How much you're reading into Tyrion Lannister's motives in the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale likely depends on one thing. That is, whether you're a GoT-book-reading, flowchart-making, family-mapping obsessive. Or if—like so many of us—you just love the show because the action is cool, the plot is a mind-blow and the visuals even more so, and the characters inspire love and loathing like no other.
Whichever team you play for, one thing is for sure. You were probably frustrated out of your mind at what a milquetoast the show's once wise and noble jester Tyrion has become. All credit to Peter Dinklage, who occupied Tyrion's former wisecracking-wit persona with such verve—and manages to keep us rooting for its return even when we sometimes forget he is onscreen.
Will Theon Greyjoy be redeemed in Season 8?
But doing a lot less drinking and a lot more knowing things—seemingly few of them helpful or useful things—has drained the spark from the character. And with but a half-dozen episodes left in the tale, fans are demanding the upstart Tyrion of yore.
A few scenes in that finale gave us great hope. Most notably his chastising Jon Snow (Kit Harington) for not being a fibber and then pouring a drink with sister Cersei (Lena Heady) and trying to broker an uber army against the dead before Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) and Jon's hormones literally f--k up what appears to be his plan for an "everyone but House Lannister" army. Be it against the Lannisters or the dead or, ultimately, both. There was confidence. There was humor. There was leadership...not just tagging along at Dany's coattails.
Of course, there's a ton of confusion to that end. Why would he advise Dany to send some of the strongest constitutions and influencers over the dragon queen—most notably Snow and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)— in search of a wight that, given the blue-faced Mountain by her side, Cersei predictably didn't give a gilded crap about? In Jon's case, to rid himself of a formidable challenger for Dany's ear? A pretty-faced distraction that would turn her attention to love, not war? Or to rid himself of a formidable challenger, period—even though Jon has demonstrated he is more than fallible?
Consider, too, the wine-laced chat he and his ruthless sister had in her chambers. We don't know the whole of the talk. Hence, plenty of GoT fans theorize that his reaction to Cersei's (maybe) baby might be enough to convince him to return to the Lannister fold. Or that he never really left it and is in secret cahoots with his icky sis to take over the world before the Night King does—hence the once mighty strategist's hemming and hawing and goofing up as Dany's advisor.
God help the misters that come between the Stark sisters.
But, man, prior to the finale, Dinklage and Headey shared the screen since Season 4. Season 4. That’s a whole lot of ravens flying undetected across Westeros. A whole lot of past sins quickly forgiven. To our thinking, the idea that Tyrion’s just a nephew-loving softie whose entire modus is thrown off by news of another product of Cersei and Jamie’s incestuous love is far less likely than the notion that he has spent a lifetime learning how to craft a betrayal that his sister would believe.
A lot depends on brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) ostensibly en route to fight with his brother and team Targaryen. The idea of brothers Lannister rising up as a force to stop the dead, the end of the world, their sister and her minions is near irresistible. But what if Tyrion isn't happy to see his bro after all?
As for Tyrion's baleful look outside the chamber where Jon and Dany got busy, well, yes, it could be jealousy. It could be that he truly is freshly in cahoots with Cersei and feeling a little guilty about that. But we're hoping it's a great strategist's great hopes for a union of great leaders potentially being undone by love, or the need to protect their own possible unborn child over anything else.
Whatever he is up to (and with brother Jaime ostensibly on his way), it's nigh impossible not to look to Cersei's prophesied death —which will apparently come literally at the hands of a little brother—for some idea of where Tyrion is headed. Yes, it could be either Lannister, if she sprang from the womb before twin Jaime, who certainly has reason to choke the life from her, too. And yes, there's the other semi-sort-of little brother—Theon, who seemingly rose up from the ashes of his manhood in the Season 7 finale. But the long put-upon, outcast, drunkenly noble Tyrion being the final face the evil queen sees—and having major hand in who takes her place—would be so, so satisfying.
So our hope is that Tyrion has merely been biding his time and building his ranks, be it against House Lannister or the dead or, ultimately, both. Even if he ultimately does so against Dany, even if he loses in whatever his bid might be, we hope he is square the action.
Because he's Tyrion. He knows things. And he's been a milquetoast for far too long.