Monday, August 28, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf”

After all of the problems with story logic and character behavior in last week’s episode, “The Dragon and the Wolf” is for the most part a pleasant return to form: a series of satisfying narrative turns and excellent scenes, many of which are in competition for the strongest of the episode. It doesn’t completely justify all of the nonsense parts of “Beyond the Wall,” but it reveals the problems of that episode to be mere hiccups rather than fatal flaws. Add to that the resolution of one prominent plotline, and the laying out of a clear path for the final six episodes, and “The Dragon and the Wolf” is largely an excellent season finale.

Let’s start with King’s Landing, which begins somewhat similarly to the last episode, in that we have a bunch of interesting exchanges before everyone arrives at their reason for being there. Except this time, instead of mixing and matching characters that have never met before, instead we have a series of reunions: Pod and Tyrion; Pod and Bronn; Brienne and the Hound, and Tyrion and Bronn, the last of which corrects the injustice of not giving us a Tyrion-Bronn scene two episodes ago. All of these were amusing, but I particularly enjoyed Brienne and the Hound’s exchange, where her reassurances of Arya’s safety and capability make them seem like an odd pair of surrogate parents.

Things get even more interesting once Cersei’s coterie joins the bargaining table, as this is probably the first time since season one that so many principal characters have all been in the same place at the same time. It’s a real challenge from a creative standpoint, because it offers up so many different character relationships and potential interactions to keep track of. It could be difficult to service them all while still making them relevant to the business at hand. Obviously, Daenerys, Jon, and Cersei will interact (more on that in a moment), but there’s also the complicated relationships between Tyrion and his two siblings (so complicated, in fact, that we need another set of scenes to fully address them), Euron and Theon, Jaime and Brienne, and the Clegane brothers. And that’s not even mentioning Davos, Jorah, and Qyburn, who are also there, and might also interact with any of these others for the first time.

Ultimately, I think Benioff, Weiss, and the director Jeremy Podeswa pull it off, at the very least by having all relevant parties exchange meaningful glances near the beginning. The most blatantly off-topic the scene gets is when the Hound confronts the Mountain, teasing the Clegane Bowl Death Match that we’ve long hoped for (coming 2019 – set your calendars). The cinematography does a good job of supporting their confrontation, as it’s one of the few times (perhaps the first since he’s become a Franken-monster) where the Mountain is not shot from a position where the camera is looking up at him. Instead, the camera is level with his face, just as it is with the Hound when we see him in reverse shot. It’s an appropriate choice, because it makes the Mountain seem less imposing, and makes Sandor seem more his equal.

Having so many characters in one spot also pays dividends by yielding at least one surprising interaction between Euron and Tyrion. Previously I had anticipated Euron verbally sparring with Bronn, but Tyrion is a fine choice as well. Who better to deflect the barbs of a troll like Euron than a man of words like Tyrion? Interestingly, both Jaime and Cersei chastise Euron for his impertinence, seemingly operating according to the rules of sibling rivalries, where only they are the ones allowed to pick on their brother.

When the three leaders begin negotiations, Cersei is predictably intractable and contemptuous, until the Hound brings out the wight. What follows is well-choreographed, and almost justifies the illogical contortions of the previous two episodes’ plotting. They aren’t just showing Cersei the wight, but by having the Hound chop it up, they’re also showing her how hard it is to kill, and eventually what actually kills it (fire, dragon glass). Jon gives the whole demonstration a performative flare. He’d make a skilled circus ringmaster.

The little show has the desired effect, and we get many shots of a stunned and horrified Cersei and Jaime. There’s even a moment for Qyburn, who is fascinated by the resilience of the wight, likely in wonder over its craftsmanship. Shockingly, it’s enough to get Cersei to agree to Daenerys’s truce (or so it seems), on the condition that Jon also agree to their truce and not support Daenerys. Thus it falls to Jon to seal the deal, but he remains unwaveringly thickheaded, and a Stark through and through (no matter that he is also Targaryen): he refuses Cersei’s terms and reveals his allegiance to Daenerys, in turn placing honesty above all else, particularly common sense, his own benefit, and apparently even the benefit of every other person in Westeros.

Considering what we learn of Cersei’s plans later in this episode, Jon merely provides an excuse for what she was planning on doing anyway, although she’s still miffed because it will ruin the surprise of her betrayal. Nevertheless, it’s peak Stupid Stark Syndrome. It's almost too stupid, even for Jon, but the shock of it is blunted both by Jon directly referencing how it was this same kind of honesty that doomed Ned, and by having every other character chew him out and question his judgment: Jaime, Davos, Tyrion, and even Dany, who is on the brink of tears over Jon having just wasted Viserion’s life for nothing.

