Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 7 “The Dragon and The Wolf”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

King’s Landing: Daenerys’s group arrive in the city, although without Daenerys herself. Jon, Missandei, Tyrion, Davos, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, and some Dothraki guards are escorted to a meeting place outside King’s Landing, in the ruins of a sort of arena. We learn from conversation that this structure used to be used to contain dragons. The Targaryens conquered Westeros with dragons, but once they had secured the land, they needed to keep a rein on the dragons, so they caged them. Over time the dragons dwindled in size and power, as evidenced by a small dog-sized skull that Tyrion picks up, until eventually they died out.

They take seats on a stage in the middle of the arena. Shortly after, Cersei and her entourage approach, with Jaime, Euron, Qyburn, and Gregor “The Six Million Dollar Mountain” Clegane. Sandor walks up to his brother and looks through the slitted helmet into his red eyes. Sandor asks what they’ve done to him, but Gregor is silent. Sandor tells Gregor that he’s always known who will come after him, and now he’s here. Sandor returns to his side of the podium.

Cersei wonders where Daenerys is. There is a flutter of wings and Drogon appears, flying above the arean, He descends and lands on the wall, crushing some of its rocks. Daenerys climbs down and walks over nonchalantly to take her seat as Drogon departs. Cersei is momentarily surprised, but quickly regains her composure. She says, “We’ve been waiting for you for some time.” Daenerys simply says, “My apologies.”

They get down to business. Jon tells Cersei about the army of the dead marching south, and says their struggles to control Westeros are pointless in the face of their mutual enemy. Cersei is cynical, saying that it’s a trick to get her to move her armies away from King’s Landing so the others can strike. She says there’s no such thing as White Walkers. Jon nods to Sandor, who departs down a set of stairs in the middle of the podium. He returns with a crate on his back and drops it onto the stage. Cersei regards this curiously.

Sandor opens the box and the skeletal zombie charges straight at Cersei with lightning speed! It seems to be unrestrained and it looks for a second as though it might reach her and rip her to pieces. But just before reaching Cersei, it is jerked back by a chain. It grasps for her, screaming horribly and clearly showing its monstrous nature. Cersei recoils in shock. Jon and Sandor walk up and hack the zombie to pieces, but each piece still moves and attempts to crawl towards Cersei. Qyburn picks up a dismembered forearm, with the hand still grasping, and regards it with intense curiosity. Jon grabs the arm and says, “They can be killed by fire,” as he sets fire to it. “Or by dragonglass,” as he stabs the upper torso of the zombie with a dragonglass dagger, destroying it.

At this point Euron Greyjoy gets up and asks, “Can these things swim?” Jon says no. Euron says, “Good! I’m off to the Iron Islands to wait out the Winter. Seeya!!” And he departs.

Cersei is clearly shocked and impressed by the zombie. She agrees that they need to have a truce and cooperate to defeat the undead. But she has a condition. She demands that Jon stay loyal to Westeros and not ally with Daenerys. But Jon says he can’t do that, as he’s already sworn allegiance to her. Tyrion is frustrated and sees the opportunity slip away as Cersei turns her back on the negotiations and walks off. She says Daenerys and Jon can deal with the undead in the North, she’ll look after the South when and if necessary. Tyrion tels Jon he should have lied to get Cersei’s support, but Jon says he has to be true to his word, because if everyone lies then nobody can ever trust anyone.

Jaime tells Cersei that after what they saw out there in the arena, he knows they have no chance to fight off the undead army. She says let Daenerys and Jon fight them, and whichever side wins will be weakened to the point that the Lannisters can deal with them. Jaime is not so sure. Tyrion appears to speak with Cersei. They spend some time arguing about which of them has done more damage to the Lannister name. He says Daenerys wanted to simply blast King’s Landing with dragons, but he convinced her not to. Eventually Tyrion says they have to band together, or else everyone in Westeros will be wiped out. This appears to frighten Cersei, and finally agrees, and says she will commit forces to help defeat the undead. Tyrion realises Cersei isn’t afraid for herself, but for an unborn child, deducing that she is pregnant.

