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Game of Thrones - The Dragon and the Wolf - Review

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Game of Thrones ended season seven with “The Dragon and the Wolf” written by creators David Benioff and DB Weiss and directed by Jeremy Podeswa. It was a super-sized episode full of more meetings we’ve been waiting for and one major death – RIP Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). Gillen will be missed. The episode ends with the destruction of the wall at Eastwatch and the Army of the Dead entering Westeros. I’m not calling either Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) or Beric’s (Richard Dormer) death as we don’t actually see them die. And they can’t kill Tormund – because I say so!

I’ve seen an interesting question floating about the Internet. Here at the end of season seven, who is winning the game of thrones? It’s an interesting question that also asks the question of what does winning look like. If it’s purely moving chess pieces around the board, Cersei (Lena Headey) ends in a very strong position. If it’s doing the right thing for the people of Westeros and finding love, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) might be the front runner – and she technically has the strongest fighting position – for now. Of course, the love part is also going to prove problematic. This was a super-sized episode, so strap in for a nice long re-cappy review – to get us through the long, long winter until season 8. Possibly not until 2019!

We see Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) in the opening shot as the Unsullied and Dothraki lay siege to King’s Landing. It’s a beautiful contrast between the utter control of the Unsullied and their utterly geometric lines and the utter abandon of the screaming Dothraki.

Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) watch and prepare from the wall. Bronn orders more oil – to pour on the attackers – but tells Jaime he still enjoys being called “My Lord.” Jaime assures him that the thrill will wear off. Bronn muses on the Unsullied having no cocks – what is there to fight for? Jaime suggests gold, but Bronn points out that’s what soldiers spend their gold on. Jaime suggests family – but again, no cocks, no family. Jaime muses maybe it is all cocks. The conversation turns to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) who has chosen to side with the cock-less. And Jaime says Tyrion has always sided with the down-trodden. And there it is in a nutshell. Who are you fighting for – yourself or your people?

There is another great contrasting shot from the ocean – Euron’s (Pilou Asbaek) gigantic fleet and then the handful of ships that Daenerys has. Theon (Alfie Allen), Varys (Conleth Hill), Jorah (Iain Glen), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Davos (Liam Cunningham), and Jon (Kit Harrington) are with Tyrion as they sail towards King’s Landing. Jon asks how many people live there, and when Tyrion tells him a million, reflects that that’s more than all the people in the North. Jon wonders why anyone would want to live there, and Tyrion points out that there is more work there and the brothels are far superior.

Meanwhile, the Hound (Rory McCann) goes to check on their prisoner. He knocks once on the container in the hold and the wight goes crazy. The Hound backs away… It’s interesting that his job seems to be guarding the wight – was he asked or did he just take this on himself? But it seems to be the case ever since he jumped on it. The Hound was the one to spike him onto Drogon and carry him to the boat… and he continues to be it’s guard until its end.

In King’s Landing, Cersei waits for Daenerys – who has yet to be seen. As Cersei is about to leave for the Dragon Pit with Jaime, she gives Ser Gregor (Hafpor Julius Bjornsson) his orders: if anything goes wrong, kill Daenerys, then Tyrion, then Jon, and the rest he can kill in any order he sees fit. Jaime looks troubled.

The others make their way to the Pit on foot, and we are treated to a number of terrific conversations and reunions. There is a terrific shot of King’s Landing in the background, demonstrating how far the Pit is from the city. Missandei is curious as to why they built the Dragon Pit. Jorah points out that it was a problem having the dragons loose around the city as they don’t respect the concept of property – and of course, this is exactly why Daenerys had locked her own away. However, Tyrion points out that by the end it had become a sad joke. The once huge and terrifying dragons were now the size of dogs – and it’s a warning – and question – for what will happen after the war to Daenerys’ dragons.

Bronn greets them – he’s been sent to escort them to the meeting. He has Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod (Daniel Portman) with him. There’s a great moment as Brienne and the Hound see each other – and both actors give terrific performances here as the looks that pass over their faces are very subtle – with the Hound showing a little more surprise.

Pod and Tyrion have a nice reunion, and are glad to see each other, though neither ever expected to. Bronn breaks it up to get them moving with a nice reminder of Pod's magic dick!

