…jumping right back in.
The Superfriends have arrived at the Dragonpit pavilion. The Hound has warned the one Lannister guarding the wight box that if anyone touches it, he’ll kill him first.
“Sheesh!” Thinks the Lannister guard. All I did was ask what was in it! Now my life is on the line? That guy is the biggest dick ever.
The wight inside the box, for some reason, has remained perfectly silent. That’s a tip for any of you thinking about capturing, boxing, sailing with and then wagoning an undead person: they’re pretty damn amenable unless you knock on the box itself. Then they scream bloody murder.
So Sandor leaves the box on the wagon when they all head inside.
And we get a pretty sweet ariel shot of the pit. It’s so cool. We can make out a bunch of stairs leading up from below.
If this is my show, in this day and age, (while I have the location dressed) this is where I roll a shitload of second unit of some fake holy shit moments inside the Dragonpit. Like several of the Lannister guards on the outside all of a sudden lowering their spears defensively. Or have Jaime draw his sword while he’s clearly in the pit. Or have everyone form a protective ring around the back of a stand-in Tyrion.
Any AD worth her salt would laugh at this idea, like there’s a single second available on these jam-packed shooting days for anything but getting the best of what you need. It’s all about what goes up on the screen and not the trailer or the promo footage, but with everyone obsessing over every frame of a show like this, there are ways to playfully keep your audience on their toes.
Some choices, like this, strike me as legit misinformation. Others, as we’ll talk about, feel a bit less…game.
As everyone takes their positions under the teak Brookstone pergolas, somehow just kind of knowing where to go, Bronn invites Pod to skeadattle with him.
“Let’s let the fancy people talk!”
Pod is like, wait I’m fancy! I want to be fancy!
Brienne nods that it’s okay, and with that the two of them are off.
I was kind of like…huh? What’s hapenning here?
1) Bronn knows some shit ‘bout to go down, and he’s saving Podrick’s life.
2) The prostitutes who gave Pod his money back agreed to throw Bronn a ‘free one’ if he lured Pod back to them one more time.
Pretty sure we know which one it is.
There’s a lot of chatter offline that the real reason that Bronn leaves is that Lena Headey can’t stand being around the Bronn actor Jerome Flynn since a very contentious breakup years ago. Man, that’s a bummer if it’s true.
So Pod heads out with someone he’s hung with before but I’m not sure would actually be his pal without Tyrion, leaving behind the most important meeting in Westerosi history. You almost feel awful for the elderly Pod, years from now, explaining to his grandchildren that he was there, among the most powerful people in the world, when everything changed.
Were you scared, grandpa? When Daenerys rode in on her dragon?
We read in school that The Hound and The Mountain faced off! Were you nervous when you saw that?
There’s a statue commemorating the truth of King Jon. Where were you standing when that happened, Grandfather?
POD: Ehhhhh, er. Okay then, enough questions for one day! Heh heh. Let Grandpa rest. Okay then! Bye for now!
And Pod would sit back and think of the three shitty ales he had in a nameless pub while Bronn hit on a waitress.
Also, not for nothing, but technically Pod is also fancy people. He’s from what I gather is a less important branch of House Payne than say, Ser Ilyn Payne — the King’s Justice, but House Payne is a Noble House in the Westerlands all the same. I almost don’t want to show you their banner, because it’s so painful, but what the hell.
Not even joking.
I guess I can’t fault Pod for not correcting Bronn about House Candy Crush right then and there, and with that, they vamoose.
Once they’ve departed, under King Jon’s hawkish eye, we get lots of shots of everyone scanning the area uneasily.
Jon, Brienne, Jorah.
I love how, in Meereen, to get the initial job interview, Tyrion was like “when you finally land in Westeros, under no conditions can that filthy slaver Jorah Mormont be by your side.”
But guess what? They just did land in Westeros and this is the first really big meeting, and guess who’s in full effect on the dance stage? That’s right, fam! Ser Jorah. Fucking. Mormont.
Don’t fuck with a bear, guys. Especially a hot one. #KnightIainGlen
Now Tyrion is looking around. And then the Hound.
“This is all your idea. It seems every bad idea has some Lannister cunt behind it.”
“And some Clegane cunt to help them see it through.”
Seems fitting for them to be a bit snippy with each other, considering that the last time they were together was back in season two, when this happened:
Also, totally valid as we see who now approaches, Cersei Lannister and her own personal Clegane. And Jaime behind them.
What bad ideas this way come?
Damn, Cersei looks fantastic.
And she has some meat on her stick, too. We like to think about how badass the Jon/Jorah/Brienne/Hound team is, but Euron is like the best fighter in the world right now. Or close. He’s the only one who singlehandedly took on three of the other top ranked fighters plus an Ironborn Admiral and walked away unscathed. And the Mountain is already dead, more or less, and we know from certain works of fiction that what is dead may never die. Or something.
Ramin Dawadji’s music guides Team Cersei to the center stage at Wimbledon but not before she passes her brother and flashes him a look that could kill. Peter Dinklage commented on it in post-game interviews, saying that (I’m paraphrasing from memory) “Lena gave me a look that just about flattened me. I never want to experience a look like that again.”
