Spoiler Alert !! There are tons of spoilers for the newest episode of Game of Thrones in here but really at this point how can you can you not be on the Game of Thrones bandwagon by now.
Goodness gracious was that a spectacle. Season 7’s penultimate episode continued the Game of Thrones tradition of blowing your fuckin’ mind in the next to last episode of the season (see: Ned’s execution, the Red Wedding, the Battle of the Bastards etc.). While there were definitely some logistical problems and some pretty glaring plot holes in this one, I believe the show more than made up for them with the witty snow ranger banter and the gloriously literal embodiment of the battle between ice and fire. But before we get into all the amazing dragon/ice-zombie action, let’s just take a quick look at the only other subplot of the episode. A subplot so unnecessary and silly that they might’ve considered making this episode an affair strictly beyond the wall. Here’s how the good people working on Game of Thrones threw this one together by the way.
In Winterfell, Arya and Sansa chat like civil siblings for about seven seconds before Arya tells a touching story about how great Ned was (“He was smiling so I knew it wasn’t wrong. The rules were wrong.”) before using it as a segway to her main point: Sansa is a snake. We all know Sansa obviously didn’t mean what she said in that letter and the whole argument here is pretty far-fetched, even considering how much trauma both of these young women have been through. Arya threatens to tell the northern lords about it who, I guess, she thinks would also believe Sansa actually liked serving the Lannisters? Joffrey’s psychotic and abusive nature is pretty well-documented as is Cersei’s cunning and sadistic one so I don’t know how many people would really believe Sansa would write that letter of her own volition. But apparently Arya does for some reason. When I start taking Sansa’s side over Arya’s you know shit’s getting out of hand.
After Sansa learns Arya was there during Ned’s execution but didn’t do shit to stop it either she starts to gain the upper hand and you can see Arya start to waver. Then Sansa hits her with the big one: “You should be on your knees thanking me.” Tell em, Sansa. Jon might’ve gotten all the glory but without Sansa he’d really be dead and the Bolton’s would likely still hold Winterfell. Sansa definitely doesn’t get enough credit for that so kudos to her for stepping up and matching sisterly insults with Arya. The show also points out its own subplot’s futility when Sansa mentions how happy Cersei would be to be watching them. Yeah, no shit ladies. You know who else would be loving it? Littlefinger. Let’s go ask him for advice!
Just when I was starting to take your side too Sansa. Sigh. Although this is Littlefinger’s stupid little scheme that’s wasting our time here, he actually gives Sansa some solid advice: get Brienne involved. It turns out he brought up Brienne just to convince Sansa she should be sent away because she has an oath to protect Arya as well as Sansa. But if Sansa really thought about it herself, she would realize that Brienne is sworn to protect both sisters, why not tell her what’s going on and enlist her help so the sisters can hash out their differences? If Sansa’s worried her assassin-sister is going to kill her, wouldn’t having a bodyguard around that’s nearly as big as the Hound be a nice thing to have?
I guess not. Instead of keeping Brienne with her as her protector (which is exactly what Brienne is supposed to be) she sends her to the other end of the fucking continent, effectively ending any chance of a Tormund + Brienne union for the foreseeable future, which disappoints me and will definitely not be taken well by Tormund. Sansa’s line about not needing to be watched over was an impassioned one, and true to a degree. But it lost a little weight since when she said it she was blindly doing Littlefinger’s bidding again. She also sounded kind of silly when she said her guards—who are undoubtedly being paid by Littlefinger considering the bulk of the guards/army at Winterfell are from the Vale and loyal to him—would help her against Lord Petyr. Good luck. With that.
Some say this could be a ploy by Littlefinger to get Brienne out of the picture so as to gain more control over Sansa. But I think not. I think Cersei really did send it as a way to lure more of her enemies into the lion’s den. But why is Sansa even responding at all to a summons from Cersei? The North is its own separate kingdom with its own king, so who cares what Cersei asks? Not to mention the machinations at King’s Landing shouldn’t really matter to the Lady of the North when there’s an army of ice zombies—and ice mammoths, giants, polar bears and..—that’ll be coming down on you any week now.
