Welcome back to our Game of Thrones Season 7 finale roundtable! In Part 1, I assembled some of the most intelligent and passionate fangirls I know to share their thoughts on “The Dragon and the Wolf” as a whole and the Dragon Pit scene specifically. Today, the discussion moves on to some of the show’s core relationships.
Jon revealing that he’d bent the knee to Daenerys was a major part of the Dragon Pit scene, and, of course, that wasn’t the only major moment those two shared in this episode. What did you think of their season arc’s climax (pun totally intended) on the ship? Was it sexy and romantic, or did Bran narrating over it make it weird? And—the eternal question for us fangirls—do you ship it?
Katie: First of all, if you couldn’t tell by my post after “Beyond the Wall,” of course I ship it. I love Jon Snow so much at this point that I will pretty much ship him with anyone, and I can’t deny that he and Daenerys have shown a level of mutual respect and understanding that’s rare in this world between men and women. However, I will admit that I found “Beyond the Wall’s” boat scene to be actually more satisfying than this one (with the exception of the work of art that is Kit Harington’s butt, which was very satisfying…). Don’t get me wrong—there were some lovely beats in that scene, such as the moment they locked eyes and he held her face, which was so romantic it was downright swoon-worthy, and the lovely parallel between Bran saying Jon’s parents were in love just as Daenerys opened the door to Jon, proving that this wasn’t just some passionate tryst; it’s love—potentially (and probably) tragic love, but still love. But that narration was also the thing that made this moment less romantic than I would have liked it to be. It’s not that I cared too much about the reminder that they’re aunt and nephew; I got past that long ago. It’s that using this love scene to also remind us that Jon is going to be revealed as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne made it hard to be fully happy with what was happening when you know things are going to get way more complicated very soon. I just wanted to enjoy a ship sailing (in more ways than one), but the combination of the narration and Tyrion’s very creepy presence near their door made it feel more ominous than I was expecting, which was probably the point, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Shauna: The books made me a Jon/Dany shipper a long time ago, but I think I actually ship them less on the show. I am not against it by any means, and it makes perfect sense narrative wise, but at the same time I am not in full-on shipper mode because the whole thing seems a bit tinged with sadness. The union has felt more like watching two meteors on a collision course than epic romance, and I do think that is intentional. It’s raw, and powerful, and inevitable, but you just know it’s going to complicate things in a very dangerous way, which makes it hard for me to be super excited about it. I am Tyrion outside thinking “Why are you dummies making a difficult situation even more difficult?” That said, Kit Harington’s backside gets a perfect 10. Someone needs to sculpt him and put it in a museum.
Maii: Here comes the voice of dissent.. I don’t ship them in the slightest. I just don’t see them as compatible when Jon is in-character. He’s a character that doesn’t want power; all he wants is for his family to be safe. He sees everyone as equal—lowborn/highborn/northerners/wildlings/etc., and we know from this ep and basically all her arc that Dany sees herself (and the Targaryens) as above them all. Not to mention how much she craves power. She kept pointing out his pride as a reason why he wouldn’t bend the knee, but she has more pride than most people in the realm (and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just highly hypocritical). She didn’t agree to help humanity until she had a personal stake, like she’s helping for revenge’s sake not exactly for the good of humanity. Dany is a good person at heart, and with good guidance she could be a great leader, but she also tends to listen to her darker impulses more than her good ones. (I’m talking about TV!Dany bc Book!Dany is different.) This is mostly because, unlike pretty much every other main character, she doesn’t have something to fight for. The Starks are in this fight for their family, as are the Lannisters in their own Lannister way. Dany cares about her team, but the dragons are her only family. Which is why she’s so focused on the throne.
I always assumed it was inevitable for them to meet. And let’s face it, whether you ship or not, it was weirdly rushed and relied on other people (either creators or characters) saying “Oh those two have feelings,” when we didn’t see that on screen. The chemistry was weirdly off (especially if you compare it to scenes each have with literally anyone else, or even to Kit/Emilia’s own offscreen chemistry). It does give credence to the idea that Jon might be playing a long game. Because otherwise it’s basically Emilia looking like a lovestruck teenager, and Kit looking like he’d rather be anywhere else. Not to mention the fact that he has not told her a single personal thing about himself, but she’s spilled her guts multiple times.
