This is the final in a series of recaps of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. We assume you have seen the episodes if you are reading this. - editor
Where to begin? The finale had everything—the beginning, ending, and mending of relationships; meetings upon meetings of both friends and foes; long-hidden or unknown truths coming to light; an ice dragon. It was a lot to take in, even for an 80 minute long episode, so let’s break it down.
A massive meeting has been arranged between what seems like every living character on the show. Tyrion, Jon, and their group arrive with their proof of the dead army. Daenerys shows up with her entire army and her remaining dragons. It starts off rocky, but when the Hound unlatches the box with the Wight inside and lets it run at Cersei, everything changes. Clearly, everyone there is shocked and terrified; whatever it was they thought they might see, they certainly weren’t expecting this. Euron even stands up, says he’s taking his fleet of ships back to the Iron Islands, and immediately leaves, despite Cersei’s weak protests. Cersei declares that she will agree to a truce and fight with Jon and Daenerys against this dead army. However, she has a caveat. She declares that Jon, as the King in the North, must stay in the North, never take up arms against the Lannisters, and will not choose sides. However, he tells her that he cannot agree to that, as he has already declared loyalty to Daenerys. Cersei, incensed, calls the truce off, and marches back inside. While Daenerys understands and respects where Jon is coming from, she is understandably upset; her and everyone else on this errand feels that everything so far has been a waste of time. Did her dragon die for nothing? Tyrion convices them that he is the only one to whom Cersei may listen to; he feels he has to at least try and reason with her, and so he goes off to try to gain an audience. Cersei does meet with Tyrion, and she leads him to believe that she is pregnant. He uses that information to appeal to her to help save the world for that future child, and she agrees. She comes out again and tells everyone that she will, in fact, send her armies to fight in the North.
Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Littlefinger asks Sansa to play a little game. Jon has written to tell her that he has bent the knee to Daenerys, and Sansa is afraid that Arya will take Jon’s side; after all, they have never truly seen eye to eye. So Littlefinger asks Sansa to imagine the worst; after all, it is what has helped him maneuver so expertly through life. As he guides her thoughts, Sansa realizes that Arya wants to kill her, and views her as a traitor to the Stark family by marrying Joffrey and then Tyrion. She knows that once she is dead, Arya will become the Lady of Winterfell. You can see that while she is only being asked to imagine the worst, she is beginning to believe these are truly Arya’s motives.
In Dragonstone, where Jon, Daenerys, and their team have reassembled, they decide that they will sail north together towards Winterfell, making the statement that they are allies. Theon confronts Jon afterwards to tell him that he’s long admired his courage and his morals, even when they fly in the face of common sense. Jon encourages him to take a stand and go after Yara. So, Theon goes out to where some of his people are leaving to go back to the Iron Islands and confronts them. Though it looks for a minute that Theon won’t make it out alive, much less with any dignity, he comes through, prevailing over the sailor and convinces the other men to take their ships and set sail to rescue Yara.
In Winterfell, Sansa has Arya brought to the Great Hall where everyone is assembled, and she makes her stand before everyone as though on trial. “You stand accused of murder; you stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges?” Sansa pauses. “Lord Baelish?” From the expression on his face, we can tell he was not expecting this turn of events. Sansa begins listing all of the crimes he has committed over the last seven years, and while Littlefinger tries to plead his case with those surrounding him and with Sansa, she instead sentences him to die, and Arya, using the very dagger Littlefinger used to try to kill Bran (and later blamed on Tyrion), cuts open Littlefinger’s throat, and leaves him to bleed on the cold stone floor in front of everyone.
In King’s Landing, Jaime is with his army captains and is planning on their battle plan to move North to assist Daenerys. But, Cersei tells him that she lied in that council, saying whatever she needed to say to protect herself and her family. Jaime, however, wants to keep the promise they told Daenerys and march North. He knows they can never defeat the White Walkers, or the Dothraki, Unsullied, and dragons fighting for Daenerys, should they prevail over the dead and return to King’s Landing. Cersei believes that with the support of the Iron Bank and gold in Essos (retrieved by Euron, who did not actually set sail back home for the Iron Islands as we thought). Jaime feels betrayed by Cersei that she conspired with Euron without telling him, and she feels betrayed by Jaime for meeting with Tyrion. In a moment, it looks as if Cersei is going to tell the Mountain to kill Jaime for betraying her, but for the first time, Jaime stands up to her, and will not be bullied by her any longer. He walks away, leaving behind any remaining loyalty he may have had to her. It seems Jaime finally sees her for who she really is, and understands that even their relationship is not sacred to her; she will lie and manipulate everyone, and he isn’t going to stand for it anymore.
At Winterfell, Sam Tarly arrives, and he meets with Bran, who explains to him that he is now the Three-Eyed Raven. Sam told him he’s come back to help Jon fight the war against the dead. Suddenly, Bran tells Sam that Jon needs to know the truth, “the truth about himself.” “He’s not really my father’s son. He’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and my aunt, Lyanna Stark.” Sam remembers suddenly the diary that Gilly had read to him a few weeks ago, where it mentioned that Rhaegar had his marriage to Ellia Sand annulled and then secretly wed to Lyanna. Bran goes back in his memory to confirm this, and sees Rhaegar and Lyanna completely in love, getting married, and having a child together. “Robert’s rebellion was built on lie. Rhaegar didn’t kidnap Lyanna, or rape her. He loved her. And she loved him.” Bran continues watching the scene, which has moved to a dying Lyanna, having just given birth, whispering to her brother, “His name is Aegon Targaryen. You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned.” All the while we are watching this and finding out what viewers have long suspected, shots are interspersed of Jon knocking on Dany’s door, and proceeding to have quite intimate, loving, and passionate sex. As Jon kisses Dany and looks her lovingly in the eyes, we hear Bran’s voice overhead: “He’s never been a bastard. He’s the heir to the Iron Throne.”
The episode could have stopped there and been quite a stunning finale, but it doesn’t. We have one last scene, back at the Wall, via Bran’s third eye. The army of the dead comes out of the forest in massive number, followed by the Night King himself riding in on his dead dragon, who is unleashing blue fire straight at the wall. Tormund, who was keeping watch, calls for all the men to retreat, but it’s difficult to know if anyone will survive, as the dragon continuously trains its stream of fire at the wall, crumbling this massive cliff of ice into shards in a matter of minutes. As the Wall falls into the sea, the army of the dead begin marching forward, led by the dragon and the Night King. There is now nothing standing between the dead and the living.
While previous finales have given viewers a triumphant ending, this one left us with a feeling that could politely be described as dread. However, I think that the tying up of so many loose ends, and the tightening of so many relationships is enough of a positive to give us hope for what is to come. Jaime has seemingly left Cersei behind for good and is marching North himself. Dany and Jon are completely aligned (in more ways than one), and while there will definitely be massive things to work out between them, the trust they have in each other will prove necessary. Arya and Sansa as well have worked out many of their differences and gotten rid of one more mutual enemy. It seems that Westeros is flocking to Winterfell, and the bonds these characters have forged or forsaken will prove to be the strength needed to fight the Night King. Winter has come, and in the wise words of the late Ned Stark, “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
Lindsey Wright lives in Los Angeles with her husband and cat. She never expected to have a cat, let alone love it, but sometimes life is surprising. With BA in vocal performance and a Masters in theology, Lindsey loves pondering the mysteries of life through literature, music, and food. A Midwest girl at heart, she believes that kindness, a warm meal, and a bit of snark can bring anybody back to life. You can find her on Instagram as @mrslindseywright.