Game of Thrones Season Finale Roundtable: Part 4

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Source: time.com

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.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 3

Who’s ready for the next installment of NGN’s Game of Thrones finale roundtable? To recap, I gathered some fellow writers and beloved members of the NGN Family to join me in sharing our feelings on “The Dragon and the Wolf.” In Part 1, we gave our general thoughts on the finale, and in Part 2, we broke down some of the show’s most important dynamics.

Today, it’s time to start playing favorites!

Littlefinger’s death was a huge “OMG!” moment, and this finale was filled with others, too. What moment produced the biggest reaction from you?
Katie: I was spoiled for quite a few of the episode’s biggest moments (because I have no willpower), but I think the part that still managed to genuinely shock me was Bran finally putting his powers to good use and proving that what Sansa said about Littlefinger was true. And even though I knew the Wall was going to come down, actually seeing it happen still made me freak out. There are no spoilers you can read that will accurately prepare you for the visual of the Night King riding an ice dragon and using its flames to bring down something that has been a constant in this universe from the very beginning.

Shauna: Again, I cheated and read spoilers, so nothing here was too much of a shock for me. There were a few little moments that still got to me though—Jaime challenging Cersei to kill him, the undead army emerging from the haunted forest, that first shot of the Night King on the back of the undead dragon, Tormund in danger—I was definitely holding my breath during those scenes.

Maii: For me, it was Littlefinger’s death. I knew it was probably coming, but it still got me so hyped. Just know it’s the scene I’ve rewatched the most from the finale, other than the final Stark Sisters scene, of course.

Runner Up: Theon coming into his own and achieving the point of half Stark/half Greyjoy. It was fantastic and everything that was needed. The way he kept getting up and used what they saw as a weakness to his advantage, culminating in his rebirth in the Greyjoy fashion (baptising himself). Theon was one of the few that had a clear arc in this season and Alfie Allen was just so good. This is the rebirth of Theon Greyjoy (Stark), and I can’t wait to see what Allen has in store for us in the last season.

Heather: Since I was spoiled, nothing really shocked me, but lots of things made me strongly react. The biggest was Sansa and Arya taking down Littlefinger. Not even his death necessarily, but the moments leading up to it with Sansa verbally taking him down with Arya smirking at him. I was so proud of these girls and happy that they would finally be free of the toxic presence Littlefinger had been in their lives for so long. It was taking all of my willpower not to scream at my computer screen (and I didn’t want to miss things), but I did nearly leap of my bed.

Lizzie: I wasn’t spoiled, so yay me! My biggest reaction came at the Jaime/Brienne conversation and also at Jon being so stupidly noble and good, which both made me want to strangle him and hug him. I imagine that’s a good thing, that something so predictable—Jon being honorable—can still get me riled up. Also, the Theon/Jon scene gave me unexpected feels, which I think speaks more to the acting than anything.

Gissane: Yeah, I wasn’t spoiled either, so essentially, a lot surprised me, but other than the scene with Littlefinger, it was definitely the ending. I feel like I had been holding my breath for a solid 10 minutes (seemingly forever) at that point where the dragon brought the Wall down. That was it. It’s the finale that showcases the fact that everything we’ve ever known about Game of Thrones is changing and the end is near.

Dalissa: I didn’t see Littlefinger’s comeuppance coming in the moment it did, especially his death. So it was a definite OMG moment. But the moment that made me hold my breath was when Tyrion calls Cersei’s bluff to have him killed and she doesn’t do it. Peter Dinklage had me convinced he wasn’t getting out of that room alive—Cersei killing off her last Achilles heel. The ending, while spectacular, was anticlimactic for me because frankly, I still wasn’t over pulling the dragon from the water and resurrecting it for the army of the dead. Of all the things for this show, that was one I never saw coming.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 2

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Source: Hindustan Times

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.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 1

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Source: ew.com

Winter has officially come, fellow Game of Thrones fans! As the penultimate season came to a close, we’ve been left with so much to talk about—more than I could ever cover on my own. So I enlisted the help of some amazingly articulate and passionate members of the NGN Family to talk about the finale and the season as a whole. Naturally, we all had so many feelings that one post can’t contain them all, so our entire roundtable discussion will be posted as a series, with the first part available today and a new portion posted every day for the rest of this week.

Today’s segment will cover our general thoughts on the finale and one of its centerpiece scenes: the Dragon Pit.