Uncle Euron smirks as he passes Theon. I kept marveling how nice Daenerys is every time I saw Theon anywhere. He has no men or ships or country. He’s there because of Yara, whom he allowed to be captured. He has never done anything militarily, politically or strategically of any worth, and he’s a ticking time bomb. Someone, surely, pointed this out to Queen D and she was like “shhhh…it’s okay. He just had his sister captured. Let’s let him hang with us. It’s not like we ask him his advice or anything.”
The writers did a really good job of capturing all of the storylines in various looks, quickly. Like Brienne and Jaime looking at eachother and Cersei atching them look at each other and then Jaime looking at Cersei to see if she saw him and Brienne looking at each other. It’s not easy to do.
One thing they kiiiiiind of forgot was to use Lord Varys at all. Cersei never looks at him. There’s no mention of anything in the episode about how the longest tenured member of the small council, someone who worked as realm spymaster for everyone since the Mad King himself, is a traitor. His betrayal would have been a huge loss to compensate for and we don’t really see it. Bronn does mention the heads of two traitors that Cersei has offered rewards for, assumably Tyrion and Varys, but we only see the latter ever even say one line of dialogue in this whole episode, and it deals with how much Bronn is being paid when they all walk in.
That’s his only line in the whole damn season finale. Bizarre, that.
Once everyone is situated, another unmentioned traitor steals the spotlight.
Let’s remember that The Hound quit Team Lannister during the Battle of the Blackwater. At first, as he headed out to defend the beach, he was all business, yelling to his men that he would do unsavory things to the corpse of any soldier who died with a clean blade.
Nice. Real nice.
But then he’s charged by a man on fire and there’s fire everywhere and he just folds. Emotionally. He comes back inside, demands wine to calm his nerves, yells Fuck the King and takes off. Before he goes, he offers to take Sansa with him, a gesture that she found threatening at the time, but we now can assume was meant in actual kindness.
And remember that right before that, as the men were kind of hanging out and preparing for battle, The Hound actively sought out Bronn and tried to fight him. Bronn was minding his own business, having a pint like men do before they have to run at other men with blades, and the Hound acts like an absolute prick toward him.
Add to that the fact that, in a move of serious brotastic implications, Bronn saves the Hound’s life (or something like it) only minutes after the Hound was trying to goad him into an unnecessary fight.
HEY! YOU’RE WELCOME! JESUS!
You’d think, maybe, that there’d be some unfinished business between the two men, but there’s not a whiff of it in the scene at the Dragonpit. Maybe the lessons of kind-hearted Pastor Al Swearengen really made Sandor reflect on his ways! (Note: we’ve seen him be an ornery douche for like years now with the brotherhood, so no.)
Still, it would have been nice to see a beat of something pass between them:
BRONN: Ser Hound. Always a pleasure. Still picking fights for no reason?
SANDOR: They knighted a no-talent, whoring pile of shit like you?
BRONN: They did. Got the fancy ribbons to prove it.
Sandor offers him a no-hard-feelings fist bump. Bronn, surprised, hits it.
SANDOR: Watch your back around these Lannisters, sellsword.
BRONN: I always do.
Sandor walks away.
That, right there, would have been enough.
Once everyone is settled, The Hound walks directly at Cersei. But her people are not on high alert at all for some reason. There are several Queensguard in a row behind her and only one of them steps out to face the approaching Clegane.
That seemed super cavalier to me. I would have thought ever soldier on that team was in a state of imminent-pants-shitting but I guess they’re all a bunch of Taoist monks these days. Just taking shit as it comes.
But they were right to stand pat, because the Hound wasn’t coming for them. He was coming for his brother.
I love this beat and I still don’t have any idea who the Hound is referring to when he says that someone is coming for the Mountain.
In one of the better fan theories I’ve ever read, someone suggested that the reason Sandor has always been afraid of fire is because he sees things in it and it freaks him out. Even as a little kid, he saw things in the fire. On one of those occasions, there was a prophecy about his older brother and how he would die. Sandor told Gregor exactly who was going to kill him in the future and young Gregor was so pissed that he mashed his little brother’s face into the glowing embers.
That’s the kind of makes-perfect-sense theory I can get behind. Especially when you consider just how easily The Hound read the fire with the brotherhood. He was like Tank reading the Matrix. It was simple for him.
I still wonder, though: who, if not Sandor, is coming for the Mountain?
With that, The Hound just up and walks the fuck out of the entire operation. Just bye! And downstairs he goes.
NoW Cersei is getting a bit testy, because she specifically arrived fashionably late and yet, like L.A. Story, she’s not the last to arrive. It’s off putting.
She adresses her shitty asshole little brother. WHERE IS SHE? She demands. That’s the opening salvo of this epic summit.
Where. Is. She.
Oh, she’ll be by eventually, Tyrion assures her.
Then Daenerys enters in the most awe-inspiring, ass-kicking, blinged out way possible. I don’t care if you have a gold-plated Aston Martin or Wonder Woman’s inviso-jet: there is no cooler entrance than casually popping off a dragon and taking your seat.
It’s the best possible way. You could arrive by laser beam and it wouldn’t be cooler.
