White Walkers Bring Global Cooling to Westeros In ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Finale
Existential threats occasionally have the power to bring disparate people together. Medical professionals share findings to curb a plague. Bickering neighbors hand off sand bags during floods. Corporations make deals with countries trying to curb climate change. In the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones,” men who sold each other off to die banded together with men who tried to kill them in a battle against their pending global cooling. Kings, Queens and Dragon Mothers suspend generational hostilities to combat the most chilling of foes. “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the seventh season finale of HBO’s series adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” shows shifts in climates and loyalties are only chess moves on any “Game of Thrones.”
The final match is put on hold in the game that will determine who will sit in the Iron Throne to stop the progression of the White Walkers, who plan to upholster the ancient sacred seat of power. The Night King has ridden bareback on a dead horse too long to suffer the trials of piles of a cushionless seat made of metal swords. He has an evil plan to install a love seat in King’s Landing, because the warmth deprived invaders are entitled to some comforts once they emigrate south. People were confused that the White Walkers forged chains to drag up the dragon at the end of the “Beyond the Wall” episode. They shouldn’t be surprised. The White Walkers forged the javelin that took the dragon down. They forged their own uniforms. The Night King’s chainmail is as fashionable as it is functional.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has grown accustomed to the Winterfell King in the North Jon Snow (Kit Harington) over the course of the season. He’s got a good heart, even if it did require a massive open-heart psychic surgery. The two too-perfectly matched rulers are the twin flames of the Seven Kingdoms, both putting others before themselves in an attempt to fix the past enough to save the future. Of course, violence is a hard temptation to resist when you rule dual armies — one is the ultimate squadron of military discipline, the other the most chaotic berserker hordes ever to master a horse. And they are presided over by fire-breathing dragons who can lay waste to whole formations with a belch.
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) tried to reign in the Khaleesi Queen all season, with mixed results. Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) finally brokers a parlay with Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and “Protector of the Realm” Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). The meeting place is impressive. The beginning of the end of Daenerys’s family, it is littered with the bones of the dragons held captive there until they shrunk to shadows of their former selves. The Mother of Dragons arrives on one of her children. Her hair is perfect in spite of the flapping tailwind.
The old soldier and new lord Bronn, who is consistently one of the most fun characters of the series, assembles all the players in the throne game for the outdoor summit. He puts all the most treasonous throats under one knife in a bid of self-preservation and pops out for a drink while the edges are still sharp. The Hound, also known as Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) who has always wanted to kill his brother, confronts him. The fire-damaged long suffering deserter soldier reluctantly riding with the Brotherhood without Banners is a pay toilet. The Hound doesn’t give a shit for nothing. Royalty, armies, dragons, or mountains of family, nothing stands in his way if he’s got something to say. The final season is guaranteed one timeless showdown.
Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) tries to one-up the Hound with insolence, but dwarf jokes get old fast. Dinklage is most amazing after he is pardoned a private beheading from Ser Gregor. He stands brave but pours every bit of relief down his throat in a flop sweat tour de force. He gets the last subtle laugh after he pours Cersei a drink and contemplates one for the Mountain before taking it for himself. Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) ultimately gets the last insubordinate turn on his sister as the gives in to duty.
The extremely disciplined assassin-trained Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has been acting stranger and more unnecessarily annoying as the season has progressed. She is consistently inscrutable when threatening the nice things the Lady of Winterfell likes to be around. When Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) meets with Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen), I fully buy that Arya is wearing Baelish’s face, which I assumed she’d cut off in the interim. It comes as a mild shock to see Littlefinger at the public inquisition. Bran, who sees all except what comes to him from Samwell Tarly’s (John Bradley-West) convoluted research, is the lead witness. When Arya opens Baelish’s throat with a subtle flick of Valyrian steel, we know she is now free to roleplay with Littlefinger’s face whenever she likes.
The wall comes down like a glacier in the arctic. The Night King and the White Walkers walk through the debris like a force of nature. They are the long winter and they are coming south. It doesn’t appear their demeanors will get any better in the warmer clime. “Charlie don’t surf,” Robert Duvall explained in the classic Vietnam war movie “Apocalypse Now!.” White Walkers don’t swim but are planning an extended vacation. The final season will still see a divided world fighting an indivisible force.
But still, I wonder whether this war could have been averted if only the Seven Kingdoms had a more lenient immigration policy instead of pushing an invoice for the White Walkers’ share of paying for The Wall.
“Game of Thrones” season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” aired Aug. 27 on HBO.