Well, that was certainly something there at the end. I don't want to point out that I saw a lot of this coming and have been pointing it out all season but I will mention that I love being correct. Although I will concede this, when I said some thing were going to happen, namely what happened at the end of this episode, I didn't think it was going to go down like that. This season has proved to be a little more controversial than previous ones, if not for its short, limited number of episodes but also for it creative decisions. Ultimately though I believe it is a good season packed full of surprises and while it may lack a little political maneuvering when compared to its predecessors it more than makes up for in confirmations, actions, and my personal favorite, banter (and really, it's been 20 years, that's what we're all here for). As much as I do like seeing some of the backhanded medieval politics that we've become accustom to, we've come so far; watching character that literally started out as children who are now commanding armies or ruling over territories. Let's face it we've got to come to the ending one way or another and after 20 years you can't count on the good ol' George Rest and Relaxation Martin to come out with it.
So this episode kicked off with the tension just about as high as I thought it could possibly get, and ho boy was that an incorrect assessment. The parley between the three powers is about to begin but before things get underway we get to see a few touching interactions between Bronn and Tyrion, and the Hound and Brienne. I especially liked the one between Sandor and Brienne considering how far both characters have come and what they went through to protect Arya and both realized that in the end Arya was going to get along just fine without them. As all the parties converge onto Dragonpit, particularly Cersei's, the realization came to me that two particular parties were about to meet for the first time since season 1. Frantically, I began scrambling for my air-horn and giant "Sandor #1" foam finger, just as The Hound and the Mountain recognize each other and come forward. This was one of the most tense moments of the episode for me and I loved so much about it. It's the first time we see ser Gregor do something out of his own free will, letting us know that he's still under there somewhere he's not some mindless zombie. I loved seeing the facial expressions on Sandor as he asked "what'd they do to you" and we almost see a slight hint of pity or compassion for his blood relative, but then it's quickly buried by rage. Sandor tells Gregor they both know who's going to kill the Mountain in the end, and I sadly had to put down my megaphone with built-in siren alarm and tell my wife the jello shots with sparklers where going to have to wait until season 8. this is as close as we were going to come to Cleganebowl this time around.
Daenerys makes a dramatic entrance and Euron manages to make everybody there hate him in about 5 seconds but then Sandor returns with the wight. Opening the giant container the undead warrior immediately attempts to attack the nearest thing in sight, Cersei, before being restrained and cut in half by Sandor. Jon demonstrates that only fire and Dragonglass can kill wights as Qyburn inspects the now dead remains at full mast. The presentation of the dead had its desired effect and pretty much the entire attitude changes around what should be done about the White Walkers. Cersei even promises her support however the stipulation is that Jon cannot choose a side in the war to come and the North must wait for the South to fight it out among themselves before deciding what to do. That actually might've seemed reasonable, especially for Cersei, from a diplomatic standpoint, except that Jon had bent the knee to Dany at the end of the episode last week and was honor bound to uphold that. This causes Cersei to leave negotiations as there's really nothing for her to negotiate, they were asking for her support for nothing in return. Tyrion says the only way to make Cersei come around is if he goes and speaks to her alone. Against everyone's better judgement, including his own, Tyrion leaves to do just this.
Tyrion has a touching moment with Jaime before going in to his first talk alone with Cersei for a very long time. This scene was one of if not the best of the show, with an amazing performance from both actors whose characters have been through quite traumatizing experiences. After mostly arguing Tyrion forces Cersei to show her hand by telling her to kill him on the spot since she hates him so much, which she does not do. This allows Tyrion some breathing room and he realizes that Cersei is pregnant. using this, armed with the fact that Cersei is obsessive over her family, he is able to convince Cersei to come back to the parley. As we await Cersei's return Jon and Daenerys talk about the importance of keeping promises and loyalty, and I really enjoyed Jon's earlier point to Tyrion about how if everyone lies then words mean nothing and parleys l;like the one they are at, or truces to fight the greater threat all hinge off of lies. Tyrion arrives with Cersei following and Cersei declares that she will not only discontinue the current state of affairs in Westeros preparing for Daenerys' invasion but that she will also send Lannister troops North to personally have a stake in the fight with the White Walkers.
With the truce in place and the parley concluded Jon's and Daenerys party determine the best course of action to mobilize troops as well as themselves. Jon and Daenerys choose to sail together for the North instead of Daenerys riding separately on her dragons to send a message of good faith to the Northerners. As everyone begins departing, Theon finds Jon. The entirety of the scenes with Theon, not just in this episode but within the entire Season, I believe are easily in the running for best moments in the show. The acting is superb and the small, subtle facial teaks that Alfie Allen is able to achieve really sells the internal conflict that Theon is going through in these moments of strength and weakness. i was really glad to see these two characters, Jon and Theon, bury the hatchet with what was between them and Jon saying, in his own way, that he understand what Theon has to do to save Yara. having concluded and gained strength from Jon, Theon goes to the shore and attempts to convince the other Iron Born that they must go after Yara. That doesn't go over well, and Theon gets into a fight with the leader of the group. I really appreciated the writing in this instance, as it felt very viking and Iron Born, two men using their fists to determine what the group was going to do. Theon manages to come out on top[ and in a beautiful sequence of cinematography washes his blood soaked face with the ocean water signifying the Iron Born rebirth taking place within him. I'm really rooting for Theon at this point he's got five episodes left let's hope he makes them count.
