Every ‘Game of Thrones’ episode, recapped, rated, and ranked: Season Seven

We’ve reached Season 7, which I think was the first one that aired after the showrunners told the world that Season 8 would be the last season and that it would be a bit truncated. I can’t remember if we also found out Season 7 would itself be shorter, but there you have it. So already people were fretting about the show, as they weren’t sure how it could possibly be wrapped up in 13 episodes, and of course David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the showrunners) were on their own by now, having left the books and George Martin’s slow, hanging-with-far-too-young-for-him-but-undeniably-hot-women ass behind. Anxiety was high, and so let’s see what’s what with the penultimate season!

Season 7, Episode 1 (61), “Dragonstone” (first aired 16 July 2017). As GoT nears its end, things seem more unsettled, despite the several reunions we’ve seen recently (Sansa and Jon most notably). It also feels slightly less epic, as so many characters have been killed off and the show doesn’t have time to establish new ones with any real characterization (this is most egregious with regard to Dorne, where Ellaria and the Sand Snakes remain boring). It’s tough line to walk for the showrunners, but they manage to concentrate on still more unfinished business, as before the credits, we get Walder Frey (wait a minute …) treating his entire family to a feast. He gives them wine and praises them for killing the Starks, but he says they made a huge mistake – they didn’t kill all the Starks. Yes, “Walder” is actually Arya, who has poisoned the wine. She’s not making the same mistake Walder Frey made! David Bradley, who had to play Walder as an evil old toad, does nice work as “Arya” here, making it just clear enough that this is not a resurrected Walder. Arya strolls away, one of her main missions accomplished. Up North, Bran and Meera arrive at Castle Black, so they’re back in the thick of it. At Winterfell, Jon sends the Wildlings to the eastern edge of the Wall (well, he asks and Tormund says they will), and over Sansa’s objections, he forgives the Karstark and Umber heirs for their fathers’ rebellion. He argues with Sansa later, and one of the great things about the show is that neither of them is wrong. Sansa knows that treason must be punished and loyalty rewarded, while Jon knows that you can’t blame a different family member for one’s sins. They’re struggling with leadership, and it’s interesting to see. He does receive a message from Cersei telling him to come to King’s Landing and swear fealty to her, but even Jon isn’t dumb enough to go. It does let us switch to the capital, where Jaime tries to convince Cersei that they need more allies, because Cersei is on a power trip and just wants to kill everyone. She does have an audience with Euron Greyjoy, who promises many things but gets nowhere. He does promise a gift to show his prowess, so we’ll see about that. We check in with the Hound, who comes across the homestead he and Arya spent some time at back in Season 4, Episode 3, when Clegane stole all the farmer’s money. The farmer and his daughter are dead now, and Clegane feels guilty. Beric makes him look into the fire after he scoffs at the Brotherhood’s devotion to the Lord of Light, and the Hounds see some ominous things. Down in Oldtown, Sam is treated like the newbie he is, but he does sneak into the restricted area, where he finds a book that shows that there is obsidian under Dragonstone, the island where until recently Stannis lived. He also meets a quarantined patient with a lot of grayscale on his arm who’s very keen on where Daenerys is. Do we know anyone like that? Finally, Daenerys comes ashore at Dragonstone, which is, after all, where she was born. There’s a very long, cool, wordless procession up into the castle and the throne room and finally Stannis’s war room. I don’t want to ruin it by asking what the heck happened to everyone in the castle? I mean, Stannis left and is now dead, but surely he expected to be back, so did everyone just abandon it when he died? I guess so, but it still seems a bit odd. Anyway, this is a pretty good season premiere, which are often the weakest episodes of the season. I assume it’s because we’re close to the end, so while there’s still some setting up, there’s also plenty of forward momentum. It’s a good balance!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 7, Episode 2 (62), “Stormborn” (first aired 23 July 2017). It’s hard finding moments in GoT where people get to relax, and it’s also hard to find characters who aren’t great warriors or schemers surviving for that long. The former is why last week’s meeting between Arya and Ed Sheeran’s gang of soldiers was so nice – we thought Arya might up and kill them all, but instead she shared some meat and ale with them and went on her merry way. Now, this week, she ends up at, presumably, still the only inn in Westeros, where she finds Hot Pie, still plying his trade. Hot Pie is a good character, because he reminds us that most of the people in Westeros are just trying to live their lives, and in his case, making good food. Arya makes a joke about making some pies recently (which she did, of course, when she killed Walder Frey’s sons), and then mentions that she’s going south. Hot Pie tells her that Jon is in charge at Winterfell, so she turns north instead of going to King’s Landing to kill Cersei. Even Arya, who has gone way ’round the bend in some ways, cares about her family more than she does about killing. Well, done, Arya! Later, she even gets to see her direwolf, Nymeria, again – she sent her into the wild back in Season 1, Episode 2 when it became clear that Joffrey would have the wolf killed. She recognizes that Nymeria, like Arya herself, can’t be tamed, so she doesn’t mind when Nymeria leaves with her pack instead of