SPOILERS…OBVIOUSLY

Mr. Night King, tear down this wall.

More on that later. First, Game of Thrones has a way of making you bloodthirsty. Even though you dread the possibility of losing favorite characters you rejoice in the liberating joy of watching a show where anyone can die at any moment. You’re almost disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Thus it is that one of my primary reactions to “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the season 7 finale, is “That’s it?” Littlefinger’s the only casualty? That is unless Tormund and Eye-Patch Guy also bit it on The Wall. But our only confirmed death is Littlefinger, executed by Arya under Sansa’s orders as the internet turned out to be right: the Stark sisters really were playing him this entire time. The whole storyline felt off because it was all a ruse. The Stark daughters have now proved more capable at playing the Game than their father, besting the man who was instrumental in bringing about Ned’s demise.

Everyone else, though, lived to fight in the final season. I was expecting more, but I’m also one of those viewers who fell for Sansa and Arya’s pretend rivalry. So, what do I know? Heck, I even fell for Cersei’s lies in this episode. Clearly, if I lived in Westeros my head would have long since joined Ned’s on the chopping block.

However, that’s the fun of this show. You try, as the now late Littlefinger would say, to see every possible move before it happens and then react. You read Cersei’s face for any hint at what she might be up to. You facepalm every time Jon opens up his big, dumb Winterfell mouth and sprays his honor over everything to fuck things up. Every little facial expression for the would-be Kings and Queens and their advisors can launch a thousand-word essays attempting to suss out a larger meaning. It’s all just politics, really, with boobs, dragons and zombies. The best person or candidate rarely wins. It ultimately comes down to who is the best at playin…

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Hold on. Did you not see the part about dragons and zombies? The political theater of it all shouldn’t matter anymore. Now, it’s a fight for survival.

Yet the finale gathered all the major players together and while some of them are now more interested in the existential question of universal survival Cersei proved to be every bit her father’s daughter. She played Tyrion like a fiddle (he fell for her little act while also unknowingly giving away useful intel about Dany), and saw in the wight not a threat but instead a godsend, a force formidable enough to distract and diminish her enemies while she rebuilds her armies with her pilfered gold. It felt off when she accepted the truce and pledged her troops to Dany and Jon’s cause for the same reason that Sansa and Arya’s manufactured rivalry did: it’s simply not in their nature to believably take such action. Now, Cersei has doubled down and has a plan that might just work, that is if the North defeats the Army of the Dead. If not, she’s just sentenced herself and everyone in King’s Landing to a grisly fate. Either way, we can now see what we’d already assumed: In the end, Cersei Lannister will have to be killed. There will be no peaceful transition or concession.

So, the Night King just destroyed the wall. Nope. Not ready for that yet. Instead, this:

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The Cersei and Stark sister developments in this episode illustrate the right and wrong way to pull off a twist. The former’s scheming and manipulation was perfectly in character and forced a confrontation with Jamie which ended with him finally walking away from her and pursuing the more honorable fight in the North. It’s a twist that brought about inevitable change and never betrayed the characters or audience in the process.

The latter, though, was far too dependent on bending the characters too hard and for too long. It subjected the audience to multiple episodes of a clearly contrived conflict in the hopes that the payoff would retroactively make it all worth it and paper over any plot holes, such as why the sisters kept up the charade even when no one else was around (I guess they assumed there was always some servant somewhere spying for Littlefinger) or why the Vale was so easily swayed to turn on Littlefinger without any proof beyond spooky Brann’s dispassionate word (the man who spoke for the Vale already didn’t trust Littlefinger, but Robin’s not going to like this; I suppose the Vale instinctively trusts Sansa, though).

Did the payoff make all of that go away? Was Littlefinger’s death cathartic enough to make us appreciate this plot line which turned the tables on the show’s best schemer, albeit at the cost of temporarily fooling the audience (well, some of the audience; others had this figured out weeks ago) as well?

I don’t know. He was kind of dead before we knew it, it all happened so quick. That being said, the Stark revenge tour just added another hit to its list, and we did get to enjoy the sight of a terrified and groveling Littlefinger, the first and, as it turns out, only time we’ve ever seen that side of him. The list of traditional villains on this show has now been whittled down to just Cersei, and the least enjoyable storyline of season 7 at least reached a somewhat satisfying end.

OMG, the damn Wall is down! Why aren’t you talking about that yet?