Brienne falls into step with the Hound. Talk about not expecting to see someone again – let alone on the same side! Brienne says she thought he was dead, and he tells her she came pretty close. Brienne tells him she was just trying to protect Arya (Maise Williams) and the Hound answers “You and me both.” This is a nice confirmation that the Hound really had had Arya’s best interests at heart – at least at the end.

Brienne tells him that Arya is alive – he’s immediately interested – and at Winterfell. He’s immediately concerned and wants to know who’s protecting her if Brienne is here. Brienne tells him she doesn’t need protecting – and I love the little smile that plays over her face as she says it. The Hound smiles too, and immediately says that he won’t be getting in Arya’s way. I loved the smile the two share – as if Arya is their daughter to be proud of. The only thing that could have made this scene better is if the Hound had mentioned meeting Brienne’s boyfriend…

Tyrion points out that it’s a strange reunion for the heroes of the Blackwater. We learn that Tyrion has offered to pay Bronn double if he comes over to their side. Varys wonders what they are paying Bronn as he looks him up and down disdainfully. Bronn maintains that he’s doing alright, he’s looking after himself – something Bronn has proven very good at. Tyrion points out that arranging the meeting put Bronn at risk, but he says he put Tyrion’s head at risk as that’s the head Cersei is interested in. I think Bronn would be very interested to know that Cersei knows who he is and wanted Jaime to punish him. Bronn is playing a dangerous game. But Bronn thinks he’s won Cersei over by delivering two traitors to her feet. He’s clearly talking smack, and Tyrion tells him it’s good to see him again – and Bronn echoes the sentiment. Love these two together!

Bronn takes Pod off for a drink – while the fancy folk talk – and the others wait for the Queens to arrive – how fashionable for them to be late! It’s yet another terrific set from the production team, leaving you wondering where the real blends with the fabricated and blends with the CGI. We get another delightful juxtaposition as the Hound steps next to Tyrion. He tells him he left “this shit-city” because he didn’t want to die in it, and he asks if he’s about to die in it. Tyrion doesn’t lie or sugarcoat it when he tells him he might. The Hound muses that every bad idea has some Lannister cunt behind it – this was Tyrion’s idea after all. But Tyrion fires right back – every plan also has some Clegane cunt to help them see it through. Setting us up for the entrance of the Mountain with Cersei.

I love Cersei’s music, full of French horns and dread. Brienne and Jaime share a look as Cersei enters with Euron. Cersei doesn’t spare a look for Jon, but does share one with Tyrion. Euron looks with contempt on Theon as the group take their seats.

The Hound can’t take his eyes off the Mountain, and as soon as Cersei is seated, he walks right up to his brother. This is simply a teaser to the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for – and I loved it! The Hound goes toe to toe with his brother and asks if he remembers him – he knows he does. I loved him pointing out that the Mountain is even uglier than he is now. And the Mountain seems to have lost his eyes – have they rotted? He really is kind of like Cersei’s own pet wight. There is a moment when the Hound seems genuinely concerned for his brother – what did they do to you? But then he goes on – that’s not how it ends for you, brother. The Hound tells him that he’s coming for him – and then he leaves the arena.

Cersei wants to know where Daenerys is, and of course, she makes an entrance on her dragons accompanied by her own theme music. As soon as they hear the dragons, Jaime is the first to jump up, followed by Euron, and then Jon, Davos, and Tyrion stand – along with the others to welcome their Queen.

Cersei complains they’ve been waiting. I was a bit sad that Daenerys apologized, but manners would demand she should. Tyrion begins to address the two sides, and Euron cuts him off, telling Theon that if he doesn’t submit to him there and then, he will kill Yara. Theon looks to Tyrion, who says they should start with larger concerns. Euron stands and wants to know why Tyrion is talking – he’s the smallest concern there. I loved Tyrion and Theon discussing what a bad joke it is – the bad ones always explain themselves – as it indicates the two have been talking off camera. Theon is a member of their company.

I also loved Jaime jumping in to defend his brother – and then Cersei, finally, taking Jaime’s side and telling Euron to sit down or leave. But it’s clearly a part of her larger plan.