Cersei returns to the arena and declares that the Lannisters will join the others in fighting the undead, and will send armies north. An alliance is forged! Or is it…

Okay, so Cersei is clearly worried about the future for her new child, having had all three of her previous children killed. This protectiveness is probably her main motivation now. Qyburn is showing an interest that some would consider… unnatural… in the undead. He’s already turned Gregor into a sort of half-zombie. Given the chance to study a real zombie, who knows where his experiments may lead? An undead army in the control of him and Cersei? Imagine that! And Sandor and Gregor seem like they must be headed to an inevitable showdown.

Dragonstone: Daenerys and her followers return to Dragonstone. They prepare to travel to Winterfell to set up a base of operations in the North. Tyrion advises Daenerys to fly there on Drogon, to minimise any risk, but she decides to travel by ship and then over land, to rally support for her and Jon working together, rather than appear to be an aloof foreigner.

Theon talks to Jon, saying he needs to find his sister Yara. He apologises for his faults, but Jon says that he has redeemed himself and is now worthy of the names of both the Greyjoys and the Starks. Theon goes to a boat to sail on an Ironborn ship. But the men who rescued him from the battle with Euron call him a coward. One man steps forward and tells Theon to go away or he’ll kill him. Theon instead starts throwing punches and they begin fighting on the sand. Theon goes down a few times and the other man tells him to stay down or he’ll kill him. But each time Theon gets up again. Finally the man ties kicking Theon in the groin, but Theon feels no pain (due to Ramsay having cut off his privates). The man is taken aback and kicks Theon again, but Theon simply stands there, and then launches a flurry of blows, defeating the man. He says to the others, “Now, shall we go find Yara?” They cheer Theon and take him to the ship.

So, it’s not clear if the Northerners will accept Daenerys, even with Jon urging them to do so. Travelling with Jon could bolster support, but it also exposes her to potential assassination. Not that any attempt against her is likely to succeed.

Winterfell: Sansa is worried about Arya. Petyr Baelish talks to Sansa about it, and says whenever he’s worried about someone, he plays a “little game”. He imagines what their motives could be and then assumes the worst, and sees if their actions are consistent with that. He prompts Sansa to think what would be the worst possible thing that Arya could be up to. He leads her like a dog through the chain of logic: Arya thinks Sansa is a traitor (thanks to the letter that Petyr planted for Arya to find!), Arya wants to defend Winterfell, … Arya wants to murder Sansa… and take her place as Lady of Winterfell. Petyr looks smug as he concludes, “Exactly.” Sansa finds a servant and commands them to find Arya and bring her to the Great Hall.

Sansa sits in the Hall with the Lords and Ladies of the North, and also Petyr Baelish, looking smugly triumphant to one side. A guard escorts Arya in to stand in front of Sansa. Sansa begins: “You stand here before the Lords and Ladies of the North accused of treason… Lord Baelish.” She turns to Petyr, who is utterly surprised and shocked. He says this must be some joke, but Sansa is stern and unwavering. She accuses him of murdering her aunt Lysa, pushing her through the Moon Door in the Eyrie, and taking control of the Vale, and planting evidence against Arya. Petyr looks around frantically, saying it’s all lies. He appeals to the Lords of the Vale for support, but they say, ohhh, we don’t think so.

Petyr breaks down and falls to his knees, begging for mercy like a blubbering child. Sansa says thank you for teaching her about treachery and deceit, she’s learnt sooo much from him. Arya casually walks up and slashes Petyr’s throat with the Valyrian steel dagger that Peytr used as fake evidence to set his plots in motion so long ago. And so Baelish meets his end, in an appropriately satisfying manner. He was so smooth and slick that initially I thought he was kind of likeable, but he slowly showed his sinister nature over the seasons until this scene had me positively cheering that Sansa and Arya didn’t fall for his manipulations, and he finally got his well-deserved comeuppance. Yeah!

Later, Sansa and Arya stand on the battlement of Winterfell and discuss events. Although they are very different, they are strongly allied and stand together united, each one doing the job they are best at. I was half hoping for a sisterly hug, but they are made of sterner stuff than that, and merely stand staring out into the snow, united against their enemies.

