It Took Seven Years but Winter Came to Westeros

first_img ‘Game of Thrones’ Director Explains Why Arya Ambushed the Night King’Game of Thrones’ Star Sophie Turner Predicts Sansa Stark’s Future The phrase “Winter is Coming” has been repeated on Game of Thrones since its premiere back in 2011. Well, they can finally stop saying it because it’s here. After an episode full of politics, stare-downs and dramatic reveals, Winter reached all of Westeros. And coming with it is the Night King and his army. It’s what the entire series has been building toward since season one. That kind of payoff is what this episode was all about. Everything the rest of this seven-episode season set up finally happened in last night’s near-movie-length finale.It needed the length too. As is Game of Thrones’ way now, “The Dragon and the Wolf” gave us nearly everything we wanted to see. The long-awaited meeting of Cersei and Daenerys happened. Theon Greyjoy finally got his courage back. The Stark siblings worked together to take Littlefinger out of the picture. Jon Snow was confirmed to be the legitimate son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Then he boned his aunt. It’s like this finale knew ahead of time what the complaints about this season would be, and addressed every one of them.Courtesy of HBOLet’s start with that meeting. We’ve been waiting for this moment for years now, and the show gave it exactly the weight and room it deserved. This episode needed to be nearly 80 minutes long not because of a gigantic battle, but because of scenes like this. The first meeting of Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen couldn’t be rushed. It had to breathe, letting the tension and dread build as the situation became more hopeless. This season has been criticized for its pacing. Everything happened too fast, leading to logistical errors (like last week’s lightning-fast travel), and moments not being allowed to land as they should. Last night’s episode didn’t have that problem. The build-up to the meeting was slow and worth it. When we saw all of Daenerys’s armies arrive at King’s Landing without her, we knew she would show up on a dragon. Even knowing what was coming, the wait made it all the more exciting when she did. It also had the delicious side effect of pissing off Cersei to no end. She tried to act unimpressed and inconvenienced, but we know she wishes she had one of those.The meeting itself was tense and uncomfortable. Everybody took the opportunity to air their beef with one another. We didn’t get the Clegane-bowl we’ve been looking for, but the brothers stared each other down. Hey, this episode gave us pretty much everything else, it had to save something for season eight. Euron taunted Theon about Yara, and Cersei made it clear that she didn’t trust anybody. Until Jon and The Hound brought out their captured White Walker. No better wake-up call than a bloodthirsty zombie running straight towards you. Cersei accepts Daenerys’ truce as long as Jon agrees to stay out of it and not take sides. That’s a problem, considering he just pledged his allegiance to Daenerys last episode. Proving he truly is a Stark, he tells Cersei he can’t promise her that. The deal is over, and the trip to King’s Landing was seemingly for nothing.Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage (Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO)Tyrion tries to smooth things over with his sister, who won’t listen to him until he figures out she’s pregnant. We don’t get to see the rest of the conversation after that, but Cersei agrees to send Lannister troops to fight alongside Targaryen and Stark forces against their common enemy. She appears to, anyway. She’s still Cersei Lannister. She always has a larger game in mind. Looking back at the last couple episodes, you may remember Tyrion’s concerns that his sister would use the meeting as a trap. In its finale, the show threw us a clever twist: She totally did, just not in the way we would assume. The trap wasn’t meant to kill Daenerys; it was to distract her while she built up her army. Upon seeing the White Walker in person, Euron ran, claiming he was going to hole up on the Iron Islands where the dead couldn’t get him. Really, he was running to Essos to hire the Golden Company. Cersei reveals to Jaime that she has no intention of sending her men to fight alongside enemies. Like their father, she put all her stock in the gold they have. With it, they can hire enough sellswords to defeat whatever comes south for them after the war with the Night King.That is the final straw for Jaime, though. Cersei’s refusal to fight the coming threat is what finally disillusions him. She even threatens to have the Mountain kill him for treason, but he calls her bluff. It’s funny. She came that close to killing both of her brothers this episode, but couldn’t follow through on either. Jaime leaves King’s Landing just as snow begins to fall. Winter is here. Now, we see the central conflict of season eight start to come together. It may have been interesting to see the North, the Vale, the Dothraki, the Unsullied and the Lannister armies all unite against the Night King, especially given the sticky political mess that would be left afterward. That conflict is too simple for Game of