Photo: HBO
Season SevenA guide to Game Of Thrones: season seven  

The moment

Lord Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, Lord Protector of the Vale and a real sneaky bastard, finally gets what’s coming to him.

The episode

“The Dragon And The Wolf,” season seven, episode seven

Ever since Game Of Thrones first debuted back in 2011, the show’s violence toward women has been controversial, particularly when the series added scenes of sexual assault that weren’t even in George R.R. Martin’s books. Much of that sexual violence was inflicted upon poor Sansa Stark, whose imprisonment/engagement to the sadistic Joffrey Baratheon was nothing compared to her marriage to the even more sadistic Ramsay Bolton, whose rape of Sansa on their wedding night was one of the most disturbing scenes in the show’s history.

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Ramsay got his at the end of season six, but it’s not until the end of season seven that Sansa—and her sister Arya and brother Bran, who have their own reasons to hate him—got her revenge against the man who had arranged the marriage in the first place. Littlefinger’s relationship with the Stark family has always been, let’s say, weird, as he transferred his creepy obsession with family matriarch Catelyn Stark onto her oldest daughter as soon as Sansa arrived at King’s Landing. More recently, Littlefinger’s been trying to sow mistrust between Sansa and Arya in order to gain power at Winterfell. But those aren’t the only sins Littlefinger has committed against the Starks: Not only has he been actively working to destabilize their allies/relatives at The Vale for decades, resorting to murder more than once in the process, he was also a key player in the plot to betray Ned Stark all the way back in season one—and the now semi-omnipotent Bran has the three-eyed receipts.

It must be said that, if Sansa and her siblings were putting on an act of fighting amongst themselves in order to lull Littlefinger into a false sense of security before ambushing him in the court at Winterfell, they did an excellent job. The Northern nobility gathers at Winterfell ostensibly under the pretense of putting Arya on trial—seemingly playing into Littlefinger’s scheme—and the moment when Sansa turns toward Littlefinger and calmly informs him he is actually on trial for murder and treason is genuinely surprising, the sort of narrative rug-pulling in which this show has always specialized. But, regardless of whether their ambush was meticulously planned offscreen or a fumbling attempt to wrap up a storyline that was going nowhere, the only thing more satisfying than the look on Littlefinger’s face when Sansa repeats his cold-blooded advice about “playing a little game” is the merciless efficiency of Arya’s blade as she cuts his throat.

No longer a frightened victim, a lost little girl, and a crippled boy, by sentencing Littlefinger to death for his crimes and executing him on the spot, the Stark siblings send a clear message: A new, female-led generation has risen to power in the North, and they are not fucking around. Whether all the suffering they endured onscreen up to this point was necessary for them to take power is debatable, but it will certainly inform their approaches to power from now on.

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What we said then

Both our expert and newbie recappers were hot on the episode in general, but questioned the narrative logic—or lack thereof—of the Stark siblings uniting to kill Littlefinger after a season of setting up rivalries between them. Myles McNutt posited that Sansa and Arya actually were “at each other’s throats right up until the point where Littlefinger teaches Sansa how he justifies his own actions,” while Brandon Nowalk figured that the animosity between Sansa and Arya was all an elaborate setup, and “she and Arya and Bran have been putting Littlefinger on this whole time.”

Elsewhere in the episode

Casterly Rock falls to Daenerys’ armies, and Cersei is pissed; all our favorites come together in the Dragonpit for a demonstration of the unholy terror of the wights; Jon Snow’s noble streak causes problems, as usual; Tyrion speaks to Cersei in private, and somehow survives; Theon Greyjoy kicks his uncle’s ass, regaining the respect of his men; Cersei’s promises earlier in the episode turn out to be false; the “R+L=J” theory is confirmed, making the subsequent sex scene kind of awkward; the Wall falls, bringing a new urgency to the fight against the White Walkers.

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Previously: Ice, ice dragon