That said, you have to love how Cersei just sits there, like she’s seen it all before. Totally unimpressed. Imagine having this enemy, this mortal enemy, who has been coming for the throne you rightfully stole. And in the most recent battle, her forces fucked yours up so badly that even your top general is like, we can’t win this. So you’re like, I have to meet this person. You get decked out in your best apparel, after trying on like fifteen different outfits. And then you see her for the first time. As she rides in late to the meeting on a weapon of mass destruction. Every eye is glued to her. And she’s absolutely beautiful. Objectively beautiful. And young. No worry lines on her forehead. You don’t have the sense of a drinking problem. Her hair is perfect. Her skin is flawless.
Fuck her, Cersei thinks. Fuck her.
“We’ve been here for quite some time!” Cersei spits. I’M PETTY!
“Apologies.” Daenerys says. There’s no nastiness in her response. She has a nice speaking voice.
Tyrion begins. We’re here today…
THAT LITTLE HARLOT THINKS SHE CAN COME IN HERE AND UPSTAGE ME! WHO DESIGNS HER CLOTHES? THEY’RE AMAZING. FUCK HEERRRRRRRRRRR!
While Cersei is lost in white rage, Euron trolls a bit. He tells Theon unless he submits, he’ll kill Yara. Like anyone else cares. They’re like, sure, have Theon! All he does is take super long shits and cry in the shower! You want him, he’s yours! Can we get back to business?
But Euron decides to troll Tyrion, too. Tyrion is like “do I even know you bro?”
Tyrion looks at Jaime, who shrugs. It’s nice to see that everyone else is as irritated with Urine as he is. You’d think, by the way, that if Jaime had any balls, he’d have addressed that comment about the finger in the bum with Euron by now. But no. Strange.
YOU’RE A FUCKING DWARF! NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH! YOU CAN’T SLAM DUNK! NYAH NYAH-
“Er…perhaps it would be best if you retruned to your seat!” Calls Jaime. Euron ignores him.
Shut the fuck up. I’ll make fun of your shrimpy brother and you’ll watch.
Oh Jaime. Oh Jaime Jaime Jaime. God you’re such a colossal disappointment. That’s your power move? Suggesting something while seated? Gosh. You used to be the biggest baddest badass on the whole continent. Your name meant something. Now look at you. You sad little roberts-rules-of-order motherfucker.
NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH! YOU ARE A DICKFACE! NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH! I BET YOUR PECKER IS TI-NY! NYAH-
And Cersei finally comes out of her murder daydream and scolds her ferret back into his seat.
Tyrion sets it up. We’re not pals, we’re never gonna be pals.
“Then why are we here?” Asks Cersei, noticing the craftsmanship of Dany’s jewelry, which causes her to speak through her teeth.
Now it’s Jon Snoo time!
Look at him in those winter robes. Man his undercarriage should be a car wash by now, but no. He keeps it rosy. He can wear twenty six dire bear pelts on a beach in Dorne and not sweat a drop. Jon Snoo laughs at weather.
WE ARE NOT HERE TO BE PALS. WE’RE HERE TO LIVE.
But Cersei isn’t hearing any talk of bogeymen. She doesn’t believe in any of it. I mean, yes, Dany did just arrive on a DRAGON, a mythical beast she refused to believe actually existed, but there are no other mythical things out there. There is only the safety of keeps and the fluctuating interest rates of the Iron Bank, the disgustingness of the poor and the comfort of good wine. That’s all. No army of the undead. Please.
We have something to show you, says Tyrion.
How did he get that big ass box from his sleigh out front, down underground, through the upright columns at the foot of the stairs and then on his back? He’s magical!
WHAT PRESENT DO YOU HAVE FOR US TODAY SANDOR CLAUS?
MOTHER OF GOD!
CHRISTMAS IN WESTEROS SUUUUUUUUCKS!
So there you have it. The case is made. Cersei is clearly horrified, as is everyone else. Euron up and walks out. (Wink wink) Jaime is shaken. Only Qyburn is unfazed, wanting only to know the secrets that make this thing go.
That twisted fuck. You have to admire his lens on the world, though. He just sees things…differently.
Now comes the construct.
The crown accepts the truce! Huzzah! On ooooooone condition…I’ll truce if the north remains impartial. I ask it only of Ned Stark’s son, who will be true to his word and not lie.
Everyone who takes this scene to task wants to pin the problem on Jon Snoo not being able to lie, even though he lied to Mance when he said he wasn’t a crow.
A) I’m 100% with Jon Snoo. Stop lying. Seriously. Liars of every shade are destroying the world around us. People lie waaaaay way way way way way too much. Don’t lie. Never lie in front of your children. Teach them not to lie. Lying is insidious.
B) The northern condition that Cersei requires makes absolutely no sense. They are presenting this wight TOGETHER. They’re proposing that Cersei not fight Dany while she’s in the north fighting with Jon. I mean, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. They’re already aligned.
So Jon can’t do it, and Cersei walks her ass outta dodge.
How important is this moment? So important that Brienne goes right up to Jaime — in front of Cersei — and says FUCK LOYALTY.
That’s what BRIENNE OF TARTH says.
But it’s not enough to stop Team Cersei and they’re out!
HOW DARE THE ONE PERSON CERSEI KNEW WAS HONEST WOULD HAVE THE NERVE TO STAND THERE AND TELL THE TRUTH! FUCK THIS, WE ROLL!
That’s it. The gang is shocked. It’s all Jon’s fault. Who is going to smooth this over?
The first person to talk is Jon’s unofficial Hand and most trusted advisor.
“I wesh you hadn’t doone tha!”