rejoining Arya. It’s another nice moment tying up a completely inconsequential loose end (hey, where’s Gendry?). In matters of far greater import, Daenerys meets Melisandre, who’s made it down to Dragonstone (in its latter season, GoT got criticized for ignoring geography and the distances between places, but in this case, at least, they’re fairly consistent – Melisandre took two episodes to make the trip, which seems about right in the context of the show). Melisandre tells her that Jon Snow might be important, and Daenerys sends a message off to Jon, inviting him to come south and kneel before her. Obviously, Jon isn’t quite as stupid as Ned Stark, who also went south and lost his head, but when he receives Sam’s message about the obsidian at Dragonstone, he decides to go there, leaving Sansa in charge of Winterfell. In the capital, Cersei tries to enlist the aid of Randyll Tarly, last seen being grumpy to his son Sam, but Tarly is loyal to the Tyrells, so he’s going to have to choose which side he’s on (they also recast his other son, Dickon, and hey, it’s Spaceboy from The Umbrella Academy!). Qyburn shows Cersei a big-ass crossbow that can pierce dragon bone (he uses it on one of the dragon’s skulls in the Red Keep’s basement), but can it pierce dragon skin? Yeah, think on that, Qyburn. At Dragonstone, Daenerys tells Yara, Ellaria, and Motherfucking Emma Peel her plans, even though Yara wants to attack King’s Landing immediately. Tyrion argues against this, and even though it’s sound advice, once again Tyrion is going to be proven wrong (poor Tyrion – he gives good advice, but he always forgets that Westeros is full of psychopaths who don’t act normally). Sam, meanwhile, thinks he has found a way to cure Jorah (he’s not only a nice dude, but he respected Jorah’s dad, Jeor, the dead Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch), and he gets to work peeling the grayscale off. That sounds fun! This isn’t the greatest episode, but it is redeemed at the end, when Euron Greyjoy throws a spanner into Tyrion’s work by attacking Yara’s fleet. It’s another terrific battle scene, fought at night with flames and sparks illuminating everything. Euron kills two of the Sand Snakes (RIP to … who cares, really, as they were never very good characters) and takes the third prisoner, along with Ellaria. He gets in a fight with Yara, and she almost defeats him, but finally he gains the upper hand. Theon stands ready to recue her, but as he’s goaded on by Euron, we see that his PTSD is taking over, and he finally abandons ship, leaving Yara as Euron’s prisoner. It’s great work by Alfie Allen as he slowly breaks down and by Gemma Whalen as her heart breaks because Theon still hasn’t recovered from his torture. We get that, but I doubt that Yara will. It’s a very good ending, and it shows that despite the tide turning to the “good guys,” things are still pretty unsettled down Westeros way!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 7, Episode 3 (63), “The Queen’s Justice” (first aired 30 July 2017). As I mentioned above, a lot of people were kvetching about the lack of geographical hardships in Season 7, when characters could just teleport around a large continent, and while the logistics of how fast everyone moves has always been a bit wonky, I also didn’t care about it in Season 7, because the showrunners are wrapping things up and we need to get places! However, at the beginning of this episode, Jon and Davos arrive at Dragonstone, and they make it before Daenerys hears about the ambush on her fleet. That’s a little silly. But oh well – let’s move on, as Jon meets Daenerys in this episode, with both completely unaware that she’s his aunt! He also reunites with Tyrion, and it’s always good to see characters who have been separated for a long time meet again. Jon is impressed with the dragons but not necessarily with Daenerys – he refuses to kneel to her, for instance. Their argument is well done – Jon wants help fighting the White Walkers, naturally, while Daenerys wants help fighting Cersei, but what’s interesting about the discussion is how it’s about power and who owes what to whom – the entire show has been about power, and it’s nice to hear two characters discussing it so openly. The argument is cut short by Varys bringing news of Euron’s ambush, but it’s clear the two sides are far apart. We see the other side of the coin – Theon is rescued by his disgusted kinsmen, who think he should have died trying to rescue Yara, and Euron takes Ellaria and the surviving Sand Snake to Cersei. She chains them up and poisons the Sand Snake the same way Ellaria did Myrcella, then tells her she can watch her daughter die (Ellaria is not the mother of all the Sand Snakes, but plot contrivances mean her actual daughter was the only one who survived). Later, Mycroft Holmes from the Iron Bank visits the capital and tells Cersei she’s in deep debt. She asks him for two weeks so she can pay him off. In Winterfell, Sansa is taking charge, and then Bran shows up! Yay, Bran! He’s awfully detached, though, as he’s becoming more Three-Eyed-Raven-ish all the time, and when he starts telling her how sad he was that her wedding night was so awful, she peaces out momentarily. Stop being weird, Bran! Down in Oldtown, Jorah is completely cured of grayscale (well, that seemed easy), so he’s off to rejoin Daenerys. Archmaester Jim Broadbent doesn’t throw Sam out on his ear, so that’s nice for him (Broadbent, weirdly enough, is the only Oscar winner ever to appear on the show, and I bet you can’t tell me which movie he won for without looking it up!). Back at Dragonstone, Tyrion tells Jon he has to be patient, and he also counsels Daenerys that she should give Jon something small, so she allows him to start mining obsidian. Later, they discuss strategy, and it’s a nice sequence. Tyrion mentions that Casterly Rock is tough to storm, but