Ultimately, I’m okay with Jon’s decision to tell Cersei the truth here. It’s not as if it’s a betrayal of his character, since he’s never been a smart leader; that ship sailed long ago, and this decision merely makes it sail out of the harbor and vanish beneath the horizon. More importantly, his idiocy results in a marvelous scene where Tyrion tries to convince Cersei to change her mind (probably my favorite of the episode). We might wonder what makes Tyrion think he’ll be able to convince her, especially after he crosses paths with Jaime leaving her chambers, having tried to do the same. However, as we know, Tyrion is a man of words while Jaime is (or was) a man of action.

It’s a very satisfying scene because it allows these two to air their grievances directly to one another, which they haven’t been able to do since Cersei accused Tyrion of murdering Joffrey at the start of season four. Indeed, the last time these two had a scene alone together was probably in season two or three. There’s been so much bad blood in the time since that it would have been dissatisfying had they never had a chance to hash it out with each other in (near) private.

Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage are fantastic here, especially Headey, who conveys Cersei’s immense pain and anger over what’s befallen the Lannisters in the wake of Tyrion murdering Tywin. Deep down she knows Tyrion’s not truly responsible for the death of her children, even if she’s not willing to admit it. Indeed, Cersei herself is far more directly responsible for Tommen’s death than Tyrion, having armed the Faith Militant and then blown up the Sept of Baelor. Just because Tywin wasn’t there to stop her from acting stupidly doesn’t mean her actions are Tyrion’s fault. Cersei’s pain might make her sympathetic, but her eagerness to blame others for her own shortsightedness strongly counteracts whatever sympathy that pain generates.

Likewise, deep down Cersei also knows that Myrcella’s death is entirely at the hands of Ellaria Sand. Even a still-living Tywin wouldn’t have been enough to deter Ellaria from murdering Myrcella, considering that Ellaria also murdered Doran Martell and his son Trystane in order to wrest control of Dorne away from the Martells and avenge her beloved Oberyn.* In the end, Tyrion calls her bluff: she can’t bring herself to have the Mountain kill him, which makes sense not only because Tyrion has cautioned her that he’s the only thing preventing Daenerys from burning King’s Landing to the ground, but also because to some extent Cersei is also crying crocodile tears -- she relishes being Queen just as much as she would have liked to have seen her children rule (and perhaps even more).

* Really, Ellaria is a perfect parallel to Cersei -- Ellaria is just as vindictive and shortsighted, and quick to blame others for her misfortune simply because others' vulnerability makes them convenient targets. Both think little of the consequences of venting their momentary rage and satisfying their vengeful impulses. Cersei literally says as much to Tyrion here. Thus I suppose it’s fitting that one of them has doomed the other to a miserable fate.

The scene ends abruptly, with Tyrion deducing that Cersei is pregnant, and the next time we see the two, Cersei marches back into the arena with her coterie and declares that she’ll join the fight in the north. Retrospectively, the abrupt ending to the previous scene makes sense: once Tyrion realizes that Cersei is pregnant, he knows the argument he needs to make to convince her to join the fight. It’s a foregone conclusion, so we cut to the next scene, and enjoy her announcing her reversal to the others.

Had this been all there was to the conflict between Cersei and Daenerys, it would have created an interesting setup for the remainder of the series: an uneasy alliance between heroes and villains on one side, and an unambiguously evil villain on the other, with plenty of room for intrigue among Cersei, Dany, and Jon. However, later in the episode, Cersei reveals her duplicity to Jaime: she has no intention of honoring her pledge, and will instead hire mercenaries to defend against whoever wins the war in the north. Cersei gonna Cersei, but it’s the last straw for Jaime, who can’t stomach her shortsightedness, her plotting with Euron behind his back, nor her threat to let Euron marry her should they win the war, this last one possibly being the most hurtful for him, especially with her pregnancy.

In a clear parallel to the scene between Cersei and Tyrion, Jaime also calls Cersei’s bluff, telling her she’ll have to order the Mountain to kill him to prevent him from leaving. And here she seems to give the order, bringing herself to do what she couldn’t before. I’m not entirely clear why the Mountain stands down and lets Jaime leave. Perhaps he reads hesitancy on Cersei’s face? It’s a weak moment in this episode’s direction. Regardless, her contrasting decisions are bitterly ironic: she she can't bring herself to kill the brother she hates, but ends up severing ties with the brother she loves. It's a positive development for Jaime, as it's one more step toward his redemption.

