Valar morghulis. All men must die, and it wouldn’t be a season finale without some good old-fashioned character death on Game Of Thrones. “The Dragon And The Wolf” brought us a moment of poetic justice with meaning that goes back long before the events of season one, a massive loss of life with apocalyptic implications, and one poor schmuck sacrificed for someone else’s character arc. But that’s just how it goes in Westeros. Here’s your guide to the recently deceased.
Who died? Petyr Baelish, self-made member of the Westerosi aristocracy and self-proclaimed master manipulator. Baelish got his nickname of “Littlefinger” from Sansa and Arya Stark’s uncle Edmure Tully, who gave him that mocking sobriquet in reference to his short stature as well as his family’s extremely minor land holdings, a few rocky acres in the Vale Of Arryn. Littlefinger was raised with Catelyn and Lysa Tully at Riverrun, where a fateful love triangle developed between the three. He eventually manipulated Lysa into persuading her husband to bring him along to King’s Landing, where he wormed his way into a position as Robert Baratheon’s master of coin. There, he made a fortune on brothels, whose patrons he bribed and blackmailed as he saw fit.
Littlefinger’s scheming on behalf of the Lannisters during the War Of The Five Kings got him the title of Lord Of Harrenhal, after which point he took off for the Vale with Sansa Stark in tow. After a season-long stopover at the Vale, where Litterfinger married and then murdered Lysa for her title, Littlefinger uses Houses Arryn, Lannister, and Tyrell as pawns in a bid to make himself warden of the north with Sansa at his side. Sansa rejects this idea, unsurprisingly, given that he had essentially sold her to the sadistic Ramsay Bolton as part of his larger scheme. Ever since aiding in her escape from King’s Landing, Littlefinger has regarded Sansa as a combination of protege and love interest, a twisted dynamic that ultimately spelled his doom when he tried to turn the Stark sisters against each other in a desperate final attempt to isolate Sansa.
How did they die? Played by his unwilling protege Sansa Stark, who ambushed him at an inquest she led him to believe was for her sister Arya, but was really intended for him. After being confronted with the evidence of his many, many crimes against the Stark family, Arya cuts his throat with the same dagger he used to betray their father Ned Stark.
How shocking was it? He was certainly taken by surprise by the whole thing. As for the audience, the meticulous laying of Sansa’s and Arya’s trap for Littlefinger took place entirely offscreen, so it was a surprise for us, too.
What does it mean for the show? Littlefinger is out of the game, but that’s not as big of a deal as it would have been in season three—or season five, for that matter. The Stark sisters have settled comfortably into their dual roles as ruler and executioner. Bran’s still just staring into the fire.
Who died? An anonymous Ironborn sailor on his way to leave Dragonstone and get back to his day-to-day routine of raping and pillaging.
How did they die? Beaten to death by Theon Greyjoy, who gained an advantage after his adversary failed to account for Theon’s lack of a penis in hand-to-hand combat. (Note: Kicking a eunuch in the crotch is not an effective fighting technique.)
How shocking was it? From the moment Theon walked onto that beach, still pumped up from Jon Snow’s pep talk, we knew someone had to go down. This guy was just unlucky.
What does it mean for the show? Theon’s got his groove back, and the common folk on some far-flung island off the eastern coast of Westeros will continue to live out their lives peacefully and Ironborn-free.
Who died? All of the members of the Night’s Watch and wildlings assembled at Eastwatch-By-The-Sea, including, presumably, wildling leader-turned-Jon Snow confidante and sexually liberated ginger Tormund Giantsbane and leader of pseudo-religious mercenary group Brotherhood Without Banners Beric Dondarrion.
How did they die? Buried under millennia of falling ice as the Wall’s Eastwatch-By-The-Sea outpost came tumbling down under the blue heat of resurrected dragon fire.
How shocking was it? That remains to be seen, as Game Of Thrones isn’t as bold about killing off fan favorite characters as it used to be. We’ve learned to not count our dead before seeing the corpses. If Tormund and Beric don’t pop up next season with nary a word as to how they survived this seemingly unsurvivable event, then yes, that will be pretty shocking. As for the whole ice dragon thing: We all saw that coming at the end of last week’s episode, right?
What does it mean for the show? As Jon Snow pointed out while waiting for Tyrion to return from his one-on-one conference with Cersei earlier in the episode, the dead are now officially marching on Westeros and everyone is fucked. Beric is especially screwed, given that his friend Thoros Of Myr is no longer around to resurrect him.