Without further ado, let the discussion begin!

Let’s start fairly general: What was your overall opinion of this episode? Did you love it, or did it leave you underwhelmed? Did it live up to the incredible amounts of hype surrounding it?
Katie: Although this wasn’t my favorite Game of Thrones finale (That goes to last season’s epic ending.) or my favorite episode of the season (I still can’t stop thinking about “The Spoils of War.”), I still really enjoyed it—and I have come to appreciate it even more as I rewatch certain scenes and see the nuances different actors brought to their time on screen. Overall, it did exactly what a penultimate season finale should do: It set the table and raised the stakes for the final season while still containing some genuinely shocking, compelling, and moving moments of its own.

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Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Beyond the Wall”

The Moment: Jon and Daenerys grow closer

Setting the Scene: After Daenerys rescues the wight hunting crew but loses Viserion to the Night King in the process, she and a recovering Jon swear allegiances to one another.

Why It’s Awesome: Game of Thrones is not known for its gentle moments. Scenes of tender, sincere intimacy are few and far between. So when a moment of genuine connection happens between characters, it’s worth celebrating. Say what you will about the romance between Daenerys and Jon being rushed due to this season’s shorter episode count or being strange because we all know (even though they don’t) that they’re related—there’s no denying that watching them pledge themselves to each other in their own way (Daenerys pledging to help him defeat the Night King and Jon pledging to call her his queen) was beautiful in its rare sense of softness.

Ever since I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire years ago, I knew Jon and Daenerys would get together at some point. (It was right there in the title! Although I suppose it could be argued—and probably will ultimately be true—that the “Ice and Fire” actually refers to Jon’s parentage.) They were the first couple in the series I read fan fiction for, the first couple I really “shipped” as I read the first book. Over time—and with the introduction of other love interests for the two of them and other couples in the series for me to care about—my interest in a potential pairing between those two characters faded, but watching them interact this season made all those initial “shipper” feelings I felt so long ago come rushing back, now with the added bonus of getting to see them actually become the partners I spent so long hoping they’d become.

More than just “shipper” gratification, the main feeling I got watching this moment unfold was a sense of happiness for both of these characters—who have lost so much, who have been betrayed, and who have struggled at times under the weight of being leaders. To see Daenerys so openly emotional with Jon was stunning; the moment when she told him the dragons were the only children she’d ever have broke my heart, and I loved that Jon immediately made her feel understood without having to say a word. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington were both quite good in this moment, projecting a true tenderness that made the moment stand out.

It’s a rare thing for these characters to find someone they can be vulnerable with, to find someone they can trust with their truest self. And in a show where power plays are often the basis of relationships, trust is hard to come by. But Daenerys and Jon trust one another; they’re true partners. And if there is one thing I took away from this scene more than any other, it’s that there is no character more trustworthy when it comes to a woman’s heart than Jon Snow. From the moment he woke up, immediately apologizing with the kind of sincerity that put tears in my eyes, to the moment he made his adorably lame little joke about bending the knee, I was struck by the idea that Jon is just inherently good. He’s a good person—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And there is nothing more attractive in this morally complex universe than that—the genuine goodness Harrington has effortlessly infused into his performance as Jon.

When it comes to fictional relationships, I have a weak spot for fierce female leaders and the men who support them. And now these two characters have joined that list. Daenerys’s tearful confession that she hopes she deserves Jon’s support was the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen her when it comes to her leadership abilities, and that vulnerability was met with steadfast support from Jon, whose belief in her is lovely because there is no doubt about its sincerity. Daenerys has someone to go to now when she’s doubting herself without having to worry that he’ll judge her or think less of her for it. She has found someone she respects who respects her in return. And Jon has found someone who will fight beside him in the battles to come.

As these two characters held hands, I was struck by the idea that we rarely see physical touch being used in a soft way in this series. Even love scenes are often approached with heated passion rather than gentle intimacy. So when two characters have a moment that focuses on this kind of gentle, slowly building intimacy that has its foundations in respect and understanding, it means something special. It certainly felt special to watch it unfold.

I’m not sure what the future will bring for these two characters, especially after the truth of Jon’s parentage is revealed. But if this show has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy the moments of true connection, real respect, and sincere intimacy when we see them, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with this moment. I’ve watched it many times in the last six days, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Honorable Mentions: Jorah and Jon talk about Longclaw, Jon and Beric talk about the real enemy, the Night King claims Viserion for his own, Sansa instructs Brienne to go to King’s Landing (if only because that meant she’ll be reuniting with Jaime!)