So, was Jon and Tyrion's plan to bring a wight to the Lannisters worth it? Ultimately, it wins them an ally. It’s just not the ally they hoped for, nor the one that matters most, at least from a strategic point of view. However, from a narrative standpoint, this outcome greatly simplifies the shape of the final season. It’s slightly less interesting than it would have been had Cersei chosen to join the greater war, as now the conflicts are much more traditional, with clear protagonists on one side (the Starks and company, Dany, Jaime) and clear antagonists on the other (Cersei, the Night King, Euron). The battle we saw in “The Spoils of War” will stand as the series’ best execution of having sympathetic characters on opposite sides of a conflict, at least for the time being (I can’t imagine Bronn sticking around King’s Landing for long if Jaime’s gone).

Additionally, Tyrion’s ability to convince Cersei to return to the bargaining table earlier makes more sense once she reveals her duplicity. After all, Jaime likely mounted the exact same argument as Tyrion, given his knowledge of her pregnancy, yet he still wasn’t able to convince her. At the time, we could attribute Jaime’s failure and Tyrion’s success to Tyrion’s powers of persuasion (despite Cersei’s hatred of him). He’s always had a silver tongue. Now, though, it appears that Cersei didn’t want it to seem as if it were too easy to get her to agree to an alliance, so she pretended to let Tyrion convince her rather than let Jaime do it. It’s a great example of the series using our knowledge of these characters to plausibly motivate their behavior while also working small surprises into the margins.

The deftness with which Benioff and Weiss treat the Lannisters also makes their botching of the drama between Arya and Sansa in both this episode and the previous one all the more glaring, as it is an example of the exact opposite: an attempt to create a surprise, but one that's severely compromised by their needing to contort the characters beyond recognition in order to achieve it. The surprise, of course, is that Sansa and Arya are wise to Littlefinger’s attempt to divide them, and staged their row in the last episode to lure him into a trap and execute him.

I suppose the scene of Littlefinger’s death is somewhat satisfying: the shock on Littlefinger’s face when he realizes his peril is perhaps the first time we’ve ever seen him at such a disadvantage, and Sansa lets everyone know that Littlefinger is reaching his deserved end by providing a full accounting of his many crimes against the Stark family. Likewise, it was suitably vengeful for all of the remaining legitimate Stark children to contribute to his execution: Bran doubtlessly helped Sansa compile the list of his betrayals, Sansa gives the order to kill him, and Arya carries it out by slitting his throat with the same knife Littlefinger once intended to be used on Bran. Yet it still doesn’t justify the contortions Sansa and Arya undergo in the scenes leading up to it.

Take, for instance, the scene in which Littlefinger and Sansa play a game of “assume the worst,” where he encourages Sansa to reason out Arya’s worst possible motives and their consequences. While it gives yet more insight into Littlefinger’s modus operandi, it shines a spotlight on this plot's problems. The scene makes sense if we know that Sansa has been working with Arya to entrap Littlefinger (sort of – more on this below), but it doesn’t make sense if we believe the sisters really are at odds like we're supposed to. Sansa’s series of speculations presume that she never once had a conversation with Arya about why Arya returned to Winterfell, which is not only implausible, but also ignores the heartfelt conversation they actually had when Arya returned home, where Sansa asks Arya how she got back to Winterfell, and Arya replies that it’s a long story. The “assume the worst” scene implies that Arya never actually told this story to Sansa, who wouldn't have to "assume the worst" if she actually spoke with her sister.*

*Re-watching the scenes between them in “The Spoils of War,” I suppose I should admire how the writers make room for the possibility that they’ll mistrust one another. Retrospectively, it’s clear that these scenes were designed to be interpreted either way: the sisters are happy to see each other and are relieved they are safe, or both are harboring ulterior motives and plan to see if they can still trust one another. The problem is that the weight of the entire series leading up to this point tips the scales much too far in the direction of “happy reunion.” “Guarded reunion” isn’t remotely plausible given the trauma they’ve been through, and the warmth of their family prior to its destruction.