he knows a secret way in. This is narration over the battle between the Lannisters and the Unsullied, and once Grey Worm breaches the walls, we think it’s a bounce-back victory for the “good guys.” But there’s only a small force at the castle, and then Grey Worm looks out at the harbor, where Euron’s fleet is destroying Daenerys’s (more geographical skullduggery, as Euron needed to sail completely around the continent in something like 40 minutes). The bulk of the Lannister army is at Highgarden, seizing the Tyrell’s stronghold and securing their grain and gold. Jaime meets with Motherfucking Emma Peel and tells her that they won’t even be able to hold Casterly Rock, so why not let them have it for a while? (She also gets another good line in: when Jaime reluctantly tells her that Joffrey named the sword Jaime is carrying “Widow’s Wail,” she says, “He really was a cunt, wasn’t he?”) He gives Emma Peel poison even though Cersei wanted to kill her more horribly, promising her that this way will be painless. She drinks it quickly, because she has one more card to play: she tells Jaime that she killed Joffrey, and she wants him to make sure Cersei knows it. He can’t do anything but stare – she already took the poison, after all. MOTHERFUCKING EMMA PEEL GOES OUT LIKE A BOSS!!!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 7, Episode 4 (64), “The Spoils of War” (first aired 6 August 2017). I love Weird Bran. He could have easily explained himself to Sansa in the previous episode (there was a Three-Eyed Raven, I was his apprentice, now he’s dead and I took his place) and he could easily have told her a happy memory to show he can see everything, but he went Full Weirdo on her, and he does it again in this episode, except he’s freaking out Littlefinger, so that’s all right. He quotes “Chaos is a ladder at him” after Baelish gives him the dagger that was used to almost kill him (nice gift there, Littlefinger!), which disturbs the master manipulator. Then Meera tells him she’s leaving to be with her family, and he barely notices despite the fact that she clearly digs him. Bran has gone Emo Teen on everyone in a world where the concept of “teenagers” doesn’t really exist, and no one knows what the hell is happening. Next he’ll break out the Love and Rockets and My Chemical Romance CDs and freak everyone even more out! Then Arya comes home, and it’s time for more awkward interactions between siblings, but Arya’s seen more weird stuff than Sansa, so she’s kind of unfazed by Bran, even when he says he knows about her list. He gives her the dagger, though, which was nice of him. Later, Arya spars with Brienne (whom she finally realizes was on her side, I guess, back when Brienne and she first met), and she’s excellent, of course. Sansa and Baelish are watching her, and who knows what’s going on in Littlefinger’s mind? While it’s all reunions and ominous portends at Winterfell, down south things aren’t going as well as Daenerys would have hoped. The Lannisters and Tarlys are leaving Highgarden with their booty, and the gold has been sent on ahead to King’s Landing, so Mycroft Holmes is happy with Cersei and, like a good banker, offers her more credit. At Dragonstone, Jon shows Daenerys convenient cave etchings showing the Children of the Forest allying with the First Men against the White Walkers. Those carvings look awfully fresh, Jon – are you sure you didn’t just make them to “prove” to Daenerys that they need to work together? Daenerys is awesome here – she seems to soften and promise that she would help Jon … and then she twists the knife by saying that once he kneels, they’ll be good. Dang, Daenerys, way to have a one-track mind! They get word about the attack on Highgarden, which pisses Daenerys off, and then the Ironborn show up, and Theon is with them! Yay, another reunion! Except that Jon is, you know, kind of peeved at Theon for the whole betrayal thing, and he says the only reason he won’t kill Theon is because he helped Sansa escape from Ramsay. Meanwhile, Daenerys decides to take matters into her own hand, and she teleports the Dothraki (along with Tyrion, which doesn’t make any sense, as he was on the beach when Theon arrived, and that was after Daenerys had left) across the continent to fight the Lannisters. This is another tremendous battle – the battles at the beginning of the series show the budgetary limitations, but as the series became more popular, it’s clear that they were able to use bigger budgets, because the later battles are superb. Jaime and Bronn are talking to Spaceboy about the fight for Highgarden when suddenly Bronn hears thunder. They realize it’s the Dothraki horde, and they get prepared for that. Then Daenerys flies out of the sky riding Drogon, and things go straight to hell for the Lannisters. Drogon wipes out large sections of the army with fire, and this is the first time we’ve seen the Dothraki fight, and they’re impressive as well. Bronn manages to get to the giant crossbow and he even manages to wound Drogon, who has to land. Of course, he’s still a powerful dragon, and he destroys the crossbow (Bronn leaps clear), so Cersei better hope they have more! Daenerys climbs down and tries to pull the bolt out of his shoulder, and Jaime sees his opportunity to kill her. He grabs a spear and rides toward her, but Drogon sees him and aims a burst of flame at him. Bronn rides in and dives for Jaime at the last second, knocking him into the river next to which the battle occurred. The fire misses him, but he sinks rapidly to the bottom as we fade to black. He’s about ten feet from the shore and the river doesn’t look all that deep, but let’s not let that get in the way of a good visual! Anyway, this is a very cool episode, not only for the great-looking battle, but because of the events at Winterfell. A good time all around!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

