Monday, August 28, 2017

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: The Dragon and The Wolf Season Seven Finale

Well I thought that was a good finale to a show that has felt rushed this year. The show runners closed down some plot lines in a satisfying manner. 

And in this finale some of the actors got to stretch themselves. The problem was just as with Martin the show runners ended this installment on a cliffhanger. Some things came out of left field in a good way. Others, eh. I think the pacing could have been better done this season.

The Unsullied have made it back to King's Landing from their Casterly Rock sojourn and boy are they p*****d. Well actually they probably aren't since they're unfeeling warriors with no distractions like male sex organs to amplify emotions. And because The Unsullied all wear face obscuring helmets/faceguards you couldn't really tell their emotional state of mind anyway. They are formed up outside King's Landing. 

Bronn is overseeing battle preparations along with Jaime. Bronn likes his new authority. He and Jaime, well mostly Bronn, wonder how an army of eunuchs stays motivated since in Bronn's experience sex is the primary motivation for most men, and just about all soldiers he's ever known. The Dothraki arrive doing their howling and screaming thing. Bronn sees this and orders more armaments to be found. But as we will shortly see, the fight won't be necessary. 

In a sequence that reminded me strangely enough of the scene from West Side Story where everyone is getting ready for the big dance we see that all of the players are readying themselves for the Five Families Sitdown meeting between Cersei, Daenerys and Jon.

Cersei wonders aloud to Qyburn why Daenerys hasn't shown up yet and gives orders to the undead Mountain as to who to kill first if things go sideways. The Hound is checking on the wight to make sure it's still dead. 

As Bronn escorts everyone to the Dragonpit The Hound sees that Brienne is already there. They exchange pleasantries, or at least what passes as such for the Hound. Brienne is surprised he is alive. She tells him that Arya is at Winterfell. He wants to know who is protecting her. Tyrion and Bronn trade insults but really they are happy to see each other again. Tyrion jokingly or not so jokingly inquires about buying Bronn's loyalty again. Bronn points out that Cersei has a very low opinion of treason.

At the Dragonpit Bronn walks off with Pod. All of the entrances are guarded by Lannister soldiers. The Hound gets a bad feeling about this; he again tells Tyrion that Lannisters in general have bad ideas. Tyrion ripostes that that might could be but Cleganes usually help put those ideas in motion.

Cersei enters the pit dressed in her Lord of The Rings meets Darth Vader clothing, accompanied by Jaime, The Mountain, Euron, her Queensguard and Qyburn. The Hound walks up to The Mountain, curious to see how much of his brother is still there and if The Mountain remembers that The Hound is going to finish him. Daenerys enters with her three two dragons. It's an entrance which seemingly impresses Euron and others but Cersei isn't having it. She complains to Daenerys that Daenerys is late. Euron insults Theon and just for kicks, apparently, Tyrion. After all the proper threats and invective are hurled Cersei demands to know why they are here. 

Tyrion starts to explain that they obviously don't like each other but that there are greater threats. Rather than deal with more disdain from Euron and Cersei, Tyrion decides to just do the show and tell. The Hound brings up the box containing the wight. He opens the box top. Nothing happens. The Hound grimaces and kicks the box. 

The wight explodes out of the box and heads straight for Cersei. Unfortunately it's on a chain and can't reach Cersei. But everyone is suitably shocked and horrified. The Hound cuts the wight in half but doesn't kill it. Jon explains to Cersei that fire and dragonglass will kill a wight. He kills it. Qyburn is fascinated with the reanimated dead man.

When Euron hears that the dead can't swim he says that everyone else is on their own. He's heading back to the Iron Islands. Cersei says that given this new information she's open to a truce, provided that the King in The North stay in the North. 

Showing both the lack of diplomacy and the honor/honesty before reason which characterizes the Starks, Jon responds that he'd love to do that but at this point he's pledged to Daenerys so he's not really the King in the North anymore. Cersei says then there is nothing to discuss. F*** all y'all!!! 

The meeting breaks up. Davos and Daenerys berate Jon for being too damn honest and stupid. Jon responds that yes he knows that people said the same thing about his father (Ned) but that a decent society requires people to tell the truth.  Daenerys says she can respect that. There's a long two-shot of Daenerys and Jon looking into each other's eyes. Brienne tries to get Jaime to talk to Cersei but he's dismissive. Tyrion says he will talk to Cersei. Jaime's like good luck with that kiddo!

There is an intense scene between Cersei and Tyrion in which the two siblings lay their emotions bare. There's bad blood which may never be healed. Cersei believes in her heart that Tyrion wants to destroy the Lannisters. She thinks that if her father had been alive that no enemy would have dared to lift a finger against the Lannisters. 

