Pretty much everyone dies (including Dan Harmon).

Michael Sippey
Sep 8, 2017 · 8 min read
  • Episode One, titled “Death at the Wall” cold opens on a series of close-ups of all the characters we saw on the collapsing wall at the end of Season 7. Surprise…they’re all dead! Camera pulls back and up and up and up and up to a sprawling shot of the army of the dead walking south.
  • All of our major characters travel by dragon to Winterfell. (In the “Inside the Episode” Benioff looks straight into the camera and says “Who wouldn’t want to travel Air Westeros?”)
  • Reunion time in the north! Jon and Arya have a conversation on the ramparts where they make a muted reference to a more in-depth conversation that happened off camera. Jamie rebounds from Cersei with Brienne (“you’re almost as tall as the Mountain,” he tells her, in the heat of passion); fans rejoice.
  • Bran gives a super affectless speech to Jon about how he’s not a Stark, he’s a Targaryen. Kit Harrington does his best confused look, trying to process this and the whole three-eyed raven thing. When he realizes Bran isn’t his brother (sad times), and that he just had sexy time with his aunt on a motherfucking boat, he breaks down, and goes back to wishing he was dead. “I wish I was dead!” he yells, and beats Longclaw against the side of the castle wall, causing fiery sparks to shower against the snow and ice. (On the east coast the closed captioning of this moment reads “METAPHOR”; HBO fixes this in time for the west coast airing. Twitter goes apeshit.)
  • Danaerys meanwhile, is sad, because she really loves her nephew. (Family! It’s the best.) She takes a hot half second to channel that sadness into anger, and decides to ATTACK!!!!
  • Tyrion says “wait a minute, let’s listen to my brother who has experience losing battles against dragons while swimming to safety.” Jamie maps out a battle plan that involves all sorts of bannermen, and troops, and alliances, and a pincer move, and it all leads up to a line about the Lannisters repaying their debt to the north. The music swells, the fans at home go “awwww” but Bronn’s like “yeah, well, ya fuck, what about your debts to me?” and Jorah’s like “Jesus I have to compete with this one-handed guy for her attention?” Dany just eyerolls.
  • Troops mobilize; returning special guest star Ed Sheeran sings a song about a field of fire…and ice.
  • Cut to the iron islands. Theon’s back! Bla bla bla he frees Yara and they both stab Euron in the eye shadow. Yara is queen once again, Theon’s story is still not done; he decides to head to King’s Landing because thinking about Winterfell makes him sad.
  • Also cut to…other places in Westeros! There are many many battles happening because the Night King has been making nighttime dragon runs to graveyards around the seven kingdoms, reanimating the dead. (Lady Stoneheart is not among them.) But the living stand a chance because somehow all the living soldiers were armed overnight with dragonglass-tipped swords, and D.B. Weiss couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the logistics of how this happened (raven drone delivery?), so no mention of it “Inside the Episode.” Podcasters go apeshit.
  • There’s a huge battle at Winterfell. Huge. Super huge. There are dragons, horses, swords, red fire, blue fire, lots of explosions. Biggest hugeness you’ve ever seen. It’s so huge Trump tweets about it during the middle of the episode; Republicans go apeshit. One of the dragons dies, but isn’t reanimated as a wight-dragon because we’re running out of episodes. Danaerys is now really angry.
  • During the battle Jon Snow fights off white walkers and wights like crazy, but because he’s Jon Snow and he clearly knows nothing, he once again ends up surrounded. For the third time in the series we get that shot from above where all hope is lost. This time all hope actually is lost, and Jon is killed…and then reanimated as a white walker because remember? He. Can’t. Die.
  • Meanwhile, in the crypts below Winterfell, Sansa is defending herself with measly torch against a wight attack. Arya has sisterly ESP (Bran’s been rubbing off); she knows Sansa is in trouble and heads to the crypt. She gets there just in time to see Sansa die…and reanimate as a wight. In a scene described by Entertainment Weekly as “the darkest emotional moment of the series,” Arya is attacked by a super bony, very scary Sansa, still wearing her cool direwolf cloak. Arya defends herself, kills wight Sansa using her dagger of Valerian steel, and “borrows” her sister’s cloak. (Look, it didn’t fit her anymore.) Fans go apeshit.
  • But the battle’s not over! Dany flies Drogon, fighting the army of the dead, spraying them with fire…and spies her nephew Snow zombie. Close up on both of them; Snow zombie says nothing, and gives her that blank Kit Harrington look…but even whiter. Danaerys orders Drogon to attack, but (plot twist!) Drogon recognizes Snow zombie as a Targaryen (Emmy-worthy polygon acting here), and refuses to light him up. Dany lands Drogon, jumps off, and walks toward her zombie nephew.
  • Zombie Jon and Danaeys stare into each other’s eyes. Zombie Jon recognizes Dany, and because he’s not truly dead, doesn’t attack her. Dany calmly walks toward Jon, and embraces him. For a moment, we believe there is the possibility of love (however familiar), of breaking the wheel, of peace, of uniting the living and the dead. But the camera zooms in on Dany’s face, and we see it is full of fury, and love, and furious love, and she summons the fire within her. She glows, and glows, and turns red hot and then explodes, melting and killing Jon Snow zombie…and herself in the process.
