After a week of fun discussion, it’s time for the conclusion of our Game of Thrones roundtable! For those who need a quick recap, this exciting exercise has featured a collection of supercool fangirls sharing their thoughts on “The Dragon and the Wolf,” with segments dedicated to the Dragon Pit summit, the show’s various relationships, and the best moments and performances.
Now, let’s wrap this thing up and start looking toward the coming winter!
Before we go our separate ways, “The Dragon and the Wolf” ended a season that had everyone talking—even more than usual. What were your feelings on this season and on the way this episode closed it?
Katie: This was the first season of Game of Thrones I’ve watched live from premiere to finale since Season 4, and I was honestly happy that I came back after how this season ended. It had its fair share of bothersome moments (the Arya/Sansa tension, Cersei’s pregnancy, the plot holes and logical flaws in the timeline, the general lack of Brienne), but it also had some incredible moments that will rank among my favorites when the whole show is done (Arya/Brienne sparring, Jon and Daenerys holding hands on the ship, Tyrion and Varys talking about the leaders they’ve served, the first dragon attack on the Lannister forces, etc.). After a lot of thought, I’ve come to appreciate this season as a place-setting season. It got the characters where they needed to be physically and emotionally for the final battles to come, but it didn’t always do so in the most graceful way. However, I do like where most of the characters found themselves at the end of this season in terms of the stories set up for the final six episodes, so as a penultimate season, I think it did its main job—preparing us for the end—really well.
Shauna: I’ve mentioned this a few times now, but I don’t think this was one of the show’s best seasons. Enjoyable? Yes. Engaging? Yes. The dragons were absolutely amazing. But something still felt off. It somehow managed to feel fast and rushed yet slow at the same time. We ran and ran and ran without stopping, and then it turned out we were running in a circle. I think this was the first season where it was obvious we have left the realm of a very complex and poetic series of novels into a standard TV show and the flaws that can come with that. One thing I think this season did do well is show Jon’s pull towards the Targaryen side of him. I love that Sansa, Arya, and Bran were able to re-establish their pack outside of Jon and that Jon has already been walking that line between Stark and Targaryen even if he is not aware of it yet. I think that is why I loved that scene between Jon and Theon as much as I did because it fit so well with the Stark/Targaryen dynamic this season.
Maii: The best part of the season, other than Littlefinger dying, is that it’s over. It started out very strong, and then it went to a really weird place—between the leaks that revealed a thousand bad plots and then watching every ridiculous plot be true. (Cersei’s pregnancy, wight hunt, bending the knee, WIGHT HUNT, Aegon 2.0). Having the episodes leak days in advance so it was everywhere—the logistics were worse than usual, and the season had a lot of OOC characterizations (Gendry, Jon, Jaime, Arya, JON). This season had some spectacular cinematic moments, but as a whole, it was mostly a miss. And you can tell it was kind of a filler/set up season before the last one. I will say the outfits for all the characters were better than ever.
I loved both of the end scenes. Both my girls quoting Ned’s “The Pack Survives” gives me good vibes for my Starks. And that scene was so important because they recognized how strong they other is and finally acted like sisters. I know Ned and Catelyn are looking down at them with proud smiles. The scene with the Wall coming down was seriously impressive. I do feel bad for Viserion and him being a slave to the Night King. Also Tormund is definitely alive.
Heather: I feel like I’ve been more negative in my answers than I actually felt while watching this season. This was my first season back after a two-year hiatus. I really have very little idea what went on in Seasons 5 and 6, other than whatever I’ve absorbed through cultural osmosis, which wasn’t a lot. So compared to Season 4, I really enjoyed this season. It felt far less full of despair, and I got to see the characters I love again, who are mostly in better places than they were then. There were a lot of individual moments I really loved, and it was something I had fun watching every week. So long as I stay at that level of investment, I am content with the season. There were things that were sloppily done and I will always want a different version of the show than D&D seem to want to make, but I’m not at a point where that spoils my level of interest. As far as the characters are concerned, I love where we left them this season. There is a lot of potential for some really strong character work and combinations to wrap up this show, and I am here for them. Plotwise, I remain largely uninterested in the Night King and his White Walkers. I know that they will have to be a large factor in the final season, but I just can’t get invested in them as a compelling villain beyond the character work they will facilitate.
