The second-to-last episode of each Game of Thrones season is traditionally the most intense, and the heart-stopping 71 minutes of Season 7, Episode 6 was no different.
*Note: Until Jon’s bloodline is revealed, we’re just going to ignore the incest thing.
Jon heeds some unexpected counsel. Jon finally succumbs to Daenerys’ insistence that he bend the knee—and the decision to do so was inspired by more than just the sacrifice she made to save him. Tormund, who is typically not the brightest bulb in the box, smartly reminded Jon that although Mance Rayder was a great man, his refusal to bend the knee cost thousands of lives. It was not the first time Jon has heard the argument that protecting his people is more important than his pride—but coming from a man who is an anti-kneeler by nature, the advice hits home for Jon. Tormund is beginning to demonstrate strong leadership qualities, and I only hope that his yearning to get back to Brienne and make babies with her wasn’t foreshadowing his death.
The hero Westeros deserves. Jon also received significant counsel from Beric Dondarrion—the only character who can truly understand Jon’s experience with the Lord of Light. Rather than questioning his purpose, perhaps all Jon needs to concentrate on is being what he has been from the start: the shield that guards the realms of men. Dany assumes Jon is just another want-to-be hero until she sees him riding back to the Wall—and is surprised by how much his survival means to her. When his scars are finally revealed, Dany realizes that this was not the first time Jon has sacrificed himself to protect others—and not the first time he has survived. It’s only at this point that she finally grasps that Jon is no ordinary man, and that there might be something to Melisandre’s prophecy after all.
Dragons cannot sit on the Iron Throne. Dany has felt the sting of betrayal too many times for us to be surprised that she would occasionally be skeptical of Tyrion’s intentions. Sooner or later, she has to realize that despite his failed military strategies, his counsel in areas such as her succession is wise. Who sits on the throne after her? Considering that the two agreed on the necessity of a proper marriage and that Daario was not a viable prospect for Dany, one would think that Tyrion would have recommended Jon as a potential match by now—especially after Dany alluded to some level of interest toward Jon Snow. Having been relieved from his vow to never father children, I also have to wonder if that’s something Jon would want some day and if a part of him was heartbroken to hear that Dany can’t.
Littlefinger plays mind games with Sansa. Not only does Littlefinger lie to Sansa when she asks where Arya found the letter, further proving his interest in causing a rift between the two girls, he also knew what to say to Sansa to ensure Brienne’s removal from the picture. Littlefinger feigns concern for Sansa’s safety by suggesting that Brienne would intervene should Arya act on her threats. In reality, it only serves as a reminder to Sansa that Brienne is honor-bound to both girls and would also intercede on Arya’s behalf. Sansa saw a connection between Brienne and Arya, who have been training together since Arya’s return, and it could be in Sansa’s best interest to send her away. Unbeknownst to Sansa, however, Brienne’s absence will also serve well for whatever scheme Littlefinger has brewing.
Sansa accepts an invitation to King’s Landing. Sansa takes advantage of the opportunity to send Brienne away, but she never reveals exactly what awaits her in King’s Landing. She seemingly accepts the invitation without hesitation, which is worrisome considering Arya’s recent skepticism of Sansa’s loyalty. Unless the invitation is from Jon or Tyrion, Sansa does not know about Jon’s mission beyond the Wall or about Tyrion’s request for a meeting with Cersei. In the preview for the finale, it was a relief to see Brienne and Podrick in the same company as Jon, Tyrion, Davos, Theon and others—but still, I’m curious what the scroll requested of Sansa and why she was so quick to accept.
A death sentence for dragons. Knowing that Cersei’s weapon wasn’t strong enough to kill one of Dany’s dragons should be enough proof to anyone just how dangerously powerful the White Walkers are. Forget about how deadly the Night King’s weapon was—that was also one hell of a throw. After encountering the dead bear, Jon and Co. will understand the likelihood that Viserion is now part of the Night King’s army and that Dany’s dragons might have to fight their own brother in the end. Between the news of Viserion’s death and the captured wight (assuming the corpse makes it to King’s Landing), convincing nonbelievers that the threat exists shouldn’t be a problem anymore. And as heartbreaking as it was, the silver lining is that Dany gave her word that she would avenge Viserion’s death by joining in the fight against the dead.
White Walkers vs. wights. Knowing the difference between the two is going to be essential in the next season, if not the next episode. When Jon killed the White Walker, the majority of the small army of wights that followed the Walker immediately fell. Presumably, the wight they captured did not die because that specific White Walker did not create it. In other words, if Jon and Co. had killed more White Walkers in the process of escaping, they might have lost the captured wight—which is essential to convincing Westeros that the threat exists. Eventually, if they manage to kill the Night King—the first White Walker and the reason the rest of the army exists—it’s possible the entire army will fall and the war will be over.
The Red Priest dies from a fear of fire. If trips beyond the Wall are going to be a common occurrence for Jon and Co., the Hound needs to overcome his fear (and maybe stop throwing rocks at dead guys). He could have saved Thoros of Myr from the bear, but his fear of the flame left him paralyzed. He even needs to turn away when Beric attempts to heal the wound with fire, and again when he burns the body. With Thoros gone, Beric is on his last life, and it’s possible that could have been avoided. Thankfully the Hound redeems himself by rescuing Tormund from drowning in dead men and successfully making it past the Wall with the captured wight.
Who’s next to go? Since most of Sunday’s episode took place in the North, it’s safe to assume we won’t see much of the Army of the Dead in the season finale. More than likely, we’ll say goodbye to someone next week, but it won’t be any of the men who survived the journey beyond the Wall. At least not yet.
Keep in mind: Yara is still in the clutches of her uncle; Theon could and should risk his life in the attempt to save her; Grey Worm stands at the head of the Unsullied army; Arya still holds Littlefinger’s blade; Cersei has it out for Ser Bronn of the Blackwater; Cersei also threatened Jaime never to betray her again; and Jaime knows his sister is more unpredictable than ever.
To read last week’s recap, click HERE.
For Episode Four, click HERE.
For Episode Three, click HERE.
For Episode Two, click HERE.
For Episode One, click HERE.