THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS
Well. That was quick. After just seven episodes, HBO’s Game of Thrones wraps up season number seven, three episodes short of the usual season length. With the endgame ever-so near, it’s been fascinating watching six seasons worth of build-up finally come to its culmination. At 79 minutes and 43 seconds long, The Dragon and the Wolf is the longest episode of the series yet. Not wasting a minute of screen time, the episode picks up exactly where promised.
The long-awaited meeting between Team Lannister and Team Targaryen is finally here. After Daenerys arrives, the meeting goes about as well as it could’ve gone for Team Targaryen. The Hound opens the crate containing the wight they captured from beyond the wall, which frightens Team Lannister, causing Euron to leave and Cersei to show signs of fear. Cersei accepts their truce offering, on the condition that Jon bends the knee to Cersei and abandons Daenery’s cause, which Jon refuses. The tables turn on Team Targaryen and Cersei leaves, claiming there will be no truce otherwise.
Tyrion decides to follow Cersei into the Red Keep in hopes of changing her mind. After challenging her to finally kill him, Cersei lets up and tells The Mountain to stand down. Tyrion apologizes for indirectly causing the downfall of the Lannister family by leaving them wounded and vulnerable after killing his father. Cersei spares him his life and listens to his plea, which, unfortunately, remains offscreen. Changing her mind, she returns to the Dragon Pit and tells Jon and Daenerys she will work with them to fight the undead.
We then move onto Winterfell, finding ourselves in a room with Peter Baelish and Sansa Stark. Scheming, Baelish continues to pit Sansa and Arya against one another, leading Sansa to believe that Arya came to Winterfell to kill her.
We jump to Dragonstone, where Team Targaryen plots their next move in the war effort against the Night King and the army of the undead. Jon and Theon finally come face-to-face, and in a quite emotional moment, Jon tells Theon he’s as much of a Stark as he is a Greyjoy, giving Theon the identity he’s lacked since the beginning of the show and sparking his motivation to save his sister Yara from Euron. After a fight with another Iron Islander who escaped Euron’s rule, Theon gains the respect from the other deserters, who join him in his rescuing of his sister and their rightful queen. Rejuvenated with a new sense of identity and pride, we see the beginnings of the re-emergence of Theon Greyjoy, and the beginning of the end of his character arc.
We’re back at Winterfell again, where Lady Sansa calls forth the leaders of the North to hold a trial for who we assume would be Arya, until they flip the switch and begin to question Baelish. After accusing him of murder and treason, Bran reveals he knew everything and fed that information to Sansa and Arya to help them play the long-con on Baelish. After pleading on his knees to spare him, Arya slices his throat, bringing a permanent end to Littlefinger.
While Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, and Alfie Allen all gave magnificent performances earlier on in the episode, Aiden Gillen stole the show during his trial. Portraying a broken and pleading Littlefinger, seeing his character quite literally on his knees was such a sharp contrast to how we see him the six seasons prior. Manipulative and conniving, it always seemed like Baelish had the upper hand in almost any given scenario, even when presented with un surmounting odds. Bringing Baelish’s arc to a close, we see his character, once thought to be invincible, down on his knees. A simple slash to throat bringing his empire down with him.
Back in Kings Landing, Cersei reveals to Jaime that the deal she made with Daenerys and Jon was indeed a ruse. She did not intend on sending her armies north to fight the undead and was waiting for Euron to return with an army from Essos to help aid her when her time comes to pick up the scraps up north. Hurt that Cersei kept this from him and the fact that Cersei broke her oath to the northerners, Jaime leaves Cersei after she can’t bring herself to have him killed. Jaime rides north towards Winterfell. Again, we are shown the beginnings of the end for another monumental character arc. Upholding his sense of honor that was absent in the earlier seasons, we see Jaime abandoning his family name and lineage to uphold his oath and fight the undead army up north. Cersei is left alone in the world.
Samwell Tarly reaches Winterfell and meets with Bran. Bran reveals to Sam that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and is no longer Jon Snow, but Jon Sand. Sam tells Bran that Gilly discovered that Rhaegar and Lyanna were married in secret, and reveals Jon’s true name – Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Snow starts to fall over Westeros, reaching King’s Landing in the south. Winter has come.
For the remaining few minutes, the viewers are taken back to Eastwatch, were Tormund and Beric watch over the wall. The White Walkers and their army of the undead arrive, soon joined by The Night King atop a resurrected Viscerion. With the help of his new dragon, The Night King tears down part of the wall, creating an opening for his army of the undead to pass through. The White Walkers and the army of the undead cross over into Westeros.
Beautifully acted throughout (special shout out to Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Aiden Gillen, and Alfie Allen), wonderfully directed and uneasily intense, the episode is cloaked by an invisible sense of looming dread creeping up on Westeros. The music by Ramin Djawadi is beautifully subtle, the best score since S6E10 The Winds of Winter, and it’s perhaps the best-written episode of season seven yet.
As we see characters finally come together and the end game finally in sight, we can see the final pieces of the story coming into place. With Littlefinger now dead, the remaining human enemies continue to drop in numbers, leaving Team Lannister (with Jaime now entering free agency) in the south and the White Walkers in the north. Six more episodes remain to tie together the story of A Song of Ice and Fire together. An ending that was set in motion beautifully by tonight’s episode.