Game of Thrones: The Dragon and the Wolf

Huh. You know, I definitely didn’t expect my reaction to the final episode of the penultimate season of Game of Thrones to be this:

 

Mixed with a fair bit of this:

Seriously: we learned nothing new, there were no major deaths (yes, yes, I’ll get to that) and, aside from the last few minutes, it was mostly just people talking and talking and accomplishing exactly nothing. Have we moved forward? No, we really have not.

Ok, so Dany and her guys head down to King’s Landing to meet with Cersei and her guys. Fittingly, someone’s decided they should have this meet-and-greet in the old ruined Colosseum where the Targaryens used to have dragon fights. As soon as everyone arrives (well, almost everyone. Dany has to make an entrance, of course, and shows up riding a dragon. Cersei does not take kindly to that.) the Hound strides over to his zombie brother and tells him that CleganeBowl is on, so I guess the fanbase that’s really excited for that is going to be…excited. Me? Eh, I’m not all that invested. It’s almost certainly going to end with either the Hound winning or the two of them killing each other, so I don’t feel like there’s much dramatic tension there.

On with the meeting! Tyrion delivers this very fake-sounding, very prepared speech about how they should really put all their animosity aside, just for a little while. Cersei isn’t too keen, so they unleash their wight. It runs, screaming, straight at Cersei, who cringes away from it. At the last moment, the chain it’s attached to yanks it back.

Jon steps forward to explain that the only way these creatures can be killed is with fire or dragonglass. He even gives a demo. Handy! Euron, who spent the lead-up to this being a dick to Tyrion, asks if the wights can swim. When he hears they can’t, he’s like, ‘Right! I’m out of here!’ and he bolts.

Cersei, a bit nervous now this has been made more real to her, agrees to the truce, provided Jon stays out of all fighting now and forevermore. Jon, being more Stark than the actual Starks in this episode, regretfully informs her that he can’t do that, because he’s pledged himself to Dany. Cersei announces there’s nothing more to discuss, gathers her guys, and leaves.

Dany and Tyrion turn to Jon and basically say, ‘Honourable and all, but have you ever, maybe, considered lying? Just for a little while? Just once?’ He has not. Tyrion follows his sister in an attempt to do damage control, which goes as well as you’d expect, considering she holds him solely responsible for killing their father (valid) and her children (less valid). He tells her, very sincerely, that he did not mean for the kids to get caught up in this and that he regrets it every day.

Talk of children seems to soften her, and she mentions that, when she saw the wight coming at her, all she could think of was protecting those she loves. From that, he deduces she’s pregnant.

Cersei returns to the arena and announces that her armies will not stand down but fight alongside Jon and Dany. Everyone’s cool with that. Dany and the others head out.

Jaime almost immediately begins preparing to lead the Lannister forces north, but Cersei tells him to desist. It was all a ruse: Euron has not left but has gone to fetch mercenaries from Essos. They’ll join the Lannister forces and, once the armies to the north have been decimated, they’ll swoop in and do cleanup. She has no intention of unnecessarily sacrificing all her people to an undead army. She apparently hasn’t thought far enough ahead to realise that if the undead army decimates the other armies, they’ll come along and decimate hers too, because does she have dragonglass or access to actual dragons? No, she does not. But this is Cersei, and despite what she thinks, she’s a very poor strategist indeed.

Jaime, being a man of (some) honour, is horrified by her lies, although you’d think he’d be used to her nonsense by now. He mounts up and heads off on his own, just as the first snow begins to fall in King’s Landing.

Up north, Sansa has received a raven from Jon, informing her that he’s bent the knee to Dany. She’s horrified and says as much to Littlefinger who, again, can barely disguise his glee. She admits she feels a bit scared of Arya too, and he agrees that she should be, because Arya clearly wants to kill her and take over Winterfell.

