1. Bronn’s swift exit
Right, so this is an awkward one to start on, but didn’t you think it was a bit weird that Bronn and Pod just disappeared for a drink and a catch up rather than gjoining everyone else at the incredibly important meeting in the Dragonpit? Like, we get you’ve got a lot to talk about, but is this really the time?
Well, there’s a very good reason for it – and it’s nothing to do with the show itself. See, way back in the early ‘00s, Jerome Flynn (Bronn) and Lena Headey (Cersei) used to date, and they reportedly had quite a messy break-up, to the point that they are now always kept apart on set. There are even rumours that this is part of their contracts.
“Jerome and Lena aren’t on speaking terms any more and they are never in the same room at the same time,” a member of the crew told The Telegraph back in 2014. “It’s a pity because they appeared to have patched things up for a while, but now the word is they should be kept apart at all costs.”
2. A dragon is not a slave
After semi-chastising Jon for not lying and pretending he wouldn’t take sides in the war between Cersei and Daenerys – but also getting some deep sex feelings from it too – Daenerys teaches Jon a little about the Dragonpit. She tells him how the last dragons were kept prisoner there, which led to them being small and frail, essentially wasting away. “A dragon is not a slave,” she tells him.
This echoes something she says back in Season 3, to a slave master in Astapor. The slave master is speaking to Missandei in High Valyrian, believing Dany does not know the language. "Tell the bitch her beast won't come," he says to Missandei, in reference to one of Dany’s dragons, which she has ‘traded’ in exchange for the Unsullied army.
“A dragon is not a slave,” Dany tells the shocked slave master in High Valyrian, before Drogon roasts him alive.
3. A happy spot at Winterfell
This spot where Arya and Sansa are standing on the ramparts at Winterfell, having stuck together and defeated Lord Petyr Baelish – finally putting an end to his devious schemes?
The exact same place Sansa and Jon stood towards the end of Season 6, after defeating the Boltons and reclaiming Winterfell for the Starks. This is clearly a place of Stark harmony. Let’s hope – after a bumpy rise this season – that it continues to the very end.
4. Ned Stark’s words still holding weight
Ned Stark may be long gone, but he’s still having a huge impact that everything that’s going on in Westeros – most notably through his children. There’s a good chance that his words were a big reason behind why Sansa and Arya managed to look past their differences to see through Littlefinger’s plot – indeed, he is directly quoted by each of the Stark girls in the scene they share towards the end of the episode.
First, Arya tells Sansa: "In the winter, we must protect ourselves – look after one another.” Sansa immediately recognises the words as their father’s – indeed, it’s something he tells Arya all the way back in Season 1, when she and Sansa are fighting. There’s a good chance he used them on Sansa in the past too.
The second time is when Sansa finally speaks those ominous sounding words from the season trailer: "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” While this is the first time we’ve heard this in the show, Ned says them to Arya in the first book.
We may have gone six seasons without Ned Stark now, but the show is not ready to forget its original hero.
5. Some familiar additions to the Dothraki armour
Looks like the Dothraki have been doing a bit of looting. In several scenes throughout the episode you can see Dothraki soldiers clad in what is very clearly Lannister armour, which they must have plundered from the battlefield after their rout in ‘Spoils of War’. The Dothraki have never been fans of metal armour, but wearing it in front of the people you’ve stolen it from is a pretty strong power move.
6. Tyrion not jumping aboard the Jon x Dany shipping hype
So Jon Snow pulled the old ‘15-year-old couple being made to sleep in separate rooms at the parents’ house’ move and snuck into Danerys’ chamber for a bit of rumpy pumpy, but Tyrion – doing his best Littlefinger impression by skulking in the darkness nearby – looked extremely worried by it all.
Now, he might just be pissed off that he didn’t get to see Jon’s fine-as-hell butt, but we’re thinking it goes deeper than that. We’ve actually gone into great detail about the possible reasons for Tyrion’s concern here, but there are four main possibilities:
- He is worried that falling in love with Jon will make Dany weak, causing her to make rash decisions, and also listen to Jon’s consel more than his own.
- He is worried that Daenerys may have a child, which would make it less likely that she decides to do away with the monarchy when she becomes queen, and rather than breaking the wheel, Westeros would just carry on down the same old path of tyranny and war.
- He made a deal with Cersei behind Daenerys’ back, letting his sister tell them that she would help them in the fight against the dead, but knowing it was a double cross.
- He’s in love with Daenerys himself.
It could be one of these reasons, or a combination of a few. It’s up to you to decide which you feel is most likely.
7. Oh, and the fact it was a literal ‘shipping’
Despite being aunt and nephew, people have been ‘shipping’ Daenerys and Jon for years. Quite funny then, that they finally did the deed on a literal ship. Was it deliberate? Who knows, but you wouldn’t put is past Game of Thrones, would you?
8. The foreshadowing in Jon’s forgiveness
In one of the most touching moments of the episode, Jon forgives Theon for betraying the Starks, and tells him something he’s probably wanted to hear since he was a child – that he doesn’t have to choose between Stark and Greyjoy.
Speaking of his struggles growing up as Ned Stark’s ward, trapped between two identities, Theon tells Jon: "It always seemed like there was an impossible choice I had to make – Stark or Greyjoy.”
Jon replies: "Our father was more of a father to you than yours ever was, but you never lost him. He's a part of you. Just like he's a part of me. You don't need to choose. You're a Greyjoy, and you're a Stark."
