Year:  2017

Director:  Jeremy Podeswa

Rated:  MA!%+

Release:  August 28, 2017

Distributor: Foxtel/HBO

Running time: 80 minutes

Worth: $17.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Alfie Allen, Aidan Gillen

Ultimately “The Dragon and the Wolf"has been more action blockbuster than political drama or character-based thriller.

[SPOILER WARNING: Please don’t read unless you’ve seen the episode. I mean, come on, you know how this works]

Season seven of Game of Thrones has whipped past quickly, some have opined too quickly. We’re in the show’s third act now and on occasion logic and consistency have been sacrificed at the altar of momentum. Nevertheless, here we are, at the finale of the penultimate season. So does “The Dragon and the Wolf” manage to live up to the heaviest of expectations? Let’s have foaming tankard of recap first.

The episode begins with The Unsullied arriving at King’s Landing. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) have some delightful patter about being surrounded by an army of “men without cocks”, but they’re just bantering to hide their nervousness. Today is an important day for the realm and things could go very badly.

Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) share their nervousness as they’re landing deep in enemy territory. Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) checks to see if their “special” zombie cargo is still a screamer. It is.

Everyone’s heading for the important parley in the Dragonpit, you see, and no one’s quite sure what the other will do. On the walk there we have a few nice moments with Podric (Daniel Portman) and Tyrion, Bronn and Tyrion – it’s good to see these two together again – but the best moment by far is with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Sandor. The Hound actually smiles when Brienne explains that Arya (Maisie Williams) is safe and with her family at Winterfell. Honestly, the Hound having a cheeky grin is probably the most unexpected thing to happen all episode.

Still, the friendly banter can’t last and the world’s deadliest staff meeting is about to begin, with a very well-armed HR department ready to enforce the rules. Cersei (Lena Headey) arrives and scowls fiercely. Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) has a smirk-off with Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). The Hound checks out his brother, The Mountain’s (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), bold new zombie look and thinks it’s a bit tacky. Everyone manages to behave themselves for the moment and then Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) arrives on a dragon. The lady makes a hell of an entrance.

The meeting gets off to an awkward start. Euron starts to heckle Theon and Tyrion, but Cersei and Jaime shut him down. They want to hear what Tyrion has to say, or at least, they want to appear that way. Tyrion makes his pitch about the army of the dead, but it’s clear visual aids are needed. Rather than go with pie charts and graphs, The Hound brings out the blue-eyed zombie captured in last week’s ep, “Beyond the Wall”. The screechy dead thing takes a run at Cersei but The Hound clefts it in twain. “There is only one war that matters,” Jon explains, “The Great War – and it is here.”

Euron claims to be terrified and buggers off back to the Iron Islands, which seems suspiciously out of character. Cersei seems convinced of the threat, and more than a little freaked out, and says she’ll fight with Dany and Jon as long as the latter stays in the North. Jon tells her no, he’s bent the knee to Dany and Cersei storms off.

Tyrion wryly tells Jon that sometimes it’s a good thing to fib a little. Jon gives (yet another) impassioned TED talk about being honest in a post-truth Westeros, but maybe pick your moments, eh? Tyrion decides he should be the one to talk with Cersei. Seems like you’d be safer with the wights, mate.

In the episode’s best scene we have a long-awaited one on one with Cersei and Tyrion. Lena Headey is particularly effective in this scene, bringing genuine pathos to her character, as she lashes Tyrion with words regarding the death of her father and children. Peter Dinklage brings his usual wounded dignity to the table, offering his life if Cersei really wants to take it. She doesn’t, not really, and they both calm down, a little. The turning point is when Tyrion works out that Cersei is pregnant.

Jon and Dany have a bittersweet bit of business amongst the stunted dragon bones when Tyrion returns… with Cersei following. “The darkness is coming for us all… we will face it together” Cersei proclaims. “And when the Great War is over, perhaps you’ll remember I chose to help.” This is actually a great bit of character work for Cersei, if true, but can we possibly trust a word she says?