The remainder of the episode wrapped up the Winterfell plot, and in a most satisfying way I might add. We pick up where we left off last week with Littlefinger attempting to drive a wedge in between Sansa and Arya with apparently some degree of success at first glance. However, as many fans including myself had been noting, there were some subtle thing at play that made us believe thing were not as they seemed. The biggest thing was Bran not simply telling the sisters what Luittlefinger was up to, but we'll come to that in a moment. So Littlefinger baits Sansa into a line of thought that Arya wants to kill her in order to become the Lady of Winterfell which, as everyone knows since season 1, Arya has never wanted to be a Lady. I think Sansa realized this fact too, as it seems she just follows along with Littlefinger too easily. Playing ignorant to Littlefingers game, Sansa calls for an audience in the great hall and brings up chargers of treason and murder against...Littlefinger!
Boy did that take him by surprise. It turns out that popular suspicion was correct and that Sansa had indeed been communicating with Bran as well as Arya off camera and that is why she seemed to so easily go along with Littlefingers games, because she was spinning a web of her own to ensnare him. Once the audience was called Littlefinger was brought up on pretty much every consiracy he's been involved in since the beginning including the murder of Lysa and Jon Arryn in his power struggle for the Vale, and finally the betrayal of Ned, Caitlyn, and Sansa Stark. Bran being able to testify as a first hand witness (sort of... enough for the Northern Lords anyways). I have to really hand it to Aidan Gillen, this scene was full of emotion and treachery as all of Littlefinger's schemes came crashing down around him, and I was never sure if he was being sincere in his pleading or if it was simply another ruse. He attempts to use his title, his influence over Sansa and finally his tears in an attempt to flee, however Sansa was having none of it and sentences him to death, to which Arya happily and quickly complies. This was truly a clever play for the Stark children as now the power of the Vale is consolidated under Winterfell without needing Littlefinger or an official Lord at the moment. The Stark sisters finally admit to having an understanding of each other and agree to work together following their brother Jon in his endeavors to fight against the undead threat and survive the long winter.
Among the last few things to happen was Cersei reveals to Jaime that she is not going to help fight the threat in the North and, in a scene that nearly gave me a heart attack, Jaime almost loses his life to the Mountain. Disgusted with Cersei, Jaime leaves for Winterfell alone, no longer part of whatever shit-show Cersei is running. Sam arrives back in Winterfell and has a reunion with Bran who informs him of his new powers. After some great dialog of Sam blundering through Bran's Dr Manhattan act Sam reveals that he's the greatest listening boyfriend of all time and when Bran says Jon's a Sand-Targaryen Sam reveals the revelation I pointed out last week; Gilly uncovered that Jon is a legitimized Targaryen through a secret wedding of Rhaegar and Lyanna. On her deathbed, Lyanna reveals that his name is not Jon, but Aegon Targaryen. This gives Jon the most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne among the players right now (screw you, yes is does). This while scene and revelation comes at a time when Jon decides to make his move on Daenerys and the two share a cabin together while sailing north. This whole scene was a true return to form for the show. Only Game of Thrones could build towards a long awaited sexual romance and when the scene finally happens have a third party narrate how they're related in the background.
The final sequence of the show brings us to the Wall as Beric and Tormund remain ever vigilant. Well, as far as vigilance goes, mission complete. The White Walkers arrive, full forced, and the Night King, astride an undead Viserion spouting blue fire, Destroy the Wall in an unbelievable and quite astounding sequence of dread that we all knew was coming, but nobody was ready for. This whole scene was amazing. So much tenion was built around a very quick sequence of events, everything to how fast Viserion now is to Tormund and Beric almost getting killed. The Wall has officially fallen, Winter is Here, and the show rolls credits as the entirety of the undead army walks to the other side of the Wall.
As far as finales go, this one was pretty damn good. Season 6 I think spoiled me a little with the last few episodes like the Door, The Battle of the Bastards, and the finale all happening back to back, but I felt this episode was on par with those as far as the writing goes. I would've loved to see more greyworm and unsullied fighting this Season, I can only imagine that next season has five episodes because they've poured the production value into nothing but battle sequences. Honestly that's the biggest concern I have and probably the only real complaint I found with this season; the short number of episodes. Things did feel a little rushed this season and while I personally am not one of the critics of the glossed over travel time, I really would've liked to have seen some of the battle drawn out, or the Raid North be a whole episode on it's own. But, all in all, these complaints are small, and the show is doing a great job so far at keeping the viewer hooked and engaged throughout the season. Also I really enjoyed the misdirection this season; Jaime I thought was going to die, Bronn I thought was going to die, Tyrion I thought was going to die, Thoros I did not expect to die and was truly disheartened when he passed. The acting so far has been movie-like quality and the characters have come through so much that even if I hated the show (which I don't by a long shot) at the very least I'm satisfied that we're getting a definitive ending to the series. All in all a great season, I'll have anpother review coming in the near future to talk about spoiler theories, review the season as a whole, and what we know and can expect so far, but for this episode I'll leave it at it's been a fantastic, thrilling ride so far and I'm sure we're all on board for next year.