Since the finale premiered some time ago, I have had ample time to digest my initial reactions. In the week or so that has passed since the finale’s initial airing, my most prevalent thoughts on the episode have remained more or less the same: that was some of the best TV of my life. Aptly titled “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the finale clocked in at a total 81 minutes. Unsurprisingly, this episode pulled in the highest ratings the series has seen to date. Fans of this epic saga have grown to expect a high quality of storytelling, dialogue, and visual imagery from the producers of Game of Thrones. Fortunately for us, they did not fail to deliver. The viewing experience was exhilarating from start to finish.
From the very first scene of the episode, it becomes quite clear that the story is wrapping up. Pieces are being put into place for a final endgame that will elicit a strong reaction from its passionate and devoted fans no matter its outcome. The game of thrones is finally coming to an end. Over the years, Game of Thrones has developed a tradition of wowing its audience with the cinematic grandeur of its season finales, and “The Dragon and the Wolf” lived up to that hype. Here are my thoughts on the episode, as well as a few expectations for the final season.
The Great War is among us and all the power players of Westeros have gathered to discuss the White Walker threat. Kudos to the writers for nailing these scenes. It couldn’t have been easy to write a scene of such a large magnitude. Our characters have such complex, interwoven histories that the scenes could’ve very easily felt congested and cramped. Instead, the writers succeeded at honing in on the characters and their dynamics with each other. Whether it was something as subtle as a glance between Brienne and Jaime, or a more explicit confrontation between The Hound and The Mountain, the collective reunion was extremely satisfying. It felt great to recall and relive some of the most iconic relationships of the series. However, while the scene was rewarding for the casual viewer, the mood was totally different for the characters involved. Unfortunately for our Westerosi heroes, harrowing circumstances have brought them together. These scenes are mere stepping stones to the primary conflict of the next season, the war between the living and the dead.
Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, has proven once again to be completely irrational and unreasonable. For seasons now, Cersei has demonstrated that she values the Lannister name above all else. Faced with actual proof of an army of the dead, she chooses the Lannisters over all of humanity. She chooses the throne above the lives of her subjects. Needless to say, Cersei’s reign isn’t exactly an altruistic one. To make matters worse, Cersei enters a commitment with Jon and Daenerys that she has no intention of honoring. Jon and Daenerys are expecting Lannister support in the North, but Cersei has seized the opportunity to double-cross them. I imagine they won’t be pleased to discover that a weather-worn Jaime Lannister is the sole consolation prize for their trip south. I can only hope that Tyrion may have warned the pair of his sister’s proclivity for deceit. He knows her better than anyone. If anyone suspects that Cersei might renege on her initial offer, it has to be Tyrion.
With Jaime now out of the picture, I expect Cersei’s madness to escalate in season eight. Ever since the death of their son, King Tommen, Jaime and Cersei have only had each other. They’ve thought of the world in the framework of themselves against everyone else. For these very reasons, Jaime was the only person in Westeros who could check his sister’s impulses. He was the only person that stood any chance at reasoning with her. Now that yet another brother has succumbed to treachery in favor of the Usurper Queen, I expect an uncontrollably vengeful Cersei next season.
Finally, I must address Cersei’s alleged pregnancy. To be completely honest, I am not sold on her claims that she’s with child. Her character is known to be highly manipulative, and I feel that this pregnancy is another one of her ploys. She probably sensed Jaime faltering loyalty to her, and sought to preserve his fealty in the only way she knew she could. Cersei has likely been trying to guilt Jaime into staying around for the sake of the child that he is expecting.
It now seems as if she is using her “pregnancy” to exploit Tyrion as well. During their conversation in the Red Keep, Tyrion seemed genuinely remorseful for his indirect role in the deaths of Myrcella and Tommen. Upon learning of his sister’s “pregnancy,” something seemed to click within him. Something shifted in the dynamic of their conversation. Might Tyrion be conspiring with his sister? Might Tyrion betray Jon and Daenerys in favor of Cersei, to prove once and for all that he is not out to destroy the Lannister name? I expect the content of Cersei’s and Tyrion’s conversation to play a vital role next season.
Things are definitely shaping up for a Hamlet-style showdown. The conflict between Theon Greyjoy and his uncle Euron is rising, and I expect a violent confrontation next season. Largely due to his conversation with Jon, Theon seems to have rediscovered a confidence in himself. He knows that he is his sister Yara’s only hope at surviving. To save Yara, he knows that he must challenge his uncle.
The feud between Theon and Euron is likely part of a larger story arc, the death of Reek and the rebirth of Theon. Quite frankly, I have thoroughly enjoyed the beginnings of Theon’s redemption so far. Subjected to the severe cruelty of the Boltons, Theon had been broken. Where a man once stood, there was only a whimpering shell of a man named Reek. Since then, Theon has shown tremendous promise at reclaiming some of his former spunk. Between winning the fist-fight on the shores of Dragonstone and his determined resolve to rescue Yara, viewers are made to believe that Theon is still alive and fighting to the surface.