This isn't entirely rational as Littlefinger/Queen of Thorns murdered Joffrey while Tywin was alive but we're beyond rational thought here. How many siblings would be rational when dealing with another sibling who committed patricide? Cersei isn't interested in Tyrion's reasons or Tyrion's anger and hurt that Tywin was going to kill him for a crime Tywin knew he didn't commit.

Tyrion says whatever else Cersei may think she knows deep down that he loved Tommen and Myrcella. Tyrion challenges Cersei to kill him then. She's clearly considering it. Cersei says that she doesn't care about making the world a better place for her fellow humans but does care about protecting her own. Tyrion realizes from Cersei's response that she is pregnant. Later, interrupting Jon and Daenerys' goo-goo eyes fest, Cersei and Tyrion return. Cersei will order her armies to march north with Daenerys' forces.

At Dragonstone, Daenerys, Jon and her team are discussing logistics and diplomacy. Jorah argues that for security purposes Daenerys fly north instead of taking a ship and riding. A lot of Northerners have long (bad) memories about Targaryens.

Jon disagrees, pointing out that if Daenerys wants to win over the North she needs to get out among the people. Just his opinion of course. Daenerys agrees with Jon's opinion. And you can tell by Jorah's reaction that his heart is crushed yet again, perhaps for the final time. Not only will he not get any, Daenerys is not even taking his advice any more. Theon attempts a halting reconciliation with Jon. 

Theon is embarrassed and hurt about his actions and how his life has turned out. Theon says that even back in the day that Jon always knew what was right. Jon dismisses this, saying he's made plenty of mistakes. He has lots of regrets. Jon says he can't forgive Theon for everything that Theon has done. But what he can forgive he does. Theon is confused about his identity but Jon doesn't think he should be. Ned Stark was a better father to Theon than Balon was. Theon is a Stark and Greyjoy as far as Jon is concerned. 

When Theon expresses his sadness/anger about leaving Yara in Euron's clutches, Jon says why are you still talking to me? Thus motivated Theon goes back to his crew and says we're going back to rescue Yara. His number two disagrees. This being an Iron Island crew things quickly turn physical. Theon is getting beat like a rented mule. But he won't stay down. His opponent tries a knee to the groin but has forgotten that Theon no longer has any family jewels to damage. Theon turns the table and beats his rival to a pulp, leaving him on the beach. I'm not sure if the man is dead or not but it doesn't matter. Theon's going home.

In King's Landing Jaime is also discussing logistics and travel plans with Lannister generals when Cersei interrupts. She wants a word alone with Jaime. She's not sending any armies north. Jaime is like "huh"? Cersei thinks Jaime is stupid. She thinks he didn't learn enough wisdom from their father. But she did. Cersei says let her enemies and monsters kill each other. She will consolidate Lannister rule over the South. And by the way didn't Jaime notice that Daenerys was down a dragon? Something else is going on. 

And Jaime is really dumb if he thinks that Euron just went home. Nope. Euron is going to Esson to ferry over the Golden Company mercenaries, hired with Iron Bank money. Nobody walks out on Cersei. The game isn't over until Cersei says it's over. Jaime is shocked and hurt that Cersei is working with Euron behind his back but Cersei thinks that (a) now you know how I felt when you worked with Tyrion and (b) I'm Queen and you're not. Jaime doesn't think they can win but more importantly Jaime agreed to go north. And go north he will. The Mountain gets in his way. Like his brother before him Jaime challenges Cersei to kill him. And just as with Tyrion, Cersei won't do it. Yet? Jaime rides north. Alone.

At Winterfell, Sansa has received word of Jon's decision to bend the knee. She's not happy. Littlefinger is there to pour gasoline on Sansa's burning resentments. Littlefinger says to assume the worst of your enemies. 

That is how you will know what they will do and how they think. And Jon and Arya are enemies of Sansa's. Littlefinger says that just as Jon was named King in The North, he can be unnamed. And he wouldn't trust Arya either. In fact Littlefinger suggests that Arya is planning to kill Sansa to become Lady of Winterfell. Sansa is well within her rights to deal harshly with Arya, as treason is no joke. Good thing that Littlefinger is her friend. He has her back.