Tyrion goes on to point out that if all they wanted to do was wage war, they didn’t need to meet. Jon then gets up and tells them they have greater concerns, and Cersei says she doesn’t think the situation is as serious as Jon is making it out to be. Cersei then addresses Daenerys directly. Daenerys tells her that all she wants is a truce – Kings Landing will be safe until the Northern threat is dealt with, but Cersei does not want to take the word of a would-be usurper.

Tyrion is ready for show and tell, and it’s a great shot as the Hound carries the box with the wight in it into the arena. The wight is oddly quiet throughout the entire process of putting the box down and opening it. I loved how carefully the Hound opens the box and steps back and how Cersei looks utterly skeptical. And then the Hound kicks the box over and the wight runs straight at Cersei, stopping just short of her as the Hound pulls him up short by the chain around his neck.

The wight then goes for the Hound, who stands his ground and lops him in half. And both halves keep moving. Cersei is finally impressed. And Qyburn (Anton Lesser) is utterly creepy as he picks up the severed hand and is clearly fascinated by it rather than repulsed.

Jon demonstrates that they can destroy them by fire and dragonglass, but if they don’t destroy them, the wight is the fate waiting for every person in the world. Jon tells her “There is only one war that matters. The Great War. And it is here.”

Daenerys tells them that she didn’t believe it until she saw them, and Jaime, ever the military man, wants to know how many. He’s clearly impressed when she tells him a 100,000 at least. Euron wants to know if they can swim, and when Jon confirms that they can’t, he throws the towel in. This is the only thing he’s ever seen that terrifies him. He tells Daenerys she should go back to her Island – when it’s all over, they’ll be the only ones alive. It should have been obvious – but I admit I thought he really was turning tail and running because all bullies are cowards in the end – but I believed he was running.

However, the fact that Cersei admits that he was right to be afraid – if a coward to run – should definitely have tipped me off that this was all a ruse. Cersei stating that if the Night King army isn’t defeated everything they’ve lost will have been for nothing does sound like her. She does a good job acting here as she agrees to the truce. Until the dead are defeated, they are the true enemy. Jon breathes a sigh of relief. I think that Tyrion and Davos look skeptical, but Brienne smiles. And then Cersei makes demands of her own.

Cersei demands that the King in the North will extend the truce and won’t take part in the war afterwards – he must stay in the North and not take up arms against the Lannisters. She asks it of Ned Stark’s son because she knows that he will be true to his word. I loved how many references we had to Ned Stark this season! Jon tells her that he is true to his word, and therefore, can’t give her what she wants. He cannot serve two Queens and he’s already pledged himself to Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen.

Daenerys is impressed and a little shocked that Jon would put his loyalty to her ahead of the truce, but of course, that’s Jon. Cersei calls the whole thing off and she and her people leave. Brienne makes a desperate attempt to appeal to Jaime, but he tries to brush her off – it was nice seeing her but no doubt the next time they see each other it will be across a battlefield. He’s loyal to Cersei and she is loyal to Sansa (Sophie Turner) and the Starks. But Brienne shocks everyone (right?!?!) by grabbing his arm and telling him, “Fuck loyalty!” She tells him this goes beyond houses and honor and oaths. She asks him to talk to the Queen – but he knows he has no chance of swaying Cersei.

Davos is the first to say that he wished Jon hadn’t done that. Daenerys points out that her dragon died so that they could be there and secure the truce, even though she grateful for his loyalty. It’s an interesting parallel to Cersei’s own motivations – she doesn’t want her children to have died for nothing either.

Tyrion is pleased that Jon finally bent the knee to Daenerys – funny neither of them mentioned it! But Tyrion also asks if Jon ever considered learning to lie – just a little bit! Jon maintains that he’s not going to swear an oath that he can’t uphold – mind you, it wouldn’t be the first oath he’s broken – he didn’t remain celibate as a member of the Night’s Watch after all! Jon maintains that when enough people make false promises words stop meaning anything.

Tyrion agrees that while lies might be a problem, the more immediate problem is that they’re fucked. Davos wants to know if Tyrion has any ideas on how to change that state of affairs. Tyrion has only one idea – he’s going to talk to Cersei. Daenerys doesn’t want him to do it, and Jon offers to go in his place, but Tyrion insists – she’ll definitely murder Jon!

