Beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect.
This week: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
While the battle of Winterfell in The Long Night didn’t deliver quite the main character carnage some had predicted, it certainly resulted in a lot of death. And so this episode, The Last Of The Starks, opened by addressing that loss head on. The psychological (and physical) scars of battle are apparent in everyone, especially the likes of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, the latter of whom suffered even more loss this week in the shape of Rhaegal and, at the end, Missandei. Suffice to say that after everything she’s been through in the past and now the present, Dany will not be messing around in future. A chunk of the episode was given over to her feeling sidelined and alone despite her great power, and that’s not helped by her concern about Jon telling his family about that awkward connection between the two (not to mention it turns him into one of her biggest rivals for the Iron Throne). Oh, and there was so much talk of family this week that we half expected to see Vin Diesel and the Fast & Furious crew show up.
As with A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms, there were many callbacks to the past, both subtle and obvious, including Arya’s turning down newly Lord-ified Gendry’s marriage proposal with the words “that’s not me” (something she told her father in Season 1 when he suggested that as a lady of Winterfell, she’d marry), her catching up with The Hound and restating her business in King’s Landing, Sansa going back over her past pains (and victories over same) and Bran and Tyrion talking saddles.
And then… there was Jaime.
Perhaps the biggest shocker was his decision to leave the new connection he’d forged with Brienne (their mutual seduction scene was perfectly in keeping with their complicated friendship/relationship) to return to Cersei. Like an addict picking up the needle again, Jaime just can’t seem to quit his murderous sister/lover. Even when there’s a chance at happiness amid his newfound heroism, he breaks bad when offered the choice. And who didn’t feel their own heart break for Brienne as he left? It does make you wonder if she could be the one to end up killing him. Yet while we still have them both in the world of Westeros, all the moments between that pair – and by extension Tyrion – were wonderfully crafted and performed. Especially Ser Bronn finally catching up with the Brothers Lannister, only to make them promise him Highgarden. We’d actually enjoy seeing him ending up ruling there, because things would certainly change for the Flower Folk.
And just when you thought the action quotient would drop to zero following this week’s smackdown with the dead, the shock of the Dragonstone scene popped up to remind us that there is still more death to come. Though we’d have to question why no one from Camp Dany thought to send a spy to the castle to check it was safe. Despite featuring a victory for Euron (ugh), it was an effective moment of drama, a tragedy and a bloody nose for Dany all in one, while setting up further tragedy, and, by extension, the end game to come.
The level of politicking also ratcheted up this week, with Tyrion taking on the lion’s share of the clever chatter, even if some of that was taken up disagreeing with Varys about the future of who should have the throne. The episode made you worry for The Imp (another name we haven’t heard in a while that resurfaced this week), but largely let Tyrion be Tyrion: he drank, and he knew things. He might be more afraid than ever, and we don’t blame him.
It was a better week for Cersei than might have been expected from the trailers – even with their depleted forces, Dany, Jon and the rest present a serious challenge to her. But in their attempts to rationalize with her, they forgot a key component – when she’s threatened, the Big C doesn’t do rational.
Shifting back to a talkier mode for the show was a smart move played well; while some are chomping at the bit for massive battle action, keeping the characters front and centre makes us care. Sure, the shot of Missandei and Grey Worm happily hand-in-hand on the ship’s deck essentially painted a target on both their backs in a way that was entirely foreseeable – and the former getting a moment to talk in the war council scene had us suspecting she might not be long for this world – but it was one of the very few missteps this week. For the most part, the conflict was emotional, the fireworks of the dramatic kind. And it worked well to keep us anchored in the world of the series, where even following a big united victory, there are threats from within and without.
Two episodes are left. It’s all about to kick off… for the last time.
Highlight: The Dragonstone surprise.
Lowlight: Jon, torn between loyalties, makes terrible decisions.
Kill of the week: We can’t decide between Rhaegal and Missandei. Both tragic, but the dragon’s was more shocking. Assuming… (See below in Big Questions)
Quote of the week: “We may have defeated them but we still have us to contend with.” Tyrion, highlighting this week’s theme.
MVP: In the midst of all the drama, it’s Bronn who runs away with it.
Random thought: Sam and Gilly really think this is a safe environment to bring another child into?
Is Rhaegal truly dead?
We’re certainly given that impression: Euron tells Cersei that he saw the dragon sink beneath the waves and didn’t return. Still (minor spoiler alert in case you’re skipping previews) there is a small audio moment in the trailer for next week that could be Drogon on the attack, but could be a surprise.
Did anyone expect Cersei to listen and surrender?
We’re sure Tyrion had some thought in his head that he could appeal to whatever better nature Cersei keeps buried beneath 600 layers of evil, spite and scheming, but let’s be honest here: we knew Missandei wasn’t long for this world, and he’s honestly lucky that Cersei didn’t have her archers fill him full of pointy things.
Is Ghost really going to leave Jon as ordered?
The last time Jon Snow was parted from his Direwolf, it didn’t go well for him. And while his concern for his faithful companion is noble, the decision may well come to bite him in the backside. The wolf may yet return and save that backside if he’s lucky.
Season 8 Reviews
Season 7 Episode Review Guide
[Episode 6 – Beyond The Wall
Game Of Thrones airs Sunday evenings on HBO in the States, with a simulcast on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the early hours of Monday and a repeat Monday evenings at 9pm.