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Eastwatch”

The Moment: Tyrion and Varys talk about serving Targaryens

Setting the Scene: After Tyrion watches Daenerys burn her enemies, he returns to Dragonstone and shares a drink and some deep conversation with Varys.

Why It’s Awesome: I know, I know—But Katie, Jon Snow petted a dragon and Kit Harrington’s eyes filled with tears of awe and how can that not be your moment of the week?! Don’t get me wrong; I have re-watched that moment many times since Sunday and have come to appreciate the nuances in Harrington’s performance more and more each time. (Jon Snow is just such a good and decent human being that sometimes I cry about it—and by sometimes I mean all the time.) However, the moment I can’t stop thinking about was a quiet conversation about two people that could very well be about the world we’re actually living in—if you take out the mentions of dragons—and that’s when Game of Thrones is at its very best.

In a week where inhuman acts of cruelty were sadly not just the stuff of fiction and the idea of sitting back silently as people do horrible things in the name of “reclaiming” their place has been on everyone’s mind, this moment feels even more powerful. Although it was specifically about these two men and their relationship to the rulers they’ve served, it felt disturbingly universal in light of recent events in the United States.

“I’m not the one doing it.”

That refrain from Varys will haunt me just like it should haunt everyone who watched this episode. Although he may not have been the person who killed the supposed traitors, he was complicit in their deaths because he did nothing to stop Aerys. Conleth Hill is always brilliant, but he was especially captivating in this scene, showing that Varys will always feel a deep sense of guilt and responsibility over what happened under his watch. You can feel the weight of that refrain—“I’m not the one doing it”—in Hill’s pained delivery, and you could also feel his sense of fear that he’s watching it all start to happen again.

The men who served Aerys Targaryen—especially Varys and Jaime Lannister—bear incredible psychological scars from that time in their lives. While Jaime tried to ensure that history wouldn’t repeat itself by attempting to kill Daenerys, Varys has taken a different approach—trying to guide Daenerys on a different path than the one her father had taken. So it’s understandable that this news of what she did to the Lannister army and to the Tarly family would bring back horrible memories for him and conjure up a deep sense of anxiety that history could repeat itself.

“I’m not the one doing it.”

If that refrain showed us anything, it’s that silence makes you complicit. You can tell yourself over and over that you can’t control what people in power do, but that’s no excuse not to speak out and take action when you know something is wrong. Varys sees himself as complicit in the deaths of so many because he allowed himself to believe it was out of his hands. But as he reminded Tyrion, it’s his job to make his queen listen, to make her see reason, and to help her make the right choices. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who felt like Varys’s speech about the responsibilities of an advisor when a leader is doing awful things felt just as applicable to Washington, D.C., as it did to Westeros.

At a time in both the world of Westeros and the world away from our television screens in which the stakes are high and the lines of right and wrong are clearly drawn, this scene served as a reminder of what can happen when people watch those in power do terrible things but fail to speak up and fight back.

“I’m not the one doing it.”

No matter how many times you tell yourself that, it never absolves the guilt. Just ask Varys.

Honorable Mentions: Jon pets Drogon, Jon and Daenerys say goodbye, Jon meets Gendry, Davos bribes the soldiers, the “wight capturing crew” assembles

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Spoils of War”

The Moment: Arya and Sansa reunite

Setting the Scene: When Arya comes home to Winterfell, she shares a quiet moment with her sister.

Why It’s Awesome: I will always have a soft spot for the complex relationship between Arya and Sansa Stark. I have a younger sister, and people have always separated us into the “girly older sister” and “tomboy younger sister,” which made it hard at times for us to find common ground as young kids. But as we grew up, we came to learn that those stereotypes and differences in interests meant so little in the grand scheme of things. When you’re family, it doesn’t matter how different you may seem, your roots are the same, and they connect your stories forever.

Arya and Sansa are the last Starks left (since Bran has basically lost all sense of his former identity), so to see them finally reunite after so many seasons of following their separate journeys was incredibly cathartic. But what I loved about their reunion scene was that it wasn’t immediately filled with relief and joy; there was a tension there that I wasn’t expecting but was actually the perfect choice for their dynamic. Knowing how close Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner are in real life, I have to give them a lot of credit for playing their initial interactions with pointed restraint. These two characters were never close, and they didn’t exactly have a happy parting. So for them to cry happy tears and tell each other all they’d been through wouldn’t have been true to their characters. Instead, Arya didn’t really return Sansa’s initial embrace, and they seemed unsure what to say to each other. There was happiness and relief there, but it was understandably guarded.