Season 7, Episode 5 (65), “Eastwatch” (first aired 13 August 2017). It’s a good thousand miles from Dragonstone to the Wall, if not 1500. Jon and Davos sail that distance in something like 20 minutes. I get the accelerated timeline, but come on, show!!!!!

Anyway, we pick up where we left off, with Bronn saving Jaime from drowning and also peacing out because Bronn don’t fight no dragons, yo. Back at the battlefield, Daenerys gives the captured soldiers a choice to serve her or die. Most of them kneel, but Randyll Tarly and Spaceboy don’t, so Daenerys has Drogon burn them alive. Tyrion thinks this is excessive, but as I noted above, one of the cool things about this show is that almost every action is understandable – Daenerys gave them a choice, and they are enemy combatants, so while the punishment was harsh, it’s tough to outright condemn Daenerys. We can see some of her family’s madness in her, but she’s still trying her best to make the world better. Later, Varys reminisces about his role in the Mad King’s excesses, and he urges Tyrion to get through to Daenerys to stop burning people. When Daenerys returns to Dragonstone, she flies to Jon, who is able to pet Drogon, which should make anyone wonder if he’s a Targaryen (they’re supposed to have a special connection with dragons). Jorah shows up and is warmly taken back into her service. Bran gets the maester at Winterfell to send a raven about the Night King, but the maesters in Oldtown scoff at it, despite Sam’s warnings. Later, while Sam is doing his usual grunt work, Gilly drops a very interesting nugget about a certain King in the North’s parents, who were married, as it turns out, but Sam is too busy wallowing in self-pity to notice. He does decide to do something, though, so he steals some books from the restricted section and hits the road. You go, Sam! Jon gets the message from Bran (and finds out that Arya and Bran are alive), and Tyrion comes up with a complicated plan that can only work if the people of Westeros have a teleporter: In order to convince Cersei that the threat from beyond the Wall is real so that they can agree to a temporary truce and Daenerys can devote herself to that, Jon should go north of the Wall, grab a zombie (not a White Walker, just one of their peons) and schlep it down to King’s Landing to show Cersei that they’re not making shit up. This plan is sound as the pound if you have six months to spare, because that’s how long it would take to get north of the Wall and get back. Come on! Davos takes Tyrion to King’s Landing for a secret meeting with Jaime, where he will convince Jaime to lobby Cersei to agree to a conference. Tyrion manages to get a message to Bronn somehow, and Bronn takes Jaime down to the basement, where the two brothers meet for the first time since Tyrion killed their father. Yeah, it’s awkward. Tyrion convinces Jaime, but we find out that Cersei knew all about the meeting and she’s cool with it (well, relatively – she does tell Jaime to never betray her again). She also claims to be pregnant, which, we’ll see. Cersei would lie about it just to bind Jaime tighter to her, wouldn’t she? While this is going on, Davos goes into the city to find … Gendry! Holy shit, it’s Gendry! He’s back at the blacksmith shop, forging shit. Davos makes the same joke viewers of the show have been making for years when he wonders if he was still rowing, and then he asks if Gendry wants to come with him. Gendry doesn’t even blink – he takes a big hammer off the wall and says let’s roll. Back at Dragonstone, he immediately tells Jon who he is despite Davos’s warnings to remain anonymous, and he says he wants to help. So Jon, Jorah, Davos, and Gendry sail north, and they reach Eastwatch-by-the-Sea – where they think the Walkers will try to breach the Wall – in no time at all. They tell Tormund what they’re going to do, and he says he has some prisoners they might want to talk to. Hey, it’s the Hound, Beric, and Thoros! (The rest of the Brotherhood must have stopped at a Dairy Queen or something and gotten distracted.) It’s a hilarious scene because so many of the characters hate the others, but everyone decides to work together to bring back a zombie. Finally, at Winterfell, Arya is suspicious of Littlefinger. She sees him giving a servant girl something, then he talks with a lord and a maester. The maester comes to his door and gives him something, and he takes it into his room and then leaves, locking the door. Arya sees all of this because she’s become a good lurker. She breaks into his room and finds what he got – a letter from Sansa about something, but we’re not sure what (she wrote a letter to Robb way back when urging him to surrender while she was being pressured by Cersei, and this is probably that, but it’s an awfully quick shot of the letter, so who knows?). When she leaves, Baelish is watching her – she might be a good lurker, but he’s a champion! Obviously he’s trying to drive a wedge between Sansa and Arya. We’ll see how that goes. Overall, it’s a good episode if you can ignore the geographical craziness. Things are moving fast, people! Keep up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 7, Episode 6 (66), “Beyond the Wall” (first aired 20 August 2017). If we ignore the geographical insanity that has characterized this season (the A-Team/Dirty Dozen/Magnificent 7/Ocean’s 11 of Westeros walk north for a really long time, but Gendry runs back to the Wall in a few hours; a raven gets to Dragonstone and Daenerys flies back over the course of a night and some of the day), this is a terrific episode. It’s