The Winterfell plot's problems are also exemplified by the scene where Sansa looks out into the wilderness from a Winterfell rampart, seeming to feel the full weight of a difficult decision she must make. So far, this scene works regardless of whether or not we know the truth of her conspiracy with Arya: if the sisters are at odds, Sansa feels conflicted because she doesn't want to kill her sister, but if the sisters are working together, then Sansa feels suspense over whether or not her attempt to fool Littlefinger will work. However, the scene falls apart at its conclusion, when she tells a guard to summon her sister to the great hall. Given that she's actually working with Arya to fool Littlefinger, she should have said something like, "Summon my sister to the great hall, and make sure Lord Baelish knows about the summons." Like many scenes in Winterfell these past two episodes, her dialogue is designed purely to mislead viewers, but once we know the truth, retrospectively it seems like a contrivance meant to preserve the surprise, one that ultimately undermines it by making the surprise weak and unearned. The true surprise here is that Game of Thrones would execute such sloppy storytelling. While the series has sometimes featured plots that led up blind alleys (ahem, Dorne), I can’t recall it ever so thoroughly compromising the plausibility its characters just to manipulate viewers.

Mercifully, this plotline concludes with a scene between the sisters that tries to reverse the damage the writers have done to them. It’s a lovely scene, as it once again calls on their love for Ned and their affection for each other, but it does nothing to explain or make better their the contortions this plot put them through. Was all of their conflict intended to mislead Littlefinger? If so, it would have been better for everyone -- their characters, and our viewing experience -- if we were in on it too, because then their characters would remain consistent, and we would also have been able to enjoy the enduring suspense of wondering whether or not their ploy to outwit a mastermind was indeed working, rather than the fleeting surprise that results from keeping us in the dark. On the other hand, if their conflict last episode wasn’t meant to trick Littlefinger, and they only became allies in the time between episodes, then their character inconsistencies remain, and on top of that, we get no explanation of how they remedied the situation. When did they come to their senses? How instrumental was Bran? How did they come up with their plan to take Littlefinger down? This scene on the ramparts answers none of these questions.

Moreover, at no point does this episode explain their need for subterfuge in the first place. Why go through all of the machinations of making Littlefinger think he’s dividing and conquering them when all they really need is for Bran to simply tell them of Littlefinger’s past crimes (as he so clearly did at some point)? Perhaps they felt they needed to see for themselves evidence of his contemporary scheming in order to convince the other northerners, and particularly the knights of the Vale, of his nefariousness, but if so, we needed to see them provide this explanation themselves.

There’s potential here, but whole thing was badly misplayed by Benioff and Weiss, and could have used another episode to become more fleshed out. The one silver lining is that the resolution to their conflict provides some symmetry with action elsewhere in Westeros: two Stark siblings reunite in common purpose and mutual appreciation just as two Lannister siblings finally split from one another when they discover they are at cross purposes. However, even this narrative unity isn’t worth the poor storytelling decisions that led to it.

Ultimately, I suppose it’s fitting that Bran ended up contributing so heavily to Littlerfinger’s downfall. Littlefinger based his power on knowing others’ secrets while keeping his own safe, but this is not a viable a plan when someone has unfettered access to all of history. However, there's more to dislike even here, as the role Bran plays does a disservice to Littlefinger. Someone as intelligent and with as much foresight as Littlefinger should have been able to register the threat that Bran posed, given that Bran basically announced his powers to Littlefinger by quoting Littlefinger back to himself.

While it’s hard to blame Littlefinger for not understanding the nature of Bran’s abilities, or for even anticipating that something like the Three-Eyed Raven could exist, his inability to anticipate his failure to drive Sansa and Arya apart makes him seem less the manipulative mastermind we’ve believed him to be all this time. It’s especially disappointing considering that he seems to have not followed his own advice of imagining everyone as his enemy, and considering that his end goal ultimately seemed a bit small (maneuver his way into Sansa's heart and life, thus avenging his hurt over Catelyn's rejection of him when they were teens). Ultimately, I’m glad the Starks have snuffed out the threat Littlefinger posed, but his downfall would have been even more satisfying had the build up to it been handled better.

