‘Game of Thrones’ finale recap: Deaths, revelations, and the fate of Westeros hanging in the balance in ‘The Dragon and The Wolf’

With a feature length episode dubbed “The Dragon and The Wolf,” HBO delivered a relentlessly satisfying ending to Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.” Every character must decide once and for all whether they want to fight for humanity or only for themselves. And as two young Stark girls so ably demonstrate, Ned Stark’s wisdom still holds true: “When the snow falls and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” Let’s dive into the maneuverings from our pack of heroes and start counting down the days until Season 8 premieres.

Dragon Pit Meetings – Jon (Kit Harington) and his crew arrive at King’s Landing, with the Unsullied guarding the perimeter. This meeting with Cersei (Lena Headey) at the dragon pit is tense and provides some satisfying reunions for supporting characters. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) informs the Hound (Rory McCann) that Arya is alive and deadly. The Hound also confronts his brother, making sure the Mountain knows his little brother is intent on murdering him. The most dramatic encounter occurs when Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) arrives in grand fashion on the back of Drogon, marking the first time the Dragon Queen and the Mad Queen meet each other.

Surprise Package – Jon implores Cersei and her men to realize that the proposed truce is “not about living in harmony. It’s about living.” The Hound hauls up a large box and the captured wight springs to life and lunges at Cersei. This might have been the first time the Queen is noticeably terrified, but the Hound pulls the ghoul back and hacks it in half. Euron (Pilou Asbaek) admits his own terror and announces that he is retreating his fleet to the Iron Islands to wait out the dead. Cersei agrees to accept the truce, but only if Jon remains in the North and does not take sides in the Lannister/Targaryen conflict. Jon could simply lie to ensure the peace, but his honor compels him to admit that he has bent the knee to Dany, so Cersei calls off the deal.

Tyrion’s Plea – Sensing he is the only one who could reason with his sister after Jon’s reveal, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) meets with Cersei privately. Cersei is not interested in hearing what he has to say. She blames him for all of her woes, explaining that his murder of Tywin opened them up to attacks, and made Myrcella and Tommen targets. He admits to Tywin’s murder but asserts that he has not tried to tear apart the family. The imp comes dangerously close to losing his head and deduces Cersei’s pregnancy during their heated talk. But eventually Cersei returns to the dragon pit and announces that she will send her troops north to help fight the dead.

Ladies of Winterfell – Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) continues to try and poison Sansa (Sophie Turner) against Arya (Maisie Williams). He asks her to imagine the worst possible reason Arya could have returned to Winterfell — to assassinate Sansa — which prompts Lady Stark to ask Arya to the Great Hall. Arya is surrounded by guards as Sansa lays out the charges of murder and treason. “How do you plead … Lord Baelish?” Littlefinger is stunned and confused. But Sansa proceeds to recount all of his previous deceptions, including the murders of Jon and Lysa Arryn and the betrayal of the Starks to cause a conflict with the Lannisters. It helps that Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is able to see the past, and confirms the betrayal by describing how Baelish held a knife to Ned Stark’s throat. Despite his pleas, Sansa thanks Littlefinger for his many lessons and Arya slits the groveling man’s throat.

Theon Grows a Pair – After witnessing Jon’s honorable actions, Theon (Alfie Allen) apologises for the horrible actions he committed against the Starks. He decides to rescue his sister Yara from Euron, but the remaining Greyjoy men are not interested in following him. One of them starts beating Theon to the ground, threatening to kill him. But when a knee to the groin has no effect on the castrated Theon, he gains the advantage and beats the man to a bloody pulp. The men cheer at his show of strength and join him to help save their Queen.

Cersei’s Ploy – Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is in shock as Cersei explains her truce was a lie. She won’t move any of her men to the North because Euron is not actually retreating. He is sailing to Essos to procure an army of mercenaries from the Iron Bank. Jaime is against the plan, however, seeing the imminent danger of the army of the dead. Cersei threatens to kill her brother for conspiring against her if he tries to leave, but Jaime calls her bluff and rides north as snow begins to fall on King’s Landing.

R+L=A – Sam (John Bradley) finally arrives at Wintferfell and stumbles upon Bran, who informs Sam that he is waiting for Jon’s arrival so that he can tell him his real name is Jon Sand. As Bran and the audience have known since the end of Season 6, Jon isn’t a bastard of Ned Stark, but a bastard of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. However, Sam divulges the maester’s recordings of Rhaegar’s annulment and secret marriage to Lyanna. Bran is able to confirm this information by traveling back in time to the wedding. “His real name is Aegon Targayen,” says Bran as the camera cuts to Jon and Daenerys having sex on their ship. “He’s never been a bastard. He’s the heir to the Iron Throne.” And on top of that he’s now having a love affair with his aunt.

Enter: Night King – Tormund and Beric peer over the Wall at Eastwatch, when a White Walker on horseback emerges from the forest. The army of the dead marches in formation behind him, hundreds of thousands strong. All is silent for a moment, until a cry pierces the sky and the Night King flies towards the stronghold atop Daenerys’s dragon Viserion, who was reanimated last week as a horrifying wight. The dragon blasts the Wall with an icy blue flame that cuts through the barricade. Giant shards of ice explode in the air as the dragon assaults the structure; Eastwatch falls as the Wall crumbles to the ground. The dead begin their slow march into Westeros. Winter is here.

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