Warning: Spoilers, obviously…LOL!
In the Game of Thrones Season Seven finale, the Wall finally did fall, Bran and Sam teamed up to sort out the truth about Jon Snow, and Jaime left the vindictive, doublecrossing Cersei to raise their baby alone, making him the most principled dead-beat dad in the history of television.
But I don’t need to tell you! You were there! You watched the episode. You’ve probably watched the episode again already! You cheered (like everyone at the viewing party I attended did) when Sansa turned on Littlefinger! You remembered all about the Golden Company (which was reintroduced in “The Spoils of War”). You did your best to deal with your conflicting emotions over Jon and Dany’s steamy ship hook up. On the one hand, you’re happy the shows two hottest characters are boning, on the other, you hate the idea of aunt/nephew incest. We get it! You are a Game of Thrones pro which means not much escaped you during last night’s big premiere … or did it?
Did you catch what the Hound said to the Mountain? Do you know the layered significance of Jon Snow’s real name? Did you realise that Rhaegar looked that much like Viserys? No? Don’t worry! We got you covered. Here are five things you may have missed from last night’s episode of Game of Thrones.
Note: you may have missed them, but you also might have totally caught them. In fact, we bet you caught them, but you’re so amped that you really want to talk about them.
WHY AEGON TARGARYEN IS A CRAZY NAME FOR JON SNOW
Last year’s Season Six finale finally confirmed what many Game of Thrones fans suspected: Jon Snow was actually the love child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Last night’s Season Seven finale went a step further and revealed Jon Snow isn’t Jon Snow, nor is he “Jon Sand.” He is Aegon Targaryen.
So lets back up and talk about why this name is insane.
• It gives him the exact same name as his Targaryen forebearer, Aegon the Conquerer, which is the Westerosi equivalent of naming your kid George Washington or Christopher Columbus. It’s kind of pretentious and totally not chill.
• Rhaegar already had a kid named Aegon Targaryen. Yup. Jon has the same name as his older half-brother. This Aegon was the son of the sickly Elia Martell. You remember who Elia was, right? She was Oberyn Martell’s beloved sister and when Robert’s Rebellion ended, the Mountain was ordered to kill her two children, Rhaenys and Aegon. He also brutally raped and murdered Elia. This is what kicked off the Martell’s hatred of the Lannisters (as he was operating under Tywin’s orders) and set into motion that whole trial-by-combat situation where Oberyn happily volunteered for a chance to kill the Mountain. So, Rhaegar had two kids with the same pretentious name.
• Okay, so for book readers, Jon’s real name now links him with two contentious plot points. One is a more detailed vision that Daenerys has in the House of the Undying where she sees Rhaegar at the birth of one of his children — Aegon. The other is the “Young Griff” storyline. Both were cut from the series and the latter storyline is all about Varys pushing a long-lost Aegon towards Westeros to take the Iron Throne. It’s all very “Perkin Warbeck” for you medieval history/The White Princess fans. Meaning, a lot of people in the books think this long-lost Aegon is a pretender, but we don’t know 100% for sure. He’s used as a challenger to Daenerys’s claims and that could be what Jon becomes.
So, it’s insane. And honestly, I quite preferred the theory floating earlier this year that Jon’s real name was Jaehaerys Targaryen. The original Jaehaerys was a wise king who made peace with the Wildings and co-ruled with his wife/sister Alysanne. I just thought it had better symmetry with Jon’s character, you know? (And it sounds nicer than Aegon).
NO, THAT’S NOT VISERYS
We finally met Rhaegar Targaryen last night! At Sam’s nudging, Bran flitted back to the moment Rhaegar made an honest woman of Lyanna Stark — we saw their wedding. We also saw that Rhaegar looked a heck of a lot like his creepy baby brother Viserys. I don’t know about you, but my twitter timeline was full of jokes suggesting that it was Viserys.
It was not. It was Rhaegar.
As predicted here, Rhaegar was played by Welsh actor Wilf Scolding (still a great name!). Yes, from the side, he looks an awful lot like Daenerys’s petty pit stain of a elder brother — and I would not be in the least bit surprised if they recycled Viserys actor Harry Lloyd’s wig from Season One for this moment — but that’s probably because Rhaegar is also Viserys’s brother. You know, so there would be a strong family resemblance.
