‘Game of Thrones’ Finale Recap: Who Will Be Queen of the Ashes?

The White Walkers are coming and everyone is seemingly ready to fight them, but that doesn’t mean the conspiracies and machinations are stopping

Cersei and Jaime Lannister Game of Thrones

(Obviously, since this is a recap, there are a lot of spoilers for the “Game of Thrones” Season 7 finale.)

Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” saw the war between Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei (Lena Headey) heat up, while Jon Snow (Kit Harington) desperately begged everyone to care about White Walkers. In the finale of the season, everybody cares about White Walkers, but maybe they should be worried about Cersei.

She proved it in the big meeting between the powers in Westeros that has become the central focus of Season 7. After Jon and his company went beyond the Wall to capture an undead wight to prove the White Walkers are a thing are real, he finally has a way of proving his big fear to the other major leaders of the country. But Jon and Daenerys don’t yet know what trying to get everyone to work together to survive the winter has cost them.

The episode opens with the meeting at King’s Landing, finally. Everybody in Daenerearys’ forces shows up, including the Unsullied and the Dothraki. Bronn and Jaime, meanwhile, are setting up in case there’s a siege. But Bronn doesn’t seem to think it’s going to go well. He has a quick discussion with Jaime about how if he were a eunuch like the Unsullied, he wouldn’t be fighting for an army. It’s all down to what’s between his legs. And while Jaime notes that Tyrion has always been the champion of the downtrodden, Bronn says that the Lannister forces are probably about to become the downtrodden.

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On Daenerys’ flagship, we check in with all her various allies — basically, everyone cool who’s still alive in Westeros. Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who’s never been to the capital, wonders why a million people would live in one cramped place. Tyrion has an explanation: more work, and better brothels. Meanwhile, belowdecks, the Hound (Rory McCann) makes sure his undead monster is still undead and monstrous. All seems okay.

Everyone heads to the Dragon Pit, an arena built to house the dragons of the Targaryens, Podrick (Daniel Portman) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) get to have a quick meetup. Pod’s happy to see Tyrion alive, even if he is on the other side. And then Bronn shows up to make fun of everyone.

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) gets a chance to meet up with the Hound on the way back in, too. Last time they saw each other, Brienne knocked him off a cliff and assumed he was dead. She notes that she was just trying to protect Arya, and the Hound says, he was too.

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“The only one who needs protecting is the one who gets in her way,” Brienne says.

“Won’t be me,” the Hound puts back. Aw, everyone loves Arya even though she’s a scarier assassin.

As they walk into the pit, Tyrion gets a moment with Bronn, too. Tyrion renews his offer from the first time they met — whatever they’re paying Bronn, Tyrion will double it. But Bronn says he’s doing all right for himself.

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“I’m marching two traitors into King’s Landing,” Bronn says, about Tyrion and Varys. Cersei will be very happy with him, he imagines.

“It’s good to see you again,” Tyrion says. Bronn agrees.

Finally, everybody shows up in the Dragon Pit, a huge old structure that has since fallen into disrepair. As Cersei marches in, the Hound has a moment with the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). He’s happy the Mountain isn’t dead, because he still wants to kill him. Since the Mountain is a Frankenstein creature, though, he doesn’t have much to say about it.

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Finally Daenerys shows up on Drogon, giving everybody a sense of how scary she is. But before anyone can have much a discussion, Euron calls out Theon. He says that his sister, Yara (Gemma Whelan) is still alive, and if he submits, Euron won’t kill her. Cersei calls an end to Euron’s BS before he can get much further, though.

Tyrion attempts to start the meeting. He notes that everyone hates each other in the meeting, but they’ve got something bigger to deal with.

“We’ve suffered at each other’s hands,” Tyrion says. “We’ve lost people we loved at each other’s hands. If wanted to that to stay the same we wouldn’t need to have this meeting.”

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Jon takes the baton a second later.

“This isn’t about living in harmony. It’s just about living,” Jon explains. “The same thing is coming for all of us. A general you can’t negotiate with. An army that doesn’t leave corpses behind on the battlefield.”

Cersei still doesn’t believe anyone.

“I don’t think it’s serious at all,” she returns. “I think it’s another bad joke.” She refuses to pull back her armies for whatever nonsense everyone is talking about, especially because she mostly believes that Daenerys will take the lands that the Lannisters control if she backs down.

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And then the Hound comes out carrying a crate on his back. He opens it up, and guess what’s inside? A real-life zombie.

The wight goes straight for Cersei, but the Hound holds it back with a chain around its neck. Then he cuts it in half, but that doesn’t do much but slow it down. When he slices off an arm, the arm keeps going, too — Qyburn takes the opportunity to check out the gross undead hand, as he very much enjoys dead things. Jon explains how to kill wights: burning them, and dragonglass.

“If we don’t stop them, then that is the fate of every person in the world,” Jon says. “There is only one war that matters: the Great War. And that war is here.”