Pretty much everything he’s said to her has been about the White Walker threat or things he thinks she wants to hear and a lot of vague statements. I was dreading the boat scene, and honestly I thought it was very underwhelming. I mean, they gave us probably the shortest sex scene in the show’s history with a voiceover about how related they are and how that’s gonna cause problems. Along with everything else, it doesn’t exactly scream epic love. Especially if you compare it to Missandei/Grey Worm, who had a very romantic scene that was all about them and lasted for a good chunk of time; even the Cersei/Jaime scene lasted longer. Katie mentioned the “he loved her and she loved him,” and there’s something interesting about that. When they say he loved her, the camera is not on Kit, but when they say “she loved him,” the camera IS on Dany. Plus, the resigned sigh as he knocked on the door. I don’t see how this is going to work out in the long term. Not to mention the man is a very proud Northerner; all he’s ever wanted was to be a Stark. We’re supposed to believe he’d give that all up and completely forget his family and the continent his family died for (that HE died for) for a Targaryen he’s known for 5 minutes? Something smells fishy… (House Tully pun not intended.)
And if I’m right (The clues are there; it’s just a matter of the writers being this smart.), this will be Dany’s final betrayal. One of the biggest Dany prophecies is the betrayals she’ll face; the last one is a betrayal for love, and this fits. Also I second all comments about Kit Harington’s butt; it is truly heavenly.
Heather: I ship them casually—I think they’re cute together and I love that their relationship is built on mutual trust and respect, but I’m not super invested. There were things I liked about their sex scene (besides the beauty that was Jon’s butt). I liked that it was gentler than some we’ve seen on the show; they were tender with each other, and it was more than just a physical act. Stepping outside the story, I like that they respected Emilia’s comfort level with nude scenes, and that the focus was more on their faces and Jon’s body. The choice to have Bran narrating over it was weird, though. I’m not overly bothered by the fact that they are related, but why would you remind everyone of that right at that particular moment? Or the fact that Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne is stronger (even if he’s not going to want it)? If you want me to cheer for the romance, give me a romantic moment. The complications can be introduced later.
Lizzie: We all agree about Kit’s butt; that’s about it. I…found it weird; I’m not gonna lie. The incest reminder was weird, and Bran narrating was weird, and the whole thing would have been much better if they’d just given us the sex scene by itself. The fact that they didn’t, though, makes me think they’re setting up a tragedy. How can this end but badly? I don’t know, and that’s why, even though this is the least surprising thing in the history of shipping, I just can’t fully commit. I already have more than one probably-doomed ship in this show. I don’t need more.
Gissane: Yup. I ship it. It was a lovely scene between two equals and people who for a moment could escape from all the terror that was happening in their world into a place of serenity. Bran’s speech was definitely weird and made the scene awkward, but it didn’t bother me.
Dalissa: OK, so priorities, I will co-sign on the “Kit has a butt you could play quarters off of and therefore made the scene worth having” consensus. That said, I have never been a fan of Jon Snow. Not as a Stark, not at the Wall, not with the Wildlings. He’s grown on me tremendously in the last season or so, but not enough to get me to ship status. I like Heather’s “casual shipping.” I’m not invested. I was more invested in her reunion with Jorah than I was in the consummation of her and Jon’s relationship. However, putting all of that aside for a moment. I have a completely different take on the scene, especially on second watch. It’s a bit of a conspiracy theory, but one that makes Bran’s voice over (a trope I hate inherently right along with the character of Bran, but I digress) more intentional alongside Tyrion lurking outside the door. I think this goes back to Jon’s exchange with Theon about not always taking the right steps and what is seen from the outside isn’t always true. I think that Jon believes his purpose is to defeat the White Walkers. It’s why he was brought back from the dead. He’s not in this for the Iron Throne or even Winterfell (a role he took reluctantly), and I think the arc over the course of the season was his coming to believe Dany is the right person to take the Throne after they defeat the White Walkers, a belief solidified when she loses her dragon rescuing him beyond the Wall. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn next season that Tyrion and Jon had a conversation about Cersei’s being pregnant or that learning of her pregnancy led him to act in a way that influenced Jon (I know Dany’s supposed infertility is a giant gap in my theory, but logic is not why I watch this show). It would then make sense that he’d be lurking outside the door, if he helped orchestrate it. Or he’s simply worried that this alliance will compromise his role within the game. I also found that moment when Jon stops to look at Dany felt more like contemplation about the decision he was making, rather than giving into love. Look, Jon’s track record with women has been abysmal to say the least. There’s no way, given all that has happened to him, that he believes he and Dany coming together ends happily, and I think that’s what that pause really was about. And he goes forward anyway—again, Jon knows he’s taken steps that he regrets, and this is likely another.