OH FUCKING THANKS SER DAV! AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE ON MY SIDE, AMIGO? WHAAAA THAAA FAAAAA?
And Dany walks right up to him and is like “this was the first thing Tyrion ever did right! And it was dumb. It was dumb then and it’s dumb now and my baby died for nothing! Because of you Mr. Self-Righteous Poopypants! Everyone lies! Lying is fun! My dragon died! I hope you’re happy with your blanket of truth when we all die!”
They all take turns ripping on Jon for bobbling the ball at the goal line. Because if he had just lied, their mission would have worked.
I’ve seen on boards, even here on Pajiba, that Jon is some kind of heel because he doesn’t lie. I’ve seen people attack him for being so disgustingly self-righteous about it, even when he’s ‘lied before’. He was ordered to infiltrate the wildlings and so he deceived them as part of his job. But he’s not some two-bit undercover steward anymore. He’s the King of the fucking North! A person of stature. Of course he could lie, but I really like that he doesn’t. We all have hills we’ll die on. This is an easy one for me. I grew up with too many liars. I lied too much when I was younger. It’s so much better the other way. Night and fucking day better.
If there’s one speech, one moment you take with you away from this show, let it be this one.
But there we have it. Cersei is gone.
And the only thing to be done about it is for Tyrion to sacrifice his own life to fix it.
He seriously has the best ideas. Glad he read all o’ them books.
Jon tries to go instead but Tyrion is like, no she’ll definitely murder you. Like, instantly.
I didn’t come all this way, says Daenerys, (like 28 miles) to have my Hand murdered!
But there’s nothing to be done. They are at an absolute impasse. It’s not like they have dragons or like 300,000 warriors standing by immediately outside the city gates or anything who would love to attack and would take the city in like two and a half hours.
They don’t have that option.
It’s time for the Tyrion show.
He first sees Jaime, who is such a useless, broken shit that he actually bids his brother goodbye.
Jaime you fine-looking but dumb-as-dirt motherfucker. Why not go in with him? God! I will never root for you again. I can’t believe that we’re at the end of season SEVEN and Cersei still has you on a feeding tube. You are GUTLESS.
But kind of charming, still, in your own way. I like how you say “one idiot to another” to your brother. That’s something. I like how your nod to him before he goes in says “good luck.” That’s a positive.
But I’m never rooting for your redemption again. You’re hopeless.
Tyrion’s walk to Cersei is more like entering the lair of a basilisk than visiting someone’s private office. It’s dark and the Mountain looms over him the whole way.
How does the Mountain know how to do things like close doors properly. How does he manage to be like a perfect butler but never talk? It’s weird.
Finally, he is there. In the proverbial belly of the beast herself. The only Game of Thrones big bad who has been a bad since season one episode one. She was an insufferable nightmare then and she’s a deplorable nightmare now.
And her prey stands before her.
With that insulting little hand on his chest.
And while I’m consistently not as high on Lena Headey’s performance as the majority of the fanbase, there are times where she does fully embody the character.
This is one of them. This scene is fucking amazing.
I enjoyed this scene so much, I almost don’t want to make fun of it at all. It’s that good.
And it feels, somehow…exactly right. Perfectly written. There’s the perfect balance of the big and the small. The political and the personal.
Tyrion tries to talk to her but she’s seething so much that he has to call her bluff. She’ll either kill him or she won’t. And if she won’t, then he has disarmed her, and there’s somewhere to go.
“That’s right, you love your family and I have destroyed it. I will always be a threat. So put an end to me. If it weren’t for me, you’d have a mother. If it weren’t for me, you’d have a father! If it weren’t for me, you’d have two beautiful children. I’ve thought about killing you more times than I can count!” He yells. “Do it! Say the word.”
And then he stands ready. Behind him, Ser Gregorzombie pulls his sword out a little bit, so show Cersei that he’s still not carrying a fake hilt. He’s ready.
Tyrion is ready.
This is it.
Cersei wants it so badly. She can taste it, but…then she turns away.
So now comes the wine. Tyrion pours and guzzles a glass for himself, then pours one for Cersei, which she doesn’t touch. Then he has another. And as they circle around the issue of whether or not he destroyed the family, the crux becomes clear. Cersei is pregnant, and she fears the world her child will be born into. It’s masterful, highlight reel acting from both players.
In the Pit, Jon is off by himself, ostracized to the bone pile part of the arena, while everyone else makes fun of him on stage.
I CAN HEAR YOU OVER HERE, YOU KNOW! Jon yells. The group PFFFFFFFFS and laughs some more.
When Dany makes her way over to gloomy Jon, he’s fiddling around with the jawbone of a goat. Or a sheep. I think he might think it’s a dragon, but what dragon bones have just been lying here untouched for five centuries? Ready to be picked up by Kings who have recently botched negotiations with their ‘misplaced’ integrity? I think not.
Sometimes, in a play or a show, the director is aware of the passivity in a scene, and the fact that there’s not a whole lot going on. That’s where walk-n-talks originate. If we’re just going to show people chatting, which is visually unstimulating, at least have them move. This scene falls victim to that when Dany comes up to Jon, takes the Jawbone from him with an open hand like “give me that!” and then hands it back to him. I’m not saying it’s the silliest blocking in show history, but it’s pretty odd.