Bran plays an important role in another scene as well. Evidently he’s progressed enough in learning how to control his powers that he’s able to explain them coherently to Sam, who is possibly the best person for Bran to tell. If anyone can understand the power of someone who combines an infallible, living history book with an all-seeing source of current events, it’s Sam. On the other hand, Bran also asks Sam why Sam’s come to Winterfell, which is either a silly question for someone who knows everything, or evidence that Bran still hasn’t indexed his knowledge of the past: seeing others’ actions doesn’t automatically let him know their motivations, and he doesn’t necessarily know how to trace their history to understand them (although evidently he did well enough to let Sansa and Arya know about what Littlefinger did to Ned, Jon Arryn, Lyssa, and Catelyn. Add this development to the list of reasons I would have liked to have seen more of what Sansa and Arya were planning, as showing a scene where they speak to Bran would have better let us gauge Bran’s progress in developing control of his powers).

In any case, Sam instantly knows how to put Bran’s abilities to use, getting him to verify what Gilly read to him about Rhaeger’s annulled marriage. With a little prodding, Bran knows just where in time and space to go, and together, the two discover that Jon is the true heir to Westeros (and that his real name is actually Aegon Targaryen). It’s a very exciting development, because now someone who gives a damn about worldly concerns (Sam) actually possesses this knowledge as well.* We even get to see Rhaegar Targaryen for the first time in one of Bran’s visions (which is somewhat surprising for it being the first time, considering what an instrumental figure he is in the series’ exposition).

* Although Bran appears to be getting better at this: he smiles upon seeing Sam, which is more emotion than he had for reuniting with Sansa, and he also insists on Jon needing to know about his parentage.

As Bran narrates Jon’s true name, inheritance, and stature, we see images of Jon and Dany finally sleeping with one another during their voyage north. The scene intends to be moving and powerful, and it’s aided immensely by the epic sweep of the score, but I’m not quite sure that it overcomes our knowledge that what we’re really seeing is an aunt having sex with her nephew. I suppose there’s some nice contrast in cutting from Rhaegar and Lyanna’s knowingly illicit marriage to Jon and Dany’s unknowingly illicit consummation of their affair, but it’s still incest. Of course, incest is nothing new to this series, but at least past incestuous couples knew what they were getting into. Moreover, it’s also strongly implied that the Mad King’s madness was a consequence of so much previous Targaryen inbreeding. The same can be said of Viserys’s instability, and Joffrey’s sadism. It's hard to watch this scene without feeling at least somewhat repulsed, even if sometimes such offspring dodge the crazy bullet (Dany, Rhaegar, Myrcella, etc.).

Moreover, Jon being the true heir to the Iron Throne also takes something away from Daenerys, whose intention to rule Westeros was always based on what she thought was her rightful claim. I suppose if Dany and Jon love each other and want to be together (incest aside), then it doesn’t much matter -- this is "A Song of Ice and Fire" after all, as the book series is titled, and those two elements have always seemed to be represented by Jon and Dany -- but it’s still a bit of a letdown to have the rightfulness of Dany’s long term goal so thoroughly compromised. It’s also a bit disturbing to hear Bran say that Jon is the rightful heir precisely at the moment where we see Jon and Dany naked together, because it turns their sex into Dany literally being screwed out of her right to rule. Can’t we have a non-evil (Cersei), non-incompetent (Ellaria), non-defeated (Olenna) matriarchy for once? It’s fitting to make Jon and Dany the show’s ultimate power couple, but I just wish it didn’t come at the partial expense of one of its strongest female characters.

And of course, this season concludes -- as so many other seasons have -- with one last tease of the Night King. Except this is far more than a tease. The Night King and the army of the undead finally arrive at the wall, and the Night King uses his new zombie dragon to bore a hole through the ice, causing a large section of the wall to come crashing down. Apparently the magic of the wall can be countered by the magic of a blue fire-breathing dragon. With white walkers and giants and wights (oh my!) pouring through the gap in the wall, the war is now imminent. Jon Snow, Jon Sand, or Aegon Targaryen; whatever his name, he’d better hurry up and get to Winterfell. Given how quickly he and others have moved across Westeros this season, he likely has only minutes before the Night King arrives there himself.

Other thoughts:

- I should also mention Theon’s scenes. Courtesy of Jon, Theon finally gets some measure of forgiveness from a Stark family member. It’s a scene we needed to see in order for Theon’s redemption arc to eventually feel complete, but it also offers up a parallel between Theon and Jon: Theon is both a Stark and a Greyjoy, much like how Jon will have to negotiate his being both a Targaryen and a Stark.

