This finale was everything I ever wanted it to be. It wasn’t flashy style with no substance. It was characters, characters, characters. With a smattering of zombie dragon, too.
We begin with the much-awaited Catch-A-Wight Proof Gathering, the greatest meeting of favourite main characters that the show has ever seen. All here for one purpose, the proving of the existence of the army of the dead. The episode gives us the reunions of different beloved characters from different past storylines. Bronn, Pod and Tyrion. Brienne and the Hound. The Hound and the Mountain. We see the Gathering start to assemble in the imposing setting of the former dragon pit. Cersei enters behind the Mountain, accompanied by Jamie, Euron and Qyburn, and some ominous music. Dany outdoes her slightly by arriving late, on a roaring Drogon, accompanied by a roaring Rhaegal. For the first time ever we have the two main opposing sets of characters in the same place, siding with their respective Queens, which is pretty awesome to see.
Cersei, in an alien moment of benevolence, even pledges military support in the Great War
Euron exchanges some threats and insults with Theon and Tyrion, then proceedings get underway. Tyrion and Jon introduce the main event to a sceptical audience. This main event happens to be the squealing, flailing wight caught last episode, which tries to launch itself at a terrified Cersei’s throat. Jon gives a speech on how to kill them, demonstrating as he goes. It’s a pretty effective presentation that has Euron seemingly give up before anything has started, and return to the Iron Islands with his fleet. The rest of Team Cersei are compelled to agree to the truce, on the condition that Jon remains in the North, a neutral party in the wars of the two queens. All seems set until Jon and his honour ruin everything when he reveals he has already pledged himself to Dany. Cersei angrily declares that the very short lived truce is now off, and storms out of the scene, entourage in tow.
Tyrion now decides to take matters into his own hands, and speak to his sister, the woman who has been wanting to kill him for three seasons, alone. Kudos to Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage for their acting in this scene as reluctantly reunited siblings who despise each other, yet who work out their differences enough to allow the truce to go ahead. Cersei, in an alien moment of benevolence, even pledges military support in the Great War against the army of the dead. This sets off alarm bells to the viewers, but seems to placate the two sides of the Gathering, and everyone leaves fairly happy.
Meanwhile in the North, we see Baelish still worming his way into Sansa’s thoughts and plans, apparently making Sansa believe that Arya has come back to Winterfell to murder her. This scene had me screaming at the screen in frustration. Is Sansa really still this naïve? Has he got her so twisted around his little finger (pun intended) that she would execute her own sister?
A moment of silence now please, for both the incredible, complex character of Petyr Baelish, and the superb acting from Aidan Gillen
In Dragonstone, Theon and Jon have a deep discussion about who they are, and mistakes they’ve made. Theon speaks of how he has always felt torn between Stark and Greyjoy, his adoptive family, and his true family. Jon tells him that he does not have to choose between them, he has been shaped by them both: ‘You’re a Greyjoy, and you’re a Stark.’ This moving scene seems to reaffirm Theon as a character, and we later see him stepping out of Reek’s shadow when he sets off to rescue his sister from Euron’s clutches. Yet this scene also beautifully mirrors the reality of Jon’s own torn family history, which Jon does not yet realise is half Targaryen, and half Stark.
Back at Winterfell, in my personal favourite scene from the episode, we see Arya being led into the Great Hall to face Sansa and Bran. The hall is lined with lords and soldiers, all come to witness an execution. Baelish is smug, as always, watching from the corner of the hall. Fans everywhere yell at Sansa to stop, watching through their eyes as they see sister prepare to execute sister. But what we hear Sansa calmly saying is: ‘You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges…Lord Baelish?’ In a joyful, shocking moment, we realise that Baelish has been beaten at his own game. He has taught Sansa well, too well. The Stark sisters have been united against him all this time, but we were lead to believe the opposite. This was a scene that wonderfully echoed when Baelish betrays Ned in season one, putting a dagger against his throat. Baelish, the one who was always two steps ahead, who has enacted countless tricks and plots and murders across the seasons, has finally answered for his crimes, at the hands of the family he so wronged, and by his own, same, dagger. A moment of silence now please, for both the incredible, complex character of Petyr Baelish, and the superb acting from Aidan Gillen, who brought him to life. I, for one, will miss his wickedness; but what a way to go.