In the next scene, just after sending her awesome bodyguard away, Sansa has her life threatened by none other than her sociopathic killer sister. Bet you wish you had Brienne the Beauty by your side now, huh Sansa.
After sneaking into Arya’s room to find some dirt on her little sis Sansa finds all of the dir, aka a face bag. (Really?) And then Arya finds her. When asked what those faces are, Arya goes on a Hannibal-esque monologue while sporting a very Hannibal-esque half-smile to go along with it. (Bravo Maisie Williams, bravo.) She tells Sansa that thanks to her training and her faces, she can become anyone, “Even you,” she says to her sister as Sansa begins to tear up and her confidence all but shrivels away and dies. To top it off, after threatening her life while holding a knife, Arya flips it right back to her sister in a move that said loud and clear “I ain’t scared of you. But you should be scared of me.” I am scared of you too Arya, even if you got manipulated heavy by the lurking and smirking Littlefinger. Just make sure you get the last laugh girl.
Now, let’s venture beyond the wall with our Magnificent Seven, shall we? Though it’s hard to beat dragon vs. ice-zombie action, the first part of the Magnificent Seven’s journey beyond the wall comes a very close second as my favourite section of the episode. It featured sweeping shots of the beautiful landscape, witty banter and some very satisfying meet and greets between some of our favourite characters.
First off we get Tormund, Jon and Gendry chatting about how its cold up north and there are no women. Then we get just Tormund and Jon talking because Gendry’s spooked by Tormund’s assertion that without women, the bigger men will, “have to make do with what we’ve got.” Classic wildling humour right there, missed ya Tormund.
Tormund then shifts to a more philosophical side of himself we haven’t seen before. Though he started as a hard-nosed wildling that would never bend the knee, after all of the battles he’s fought, things he’s seen and people he’s lost, it’s not surprising to hear that he’s had something of a change of heart. He invokes all the men—many of which were probably part of Tormund’s original clan—that lost their lives because Mance Rayder refused to kneel, inferring to Jon that it might not be so bad if the King in the North kneeled if he could have three dragons and an army beyond the wall in exchange.
We then continue the salty reunion of Gendry and the Brotherhood Without Banners. When Thoros asks if the young bastard is still angry with them, he hilariously deadpans, “you sold me… To a witch.” That’s pretty rude, I’d be mad too Gendry. But to be fair, the Hound’s got a point, when you’re arguing about life and death around a guy who’s died six times, you’re probably not winning that argument. Take a nice big swig Gendry, you’re really part of the team now.. For like a second.. but we’ll get to that later.
Next we get Jon and Jorah reminiscing about their great fathers, possibly the two most honourable characters the show has ever had, who both met less than honourable ends. This chat evidently brings about feelings Jon has about his mentor and father figure Jeor, which is why he offers his Valyrian blade—no Jon don’t!—to his former Lord Commander’s son. When he shamed his family by selling men into slavery (something Ned banished him from Westeros for), that’s when Jorah says he lost his right to Longclaw. Thank god. Jorah you’re cool and all but that sword is like a part of Jon now, he can’t not have it if we expect him to ever kill the Night King.
My favourite of the bunch no doubt though, was the Hound and Tormund’s chat. You gotta love the banter between two of the funniest and most blunt characters on the show. While Tormund is having a good time poking the dog (pun intended), the dog is characteristically annoyed by him. “I don’t think you were born mean.””Will you fuck off.” Tormund’s face is truly hilarious when he first hears the word dick, and unsurprisingly, he likes it.
While trying to prove his heterosexuality, Tormund describes Brienne enough for the Hound, whom she bested in one-on-one combat, to recognize who he’s talking about. Tormund then confides that he “wants to make babies with her.” The nonchalant way he talks about making babies while on a suicide mission was perfect. From redheads, to unintentional face burns, to words for penis, to homosexual flares, to Brienne. It was all hilarious. Kudos writers. I didn’t know I wanted these characters to meet, but I am so happy they did.