What the showrunners need from these two is a moment alone, so they kind of move off to an alcove, where they have a little privacy, and they bond a bit. Dany doesn’t like Jon’s choice, but she respects him. It was only the two of them in that room after the mission in the north. No one else knew he had bent the knee. But that’s what makes him Jon. And thus begin three back-to-back interactions where he embodies the type of man that makes watchers like me love him.
Second, in the map table room in Dragonstone, he correctly assesses the impact of a joint travel plan where he and Dany arrive in the North together, as a team.
Third, he digs down, somewhere that only human beings of experience have, to a place of forgiveness inside of him, and forgives Theon . That last one is the most mindblowing and shocking. Some people just don’t have that gear in their engine.
Dany and Jon are interrupted by the return of Tyrion, who is followed by Cersei and her retinue.
Cersei proclaims that not only will she truce, but she’s sending every single man she has north to fight alongside the Targaryens and Snow armies. It’s basically the greatest deal ever struck and a silent Tyrion watches the proclamation wordlessly.
Cersei urges them to remember her decision when the wights are defeated.
Of course, Cersei has no intention of following through with this, as we’ll come to find out later. So it’s unusually bizarre that she would make this choice. Because, in her mind, and the mind of everyone else, up until this point, her walking away from a truce was Jon’s fault. She asked for something relatively simple and he refused.
Okay so fuck you guys, I’m going home.
She’s kind of in the clear.
But once she returns to the pit and makes these elaborate declarations, now she is clearly the lying, two-faced person. She is very clearly the bad guy again.
And, in a case of the tail wagging the dog, that’s how the showrunners need it.
Because to satisfy our bloodlust, we need the final battle of Game of Thrones to be against someone we all truly despise, like a Ramsay. You can’t have the Lannisters fight alongside the Starks! Why? Because the show (and I’m guessing the books) haven’t constructed satisfying representatives on the white walker side who would feel important enough to be daunting. For example, you have the white walkers. If the show or book had chose to give each separate walker an identity, like plague or darkness or sound, then you could line up, say, the final battle where no man has even beaten the Sound White Walker but Jaime’s forces must somehow find a way. Now there are stakes.
As it’s constructed, the walkers are all same-same, and that means that we’re not invested in their individual destruction. The only person we need to see die is the Night’s King. That’s all we’ve been trained to invest in.
So, to cap the show off with our heroes all fighting wights? It’s boring as hellllllll.
The Hound kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Arya kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Brienne kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Tormund kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Sam kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Ser Davos kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Ser Jorah kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
Robyn Arryn kills a white walker. White walker shatters.
By like white walker #2 you’re looking for a snack in the kitchen and using the toilet because there are no stakes.
So, what must happen is that early in season 8, Jon and Dany beat the Night’s king in, say like episode 3. Then they turn around to take on that lying, scheming bitch, Cersei Lannister. Because not only did she not truce, she betrayed them, and maybe killed people they loved while they were saving the world.
Now we have stakes. Real stakes that people can get behind.
She must be expunged from the world. No more truces. No more meetings. The snake must die. Preggers or no.
That’s how I imagine it will go, some version of that, anyway.
So Cersei walks away and everyone on Team Dany cracks open a Miller Genuine Draft and they toast Tyrion and muss up his hair and say “finally! You did something right!”
Nothing of real importance transpires except Dany has to choose between Jorah’s suggestion of her flying North and Jon’s suggestion of her sailing on a slow boat to China with him and making sexytime alone in a master bedroom suite on the luxurious H.M.S. Bonemaster.
And Jorah, once her most trusted advisor, takes another step back away from the center of power.
There’s a brief interaction between Jon and Theon in the throne room which, if I cared, would have been one of the better scenes of the show. It was certainly powerful. Two characters, raised by the same parents, where one goes horribly awry. In many ways, the man who realizes this and owns it is the stronger person. He is the person who shows the most courage. The greater capacity for improvement. Theon comes to Jon for something in this scene, I’m not sure even he knows what, and Jon re-christens him by calling him a Stark.
That is truly one of the kindest, most selfless choices I’ve seen on the show, and it reignites a fire in Theon that had gone out a long time ago. In that moment, when Jon said “you’re a Greyjoy…and you’re a Stark.” I thought: Jon just killed Reek. We will never see Reek again.
Cut to the beach, where Theon — who is still a truly awful public speaker — gets his ass beat six ways to Sunday by Harrag, the captain of the Ironborn boat. The single (count’em 1) that’s left. Theon takes a spit to the face and then nine NINE knockout blows without returning a punch or landing a single blow. On hit seven you could hear either a tooth dislodge or actual bone breaking. As someone who has taken a few shots in my day, I’m telling you: I don’t know how he gets up from that. Harrag is like “stay down or I’ll kill you!”
Theon gets up. Harrag knocks him down. “I saiiiiiiiiiid! Stay down or I’ll kill you!”
Theon gets up. And the tide turns when Harrag knees him in the gonads three times with no result.
That’s Harrag’s go-to move! He loves that move! And he’s sooooooooo shocked that he then gets headbutted and felled like a ten year birch. Five total hits from Theon. One headbutt and five like abominable snowman style put-yer-back-into-it hits and Harrag is out. Dead maybe. He’s not moving.