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Anyway, season 7 is behind us, and I keep wondering why it only had to be 7 episodes long. HBO said the episode totals for the final two season were decided by Benioff and Weiss, who felt that they ultimately only needed 13 more episodes to finish the story (7 now, 6 next year). If that’s true and this wasn’t some budgetary constraint placed on them by HBO then I have to question their decision. We’ve now seen what they did with these first 7 episodes, and it felt overly compressed to the point that various plot holes were created for the sake of expediency.

I realize we’re almost to the finish line, and as such the show can’t and shouldn’t be as slow as it used to be. But the breakneck pace at which they moved this season turned this into a more traditionally satisfying and familiar TV show, which is not necessarily a good thing. Game of Thrones used to be unlike anything else on TV. Now it’s playing the kind of narrative tricks that lowly CW shows like Arrow and Vampire Diaries trotted out years ago, from Oliver’s active deceit of his friends (and the audience) when he fake-joined the League of Assassins (see: Arya and Sansa’s deception) to Stefan and Caroline discovering the truth about Damien’s power over Elena right as the latter two were consummating their relationship (see: Brann and Sam’s discussion juxtaposed with Jon and Dany’s first time).

Of course, you only notice these things if you are a TV obsessive, and even if you are the vague familiarity of it all need not detract from your enjoyment, not when so much else about the show remains unique. Still, Game of Thrones used to be its own thing, and now it’s starting to do things which remind me of other TV shows. That seems like a small, but significant moment.

Whatever. Have any CW shows ever ended a season with an ice dragon tearing down a giant wall?

Nope. It’d be weird if they did.

So, please. Night King. Wall. Gone. Talk about it.

Well, it’s one hell of a cliffhanger, but I’m ambivalent about it.

Of course you are.

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The Wall that has stood for thousands of years was just brought down in a matter of minutes by the Night King and his dragon. That’s some Battlefield Earth shit, i.e., specifically Travolta’s line about how quickly the aliens defeated the Earth’s best defenses. The stunning swiftness of it is part of its power, but is it too much? The adult dragons have always been a bit of a problem for the writers in that they have to pull back on them from time to time for fear that their massive destructive power could render everything moot in a matter of seconds. So, Drogon and his brothers have usually served as the cavalry swooping in to save the day (with several exceptions, of course).

To now see one of them destroy Westeros’ most monumental barrier with such minimal effort is exhilarating, but it also contributes to my on-going sense that we are now watching Game of Thrones fan fiction (as I argued here). I guess I’m still just too stunned to process it all, much like Jamie after he first saw the dragons in action.

Maybe this is why the show is suddenly so obsessed with talking about Dany’s inability to have children. Because after what we just saw she’d better have an actual child with Jon since there’s no way both of her remaining dragons survive a fight with their zombified brother.

So, let me get this straight. You ultimately came down on this episode because it was too traditionally entertaining. Wow. Some people just don’t want to be happy.

Fair enough. I should point out that I enjoyed the hell out of this episode and all of the others that came before it this season. I’ve loved the communal experience of watching, reading and writing about Game of Thrones: Season 7. I can’t possibly communicate the dread I feel over knowing there are now only 6 episodes left, particularly since I feel like the show is somewhat needlessly rushing to the finish line. And at this point I’m almost starting to root for the Night King (just because Cersei is so evil and Jon so dumb; Dany’s still awesome, though).

This finale might have been low on (confirmed) high profile deaths, but with the destruction of the Wall and arrival of Winter as far south as King’s Landing the final 6 episodes could turn into a real bloodbath. I look forward to talking to you about all of that next year (or whenever season 8 arrives).