Lizzie: I have mixed feelings about this season. I thought it was entertaining, it went the way common sense and book canon indicated it would, and it had some brilliant moments, and yet, I also felt like, for the first time, there was a real separation from the work of GRRM. I wasn’t watching his version of Game of Thrones, I was watching the showrunners’ version. And that can be a mixed bag, because these people gave me the Jon and Sansa reunion, yes, but they also gave me the whole of Season 5, and that’s just something I wish I could wipe from my mind.
There were also some HUGE plot holes in this season, so, so big that I could fall through them and die, not to mention the fact that they seemed to go for shock at the end instead of common sense in the development for basically every storyline, and that just made it harder to invest in some things.
So, yeah, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t my favorite season, and though I’m looking forward to Season 8, I’m kind of glad we get a long hiatus. I need it.
Gissane: It’s never fun being the odd ball out, but as someone who found herself a little bored during Season 5 and 6, this is the season that made me fall in love with the show again. If I’m being perfectly honest, I barely remember what went on last season; I guess I just wasn’t as invested, so this season pulled me back in and I actually think it’s my favorite after Season 3.
Dalissa: So my love/hate relationship with Game of Thrones has always been rooted in its hurry up and wait pacing. This season was no different. I did find it among the stronger seasons for sure, but I think that is because they started strong and ended strong with some muddled time in the middle. However, I did like the return to character engagement, which for me has always been the strongest aspect of the show. The game and the game-play is what continually intrigues me, and this season had that chess match playing out on several fronts, which kept my interest piqued throughout. I thought the back two episodes did a great job of setting up the final season. It brought the Starks all back under Winterfell, which for me, a House Stark fangirl through and through, was extremely satisfying storytelling. I also liked the consequences that landed on many of the characters, whether it was in death or duty. So as we head to the battle with the dead I found the close and progress of this season to make it a solid alignment with the first three seasons.
Although we’re going to have to wait approximately 80000 years until the final season airs, I’m sure it’s already on everyone’s mind. So what are you hoping to see in Season 8 before all is said and done?
Katie: There are two characters who I hope more than anything will be alive and happy when all is said and done, and those two are Sansa and Brienne. I want to see Sansa continue to grow as a leader in Season 8 and to see the Starks continue to work as a powerful unit. I’d love to see Sansa serve as Lady of Winterfell/Queen in the North with Arya and Bran by her side until they’re all old and gray. (I’m so torn on whether or not I think the remaining Starks will all survive. I used to think there was no chance, but this finale made me change my tune toward a more hopeful one.) And what I hope for my favorite character, Brienne, in Season 8 is love—the kind of healthy, mature love based in mutual respect that we all know could exist between her and Jaime if they got out of their own way. I’d like to see Jaime have to face his feelings for her either through seeing how Tormund (who can’t be dead!) speaks about her and acts toward her or through her being placed in danger in some way (perhaps Cersei associates Brienne with Jaime leaving and sends someone to hurt her or maybe she almost gets hurt in a battle against the White Walkers). Basically, I just want to see the ship I’ve invested almost seven years of my life in get some kind of payoff. And in other shipping hopes, I’d like to see as little tension between Jon and Daenerys as possible when his parentage is revealed because it seems unrealistic for Jon to care about his claim to the Iron Throne at all. I also want Cersei to die at the hand of anyone but one of her two brothers just to shock the hell out of people. I love the idea of Arya taking Littlefinger’s face and using it to kill Cersei.
Ultimately, I want there to be some “sweet” in the bittersweet ending we’re sure to get. I don’t expect happiness for everyone, but I would be very disappointed if the ending was completely nihilistic in tone. Ideally, the Seven Kingdoms would be divided into smaller territories with good, just regional leaders; Sansa would find happiness in being a beloved ruler with her family’s help; and Brienne and Jaime would get married and have beautiful blonde babies—but this is why I write fan fiction and not dramatic television.
Shauna: I would love to learn more about the Night King and his motivations. At least I hope he has motivations, because just being evil to be evil seems like a pretty boring final villain on a show that has always made us face the complexity of evil. Also, I hope Tormund is still alive because he deserves a better death than that. (Although could you imagine a surprise undead Tormund launching at one of our heroes? That would would be terrifying and heartbreaking.) I would also love to see some kind of major sacrifice from Jon and/or Dany. If the show ends with both of them together, ruling the seven kingdoms, with a magic prophecy baby, I am going to be disappointed. Jon has always felt like a Frodo character to me—one that will fight to the end for the world and everyone in it, but never feeling comfortable actually living in it himself. I have a really hard time believing that Jon wants to be king of anything, so the show will either have to convince me differently or stay true to that feeling and have a more bittersweet ending for him. At this point, I am not quite sure what I want as endgame for most of these characters. The only thing I really want is for Sansa to be happy in the end. Out of everyone, I think she is the most deserving and capable of appreciating a happy ending (with Brienne and her siblings by her side, of course).