No matter how the mission to save Yara ends for Theon, I expect that fans will no longer be able to question his valor. Season eight will find Theon rising above the trauma he has undergone. His experiences have not weakened him, but rather have empowered him to live (and maybe die) courageously. Euron Greyjoy and his armada will not be defeated easily, but for the first in a long time, Theon has demonstrated a willingness to fight back.
The Starks have essentially become the Avengers of Westeros. Seriously, the progeny of Ned and Catelyn Stark are not ones to be messed with.
Things have been rough for the Starks for a long time now. In fact, nothing has ever gone particularly well for them. However, the tide seems to be turning. The Stark siblings have become a fearsome bunch during their time apart, and together they are easily the most terrifying House in Westeros. The ever-naive Sansa Stark is finally showing signs of becoming a true political player and master manipulator. She’s really outdone herself this episode, managing even to outsmart Littlefinger. Brandon Stark, now a talented eavesdropper, has come to a greater understanding of his abilities as the three-eyed raven, as well as the responsibilities that the position entails. Last but not least, Arya Stark – after training extensively as a Faceless Man – has become a ruthless assassin determined to end anyone that has ever wronged her family. The Starks have been through the wringer in every way possible, but they have emerged from their ordeals with some impressive new abilities.
More so than any other House, I’m rooting for the Starks. They are all safe-ish, happy-ish, and most importantly, they are together. Looking ahead into season eight, I can only hope all their suffering is behind them now. Although the imminent winter will likely spell trouble for the Stark clan, I’m counting on the pack to survive.
I would be remiss of my duties by failing to address the very center of the Stark storyline this episode, Littlefinger himself. The ultimate puppetmaster of Westeros is dead, and Game of Thrones has lost its best schemer. For seasons now, Littlefinger has stirred trouble for practically every character on the show. By murdering Jon Arryn, he single-handedly set the entire Game of Thrones story into motion. He’s the one responsible for throwing the entire Stark family into the tailspin of misfortune that had become their lives. I’m glad it was the united Stark siblings who were finally able to bring Littlefinger to his knees. Seeing the fear and desperation in his face when he realized his time had come was honestly a highlight of the episode.
Viewers got a rare glimpse of Littlefinger shaken and unsure of himself. Now we can begin to imagine Littlefinger as the insecure suitor whose romantic advances had been dashed by Catelyn all those years ago. For Littlefinger, the only silver lining in his death must be the promise of a reunion with Catelyn. I don’t expect that she will give him another shot at love in the afterlife, but at least they’ll have matching slit throats now.
A Romantic Boat Ride
I had a feeling this boat ride might turn into a couple’s cruise. After a season of longing stares and subtle flirting, the wolf and the dragon finally do the deed. I imagine that seeing Jon and Daenerys finally acting on their building tension was a triumphant scene for most viewers.
Then the plot thickens. Thanks to a voiceover by our resident eavesdropper, Bran, we discover that Jon and Daenerys are actually related. Jon’s birth father had been the eldest brother of Daenerys, making the two nephew and aunt respectively. Leave it to Game of Thrones to lay it on heavy with yet another incestuous relationship. Still, despite the incestuous nature of their relationship, Jon and Daenerys make sense together in context of the show. With Jon as King in the North and Daenerys as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the two would be the power couple of Westeros. This much I can admit. However, I’m personally still holding out hope for a Jorah-Daenerys relationship. If things don’t work out between aunt and nephew, I’m pulling for the Jorah rebound. As it turns out, Tyrion might secretly be a Jorah-Daenerys shipper too. He seemed highly perturbed by the budding romance. Love and politics typically don’t go well together, so a new relationship for the two monarchs will likely cause problems ahead. Record shows that things never end too well for lovers in Westeros.
Looking ahead, I do not expect the late night rendezvous between Jon and Daenerys to come without consequence. By frequently mentioning the status of her fertility and her line of succession, the writers seem to have a clear agenda for the Daenerys storyline. Further, a pregnancy could sideline Daenerys in some of the most important battle sequences expected to occur next season. Will a pregnant Daenerys, on the back of Drogon, actually lead the charge against the Night King? With Daenerys potentially out of commission on maternity leave, who will command her two remaining dragons? It’s a good thing we’ve found someone else with Targaryen blood and a propensity for dragons this season. I expect to see Jon ride a dragon into battle after learning his true identity next season.
The dead really know how to make an entrance. This was probably my favorite scene of the season. Having the wall be brought down by Daenerys’ resurrected dragon was the perfect way to end the season. The Night King and his army have finally breached the civilized world. The Great War is finally here, and the stakes are higher than ever. All their political squabbles so far have been child’s play, because the real threat has only just come for everyone in Westeros. If they weren’t in trouble before, they definitely are now. I can only hope – by both the old gods and the new – that Tormund somehow survived the wreckage of the wall. I’m still counting on him and Brienne to have some ginger stallion babies that will mount the world.
I expect to see a ton of action and elaborate battle scenes next season. If we’re lucky, we might even get to see all three dragons in action at the same time. The CGI budget will likely be through the roof in anticipation for the final season, and I have faith the producers will use it wisely. It would only be fitting that a show of this magnitude go out in epic proportions.