There’s a terrific scene – again those juxtapositions! – as the Mountain escorts Tyrion through the halls to Cersei’s chambers. Jaime meets Tyrion outside. Jaime has tried to reason with Cersei to no effect, and the two share a nice brotherly moment. Clearly, Jaime has softened toward his brother once again. Everyone thinks Jaime was an idiot to trust Tyrion – but it wasn’t Tyrion’s side that scuttled the truce, it was Cersei.

Tyrion points out that he’s about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world – who’s already tried to kill him twice – who’s the idiot? Jaime takes his leave by saying they ought to say goodbye. He clearly foresees being on the opposite side of the battlefield against Tyrion as he did with Brienne. When is he going to wake up and realize all his real friends and family are on the other side? Sooooon, so soooon!

Tyrion walks in like a man going to the gallows – and clearly thinks that is what he’s doing. Cersei calls Daenerys Tyrion’s kind of woman: “a foreign whore who doesn’t know her place.” Cersei berates Tyrion for Daenerys alliance with Jon, which Tyrion truthfully swears he didn’t know about. He also insists that he never wanted to destroy their family and that he’s the only thing preventing it. Cersei is still furious about Tywin, and we get some interesting insight from Tyrion when he says he hates himself for having killed Tywin despite what their father did to him. We saw Tyrion depressed in the aftermath, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen him express real remorse over it. And there’s no way that Cersei would feel the same remorse if she had ever been able to kill Tyrion.

Cersei is angry about Tywin, but even moreso that killing Tywin left them vulnerable to their enemies. Of course, Cersei has removed herself from her own culpability for Tommen and Myrcella’s deaths. I loved that we finally get to see Tyrion defend his love for her children. We knew that he was close to them. Cersei does admit that she knows he didn’t kill Joffrey at least.

Tyrion finally challenges her, “I will always be a threat, so put an end to me.” Cersei clearly considers it – she smiles and leans forward and her eyes flick to the Mountain. Tyrion keeps baiting her. He’s killed her mother and father. She’d have two children if not for him. He’s considered killing her more times than he can count! He walks right up to the Mountain telling her to do it! Dinklage and Headey are both simply magnificent in this scene.

Cersei can’t do it. Tyrion goes for a drink – and pours one for Cersei too, which of course she won’t take. He insists that he’s more sorry than he can say about the children and won’t let her deny that he loved them. But she doesn’t care, she only cares that what he did was to cost them their future. Tyrion, smart fellow that he is, then wants to know why she agreed to meet if there’s no future – what did she hope to gain? Cersei wants to know why he wanted Jon to bend the knee to Daenerys. Tyrion tells Cersei that Daenerys will make the better Queen because she wants to make the world a better place.

Cersei points out that Daenerys was going to sack King’s Landing. Tyrion tells Cersei that the difference between her and Daenerys is that Daenerys knows herself and chose an advisor who would check her worst impulses – not feed them – or work towards his own crazy science projects like Qyburn!

Cersei says that maybe Euron had the right idea. Maybe they should all just get on a boat and protect what really matters – family. And Tyrion immediately surmises that Cersei is pregnant. She doesn’t deny it.

Back in the dragon pit, Jon is examining a tiny little dragon jaw. Jon apologizes for what he did, and Daenerys says she respects what he did, even if she wishes he hadn’t done it. Daenerys muses that the dragon pit was the beginning of the end for her family. She goes on to muse that the dragons were fierce and terrifying, filling people with awe and wonder, yet they locked them away and they grew small and weak. It’s a nice analogy for what has also happened to the rulers who have locked themselves away from the people. Her family was just like everyone else without the dragons – they were no longer extraordinary.

Jon tells her she’s not like everyone else, and her family isn’t gone. This is beautifully shot as the two come physically closer together as they grow closer emotionally and are framed beneath an arch of the old coliseum. Daenerys tells Jon she can’t have children, and finally, someone points out that the witch might have been wrong – or what about lying?! Certainly not a reliable source of information.

Daenerys tells Jon that it would all be different if she’d only trusted him. Jon wants to know what’s next. Daenerys can’t forget what she’s seen, but she knows that Cersei will take back what she’s won the minute Daenerys leaves. The stakes are high. Jon says it appears that Tyrion’s assessment was correct – they’re fucked.