Beric, in his wonderful baritone, and Jon then discuss life and death without really saying much. But somehow they still made me feel like they said a lot. The pair of undead men resolve that resolving to try and keep others safe while experiencing no joy might be enough. Aye, it might be enough. For what, I don’t know, but it seems like they do so don’t worry about it. ‘I am the shield that guards the realms of men’, just say that line and you’ve got me on your side either way. The Night’s Watch’s words might be the best piece of writing in this whole series.
The Hound then sees his arrowhead mountain—which, I learned after watching, looks exactly like the mountain in the distance of the scene where the children turn the first man into a white walker. Thanks for that by the way, ya filthy kids of the jungle.
We then fly for a quick check-in at Dragonstone where we find the Dragon Queen throwing insults at Tyrion right and left. “You’re not brave.””He’s too small for me.” Tyrion kind of mentions democracy but doesn’t quite know the word for it yet, but in this scene he’s mostly talking about succession and how they need to look at the long run, but all he does is set himself up for the final dragon burn from Queen Daenerys. “Maybe if you’d been thinking about the short term we woudn’t have lost Dorne and Highgarden.” Waitta shut that dwarf down D-Money.
Now it’s Zombear time people. But before I get into it, I just want to say there’s been a lot of criticism about this episode, one such is its perceived convenient and unrealistic use of extras. From rewatching, there are several sweeping wide shots where you can count 13 men: one guide leading the way, the Magnificent Seven and one extra, plus four more bagboys lugging their luggage in the back. Thats six extras. Count with me.
I was kind of hoping for an ice spider, but this was a great consolation. The guide is a goner before the scrap even really starts (five extras left) and then after a few stomach churning moments of silent blizzard, the bear is back in the mix. Another two extras get merked by the bear (that’s three now) before it flings the King in the North aside like a ragdoll, which brings the awesome fire swords out. Unfortunately they do as much damage as a regular sword, but at least they scare the Hound.
Luckily for him, Thoros’ dunken ass is there to save the day. Thoros gets ripped to shreds before Jorah stabs the bear with his dragonglass dagger. In classic Thoros fashion, his first instinct after being half-eaten by a bear is to reach for the flask. Never change Thoros. After the red priest tells his mate to “go on,” I’m thinking he means to go on and kill him. But instead we learn that their flaming swords don’t just kill people, they cauterize wounds too. It’s like the swiss army knife of swords.
And on the band of misfits goes. Why? I’m still not sure. Ask Tyrion, he kind of sort of explained it enough last week. But anyway, on to our final meet and greet between the icy rangers. It seems as though Thoros’ wild and drunken ways in war made him seem like a hero to Jorah, who’s somewhat disappointed to learn that while they fought together for Ned and Robert during the Greyjoy Rebellion, Thoros wasn’t the bravest man as Jorah thought, but rather the drunkest. They say never meet your idols, right Jorah.
The lads finally get their perfect opportunity when they happen upon a small cell of about ten wights and one white walker. They ambush them, we get another sick hammer kill from Gendry and Jon kills the white walker—still so awesome to see them explode into pieces—after which all but one of the wights collapses into dust. The rules on wights for the show are as follows: it’s not a contagious thing, you must be turned by a white walker or the night king, people don’t die and come back by themselves. Also I think this sequence showed that any wight turned by a white walker will die when that particular white walker dies. Obviously the boys got lucky here and were able to wrangle themselves a wight, just like they stupidly planned.
But man can that thing scream, and evidently that attracted his other undead homies over so now this ragtag band of misfits has an immense army of undead hurdling after them. Here i have to point out a plot hole because it just made no sense to me. After Jon sees the army and gives the audience the biggest oh shit look I’ve seen, he tells Gendry to run and get a raven to Daenerys to tell her that they’re being attacked by the full army because, apparently, Gendry’s the fastest.
That’s fair enough, but while Gendry sprints up a mountain towards Eastwatch, the rest of the group go the opposite way… right onto a frozen lake… because… that’s a short cut? Why don’t they just run after Gendry? He’s most likely the fastest because he’s the the youngest but they still run away from him instead of with him towards the Wall. I guess Jon just wanted to make sure one of them survived or something I guess? But whatever, Gendry’s gone and the Hound’s got his hammer now. We’ve got six main dudes and four extras against a zillion dead people. Should be fine.
