NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Game of Thrones”, including a major character death, are present in this review
It’s finally the moment that Game of Thrones fans across the world have been waiting for! All of the warring nobles of Westeros are coming together, to bear witness to the existence of the White Walkers, and decide where they stand in the ultimate battle between the living and the dead. “The Dragon and the Wolf” was a nearly feature-length season finale for Game of Thrones, and fortunately, it kept up the strength of this season very nicely (putting aside the slightly weaker, “Beyond the Wall” from last week), providing no shortage of outstanding payoffs to many ongoing storylines.
Arya, Sansa and Bran Stark weren’t present for the big gathering in King’s Landing, but this sequence still provided lots of tension and drama, as characters who despise each other are forced to sit in a quiet and civil manner together, to learn about their common enemy. Euron predictably acts like a jackass, and walks off soon afterward, but the moment where the captured White Walker lunges toward Cersei, before it’s put down by Jon, was a truly powerful testament to just how helpless Cersei in particular actually is in the battle against the dead. As much as Cersei has spent much of this season being powerful and seemingly untouchable, it’s very interesting to see how all of that might just instantly melted away when she had to stare down one of the undead soldiers coming her way!
Disappointingly, the frequent fan theory about ‘Cleganebowl’, where The Hound and The Mountain would have an ultimate battle to the death in this episode, didn’t come to pass, at least not here. That said though, there were still more than enough great turns from the King’s Landing meeting to render this moot. Cersei initially seeming to let Tyrion talk her into allying with Jon and Daenerys, after Jon refuses fealty to Cersei, seemed initially straightforward, but of course, Cersei was up to something, having secretly plotted with Euron to fetch the Golden Company from Essos, maintaining her stranglehold on the Southern lands. Nonetheless, Jaime walks out on Cersei, believing that someone should honour Cersei’s pledge to fight alongside the Northern forces. This not only served as a great lead-in to show Winter finally coming to King’s Landing as Jaime rides off, but also worked well in creating both a decisive rift between Jaime and Cersei, while setting up a well-earned redemption for Jaime’s character in the coming battle with the dead. All of this was a superb way to round off the Lannister storylines for this penultimate season of Game of Thrones.
Of course, the North was also quite busy with many developments in this episode, particularly when Sansa discusses the possibility of un-naming Jon as King in the North with Littlefinger, and possibly taking the throne at Winterfell for herself soon afterward. Arya is initially called in before Winterfell’s ruling council, under the guise of being put on trial, but it’s actually Littlefinger who is revealed to be being tried, having been outed as a liar and betrayer before the Winterfell courts, due to evidence found by Sansa and Arya. Apparently, the drama between Sansa and Arya was an elaborate trap to have Littlefinger let his guard down. This is a fairly cool way to wrap up Littlefinger’s character, as Arya simply cuts his throat and lets him bleed out on the floor (consequently, Littlefinger was the only major character that was killed off in this season finale, despite the otherwise character death-heavy season we’ve had this year), even if it still feels like a bit of a roundabout way to get Littlefinger tried and executed. The evidence against Littlefinger was already pretty apparent without this strange fake feud between Arya and Sansa (hell, Littlefinger’s blatant murdering of Lysa and Jon Arryn by itself should have given Sansa more than enough justification to try him and execute him), but whatever. It’s just good to know that the Stark sisters aren’t growing apart after all.
Don’t think that Bran was left out of the excitement though, since Bran had a very fruitful reunion with Samwell Tarly at Winterfell, shortly after Littlefinger’s execution. Bran’s big scene with Sam was one of a few rushed story dumps towards the end of the episode, which is the only slight knock against an otherwise very strong season finale, but it did nonetheless finally put to rest the mystery of Jon’s parentage once and for all, even if most observant Game of Thrones fans have probably already put it together by now. Yes, as if it weren’t already obvious, Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and was conceived in valid marriage, making him the true heir to the Iron Throne. We also learn that Jon’s real name is Eagon Targaryen, which is indeed what the dying Lyanna whispered to a younger Ned Stark back at the Tower of Joy. This comes at pretty dramatic timing too, as this revelation is cut around Jon and Daenerys finally giving into their attraction and having sex while traveling on the Narrow Sea, something that Tyrion happens to perceive from the other side of the closed door. The fact that Daenerys is technically Jon’s aunt is eyebrow-raising enough, but if Jon has the true claim to the Iron Throne, and has just sworn fealty to Daenerys, it looks like both Cersei and Winterfell alike are about to have one massive political complication, even putting aside the White Walkers!
On that note, the Night King doesn’t waste time putting the newly-undead Viserion to use either! The episode ends with the undead armies finally reaching The Wall, with the Night King now riding atop Viserion, who now spews deadly blue flames! The blue fire is so powerful in fact that it effortlessly takes down The Wall, leaving all of Westeros open to the march of the White Walkers! Again, the destruction of The Wall felt hastily tossed into the closing minutes of the episode, and leaves something of a missed opportunity when it comes to the first major battle between Westeros proper and the White Walkers, but it was nonetheless a highly shocking and dramatic way to close out Season Seven of Game of Thrones! It was definitely better than Theon getting lucky in a melee with one of the soldiers leading Yara’s former loyalists away, even if it’s at least nice to see Theon finally growing some metaphorical balls, even though he no longer has literal ones.
“The Dragon and the Wolf” successfully and excellently finishes laying the pieces for Westeros’ ultimate battle against the White Walkers. A few crucial story turns are hasty and quickly rushed through for the sake of wrapping up the season on the right foot, but fortunately, that’s a minor quibble in an otherwise superb season finale. Even as the character deaths were kept to a surprising minimum (R.I.P. Littlefinger), the Clegane brothers never fight, and Cersei obviously doesn’t ally herself with the other houses so easily, all of the drama was perfectly on point throughout this episode, and it even managed to make pretty great use of its extended 80-minute length. The official revelation of Jon’s family lineage by itself is a massive draw in this episode, even as many fans would be hearing an answer that they probably correctly guessed a while ago. Most of all though, Littlefinger’s death in particular perfectly illustrates that the time for scheming has passed for Westeros. Now, it all comes down to the living and the dead.
- Dramatic, memorable meeting at King's Landing
- Littlefinger's shocking execution
- Jon's parentage unveiled once and for all
- Some key developments are a bit rushed through