THE NOTES I WROTE WHILE WATCHING THE EPISODE

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  1. So, I guess the Unsullied being stuck at Casterly Rock with their supply chain cut-off had no real lasting effect.
  2. I don’t know how or when, but Cersei’s going to find a way to take advantage of Dany having the Unsullied and Dothraki all in the same place at the same time.
  3. Cersei’s Kill List in Order: Dany, Tyrion, “That bastard they call ‘King’” Ha. She doesn’t even care enough about Jon to remember his name.
  4. So. Many. Reunions!
  5. Why was The Hound even there? As the Brotherhood Without Banners’ representative?
  6. It’s like Batman Forever in here. Quick, Jim Carrey, say this: “Cersei’s entrance was good. Dany’s was better.”
  7. Ugh. Euron’s talking again.
  8. Looks like Gendry’s been busy crafting those Dragonglass weapons.
  9. Wait. Dragonglass kills wights? Did we know that?
  10. Holy shit. Euron did something sane.
  11. Double holy shit. So did Cersei, re: being afraid of the wight.
  12. [Facepalm] Is all of this seriously coming down to Jon, the least capable diplomat left in the Game? Of course he would blow it right away.
  13. Whoa there, Tyrion. What’s your plan here? Because if you die then we all stop watching this show.
  14. Cersei reflects on her family history and legacy at the same time that Dany does the same thing. Not so different…
  15. Poor Jorah. His Khaleesi has found another.
  16. You can’t break Theon, Iron Islands guy. Ramsey already did that.
  17. Well, shut my mouth. The internet was right this entire time. Sansa and Arya were totally playing Littlefinger.
  18. The one thing Littlefinger couldn’t predict: that a long lost Stark boy would come back with magical abilities allowing him to see the entirety of Westeros history, including everything he ever did. But, really, how does one plan for such a thing. It’s almost not fair.
  19. “I became the Three-Eyed Raven.” – Well, that’s neat.
  20. Great. Confirm the whole aunt-nephew thing just in time for Dany and Jon’s first time together to be exactly as uncomfortable as we knew it would be even though we’ve been trying our best to ignore the incest of it all.
  21. Jon’s naked body looks so oddly small compared to Dany’s naked body.
  22. Tyrion’s worried, ya guys. He doesn’t know what Sam and Brann know, but he knows enough to be worried about Dany and Jon’s union, which surely won’t go over well in the North.
  23. In retrospect, if Cersei had such a non-reaction to seeing dragons for the first time why should we really have believed her fear at seeing the wight. She was playing all of them, including Jamie.
  24. You were right, Tom Petty. Even walls down, but, da-aaam!
  25. Wait. Tormund’s totally fine, though, right? Because why let him escape last week only to bury him under the Wall off-screen this week. Right?
  26. Ahh. No preview for next week’s episode because…finale.
  27. Just 6 more episodes left.
  28. And we have to wait a year.
  29. Need for anti-depression medication, rising.

FAVORITE LINE

Cersei: “I always knew you were the stupidest Lannister”

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

52 Comments

  1. I really, really wanted to have this conversation last night! But, today will do. 🙂

    I’m going to leave my own thoughts and then go read your review…

    First of all, I want to point out that I totally called it — Arya and Sansa were working together to set up and take down Littlefinger. Though the writers cheated a bit because clearly Bran’s abilities helped them know exactly what Littlefinger had done.

    I do confess, however, that when Arya walked into the Hall surrounded by guards, I began to have my doubts. But when I saw Bran at the head table, I knew we were being toyed with. Bran would not have sat by and let Arya be executed because he would know the truth about it all.

    I also found my conviction that it was a ruse shaking a bit during the scene when Littlefinger had Sansa play the “what’s the worst reason” game. That was very believable.

    I did find it odd that so much of what Sansa accused Littlefinger of doing could not have been known without Bran’s visions. Yes, there were things Sansa witnessed, but the rest? LF could have denied it and asked for proof. OTOH, what Sansa witnessed was plenty damning, so maybe there was no point.

    Moving on, the writers seem to enjoy messing with our heads and frankly, I don’t think they’re very good at it. First they have Cercei agreeing to the truce, then revoking it when Jon refused to stay nuetral, then coming back and agreeing to not just stay back but to fight side by side with them. I didn’t trust her then and she proved me right when she told Jaime she lied.

    What I don’t get is how she thought all that maneuvering was needed. And if she wanted to trick Jon and Danny, why revoke the truce when Jon refused to stay out of it? Did she somehow know Tyrian would confront her to talk her out of it? It makes no sense.

    And how is TELLING Jon and Danny she’ll be there and then no showing up more tactically sound than just disagreeing to begin with? Better (for betrayal and advantage) would have been to send the armies but have them fall back at the last minute, no?

    And why did no one remind Cercei that if the Dead win, every one they killed joins their army? Stupid all around.

    Also, the dragon pit seemed an ideal place for an ambush. No one even bothered searching through all those hallways and openings to make sure there were no assassins there. Seemed a rather foolish risk.

    Reply

    1. “I really, really wanted to have this conversation last night! But, today will do.”

      Apologies. Circumstances conspired against me. Plus, to be honest, I needed to sleep on this a bit. I had half of my review done before I went to sleep. But I wanted to think about it a little more.

      “I do confess, however, that when Arya walked into the Hall surrounded by guards, I began to have my doubts. But when I saw Bran at the head table, I knew we were being toyed with. Bran would not have sat by and let Arya be executed because he would know the truth about it all.”

      Same here. I did briefly wonder if Bran was so weird to everyone now that they wouldn’t even have told him what was going on. But, no, him being there was a clear sign that something was up.