They run into a wide open lake while being chased by a huge army and decide to hole up on the rock right in the middle because apparently wights are fast as fuck. Honestly, Jon’s got a lot of fur on but how can a dead guy outrun him, that seems pretty crazy to me. But maybe I’ve just watched too much Walking Dead.
Also I think it’s safe to say the Night King is in all the heads of the wights because I don’t think those zombies are the ones who came up with that circling, Bolton-esque strategy. Right when all the important lads get up on the rock, another waste man (we got two left now) gets nailed from behind by a zombie with some pretty impressive tackling abilities. The collision creates a hole in the lake, which then creates a chain reaction all the way around to give Jon and his motley crew a barrier of safety—for now.
Gendry gets to Eastwatch by nightfall and Davos makes sure they get the raven off to D-Money and her dragons ASAP. By the way, did anyone else laugh when Gendry trips and falls at the end of his marathon. He can swing a hammer like a boss but he sure runs funny.
It’s too late for the drunken priest though, as that night—or let’s say the next night after that to make the timeline fit a little better—Thoros falls asleep and never wakes up. RIP to one of the funniest characters this show has seen. But we all kind of expected him to be at least one of the seven to die right. The posse then burns his body, as the followers of the Lord of Light do, using Beric’s magic flaming sword. What a sight that thing is.
Meanwhile, Tyrion’s not down with Daenerys’ plan to fly North on her dragon wearing the perfect winter gown because as he says with the perfect level of desperation, “If you die.. we’re all lost.” (You get your first gold star of the season for that one Peter Dinklage.) But it is evident that Daenerys will not sit idly by anymore, she is a woman of action. And I love it.
We then go from Dragonstone to Jon’s stone in the middle of the frozen lake where either later that day or, more likely, the next day, the Hound grows restless with the dead who are obviously a bunch of dumb cunts. I can’t not laugh when the Hound says that word, it’s just a perfect combo. Evidently, the Hound needs to take some throwing lessons from the Night King because he accidentally shows everyone—including the dead—that hey, that circle of water has frozen over so, you know, game on.
The Hound, who looks truly like he was meant to wield that hammer even if he prefers his axe, starts off the battle as he mumbles, “fuck it,” and we’re off. After a few minutes of heroic shots of the five remaining lads absolutely plowing through these dead guys, our penultimate extra is taken down by a gang of these fuckers. (One left.)
After Jon tells them to fall back (fall back where though?) Tormund gets distracted and pummeled pretty heavily by a bunch of dead dudes before the Hound comes in to redeem himself and save Tormund. I really thought Tormund was a goner when those dead guys hopped up out of the water. I mean, this proud wildling chief even yelped for help, and thank the lord of light the Hound was there to lend a hand and an axe.
The last extra then tries to help Jon bring their wight captive to the highest ground before he’s plunged into a seemingly bottomless pit of dead guys. Yikes. No more extras. I told you guys they didn’t make anyone up. Glad that one’s put to bed.
Now, with Jorah, the Hound, Beric and Tormund (all legendary warriors) holding the line, Jon Snow has time to contemplate his life and decisions to that point. He looks at each man as they look back at him with desperate looks that were screaming ‘Help us you fuckin’ tool.’ But it was not time for battle anymore, it was time to brood. And brood he did, until he struck the pose he always strikes right before a deux ex machine saves his ass:
The fire has finally met the ice ya’ll. Dany arrives with her three kids and they begin literally obliterating the army of the dead. The beauty of this show is on full display here as we see without a doubt the most majestic and glorious depiction of dragons ever put on screen, big or small.
The fun doesn’t last long though. Dany lands with Drogon on Jon’s rock to save him and his merry band but instead of hopping on and getting the hell out of dodge, he decides to take it upon himself to slay the rest of the wight army for some reason. You’re the king dude, let Beric or Tormund handle that. Just get on the damn dragon next time. Gahd.