Tyrion returns with Cersei. She agrees to march North to fight the Great War with them. She tells them that once the Great War is won, she doesn’t expect any of them to remember that she agreed to help with no promises or assurances from them. It seems legitimate when she calls for her Bannermen to be called. Did anyone else think she was dressed like a chess piece?

At Winterfell, Sansa has received a raven from Jon, and Littlefinger is making excuses for why Jon didn’t write sooner. But Sansa simply attributes it to the way Jon is. She seems pissed that he’s bent the knee for Daenerys without consulting her. Littlefinger immediately goes to work, commenting that he’s heard that Daenerys is quite beautiful. Painting Jon as simply grubbing for more power. They are both young and unmarried and an alliance makes sense. Littlefinger suggests that Jon was named King in the North and he can be unnamed. Sansa seems to be open to the suggestion, but insists that Arya would never go along with it – she always loved Jon more.

Littlefinger points out that Sansa is also family. Arya would never kill her sister! Sansa proves that either she did know what the faceless men are or she found out. Littlefinger knows who they are – but does he really realize how accomplished Arya is? Sansa asks what Littlefinger thinks Arya is after, and he tells her that she’s her sister – she would know better than he. I loved the parallel to Arya when he says to her, sometimes he plays a little game when he wants to know someone’s motives. It’s very similar to the question game, isn’t it?

Littlefinger tells her: “Sometimes, when I try to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game. I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do? Then I ask myself, how well does that reason explain what they say and what they do. So tell me. What’s the worst thing she could want?” Sansa muses that the worst thing Arya could want is her dead because Arya thinks Sansa wronged their family. The letter could be proof of her betrayals and justification for murdering her, so that she could become Lady of Winterfell.

Gillen is just wonderful in this scene as he sets his trap and then leads Sansa slowly through it. You can see how delicately he weaves the net. Turner has to be given kudos for Sansa playing her part so very carefully. And again, in hindsight, the flaws of this logic are glaringly obvious to those of us who truly know Arya – she would never want to be Lady of Winterfell – and certainly not before crossing every name off her list, but Littlefinger has become blinded by his own lust for power – and over confident in his hold over Sansa.

Back at Dragonstone, plans are being made to head north. Sadly, at this war council, Daenerys is now the only woman left at the table. Jon wants to sail north with Daenerys, meet the Dothraki and ride the rest of the way to Winterfell. Jorah wants Daenerys to fly as it will be safer. Jon leaves the decision to Daenerys, but points out that if they are going to be allies, it’s important for the northerners to see them as allies. Sailing to White Harbor together sends a better message (and gives them some quality alone time!!!!). Daenerys agrees to Jon’s plan because she’s not coming to conquer the north, she’s coming to save it (and alone time!!!!!).

As Jon passes through the throne room with Davos, he’s stopped by Theon. Theon points out that Jon risked everything to tell an enemy the truth – he could have lied to Cersei, but he didn’t. Jon points out that they went there to make peace and it’s important to be honest with each other if they’re going to fight together. Theon says Jon has always known what was right, and has always taken the right step. But Jon tells him that he’s done plenty of things that he regrets, he’s not perfect.

Theon points out that he has a lot more to regret, and Jon agrees. Theon insists that he always wanted to be the right kind of person, but he never knew what that meant. He feels like he was always faced with an impossible choice: Stark or Greyjoy. Jon’s been sympathetic up until this point. He gets in Theon’s face as he tells him that Ned was more of a father to him than his own ever was and yet Theon betrayed him! Theon doesn’t deny any of it.

Seeing that Theon is truly repentant, Jon softens again and tells Theon that he never lost him – Ned is still a part of him. Just like Ned is a part of Jon. Jon can’t forgive Theon for everything he’s done, but he does forgive him for what he can. He tells Theon that he doesn’t have to choose. “You’re a Greyjoy AND you’re a Stark.”

Theon tells Jon about Yara trying to save him when he was Ramsey’s prisoner – she’s the only one who did try, and now she needs him. Jon asks why Theon is talking to him – releasing him to go to Yara. Allen is so good in this scene. I love how he stands at attention for all of it.

Theon goes to the other Ironborn to enlist their help in saving Yara. Harrag (Brendan Cowell) insists that Yara is dead already. Theon insists that she’s their Queen, and Harrag points out that she’s his sister and he left her to die. Theon tries to do the right thing by telling the truth and admitting he was a coward who ran away. Harrag wants to find a nice quiet island, where the dead can’t get to, and kill all the men and take the women for themselves – the old Ironborn ways that Yara made them give up.