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After seeing the wight, which has obviously affected everyone pretty distinctly, Euron takes the opportunity to ask a question: Can they swim? Jon tells him they can’t. He tells Cersei he’s headed back to the Iron Islands with the Iron Fleet, then, to wait out the winter. Euron openly bails on his alliance with Cersei, and as he goes, she calls him a coward.

Cersei says she’ll agree to the truce, but only if Jon Snow remains neutral in the war after the dead are stopped. Daenerys asks why she doesn’t ask for that truce

“I know Ned Stark’s son will be true to his word,” she tells them.

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But Jon reveals he’s already bent the knee to Daenerys. Since he’s an ally of the dragon queen and therefore rebellion against Cersei, she calls an end to the meeting and leaves.

As the Lannisters turn to leave, Brienne goes after Jaime. This whole “undead army” thing is a serious problem.

“This goes beyond honor and houses and oaths. Talk to the queen,” she tells

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“And tell her what?” Jaime shoots back. But re clear he’s freaked out by this whole undead army situation too.

Meanwhile, Tyrion’s not super thrilled that Jon just publicly pledged himself to Daenerys.

“Have you ever considered learning how to lie every now and then? Just a bit?” Tyrion asks Jon.

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Tyrion says he’ll go talk to Cersei, basically because she’ll definitely murder anyone else who goes, despite the fact that she really wants to murder Tyrion. He meets Jaime on his way in, and they discuss their idiot attempts to convince Cersei of things. They both kind of expect Tyrion to be killed in the next few minutes.

Tyrion heads into Cersei’s chamber, and it’s pretty eerie. Inside, Cersei claims Tyrion has been trying to destroy the Lannisters his whole life. He rebukes that claim, saying that he’s the reason Daenerys hasn’t attacked King’s Landing with dragons already. But by killing Lord Tywin, Cersei says, he got her children killed.

“You left us open,” Cersei says. “You laid us bare for the vultures and the vultures came.”

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Tyrion goes hard on her line of thinking, imploring her to kill him for all her crimes. And Cersei looks like she’s about to order the Mountain to do it — but doesn’t. In response, Tyrion goes to the wine, and drains a drink. Then he offers one to Cersei.

Tyrion claims that he’s more sorry about what happened to the children than anything else. But Cersei doesn’t care. Finally, Tyrion explains why he supports Daenerys: He thinks she will make the world a better place. But as Cersei explains that only her family matters to her, she touches her stomach, and Tyrion immediately intuits that she’s pregnant again.

Meanwhile, back in the dragon pit, Daenerys goes to talk to Jon. He apologizes again for accidentally ruining everything by saying he’s already pledged to Daenerys, and she says she’s at least appreciates it. She laments how the Targaryens pretty much ruins the dragons by enslaving them, and it stopped their dynasty from being extraordinary.

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Daenerys also mentions that she can’t have children, which Jon asks her to explain. Dany says the witch who killed her husband, Mirri Maaz Durr, told her she couldn’t have more kids, but Jon asks if she’d ever wondered if the witch might have been lying.

As everyone is feeling generally pretty bad, Tyrion comes back, followed by Cersei. She says her armies won’t stand down — instead, they’ll go north and fight the Great War.

“And when the Great War is over, perhaps you’ll remember that I chose to help, with no promises or assurances from any of you,” Cersei says. “Perhaps not.”

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Next, we see a raven struggling to get through a storm to Winterfell. We find Sansa (Sophie Turner) talking with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) about the raven they just received, in which Jon brought them up to speed, including about his pledging for Daenerys, without consulting with Sansa.

Littlefinger notes that maybe the Jon can be unnamed the King in the North, but Sansa says that even if she wanted to, Arya (Maisie Williams) would never go for it. Sansa thinks Arya would kill her if she thought Sanda would betray Jon.

Littlefinger sees an opening — he’s still trying to get Sansa to get rid of Arya.

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“Sometimes, when I try to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game,” he tells Sansa. “I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do? And then I ask myself, how well does that reason explain what they say, and what they do.”

Littlefinger walks Sansa through Arya’s worst possible motives. And it seems that Sansa believes Arya might be trying to get rid of her, to take revenge for perceiving Sansa turning on her family. She ends on the idea that Arya could kill her, use the letter she found as evidence against her, and take her place as the Lady of Winterfell.

Back at Dragonstone, during a meeting of the war council, Jon convinces Daenerys to sail to the north with him, instead of fly there on a dragon. It sends a better message of Daenerys as an ally. Jorah is definitely not happy about it.

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After the meeting, Theon (Alfie Allen) takes a moment with Jon. Theon talks about how Jon risked everything rather than tell a lie to an enemy. Theon says he always struggled with being a Greyjoy or Stark, and that he’s done horrible things. Jon returns that Ned Stark was more of a father to him than Theon’s real father, and he betrayed him. He can’t forgive everything, Jon says, but what he can forgive, he does. It’s a huge moment for poor Theon. He ends the conversation by bringing up Yara, the only person who tried to save him. He owes her one.

“Then why are you still talking to me?” Jon asks.

