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'Game Of Thrones' Season 7 Finale: Epic In More Ways Than One


One escape from the news for many people today has been to talk about "Game Of Thrones." The season finale of the crazy popular HBO series aired on Sunday night. And before we go any further, consider this your spoiler alert. I repeat, in this segment that will run about three and a half minutes, there will be spoilers.


KRISTOFER HIVJU: (As Tormund Giantsbane) Run. Run.


MCEVERS: That is an undead dragon whipping up a major plot development at the end of Sunday's episode. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the last new episode in 2017 was epic in more ways than one.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: My favorite moment in Sunday's season finale wasn't the undead dragon burning a hole in the great frozen wall between the land of the living and the army of the dead, though that was an awesome sequence. I loved this speech by hero Jon Snow. He's refusing to lie even though that lie would bring a truce between factions fighting for control of the continent of Westeros to fight that zombie army.


KIT HARINGTON: (As Jon Snow) I'm not going to swear an oath I can't uphold. Talk about my father if you want. Tell me that's the attitude that got him killed. But when enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.

DEGGANS: Now, that's a perfect criticism of today's fact-challenged, fake news-filled political and media world. And it's also a potent argument for the kind of story "Game Of Thrones" has told this season. When it began seven seasons ago, this sword and sorcery series was an anti-heroic tale where people who acted selflessly were often outmaneuvered and killed by savvy villains.

This season, the tables have turned. Bad guys are learning to be better people. Heroes and heroines are stepping up for the common good. And Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who's one of those anti-heroes becoming a hero, keeps facing down jerks twice his size, like in this scene where he's trying to start a negotiation and gets interrupted.


PETER DINKLAGE: (As Tyrion Lannister) I think we ought to begin with larger concerns.

PILOU ASBAEK: (As Euron Greyjoy) Then why are you talking? You're the smallest concern here.

DINKLAGE: (As Tyrion Lannister) Do you remember when we discussed dwarf jokes?

ALFIE ALLEN: (As Theon Greyjoy) His wasn't even good.

DINKLAGE: (As Tyrion Lannister) He explained it at the end. Never explain it; always ruins it.

DEGGANS: Tyrion is estranged from his sister, Cersei Lannister, a villainous woman who now sits on the Iron Throne. They were reunited Sunday. Tyrion tried to talk her into joining the fight against the dead and she brought up a little family friction.


LENA HEADEY: (As Cersei Lannister) You killed our father.

DINKLAGE: (As Tyrion Lannister) After he sentenced me to death for a crime I didn't commit. Yes, I killed him. Hate me for it if you want. I hate myself for it in spite of what he was, in spite of what he did to me.

HEADEY: (As Cersei Lannister) You left us opened. You laid us bare for the vultures, and the vultures came and tore us apart.

DEGGANS: That conversation quickly recaps painful storylines. It also reveals a fast-paced storytelling style this year that's different from previous seasons as "Game Of Thrones" barrels towards its six-episode final season. Fans have criticized some of the leaps of logic required by this fast pace. Characters covered distances in what seemed like impossible speed, and the plotline required to get all these characters together in Sunday's episode to debate their truce seemed kind of, well, dumb.

But last night we were also rewarded by an episode filled with important reunions and bittersweet farewells. For viewers who know the history, it was particularly poignant to see characters whose adventures stretch back many seasons come together again.

And there was a blockbuster revelation. Jon Snow thought he was family patriarch Ned Stark's bastard son. We found out his real parents make him a rightful heir to the Iron Throne. It also means his love affair with the woman challenging Cersei, Daenerys Targaryen, is actually a hookup with his aunt. Ew.

Anyway, Sunday's episode capped a season which proved the master storytellers behind "Game Of Thrones" are more focused than ever. They're powering towards an ending which could come latest 2019 that will cap one of the most successful series on modern television. I'm Eric Deggans.


Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.