[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 7, Episode 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf.”]
George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” was well represented in the Season 7 “Game of Thrones” finale, in the sense that both hot and cold temperatures took center stage. Bringing the fire were dual love stories: one from the past which influenced the one in the present.
A flashback sequence granted courtesy of Bran Stark’s (Isaac Hempstead Wright) Three-Eyed Raven powers reveals the secret marriage between Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding) and Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi). The scene is a standout in the series for its utter simplicity, gorgeous scenery, and picture of loving happiness — a rarity on “Game of Thrones.” Narration provided by Bran reflects the action taking place, but the images are interwoven with the current love story between Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and how they make love for the first time on a ship en route to the North.
“To me, the wedding scene was important in that it was antithetical to what we understood before about that relationship,” finale director Jeremy Podeswa said to IndieWire. “The received wisdom around that part was that Lyanna had been kidnapped and she was forced against her will by Rhaegar. But we find out now that actually they were in love with each other and that they were secretly wed.
“Rather than being a scene of violence or something of that nature was actually, there was a kind of idyllic quality to it,” he said. “And it was important to me that we understand now that the history that everyone understood was in fact incorrect. And so we wanted it to be as revisionist in a way as possible.”
In contrast to the wedding’s sun-drenched and verdant surroundings of Dorne, is the dimly lit and minimalist ship’s cabin where Jon and Dany have their rendezvous.
“With Jon and Dany’s scene, the important thing for me was that it wouldn’t be prurient in any way, that there’s a very strong undercurrent in that scene,” said Podeswa. “It was shot very, very simply. It’s basically just one steady push in shot to Jon and Dany and then that very important look between them at mid-level. And then a one-shot looking at Jon, then looking down at Dany. It wasn’t about shooting a big lovemaking scene. Once they’re making love, that’s the story. There’s no reason to kind of linger on that.
“But the real story within the story, was actually what was going on with their eyes and what’s happening — there’s an understanding between them that even though they know in some part of them that they shouldn’t really be doing this, they cannot not do it,” he added. “There’s some element of destiny that’s brought them together, and they can’t fight it.”
The parallels are obvious, with both scenes centered on illicit, romantic meetings. “It was exactly as written in terms of the intercutting of those scenes,” said Podeswa. “It was also intercut with the younger Ned Stark and Lyanna telling the secret of Jon’s identity. All those things were meant to be interwoven, to give a kind of prismatic view of the history that brought Jon to this point, and Jon and Dany together in this sweep of destiny, in this sweep of history. It was very much written that way. My contribution to that was really making that cinematic and making this feel like a fluid movement through time as we’re seeing this all unfold.”