Sansa gathers all the lords and, with Bran beside her, summons Arya to the great hall. There, Sansa begins by bringing up charges of treason and murder but–psyche!–they’re not directed at Arya but at Littlefinger! Oooh, didn’t see that one coming, did you, Petyr? Which begs the question: WHY THE HELL NOT? You’re supposed to be good at this! Did you not, at any point, at least consider that Sansa and the others might be on to you? Isn’t that your whole schtick? And don’t you know that Bran can see everything? How, in God’s name, did the Stark children--members of a family that produces people who are stunningly bad at plotting or politics or looking deeply into motives or considering outcomes–get one over on Petyr Baelish?

Petyr begs for mercy, but that’s not how the Starks roll. Arya slits his throat, right there in the great hall, and everyone’s basically like, ‘Hey, when’s dinner, you guys?’ And afterwards Arya and Sansa get all sisterly. Well, as sisterly as they’re ever likely to get.

So, that’s your death for this episode. And no, I don’t consider it a particularly big one, because Petyr kind of stopped being all that interesting or even making much sense a while ago. He was too reckless, killing Lysa the way he did, and I never really understood why he turned Sansa over to the Boltons. What was that meant to achieve? It kind of felt like he was just doing things because he was bored and wanted to see how it panned out. Ok, I guess, if you want to be evil like that, but I didn’t find that it made for a very interesting character, after a while. When someone’s motives become that murky, you kind of tune out a bit.

Back at Dragonstone, preparations for war are underway, but Theon has other ideas. After a rather nice scene with Jon, where Jon gives him as much absolution as Theon’s ever likely to get, Theon decides to grab the remaining Iron Islanders and go rescue Yara. They’re not interested in following him, and one of the guys proceeds to beat the absolute crap out of him. But Theon finally gets the upper hand when the guy realises he’s unable to fell him with the usually reliable groin kick. Theon brings him down, which brings the other Ironborn back in line. Off they go!

Apparently, heading into almost certain death makes people super hot for each other. It worked for Missy and Grey Worm several weeks ago, and now it’s working for Jon and Dany. The two of them finally do the deed (and Tyrion knows they’re doing it too). It would have been kind of sexy, except their love scene is intercut with…

…Bran and Sam (who’s made his way to Winterfell) discussing what they know about Jon’s parentage. Bran knows that Jon’s not his father’s son but a Targaryen bastard. But Sam’s all, ‘Au contraire, my little raven friend! He’s no bastard: I was actually paying attention to that offhand comment Gillie made a few weeks ago and I now know that Rhaegar annulled his marriage so he could re-marry Lyanna Stark.’ Bran confirms that by going back in time to watch the wedding itself, which is made kind of extra creepy by the fact that Rhaegar is made up to look almost exactly like Viserys, Dany’s horrible dead brother (who was also Rhaegar’s brother, so it makes sense, but is still a little stomach-churning).

So…yeah. We get that conversation intercut with scenes of Jon having sex with his own aunt. Keeping it in the family, as the Targaryens do!

But, you know, the problem is–we know all this. We, the audience, have known all this for a while now. So, really, this scene serves no purpose. Just like the Stark kids messing with Littlefinger served no purpose–they could have brought him up on charges ages ago, without having gone through all the subterfuge. For all that this was a short season, it sure feels like there was a lot of filler.

But the powers that be apparently realised this is a season finale, so they had to do something really big. So, we head even further north and join Beric and Tormund up on the Wall, looking a bit bored until wights start emerging from the nearby forest. And then along comes the Night King, riding the recently resurrected dragon, which shoots its ice fire right at the Wall, which begins to collapse. Do Tormund and Beric make it? We have no idea. But the Wall is definitely a goner. It comes down, and the army of the dead marches through.

In case I was unclear: that was disappointing. The episode, that is. Everyone just doing exactly what we thought they’d do all along, not all that much feeling like it was moving forward. And can someone explain to me why the smart characters have become so incredibly stupid? First Baelish and then Tyrion can’t seem to get anything right, or done? It’s making them really boring to watch (well, in Petyr’s case, made him really boring to watch). There must be some success, sometime!

Eh, I don’t know. I know people are super upset that it’s going to be, like, 20 years or whatever before we get the next series, but I’m having trouble getting worked up about it. This show just isn’t what it used to be.



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