'Game of Thrones' Season 7 Finale: What to Expect Based on the Episode Title

"The Dragon and the Wolf" clocks in at just under 80 minutes. Here's what the title tells us about the episode.
Courtesy of HBO

Earlier this week, in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, director Alan Taylor recalled one of his earliest memories from working on the first season of Game of Thrones. 

He was in Malta, one of the most prominent shooting locations for the first year of the series, along with George R.R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels on which Thrones is based. There, at one of the final moments in time before Thrones was a worldwide phenomenon, Martin revealed some key secrets about where his saga was heading.

"At the time, we had no idea what the show was going to turn into," said Taylor. "He was quite open about what his plans were, in a way we certainly haven't been since, since the show has become a big deal and has to be kept secret. But even then, in that first season, when there were 100 characters and we were finding out who was important and who was going to last, and no one knew if Robb Stark (Richard Madden) was going to wind up being king or something — even then, he said very early on that this was going to be about Dany (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington). It was a revelation to hear so early on, because they were secondary characters, or at least they were characters among many other characters, and it wasn't clear yet where the story was going to head. From the beginning, he knew this relationship was going to be the focus."

If it wasn't obvious to the Game of Thrones team then, and if it wasn't immediately apparent to fans watching the first season of the series, it's certainly clear as day now in season seven: the King in the North and the Dragon Queen are the two most crucial players on the board, the avatars of ice and fire at the heart of this tale. Their growing closeness over the course of season seven has only bolstered that notion of their predestined importance, and it's reinforced even further by the name of the season seven finale: "The Dragon and the Wolf."

HBO revealed the episode's title this week, along with the very specific runtime: 79 minutes and 43 seconds, effectively turning the coming finale into a feature-length Game of Thrones extravaganza. Based on the trailer, we already know the episode will see Jon, Daenerys and several other popular Thrones characters converging on King's Landing, where they will make their desperate plea to Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and her forces to put aside their differences and join together in the fight against the Night King. The title curiously omits the lion of House Lannister, leaving one to wonder just how successful the dragon of House Targaryen and the wolf of House Stark will be in their pitch.

While the title certainly speaks to Jon and Dany's central roles in the season and the coming finale, it's also possible that "The Dragon and the Wolf" speaks directly toward one of the story's most important twists — a twist that many fans already know, and one that Thrones has heavily implied but stopped short of outright confirming: Jon Snow is both the dragon and the wolf, the secret son of the late prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The identity of Jon's mother was confirmed in the season six finale, but the words "Jon is a Targaryen," or anything close to that, have yet to be uttered in the story. With only six episodes remaining after the finale, there's little time to dance around the dragon in the room. The finale's title strongly suggests that the time is nigh for Jon Snow to learn the truth about who he is and where he comes from.

How will Jon react when he finds out he's a Targaryen? As complicated as it is for fans to wrap their heads around the ramifications of such a reveal, try inhabiting Jon's snow shoes for a moment. He's set to learn that he's not Ned Stark's son at all, as he's believed for his entire life; that his biological father is the man his adoptive father fought against in a bitter war; that he's the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, based on the line of succession, which will be a curiously timed revelation given that Jon just verbally relinquished his claim as King in the North and pledged his fealty to Daenerys as his queen. Oh, and Daenerys? She's his aunt, which makes things even more complicated, given the growing romance between these two Targaryen relatives.

In other words, for a guy frequently accused of knowing nothing, Jon Snow's about to know a lot.

No matter how it shakes out, there are a lot of implications and promises in giving the finale such a provocative name. The only way it could be more alluring is if it were called "A Song of Ice and Fire," which, come to think of it, would be a very appropriate name for the series finale. For now, the season seven finale stands ready to spell out the biggest open secret in Thrones lore — just as it stands to bring Jon and Daenerys closer together than ever before.

One last thing: if Ghost, Drogon and Rhaegal aren't all hanging out together in an episode called "The Dragon and the Wolf," then what's the point? Time to get Jon and Dany's pets together, stat.

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