However, things began to soften when they talked of their father. When Sansa mentioned that everyone who knew him was dead and Arya replied, “We’re not,” a warmth began to spread between them. Because Arya was right—their father’s legacy lives on in them. No matter what they’ve gone through, they’re still alive, and as long as they’re still alive, House Stark is still alive. It was a reminder that they’re family, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

There was still some believable uncertainty and hesitation between them—like when Sansa laughed at Arya’s very real list of names of people to kill—but as they spoke of their mutual hatred of Joffrey and the hard roads they’d traveled alone, they felt more like sisters than perhaps they ever have. There was a quiet understanding between them when they spoke of the long stories that brought them back home. They didn’t pry (unlike Bran’s super creepy mentions of Sansa’s rape); there was a depth of understanding between them that showed they both understand that the other has faced traumas of her own that are best left unspoken.

Williams and Turner played those last interactions in the crypt with a level of mutual respect that was actually far more beautiful than any tearful reunion would have been. When Arya remarked to Sansa that their stories aren’t over, I felt a swell of hope that I don’t often get to feel when I watch this show. They get to write the next chapter in their story—in the story of the Stark family—and I hope we get to watch them write it together.

The realistic ebb and flow of awkwardness and affection in that scene made their second hug—filled with genuine emotion—feel incredibly earned and powerful. (It was the first moment of the season to make me cry.) It was a moment between two sisters who, on the surface, could not appear more different but who, at their core, have always been connected. They get to choose how their stories go from this point on, and that hug seemed to be a sign that—at least for this moment—they’re choosing to make each other a part of their story. In a season where family ties and loyalty seem to be playing more important roles than ever, it was beautiful to see the bond between these two sisters strengthen even over the course of one short scene. After all they’ve been through, they need allies they can trust, and it seems they might have found that in a place neither would have expected years ago—each other.

Honorable Mentions: Brienne watches the Starks, Arya and Brienne spar, Bran sees straight through Littlefinger, Jon counsels Daenerys, Daenerys and Missandei have a moment of “girl talk,” Drogon and the Dothraki make their Westeros debut (featuring Jaime experiencing some very painful flashbacks to another Targaryen who wanted to “burn them all”)—basically this entire episode was one phenomenal scene after another

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Queen’s Justice”

The Moment: Olenna Tyrell has the last word

Setting the Scene: After the Lannister army takes Highgarden, Jaime goes to Olenna Tyrell to deliver the queen’s justice. However, Olenna still has some final truths to tell.

Why It’s Awesome: I know many people find the battle scenes on Game of Thrones to be some of the best parts of the show, but I would trade all the cinematic battles in the world for great conversations between excellent actors. Luckily, that’s exactly what we got in “The Queen’s Justice.” There were so many fantastic monologues and dialogues in this episode that it was the hardest so far to choose my favorite moment to single out. I toyed for a long time with choosing Jon and Tyrion’s perfect reunion and subsequent discussion of brooding, and part of me wanted to discuss Lena Headey’s insane (in more ways than one) talent in Cersei’s big scene with Ellaria Sand. However, sometimes sentimentality gets the better of you, and if this is the last time I get to write about how amazing Diana Rigg has been as Olenna Tyrell and how brilliant that character is in general, then I’m going to write about it.

My favorite thing about this scene was that it was a match made in heaven between a great actor and a great reactor. No one delivers lines like Rigg, and no one reacts with the subtlety and depth of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Watching his expressions change as Olenna touched on some hard truths about Jaime and Cersei was a true treat, and it gave us some real insight into the depth of his delusions. Jaime Lannister is a man of action who has become completely stuck. He believes his love for his sister means he must stay with her—until death do they part—no matter what she’s done. That’s all he’s ever known of “love”—a toxic kind of codependency that has him convincing himself that she’s going to bring peace and all will be well soon. But once Olenna reminded him that he could be honest with her because she was never going to reveal his secrets, he showed in small ways that he was finally being more honest with himself, too. The completely flat way Coster-Waldau delivered his line about Jaime knowing Cersei will be the end of him showed how much he’s given up even thinking about who he could be without her. And the flash of anger that sprang to the surface when Olenna told him he’d regret spreading the “disease” of Cersei was a very interesting tell; Jaime wants to live in a make-believe world where Cersei is going to bring peace, and if he can’t convince himself of that, then everything could fall apart inside of him. There’s an emptiness to Jaime right now that’s tragic to see from such a formerly lively and impassioned character—almost as if the more powerful Cersei gets, the more he loses his sense of self. But there is still some honor in him, telling Olenna that he didn’t want her to die a painful death, despite what Cersei preferred.

