Compared to last week’s action-heavy sequences, ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ is a relatively low-key affair. It comes at the tail end of a season that has been travelling at a breakneck pace, filling in every spare second with an exhilarating battle or game-changing twist. And yet despite this, it offers pretty much everything we have been itching for in its trademark mix of spectacle and thoughtfulness.
The last time we saw a gathering of this many characters in the one place was perhaps the very first episode of Season 1. This alone is enough to indicate the sheer proportion of the ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’.
The menacing towers of the Red Keep solemnly welcome Jon as he sails into King’s Landing for the first time in his life. The city holds special significances for each character. For Jon, it is where his family’s downfall started; for Tyrion, it was where his own father tried to have him executed. We have come to attach a sense of foreboding with King’s Landing, and it has never been so present as it has been in the opening moments of this episode.
As you would expect with this congregation going on, reunions are happening everywhere. Some of them are merely expressions of relief to see each other alive. Others, like Brienne and the Hound’s, are more complicated—what do you say to someone who you once intended to kill? Regardless, we can easily appreciate that so many of our favourite characters are at least temporarily at peace with each other.
Entering the Colosseum-like Dragonpit, the Hound derides his older brother in a brief teaser for the near-certain Cleganebowl sure to take place in Season 8. Team Dany and Team Cersei silently square off against each other, interrupted only by the screech of dragons descending from the sky. Upon Drogon’s back, Daenerys is seated in a show of immense power. She is determined to be seen as the stronger Queen.
Euron’s teasing of Theon is pushed aside for the moment in the face of larger concerns. Peace at this point is impossible; instead, Jon suggests that they temporarily put aside their differences to fight the encroaching army of the dead.
This isn’t about living in harmony. It’s just about living.
Cersei’s scepticism quickly turns to fear when the captured wight is brought out. Even Qyburn is suitably impressed by the undeniable evidence.
But it is Euron who is the first to speak up. Seeing as wights cannot swim, he immediately drops all plans to marry Cersei and retreats to the Iron Islands.
This demonstration is enough for Cersei to offer her own armies for the cause, on the condition that Jon stands down from his alliances and remains in the North. Foolishly making the same mistake that Ned Stark did, Jon puts his honour above everything else and rejects the offer. A furious Cersei storms from the meeting and everyone is rightly pissed off at Jon for ruining their chance at survival.
With their plan in ruins, Tyrion attempts to make amends with Cersei alone. The danger of the situation is clear. She is not an easy person to sway. Even Jaime’s attempts to make her see reason are unsuccessful.
Considering that Cersei blames her little brother for almost everything that has gone wrong, their confrontation goes better than expected,. The layers of emotion between the two siblings are so well expressed, and yet so expertly concealed, both Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage deserve the highest praise for everything that goes on in this scene.
Tyrion’s test of Cersei’s hatred cuts deeply, and all at once her pain and weakness flash in her eyes. Despite his insistence, she cannot bring herself to kill her brother. Perhaps there is a sliver of kindness left in her cold, rotting heart.
Back in the Dragonpit, Daenerys and Jon have a little chat. The sexual tension is built, and the possibility the Dany can still bear children is touched upon. With all this foreshadowing, it seems entirely probable that we will get a Targaryen baby very soon.
Tyrion and Cersei’s return to the Dragonpit heralds good news. Whatever Tyrion told Cersei in private seems to have worked – she agrees to supply the forces to fight in the oncoming Great War, with the hope that her generosity will be remembered kindly when it is won.
With the meeting over and their enemies safely back home, Cersei reconvenes with Jaime one on one. Unsurprisingly, everything that Cersei agreed to was merely a lie to have her enemies stand down. Euron is not heading home either—that was also a trick to distract from his real plan to sail to Essos and secure the Golden Company, an army of sellswords.
Jaime has been pushed around and belittled for too long, but this time Cersei’s defiance and distrust has been taken too far. Ready to storm and abandon his sister altogether, he is right on the verge of being executed on the spot. But once again, she cannot bring herself to murder her brother, and so Jaime storms out and rides north to join Team Dany.
If Cersei’s children are what kept her sane, then it was Jaime who kept her human. Her family held her life together, and the most important piece of that was Jaime. This whole season we have seen him lose faith in his sister, and so his abandonment of her feels completely deserved. It also teases a terrifying Season 8 Cersei who has nothing left to lose except her unborn child.
The final shot of King’s Landing for this season reveals the snow begin to descend upon the city. Winter has finally come.
