenerys has no claim to the throne at all as long as he lives. He is the true heir, by law.
The fact that Robert’s rebellion was based on a lie, and Rhaegar did nothing to provoke it other than fall in love and marry an eligible woman of another noble house (who mercifully was not his sister) is not grounds for a rebellion.
It’s certainly not grounds for murdering his whole family, babies and all.
Which means Gendry’s claim to the throne is even more questionable (the fact he’s a bastard already made it a little dodgy), and Cersei’s has lost the last fragile, flimsy, basically-non-existent leg it had to begin with.
The question this revelation should have posed isn’t ‘What’s Dany going to do when she realises she’s screwing her nephew?’, it’s ‘What’s Dany going to do when she realises she has no claim to her precious throne?’
Her whole identity is bound to the notion that she was born to rule Westeros.
And she wasn’t.
Next season should be able two things: defeating the army of the dead, and Dany and Jon competing for the Iron Throne. There is nothing Dany’s character to suggest she will simply roll over and say, “Sure, take it, after all I did to get back here!”
She’s sacrificed too much, fought too hard, and has too much of the family madness in her to react rationally to it. Which means if they don’t come to blows over it for at least a little while, they’ve seriously screwed the proverbial pooch.
I’d have been happier if Jaimie had killed Cersei to round off this season and got that over with, so there wasn’t quite so much to squish into the six episodes we have left in season 8.