      “What I don’t get is how she thought all that maneuvering was needed. And if she wanted to trick Jon and Danny, why revoke the truce when Jon refused to stay out of it? Did she somehow know Tyrian would confront her to talk her out of it? It makes no sense.”

      That’s the one part of her plan I don’t completely get. She played Tyrion perfectly, and possibly even got some kind of conession out of him we don’t know about since the last we saw of them was “you’re pregnant” followed by her abrupt declaration of truce. However, did she reject everything after Jon’s little speech just for the purpose of tricking Tyrion into speaking to her? Does that mean she already knew about JOn and Dany? How could she? Nobody else did. Or did she just guess? Or merely roll with the punches?

      “Better (for betrayal and advantage) would have been to send the armies but have them fall back at the last minute, no?”

      The fear there is likely that her troops would still be placed in danger because Dany and Jon’s armies could physicall try to prevent them from falling back unless Dany and Jon had been stupid enough to simply let the Lannister Army take up the rear.

      “And why did no one remind Cercei that if the Dead win, every one they killed joins their army? Stupid all around.”

      I guess Jamie didn’t explicity say that, but he did at least acknowledge the obvious fault in her plan, i.e., if the North loses they’re all screwed. It’s also possible, though currently unstated, that Cersei already has her Meister busy with some plan to simply wall off in King’s Landing and unleash fire and fury on the Army of the Dead since they now know fire kills them. Of course, they don’t know the Army has its own dragon, but maybe that too would be something they’d try to defeat with that big crossbow. It’s also a case of Cersei being obsessed with maintaining power. An appeal to an existential question of common survival simply doesn’t register with her now. All there is to her is the throne and power and the fight for her own survival. She can fake an awareness of their common plight, but all she really cares about is defeating her enemies. And that’s why she’s possibly just screwed over all of King’s Landing.

      “Also, the dragon pit seemed an ideal place for an ambush. No one even bothered searching through all those hallways and openings to make sure there were no assassins there.”

      I imagine the writers simply picked that place for its symbolic importance, i.e., what meeting in a dragon pit would mean to Dany, and were then to busy with setting up all of the reunions and making the various character reconnections to explore the military liability of meeting in such an open place.

      Reply

      1. No master plan of deceit could have reliably depended on Tyrian making the suicidal choice to come to her, alone — or that Danny would even allow it.

        And the question remains, how did she even benefit from it? Seems to me she’s in no stronger position now than she would have been if she’d have said NO right up front.

      2. –> “I imagine the writers simply picked that place for its symbolic importance, i.e., what meeting in a dragon pit would mean to Dany”

        Fine, but that doesn’t explain the lack of caution by Dany’s guards. The obvious action would have been to send guards to check all the potential ambush points.

      3. I am not forgiving the error, just trying to think of it from their perspective. The setting was of symoblic value, and the primary concern was to track all of the complicated inter-personal dynamics between the various characters who have either never met or haven’t seen each other in ages, i.e., making sure to highlight the first interactions between Euron and Theon, Hound and Mountain, Jamie and Brienne, etc. Like so much else this season, any question of the guards checking for ambush points was likely left to assumption, i.e., the writers assuming the audience will just trust that this late in the game our characters all know to inspect every corner so why bother with showing it anymore. But, of course, that backfires if audience members instead look at all the blind spots and assume a massacre is coming. I know I thought something was up when Bronn left with Brienne’s squire, exiting off into the darkness around one of those corners.

  2. Does it bother anyone else that the DEAD dragon was more powerful than when it was alive? Why? How? Do we have any evidence of that in the books or the show with other DEAD? Anyone else join the Dead army stronger and more powerful than when alive?

    Reply

    1. It’s a fair question. From what I’ve read, there are things like ice dragons in GoT lore, but I haven’t seen anything like a zombie dragon capable of blue fames before. Maybe the dragon isn’t really more powerful than he was before. Maybe any three of them could have taken down the Wall that quickly with just their plain fire breath. However, it did seem like this was supposed to be a stronger than normal display of power, and unless the Night King did something special here there’s no precedent I know of for the dead to come back substantially stronger in GoT (other than the basic they’re stronger because no matter how many times you chop at them they keep coming after you).

      Reply

      1. Well the dead dragon spewed out the fire for much longer durations than we saw in Drogon.

        Another oddness I noticed is that the dead dragon DECAYED awfully quickly. Prior to this, I’d pretty much been led to believe the decay happens over time — same as if the dead were left in or on the ground. If they just now died, they didn’t reanimate looking like they’d been dead for months. Yet, this dragon had holes all through it’s wings like it had been dead for a long, long time. Doesn’t seem consistent with what we’ve seen of the wights.