Later, Sansa is watching the snow fall. She orders her guards to bring Arya to the great hall. Time to end this treason stuff once and for all. The Northern and Vale Lords are there, as are Bran and Littlefinger. Littlefinger is wearing his customary smirk. Arya looks around. She asks Sansa if she is sure she wants to do this. Sansa nods. She says "You are accused of treason and murder. How do you answer the charge...Lord Baelish"

This is obviously not what Littlefinger had in mind. He denies and dissembles but Sansa confronts him about his murder of Lysa Arryn (Tully), his order of the murder of Jon Arryn and his lie to Ned and Catelyn that it was the Lannisters who were responsible. Littlefinger argues okay he did that but it was for love. Bran confronts him with the fact that he betrayed Ned Stark and held a knife to his throat (the knife that Arya has now). 

Bran throws Littlefinger's words to Ned back at him. Did Littlefinger really think that the comedy he was playing with Sansa would trick the Starks? Confused and probably for the first time frightened, Littlefinger appeals to the Vale Lords to protect him and take him back to the Vale but they're like nah man you're on your own. Littlefinger begs but in the middle of this Arya walks over and nonchalantly slits his throat with the aforementioned dagger. He bleeds out as everyone watches in silence.

Sam reaches Winterfell. Winter is going strong now. Sam goes to see Bran. Bran thanks him for his help in getting beyond the wall. But as Bran explains to Sam he's not really Bran anymore but the Three-Eyed Raven. Sam says ok, in the same way you would say ok to someone who tells you that the lizard people are running the Federal Reserve.  Before this goes badly wrong apropos of nothing Bran says that Jon needs to know that he's not Ned Stark's son but his nephew. His real father was Rhaegar Targaryen. His mother was Lyanna Stark. This triggers Sam's memory.

Showing that despite what it looked like he was indeed listening to Gilly's ramblings, Sam tells Bran about the annulment and secret marriage of Rhaegar. Bran goes back in time to see for himself. And yes Lyanna and Rhaegar were married according to the Faith of the Seven. Jon's legitimate. His real name is Aegon. The entire war to overthrow the Mad King was based on a misunderstanding. There was no rape or kidnapping. And if you accept Targaryen rule, Jon is the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Bran says that Jon needs to know the truth.

Yes, Jon does need to know. But unfortunately in a world where email and cell phones don't exist and the highest communication technology involves paper stained with bird droppings there's no way to tell Jon this right away. And this information dump comes too late. 

Jon has come knocking on Daenerys' door. As he told her before, the witch who said that Daenerys would be infertile might not have been truthful. Jon intends to see. Daenerys has offered her honor. And Jon has honored her offer. They intend to try to make some little incest babies. The scene has tasteful nudity for both actors I think. Actually there was too much camera on Kit Harrington as far as I was concerned but your mileage may definitely vary. Tyrion is watching the closed door from the shadows and brooding.

Sansa and Arya compare notes about their experiences. Arya says she wouldn't have survived what Sansa has been through. They remember their father's words about the pack surviving in winter. The sisters appreciate each other, even if there is still the normal sibling teasing. Sansa says she has been slow but is learning.

Bran is warging thru ravens at Eastwatch. Tormund and Beric are there. Tormund is having trouble getting acclimated to effectively being part of the Night's Watch and to how big the Wall is. Lucky for him then that things are about to change. The Army of the Dead marches out of the woods and masses before the Wall. 

The men sound the horn and get ready for battle. But the White Walkers have other plans. Riding the ice dragon (zombified Viserion), the Night King uses the dragon's blue fire to breach the Wall. Huge portions of it come tumbling down. Men try to get off the Wall but many fall to their deaths. Looks like Beric and Tormund are still alive. And the Army of the Dead comes marching through.

What I liked
  • Seeing Littlefinger get his.
  • The Cersei:Tyrion confrontation. This is really good acting/writing. It was a high point of a season that seemed to lose some speed off its fastball.
  • The Hound's general irritability and facial expressions. The actor does so much non-verbally.
  • Jorah's general disappointment. But that's life in the Friend Zone!
  • Cersei's character has remained true to who we know she is.
  • I thought that Arya at least was up to something. 
  • Comedy when Bran explains that he knows something not by seeing from afar but by a written note.
  • Ice Dragon

What I didn't like
  • Littlefinger should have packed up and left Winterfell as soon as Bran started quoting from events he didn't witness. Men do stupid things for lust/greed but Littlefinger seemed to get dumber this year.
  • Bran didn't know that Jon was legitimate but he did know before Sam got there that Jon was a Targaryen. Winterfell has been receiving notes from Jon. Sansa sent Brienne to King's Landing. There's no reason that Jon shouldn't know his heritage by now.
  • No Ghost
  • Wouldn't it have made more sense for Jon to propose a marriage to Daenerys? That way he gets something out of the deal for the people who fought and died for Northern independence.
  • Seems like Sansa and Arya might have wanted to do a little reminiscing about their Mom and their two brothers along with their Dad.
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