Caution: this article contains spoilers throughout. If you haven’t seen the finale to Game of Thrones season seven, look away now.
Game of Thrones is pretty much defined by its death scenes. The show is built around these bloody, violent moments more than anything else, with some of the most iconic deaths in recent television history.
The problem with having so many deaths over the course of the show is that now that we’ve neared the end of the entire story, there aren’t that many characters left to kill, and each one feels far more important now that strong, game-changing heroes and villains are so rare. Take out any of the remaining moving parts, and there’s a danger that the entire show might collapse.
As such, season seven (last spoiler warning) is fairly light on meaningful deaths. We get a few secondary characters biting the dust, but nobody too significant – at least, not until the finale.
Going into this season, if there was one character more than any other that we’d have all liked to see finally get their karmic reward for crimes left unpunished, it was Littlefinger.
Good old Petyr Baelish – the slimy schemer that everyone loves to hate. Having escaped punishment for his crimes for the majority of the run of Thrones, fans have eagerly awaited his demise with the same glee that excited us when King Joffrey got poisoned. We’ve all been longing to see Littlefinger bite the dust, and that moment has finally arrived.
In truth, the ending of Game of Thrones season seven feels almost unusually kind. The set-up for Littlefinger’s death shows how much crueler the writers could have been, had they wanted to truly make fans cry. Littlefinger walks Sansa through all the reasons why Arya ought to be removed from the picture, and she seems to be going along with his plans, until – plot twist – the three remaining Stark siblings band together to see that Baelish is finally brought to justice.
Of course, Arya has to be the one to slice his throat. It’s only fitting, and all the more enjoyable as she uses his own knife, a weapon which he’s used as part of his political manipulation on many occasions, and which is perfectly symbolic of his many devious acts.
There aren’t many moments in Game of Thrones that feel like a big win for the heroes. With last episode’s rise of the zombie dragon, it seems we got our genuine sadness out of the way nice and early this season, allowing us a finale that finally (finally!) gives fans something to be excited about.
That this also comes in the same episode as Jon Snow and Daenerys hooking up for some problematic aunt-nephew sexy times, merely helps to make the Game of Thrones season seven finale feel like the most fan service we could possibly get.
You can definitely tell George RR Martin isn’t the driving force behind the show anymore – he’d never have been this kind to us.
All things considered, the death of Littlefinger feels like the high point of triumph for the Starks before things get much, much, much worse in the near future. There’s no way that Arya, Bran, and Sansa will all live to the end of season eight, so this could represent their final hurrah as they get rid of one of the biggest pains in the long history of Game of Thrones.
There may have been bigger, more bombastic, more violent and disturbing deaths in the history of the show, but we haven’t had one that’s felt quite this satisfying in a long time.
Congratulations to Aiden Gillen for making us hate his character so much, and good riddance to Petyr Baelish himself – it was a lot of fun watching him die.