focused on the northern wastes and Winterfell, and it’s longer than usual, so we can get characters actually talking to each other, like in the olden days of the show. In Winterfell, Baelish’s machinations are bearing fruit, as Arya accuses Sansa of betraying the family when she wrote the note begging Robb to come to King’s Landing and swear fealty to Joffrey (which is, of course, the letter Arya found last episode). It’s an interesting conversation, because Arya claims she would have died rather than write the note, but when Sansa finds out that Arya was at Ned’s execution, she counters by saying that she didn’t see Arya rushing forward to rescue him, as Arya implies she would have done. Neither sister knows what the other has been through, and it’s both been horrible in different ways. Later, Littlefinger gets in Sansa’s head even more, but Sansa does take Brienne out of the equation (Baelish suggested, not too subtly, that maybe Brienne could kill Arya) by sending her to King’s Landing for the Queens’ Summit. Finally, Sansa looks in Arya’s room for the note, but she finds some faces instead. She’s rightfully horrified, and when Arya catches her, she’s even more horrified when she finds out what they are. Arya threatens to kill her and even picks up the fancy dagger, but ultimately she simply hands it to Sansa. Crisis … averted? Most of the action of the episode takes place north of the Wall, but even there, it takes a while to ramp up. Before that, the principals talk about various things, which is refreshing in this sped-up season (the Redshirts, unfortunately, don’t get any lines, but they do eventually die spectacularly). Jon offers Jeor’s sword to Jorah, who declines it; Tormund speaks of his infatuation with Brienne to the Hound, who of course has his own ideas about her; Jon and Beric talk about why they have been brought back to life (Beric mentions that Ned sent him north to find the Mountain, which was before this actor was even in the role, it was so long ago!); and Gendry whines about Beric and Thoros selling him to Melisandre until Clegane tells him to shut it. Most of it is inconsequential, but it’s nice to slow down a bit and listen to these disparate characters who have been having their own adventures come together and talk about them. Then, of course, they get attacked by a zombie bear. That sucks. Thoros gets mauled a little, but Beric cauterizes his wounds with his fancy flaming sword. They manage to kill the bear, and they follow its tracks to a canyon, where they surprise a small group of zombies and one Walker. Jon shatters the Walker and most of the zombies fall apart (it’s the “vampire-what-turned-them” theory), but luckily, one doesn’t, and they capture that one. Unfortunately, it screams before they can shut it up, which alerts the whole undead army to their presence. Jon tells Gendry to run back to Eastwatch and send a raven to Dragonstone, and the rest manage to get to a rock island in the middle of a frozen lake, but some of the ice breaks and the zombies decide to wait at the edge of the lake until, presumably, they all die of hypothermia or the ice freezes again and they can make to the island. During the night Thoros dies, which means Beric can’t be resurrected again. Somehow Daenerys gets the raven really quickly and says she’s going to rescue Jon and the others. Tyrion advises against it, but she doesn’t listen. Up on the island, the Hound stupidly throws rocks at the zombies, one of which lands on the ice and doesn’t break it, so the zombies realize they can attack, so they do. The fighting is ferocious, and Tormund almost dies, but then Daenerys arrives with her dragons, and we think the tide has turned. It has to a degree – the dragons wipe out hundreds of zombies with each pass, but the Night King, high on a ridge overlooking the carnage, takes an ice spear and throws it it unerring accuracy into one of the dragons (Viserion, as it turns out). Viserion crashes, dead, and Jon, who is too far away from Drogon, tells them to get away. They fly off, just avoiding another spear, and Jon goes into the water. He manages to get out, but the zombies, who were about to leave, see him and come back for him. Just then Benjen shows up again, gets Jon on his horse, and sacrifices himself so Jon can get away. He wakes up on the ship back south and tells Daenerys he’s ready to swear fealty to her, so that’s nice. Meanwhile, the Night King resurrects Viserion. Oh dear. You’d think someone would have realized he could do that. That’s going to suck for all concerned.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Season 7, Episode 7 (67), “The Dragon and the Wolf” (first aired 27 August 2017). Poor Petyr Baelish. For years he thought himself smarter than everyone, and he rose from nothing to become a powerful lord because he was usually right, and when he wasn’t, he was able to see that and get the hell out of Dodge, at least temporarily. He never even considered that someone, someone he kind of trained himself, might pull a “student-becomes-the-master” switch on him, and that’s his downfall. He thinks things are well in hand at Winterfell, as he drives what he thinks is the final nail in Arya’s coffin when he talks to Sansa about Arya’s motives. He doesn’t realize that Sansa and Arya are playing him until the moment when, at “Arya’s” trial, Sansa turns her baleful gaze to him and accuses him of murder and treason. He got overconfident, even though Bran basically told him he can see everything a few episodes ago, quoting Littlefinger himself from a private conversation