Instead, Olenna was painlessly poisoned, which provided the perfect parallel for her to exploit in her final moments. Yes, it was fun to watch her pick apart Jaime and Cersei’s relationship and to call Joffrey what he truly was. But the best part of the entire scene was her slow, detailed description of Joffrey’s death to Jaime—preying on his helplessness in the moment of his son’s death before dropping the mic and finally saying the words out loud: “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”

Even in her own death scene, Olenna ended up with the upper hand. She played her last card at exactly the right moment, and Rigg gave that moment all the gravitas it deserved. This show is all about power, and Olenna died making a true power play. She never begged for her life or asked for forgiveness. She owned her crimes and admitted to never losing sleep over them. And she confessed to perhaps her biggest crime with a twinkle in her eye and an unwavering voice.

If you’re going to die on this show, that’s the kind of death scene you hope you get. And it was the kind of death scene a legend like Rigg deserved.

Honorable Mentions: “This is Jon Snow…He’s King in the North,” Jon and Tyrion reunite, Sansa proves herself to be a smart ruler of Winterfell, Tyrion narrates the attack on Casterly Rock, Cersei taunts Ellaria

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Stormborn”

The Moment: Nymeria finds Arya

Setting the Scene: After learning from Hot Pie that Jon has taken control of Winterfell, Arya decides to head home to the North instead of traveling to the South to kill Cersei. Along the way, she finds herself surrounded by wolves—until a familiar face arrives.

Why It’s Awesome: Stark reunions are awesome—whether they’re between two people or between people and direwolves. After so many seasons of watching this family get ripped apart and come close to reuniting only to be ripped apart again, even the briefest moments of togetherness have an immense power. And although this reunion was certainly brief, its emotional payoff was huge. The connection between the Starks and their direwolves represent a connection to the selves they once were, and that connection was honored in a powerful way in this scene.

In order to talk about the emotional power of this moment, we need to talk about the power of Arya deciding to turn her horse around and head North after learning that Jon took Winterfell. In that moment, Arya decided to put love above hate, family above vengeance—and I have wanted her to do that for so long. All that was missing was for her to return home with her beloved Nymeria by her side, but we all know nothing on this show can ever be that perfectly happy.

Instead, Arya came to the same conclusion a lot of characters seem to be coming to this season: After you leave home, you can’t be expected to come back and return to exactly the same life you had before. No matter how much Arya (and the audience, by extension) wanted Nymeria to go with her, we know the truth; she doesn’t belong in Winterfell. She’s been on her own for too long. She has her own pack now.

Arya gets it, and I’m sure there’s part of her that knows the same will ultimately be true for her. She wasn’t meant for a domesticated life in Winterfell. She knew that long before her life took her far from home. And that’s what made Maisie Williams’s reaction to Nymeria so beautiful. That small, sad smile after Nymeria walked away said it all; Arya knows that some creatures have to make their own way and can’t be expected to be anyone’s pet. The gentle, loving way she whispered, “That’s not you,” harkened back to her telling her father “That’s not me” when he talked about her being a proper lady. Arya and Nymeria have always been meant for more than a simple, safe life at home.

This scene’s bittersweet tone was clearly foreshadowing Arya’s inability to be content with a life in Winterfell—even if that means a life with people who love her. However, the emotion Maisie Williams packed into this moment opposite her direwolf makes me cry just thinking about an Arya/Sansa or Arya/Jon reunion. Even if the joy doesn’t last, these actors are good enough to give us the smallest moments of beauty in a seemingly endless sea of hard times and harsh punishments. And if nothing else, this scene was worth it just for the sheer goosebump factor of hearing Arya say the words “I’m going home” out loud.

