[Warning: this story contains spoilers for the season seven finale of HBO's Game of Thrones, called "The Dragon and the Wolf."]
Last year, when Game of Thrones wrapped its sixth season, the story closed out with the arrival of winter. But as the erstwhile Tormund Giantsbane, actor Kristofer Hivju, told us just last week, Game of Thrones has started competing with itself — and in that regard, the season seven finale delivered a few scenes that put last year's change of seasons to shame.
Among the highlights: the destruction of the Wall and the arrival of White Walkers in Westeros, the death of a longtime main character in Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finally making their love for one another official and the revelation that Jon isn't just a Targaryen, he's a Targaryen with an incredibly awesome name.
Read on for more on those highlights, and the other most important scenes from the episode:
1. The Hype is Real
The Dragonpit scene features a number of compelling character combinations, including reunions between Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Brienne and the Hound (Rory McCann) and the best one of all: the Hound and the Mountain (Ian Whyte). In case you haven't heard, one of the most widely adored theories in the Thrones fandom is that Sandor and Gregor will one day fight each other to the death. It's known informally as "The Cleganebowl," and the tense exchange between the Hound and his undead brother in the finale brought us closer than ever before to that much-hyped confrontation. Expect it to go down at some point in the final six episodes.
2. Death is the Enemy
The Hound's other excellent scene in the episode involves him unleashing the wight captured from beyond the Wall on Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), proving once and for all that the undead menace is the only threat that really matters. Of course, Cersei doesn't actually process the lesson, instead doubling down on her thirst for power. It's such a bad look that even Jaime can't pretend to take her side anymore. He ends the season nearly cleaved in half by his sister's mountainous bodyguard, narrowly avoiding that fate and turning his attention toward the great war in the North.
3. Jon Snow Goes Full Stark
Sure, it's not great that Cersei wants to rescind her promise to help in the battle against the White Walkers, but in all honesty, there's no one better to blame than Jon Snow. In an episode where it's finally revealed he's not Ned Stark's true son (more on that soon), Jon acts more like his adoptive father than ever before, refusing to lie to Cersei about bending the knee to Daenerys even though it means shattering all hopes for an alliance. Jon preaches about the importance of truth and maintaining the meaning of words, and it's a nice sentiment, especially in our modern context... but Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is also totally correct in his retort: "That is indeed a problem. The more immediate problem is we're fucked."
4. Return of the King
Entering this episode, almost everyone who watches Game of Thrones (or at least anyone who watches Game of Thrones and reads about it online) already knew the big Jon Snow twist: he's the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, making him the true heir to the Iron Throne. But there actually was a pretty compelling wrinkle to the reveal that we didn't know: Jon's true name is Aegon Targaryen, the same name of the first Dragon King who united the Seven Kingdoms together almost 300 years ago. Like great, great, great, great, great grandfather, like great, great, great... ah, you get the picture. It's not Jaehaerys as was rumored more than a year ago, but at least Jon's true Targaryen name has major meaning in the wider world of Westeros.
5. The Most Awkward Love Scene Ever
Seriously, how uncomfortable was that? No, it's not the first incest scene in Game of Thrones, but it's definitely a difficult moment to watch all the same. We already knew Daenerys was Jon's secret aunt, and that any physical connection between the two was going to come loaded with Oedipal issues. The fact that their first sexual encounter came with the added awkwardness of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) narrating their familial connection only made what could have been a mostly tender scene into something extremely cringey. Perhaps not the most elegant way this storyline could have been handled.
6. The Queen in the North's Justice
After seasons and seasons and seasons of scheme after scheme after scheme, Littlefinger finally met the end of the line. In the finale, it's revealed that the fighting between Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) was little more than a ruse, staged to expose Littlefinger for the monster he is, setting the stage for his violent death. It's sad to lose such an electric character with only six episodes left, and the jury's still out on the fake-me-out nature of the Sansa and Arya story. With that said, it's a death that paves the way for a tone shift in the final season. On top of that, it might not even be the last time we see Littlefinger on the show. More on that over here.
7. The Wall Falls
Where were you when the White Walkers finally invaded Westeros? It's a moment we won't soon forget, as the great Wall of Westeros finally came tumbling down, thanks to the devastating fury of the Night King's undead dragon. What more is there to say? This is the turning point we've waited for all series long, the destructive event to end all destructive events. The Night King's army has officially crossed over into the Seven Kingdoms, and suddenly it makes a lot of sense why Game of Thrones only has six episodes left. At long last, the Great War is here. Well, not here, really. It's here in 2018, or 2019, or whenever the final season comes out. Sorry to bring down the mood so soon after the White Walkers brought down the Wall.
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