Maii: An Undead Tormund would break my heart into a million pieces!
As to what I want from next season? The time of the Wolves! It was Martin’s original name for the last book, so I have faith it’s going to bring good things for my Starks. I want all my Stark children in one scene (Sansa/Arya/Bran/Theon/Jon/Ghost). I need them to bring back Ghost because he’s so important. If Jon isn’t playing the long game and truly did the same mistakes that Ned/Robb did, I want to see consequences for that. Please show don’t turn my beautiful morally ambiguous good guy into a “Gary Stue.” And of course, my Jon/Arya reunion! Also a Gendry/Arya reunion, Theon saving Asha/Yara, Jaime as the Valonqar! And Howland Reed! I don’t really care if my ship happens or not, but I do want Sansa to be happy as the Stark in Winterfell surrounded by her loved ones with all the lemon cakes she could possibly want.
And a Jaime/Brienne/Tormund scene…please I need it.
Heather: Honestly, most of my Season 8 hopes are related to Jaime because I still have particular parts of his book storyline that I would love to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau tackle. I would still love a version of the letter-burning scene. Jaime already left Cersei in a very definite way so there’s not any reason for it, but I still think their child is a point around which Cersei feels she can manipulate him. She could still send him a raven to ask for his help or return that would make this scene a possibility. Also in the “unnecessary things I want to see” pile is some version of Jaime punching someone with his gold hand in order to defend Brienne. I’m not picky on the circumstances or if she’s there or not; I just love the book scene so much, and I need it on my screen. In things that actually have a shot of happening, I would like to see some sort of confession of feelings between Jaime and Brienne. I need them to verbally acknowledge who they are to each other. I know they will end up breaking my heart in some way (probably because I don’t see Jaime surviving the series), but I want that happiness and connection for them first. I would also like to see Sansa remain Queen in the North/Lady of Winterfell/whatever is the highest possible title we can give her. This season showed us that she is a good leader, not just at playing the political game as needed but at understanding what it is that her subjects need. I want her ruling with Arya at her side and with as much happiness as can exist for her. Finally, in a hope for my own viewing, I hope something happens to get me invested in this extended battle for survival that is coming now that the Wall is down. I want to enjoy all of the season not just the political fallout and restructuring of Westeros.
Lizzie: I don’t care about the White Walkers. I don’t care about their history, and I don’t even care about the dragons; I care about the people, so I want my reunions—all the Starks together, Gendry/Arya, Jaime/Brienne again, and I kind of want Jaime, if he’s going to die, to do it after having killed Cersei and to die saving one of the Starks, preferably Bran. I want a happy ending, of sorts, in that I get if they don’t all survive, but I don’t want everyone to die and for me to feel like I wasted 20 years of my life investing in these books.
Oh, yes, and I want none of that Bran = Night King nonsense. No, no, and no.
Gissane: I agree with Lizzie above; I do not care a single ounce about the White Walkers, and I want to see them gone. That’s my hope, but above all, I want to see more reunions. I want to see where Jon goes after learning the truth about his family. I want to see Jaime grow and find his home away from the Lannisters (except Tyrion). It’d be interesting to see the brothers reunited, so I know I’d definitely appreciate that.
Dalissa: As much as I love to hate her, I think I need Cersei to die. I need for Ned’s death to have not been in vain and therefore for her to not win the Game by surviving. If I am getting to pick, I’d like it to be Brienne or Ayra, but truth be told, I’m not picky; a random Dothraki can do it. I think Jamie likely dies, leaving Tyrion as the last standing Lannister. Tormund is alive dammit. And I will entertain no tragedy of his undead body attacking anyone in my mind. He’s alive and will be critical to the battle. I want the battle of the dead to be swift; if they drag it out, I will be extremely disappointed, because it’s the fallout of the battle that I care about ultimately, not the battle itself. Oh and yes, I’d like for the Starks to end on top and could care less if I ever see Theon again. I also have a sinking suspicion that Ayra is also not making it out alive. A sacrifice I expect will be to save Jon.
Thanks for joining us, fellow nerds! Don’t forget to share your own thoughts, feelings, and predictions in the comments! And if you have any ideas for other pop culture touchstones or events that you think would make a great roundtable topic, let me know!