Baelish had years ago. He believed that the Stark kids were as dumb as their father, but they’ve learned too much about deceit, and Baelish is caught completely off-guard. Bran knows everything he’s done (Bran tells him that he held a knife at Ned’s throat and said Ned was right to not trust him, another thing Bran couldn’t have known unless he was magical), Sansa accuses him of murdering their aunt (which he did) and conspiring to murder Jon Arryn (yep) and getting Ned executed on false charges (you bet). Littlefinger tries everything he can think of, from asking to speak to Sansa alone (not going to happen), to appealing to the Knights of the Vale (yeah, they’re pretty pissed), to begging (which doesn’t even seem sincere). Nothing works, and Arya strolls up and cuts his throat. See ya later, Littlefinger. You were very entertaining, but you had outlived your usefulness. But the big set piece of the episode is in King’s Landing, where almost every principal character (with the exception of those in Winterfell) meets. Daenerys, showing off a bit, flies in on Drogon, and Cersei, being pissy, says they’ve been waiting for some time when it’s been like two minutes. It’s like they’re all children! As Cersei begins to dismiss the stories of zombies, the Hound brings in the crate with the captured one and releases it. It scares the shit out of everyone, but it has the desired effect. First Euron stalks off, saying he’s going to hang out on the Iron Islands until the fighting stops because the zombies can’t swim (he also tells Theon that he has Yara and he’s planning to kill her, because he’s just so swell). Then Cersei says she’ll help if Jon swears allegiance to her, but he chooses this time to say he’s sworn fealty to Daenerys. So Cersei takes her toys and goes home, pissed off. Tyrion asks Jon if he could have just lied right then, and Jon says he doesn’t lie. I wonder if the scene was written with our new Orange-Faced Baboon President in mind, because this is the first season that was filmed with him in office. Anyway, Tyrion goes to talk to Cersei alone, and he manages to convince her to send her armies north, no strings attached, with the others by appealing to her nascent motherhood (even though I’m still not convinced she’s really pregnant). Mission accomplished! There are a lot of neat little interactions here – Sandor Clegane talks to his undead brother and promises that there will be a reckoning; Brienne and the Hound actually respect each other (?); Bronn takes Podrick for a drink (and never returns – is Pod okay?!?!?!?); Brienne tries to convince Jaime to talk to Cersei, because she knows he’s honorable. Like last week, it’s pretty cool when these characters get to see each other again. Back at Dragonstone, Jon thinks Daenerys should travel through the North to show the people that she’s not a conqueror. He just wants to be alone with her on a boat for a while! Theon, meanwhile, asks for Jon’s forgiveness (which he gets), and then tells him he’s going to rescue Yara. He has to beat up the dude who dragged him out of the water and who just wants to find an island to hang out on, but Theon manages it after the guy tries to knee him in the groin, which has no effect. The surprise allows Theon to rally and beat him, and the Ironborn decide he’s all right. Back in King’s Landing, Cersei tells Jaime she lied to Daenerys and Jon and that they’ll be sitting out the war in the North. Euron is really going to Essos to bring over a famous company of mercenaries, and they’ll be ready if Daenerys returns. Jaime is pissed off because he gave his word, but Cersei no longer cares. She almost has zombie Mountain kill him, but she lets him leave. Jaime finally leaves her behind, riding north through the first snow to fall on King’s Landing in (presumably) a long time. (This is why the “capture-a-zombie”plan was so dumb – they can’t trust Cersei anyway, and they knew it, so why try?) Sam arrives at Winterfell and goes to see Bran. Bran tells him that they need to tell Jon that he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and Sam tells him that Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually married, making Jon the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, even before Daenerys (Sam says he learned this after transcribing an old diary, completely ignoring the fact that if Gilly hadn’t read it to him he wouldn’t have noticed – way to steal credit, Sam!). This is all done in a voiceover as Jon goes to Daenerys’s cabin and they get it on. I mean, it’s already weird because she’s his aunt (not that either of them know), but now it’s politically awkward, too! Tyrion is outside the cabin, and he doesn’t look pleased. Presumably he doesn’t know any of this, he just thinks it’s a bad idea because Daenerys … needs to stay focused? It’s unclear why Tyrion would be upset. Anyway, the season ends at the Wall, where Tormund and Beric are at the top, watching the North. The zombie army appears, which is upsetting enough, but then they see the undead dragon, and they freak out. Zombie Visarion shoots blue fire at the Wall, and the end of it collapses, destroying Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and possibly killing Tormund and Beric (I doubt it, because we never see their bodies). The zombie army lurches through the gap, and things just got a whole lot shittier for our heroes! It’s a very good episode, and it sets up a lot for the final season. We shall see if they stick the landing!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Well, that was fun. Let’s break it down!