Later on at Winterfell, Sam arrives from the Citadel and is received by Bran, who, at this stage in the series, has perfected his burdened Three-Eyed-Raven stare. Between them, Sam and Bran work out what we found out a few episodes ago. Jon is not Jon Snow, Ned’s son. He is Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. With Sam’s help, Bran realises that Robert’s Rebellion, the whole premise of the plot at the beginning of the show and the books, was started on a lie. Rheagar did not abduct Lyanna. They fled together, and were married: the Dragon and the Wolf. And Jon was the result: the Song of Ice and Fire.
If this is not proof of his significance in the Great War to come, Azor Ahai or otherwise, I don’t know what is. As we receive this proof of Jon’s birthright and true identity, we see Jon and Dany in bed together as they sail North, finally cementing their romantic relationship. Yet this is narrated by Bran, who also confirms their familial relationship, as nephew, and aunt. Incest is nothing hugely shocking in the world of Thrones, however as Jon and Dany fall further in love with each other, unbeknownst of their shared blood, we see we are promised much upheaval, and an awkward conversation or two, in the final season.
‘Have you ever considered learning how to lie every now and then? Just a bit.’ – Jon’s honesty gets in the way. Jon, leave the diplomacy to Tyrion.
‘I’m about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world, who has already tried to kill me twice. That I know of. Who’s an idiot?’ – Tyrion wins The Greatest Idiot of Westeros Award.
‘What happened to you beyond the Wall?’ ‘I became the Three-Eyed-Raven.’ ‘…ohh. I don’t know what that means.’ – Sam’s (John Bradley) polite interest at Bran’s new occupation was brilliantly done.
‘When the snows fall, and the white winds blow. The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.’ – Starks, unite!
Easiest moment to overlook:
Jamie looking back over King’s Landing after finally leaving the evil clutches of twin sister/lover, Cersei, after she almost killed him. YES JAMIE, GO AND BE FREE OF HER. He looks at his golden hand and hesitates, then rides off. But does he go North as he said, to fulfil his oath of providing military support in the Great War? Some fans have said instead that he heads back into Kings Landing, guilty about leaving Cersei, or to fulfill the valonqar prophecy. Only time will tell…
In the last scene of the series, we see the army of the dead approach the Wall. How will they get past it? This seven hundred feet of solid ice, built over eight thousand years ago. Why, with the Night King riding a zombie dragon that shoots ice-blue fire, melting the Wall to the ground, of course. Now nothing stands between the dead and the living.
Promised Next Season:
…which may not be coming to us until early 2019 *weeps with despair*. How will Jon take the news of his true identity, considering he is now romantically involved with Dany? Will Jon want to pursue his claim as rightful heir to the Iron Throne? Will Jamie join Tyrion in the North? Will Sansa and Arya joint-rule Winterfell? Will Tormund survive to make beautiful babies with Brienne? Will Cersei lose what is left of her marbles? Will Theon rescue Yara? How long will it take the army of the dead to kill anyone and everyone in Westeros?
Prophecies And Things To Look For:
Cersei’s fate will be revealed, she was prophesied in season five to be killed by her valonqar, her ‘little brother’. We may discover whether Dany is really unable to bear children after a witch cursed her, who knows, maybe her and Jon will have a little dragon baby, cute. The identity of the Night King should be revealed, as well as his connection to Bran and Jon, and the part they will play in the outcome of the dead v living wars. Azor Ahai, the prince (or princess) who was promised to end the Long Night will also finally be revealed. Current favourites to be said saviour are Jon, Dany or Jamie. I’m rooting for Gendry though.