Speaking of incest…It seems Jaime finally woke up to the fact that Cersei is a horrible human being who doesn’t care about him or anyone else. What are your thoughts on their big breakup? Was it worth the wait?
Katie: I will try to keep this short, but I could literally talk about Jaime Lannister all day. I don’t think I’ve ever been this proud of a fictional character before, and I literally yelled “FINALLY!” when he got on that horse and rode away. As a book reader, I spent all season waiting for show!Jaime to catch up to book!Jaime in terms of his character development and understanding of his need to be free of Cersei, and it led to a lot of frustration at times. However, it was worth it in the end to see Jaime make that choice to be the man he knows he can be and not the man he is when he’s with Cersei. In an episode that was ultimately all about choosing who you want by your side as the world falls apart, I loved that Jaime finally accepted that Cersei isn’t who he wants to live and die with anymore. There is more to this world than his family, and as Brienne told him, what’s coming is bigger than house loyalty and even family ties. To survive, Jaime knows that trust is going to be vital, and that trust between him and his sister is gone. I thought Nikolaj Coster-Waldau added just the right amount of not only anger but disgust to the moment, clearly seeing who Cersei is and not liking what he sees. (I can’t stop thinking about the approximately 9 billion layers in his delivery of “I don’t believe you.”) And Lena Headey played the moment with perfect coldness, showing that she absolutely does not care about Jaime as a person at all. It made his decision all the more satisfying, and I can’t wait to see what the next stop on the “Jaime Lannister Redemption Tour” brings.
Shauna: I really loved this scene. For a second I actually believed Cersei might go through with it and give the order to kill him. I mean, I knew this couldn’t be the end of Jamie, but at the same time, the show still made me think it could have been, so bravo to both the writing and the acting. Also, it’s about damn time. I think this is another plot point that felt like it took too long to get to, which added to the overall stagnant feeling of the season.
Maii: FINALLY! I love that Jaime spent 3 seconds with Brienne of Tarth, and that got his mind back on track.. I think it’s slightly ridiculous that blowing up the sept didn’t do it (especially considering his relationship with wildfire), but I do love that they tied it with his honor. Nikolaj is such a good actor that I’m glad they are actually going to be using him in the right way.
I’m always going to be bitter at how much they screwed things up because I think Nikolaj would have killed that storyline, especially burning the letter. Now I just want scenes between him and Sansa because “Sansa Stark is my last chance at honor.”
And can we get a scene between Jaime/Brienne/Tormund? I need it in my life.
Heather: I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment for 100 years. It was becoming decreasingly believable to me that he would continue to stand by and implicitly condone Cersei’s actions, and I was ready for this split. That said, it was totally worth the wait. It was a definite statement about the man Jaime wants to be and everything I could have wanted out of it. Jaime got to see how unimportant he was to Cersei in the grand scheme of things, and it kept some of the theme of the book separation with Cersei confiding in Euron rather than him. I also loved the choice of Jaime being so insistent on keeping his pledge to ride North. The whole concept of oaths and pledges is something that has been so intrinsically linked with Brienne and how transformative meeting her has been in Jaime’s life. She reminded him of the person he once was and potentially still wanted to be, and I appreciated that was in the forefront of his mind when he made the decision to go.
Lizzie: I could write an ode to Jaime Lannister—especially book!Jaime, but I won’t. Short answer is I loved it, and it was sort of, maybe, perhaps, worth the wait. I’m contradicting myself, I know…I just think the show waited way too long. The show has done some things great and some things not-so-great, and yet the character that has lost the most from book to screen has been Jaime Lannister, and that’s despite the fact that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is about as perfect as Jaime as it’s possible to be.
His character growth was very linear until Season 4, and then Season 5 threw that Jaime out of the window and it’s like he’s just coming back now and we don’t even get an explanation of what changed or why that “rape” scene by Joffrey’s corpse was needed or what in the world was going through the showrunner’s heads when they had him not demonstrate even a shred of concern for the fact that Cersei basically went Mad Queen at the end of last season.
So, yes, it was a long time coming. Yes, I enjoyed it. But I wish it had come sooner, and I wish the show had given me the Jaime I fell in love with, the one from the books.