Lord Baelish is stirring trouble in Winterfell. The news that Jon has bent the knee to Daenerys is met with disappointment from Sansa. Along with Arya’s recent threats, it is the prime time to turn the Lady of Winterfell against her siblings. He prescribes her an exercise in analysing others’ motives.
Assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do?
He sends her imagination wild, coming up with far-fetched ideas that cast Arya as the villain in her life. Paranoid and scared, Sansa calls for Arya to be brought to the Great Hall.
And what a scene that turns out to be. Sansa begins the official proceedings by reading out the charges.
You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges… Lord Baelish?
As these lines were broadcast I could have sworn I heard a silent cheer echo across the world. Everything that has happened in Winterfell over the past weeks, every sisterly feud that took place, was all a part of a scheme to bring down Littlefinger.
For the first time, we see him absolutely desperate. He tries everything—outright denial, appealing to Sansa to remember his love for her, asserting his power as Lord of the Vale, and finally, begging on his knees. The brokenness in his voice would be painful to listen to if it was anyone else. But this is Littlefinger, and having Arya slash his throat with the very dagger that started it all makes for a fitting end to the master manipulator.
At last we get the scene we always wanted out of the Stark reunion. Arya and Sansa together without any animosity, and with simple appreciation for the family they still have remaining.
When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.
Ned Stark’s family values resonate through his children. Now that we have seen them overcome the discord that Littlefinger has brought to their House, their unity in Season 8 will be nearly impossible to destroy.
After ditching the Citadel in the dead of night back in episode 5, Sam and Gilly finally arrive in Winterfell. Bran entrusts Sam with the secret of Jon’s heritage, and together the two drop a huge (yet predictable) twist—Jon is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne.
And his real name?
Meanwhile on a ship heading north, the sexual tension between Jon and Dany explodes in a night of passionate lovemaking. Interweaved with the story of Rhaegar and Lyanna, the parallels are clear. Both couples are the Dragon and the Wolf; the song of ice and fire; the joining of Houses Targaryen and Stark.
The implications of this are massive, and it looks like it will drive the politics of Season 8 between Daenerys and Jon. What meaning is there in being named after Aegon the Conqueror? Does Jon even want the throne? How will this affect his relationship with Dany? So many questions, and only 6 more episodes left to see them answered.
Back to the drawing board in Dragonstone, Jon strategises their move north to face the army of the dead. His exudes confidence and bravery in every line, and this does not go unnoticed by a certain eunuch in the room.
Theon shares many similarities with Jon—both are children of nobles rejected from their own families, and both have tried to take their pain and used it to make something out of themselves. Their stories diverged when Theon chose to betray the Starks for personal gain, leading to the birth of Reek. Now he is on the path to redemption, inspired by Jon’s bravery to rally the tiny Greyjoy fleet and rescue his kidnapped sister.
The choice between being a Greyjoy or a Stark has always been central to Theon’s character, and so Jon’s words of encouragement are also a sneaky nod to his own heritage.
You don’t need to choose. You’re a Greyjoy, and you’re a Stark.
While many people would accuse the Greyjoy storyline of being irrelevant, I truly appreciate that Theon and Yara’s stories have not been forgotten.
It is only appropriate that the last few minutes of Season 7 are spent with the White Walkers, watching them boldly cross into the Seven Kingdoms. A reanimated Viserion rises from the fog, upon which the Night King impressively rides. The image is a little cheesy but his power is made all too clear as the dragon breathes a strange magical blue fire and destroys an entire portion of the Wall.
Tormund and Beric are in the wrong place at the wrong time, pacing atop the wall as it crumbles. The implication is that they perished, but with no explicit death scene it is likely they will turn up in Season 8.
So, the army of the dead crosses the broken barrier into the land of the living. I have no words for this. The terror is real.
This resolution to a season that was jam-packed with huge events and battles was actually pretty satisfying. ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ delivered on the beautiful character dialogue that we had been craving, with some significant developments and multiple redemption arcs kicking off.
It may simply be a repetition of what we were saying at the end of Season 6, but right now all the pieces are set in the exact place they need to be for the climax to unfurl. Jaime has left Cersei, Jon and Dany are official, the Starks are happily reunited, and everyone is prepared to throw themselves into whatever comes next.
It has been a season of ups and downs, but ‘The Wolf and the Dragon’ ultimately ends the rocky journey on a high note.
What did you think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below!