From Cersei’s sneers at Tyrion to the final sequence, with the Army of the Dead marching forth, their newly zombified dragon slicing a wide swath into the Wall with his fire breath, the powerful season 7 finale of “Game of Thrones” was a rush of wish fulfillment.
It was as if show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were paying viewers back for loyalty, for all the years we’ve kept track of all the characters and locations, for all the uneven episodes, by giving us a series of longed-for plot twists. It was also as if they were giving us one giant shot of pleasure, with a twist of coming danger, to tide us over until the HBO series returns for its final six-episode season.
Big Death, Littlefinger
My favorite moment, as a Stark fan, was watching Littlefinger die at the hands of Arya Stark, and using nothing less than Littlefinger’s own dagger, acting on an order given by Sansa Stark. Arya sprung at the nefarious, manipulative, sniveling Petyr Baelish with the speed and acumen of a switchblade spring, and he was dead on the floor. The sisters prevailed over the man whose claims of Stark love were greatly exaggerated, and once he was gone, Arya and Sansa had clearly moved a few steps forward in their relationship, missing their father together instead of fighting over his death. Also nice: Bran, so detached now that he is the Three-Eyed Raven, which he clearly likes to tell everyone, was engaged with his reunited siblings.
We weren’t privy to how the Starks pieced together Littlefinger’s modus operandi, but that made their surprise turn on the slimy lord a more satisfying takedown. Finally, each sister, having learned hard lessons, understands what the other went through and respects her for it. While siblings Cersei and Jaime (that still sounds weird to me) fell out in a big way, with Cersei threatening to sic the Mountain on the father of her unborn child, the Stark girls were getting closer than ever.
Hey, maybe we will see Littlefinger’s face once again next season, peeking out of Arya’s sack.
Incest is best?
The romantic tension between Lord Ice and Lady Fire continued to grow, with Jon winding his way ever-further into Daenerys’s heart with his damn nobility and his damn inability to lie, even to his enemies. Their love finally took form on a boat, in a cabin, undoubtedly launching a thousand captioned memes of actor Kit Harington’s carefully lit butt. Watching Jon and Daenerys stare into each other’s soul, possibly even making a baby (since Dany may still be able to have children), you could almost think that they are the show’s endgame, the pairing that will become the king and queen.
But then two difficult revelations are heading their way next season. Jon’s true history is out there, now that Bran and Sam Tarly have pieced it together – he is Aegon Targaryen, the legitimate child of Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. That means he is Dany’s nephew, adding a very strange layer to their love affair. I know incest may be slightly more acceptable in the medieval mashup that is “Game of Thrones,” but it’s still creepy. It’s hard to imagine Jon and Aunt Dany not recoiling a bit when they learn the truth.
Plus, Dany has been unstoppable throughout the series, driven by her awareness that she’s the true heir to the Iron Throne. How will she feel when she learns her nephew Jon may in fact be the true heir to the Iron Throne, the next in line? Since Benioff and Weiss have brought the couple together with six more episodes to go, I’m assuming there will be trouble in the Jon-Dany camp.
It was nice to see Theon muster some courage and finally make a move to save his sister. The joy of Theon’s fight with the Iron Islander peaked when the Islander tried to kick Theon in his private parts, giving Theon an opportunity to prevail, since he doesn’t have privates. It wasn’t a major plot turn, but just as it was pleasing seeing Arya and Sansa grow up, it was nice to see Theon find himself.
Cersei, the Two-Faced Craven
I was disappointed when I thought that Cersei was going along with the plan to fight the threat from the north with Dany & Co. It just seemed out of character. So I was delighted when she revealed her evil plot to betray the “united states” of the kingdoms and keep her army with her, as well as her secret plan of having Euron Greyjoy go and buy more soldiers. Cersei, who, despite fan rumors, seems to be genuinely pregnant, will let the White Walkers take care of her enemies.
I’ve loved the way the season has revolved around the fact that the politics of the game of thrones are relatively petty, compared to the great threat from the Night King and his creatures. At times I’ve seen it as a parallel to the United States, as the partisan battles of the Seven Kingdoms run the risk of distracting from the perils that really matter, including, as others have noted, the environment. Jon has been fighting for unity against the biggest imminent danger, but Cersei, even after seeing a member of the walking dead, cannot see beyond her own agenda.
Extra points to actress Lena Headey, for her A+ sneering at her brother Tyrion as well as her tart description of Dany as “a foreign whore who doesn’t know her own place.”
And here come the dead, in a final sequence that, visually, was nothing special, but thematically made it clear that next season is most likely going to begin with that clash. We’ve been waiting for this moment since the very beginning of the series: the invasion of the body snatched.