      2. No, it’s not consistent. They’re like most other zombies in pop culture in that they simply decay naturally over time. So, maybe, um, the Night King put those holes in the dragons wings himself because he thinks they look cool. That’s his equivalent of painting some sweet fire imagery on the side of a car just to look intimidating.

      3. LOL!

  3. When the wall fell, where did all the debri go? Looked to me like the Dead army was able to pass on clear, level ground? There should have been a MASSIVE pile of snow and ice and structure from the fallen wall.

    Reply

    1. Maybe the Dragon flew in and melted all the debris? Because when the Wall initially fell there was definitely a pile of snow and ice down there. Then when we saw them on the other side of the wall their path had been cleared a little. Remember, I guess, that they also have a couple of giants in their ranks. The Night King might have simply ordered them to clear away the debris. The show just skipped past it rather than treating us to the comically anti-climactic sight of the Army of the Dead and White Walkers standing around awkwardly as their glorifed construction crew got to work.

      Reply

      1. Well, something that significant should not have happened off camera with no mention at all. Seems more likely this was a plot hole.

  4. Do you think Bran can use his abilities as the Three Eyed Raven to somehow get the news of his Jon’s parentage to him while on the boat? Or will it require more mundane methods of communication.

    Reply

    1. I’ve wondered that for a while, whether Bran felt the news was so important it had be shared in person or if he actually had no other way of sending the message (other than via raven). He could always write a note, wharg into a random bird and fly the note to Jon to get around those who might intercept the traditional raven messaging. However, maybe he didnt have the urgency to do anything like that until Sam arrived to complete the other part of the story, that Jon isn’t just Leanna Stark’s son but also a Targaryen’s son and rightful heir to the Throne. If anything, though, that might further embolden him to deliver the message in person (or have Sam do it) because these are now state’s secrets which (for the betterment of all) absolutely cannot and should not get out.

      Reply

      1. It seemed pretty clear to me that Bran didn’t know about Jon’s parent’s wedding. He still thought Jon was a bastard. Just a Sand bastard and not a Snow one.

        The urgency likely didn’t exist until Bran knew about the annulment and new marriage. In fact, Bran probably realized it was best if NO ONE knew John was a Sand instead of a Snow.

      2. Actually, it’s pretty funny that Bran said he knows and see’s EVERYTHING, but then it turns out he only has the ABILITY to know and see ANYTHING. It appears to be something he has to actively seek out, which means he’s limited by time in what he can see. And he seems to have to know a bit about what he’s looking for, first.

        He knew about the parents of Jon but not about the wedding until Sam mentioned it. Only then did Bran go witness it.

      3. I’d actually assumed Bran already knew, and that Sam and Gilly’s investigating was simply going to be the confirmation. It was funny then to see Bran actually having to go back into one of his visions and realizing, “Oh, there was way more to this than I realized. Details, details.”

      4. Have we witnessed any evidence of Bran actually seeing the future? Or only the past and present? I don’t recall seeing anything about the future.

      5. Fair point. I misspoke when I said “all of history” since I guess that would imply the future as well. No, there’s no evidence he can see the future. He can simply see the past and wharg around to observe the present.

  5. I really loved the two family meetings with Cercei. The confrontations with both Tyrian and Jaime were masterfully done. I half expected Jaime to fulfill the book’s prophecy and strangle her right there. Or slice her throat before Mountain could intervene.

    Reply

    1. The Cersei-Jamie scene is definitely the one I think of most when I say that the finale was surprising in how few characters it definitely killed off. Littlefinger is gone, but it really felt like the Jamie-Cersei confrontation was going to give us the episode’s biggest death. Instead, he called her bluff, and rode away to refind his honor, lucky that Mountain Zombie held back and understood he was only really ordered to scare Jamie not kill him.

      Reply

  6. Don’t you think Cercei’s guards were rather negligent to let the dead creature get that close to her? She should have been livid and had them all executed. In fact, had Hound not had it chained, Cercei would be dead. Actually, that might have been a good thing. But, all in all, it was very unrealistic for all her guards, including Mountain, to stand idly by when the creature was uncrated. Even before it began to charge, they would have stood in front of her as a human shield.

    Reply

    1. Well, it’s hard to say “unrealistic” when we’re talking about zombie guards and the skeletal undead, but I take your point. Tactically, it defies logic that Cersei would ever have been allowed to get that close to one of those things (even if her guards could see the Hound pulling on the creature’s chains they wouldn’t simply trust that he would do it in time).