Theon is like “Yaaaraaaaa!” and the eleven other Ironborn trash are like yay! Yara! We are imbeciles! And Theon washes his face with saltwater — which would fucking KILLLLLLLL with that many cuts — and he’s newly reborn again. Twice in two scenes. Yara’s getting saved, y’all!
The spinoff series I want that I’ll never get is that Harrag wakes up on that beach, splayed out, face throbbing and he’s like
WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?
And so he walks the island until he finds the one Dothraki who missed the boat to the mainland. The Dothraki is like, truly dumb. Chicken dumb. And then we get a buddy comedy with Harrag and the Dumb Dothraki, traveling through Westeros with the specter of a zombie apocalypse weighing down on them. I’d watch the shit out of that.
Let’s talk about how you frame a story for viewers. You can’t show them everything. You don’t have the time.
Let’s say this red bar represents all of the characters in the North and what’s actually happening. The Green bar represents fiction. Things that aren’t actually happening. The blue star represents the outcome that really happens. The green star represents where you want your audience to be when the blue star happens so that they have that purple arrow which represents the HOLY SHIT JUMP moment where the audience thinks they’re one place, based on what you’ve shown them, but really they’re somewhere else.
To get them to that green star you have to show them beats — little moments along the way that allow them to see what’s happening. Those are represented by the blue circles. Beats like Arya following littlefinger are perfect examples. You’re showing them the truth, but letting them decide what that truth means.
The green bar represents shit that very much DID NOT HAPPEN. Fiction. Most shows, in trying to build up to a conclusion you didn’t see coming, will at least rub up against the edge of this bar. The problem is that when you dabble too much in the green, and then reveal the outcome, you lose the trust of the audience because people call bullshit.
It’s tough to say where the circles are in the Winterfell subplot this season but many beats feel like they’re in the green.
For example, in the finale, our next scene is Sansa and Littlefinger talking in her office. They’re trying to figure out what Arya is up to. There’s nothing in this scene that suggests it’s not true. Put it in the red bar.
But a scene like Sansa rifling through Arya’s room and Arya threatening to cut her sister’s face off? Fuck that. Not buying it at all. That goes here. Completely in the green.
So you do get that holy shit jump at the end of the plot line, but for all intents and purposes, you cheated to get there. You didn’t have the right beats in the red, so you went to the green to steal or fabricate what you needed.
That makes the resolution significantly less satisfying. Shows will often shift the chronology of scenes to get you to think you’re on one part of the red bar when you’re somewhere completely different. A show like Westworld is built on this principle. And you can absolutely tickle that green bar, but once you’re in it, people drop out. Because it feels like a lie.
Now most people will point out that Littlefinger fucked himself in this scene. That he actually has Sansa turning on Arya this whole season until the point where he talked Sansa into the worst scenario game and it ended with Arya as the Lady of Winterfell.
Sansa knows that’s something Arya would never, ever want.
What we aren’t shown in the red bar is the scene where Sansa goes to Arya and says:
“I’m so stupid! Please forgive me, I love you, power and responsibility has bee a burden that I’m adjusting to!”
And Arya says:
“I’m sorry too! Jesus, sometimes I get really dark. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to think of every solution as murdering someone and just wearing their face! It’s like I have only one setting sometimes! So sorry!”
And then they’re like: doesn’t Bran kind of know everything? Do you think he could like greensee everything that Baelish has been up to his whole life? Let’s go talk to him.
Instead they have Sansa on the ramparts, thinking. And she tells a guard “have my sister brought to the great hall.”
Totally legit. That is totally legal. It’s all of that hard to stomach shit leading up to this which has felt…off.
In the great hall, Arya is led in. We’re not really sure what’s going on but there are wall to wall guards there. Arya’s confidence doesn’t waver a bit. She’s like “you really gonna do dis”
And I’m thinking…jesus. How many people can she take? She’s a badass now, truly one of the baddest asses in with world, but could she dance the death of every one of these armored guards?
And then I saw that Bran was there, and I thought. This isn’t right. No matter how far gone Bran is, he’ll never sit in on something that goes against Arya. Never in a billion years. The Stark children all loved each other. They all got along and were great to each other, with the exception of Theon, who was a Greyjoy and technically Ned’s steward and who acted like a twat toward everyone. And Sansa, who was mean to both Jon and Arya and set herself apart because she found Winterfell dreary and yearned for a life away from the boring clothing and rules of the North. But Bran got along with everyone famously.
But at this point? Who fucking knows?
“All right, get on with it.” Arya says.
“You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges…”
Goddamn that’s delicious. You want to know how universally reviled Littlefinger was? This show absolutely cheated to get here and it was so rewarding to see his face, to see his shock along with our own, that most of us just didn’t care.
THAT’S WHY WRITERS SOMETIMES PLAY IN THE GREEN. BECAUSE PEOPLE ONLY REMEMBER THE RESULT, NOT THE BORING BEATS TO GET THERE.
So we get this descent into madness for Littlefinger, who uses every card in his depleted hand to try to figure a way out of this. But he can’t.
He ends up on his knees, like the repellant, weak snake that he is, and without batting an eye, Sansa passes judgement and Arya carries it out.
Yes, Ned would have liked the judge to do it, but you come away with the sense that the Starks have the PERFECT tandem in place. A conscientious ruler and a black-hearted, no bullshit killer at her shoulder.
