29th Aug2017

‘Game of Thrones 7×07: The Dragon & The Wolf’ Review

by Steven Riley

game-of-thrones-707

In it’s early seasons, Game of Thrones gained itself a reputation for it’s climactic and gripping penultimate episodes.

Whether it’s Ned Stark’s shocking death in season one, the epic Battle of the Blackwater from season two or the nerve-wrangling massacre of the Red Wedding (I still have flashbacks to this day), the show seemed to set itself apart by packing all the action into episode nine.

Whether it’s to avoid becoming too familiar or simply the way the timing of events has fallen however, the recent trend appears to be reverting to the norm in terms of exciting finales – and season seven’s is arguably the best yet.

After the Westerosi Expendables had set off to bring about proof of their impending doom in the form of a “living” (or perhaps “reanimated” is more appropriate) the stage was set for a tense showdown between Daenerys, Jon and Cersei. There were reunions galore, with Tyrion chatting to his old buddy, Bronn, The Hound and Brienne resolving their differences and many more; it felt for the viewer like a fun school reunion, except you were more likely to see someone rip their old enemies’ intestines out rather than bore you about their job in recruitment over watered-down punch.

While it seemed like there could be blood at the parley (it’s a finale after all), the only jabs thrown were verbal. Daenerys made a suitably epic entrance on Drogon’s back, The Hound squared up to his mutant-looking older brother while Cersei seethed with every word. Unlike some of the exchanges in the previous episodes, both the friendly catch-ups and the arguments between characters felt a bit more organic than previously, making it feel less rushed than early episodes as the scenario unfolded in front of them.

In the end, it was Jon who surpassingly got the chance to unify the armies, having persuaded the Lannisters with his advert for Dragonglass and demonstration of ‘How To Kill A Walker In Ten Easy Steps’. In the end, however, it was his refusal to stay neutral in the war for the iron throne that saw the deal collapse as he had already declared for Dany.

Knowing the fate of all life was at stake, Tyrion took it upon himself to walk into the Lion’s Den and do what nobody else could manage; change Cersei’s mind. The exchange between the two siblings was arguably the best-acted scene of the series with Lena Headey’s raw emotion coming through and Peter Dinklage channelling his epic monologue from season four as he tried to justify killing his father. It nearly ended in tears as Tyrion baited Cersei to have the Mountain kill him, and we all breathed a sigh of relief as our favourite dwarf poured him and his sister a drink – possibly the closest thing to mutual respect between the pair since he was Hand.

While there was no bloodshed in the capital, that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be elsewhere. After an emotional conversation with Jon, Theon began his redemption arc by beating seven hells out of the Ironborn captain and rallying the troops to try and save Yara. It was in Winterfell where the real intrigue was happening however, as Baelish continued to manipulate Sansa into distrusting Arya, leading to the Lady of Winterfell calling a meeting in the Great Hall.

It wasn’t the younger Stark girl charged with treason however, but Baelish himself. Aided with Bran’s ability of literally knowing everything that’s ever happened (although often not being forthcoming with it), the Lord Protector of the Vale was rumbled as he desperately tried to weasel his way out and was eventually reduced to begging for his life. It was immensely satisfying seeing the man responsible for Ned’s death, along with countless others, grovelling on the floor right until the moment Arya cut his throat with the very blade he armed Bran’s would-be assassin with.

While Baelish being killed may not be a surprise, the timing certainly was, and it was a welcome move for a show that has slowed down the removal of key players over the last few seasons. While Baelish was an immensely watchable character, it felt as though his importance to the story was coming to an end as he was reduced to back-chatting like a malicious school child. The writers timed his death perfectly by killing him just while he was still dangerous and interesting and, unlike in the last episode, recapturing the feeling that character could die at anytime.

That fear also made the next scene between Jaime and Cersei even more tense – particularly for fans of the one-handed Commander. As the Queen revealed her pledge was a lie and that Euron was ferrying an army rather than leaving out of fear. Either unhappy at being kept in the dark in favour of her would-be king or finally seeing just how crazy she was, Jaime finally did what we’ve been waiting for and stood up to her. For a moment it seemed as though the Mountain was about to execute him, but Jaime called Cersei’s bluff and rode for Winterfell to join the fight. It was a great victory for him and one that felt long overdue after his character development – possibly the most layered and interesting in the series – had stalled for a while.

One thing that wasn’t stalling was Jon and Daenarys’ mutual attraction. The brooding looks have been the all season and Jon’s show at the meeting was demonstration enough of his feeling as he put Dany ahead of the Lannister army, and they finally succumbed on the boat journey to White Harbour (a boat journey Jon suggested, just saying). Unfortunately the romance was a little offset by Bran’s voiceover revealing Jon was not only Targaryen but Aegon Targaryen – heir to the Iron Throne. Ignoring the fact Rhaeger (who looked worryingly similar to Viserys) already had a son called Aegon, it also confirmed that Jon was in fact getting hot and heavy with his auntie. Still, it was a romance many fans were pining for, confirming them as the “acceptable face of incest in Westeros.”

The best was saved until last however, as Bran transported us over to Eastwatch where Beric and Tormund were residing. As Tormund looked down from a great height, we saw the army of the dead had reached the wall, completed with a zombie-Viserion being ridden by the Night King. As you’d expect, this didn’t bode well for the night’s watch as the dragon blasted through the entire wall, wiping them out in their hundreds and leaving them free to enter Westeros with our heroes’ fates unclear (there was some of The Wall left standing, so knowing their luck they’ll live to tell Jon the tale).

It was an incredible and awe-inspiring scene as Viserion reigned fire on the wall from above and completed a number of impressive CGI sequences from the season. While the show has come in for criticism for it’s reduced length and sometimes-contrived writing, they’ve at least made the most of the action when it’s come, with The Wall’s destruction standing proudly next to the Field of Fire and battle in the ice among the show’s most epic moments.

With the army finally at their door and tensions in Westeros at an all-time high, we can expect plenty more of those moments next season.

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One Response to “‘Game of Thrones 7×07: The Dragon & The Wolf’ Review”

  • Nada

    This season was really off and predictable. It feels like an amateur wrote it. Not at all a GRRM quality of writing.