Ranking of Season 7 episodes:

1. “The Spoils of War”
2. “Beyond the Wall”
3. “The Dragon and the Wolf”
4. “Stormborn”
5. “The Queen’s Justice”
6. “Eastwatch”
7. “Dragonstone”

Average Rating: 7.5/10 stars
Median Rating: 7/10 stars

Ranking of every episode so far:

1. “Blackwater” (S2E9)
2. “The Rains of Castamere” (S3E9)
3. “The Battle of the Bastards” (S6E9)
4. “The Lion and the Rose” (S4E2)
5. “The Winds of Winter” (S6E10)
6. “Hardhome” (S5E8)
7. “The Spoils of War” (S7E4)
8. “The Door” (S6E5)
9. “The Dance of Dragons” (S5E9)
10. “Mother’s Mercy” (S5E10)
11. “And Now His Watch Is Ended” (S3E4)
12. “Baelor” (S1E9)
13. “Kissed by Fire” (S3E5)
14. “The Laws of Gods and Men” (S4E6)
15. “The Mountain and the Viper” (S4E8)
16. “Beyond the Wall” (S7E6)
17. “The Dragon and the Wolf” (S7E7)
18. “Fire and Blood” (S1E10)
19. “No One” (S6E8)
20. “The Wolf and the Lion” (S1E5)
21. “A Golden Crown” (S1E6)
22. “Walk of Punishment” (S3E3)
23. “The Watchers on the Wall” (S4E9)
24. “The Children” (S4E10)
25. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (S5E6)
26. “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (S3E2)
27. “A Man Without Honor” (S2E7)
28. “The Old Gods and the New” (S2E6)
29. “Lord Snow” (S1E3)
30. “You Win or You Die” (S1E7)
31. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (S3E7)
32. “Kill the Boy” (S5E5)
33. “The Gift” (S5E7)
34. “First of His Name” (S4E5)
35. “The Climb” (S3E6)
36. “Mockingbird” (S4E7)
37. “Book of the Stranger” (S6E4)
38. “Second Sons” (S3E8)
39. “Valar Morghulis” (S2E10)
40. “Stormborn” (S7E2)
41. “The Queen’s Justice” (S7E3)
42. “Eastwatch” (S7E5)
43. “Blood of My Blood” (S6E6)
44. “Home” (S6E2)
45. “What Is Dead May Never Die” (S2E3)
46. “The Kingsroad” (S1E2)
47. “Dragonstone” (S7E1)
48. “Garden of Bones” (S2E4)
49. “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (S2E5)
50. “The Pointy End” (S1E8)
51. “The Broken Man” (S6E7)
52. “Sons of the Harpy” (S5E4)
53. “Two Swords” (S4E1)
54. “Valar Dohaeris” (S3E1)
55. “Oathbreaker” (S6E3)
56. “Breaker of Chains” (S4E3)
57. “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things” (S1E4)
58. “The Prince of Winterfell” (S2E8)
59. “High Sparrow” (S5E3)
60. “Oathkeeper” (S4E4)
61. “Winter Is Coming” (S1E1)
62. “The Red Woman” (S6E1)
63. “The Night Lands” (S2E2)
64. “Mhysa” (S3E10)
65. “The House of Black and White” (S5E2)
66. “The North Remembers” (S2E1)
67. “The Wars to Come” (S5E1)