Sam and Gilly arrive at Winterfell. Sam’s looking for Jon, but of course he’s not here. Sam talks to Bran, and Bran says that he needs to tell Jon about his true parents. Bran says Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister)… and a Targaryen!! Rhaegar Targaryen. Not Robert Baratheon as I thought. Bran concludes he’s a Targaryen bastard, not a Stark bastard. But wait! Sam has relevant info! In the scene where he decided to leave Old Town a couple of episodes ago, Gilly was reading out some dull history about the Targaryens, which just passed by unnoticed in the background at the time. Sam recalls what Gilly said: that Rhaegar Targaryen had his first marriage annulled. At the time Gilly had asked what “annulled” meant and Sam had explained it meant the marriage was legally cancelled, so he could marry again, before quickly moving on to telling Gilly to pack their things to leave Old Town. But now Sam realises what it means… Rhaegar might have married Lyanna legitimately. He asks Bran to use his vision to see if he can find out. Sure enough, Bran sees the wedding ceremony of Rhaegar and Lyanna. This makes Jon a legitimate Targaryen! And, Bran says… the true heir to the Iron Throne!

Now wait a second. I’m a bit confused about this. I thought while watching the episode that Rhaegar must be the Mad King, the father of Viserys and Daenerys. Which would make Jon Daenerys’s half-brother. And indeed the heir to the Iron Throne, because Viserys is dead, and Daenerys – although presumably older as the result of the first marriage – is a woman, and it seems pretty clear that male primogeniture is the default in Westeros. So it all made sense. But now as I’m writing this, I checked through my old notes and discovered that the Mad King was Aerys Targaryen. And there’s no mention of a Rhaegar anywhere in my notes.

So… who is this guy? Aerys’s father (making Jon Daenerys’s uncle – wait, and the brother of the Mad King – that seems very unlikely)? Or an older brother previously thought to have no children (making Jon Daenerys’s cousin)? That seems the most likely. I don’t recall hearing any explanation of the relationship. But either way, this is a serious complication. Especially as back in Dragonstone we see a brief scene of Jon entering Daenerys’s room at night and… well, they give in to their obviously growing passion for one another.

Oh dear. Jon being the man of honour he is, will want to end their relationship when he finds out they are closely related (however that may be). Daenerys might be less concerned about it, leading to conflict. And then of course if he’s the true heir, that leads into even more serious problems for them. Brans says Jon has to be told. But will Sam agree, or will he decide it’s better if Jon never finds out the truth? Is that the part Sam has to play in this? Stopping Bran from revealing the truth?

King’s Landing again: Jaime is preparing the Lannister armies to march north to fight the undead. Cersei appears and says not to bother, she was lying to Daenerys about an alliance. They’re going to keep their armies at King’s Landing. And Euron wasn’t actually going home – he’s off to Essos to recruit the Golden Company, a huge mercenary army, to their cause. She says they don’t need Daenerys or Jon’s forces to survive – they just need money to pay soldiers. And now she’s in the Iron Bank’s good books, so it’s all good. She plans to let the others fight and then mop up whoever is left.

Jaime is shocked. He says they can’t defeat the undead, nor can they defeat Daenerys and her dragons. Oh, says Cersei, how many dragons did you see at the meeting? Jaime says two. Cersei says she is supposed to have three, why not bring them all in a show of strength? Cersei concludes that Daenerys was trying to hide the fact that one of her dragons is missing, presumably dead. And if something can kill one dragon, we can kill two more, she says.

Jaime is astounded at this betrayal of Cersei’s word to Daenerys. He is torn between his love for Cersei and his honour, and decides to choose honour. He makes to ride off with the armies. But Cersei stops him by ordering Gregor Clegane to block his path. Jaime says, “So, it comes to this, does it? Go on then, order him to kill me.” Cersei hesitates a minute, but can’t bring herself to give the order. Jaime brushes past Gregor and stalks off.

As he rides out of King’s Landing, a snow begins to fall, symbolic of the Winter that is approaching.

