Warning: This recap for the Game of Thrones episode “The Dragon and the Wolf” contains spoilers.
Most if not all of us are going to die someday (I’m guessing), so it’s important that we spend our time productively. By all means finish writing that book of limericks or fix up that Camaro parked on the lawn. Rekindle old friendships. Frequently tweet about the family of raccoons who live in your yard and occasionally leave trash trinkets on your porch because you are Fairuza Balk. In other words, our time on this earth is valuable, so we should make sure to spend it wisely.
Unfortunately, many of the characters on Game of Thrones this season did not use their time well. Aside from somehow figuring out how to shave weeks off of travel times, a distressing number of characters on this show wasted an unbelievable amount of time on dumb side quests or arbitrary conflicts that felt drawn out just for the sake of payoff. Did Sansa and Arya truly need to spend weeks hating each other (or pretending to) just to finally nail Littlefinger for his deceptions? Probably not! Did Cersei really need to manipulate everyone into thinking she’d help in the Great War even though she had no intention of doing so? In my opinion, no, this was just a waste of everyone’s time. (Don’t even get me started on the ice zombie heist from last week.) But do you know who didn’t waste their time this season? Us! Because nitpicks aside, Game of Thrones remains perhaps the foremost marvel in TV history, and we’re so lucky to have it. Hey, let’s talk about “The Dragon and the Wolf”! A lot of things happened, including sex and #butts!
We began on the back lawn of King’s Landing, where tons of sullen Unsullied were hanging out in their iconic checkerboard formation.
Jaime and Bronn were getting nervous about their presence and coped by making dick jokes for what felt like half an hour. Then the Dothraki showed up and shrieked at everybody, so things were definitely getting tense at the castle. They were all there because it was time for an all-star meet-up!
As the many different factions arrived, they finally converged as they walked to the designated crumbling dragon condo for a very important conversation about ice zombies. But just seeing this many characters casually strolling side by side was a real chills fiesta. Look at all these characters! Many, like Tyrion and Podrick, hadn’t seen each other in many seasons, and some of the meet-ups were unexpectedly delightful:
If you were wondering if there might be bad blood between the Hound and Brienne on account of their attempting to murder each other a few years ago … nope! If anything, they just sort of joked about it and agreed that Arya Stark, the reason they fought in the first place, could probably murder them both these days. On this show, one of the most intimate things you can do with another character is attempt to murder them in a desolate field, so these two are as good as family now.
Speaking of family, the Hound finally came face to … face (?) with his brother the Mountain. Obviously, the latter is now some kind of undead abomination with an off-putting case of pink-eye, but according to the Hound, he’s still able to think for himself maybe. I’m not sure what he meant by “You know what’s coming,” like whether that was about ice zombies or just the grim reaper himself, but it was still fun to see them reunited again! Handsome boys.
Everyone arrived on time except Daenerys, but I’m guessing that was intentional. Because come on! I am rooting for her, but even I can admit that showing up on a dragon like this was a bit much. Sure, you and I would do the same if we owned and operated dragons, but this was weirdly desperate-seeming. Still, she climbed down off her living party wagon, and the group of warring queens got to discussing the threat of ice zombies!
To truly prove the immediacy of the ice zombie threat, Jon Snow instructed the Hound to carry a crate full of zombie out on his sore back and then kick it over in Cersei’s direction. Now, this was a tense and scary moment, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor wight. He did not ask for this! Not only was his corpse reanimated probably without his consent, but he was dragged away from his friends, paraded around before a bunch of bewigged cosplayers, and then brutally chopped up for their education and amusement!
Anyway, zombie rights aside, this display seemed to do the trick. Euron stood up and immediately high-tailed it out of there, and Cersei almost immediately agreed to call a truce. But she’d only do it if Jon Snow swore to not align himself with Daenerys. Which, oops!
Jon Snow could not tell a lie, so he informed Cersei that he’d already bent his knee (and perhaps another body part or two) in Dany’s direction, and then Cersei jumped up and ran out of there. Truce was off! Meanwhile, everyone present face-palmed in unison, and it sounded like a step team performing to “No Scrubs.” Why on earth had Jon Snow chosen “honesty” over saving the world? But then again, it was rude of Cersei to place the goalposts where she had. On the other hand, it did make sense that she was going to feel outnumbered and overpowered should the Great War come to an end. So, you know, I got it.
As sort of a last-ditch effort to save the situation (considering that Daenerys lost an entire dragon just to catch this ice zombie and win Cersei over), Tyrion went into her wine-drinking chamber to have a painful conversation about pain. They had a circular debate about, like, if he was guilty of murdering their family, etc., and at one point he openly invited her to murder him. But she didn’t! Instead, she declined to drink wine and rubbed her tum-tum over and over, which gave Tyrion the hint that she was pregnant. We don’t know how the conversation went after that, but we do know that Cersei walked back over to the crumbling dragon condo and was like, ‘Psych, I’m back in!’
I love that everyone had continued hanging out in direct sunlight for hours just so that Cersei could go home and pout for a minute. But I did appreciate that her offer to them was borderline queen-ly? She agreed that the zombie threat was dire, so not only would she respect a truce, but she’d send her entire army north and ask nothing in return, only that Dany remember her kindness once the war was over. Dang, it was like she was kind of a good ruler suddenly? One more twist in this here game of thrones.
