Game of Thrones caps off a landmark season with “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Jeremy Podeswa’s feature-length conclusion certainly exceeds the episode that came before, although it never quite matches the import of its reveals and final moments with the level of filmmaking we know the show can achieve. “The Dragon and the Wolf” finally revealed Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) real parents by name, depicted the fall of The Wall and gave us some justice for the death of Ned Stark (Sean Bean). These were revelations seven seasons in the making, and yet something felt mechanical about their execution.
This week saw a huge reunion of many primary characters who haven’t been in scenes together since the show began, and others who’ve never shared a scene at all. Josh and I break down the slow burn opening scene as Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon attempt to convince Cersei (Lena Headey) that she should lay her arms down until the army of the dead is handled. Josh laments that much of the dialogue is surface-level and unengaging, particularly Tyrion’s schemes, but I disagree. I suggest that seeing these characters finally come together (e.g. Brienne and The Hound) was one of the highlights of this episode — largely due to the strength of nonverbal communication from these actors.
Back at Winterfell, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) finally reveal their long gestating and poorly communicated plan to dupe and execute Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). We weren’t entirely convinced by this turn of events, especially considering how obscurely this plan was hinted at last episode. Still, it’s good to see Littlefinger (who is apparently abysmal at his job) finally get what’s coming to him after seasons of his misdeeds going unpunished. And yet Josh and I are left wondering: was this the scene every horrific moment Sansa suffered was building toward? Was anyone satisfied with this moment considering all that had come before it?
The episode concludes with two major moments. First, we learn that Jon Snow is in fact a Targaryen. The coyly hinted idea that Jon’s parents were in fact Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark is finally stated plainly. We even learn that Jon’s name is actually Aegon Targaryen (a point that has caused some consternation for book readers). We also see the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) use an undead Viserion to take down The Wall. We debate the logistics of such a move including whether the Night King was playing the long game in waiting for a dragon to fall into his lap, or whether the show skipped the logic of his strategy in favor of a cool scene where a dragon breathes blue fire on The Wall. Who’s to say?
I want to close by thanking all of you for following along this seasons and in previous years. It’s your listenership that keeps us going. Also, I’m sorry if I sound a bit strange on this podcast — I wasn’t feeling my best!
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That’s all for “Stark Contrast” until the next season starts! But that’s probably at least a couple of years away, especially if every Season 8 episode ends up being 90 minutes or more. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of our other podcasts, including our ongoing Deadwood series, “Hoopleheads.” We’re keen to get your ideas on future series at Movie Fail, so feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.