Average Rating for Season 1: 7.1/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 2: 6.9/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 3. 7.35/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 4: 7.3/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 5: 6.95/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 6: 7.35/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 7: 7.5/10 stars

Median Rating for Season 1: 7.25/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 2: 7/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 3: 7.25/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 4: 7.25/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 5: 7/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 6: 7/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 7: 7/10 stars

So if I was surprised by what I ended up with for Season 6, I was really surprised by the results for Season 7, as it seems to be … the best one so far? Now, you notice the Average Rating is the highest, but the median is still at 7. The best episode of this season, “The Spoils of War,” is a very good episode, but it doesn’t come close to the highs the show can produce … however, Season 7 also doesn’t have any poor episodes, either, as the other seasons do. The season premiere is by far the best one, and because the showrunners have plot to burn, they don’t have any of the “come-down” episodes that we’ve seen after momentous events in the past – they have calm moments in the show, but they’re usually mixed into the show better, in episodes where the very good calm moments balance nicely with the mayhem. Season 7 is consistently good, despite some major pitfalls that I’m sure brings it down in the eyes of others. The teleportation all over Westeros is frustrating – in earlier seasons, we did get a better sense of the size of the continent, which made it feel a bit more real, and in this season, people just pop up wherever they happen to be needed. I get that, I do, but I think the goodness outweighs the bad. The only place it really, really bugged me was with the trip to the North to grab a zombie, because that was just ridiculous. But it still gave us very good conversations between characters we’ve known for years and have never gotten a chance to chat, and it gave us zombie Viserion, so I can forgive the ridiculousness of the characters’ movements. I know some (most?) won’t agree with me, because for some, the earlier seasons will always be the best ones, but I think this one is as consistently good as any of them, despite not having a Red Wedding or Blackwater or Purple Wedding or Hardhome or Battle of the Bastards. But it doesn’t have the dull episodes, either, so it holds up! Well, according to me!

3 Comments

  1. Jeff Nettleton

    I don’t know; there are great scenes this season; but I found it very disjointed. Sometimes I felt like they were filling time and others I felt like they were rushing. My personal feeling is that Season 7 should have wrapped up the whole Night King thing and 7 should have dealt with Cersei. Or vice versa.

    As for the whole transport timelines…………hydrofoil galley? Supersonic dragon? Bullet Ox Cart?

    I got nothing……

    Jim Broadbent won the Oscar for Iris, by the by. I first saw him in Time Bandits. Been catching him in film and tv ever since. Tremendously talented actor and comedian (check him out in Black Adder-first series, as translator for the Spanish princess and in Black Adder’s Christmas Carol, as Prince Albert). He also got to play Doctor Who, along with Richard E Grant, in “The Curse of the Fatal Death,” for Comic Relief. Great special, with Rowan Atkinson as a pretty good Doctor, who regenerates into Grant, Broadbent (the shy Doctor), Hugh Grant, and Joanna Lumley, while Jonathan Pryce plays the Master. It was written by Steven Moffat, years before he would be the producer on the revived series. The original VHS release included a behind the scenes documentary and sketches from other comedy shows, spoofing the Doctor, including one from Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV, with Broadbent as the Doctor.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Jeff: That’s not a bad idea, actually, about breaking up the seasons. I assume they didn’t do it because they really wanted more epic-ness in the final season, but it would probably have worked a bit better. Oh well!

      Check out your Jim Broadbent knowledge! 🙂

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