      Reply

      1. In every quality TV show and movie that had royal guards, the guards all instantly and instinctively jumped to put themselves between their charge and any potential danger. The should have been on their way to do just that before it even registered that an undead creature was about to charge the queen.

        It might have been best all around if Hound at just let the creature take Cercei out. And her meister, too. They’re really the only two that seem to be pushing to resist the North and now Danny.

  7. Did anyone else think of Cool Hand Luke during Theon’s beating at the beach?


    What do you think Tyrion was thinking when he realized Danny and Jon had become lovers?


    Are any of the Dire Wolves still alive, besides Arya’s, who went feral?


    Is there any significance to Baratheon’s rebellion being based on a lie? Does it change anything in “today’s” political reality? Or is the only significant thing about Jon’s parentage?


    I thought it was quite brilliant of Cercei to deduce that something must have killed the third dragon because Danny only brought two.


    Did anyone else catch that lovesick look by Jorah when Danny agreed to sail with Jon?

    Reply

    1. Did anyone else think of Cool Hand Luke during Theon’s beating at the beach?

      -I actually more flashed to Captain America: The First Avenger and his “I could do this all day” beat down, but Cool Hand Luke is a good reference.

      What do you think Tyrion was thinking when he realized Danny and Jon had become lovers?

      -I more assumed that as the true diplomat of the group he found their union concerning for how much it’s going to muddy the water politically, particularly in the North. However, there are now various online theories that his reaction either meant Tryion has fallen in love with Dany himself (yeah, pass) or that he’d made some deal with Cersei contingent on her baby succeeding the throne when childless Dany dies and now he’s worried Jon will muck it all up by getting Dany pregnant (hmmm, maybe).

      Are any of the Dire Wolves still alive, besides Arya’s, who went feral?

      -Jon’s is, even though we haven’t seen it since season 6.

      Is there any significance to Baratheon’s rebellion being based on a lie? Does it change anything in “today’s” political reality? Or is the only significant thing about Jon’s parentage?

      -Short term, Jon’s parentage is the most significant takeaway. Long term, if all of Westeros learns the Targaryen boy and Stark girl were actually in love and married it might change their opinion of the Targaryens, but only somewhat since Dany’s dad was still the Mad King and this doesn’t change anything he did.

      I thought it was quite brilliant of Cercei to deduce that something must have killed the third dragon because Danny only brought two.

      -I like to think that had Tyrion been consulted he would have adviced Dany against flying her dragons into King’s Landing for exactly that reason. She did it as a show of power and instead offered up free intel to her enemy.

      Did anyone else catch that lovesick look by Jorah when Danny agreed to sail with Jon?

      -I did. Poor Jorah. Always the leper colony Bridesmaid…

      Reply

      1. –> “-Jon’s is, even though we haven’t seen it since season 6.”

        Sad. That would would have been a great addition to Jon’s most recent mission to nab one of the wights.

  8. –> “The Stark daughters have now proved more capable at playing the Game than their father, besting the man who was instrumental in bringing about Ned’s demise.”

    Well, the sisters DID have the advantage of having the Three Eyed Raven to give them literally ANY hidden information or dangers they needed to know about. Maybe Ned would have been better at the game if he’d had the same advantage.

    Reply

    1. It amuses me to think that Ned would have declined to use such an advantage because he’d be too old-fashioned to trust such devil magic, but, yeah, if he had some dude who could just see all of Westeros history by simply sitting next to a weird-looking tree he would have been hard to fool as well. Like I said in the review, it’s almost unfair, but it is the one thing Littlefinger never could have anticipated, not with how far from public memory the concept of the Three Eyed Raven had fallen by the time Bran ever ventured beyond the Wall in search of him. If he at least understood and/or believed what the Three Eyed Raven-monicker meant he might have gotten the fuck away from Winterfell and Brann as fast as possible, or, as you asked about earlier in the season, at least tried to kill him.

      Reply

  9. –> “The former’s scheming and manipulation was perfectly in character ”

    Yes, the scheming was in character, but I really don’t understand her reasoning for the the triple flip. How was saying yes then no then yes again only to end up not sending any armies at all a masterful move?

    Sure, Jon’s armies will now be expecting to have Danny’s army there, but long before he’s depending on them, he’ll see they’re not coming.

    In this regard, the Stark sisters’ deception rang more true than Cercei’s. While the latter was certainly more in character, the multiple twists seemed more for OUR benefit than hers.