Back at Dragonstone (whoa, we were already back in Dragonstone?), Theon approached Jon and admitted that he has perhaps sucked very badly for seven seasons now, and Jon just sort of nodded. But Jon did at least advise him that even though he is a Greyjoy and therefore awful, he is also part Stark, so he can still become a hero whenever he wants — up to him. For Theon, that meant becoming a hero now.
Next thing we knew, he was getting his ass handed to him by that Iron Islands pirate. But then Theon not only didn’t play dead as usual — he got up and beat that man to death! Yara might just have a savior after all!
So, obviously, this part was great. After a several-episodes-long, nearly ruinous plot line in which Arya and Sansa fought for some unbelievable reason, almost everything was fixed with a big reveal: The sisters knew what Littlefinger was up to and put him on trial in front of everybody. Bran had alerted them to Littlefinger’s many betrayals, so Baelish couldn’t exactly lie his way out of it this time. Sansa had never been as badass as she was here, itemizing his crimes and sentencing him to die. Arya, of course, executed him with a flick of the wrist and barely so much as a cocked eyebrow.
Farewell, Littlefinger! It made no sense that you’d try to break up the Stark family at this point in time. And Game of Thrones probably didn’t need to trick us for several episodes just to get to this moment. But whatever. It was a satisfying payoff to a frustrating, confusing, and contrived setup. Congratulations to everyone!
Are you in the mood to discuss further betrayals? Because here was a doozy! Remember a few minutes ago when Cersei was like, “Yeah, I’m all about helping”? Well, that was a lie: Not only was she not ’bout it, but she got mad at her entire team for believing her lie. Like, when Jaime was standing around on the floor map attempting to plot a strategy for battling zombies and she ran over and slapped everyone (verbally) and then accused Jaime of betraying her and committing treason! It was a little extreme, especially when she nodded at Ser Gregor to execute Jaime. She’d declined to kill Tyrion earlier, so it felt overboard that she’d kill her own lover and brother for ticking her off. But yes, fine, she’d only let Tyrion live so that she could manipulate him into … wait, what exactly? Her plan was to pretend to help, only to … not help? What a scheme! Anyway, Jaime and Cersei broke up, and he put on his disguise cloak and single glove and rode his horse into the countryside. See ya next season!
Then Sam completed his journey to Winterfell, which took about 10 times longer than it took anyone else who’d traveled the same distance? Whatever, he was there to see Bran, and the two of them gossiped about backstory. For example, I remain shocked that this show hadn’t already revealed who Jon Snow’s parents were. I thought it did that years ago. Did I imagine that? Guess so. But now we have a bookworm and a psychic to finally, officially confirm that Jon Snow’s parents were indeed Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. But the new twist was that Jon hadn’t been a bastard … they’d been properly married!
Which meant, of course, that Jon Snow was the true heir to the Iron Throne, and that Ned Stark had been protecting him all those years because of it. The most hilarious thing about Game of Thrones’ revealing that Jon Snow and Daenerys were nephew and aunt was the fact that this information was delivered just as the two of them were doing sex to each other!
Because yes, these two finally were overcome by their non-chemistry to get naked and roll around and lick each other’s mouths. Few things are as erotic as candle-lit incest, so this was Game of Thrones’ ultimate time to shine! Get it, you perfect-butted babes!
I also really enjoyed this reparative scene between the two Stark gals. They acknowledged past tensions but expressed mutual admiration and empathy for each other, as they should have done since minute one of Arya’s arrival. I’m still hazy on just how much of their forced infighting was a show for Littlefinger’s benefit, but whatever — I’m just glad to be done with this junk. Not only are Arya and Sansa friends again, but they seem ready and willing to go into battle together, figuratively speaking. Or maybe literally — who knows? Just happy that they’re good and understandable characters again.
Then an ice dragon flew around and melted everything with blue flames!!
Yes, as hundreds of thousands of blue-eyed zombies looked on, the Night King destroyed Eastwatch and a huge section of its magical ice wall with his newly adopted pet! And I honestly couldn’t stop laughing at how adorable the Night King looked:
Look at that little darling! Just riding his dragon around and having a great time. You deserve it, guy! Enjoy it.
And we concluded with the literally chilling shot of the White Walkers crossing the rubble into Westeros proper. Arya and Needle are gonna have a lot of work to do.
One of the main things about watching Game of Thrones is to shrug or face-palm at its weaknesses while also remaining thrilled to the core about the scope, audacity, and satisfaction of the bigger picture. “The Dragon and the Wolf” provided a corrective to some of this season’s weaker moments while stoking the urgency of its final six episodes. Admittedly, a lot of this season felt like mere setup for next season, so I am not one of the people who think that things have begun happening too quickly. Um, this is Season 7. There has been more than enough buildup for all of this payoff. When this season has faltered, it’s been through wheel-spinning or arbitrary character conflicts made for the benefit of water-cooler moments. Still, I’ll take this season over basically anything else on television. Winter definitely came this year, but gimme next summer already, please. Thank you.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO in 2018.
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