- This episode also sets up Theon's end game: he’ll try to rescue Yara, kill Euron, and contribute to the fight against the Night King and/or Cersei. The scene where he convinces the ironborn to follow him is also noteworthy, as the backbone and perseverance he shows here are courtesy of the torture Ramsay put him through. The ship captain beats Theon to a pulp and threatens to kill him, but Theon is unfazed, as these threats are certainly no worse than the horrors Ramsay inflicted on him, and in fact are probably a good deal easier to endure. Likewise, when the captain tries to end the fight by repeatedly kneeing Theon in the crotch, Theon just smiles at the captain, who is alarmed by how ineffective it is (once again courtesy of Ramsay), allowing Theon to gain the upper hand, and finally the respect of his fellow ironborn. It’s a nice turn for his character, albeit a somewhat surprising one, as I was under the impression that Theon still had his testicles.

- Game of Thrones has never seemed more like a strategic board game than with all of the impressive shots of the various players, armies, and units arriving at King’s Landing at the start of the episode.

- More symmetry or unity amongst siblings in this episode: independently, both Jaime and Tyrion explain the value of things in terms of sex. Bronn and Jaime muse that the reason to fight is to have sex, while Tyrion explains to Jon that people want to live in King’s Landing because there’s more work, and superior brothels.

- Jorah drops a bit of dragon husbandry knowledge on the way to the dragon arena, which is interesting because it’s a subject the series has been reluctant to broach in the past, considering all of the questions it raises, namely, how do you train a dragon? I think we’ve been meant to chalk up their behavior and obedience to their high intelligence, and to a magical bond with Daenerys, but I’ve always been interested in knowing more. Later, Dany drops more knowledge when she marvels at the folly of the dragon arena: locking them away in here was what led to their dwindling and dying out. Apparently she read up on any dragon-related material she could find while ruling Meereen.

- It’s interesting that the Hound now appears to be on team Dany/Jon at this point. It makes sense that he’d want to pick a side that would let him fight his brother, but after abandoning the Lannisters at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, he seemed to do away with the need for a leader. Perhaps the weight of what he saw beyond the wall has convinced him that Jon’s cause is one worthy enough to follow, as he was never comfortable with Beric and the Brotherhood.

- As Cersei notes, Dany’s entrance to the negotiations is meant as a show of strength, but for us it’s a bit sad to see only two dragons when Dany approaches. Seeing them flying together now will always invoke Viserion’s absence (at least until they inevitably fight the zombie version).

- On his way to see Cersei, Tyrion crosses paths with Jaime, who is leaving after unsuccessfully trying to convince Cersei to agree to a truce. It's a refreshing scene because it briefly allows the two to enjoy each others’ company again, which was not the case when they last met.

- Jon floats the idea that the witch who “cured” Drogo of his wound was lying to Dany about her not being able to have children. It’s an interesting theory, but also an interesting moment of comparison, because it comes on the heels of Tyrion deducing Cersei’s pregnancy. It's also a cause for concern. If Dany can have kids, and she has them with Jon, they might turn out to be just as monstrous as Aerys or Joffrey.

- When Dany’s team discusses their travel plans, no one thinks to mention that Jon could fly there alongside Dany by riding Rhaegal. I really want to see these two riding dragons side by side before the series concludes.

- Jon confirms that wights can’t swim.

- I laughed when Sam asked Bran if he saw Jon and Dany returning to Winterfell in a vision, and Bran replies by holding up a note from a raven. A little more self-awareness from Bran would be nice at this point.

- Jon and Dany’s sex scene is also made odd because it’s cut together with multiple shots of Tyrion looking concernedly at Dany’s closed door, seemingly fully aware of what’s happening inside. Why should this concern him? He never much seemed to care about Daario Naharis, and as Littlefinger notes, their match makes political sense.

- Did Tormund and Beric survive the Night King’s attack at Eastwatch? I must know!

- Bran’s only partly right about Robert’s Rebellion being a lie. Certainly, Lyanna’s death was personal motivation for Robert, regardless of whether or not she went with Rhaegar willingly or by force, but Aerys was also mad, executing the head of House Stark and his heir (Ned’s older brother Brandon) without cause. The Rebellion wasn’t just about a guy upset over losing his betrothed to another man; it was also about ending the tyranny of an insane king. Still, “Lyanna was kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar” is a pretty insidious lie. I wonder whose it was? Perhaps Ned devised it as a further means of protecting Jon: not only does Ned make up a story about where Jon came from, but he also makes up a story about what happened to Lyanna. On the other hand, two lies seem a bit much for honorable old Ned. Perhaps it was Robert’s lie, something he told to himself to ease the sting of Lyanna’s rejection.

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