Jon’s attempted heroics unfortunately give the Night King time to warm up his throwing arm. And boy does he have a canon. He’s handed the dopest ice javelin you’ve ever seen and strides toward Drogon. As he does so he sees another dragon, let’s say Viserion, circling around towards him, with fire in his throat. The Night King lines this shit up like a fucking pro and nails the dragon right in the side of the neck, causing him to spontaneously combust, fall from the sky, and sink limply into the lake. I gotta say I never thought seeing a dragon die would hit me that hard, but damn, that was tragic. RIP Viserion, even though you weren’t really the right color and we didn’t know you that well, I was still really sad to see you go big guy.
Jon doesn’t care though, so he tries to continue cutting his way towards the Night King until he sees him reach for another magical ice javelin. The King in the North finally comes to his senses but is gang-tackled right into the water before he can make it to his crush and her dragon. Daenerys has no choice but to ride off without her newest boy toy, and so she does, narrowly dodging the Night King’s second laser of a throw in the process. Seriously, this guy has a future in the NFL if the whole Long Night thing doesn’t work out.
The wonderful shot of Longclaw’s pommel in front of the hole where Jon fell through really seemed like the end of Jon Snow. But only for a moment. Because obviously Jon Snow ain’t dead. Yet. He hops out of the freezing water, furs and all, and begins to gingerly walk to safety. Of course he’s noticed almost instantly by the stragglers of the army of the dead. And what does he do? He assumes the same position he always does when he’s about to get saved deux ex machina style, or at least his hypothermic ass tried.
This time its long lost Uncle Benjen that comes to saves Jon’s ass. You may remember he rode with Jon to the Wall when he joined the Night’s Watch. He tried to convince Jon not to join, telling him he could father no children and hold no titles or lands. Jon thinks he’s a bastard so he said he didn’t care about that, to which Benjen replied that he “might care, if you knew what it meant.” That line, along with this rescue, leads me to believe that Ned may have told Benjen of Jon’s true heritage as well. He was half-dead for a while and chose this moment (saving Jon) to finally end it all. The horse runs faster and for longer with just hypothermic Jon on its back. RIP Benjen, thanks for saving these silly Stark boys north of the wall.
While Beric is staying in the North for some reason, the Hound will be heading South with Daenerys and co. Beric says that they’ll meet again, to which the Hound replies with possibly my favourite line of the episode: “fucking hope not.” Glad to have ya back old dog.
Daenerys is patiently waiting for tiny Jon Snow to show up out of nowhere, which he does after a moment of tension. He is taken onto Daenerys’ ship where he’s laid on the comfiest bed ever without his shirt on so Daenerys can see that, yes, he actually did take a knife to the heart. And to a lot of other vital organs probably. She’s lovin’ it though.
When Jon finally wakes up from his slumber, he does so to a teary-eyed queen sitting at his side. Their whole conversation results mainly in Jon bending the knee but it was very emotionally charged as well, with great performances from Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke. While Jaime and Cersei have always mad me cringe, Jon and Dany are totally making the aunt-nephew lover thing work already. That was the most emotional and intense five seconds of hand holding I’ve ever seen. The chemistry is all over the place. We’re gonna need to see something real happen between these two a to the sap.
Of course we can’t get a happy ending though. All the fans were right: we are getting an ice dragon. The army of the dead somehow dive into that water and are able to hook this animal the size of a jumbo jet and pull it out of the lake. I guess anything is possible with the Night King at quarterback. It is also fitting that the dragon that has gone to the dark side was named after Daenerys’ brother Viserys, one of the most vile characters the show has seen. That eye opening crystal blue still made me shudder though.
As always Game of Thrones delivered with an amazing penultimate episode which will hopefully be followed up by a satisfying finale. We’re getting a big battle that’s for sure: the trailer shows the all of the screamers of the Dothraki sea teaming with up with the entirety of the Yunkish Unsullied contingent. Will that be a sight to behold or what. You don’t see Daenerys at the meeting in the trailer (which looks to be held in the Dragonpit where many dragons were famously killed, likely a power move by Cersei) so hopefully that means she was smart enough not to attend what is almost certainly a trap. Or is it? Season. Fuckin. Finale. Next. Week.