Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.
Here’s what he found on this week’s “Game of Thrones.”
All nice things must end. True to form, this season of “Game of Thrones” concluded as all seasons must — with kindness, empathy, and respect.
Also, one hilariously brutal murder. But that’s not why we’re here!
Let’s get to it.
1. The King’s Landing grounds crew does a great job installing the chuppahs for the big meeting.
With basically all the surviving main characters in town for a powwow, it’s important to set up the right outdoor decor. What could be better than a series of traditional Jewish wedding canopies clearly stolen from the Rosenstein-Kaplowitz ceremony down the block?
It is a marriage of sorts, after all — in this case, a marriage of a few dozen people who really, really hate each other.
Luckily for the fate of humanity, what begins with a series of tense reunions (Bronn and Tyrion! The Hound and Brienne! Pod’s penis and jokes!) eventually climaxes with a predictably distressing main event: the releasing of a zombie that sends Euron screwing off back to the Iron Islands (so it seems anyway, more on that later), Cersei into a terrified bout of conscience (so it seems anyway, more on that later), and Jon into his best Ned Stark impression, and then ends in a shockingly composed alliance of formerly bitter enemies.
Through it all, the discussion remains remarkably civil! And the participants deserve lots of credit for not slicing each others’ throats.
But more importantly, big ups to the staff for setting the mood for all of our favorites to make a home together. Mazel tov!
2. Littlefinger teaches Sansa a fun game!
Winterfell takes playtime seriously. Two weeks ago, Arya and Littlefinger challenged each other to an epic round of hide-and-go-seek. This week, it was Littlefinger’s turn to teach Sansa his favorite game: Always Assume the Worst in People and See How Their Actions Match That Assumption!
Honestly, it sounded kind of boring at first, but when they finally got to play, it was really exciting! “What’s the worst reason you have for turning me against my sister?” Sansa asks Littlefinger to kick things off. Considering all the things Littlefinger did over the last seven seasons, the newly minted Lady Stark determines that, whatever his reason was, it’s not good!
Oh, and you die if you lose, apparently. Sorry, Littlefinger.
I’d say get ’em next time, but there will be no next time. Them’s the breaks.
Meanwhile, it’s become something of a begrudging love-fest between Stark sisters, who have found something like respect for one another amidst the secret multi-episode plotting to murder their enemies. “I was never going to be as good a lady as you,” Arya admits. “You’re the strongest person I know,” Sansa replies. Yeah, she still calls Arya annoying and strange, but sisters.
3. None of the Lannister siblings can bring themselves to kill each other.
After talking a big game about offing Tyrion for the past three seasons, Cersei hesitates when the opportunity finally presents itself (his apologizing to her for the deaths of her kids and pouring her a glass of red wine probably didn’t hurt). Later, she refuses to sever Jaime’s head from his body, despite his defying a direct order to stay and help her re-re-re-re-conquer the continent. Family first!
Honorable mention to Ser Gregor for ominously pulling out his sword a couple of times but failing to use it. That guy is mercy incarnate.
4. Theon kinda, sorta, totally wins a fight thanks to none other than Ramsay Bolton (RIP).
Fresh off a get-right-with-yourself pep talk from Jon, Pyke’s large adult son actually stumbles into something resembling a win, beating the crap out of a burly Ironborn dude to convince a bunch of other burly Ironborn dudes to sail after his sister — all thanks to “Game of Thrones” reigning MVP of kindness and excellent source of nutrition for dogs, Ramsay Bolton.
For a while, the brawl appears pretty one-sided, particularly when the random reaver starts viciously kneeing Theon between his thighs. Thankfully, Ramsay had the foresight to cut off anything in that general area that could be injured. Sure, Theon didn’t much appreciate it at the time, but sometimes we don’t realize the gifts our friends have given us until it’s too late and we’re punching a beardy sailor to death on the beach.
5. Cersei does what’s best for the realm for … 37 minutes.
Near the end of DragonPitCon 2017, Cersei surprises everyone by announcing that Team Lannister is on board with the plan to nail the Army of the Dead to the wall before dealing with the thorny question of who should sit on the Iron Throne.
It’s surprising, in part, because it’s a total and obvious (to everyone but Jaime) lie. As usual, instead of helping save humanity, Cersei is secretly scheming to bring 20,000 heavily armed mercenaries across the Narrow Sea to retake the rest of the Seven Kingdoms while the rest of the living and dead are busy tearing each other to pieces.
Still, for a little more than half an hour, she remained outwardly committed to doing the right thing.
For Cersei, that’s got to be some kind of record.
6. Sam and Bran idiot-proof this (and last) season’s biggest revelations about Jon Snow’s true parentage.
“Hey, Sam, thanks for helping me get to the other side of the Wall so my friends could die and I could learn to be a sullen psychic wizard. By the way, did you know Jon is actually the bastard son of dead Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and my aunt Lyanna Stark, which I am now telling you even though I have already showed you?”
“No, actually, I didn’t, Bran. But I recently discovered that Rhaegar and Lyanna were secretly married. Actually, Gilly discovered that and I ignored her at the time, but somehow I know that now and am not giving her any credit for it because that’s what men have done throughout history and also do in fiction.”
“Right on. So everything the audience thinks they know about all this is double super mega confirmed, Robert’s Rebellion was based on a lie and Jon is actually the true heir to the Iron Throne and has been this whole time.”
“Seems like it. But what about the Dragon Queen?”
“She is his aunt. Right now they are having sex on a boat.”
“Yeah. Oh, Jon’s name is actually Aegon Targaryen.”
“Wow, thanks. That actually is a new piece of information.”
“Cool! Good talk. Thanks, bud.”
“Same! Good luck conveniently knowing everything at all times.”
7. The ice dragon generously proves that walls don’t work.
Obviously peeved by the current state of the immigration debate, Viserion provides a real-life simulation of what people from China to Berlin to El Paso have known for years: A wall might intimidate some, but if someone is determined enough to get to the other side, they will — whether by scaling it, flying over it, or with knocking it down with magical fire-ice breath.
Of course, immigrants are people seeking a better life for themselves and their families and the white walkers are ruthless godlike monsters who want to see all Westerosi life extinguished, but hey, it’s complicated. Thanks to Viserion for urging us to start a conversation.
We might have to wait two freaking years ’til next season after all.
Random Acts of Niceness
- Everybody respects Brienne! Even the people (cf. the Hound) she’s tried to kill respect her. At least we’ve got that.
- Some comedy club in King’s Landing clearly gave Euron some time at an open mic to work on his material. It’s still not really there, but with practice, who knows?
- George R.R. Martin does British history nerds a solid by setting up a pretty clear parallel between Jon and Dany’s quest to take back the Iron Throne and the Glorious Revolution of 1689. See, it’s all about Aegons and Williams. If the first Aegon Targaryen — Aegon the Conqueror — is William the Conqueror, who sailed from Normandy to become King of England in 1066, then Aegon/Jon has gotta be William of Orange who, along with his Queen Mary, invaded Britain from the Netherlands and initiated some democratic reforms, passing a Bill of Rights that greatly curtailed the Crown’s power! Obviously, that’s what he’s going for, right? It’s not just me, right? Hello? Anyone still there?
That’s a wrap, folks! See you next season when, presumably, Tormund and Beric totally survived that fall, Jon and Dany learn that genetic sexual attraction makes their union completely healthy and normal, and the Night King learns that offering free ice dragon rides to local kids can be an invaluable tool of soft power.