I disliked every single solitary beat of the sisters’ interaction this season and yet I was on my feet cheering when Petyr Baelish bled out onto the cold, unforgiving stone of Winterfell.
By god that was marvelous.
Sansa: “I’m a slow learner, it’s true. But I learn.”
Goddamn, it’s good to see you again, Sansa Stark — the real Sansa Stark. And based on the votes from the quiz in part one of this recap, she really is the person, of the three queens, who is suited to rule.
That was almost all we needed from this episode. It was that powerful.
But just like that we’re in the map room of the Red Keep and Jaime seems emboldened. He’s excited. He has the bannermen there and he’s planning the northern expedition to fight the dead when Cersei asks the bannermen to give them a moment.
“I always knew you were the stupidest Lannister.” She says.
And Jaime gives her this look, probably my favorite Jaime look ever:
Because, uh…no. Cersei is the stupidest Lannister. Hello!
Jaime makes perfect sense. Whoever wins will come south to destroy them. But Cersei isn’t hearing it. She’s been conspiring behind Jaime’s back with Euron Greyjoy who is on his way to pick up the Golden Company in Essos.
Jaime is stunned. Rightfully.
But wahhhhh. He’s been stunned before, hasn’t he. Gutless fucking baby. What are you going to do about it?
Nothing. Of course.
I’ve rooted for you in vain for seven years, motherfucker. You think I believe for a second that you’re going to do anything but just fall into line with Cersei and be her pet? No way. No way.
“I’m pledged to go North.” Jaime says. “I intend to honor that pledge.”
OHHOHOHO! Looks like someone’s ‘dolt brother’ rubbed off on Jaime…
Wait….what’s happening here?
“That’s treason.” Cersei says.
Fuck you I’m going.
“No one walks away from me.”
Ser Gregor blocks Jaime’s path.
Jaime is astounded. Really? You’re gonna kill me?
For the second time in an hour, Cersei holds the life of her brother in her hands and all she has to do is nod to Ser Gregor to cut him in half.
Cersei NODS AT SER GREGOR.
To me, that’s an order! I’m like AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!
Jaime is like “I don’t believe you.”
And he walks out.
I’m rubbing my eyes. Could I really have seen what I just saw? Did Jaime finally say fuck you to Cersei?
Amd what the fuck, The Mountain? Didn’t you just get the nod? You drew your sword! For what? To hold it? What’s going on?
I rewatched it several times and it appears that what she was saying was gesturing to Ser Gregor’s sword, like “pull it out.” But that she couldn’t quite get to the part where she orders him to use it.
With that, the music kicks back in and Jaime is alone, on horseback. I’m on my feet yelling at my TV.
OH MY- YESSSSSSS JAIME! YESSSSSSSSS!
He pauses to cover his metal hand with a glove and a solitary snowflake melts on it. Jaime looks up and we get one of the most cinematic, lovely montages in the whole run of Game of Thrones.
Winter is here. Both thematically and in practice. The snow is falling in the South. On Jaime’s hand and Cersei’s heart. Winter is here.
I wish we could all hold hands and watch this montage together, it’s just spectacular. The imagery. The music. It’s splendid.
And with that, Jaime Lannister rides north. A free man, at last.
Dear god I love him so much.
I NEVER DOUBTED YOU SER JAIME! I LOVE YOU! XOXO
Sam and Gilly and Craster’s kid arrive in Winterfell. Rolling in on a wagon as the snow comes down. I always think that Craster’s Kid is something that really bothers The Night King. Like an itch he can’t scratch. Like there’s a little baby out there that was supposed to be his, someone he was supposed to turn into a white walker baby, but Sam stole him away. And on that note, how come we never see like teenage White Walkers? Why are they all only either babies or old men?
We cut immediately to Bran’s room, where the two men are happy to see each other. Bran tells George R. R. Martin -er I mean Sam that he’s “a good man.”
He is. He really is. And he’s come north to help Jon fight the dead.
What a great friend. I mean, he’s basically abandoned the Night’s Watch, which is technically treason, but whatevs!
And now we hear that Sam was listening when Gilly found out about Rheagar! Good on you, Samwell!
Bran says Jon’s real name is Sand, because he was actually a Dornish bastard, but no, Sam tells him. The marriage was official, logged in the private journal of the High Septon himself! Jon is the heir, the rightful son of Rheagar Targaryen. Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie.
Bran visits the past to confirm it. It’s true!
And now we get a truly disturbing sequence, as Bran narrates the turn of events on voiceover above imagery of Jon on the H.M.S. Bonemaster as he knock on Dany’s door.
“He loved her.” Jon knocks on the door.
“And she loved him.” Dany opens it and stares at Jon.
Lady C is squicking out at this point and I’m like WOOHOOHOOHOOHOO. BAONG CHICKA BAOUNG BAOUNG! It was the perfect balance of people who were sickened by it and people who were fine with it. For story purposes. I’m not gonna go crawl up on my aunt’s lap or anything after this. Christ.
As soon as the door is closed, we get Tyrion looking on worriedly. What’s his problemo?
Well, who knows. If it was Jorah, we’d understand. Maybe there’s a chance that he came to an understanding with Cersei in that room that if she sent her armies, he’d arrange for her child to be Daenerys’ heir, since she can’t make one herself.
Or can she? Ruh-roh!
I mean it doesn’t matter anyway, right? Cersei ain’t coming. It’s all academic.