Theon points out that they’re done with that way of life. Theon tells them that he’s going to find Yara and set her free. Harrag spits on him and tells him to run away. When Theon doesn’t, Harrag throws the first punch and is clearly beating Theon to a pulp. He takes some pity on him when he tells him to stay down or he’ll kill him, but Theon doesn’t stay down. And we can hope that he’s finally found his courage on this beach.

I loved when Harrag tries to knee him in the groin – and it has no effect on Theon – thanks to Ramsey. The tide is turned and Theon wins the fight. He calls the other Ironborn to him – not for himself, but for Yara. Is it just me that I haven’t noticed the way Allen carries his hands? We do know that that was a favorite spot for Ramsey to torture, but they do seem permanently misshapen – which makes you wonder about the difficulty of punching or holding a sword…

At Winterfell, we see Sansa on the ramparts, clearly steeling herself, before telling a guard to bring her sister to the Great Hall. We get a fabulous shot of Sansa and Bran (Isaac Hemstead Wright) sitting before the fire and the guards lined around the walls as Arya is brought in. And let’s just take a moment to admire the way Williams carries herself – it’s so graceful yet latently lethal – fabulous. It’s also a perfect set up. Littlefinger is lounging in his usual position in the background against the wall and a small smile plays across his face as he thinks his latest adversary is about to be disposed of.

Arya asks Sansa if she’s sure this is what she wants to do. And the real meaning here is touching. Arya does understand that Sansa has some feelings for Baelish and that she isn’t a cold-blooded killer. Sansa replies that it isn’t what she wants to do, but it is what honor demands. They too are Ned Stark’s children. Arya asks what honor demands, and Sansa answers, “That I defend my family from those who would harm US. That I defend the North from those who would betray us.” And there it is. Baelish is neither family nor a Northerner. And Arya is both – she’s included in that “us.”

Arya tells her to get on with it. I LOVED this part!!! Sansa does get on with it. “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges…[DRAMATIC PAUSE – Sansa turns her head ever so slightly – because she’s known exactly where you’ve been for quite some time] LORD BAELISH!!” It’s utterly fantastic as they’ve kept us on pins and needles for several episodes.

Baelish is caught completely flat-footed, and it’s Arya’s turn to smile. I loved how Gillen looks utterly gob-smacked. Arya tells him that her sister asked him a question, and Baelish suddenly realizes just how badly he’s underestimated her.

He turns to Sansa – he’s a bit confused. And I loved the way she asked him which question confused him – like he’s a slightly stupid child – so condescending as he’s been to her. And yes. I’ve heard all the arguments that it makes no sense for two young girls to have brought down the great Baelish – and to some extent maybe that’s true, but there are many ways to explain it too. He thinks that he knows Sansa – but he’s underestimated the trauma she’s undergone and the intrigue she’s learned from the best – Cersei, Ramsey, and Baelish himself. He’s definitely underestimated Arya. He’s currently in the North – he’s out of his depth in the same way that Ned was out of his in the South. And he’s become convinced of his own superiority – pride cometh before a fall.

Sansa begins enumerating his crimes for him – starting with the simplest one: murder. He pushed Lyssa Arryn through the moondoor and she fell to her death. Littlefinger maintains that he did it to protect Sansa – and she knows the real reason – he did it to take power in the Vale. Sansa would not have been in danger if not for him. When she brings up Littlefinger’s part in the death of Jon Arryn, he thinks she got her information from her Aunt Lyssa – but Bran is sitting right there… Littlefinger falls back on Lyssa’s madness, but Sansa knows that pinning the murder on the Lannisters was the start of the conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks. He denies his part in writing the letter. This is a beautifully choreographed scene as Littlefinger peels himself off the wall and takes center stage as all his lies and subterfuges are revealed.

She also accuses him of conspiring with Joffrey and Cersei to have Ned falsely accused and executed. Littlefinger starts to get angry – and desperate. But no one was there – certainly none of them were there to see what happened. But Bran is sitting right there and he was there to see. He tells the assembled that Littlefinger held a knife to Ned’s throat. And Littlefinger looks gobsmacked again, as Bran says, “You said, ‘I did warn you not to trust me.’”