    Whereas the Starks really did need that subterfuge for their survival. Were they hitting above their weight class? Sure. But, it’s within reason. Sansa learned a lot from both Cercei and Littlefinger. Arya learned a lot on her journeys, too. Add the advantage of a brother who can go view any event past or present and you’ve got a very believable ability to best Littlefinger. Plus, Littlefinger was likely a bit blinded by his feelings for Sansa.

    I bought their deception far more than Cercei’s whiplash inducing one.

    Reply

  10. –> “or why the Vale was so easily swayed to turn on Littlefinger without any proof beyond spooky Brann’s dispassionate word ”

    Actually, the accusations relating to the Vale had Sansa’s first hand account and did not rely on Brann. I also suspect that the Vale leaders never liked or fully trusted Littlefinger and were all too happy to take Sansa’s word over his.

    Add to that Littlefinger’s non-denial and it’s very reasonable they’d refuse to follow him.

    Reply

  11. –> “Robin’s not going to like this”

    Robin loved his mother in a deep and somewhat sick way. Once he learned Littlefinger killed her, he’ll be fine with Sansa’s decision.

    Reply

    1. That is if he believes that Littlefinger actually did it. He seemed to love him, just in a more healthy way than his icky love for his mother. But Robin’s concerns probably ceased mattering to this show a long time ago, and we’re the better for it. A kid that old. Stil breastfeeding. [Homer Simpson shudder]

      Reply

  12. –> “Did the payoff make all of that go away? Was Littlefinger’s death cathartic enough ”

    Yes and no — for me. On the one hand, there was poetic justice that he was killed with his own knife — the one he tried to have Brann killed with — the one he gifted to Brann. It was also smart to kill him quickly and surely to be certain he didn’t somehow weasel his way out of it.

    On the other hand, I really wanted to see him suffer long and hard. His death was too quick and not painful enough to feel he got what he deserved.

    Reply

    1. “His death was too quick and not painful enough to feel he got what he deserved.”

      Agreed.

      Reply

  13. –> ” We’ve now seen what they did with these first 7 episodes, and it felt overly compressed to the point that various plot holes were created for the sake of expediency.”

    I 100% agree. Clearly their line about only needing 13 to properly finish the story was written by a PR person. The whole season felt rushed and truncated — everything except Sam’s montage of grunt work, which went on way too long.,

    Reply

    1. The reasoning I’ve now seen is that the magic number of 13 might be a matter of simply devoting more money to effects budgets per episode while also holding cast salaries down (cheaper to pay them for 13 instead of 20). There’s a practical logic to that. Plus, we already know they’ve been killing themselves to finish these 10-episode seasons due to the sprawling locations and extensive post-production work. Maybe they just wanted to try and work harder on a shorter season where they could focus more on getting everything right and have more time. Or maybe they just really thought the story only truly needed 13 hours to be finished.

      Whatever the reasoning, it didn’t go according to plan. This was a fun, but clearly rushed batch of episodes, and the fact that they only have 6 left to wrap it up only adds to the concern that next season will feel exactly the same.

      Reply

      1. Yes, it feels very much like wrapping up The Wheel of Time. The last half of Robert Jordon’s books CRAAAAWWWLLLLED. And he introduced a dozen or so significant side plots. When he died Brandon Sanderson was expected to wrap everything up in a single book. After researching it and thinking it through, he determined he couldn’t do it in less than three. And even with the three, parts of the main plot felt rushed and most of the side plots were left hanging.

        (though I don’t blame Brandon for any of that.)

      2. That’s very much so what Game of Thrones is starting to feel like. A novel finished by someone else. A film completed by someone else. A TV series that fires/loses its showrunner and tries to soldier on without them to diminshed returns (e.g., Community, Gilmore Girls). It’s not the grand disappointment or outright betrayal of what came before, as often happens in these situations, but it is in the territory where something has unmistakably changed.

      3. In the case of Wheel of Time, I think Sanderson would have produced much better output if he’d have taken over the writing after The Great Hunt. Maybe they could have teamed up, with Jordon proving the plot outline and character descriptions with Sanderson penning the prose.

        I swear, it got to the point where I thought Robert was getting paid by the word.

  14. I also agree with you that the quality of story telling was noticably diminished once Martin’s material was used up. GOT DID become more typical of other shows. Still better than most but not the masterpiece of Martin’s seasons.

    Reply

    1. “Still better than most but not the masterpiece of Martin’s seasons.”

      Agreed. Still a show worthy of our time and endless conversations, but lacking a bit of magic away from Martin’s tutelage.