The aesthetically-confusing flashback also confirmed what book fans figured out ages ago: Robert’s Rebellion was built around a lie. That lie was that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna, raped her, and kept her as a prisoner. In fact, she willingly ran away with him because they were in love. The lie has two big ramifications. One, it kind of confirms one theory floating about that a couple of the major houses were accumulating power in the years before Robert’s Rebellion because they wanted to challenge the Targaryen rule. This theory tracks with the logic of every Classical Studies teacher I had who claimed the Trojan War wasn’t about Helen of Troy, but control of the Black Sea. It also suggests that Robert made everyone believe that Lyanna was kidnapped because he just didn’t want to admit that she just wasn’t that into him. I’m not going to be the person to write the essay about how Robert’s Rebellion was all about male pride and toxic masculinity, but look out for it somewhere on the internet soon.
WHAT DID THE HOUND SAY TO THE MOUNTAIN? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
We almost had it all, guys. We almost had Cleganebowl.
The Hound and “The Hulking Monster Formerly Known As The Mountain” finally came face-to-face again last night and it was … weird.
Instead of having a super sweet duel, The Hound just kind of taunts his broken and rebuilt older brother. He says: “It doesn’t matter. That’s not how it ends for you, brother. You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
The line is purposely ambiguous. Who is coming for the Monster FKA The Mountain? What has he always known? Personally, my best bet is that the Hound is using some of his new-found fire-gazing skills here and he’s teasing that we’re actually going to see a Mountain/Night’s King showdown. The Night’s King is the only character who could truly match the Mountain. Also, it’s very telling that the camera has kept lingering on Ser Robert Strong’s unnaturally red eyes this season. We don’t know exactly what Qyburn did to resurrect the Mountain, but the only way we know to raise the dead (besides turning them into wights or White Walkers) is to use the powers of R’hllor. That is to say … is the Mountain a fire wight?
I’m just speculating here! Just speculating! Maybe it’s not the Night’s King! Maybe it’s a third Clegane we’ve never heard about! BUT WHO ELSE COULD IT BE?
DID TORMUND DIE?
Tormund Giantsbane and Ser Beric Dondarrion somehow survived Jon Snow’s ridiculously stupid expedition north of Eastwatch last week, but did they survive last night? In Bran’s vision, we see the Army of the Dead break through the Wall with the supernatural firepower of the ice dragon (Oh, so that’s what they do!) and in that awful moment, a heck of a lot of people die. We see Tormund and Ser Beric run to what looks like safety and then we see the Night’s King direct Viserion to bring a huge part of the wall down. The destruction is awful. It looks like all of Eastwatch (and all of Eastwatch’s residents) are gone.
But what about Tormund and Ser Beric?
We’ll have to wait until Season Eight to learn their fates, and because of that, I’m inclined to believe they’re okay. We didn’t see their dead bodies, so that’s a big hint that they’re not dead. Then again, it would be a truly terrible way to kill a couple of fan favourite side characters.
LAW AND ORDER: LITTLEFINGER
Sansa and Arya did not turn on each other. Along with Bran, they set a trap for Lord Baelish — and it was all sorts of cathartic.
The three remaining Stark siblings banded together on this one and used all of their unique strengths to present the evidence that Littlefinger is a murdering, scheming asshole who has ruined the lives of everyone in Westeros. Everything Sansa listed off was indeed Littlefinger’s doing (and there were a bunch more misdeeds she didn’t get to). Most importantly, he did manipulate Lysa into killing Jon Arryn, and he pushed her to send that creepy note to Winterfell blaming the Lannisters. That set off the whole saga we’ve been watching these past seven years. Together, the Stark siblings finally cracked the mystery that Ned Stark set out to figure out all the way back in Season One!
While a lot of people will probably give a bulk of the sleuthing credit to Bran’s Three-Eyed Raven skills, last night we learned that he’s not totally omniscient. That is to say, while he can see everything that’s happened, sometimes he needs help focusing up on what matters. Sure, Bran saw what happened between Ned and Littlefinger in King’s Landing, but Sansa was able to provide the Lysa Arryn part of the puzzle and to piece together all of the information in a way that explained Littlefinger’s chaos-stoking strategy. In fact, Littlefinger wasn’t undone by one of the Stark siblings, but by the three of them working in tandem. His trial and execution would never have come together if Sansa, Arya, and Bran didn’t trust each other. Bran has the ability to bear witness to everything that’s happened, Arya knows how to stealthily lay traps and quickly cut throats, and Sansa knows how to play people and to present it all in a way that makes sense. It’s a huge contrast to what happens when Cersei lies to both of her brothers — things fall apart for her.
As Sansa says, “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” And Littlefinger was always the biggest lone wolf on the game board.