This is likely to foreshadow an internal struggle Jon will have in Season 8, when he learns that he is both a Targaryen and a Stark. Hopefully he will follow his own advice and realise he does not have to choose – he can be a dragon and a wolf – but what would be even more poetic would be if it were Theon who were there to remind him.
9. What’s left of Theon Greyjoy
On the subject of Theon, we finally have an answer as to what he’s got left, you know, down there. Theon was Rocky-like in his never-say-die attitude as he fought off his fellow Ironborn and convinced the few remaining men to follow him and help save Yara, and the moment that turned the fight in his favour was when he received a few hard knees to the groin.
Obviously Ramsay removed everything down there, as Theon felt no pain, fought back, won, and knelt victorious on the shore, splashing his face with sea water, almost like a man reborn. Is the old Theon Greyjoy finally back, and will he be strong enough to take down his uncle?
10. Rhaegar Targaryen looking very, very familiar
You could be forgiven for thinking that they cast the exact same actor who played Viserys in Season 1 to portray his brother Rhaegar in this flashback scene – that’s how similar they look.
It makes total sense that the pair would look so closely alike, though, as Viserys modelled himself on his older brother, and they were said to look very similar in the books, with the same hair, but Rhaegar being slightly taller and more muscular.
Describing Rahegar in Daenerys’ vision at the House of the Undying, George R. R. Martin writes: "The man had her brother's hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac.”
11. An important note about Bran’s powers
Bran kind of felt… a little more human again this week? He looked genuinely happy to see Sam when the pair were reunited at Winterfell, and his revealing the scroll was maybe the funniest moment of the episode.
We also found out some very important information about what he can and cannot do as the Three-Eyed Raven – we now know he can only see the past and the present, not the future, and that he can only see things if he knows where to look. Bran knew Jon was the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, but thought he was still a bastard named Jon Sand, rather than a trueborn named Aegon Targaryen, as he had never seen the secret wedding.
With Sam there to do the research and Bran to check the facts, these two could become a real force to be reckoned with in the final season. We bet they discover something vital to defeating the Night King once and for all.
12. Remembering Maester Aemon
I miss Maester Aemon. So do you. He was one of Game of Thrones’ best-hearted characters, and the only major character in the entire series so far who’s been given the honour of dying peacefully in his sleep.
A number of his quotes were particularly poignant in this season finale – the one above could well pertain to Jon and Dany as they inevitably fall in love, while his words, “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing,” from back in Season 5, are now even more heartbreaking when you know he had Jon with him that whole time.
There are also the stories he used to tell about his younger brother, Egg, who went on to become Aegon V Targaryen – a name we now know Jon Snow shares. So not only was Aemon not alone as a Targaryen at Castle Black, he had ‘Egg’ by his side too.
Aemon even gives Jon the same advice he gave his brother before becoming king when Jon is named Lord Commander of the Night’s watch. he tells him: "Allow me to give my lord one last piece of counsel, the same counsel that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy.
“Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born. You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueler one, I fear. You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born."
13. The fates of Tormund and Beric
Oh my god, is Tormund dead? IS TORMUND DEAD?! I don’t know about you, but that’s what I was screaming at the TV as the Night King used his new weapon to bring the Wall crashing down, reducing Eastwatch to rubble.
However, it looks like the answer to that question is – thankfully – no, he’s not, and neither is Beric Dondarrion. See, it looks like they were actually at a different part of the Wall to the bit Viserion blasted through – there are still some Night’s Watch structures that are left standing after the ice dragon makes his big hole, and it’s very likely that Tormund and Beric are in one of those.
Given how beloved Tormund is as a character, and how Beric is supposed to have some final purpose from the Lord of Light he is yet to achieve, it seems extremely unlikely that the show would just kill them both off screen. They deserve better than that.
14. Viserion’s speed and roar
Right, so did anyone else notice that Viserion seems way, way faster now that he’s undead? Obviously all those blood and organs were just slowing him down, and now he’s zipping around at lightning speed, even if he does have huge holes in his wings.
Also, that new roar he’s got is terrifying – it’s more of a harrowing screech than a roar now, and it’s the sort of sound that pierces you to your soul.
The big question regarding the dragons for next season is whether Drogon will be able to copy his namesake and kill Viserion, or whether the undead dragons will end up outnumbering the living.
15. The importance of Jon’s real name
And finally, we now finally know Jon Snow’s real name. He’s not Jon Snow, he’s not Jon Sand – he’s not Jon anything, actually. His real name is Aegon Targaryen – the same as the very first Targaryen who came to Westeros, conquered it, and created the Iron Throne. Not much to live up to then, mate.
However, there’s an even more important aspect to the name Aegon with regards to Jon Snow – it lends even more weight to the theory that he is indeed the Prince that was Promised.
See, in the second book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, Daenerys is describing the vision of her brother Rhaegar she has in the House of the Undying to Jorah. She tells him that, "There was a woman in a bed with a babe at her breast. My brother said that the babe was the Prince that was Promised and told her to name him Aegon”. This is exactly what we see happen in the Tower of Joy when Jon is born.
Daenerys goes on to add that Rhaegar tells her: “His is the song of ice and fire”, which surely references Jon being half Stark and half Targaryen. Nothing is confirmed yet, obviously, but we’re closer than ever to having a definitive answer about the identity of Azor Ahai reborn.