Title: Game of Thrones: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
Air Date: August 27, 2017
Before we begin – Yes, there is Game of Thrones spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Read our reviews for earlier episodes this season:
- Season 7 Premiere: “Dragonstone“
- Episode 2: “Stormborn“
- Episode 3: “The Queen’s Justice“
- Episode 4: “The Spoils of War“
- Episode 5: “Eastwatch“
- Episode 6: “Beyond the Wall“
That’s what we’ve all been waiting for. Game of Thrones has been fast and loose with timelines, heavy on fan service, and… generous in asking for our suspension of disbelief this season. Even still, all it takes is an episode like “The Dragon and the Wolf” to bring us all back into the fold. Easily the best episode of the season, the finale of season seven made up for a lot of the pacing issues we’ve seen throughout the season.
We had two main storylines in the episode: Winterfell and King’s Landing. We also had that little undead dragon torching (?) the Wall part, and a bit of high seas incest, but we’ll get there. Let’s start in the south because that’s where most of the action went down.
Dany sure knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t she? The Unsullied, lined up in formation, had Bronn and Jaime discussing why men without… parts would still fight. Then the Dothraki showed up, weaving amongst them. Onto the ship carrying several of our heroes, and the Hound knocked on a casket. Something inside is certainly not pleased. This meeting should be fun.
Meanwhile, Cersei makes plans about the order people should die in should things go wrong. Following this charming conversation, we get some excellent reunions. Bronn-Tyrion, Jaime-Brienne, Pod-Tyrion. Brienne-Hound was especially interesting, as she informed him that Arya is still alive and in Winterfell, which seemed to cheer the Hound right up. These little reunions are a lot of fun, but then we all arrive in the Dragon Pit.
Here’s where we get several of our big meetings that fans have been itching for. It did not disappoint. The Cleganes come face to face. The dragons arrive, visibly impressing everyone except Cersei. Euron tries to chest up in front of Theon, before being put in his place, then leaving once he discovers the undead cannot swim (although that may be a diversion). The still moving zombie is released, and Qyburn is a bit too interested in it for anyone to be OK with. Jon will not lie to Cersei, even for the good of the realm, and swears allegiance to Daenerys. Brienne tries to talk sense into Jaime, who realizes his sister is too far gone and he will do nothing about it. Finally, Tyrion and Cersei have a good old sit down.
The scene in the Dragon Pit was beautifully shot and gave us what Game of Thrones has been needing for some time: a true reminder of the stakes. Sure, we’ve seen dragons and zombies and battles galore, but this is ultimately a show about people. Seeing the way different characters with different views and different loyalties respond to one another is why this is such an amazing series, and it was wonderful for this episode to bring that back to the forefront.
Speaking of, the meeting between Tyrion and Cersei was one of the best scenes that Game of Thrones has ever put forth. These two powerhouse actors, perfectly inhabiting these two powerhouse characters, made for a beautiful few minutes of television. Even after it is all said and done, you’re left wondering who played who. The disdain the two hold for one another was palpable, and it was a great example of just what this show can accomplish with a couple of actors in a room.
Still, Cersei’s pledge to join Jon and Dany’s cause was a bit telegraphed, even if it did seem initially shocking. The fact that everyone bought it will come back to bite her, but Cersei’s plot seems rather short-sighted.
However, in the actual “character development” realm, it was nice to see Theon grow a pair (metaphorically). His confrontation with Jon was another great bit of character acting, as Alfie Allen channeled all the hatred, suffering, and abuse that his character has gone through (and perpetrated) in claiming his quest for vengeance. Seeing him stand up for himself in a clash of words and a separate one of fists was immensely satisfying, and it will certainly come as a shock when he arrives at Pyke to confront Euron and it turns out Euron is halfway across the world.
About that… Cersei is in far over her head if she thinks Euron’s fleet and a mercenary crew are going to take out Dany, Jon, or any zombies that might be left. Despite that, I still thought the Mountain was going to murder Jaime when he tried to walk out. How fitting would it have been: both brothers offered it, yet Cersei only takes out her lover and not the brother she’s hated her entire life? The snow falling on Jaime’s glove, then over the map of Westeros, was a pretty fitting end to our time in King’s Landing with this episode.
Outside of King’s Landing, our other main action took place in Winterfell. Sansa and her creepy uncle Littlefinger did a bit more plotting, where Sansa listened to his advice about “assuming the worst” of Arya. Thank God she pulled through and delivered the killing blow to Baelish instead of letting his whispers get the best of her. The “trial” scene was another phenomenal bit in an episode full of them, as Littlefinger pulled out every trick in his arsenal to try to save his skin – acting confused, professing innocence, demanding loyalty, and finally begging. It was a bit sad that Sansa did not do it herself (and how did Arya get the knife back?), but it was a satisfying and long time coming Game of Thrones death to see the Starks finally finish off a man who had caused their family so much grief.
Also up north, Sam arrived at Winterfell, and he and Bran put together what we all already had: Jon is not a bastard at all, and in fact is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Bran’s confirmation was good to see, traveling through time and confirming it all. So, of course, we had to skip to a sex scene between an aunt and her nephew. Jon and Daenerys have been making ga-ga eyes at one another for a few episodes now, so it’s about time. Still, the timing of the the revelation with the timing of the… thrusts was a little off-putting. Whatever – there has been plenty of incest in this show; I guess we just need to go with it.
Finally, we got to see last week’s ice dragon in action, demolishing the Wall and setting up the final season’s big conflict. How Jon, Dany, and the rest of our heroes are going to stop the Night King now is tough to guess at, but it made for an excellent cliffhanger and a great cap to a fantastic episode of Game of Thrones. I’m sure we all hate how long we have to wait until it returns, but at least this finale made up for a few lackluster episodes.
Verdict: A fantastic finale, right when Game of Thrones needed it. The combination of fan service, spectacle scenes, and tense dialogue made for a riveting ninety minutes, and easily the best episode of the season. When called on, every actor knocked it out of the park with their scenes. The final Game of Thrones season has a lot to live up to.
- Great bits of individual acting: Tyrion, Cersei, Jaime, Sansa, Littlefinger, Theon... Every character was phenomenal.
- Set the scene for the final season.
- Ice dragon reveal was excellent.
- Fantastic writing.
- It's how long until next season?