Well. Jaime has long been torn between his own sense of what’s right and Cersei’s manipulativeness. It seems he’s finally been forced to choose just one, and he’s gone against Cersei. I thought for a second that Cersei would indeed give Gregor the order, and Jaime would lose his head. Cersei might not need him any more now she has another child on the way. That would really have cemented her role as the evil Queen and would have been totally in character for her. But she held off. Jaime is now on his own though. Although wait… Brienne was there earlier in the summit meeting, and exchanged a meaningful glance with Jaime. Could she join forces with him to create a new honourable army? That would be interesting.

Eastwatch: Tormund goes up the Wall to look out into the North. He sees the undead army arriving. They emerge from the forest and take up positions watching the Wall. There is an ominous pause. Then there is a screech and the undead dragon appears, with the Night King riding it. Tormund realises there is no defending Eastwatch and orders his men to flee for their lives.

The dragon’s breath is blue now, but it’s not clear if it’s still fire or something else. Either way, it blasts the Wall, shattering it and causing great pieces to fall off and smash to the ground. Tormund’s men run, but many of them die. We don’t specifically se Tormund killed, so maybe he survives. But before long the Wall has a huge breach in it. The undead army begin marching again, through the gap and into the lands south of the Wall.

And so ends Season 7. It’s all set up for the epic war now.

7 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 7 “The Dragon and The Wolf””

  1. Glen says:

    “But now Sam realises what it means… Rhaegar might have married Lyanna legitimately.” — to my recollection the Septon’s diary Sam read actually stated that he wed Lyanna and Rheagar after the annulment.

    “Or an older brother previously thought to have no children ” — no, he already had two children when he wed Lyanna — with Elia (formerly Martell), Oberyn’s sister (remember the fight with the Mountain — Oberyn wanted revenge for his sister and her children, who the Mountain killed on Tywin’s orders after Jamie slew the Mad King). It was the marriage to Elia that Rheagar had annulled.

    “Go on then, order him to kill me” … pretty directly echoing the earlier scene with Tyrion; both called her bluff, though it looked to me like she was really thinking of doing it both times.

    Oh, heck, I forgot to watch S8 Ep2 this morning… I’ll go catch it now

  2. Lauri T. says:

    The showdown between the Clegane brothers seems to be more or less universally expected to be one of the highlights of Season 8. It even has its own name – “Cleganebowl” is the preferred term.

  3. Brian says:

    Rhaegar Targaryan is discussed off and on in the earlier seasons, but it all appeared to be simple world-building background information—rather than plot-relevant—at the time. Rhaegar is Visaerys’ and Danaerys’ older brother.

  4. Javier says:

    how on earth do westerosi law allows an anullment of a marriage with already born children? perhaps unless they were already dead when Tywin’s men took King’s Landing, but that most mean that Lyanna was already pregnant of Jon by the time (just to note it). If not already dead, the Jon would be only a bastard, isn’t it? by all means Rhaegar’s baby son (named Aegon too! you Rhaegar creep calling Aegon to both your kids??) , is the true heir, until dead. But if Jon’s a (Targaryen) bastard, only legitimating him would make him the true heir, even though their marriage was all legal. As I said, the only solution I can find is that the marriage took place when the children were already dead, but then the marriage anullment with Elia Martell makes no sense… mmm I just think this is ANOTHER one of the bad plot incoherences of GoT on this important issues.

  5. Glen says:

    Javier – I don’t think the annulment can be cast as any kind of mistake. We have no reason to assume that the laws relating to marriage in the Seven Kingdoms laws in our own history, so there may well be reasons a king’s marriage can be annulled even if the marriage produced children. I also believe that Oberyn makes it clear that Elia and the children were alive when Rheagar remarried.

    The part where Jon is given the same name as a dead sibling does seem a little odd, but again that’s not automatically an error.

  6. Glen says:

    *damn – there used to be “replicates” between “the Seven Kingdoms” and “laws in our own history”; I must have subsequently mangled it during editing.

  7. Javier says:

    Which leave us in a situation where Rhaegar simply abandoned Elia and his children to their fate. How could anybody say that is a cool guy? Or a cool girl talking about Lyanna?

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