If there’s one thing about Game of Thrones that everyone can agree on, it’s that they know how to go out with a bang. This season’s finale did that, adding twenty extra minutes to the normal airtime, making sure they had plenty of space to wrap up the many conflicts we’ve seen spread throughout the previous six episodes.
The first of these conflicts is, of course, the impending and inevitable war in the north. As the White Walker army approaches the wall and winter arrives, Jon Snow, Daenerys and company head to King’s Landing to prove to Cersei just how dire the situation is. And you know it’s dire, because why would anyone head to King’s Landing, the actual equivalent of living in a dumpster where raccoons are hiding under trash bags waiting to drink your blood and use their urine to establish their dominance over the territory.
They meet in the dragonpit for what is the series’ biggest reunion. We see Tyrion reunited with his sister for the first time since his almost-execution. We see Brienne reunited with Jaime and The Hound, with whom she has a mom-and-pop moment over Arya’s growth that makes us weirdly wish they’d fall in love. Theon is reunited with Euron after jumping ship. The Hound sees his brother for the first time since he abandoned Joffrey’s service.
And more importantly, Cersei and Daenerys meet for the first time. Tensions are high in the pseudo-court room. Euron taunts Theon about his sister from across the pit. The Hound threatens The Mountain’s life, and we get so close to the very much desired Cleganebowl, only to have it whisked away before our very eyes for more important matters. Daenerys arrives on Drogon, just to show the literal heat she’s packing. This moment is more The Real Housewives at dinner than it is HBO.
Once everyone is seated and quiet, Jon and The Hound unleash the wight from his crate holdings. The wight lunges directly at Cersei, but is (unfortunately) held back by a chain. The Hound cuts the wight in half, but he continues to screech and crawl along the floor until Jon lights his severed hand on fire and stabs his torso with dragon glass. The group is obviously spooked, with Cersei gripping the arms of her chair tightly, but apparently no one else is more terrified than Euron, who leaves after the demonstration to head back to his island of solace. This seems suspect for someone who gleefully killed his own brother, but we can’t argue with him leaving forever.
Cersei agrees to help under the condition that the North stays out of the war for the Iron Throne, knowing that Jon Snow above all is a man of his word. And this he is because instead of lying as he is morally unable to do so, he admits that he has already pledged fealty to Queen Daenerys. I don’t think anyone watching this show would have ever thought they’d curse the good-heartedness of Jon Snow, and yet, here we are.
Cersei leaves the pit angrily, but knowing they cannot leave without her aid, Tyrion volunteers to talk to her. It seems at this point that we may say goodbye to our beloved Imp, but that seems far too easy a victory for Cersei. As Tyrion approaches Cersei in her chambers, they argue and argue about life and death and children and Tyrion genuinely apologizes for what she has lost, but despite his efforts, his sister remains angered by the murder of their father. Unable to reach an agreement, Tyrion pours them both wine, which is when he realizes the real problem – his sister is pregnant.
With the details unbeknownst to everyone – including the viewers – Tyrion convinces his sister to have a change of heart and she returns to the pit with word of her support for the war in the north. But because we aren’t stupid like apparently everyone else on this show, we know that beneath any of Cersei’s actions lie ulterior motives. After the meeting, Cersei admits to Jaime that she’s lied and that Euron has actually left to retrieve the Golden Company from Essos, whom she will lead against whoever is left from the war in the north. Rude.
Exasperated by her ignorance, Jaime pleads with her to consider what future awaits them if they do not join the fight in the north. Refusing to break his words offered in the pit, Cersei threatens to have the Mountain kill him. In this hold-your-breathe moment, we almost think it might happen, but Cersei yields at the last moment. Jaime, finally reaching his peak character development moment, rides north alone.
This scene alone helps confirms what many fans have hoped for – that Jaime will just maybe be the one to kill his sister. Her prophecy suggests that she will be mother to three children, all of whom will die, and that she will then be killed by her younger brother. Because Jaime and Tyrion are both technically younger, both are up for the spot though Jaime had always lacked motive until now. His change of heart could be the driving force in having to do the deed himself.
At Dragonstone, Daenerys plans to head to Winterfell, hoping to go by boat instead of dragon in order to begin her influence of the north with a good impression. Before leaving, Jon has a discussion with Theon in which he forgives him of his wrongdoings and reminds him that he’s just as much a Stark as a Greyjoy. Influenced by this support, Theon prepares to save his sister, but not before having to fight his men’s new leader as they recognize his previous cowardliness. Theon wins the the fight, mainly because the dude continues to hit him in the genitals he no longer has, and takes his men to sea.
At Winterfell, Sansa mulls over her worries about Arya with Littlefinger. He suggests she take a closer look at what motives Arya might have and Sansa comes to the realization that Arya may be trying to become Lady of Winterfell. She summons her little sister court, listing out an array of accusations including treason and murder only to flip the switch and point the finger at none other than Littlefinger himself.
Gotta take a moment here to smile and breathe because we all wanted to know that these sisters were just really good at acting and we we’re thankfully right.
Sansa absolutely verbally destroys Littlefinger, with Bran’s That’s So Raven psychic help, citing his involvement in the creation of the Stark and Lannister tensions as well as the murder of both Lysa and Jon Arryn and the betrayal of Ned. Sansa admits she’s been slow to learn his tricks, but that she still has in fact learned. The character development in this episode is astonishing. Littlefinger, knowing that he’s come to his end, begs for mercy – a beautiful, beautiful sight – only to be stopped by Arya slitting his throat. If anything, this scene alone will catapult us all the way to 2019 and season 7. This is the one we’ve been waiting for.
After the trial, Sam arrives in Winterfell to greet Bran with all his Citadel contraband about the Long Night. As they discuss what’s to come, Bran says they must tell Jon the truth of his parentage, which Sam confirms is legitimate with news of Rhaegar’s annulment. Bran, after seeing this in a vision, announces that Jon – whose true name is Aegon Targaryen – is the true heir to the Iron Throne.
And nothing could make this scene, which is supposed to be so exciting despite the fact that Sam took credit for the information that Gilly found, than the sweet, uncomfortable juxtaposition of Jon and Daenerys (ahem, nephew and aunt) getting it on as they sail to Winterfell. This connection is something that’s been long-awaited by fans and promoted by Martin from the beginning, only to be ruined by some very questionable scene set-up. Not to mention, Tyrion sees from around the corner and is concerned.
Is he jealous? Is there something we’re missing? He’s focused a lot of the succession of Daenerys and perhaps isn’t so sure that she’s completely unable to reproduce. Regardless, this union has many issues that will complicate it next season.
We end at Eastwatch. Tormund and Beric patrol the wall with their men. Slowly the White Walker army emerges from the forest and as they prepare to fight, the Night King rides in on an undead Viserion, who shoots blue fire (ice? ice fire?) at the wall, crumbling it and allowing the army to enter the Seven Kingdoms. These shows should come with free vomit bags.
Holy broken wall, Batman is this bad news for our favorite characters. Not only are we praying that Tormund, Beric and company survive the massacre of ice, but that everyone else in the north will be able to prepare in time. Can Jaime wrestle up support from Lannister arms? Will Daenerys and her dragons be able to fight off Viserion and his new powers? Will Bran actually prove useful or will he turn out to be the Night King because sometimes the worst theories are the ones that become canon?
All will be revealed in 2019, by which time we will all also probably be cold and undead.