Gissane: Jaime Lannister is the one character I was never fully able to love and appreciate in spite of how much I wanted to because of how blind he was when it came to Cersei. And every time I thought that maybe this could be it, this could be the moment he finally sees, he proved me wrong and disappointed once more. But this, this final ride, is something I firmly believe is the moment for him. There’s no going back for Jaimie. There’s no part of me that believes he may potentially go back to her, and if he does, then it’s redundant to a point of a no return. That scene was ridiculously satisfying, but actually—I don’t know if I’m alone in this—for a second, I thought she was going to kill him.
Dalissa: This for me was completely satisfying because of the precursor scene with Brienne. Her unabashed plea for him to be the man she grew to know because it was what was right. That their promises in the face of certain death were meaningless if they didn’t fight the true enemy in front of them. That Cersei couldn’t/wouldn’t see that, that she was truly mad and he could not protect her from it was crystallized the moment she has a sword drawn against him. His “I don’t believe you” said everything. It summed up all of the self-loathing and hate this character has carried in not just the name of Lannister, but his love for her. And as someone who hasn’t read the books, the timing of it felt right. There was literally nothing left, and Cersei was still blind. By no longer believing in her, he was finally in a position to believe in himself as he rode North. That was a satisfying moment for me as a viewer who has always wanted to believe in his humanity.
While so many things were happening in King’s Landing, the North wasn’t exactly boring in this episode. How awesome was it to see Sansa and Arya team up to take down Littlefinger (with some help from their raven/brother hybrid)? Did the payoff make up for the strange and secretive way they got there?
Katie: This moment was the most satisfying moment in the finale, but I’m not going to let the writers get off without being taken to task for the lead-up to it. One of my least favorite things about Game of Thrones is the fact that shock matters so much more than character development, consistency, and general common sense—and this is the perfect example of that. I have a very soft spot in my heart for Arya and Sansa, and it bothered me so much to see their characters acting in absolutely ridiculous ways all in the name of preserving this twist. For the last two episodes, I kept thinking, ‘I’m not sure anything they throw at me in the finale is worth this.’
With all that being said, I can’t deny the brilliance of that scene. The shock of Sansa turning the tables on Littlefinger was wonderful, but what satisfied me even more than that moment was when Arya looked at him and said, “My sister asked you a question.” That was the moment it became clear to me that the sisters had planned this together for at least a small amount of time (though I will always be annoyed that we’ll never know how long). And then Bran coming in with the proof of what Littlefinger had done to Ned was icing on the House Stark cake. This was what I’d hoped for when we got all three Starks back together but feared we would never get. Watching them work together to bring down the man who had caused their family—and the entire realm—so much destruction, suffering, and pain was one of the most enjoyable moments I’ve had watching this show. The Stark kids have grown from pawns to players in the game that has taken so much from them, and this scene showed them using their unique strengths and talents to assert their agency and work together to ensure that their pack survives. Although the way they got to that moment was less than ideal, the moment itself was as close to perfect as it gets on this show.
Shauna: I loved the Littlefinger takedown, but the setup was very clumsy. They went for audience surprise, but instead of everything suddenly falling into place and making sense, we are still left with questions. It’s still completely unclear how long Sansa and Ayra were in on this plan. For me, it really didn’t seem like Sansa caught on until after the conversation with Littlefinger about playing the “what’s the worst reason” game in this episode, in which case, all those strange fights before between her and Ayra were genuine and just as confusing. I defended the first episode with Ayra finding the scroll Littlefinger planted, but everything that came after that was a big mess. The conflict really should have ended after that first confrontation. The conflict between them felt right, but the severity of the conflict felt wrong. If one of the sisters did end up killing the other, I never would have forgiven the show, and it’s upsetting to even think as an audience we were supposed to think that could have actually happened.
Maii: Maisie Williams claims that it was a ruse from the start, but I don’t know if I buy that. I’m still mad at the characterization because frankly, it makes no sense; most of their fights were inside closed doors. But I can put that past me because my Starklings came together and brought down one of the show’s villains and the man who orchestrated and caused their family’s downfall. The only thing I’d change about that scene is that I’d have Ghost there next to Sansa. I’m just so proud of my Stark girls; they’re stronger than ever. And it’s a great kick in the behind for the Sansa haters, because my girl has been a part of the deaths of three of the show’s main villains.
