Game of Thrones Revisited: 7.07 The Dragon and the Wolf
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Game of Thrones, the critically acclaimed TV series by David Benioff and DB Weiss and developed from the best-selling series of novels by George RR Martin, has become a cultural icon. The tentpole of HBO's programming with a stellar cast and mix of medieval-style political drama and war with a healthy dash of fantasy, Game of Thrones has enthralled audiences worldwide. And this year, the show will come to a dramatic end in its final run of feature length episodes. In the lead up to season eight, I explore every episode leading up to the final battle for Westeros, ending with the dramatic season seven finale The Dragon and the Wolf...
Warning: There may be spoilers for seasons one to seven...
And so we comes to the end of our Game of Thrones Revisited with The Dragon and the Wolf, the game changing season seven finale that sets the stage for the final epic six-part final season. It's an emotionally-wrought finale, dominated not by the spectacular action sequences of The Spoils of War or Beyond The Wall, focusing instead on the meeting of many key characters for the first time as the threat of the war with the dead becomes painfully clear.
Season seven has been dominated by character reunions and long-standing characters meeting for the first time, but the scene in the old dragon pit in King's Landing is something particularly special. It's dripping with tension, blended with humorous, fond interactions and capped by the terrifying reveal of the zombie.
Seeing Bronn and Tyrion reunited, even on different sides is a joyful moment, admitting under their gruff exteriors that they have missed each other. The icy glare Cersei gives her brother on her arrival is something else altogether and poor Jon, seems innocent and out of his depth when faced with the current Queen of Westeros and her brood of evil men. Brienne and Jamie get something of a tense but just as fond moment to reconnect, Euron is immediately enthralled with the idea of goading Theon over his captured sister while there are hints of the long-rumoured 'Cleganebowl' as Sandor faces off against his zombified brother Gregor for the first time. The build up to the actual meeting is enough to substain the episode alone, though of course there are many more surprises to come.
You can see Cersei slightly unnerved by Daenery's arrival on Drogon, though she hides it well, calling out the dragon queen for being late before proceedings have even begun. The moment we see all the leaders and their allies in one place is a moment years in the making and one I suspect will not be seen again considering the likely bloodbath to come in the final season.
Even after the events of the last episode, the zombie unleashed, charging towards Cersei and held back - barely - by its chains, is certainly a gut-wrenching moment. In the frozen north, the atmosphere of winter gives the undead something of an extra menace, but the sight of it in King's Landing, tearing its way desperately to kill the living, is something much closer to the dread of something like The Walking Dead - the dead in the living world. And it sends a clear message, one that even Cersei unwillingly listens to, even if her own ruthless ambition eventually outweighs it; the war between the kings and queens is for nothing with the real threat of the dead marching south upon them all.
Jon 's unwillingness to 'stay in the North' at Cersei's behest in exchange for her agreement to a ceasefire speaks to his inexperience and good nature, one that frustrates all involved when he openly admits to being loyal to Daenerys. With the stake of Westeros at stake, it is Tyrion who bravely marches into the lion's den to treat with his sister. It's a wonderful moment, reminiscent of season two and three's glory days where hatred and vengeance were intertwined with a shared long history together. But despite his attempt to reconnect, the threat that she will order Ser Gregor to kill him is clear and there was a moment where it seemed she might just allow it to happen. It's a tense scene, exposing just a hint of her remaining vulnerability when he realises that she is pregnant, her children having been her only anchor to humanity.
Of course, the Cersei of season seven is a monster, broken by the experiences and the death of her children and her declaration of pledging the Lannister forces to help fight in the war against the dead is all a lie to gain the advantage in Westeros. Even with her unborn child at stake, she cares more for wealth and power, something which finally breaks her relationship with Jamie. It has been a long time coming, but her reveal that she has hired Euron to ferry the Golden Company to win the war is met with disbelief and anger. If the threat that she might have Tyrion killed was palatable, then the moment Gregor draws his sword to slay Jamie seemed almost inevitable. His flight from King's Landing is something of a relief then, riding away as the first snows reach the capital, a chilling metaphor if ever there was one.
There are also plenty of surprises in Winterfell too as the 'conflict' between sisters Arya and Sansa come to a head. It really looks as if Littlefinger's machinations have corrupted Sansa completely as she summons Arya to the great hall for the trial. And then, after half a season's worth of building up, The Dragon and the Wolf delivers a masterstroke of a twist.
"You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges...Lord Baelish?"
It's a blinder of a U turn, Littlefinger's realisation as he realises Sansa has played him a brilliant pay off on not just this season but the entire season as she holds trial over his actions not just in the murder of her aunt Lysa in season four's Mockingbird but his role in arranging Jon Arryn's murder and the letter to the Starks warning of the Lannister's involvement way back in the very first episode. Reduced to begging for his life, Aiden Gillen amazes as a man who's confidence is utterly broken, while Arya slashing his throat with the blade used to kill Bran so many year ago - his blade - is a bit of delicious irony that is well worth the pay off.
The episode's final act is one dramatic twists after another. Jamie leaves Cersei, Littlefinger is eliminated and Jon and Daenerys give into their passion. Game of Thrones has always had an uncomfortable relationship with incest and it plays its card here again as Sam returns to Winterfell and shares his knowledge with Bran. Daenerys's brother Rhaegar annulled his relationship and married Ned Stark's sister Lyanna in secret. Their child was Jon, Daenerys's nephew, the man she has grown to love. It's something fans had long suspected and it will be interested to see how this revelation is dealt with in the show's final season.
Game of Thrones' final season ends with a dramatic final assault on the Wall as the army of the dead arrive at Eastwatch. The Night King sweeping a chunk of the wall away on undead dragon Viserion and allowing the dead to sweep into the north and the land of the living, is a jaw-dropping final spectacle. It leaves the fates of Beric and Thoros in the air, the castle at Eastwatch collapsing around them as the dead stumble through. It's an epic end to the show's most epic season yet, the world of the living and the dead converging for the first time. And with many of our heroes about to converge of Winterfell, the stage is set for the final battle to the death to come.
We hope you've enjoyed our look backs at the first seven seasons of Game of Thrones. Join us in reviewing the final six episodes when season eight kicks off on the 14th April in the US and the 15th April here in the UK...