Well, now we’re all feeling it. You know, that gaping hole of emptiness in your chest left after the season finale of your favorite show. Why do things have to end, anyway? Who came up with that rule? Rhaegardless, if the story has to pause for a little while (or a long while based on reports) this is sure one heck of a way to leave it. Whether you were satisfied with everything or not, a lot finally happened that’s been years in the making. And just as quickly as the wall came tumbling down with the huff ‘n puff of an ice dragon, season seven comes to an end, leaving us with just one more to go.
A lot of the complaints I’m hearing about this season center around the writers leaving out some of the drama for the sake of spectacle, or “pay offs.” I understand these complaints to an extent, and there’s no telling why they cut the season to seven episodes other than budgetary restrictions. But let’s take a moment to remember how long the things we are seeing have been coming. The Starks back in control of Winterfell, Littlefinger getting Littlefingered, Jon finally convincing people of the white walker threat. All this stuff started back in season one. That’s seven years! There are a lot of sevens flying around right now.
Add to this the dragons, the wall coming down, the white walkers finally in Westeros proper, and you’ve got a great deal of deserved pay off to cover. We are in the waning moments of our story, and what we’re witnessing is not more continuation of the story with abbreviated drama, but rather a very long, very drawn out ending. Just look at where our characters are in this finale. Each one is addressing the past in some way. Tyrion and Cersei’s dialogue is rooted in their family history. Arya and Sansa’s justice on Littlefinger is for years of betrayal of their family. Bran basically lives in the past (but of course, can’t be bothered to be any real help). There’s a lot they have all lived with. And now it’s time to move forward at long last.
“It’s not my place to forgive you for all of it. But what I can forgive, I do.” – Jon Snow
How can anyone truly move forward while hanging on to the baggage of the past? It may define who we are, but it doesn’t have to weigh us down. The most powerful way to be rid of the past is through forgiveness. Yes, you could always cut its Little throat, but it’s far more powerful to forgive. Think about what Theon did to the Stark family. Betrayed them, tried to overthrow Winterfell, faked the murder of Bran and Rickon (which could be argued is what got Rickon killed). And yet, Jon forgives him. That’s radical forgiveness.
I have always thought it was delightfully funny when Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven. (How many sevens are we up to now?) Don’t do the math, I was always told, that’s not the point. Obviously it means to forgive unceasingly, no matter what your enemies do to you. What Jon does to Theon here in season seven, episode seven is forgiveness seventy times seven. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. For all that Jon and the Stark family endured, Jon has all the justification to end Theon and he didn’t. He doesn’t. He forgives despite all of it. He does that because he knows that giving in to anger will just turn him into Cersei.
So, here we are. The war remains three-fold. The good guys against the dead and the evil queen waiting in the wings. The walls are coming down, the past is being shed, and as we’ve discussed many times, those who let go of blind allegiance to tradition are the only ones who will remain. But the funny thing is, the past is coming back in a very big way. Jon is Aegon Targaryen, rightful heir to the throne. And if this is a story about giving up the game of thrones for something greater, what will our heroes do when they find out this truth? Will they shed the past? Will they forgive when they have right not to? Will they abandon the game? If not, we already know the rules… you win or you die. And death just tore down the wall and is marching their way.