I’ve waited so long for this, and it finally happened and Sansa was the one that made it happen, which was what I wanted. Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams were magnificent in that scene, with the dramatic pause and the smirks. And I love that they brought out mentions of Ned and Lysa and everything. I swear, I was jumping up and down and screaming. It was an incredible way of using Northern Justice. Sansa and Arya are two sides of a coin, and this is them reinterpreting “The man who passes the sentence must swing the sword.” They both have their strengths. (Sansa can’t actually swing a sword, but she’s wonderful at being the Lady of Winterfell; Arya can’t play the part of the Lady of Winterfell, but she’s got the training to swing the sword.) Like Ned said, “You’re as different as the sun and the moon but you need her as much as she needs you.” And this was a perfect example of this. I love my Starks working together to bring down Littlefinger and finally seeing him get what’s coming to him, not just for what he did to the Starks but for Jeyne Poole and everyone else that suffered because of him. Arya got justice for Catelyn and Robb in the first episode, and Sansa got justice for Ned in the last episode—and what a perfect bookend that was.
Heather: SO AWESOME. In isolation, this was the other most satisfying moment in the finale. The dramatic pause before Sansa said “Lord Baelish” was wonderful, and I cheered at the flabbergasted expression on his face. It was a great moment for Sansa and Arya, and Bran helping them out with his raven vision was easily the most I’ve ever liked him. It was a well-earned moment for this family, and I loved every second of it. It does highlight a choice that these writers kept making this season that bothers me, however. I was spoiled for the scene. I knew that Sansa and Arya were working together to take him down, and I was still thrilled by the execution. It made their fight last week and the insinuations that one of them would hurt the other all the more unnecessary. Keeping secrets from other characters makes sense, and I see why they couldn’t talk freely because there was a potential for spies everywhere. But Westeros doesn’t have secret recording devices that we know of. They should have been able to talk freely in Sansa’s room, and instead, we got the discovery of the faces and the weirdness of that scene. It was unnecessary drama based in the idea that keeping secrets from the audience so they can be surprised by a twist is better than satisfying character moments being able to stand on their own.
Lizzie: The payoff was amazing; the way we got there was anything but. In fact, I can only enjoy the end if I totally forget how we got there, how “Beyond the Wall” had both Sansa and Arya acting completely OOC, no one talking to Bran, and Littlefinger playing everyone like a fiddle. Because the thing is, seeing Sansa and Arya come together was all I wanted; it really was, and I would have just loved to be able to watch that last scene and go, ‘Oh, yes, they were planning it all along’—except the showrunners already confirmed that was not the case, and even if it were, why would they be pretending behind closed doors? It was all a mess and a stupid way to set up the ultimate shock, which, honestly, shocked no one. Did anyone really think Littlefinger was making it out of the season alive?
Gissane: There are characters I’ve disliked a ton before, but none in my life as badly as Littlefinger. I didn’t even know what true hatred of a fictional character was until I started watching Game of Thrones. There are always villains who you could find some little goodness in, but with him, absolutely nothing. My hatred was deep, y’all. So heck yes that moment was everything I didn’t know I needed and more. Initially, I imagined Littlefinger dying at the hands of Jon Snow, but this, this was absolute perfection. It was the moment where I knew this would be my favorite finale, and no matter what happens afterwards, I literally do not care.
Dalissa: So yeah, I was surprised. I had not read spoilers or know the universe as well as many, which is why I was so frustrated by Arya taking Littlefinger’s planted bait. The tension between her and Sansa and this conclusion have gaps the size of the Grand Canyon for sure. But the scene itself in complete isolation of that was extremely satisfying. The Stark daughters avenging their father and taking down the man who orchestrated his killing was one of my favorite wins for the series. I thought Sansa’s learning from her journey played out so well in that monologue and spoke to an unease and distrust she always had for Littlefinger. There was a moment, in the scene prior when Littlefinger was coaching her about the worst thing, that I thought it was Arya assuming Sansa’s face and Sansa was in hiding to overhear the conversation. But I suspect that is wishful thinking on my part. However, Aidan Gillen’s acting in this scene was a master class as he goes from shock to quick calculation to attempts—from cunning to begging—for his survival only to be unceremoniously dispatched by Arya with no theatrics or art. It was perfection.
Don’t forget that you can join in the discussion in the comments! And stay tuned for Part 3, in which we reveal our favorite moments and performances from this finale!