In Winterfell, Sansa (Sophie Turner) has the shits re: Jon bending the knee to Dany. Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) continues to implicate Arya and isolate Sansa. Collectively GoT fans pray that Sansa hasn’t suddenly become stupid enough to believe him.

Battle plans are made in Dragonstone, and Dany announces she and Jon will sail together to the North. Afterwards Theon talks with Jon, trying to make him understand that he seeks redemption. Jon tells Theon it’s not for him to forgive, but maybe rescuing his sister, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) would be a good start.

This plan proves less popular with Theon’s crew and he cops a savage beating. However this time he doesn’t turn tail, and after taking a misplaced knee to the not-cock (seriously, it’s a running theme for this episode) Theon triumphs and re-baptises himself in the sea. The crew are now with him (fickle bunch) and will follow his lead to rescue Yara.

At Winterfell, Sansa and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) have Arya sent to the great hall, where armed soldiers surround her. “You stand accused of treason and murder,” Sansa says imperiously, “how do you answer these charges… Lord Baelish?” Yes, in a twist that isn’t terribly surprising but quite cathartic we find out Sansa, Arya and Bran have been aware of Littlefinger’s fuckery to at least some degree. His charges reveal that Petyr is responsible for much of the chaos in Westeros, including Ned Stark’s death. Littlefinger begs for his life, but Sansa calmly intones: “Thank you for all your many lessons, Lord Baelish, I will never forget them.” Then Arya slits his throat and he bleeds out on the cold ground.

Meanwhile Jaime is planning on moving his army North, when Cersei interrupts asking him what the hell he’s doing. Turns out Cersei has no intention of sending anyone northwards and will, instead, keep on being a cartoony supervillain – using Euron to bring a bunch of bad arses called The Golden Company, who have elephants apparently. It’s a shame and Jaime can no longer handle it. Jaime heads to the door and for a moment we think Cersei will have The Mountain kill him… but no. She’s not ready to do that, not yet. As Jaime leaves King’s Landing it begins to snow.

Up North, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West) arrives at Winterfell and visits Bran. The subject soon turns to Jon, and Bran is desperate to tell Jon the truth about himself. “No one knows, no one but me,” Bran says incorrectly (Gilly, you never get any respect), “Jon isn’t my father’s son. He’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and my aunt, Lyanna Stark.” With some extra exposition from Sam (which, again, Gilly gets no credit for – sorry, Hannah Murray!) it becomes clear that “Rhaegar didn’t kidnap my aunt or rape her, he loved her, and she loved him.” Which of course means: “[Jon’s] never been a bastard, he’s the heir to the Iron Throne.”

This information would have come in really handy for Jon, because at the same time as Bran and Sam are figuring all this out, he and Dany are getting it on. What’s he going to do when he finds out he’s shagging his aunt? And how will Dany react when she realises she’s not the rightful heir to the Iron Throne after all?

Arya and Sansa have a proper bonding moment, thank God, and it’s so sweet it almost makes up for the protracted silliness of this sister vs sister subplot.

Bran wargs to the Wall and we see what we’ve been dreading since the end of last episode. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric (Richard Dormer) watch in horror as the army of the dead arrive… with the Night King (Richard Brake) riding a freaking zombie dragon! Everyone tries to flee as the dragon breathes corrosive blue fire all over The Wall but many die as a huge section of The Wall collapses. More importantly – the wights now have unrestricted access to the realms of men. Looks like Tyrion was right when he observed earlier, “we’re fucked.”

Just how fucked will our heroes be? We’ll have to wait until the next and final season but it’s sure to be epic.

Ultimately “The Dragon and the Wolf”, and indeed season seven of Game of Thrones in general, has been more action blockbuster than political drama or character-based thriller. It’s exciting and engaging and occasionally a bit silly, but unique in the televisual landscape.

One thing’s for sure it’s going to a long, cold, wintry wait to see how this sprawling tale ends. Until then, thanks so much for reading these reviews and we’ll see you next time when this song of ice and fire comes to a close.


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