How 'Games of Thrones' turned into an Avengers movie

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (Photo: HBO)

First, let me say that the real high point of Sunday night’s jam-packed TV schedule, out-pacing both Katy Perry’s dive-bombing run on the MTV VMAs and the Game of Thrones season finale, was the long-awaited return of Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper to active duty on Showtime’s Twin Peaks. When Cooper finally threw off his Dougie Jones identity and announced, “I am the FBI,” I felt as though David Lynch was throwing us a bone of narrative clarity, and I ate it up. That said, the seventh-season finale of Game of Thrones was more of a blast than it had any right to be, after a seven-episode season that frequently had me leaning in toward my TV screen or laptop to make out which two characters in any given scene were murmuring about ice-and-fire strategy in yet another dark, cold, gloomy stone hallway, throne room, or dank passage to a restroom. SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES FOLLOW.

I gather every reader of George R.R. Martin’s books had figured out that show overseers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who’ve now overtaken Martin’s plots, would reveal Jon Snow’s true parentage at this point, but no one probably envisioned the sight of a bare-butt Jon bedding down with his Auntie Dany. (Well, maybe all-seeing, all-knowing Bran envisioned this, but if so, he is one horny kid.) So this GoT, titled “The Dragon and the Wolf,” had sex, and for sure it had violence, what with the show’s now-predictable Major Character Death Scene filled out by the sister team-up of Sansa and Arya against Littlefinger, a weasel whose throat was cut.

It’s usually the sex-and-violence stuff that gives a viewer a Thrones thrill, but I thought the high point of this hour-plus was the Kings Landing summit meeting, with virtually all of the series’ biggest stars arrayed before us, like the HBO version of a Marvel Avengers movie. As is true in the latter productions, the fun was in seeing the interaction between characters who haven’t been together much. So it was highly amusing to see Daenerys and Cersei exchange snippy put-downs, and pleasing to have Cersei and Tyrion reunited for a longish discussion of loyalty, treachery, and White Walkers strategy. Indeed, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey reminded us that GoT can be a showcase for superb acting. While Dinklage has been well-rewarded with Emmys, Headey’s performance this night — from her speech about gracious unity to her about-face minutes later with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime — deserves a trophy or two as well.

Quibbles? I have a few. The producers relied too much on Bran as a sort of human crystal ball to keep viewers informed, a narrative device that reached silly proportions when Sam teamed up with Bran for a little game of Dueling Prophesy. And am I the only one who was underwhelmed by the final scene of Zombie Dragon breaching the North wall with his ice breath? To my eye, it came awfully close to looking like a Mothra vs. Godzilla outtake. These reservations aside, it was a satisfying season wrap-up and setup to the final go-round. What I’m really looking forward to, of course, is next week’s Twin Peaks. That, not this, is the finale I’m hoping will leave my mind properly blown.

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