And then Arya continues the revelations, making it clear that Bran, Sansa, and Arya have all been working together – the pack protecting and avenging its own. Arya pulls out the dagger and reveals that Littlefinger gave the dagger to Catelyn and told her it belonged to Tyrion. But the dagger belonged to Littlefinger all along.

Littlefinger is now running scared. He flings himself in front of Sansa, declaring that he’s protected her since she was a little girl. She immediately points out that he sold her to Ramsey Bolton. He tries to get her alone, thinking he can weave his lies around her one more time. Sansa throws his own words right back at him: “Sometimes when I’m trying to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game. I assume the worst.” And Littlefinger finally realizes that he revealed too much to Sansa – he’s given himself away.

He’s also played the same game once too often. Sansa recognizes the pattern of turning family against family – and sister against sister. Sansa admits that she’s a slow learner, but she does learn. Littlefinger begs for the chance to defend himself. Sansa leans back. Really, what can he say? He declares himself Lord and Protector of the Vale and commands Royce (Rupert Vansittart) to return him to the Vale, but Royce has never liked Littlefinger anyway and tells him no.

Littlefinger realizes that he has no friends and all his secrets have been laid bare. He throws himself on his knees and begs for Sansa’s mercy. He declares he loved her mother since he was a boy – and yet he betrayed her. He loved Sansa – more than anyone. And yet he betrayed her. Sansa stands. Again, Sansa throws his words back in his face. He told her that there was no justice in the world unless they made it. She thanks him for all his many lessons and promises she’ll never forget them.

Arya walks in front of Littlefinger as Sansa watches. Littlefinger still doesn’t realize the threat and doesn’t even raise a hand as Arya slits his throat. Arya is completely dispassionate as she kills him. Surely, he must have been on some addendum to her list! It’s a beautiful shot as Baelish bleeds out in the center of the Great Hall as the Starks watch. It’s sad to lose such a wonderful actor, but oh, so satisfying to see one of the great villains finally get his comeuppance and especially at the hands of Ned Stark’s children. I’m really loving how much Ned is factoring into every event this season – the legacy of a good man triumphing.

Back at King’s Landing, Jaime is preparing the Lords for the expedition north when Cersei interrupts him – and finally goes too far. She declares he always was the stupid brother and reveals there was never to be an expedition to the north. Jaime wants to go because he’s given his word. He points out that if they simply stay south, eventually there will be a winner in the north who will come south and kill them all – whether it’s the Army of the Dead or the Targaryen/Stark army doesn’t matter. Cersei is determined that they stay in the south and take back their lands, preparing for their child to rule Westeros.

Cersei points out that there were only two dragons at the meeting. Clearly, something happened to the other one – they’re vulnerable. Jaime points out that they don’t have the support of the other Houses. And Cersei points out they have something better – the support of the Iron Bank. She taunts him that he should have paid more attention to Tywin’s boring lessons on gold. Cersei has bought the Golden Company – 20,000 men, horses, and elephants. And Euron didn’t turn tail or abandon his chance to marry her – he’s gone to Essos to bring back the army.

Jaime accuses her of conspiring with Euron behind his back. It finally becomes clear to him that his love for her really means nothing. She accuses him of conspiring with Tyrion. Jaime insists that he is going to honor his pledge to ride north. Cersei declares that will be treason. Jaime turns to walk away and the Mountain is there. Cersei declares that no one walks away from her.

Jaime is shocked. It’s only the two of them, and she’s willing to kill him? Cersei points out that there’s one more to come – the children have always come before Jaime. He tells her to give the order. This may be Coster-Waldau’s best scene in the series – and certainly in the last few seasons. His eyes fill with tears as Cersei considers giving the order, but ultimately relents.

Is it finally over between them? Jaime’s final words are I don’t believe you. Is he incredulous at what she’s become or does he still not believe she is really capable of having him killed? Headey is also wonderful in this scene – really, a villain we love to hate. We get a beautiful long sequence of winter coming to the south as Jaime rides away from King’s Landing.