  • Drogon is sad; he sheds a large, digitally animated dragon tear. Drogon flies away. (In all the recaps the next day writers are confused because it looked like he flew north?)
  • But just because Jon and Dany are dead doesn’t mean that the battle is over. The battle is not over!
  • Bran has been watching all of this battling calmly, but once he realizes (through a disturbance in the force) that Jon is dead, he decides to act. He rolls his eyes waaaay back, wargs into Viserion, takes control (with the Night King on top), and flames out the remaining white walkers and wights. He struggles with the Night King for control of Viserion, and realizes the only way to win is to die. He aims Viserion straight for the spot midway between between the walls of Winterfell and the Weirwood tree…and kamikazes the dragon. Winterfell is destroyed in the explosion. The Night King dies. Viserion dies. Varys and Davos die. Jorah dies. Bronn dies (penniless). Returning special guest star Ed Sheeran dies. Many thousands of digitally animated extras (all of them strangely credited as “Dan Harmon” in the episode’s IMDB entry) also die.
  • Oh, and Bran dies because warging is like dreaming, and if you die in a dream you die in real life. RIP Bran.
  • But! Because television, Ayra, Brienne, Jamie, Tyrion, Sam and the Hound survive. Sam’s like “Well, that was scary,” and decides to walk to Old Town. Peace out, Sam.
  • Arya, distraught over the death of Sansa and Jon and three-eyed Bran, is filled with grief and rage…but we only see her calm face of no one. In a post-battle talk talk talk scene with Tyrion and Jamie about what’s left of the north, and how to deal with Cersei, she turns on Tyrion with her dagger, slitting his throat. Jamie is shocked (shocked!), and unsheaths his sword. They battle, but this time the student is the master. Or something. Arya stabs Jamie through the heart. He dies. RIP Jamie.
  • Brienne walks in on Arya as she’s cutting off Jamie’s face. (Awkward.) Brienne and Arya have a staring contest for a minute, but then Brienne walks out, with a “Yeah, that’s enough for me” look on her face. She passes the Hound..and keeps on walking, all the way to Castle Black, heartbroken and alone.
  • (Three years from now, in a special edition “Inside the Episode: Game of Thrones Cast Reunion” conveniently scheduled just before the series premiere of Confederate, we learn that Brienne becomes the post-war Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, in charge of rebuilding the wall…with the help of Drogon, who is also heartbroken and alone.)
  • With the army of the dead destroyed, her siblings dead, Jamie and Tyrion dead, and Ed Sheerhan dead, Arya and the Hound decide to head south to deal with Cersei. On their way, they pick up the remainder of the unsullied and some ships from the iron islands that Yara decides to loan them, because reasons. In his ongoing character arc, the Hound learns persuasive management skills and picks up a little PowerPoint chops along the way.
  • There is no battle at King’s Landing; there is no army left to fight. We cut to a shot of Cersei, sitting alone on the throne. She’s still pregnant. Her eyes light up and a smile crosses her face because she recognizes someone walking in across the long hall. She is no longer alone. Cut to Jamie, who smiles back at her as he walks toward her. Despite their differences at the end of last season, Cersei is ready for this family reunion. We know, of couse, that this is Arya wearing Jamie’s face.
  • Cersei and Jamie embrace, and it turns…familiar. They kiss, passionately. Jamiearya turns Cersei around to grope her from behind…and stabs her in the belly with the Valeryian steel dagger. Bleeding, Cersei staggers away and turns around to face Arya as she pulls off her Jamie mask. As Cersei bleeds out on the floor, Arya calmly walks up the steps and takes her seat on the iron throne. “No one is queen,” she says.
  • Arya names the Hound her hand (“The Hound of the Queen!” says everyone, everywhere). Theon sneaks in and is the new Varys, mumbling something about having little birds.
  • Cut to Sam, who arrives at Old Town as spring is blooming. “Well, that was a nasty winter,” he says, walking into the Citadel Library. He looks at the mobile above him, and the camera zooms in to reveal that it looks exactly like those circluar things in the opening credits of the show. The theme music starts to swell.
  • Sam sits down at a library desk, opens a blank book, dips his pen in ink, and writes on the first page, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” He sits for a moment, and makes a displeased face like something smells funny. He rips out and crumples up the page, tossing it aside. Turning to a fresh page, he dips his pen in ink and writes at the top, with confidence, “Game of Thrones.”
  • Cut to credits.

Stating the Obvious

an occasionally updated blog from @sippey on technology, media and culture.

Michael Sippey

Written by

VP Product at Medium

Stating the Obvious

an occasionally updated blog from @sippey on technology, media and culture.

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