Honorable Mentions: Missandei and Grey Worm get intimate, Jon threatens Littlefinger, Jon and Tyrion speak kindly of each other, Olenna tells Daenerys to be a dragon

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Dragonstone”

Welcome (or welcome back) to a feature that used to be a staple here at NGN: our weekly discussion of my favorite moment in each episode of Game of Thrones! I took some time off from this feature because the show itself had become too violent for me to handle on a week-to-week basis, but I have returned from that hiatus feeling more excited than ever before to talk about the world (and especially the women) of Westeros with all of you!

The Moment: A call for equality in the North

Setting the Scene: As Jon settles into his role as King in the North, he makes a proclamation that all Northerners—including girls and women—should be trained to defend themselves and their lands. When his judgment in this matter is called into question, Lyanna Mormont makes the case for the women of the North to be trained to fight for what’s theirs.

Why It’s Awesome: “Dragonstone” was a reminder that Game of Thrones is at its best when its female characters are allowed to be women of action—exactly the kind of women Jon calls them to be in this moment. This scene was the perfect example of the fact that this world may have its rigid gender norms, but it is also populated by women who defy those norms outright or use those norms to change the game from the inside.

The three main women in this scene—Lyanna, Brienne, and Sansa—all represent women who are willing to fight for what matters to them. As Lyanna made her case, I was once again struck by the thought that I’d follow that girl into battle today if she asked me. The confidence and strength she possesses are so clear that no man—no matter how old or how powerful—would dare challenge her. And I loved the way the camera cut to Brienne during her speech. The slight smile on Gwendoline Christie’s face said it all; in this girl, Brienne sees a kindred spirit, and in this place, she has finally found somewhere to belong. She’s no longer a freak; she’s exactly who Jon wants the women of Winterfell to aspire to be as they train. The affectionate pride Christie showed in her reaction to Lyanna’s speech was such a small but powerful nod to the fact that Brienne may be a warrior, but she has a gentle and kind heart—a heart that is devoted to protecting and serving other strong women.

I also liked that the camera cut to Sansa when Lyanna talked about not letting other people fight for her. Just because Sansa isn’t skilled with a sword, that doesn’t mean she’s not a fighter. She uses a different skill set—words and appearances, courtesy and strategy—but she is every bit as fierce as Lyanna and Brienne. And as she proved by bringing the Knights of the Vale to the Battle of the Bastards, she’s not one to sit around and let other people fight her battles, either. She may not hold a sword or a bow, but she is still a force to be reckoned with.

It makes sense for Winterfell—under the watchful eye of Jon—to be a place where women are treated as equals in combat. Jon has always been a champion of strong women—even as far back as his close relationship with Arya before everything went to hell. And once he fell in love with Ygritte, he became even more convinced that women could fight just as fiercely in battle—and die just as bravely—as men. Jon’s time with Ygritte changed him forever, and it changed him for the better. Her spirit was in that room with Jon when he promised to put a sword or a spear into the hands of every person in the North, and she would have been proud of him in that moment.

“Dragonstone” allowed the women of Westeros to shine in all their complex, fierce, and frightening glory. Just as Lyanna, Brienne, and Sansa are all strong women but none show their strength in exactly the same way, the other prominent female characters in this world are also uniquely strong and powerful, and this episode focused on each of them as women with an incredible amount of agency who now face the question of what to do with it. Jon gave all the Northern women a kind of agency by proclaiming that they will learn to fight for themselves, but the main female players in this episode didn’t need any kind of proclamation to do so. From Cersei and Sansa to Arya and Daenerys, these women play the game on their own terms and won’t back down when challenged—whether it’s by an enemy (Arya slaying all the Freys in the episode’s most badass moment) or by someone who they believe means well but doesn’t know the world the way they do (both Cersei and Sansa dealing with brothers who disagree with their methods of trying to protect their worlds). These women are fighters in every way a person can be—using their swords, their wits, their sexuality, and any other weapon at their disposal to get the job done and done their way. And when one achieves a victory (like Daenerys finally coming home in one of the single most emotionally satisfying and cinematically beautiful scenes in the series), it’s her victory—not anyone else’s.

As the final battlefields are set and the final chess pieces are moved into play, one thing has become crystal clear: The women of Westeros will fight for what’s theirs, and they’re not to be underestimated.

Honorable Mentions: Arya takes out all the male Freys, Sansa shuts down Littlefinger, Euron pledges his two good hands to Cersei, Sandor deals with his guilt, Daenerys finally comes home