Warning: This post contains spoilers for season seven of Game of Thrones.
A startlingly effective Game of Thrones season finale Sunday night bid farewell — among other entities — to the longstanding Wall that stood between humanity and chaos.
The collapse of the wall, which occurred at the very end of the episode, augured an end to the scrupulous order which had seemed to last far too long. Much of the season had felt rigorously choreographed to forestall action or to preserve key actors from entering the fray. This episode removed those barriers, and brought forward the sort of thrilling future a show can present when it’s no longer wasting its time.
Little things first, as it were: The death of Littlefinger brought to an end a somewhat frustrating parlor game among fans of guessing who was wearing whose face (was Arya impersonating Sansa? Was the Waif impersonating Arya?). It seemed, reading fan reactions, as though this was the sort of show that allows a mystery to draw out for more than a shot or two. Game of Thrones has always been straightforward in its storytelling — and, indeed, its representation of Arya and Sansa’s coming together (with the help of Bran!) to end the life of Littlefinger seemed to elide the two sisters’ longtime enmity dating back to their childhoods. (It also seemed to elide the fact that, his dislike of Littlefinger nonwithstanding, Bran has mostly provided fairly random outputs to conversational stimuli.) The scene, nevertheless, brought a gratifying end to a season in which the two Stark sisters were perpetually compelling but at times adrift in the story. And while it killed off a character who realistically had no further purpose to serve, its greatest purpose may have been setting up a whole new dynamic for two sisters who never got along.
Further unity of previous enemies: The coupling of Jon and Dany. Occurring against the fairly untelegenic backdrop of Bran reciting the ways in which they are related (I know there was no better way to depict this, but at the same time… there has to have been), the brief shot brings together as a romantic couple two figures who, as leads in the show’s main action, were mainly sidelined this season, and who, when they entered the fray, were proven unable to win. I’m intrigued to see precisely what the pair learn from one another, given the manners in which their shared bloodline has diverged into different military approaches.