      Reply

  15. One question about the Theon Cool Hand Luke scene…

    Why is it a punch or a kick every else sends Theon reeling, but simply because his Junk has been cut off he’s virtually invulnerable between his legs???

    Reply

    1. I think they were simply playing that as a very broad joke, but it went on just a bit too long. Catch the enemy off guard when he hits you *there* and it doesn’t immediately send you into unimaginable pain. Don’t then repeat it multiple times as if Theon was Hulk Hogan coming back to life thanks to all of the Hulkamaniacs in the crowd whose cheers make him invulnerable to pain.

      Reply

      1. Yeah, it was pretty clumsy.

        You could just hear Theon’s slow brain going. “Yeah, that didn’t hurt because my junk was cut off. Hey, you can knee me there all you want and it’s not going to hurt. OHHHH, wait a minute. Maybe in THIS case, having my junk cut off is a strength and not a weakness. Maybe I AM man enough. Hey look, this guy is still confused. Maybe I should take advantage of that. Yeah, yeah, oh, oh, I know. Head butt! ”

        Your comparison to Hulk Hogan is a good one.

        This could have played out much better with a single knee to the groin, a surprised look by the thug, and wicked grin of realization by Theon, and then a quick butt to the head. We didn’t need three or four knees to the groin.

        And again, just because the junk is gone doesn’t mean getting slammed down there doesn’t hurt they same way getting slammed anywhere else does.

      2. “This could have played out much better with a single knee to the groin, a surprised look by the thug, and wicked grin of realization by Theon, and then a quick butt to the head. We didn’t need three or four knees to the groin.”

        It seems so obvious, right. Don’t know why they didn’t see that.

      3. Well, 20/20 vision in hindsight. It’s fair to say the writers are dealing with thousands of details and as much as I like to complain about these oversights, they’re still doing a pretty amazing job. I’m pretty good at noticing flaws but there’s certainly no way I could actually CREATE anything nearly as good or comprehensive as they’ve done. I’d have so many flaws in my creation people could write whole books about where and how I messed up — except they wouldn’t because no one would care. 🙂

  16. New information from TV dot com…

    A cut scene revealed Sansa was not playing Littlefinger. She actually had been falling under his spell and really did suspect Arya of wanting to kill her. I actually HATE that this is the case. BUT, it actually means YOU were more right than wrong about the girls’ ability to outplay the master manipulator…

    According to Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays Bran Stark in the show, Sansa’s storyline was not as manipulative as all that — she really did fall under Littlefinger’s thrall and came dangerously close to killing Arya. We just couldn’t tell because the scene explaining all that was cut from the finale.

    “We actually did a scene that clearly got cut, a short scene with Sansa where she knocks on Bran’s door and says, ‘I need your help,’ or something along those lines,” Hempstead-Wright told Variety. “So basically, as far as I know, the story was that it suddenly occurred to Sansa that she had a huge CCTV department at her discretion and it might be a good idea to check with him first before she guts her own sister. So she goes to Bran, and Bran tells her everything she needs to know, and she’s like, ‘Oh, s—.'”

    Reply

    1. Yeah, I just read about that this morning and felt the same as you do, specifically that the existence of this scene actually weakens the entire plot line. It’s not so much “they were playing him” as it is “they almost fell for it.” Any thought of “Well, that scene with the two of them and the faces was just acting, and they assumed someone was listening in on their conversation” is out the window. No, Arya really did spook her sister like that for no good reason other than Littlefinger was messing with them.

      Thats…well, that’s disappointing.

      Reply

      1. My guess is that the directors/producers recognized that the scene diminished the story. But if that was the case, the actors should have been told to shut up about the scene. I’m going to do my best to ignore what Bran’s actor said and base my interpretation on the story we were actually given.

        For example, Brandon Sanderson’s first draft of Mistborn had the protagonist as a boy. As he read his draft he felt it wasn’t working and so he experimented with changing Min to a girl and determined it was way better.

        So, that’s sort of like a deleted scene, right? It doesn’t mean I should think of Min as a boy just because it was written that way in a draft. I should base my understanding of the story on the published version.

        (It’s a weak comparison but I’m going to cling to it, anyway!) 😀

      2. Yeah, you’re obviously free to simply ignore a deleted scene. Sometimes they improve the film/show, sometimes they were deleted for an obvious reason. They can act as a bit of trivia for you and inform your view of the writing, directing and editing of the impacted work, but it doesn’t have to actually impact any kind of storyline unless you let it.

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