Returning to Winterfell, we get another reunion that we’ve been waiting for. Sam (John Bradley) arrives and pays Bran a visit. Sam isn’t sure that Bran would remember him, but Bran tells him he remembers everything now. He calls Sam a good man, but Sam isn’t sure that he is – what??? Sam! You are brilliant! And of course, the Three-Eyed Raven – kind of like Santa – knows who is good and who is not. Bran tells Sam that he became the Three-Eyed Raven beyond the wall, and Sam’s reaction is perfect: “oh.” He completely accepts it – even while he doesn’t know what it means. Bran explains that he can see everything – past and present everywhere.

Sam tells Bran that he’s returned to help Jon in the fight against the Dead. Bran tells Sam that Jon is on his way back with Daenerys. It’s hilarious when Sam quite reverently says, “You saw this in a vision” and Bran simply holds up a scroll.

Bran tells Sam that Jon needs to know the truth about who he is. He’s not Ned’s son – and here, Jon’s own words to Theon should help him through – he may not be blood, but he will always be a Stark. Bran drops the bomb that Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Bran, however, thinks that Jon’s last name should be Sand not Snow – Doornish bastards are named Sand. But Sam – bless him!!!! Was paying attention and has the other puzzle piece. He knows that Rhaegar (Wilf Scolding) and Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi) were married in a secret ceremony by High Septon Maynard (Tom Chadbon) after he annulled Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia Martell.

Bran is able to see the wedding to verify it’s truth. In addition, it proves that Robert’s rebellion was a lie. Rhaegar didn’t kidnap or rap Lyanna – the two were in love. And this scene then takes us to Jon and Daenerys – who don’t know the truth. The scene between the two seeking solace in each other’s arms is quite lovely – remember they don’t know!

And we hear Bran in the voice over saying that the need to tell Jon the truth – yep. And that’s going to be very awkward! But Jon has never been a bastard and he is the heir to the Iron Throne. Tyrion sees Jon enter Daenerys’ room and looks unhappy about it. Is he worried that he’s lost his own place or that this relationship will prove a distraction? Or that it will simply incense Cersei more?

We have a final scene at Winterfell between Arya and Sansa on the ramparts. Arya checks to see if Sansa is alright. She muses that it’s strange. In his own horrible way, Baelish did love her, but Arya assures her that she did the right thing. Sansa insists that Arya did it, but Arya says she was just the executioner – Sansa passed the sentence. Arya is totally ok with Sansa being Lady of Winterfell. Arya tells her that she was never going to be as good a lady as Sansa, so she had to be something else. She also admits that she never would have survived what Sansa survived. Sansa believes she would have because Arya is the strongest person she knows. And Arya acknowledges that that’s the nicest thing that Sansa has ever said to her.

The two smile, and Sansa tells her not to get used to it: “You’re still very strange and annoying.” But it’s said with love. They are two very different souls, yet they are united by blood. Arya looks pensive as she says, “In Winter we must protect ourselves. Look after one another.” And Sansa recognizes Ned’s words. Sansa continues, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” And that perfectly describes Baelish’s death. The two agree that they miss their father. And the camera pans to Bran by the Weirwood, which gives us a beautiful transition to the last, horrific scene.

At Eastwatch, Tormund and Beric watch from the wall as the Army of the Dead march out of the trees. I want to take a moment to comment on how well done the CGI is on the wight horses – they move perfectly. All the kudos in this scene have to go to Hivju’s expressive face. You feel the horror, shock and fear. And then the Night King arrives with Viserion who now breaths blue – ice – fire. He makes short work of the wall and the men guarding it. My hope for Beric and Tormund – because we don’t see them fall with the rest of the wall, is that they will make their way along the wall to the Black Watch and thus back to Jon at Winterfell. But will Jon and Daenerys make it back to Winterfell or will they be cut off?

This was a brilliant end to a wonderful season. I was happy to avoid any more major deaths. I loved that we finally start to see Ned Stark’s legacy of honor and his children starting to triumph. There’s also no question that Cersei has played a good game thus far. And now, our own long winter begins as we wait for the final season – and pray for possible spin offs. The projections are that the next season could be delayed to 2019. The rumor is also that each of the 6 – SIX!!!! – episodes will all be super-sized like this one, making each a mini-movie event. I’d be ok with that as it would then more closely approximate a 10 episode season. What are your thoughts on the episode? The season? The wait to come?

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