Thrones. We were never going to have a straightforward living vs. dead conflict. This show needs to have infighting and external threats that go unknown or ignored. Jon and Daenerys will be in a much more desperate situation now. Without the Lannisters, they’ll have to defeat the Night King and immediately take a weakened army back south to fight another, very well funded, military. It adds a conflict and tension to an otherwise clear and straightforward final season. At this point, anyway. Who knows what complications await us whenever the next episode airs?Maisie Williams (Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)At Winterfell, they finally gave the season’s worst plot a decent resolution. Though, not before torturing us with an extended Littlefinger-Sansa scene. At least this one paid off. Littlefinger told Sansa about a game he plays where he assumes the worst about someone and asks how well those assumptions explain their current actions. Sansa plays along, seeming to agree that Arya wants to kill her and become the Lady of Winterfell. Like Arya wants to be the lady of anything. The show finally shows its hand, revealing that Arya and Sansa have been working together against Littlefinger. I guess the show decided we didn’t need to see those scenes. What appears to be a trial for Arya turns out to be for Littlefinger. They accuse him of murder (which he did) and conspiracy against the Stark family. Thanks to Bran’s new superpower, they’re able to bring up dirt from season one to condemn him. Satisfying Arya kills serve as great bookends for this season. It opened with her slaughtering the Frey family, and it ends with her cutting Littlefinger’s throat. We don’t know if she makes a mask out of his face, but man, it’d be great to see that next season.As satisfying as this ending was, it doesn’t quite excuse everything that led up to it. We had to sit through multiple weeks of Arya and Sansa appearing to have suddenly become stupid. So what, were they discussing this plan in secret? If that’s the case, what made those secret conversations any safer than the one with the knife and faces from last week? Assuming that was performative, anyway. We weren’t given any indication that Littlefinger was listening in or that either Arya or Sansa was aware that Littlefinger was listening. Their performance of infighting had only one clear purpose: To fool the audience. Well, congrats, you got me. I thought you were showing me all the cards, when really you had a full extra pack backstage. What a cool magic trick. I can’t complain too much when it led to such a great scene, but it really highlights how pointless most of this entire plot was. There was a way to pull this off without making it appear like two of our favorite characters lost all semblance of sense overnight.Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke (Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO)The show ended by giving us exactly what we’ve been demanding all season. Daenerys and Jon finally get down. Yes, this comes right after Samwell Tarly, and Bran confirm that they are aunt and nephew, but hey. There’s nothing more traditionally Targaryen than getting dirty with your relatives. Hey, by that family’s standards aunt and nephew are barely related at all. Also, even as a straight guy, I have to admit: Kit Harrington has a nice butt. Though come on, Sam. Really? YOU found out that Rhaegar had his marriage annulled? The evidence that he and Lyanna were secretly married is here thanks to YOUR transcribing? I think you’re forgetting that someone else pointed out that particular piece of information to you and you ignored her. Gilly better get one hell of an apology next season.This season of Game of Thrones has been called fan fiction, usually by people saying that’s a bad thing. Everything that’s happened this season has been exactly what fans want to see. And the problem is…? We’re far enough into the story at this point that we’re pretty sure who will live, and who can still die. That would be the case whether the show was still working from novels or not. We can be pretty sure we’re not going to get another event like the Red Wedding, where two beloved main characters die unexpectedly. Since that tension is lessened, the show is just going for spectacle. After years of anguish, it’s giving the audience a few wins. We are getting everything we want, and everything we want makes for some pretty exciting television.Brendan Cowell, Alfie Allen (Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO)Besides, I get the feeling this isn’t going to be the new normal for next season. With the Night King using blue dragon fire to take down the wall and Tormund possibly (though probably not yet) dead, things aren’t going to remain this easy. Winter is here, and there are hard times ahead. It wouldn’t be out of character for Game of Thrones to give us a season of triumph before a brutal final season. Of course what’s really going to be brutal is the wait for said final season. HBO has said it may even come as late as 2019. After this amazing season finale, we hope we only have to wait a year to see what happens next.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetlast_img

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