What’s not academic is the hot hot newd lovers who are boning each other in that honeymoon suite.
“And Jon’s real name…is Aegon Targaryen.” (Note: I hate it. He doesn’t look like an Aegon to me) Jon and his aunt are naked in bed, munching on each other’s faces like their lips are whip cream dispensers. It’s passionate!
“And Jon is a Targaryen.” Jon rolls over on top of his aunt.
“And Daenerys is a Targaryen.” She pulls Jon inside of her.
“And she’s so moist for it.” They are just ramming away.
“He’s never been a bastard! He’s the heir to the Iron Throne!” He and Dany stare at each other. Did you just hear Bran talking?
And Lady C has her face in a pillow and I’m clapping like a monkey. Oh god it’s so wrong. So wrong and so hot to have those beautiful people naked together. There are no perfect circles in the universe except for Kit Harrington’s ass cheeks. My fucking god.
Tyrion walks away dejectedly. The H.M.S. Bonemaster sails north.
“He needs to know. We need to tell him.”
And so only Bran and Sam know. My guess is that when they do tell him, he swears them to silence and never tells Dany. He never tells anyone. He just quietly distances himself from her and she never knows why, but we’ll see! In like 31 years!
The Stark Girls are back! Whoooo hooooo!
And I get tears in my eyes watching this again, because it’s sooooo goddamn beautiful. It’s like everything I’ve ever wanted for these sisters, for any sisters.
Arya: You did the right thing.
Sansa: You did it.
Arya: I’m just the executioner. You passed the sentence. You’re the Lady of Winterfell.
Sansa: Does that bother you?
Arya: I was never going to be as good a Lady as you, so I had to be something else. I never could have survived what you survived.
Sansa: You would have. You’re the strongest person I know.
Arya: I believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.
Sansa: Well, don’t get used to it. You’re still very strange and annoying.
Arya smiles. They’re both looking out over the walls.
Arya: “In Winter, we must protect ourselves. Look after one another.”
Sansa nods and smiles.
Sansa: Father. “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
Sansa looks at her sister. Arya stares out over the wall.
Arya: I miss him.
Sansa: Me too.
And the camera rises up past them to look over the capital of the North. They are together. The Starks are strong.
Ned would be proud.
We cut to the Godswood, where Bran is warging. Snow is falling on his shoulders.
Beric and Tormund stand in the tower atop the wall where Dany and Jorah searched the treeline for any sign of Jon. It’s a nice callback when a single rider makes his way out of the woods.
But this one is carrying a spear, and riding a dead horse.
Slowly, the army of the dead finally appears at the Wall. Here’s where Jon went since Hardhome, as opposed to the dead.
But no matter! They’re here now!
The horn blasts three times.
One blast is for Crows returning.
Two blasts is for wildlings.
Three blasts is for white walkers.
No one alive has ever heard three blasts before.
There’s a silent moment where the army of the dead just stops.
And then it happens. Out of the clouds comes a dragon. The reanimated Viserion. He’s breathing blue fire and there are holes in his wings.
One of my favorite choices the showrunners made, along with the production designers, is that the dragonfire for Drogon and the living dragons is clearly reminiscent of flamethrowers, in the way it moves and billows. But the undead dragon’s fire, the blue fire, comes out like a laser. There’s no puff to it. It’s a line of blue death.
And then the Night King, atop the reanimated Viserion, destroys the wall. It’s a sight to see.
Luckily, we have the exclusive interview with the new baddest ass North of Winterfell.
We don’t know for sure if Tormund (and Beric) made it, but it would seem kind of dumb to save him from a horrible on-screen death last week to kill him off-screeen this week.
The army of the dead finally passes the Wall and heads south.
Some fans believe that’s a dire wolf head there, in the pattern that the dead are walking. You can look up any number of theories that Bran is also, somehow, the Night’s King.
But finally, mercifully, the dead are coming. And now all we have to do is wait.
Thank you everyone, for joining me on this seemingly endless journey this season. It’s been a labor of love for me to knock out this much chatter, but you all made it worth it. Thanks especially to Dustin for allowing me to do it. This type of thing just doesn’t happen on the web much anymore. Their support never wavered. In public, anyway. I don’t think they’ll ever stop mocking me in private. The word to dollar ratio of this was so laugh-worthy that I think I ended up owing them money.
Our final tally to how deep the dives were?
Recap #1: 7,192
Recap #2: 11,322
Recap #3: 14,795
Recap #4: 14,145
Recap #5: 13,114
Recap #6: 15,638
Recap #7A: 10,600
Recap #7B: 10,400
In the end, we shared roughly 97,000 words together, give or take. If you include the writing in the various graphics, we’re well over 100,000 words. I made a ton of graphics and wrote as fast as my fingers would type. I barely had any edits, so with a few exceptions, what you’re getting is some really first drafty, stream-of-consciousness garbage. In light of that, I really appreciate the support and kindness of everyone who soldiered on.
If you can, please buy a Pajiba shirt. Or better yet, a sweatshirt. Winter is, actually coming. (to most of our readership in the northern hemisphere, anyway). Dustin has a dream of just seeing one in the wild, and I’d like to help him do it.
As for everything else, we wait, and we age.
In the words of someone we all love, “noothing fooks you more than that.”
Have a great offseason.
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