Out on the beach, Theon approaches the Ironborn as they’re getting ready to leave. He tries to rally them to go after Yara, but they’re not thrilled about following the cowardly Theon. It turns into a fight with the leader of the Ironborn, who beats the hell out of Theon. He knocks Theon down, but despite being told over and over again to stay down or he’ll kill him, Theon doesn’t stay down. When the Ironborn tries to kick Theon in the balls, it doesn’t work — he has no balls — and that gives Theon the chance to knock him down and beat the hell out of him.\

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“Not for me,” Theon shouts to the other Ironborn. “For Yara!” He’s proved that he’s Ironborn for real.

Back at Winterfell, Sansa makes her final decision. She calls Arya to the Great Hall, where she’s waiting with Stark soldiers and some of the Lords of the Vale, as well as Bran.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Arya asks.

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“It’s not what I want, it’s what honor demands,” Sansa replies.

“All right then, get on with it,” Arya says.

“You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer, Lord Baelish?”

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Littlefinger is not prepared for this turn of events.

Sansa starts rattling off accusations, including about how Littlefinger killed Sansa aunt, Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie), and Jon Arryn. She also accuses him of turning on Ned Stark. Littlefinger denies the charges, but Bran’s there with his Three-Eyed Raven sight. He knows what Littlefinger really did.

Littlefinger asks Sansa to let him defend himself, but she reminds him how he sold her to the Boltons. Turning family against each other is what he always does. Littlefinger tries to beg for his life, but Sansa isn’t having. And before he knows what’s happening, Arya slits his throat. Finally, the guy who’s responsible for more deaths than maybe anyone in Westeros finally else gets his.

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Back at King’s Landing, Jaime is readying the Lannister forces to head north, but Cersei stops him. She explains that she doesn’t intend to help anyone with their war against the Night King.

“I always knew you were the stupidest Lannister,” Cersei says. “I’ll say whatever I need to say to ensure the survival of our house.”

“Our child will never be born if the dead come south,” Jaime tells her.

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“If the dead win, they march south, and kill us all. If the living win, and we betrayed them, they march south and kill us all!”

But Cersei notes that there are only two dragons left. And she tells him how she paid attention to her father’s lessons. Euron didn’t leave the meeting to run back to the Iron Islands, he went to collect the Golden Company mercenaries from Essos. Cersei has an entire army headed her way.

“No one walks away from me,” Cersei says. And when Jaime says that the two of them are the last Lannisters saving their family, she mentions her pregnancy, saying, “There’s one more yet to come.”

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Jaime tells Cersei he gave his word he’d go north to help against the Night King, and that’s what he’s going to do. As he tries to leave, the Mountain moves to stop him. Jaime asks if Cersei is going to kill him, and for a second, it seems like she might. But Jaime says, “I don’t believe you.” He walks out of the room as Cersei watches him go — apparently, the Lannister twins are broken up.

We watch as Jaime rides out of King’s Landing alone, without an army or any other backup, and head’s north. As he goes, he notes that it’s snowing in King’s Landing — a thing that doesn’t usually happen. And that’s pretty scary.

Back at Winterfell, Sam arrives at Winterfell with Gilly and Little Sam. He goes to talk to Bran, who tells him about being the Three-Eyed Raven. Still, nobody knows what that means. Bran explains that he can see things in the past and things happening now, all over the world.

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Bran drops a bomb on Sam: He needs to tell Jon the truth about himself, that he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Bran says his last name isn’t Snow, it’s Sand, because he’s a Dornish bastard. But Sam corrects him — Rhaegar and Lyanna were married in a secret ceremony, making him a trueborn Targaryen.

Bran checks it against a vision, and finds out that it’s true: Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie, and Rhaegar and Lyanna were in love. Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys meet in the boat to get it on.

The vision also tells Bran a key bit of info about Jon: His real name is Aegon Targaryen, and he’s the heir to the Iron Throne.

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Back at Winterfell, Arya and Sansa have a moment on the battlements. Sansa says that in her own horrible way, Littlefinger actually did love her. But the two of them did what they had to do. Arya says she never could have survived what Sansa survived, but Sansa answers that she could have, because Arya is the strongest person she knows.

“In winter we must protect ourselves, and look after one another,” Arya says, quoting their father.

Sansa answers: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

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Over in the godswood, Bran is having a vision, sending his ravens out. He goes to Eastwatch, where Tormund and Beric are manning the Wall. As they check the battlements, they see a rider, and then soldiers, and then realize they’re looking at the entire army of the dead, fully 100,000 strong.

As they’re watching, they see the scariest thing: the undead dragon Viserion, flying past the wall, with the Night King riding. The dragon breathes blue fire, but not at the Night’s Watch, at the Wall itself. As he blasts away, the Wall starts to crumble, leaving a massive hole in the center of it. It seems getting one of Daenerys’ dragons was the Night King’s plan all along.

The good news is, the dead didn’t immediately kill everyone at Eastwatch. The bad news is, they’re headed south.