In what was maybe the best finale in the best overall season of Game of Thrones, “The Winds of Winter” gave us so much. From the Cersei takeover to Dany’s dragons, the new King in the North to Walder Frey FINALLY being served his just desserts (see what I did there?) this episode had everything and so much more. There’s so much to talk about, so let’s just begin.
We begin the episode in King’s Landing where it initially seems like everyone is getting ready for the trials to be held in the Sept of Baelor. We see both Tommen and Cersei getting ready (Cersei in all black), but when Tommen is ready to leave for the Sept, he is blocked by zombie-Mountain. Meanwhile, across the city, Ser Loras Tyrell is being judged by the seven septons appointed to hear his trial. He confesses to everything, and from the look on Margaery’s face, it looks like things are going according to her mysterious plan. Loras tells the High Septon that he would like to join the faith, renouncing his claim to Highgarden and promising to have no heirs. While that seems benign enough, the sparrows seize Loras and carve the seven-pointed star into his forehead, much to the dismay of the Tyrells. Back in the Red Keep, Grandmaester Pycelle is led by one of Qyburn’s birds to speak with Qyburn.
Cersei is conspicuously absent from her own trial, which was to take place right after Loras’s. She seems to have no intention of leaving the Red Keep, and while the High Septon doesn’t seem concerned, Margaery does and tries to convince him that something is afoot. The High Septon sends the sparrows to collect Cersei, and Lancel notices one of Qyburn’s birds. He takes off after the child, and is led to a dark room underneath the sept. The child stabs him, and it takes Lancel a moment to realize that he is in a room filled with wildfyre, all situated directly beneath the Sept of Baelor. Back in the Sept, Margaery is convinced they should all leave, but the High Septon forbids it. While the Sept of Baelor explodes in a cloud of wildfyre – killing the High Septon, the Tyrells, Lord Kevan Lannister, and a good amount of lords and ladies – back with Qyburn, Pycelle is attacked and murdered by Qyburn’s birds. The entire time, Cersei Lannister - pre-dressed in her mourning clothes - stands in her room, sipping wine, giving us peak villainy.
She then goes to the dungeons, where she has Septa Unella strapped to a slab of wood. She then proceeds to wine-board the septa, taunting her. While Septa Unella seems okay with death, what she does not realize is that Cersei will have zombie-Mountain torture her for days before she dies, as a way to not only kill her, but to rob her of her faith before she goes. Again, peak villainy here. While Cersei is so consumed with her revenge, she neglects to go to check on her son, who truly loved Margaery and believed he was doing the right thing in allying with the faith. Tommen, distraught over the explosion, climbs onto the windowsill of his room and commits suicide. What’s so interesting about this is that allegedly, Cersei did everything to save him, but she never actually paid any real attention to Tommen past wanting to control his actions as King. Though no one can deny Cersei’s love for her children, this episode showed us that she perhaps loves her power more, as shown when she, in her mourning clothes, sits the Iron Throne (with a ready-made crown???) as Queen Cersei Lannister, the First of Her Name. It seems Jaime is thinking along the same lines; the look on his face as Cersei is being coronated looks as if he is disgusted with her and horrified at his enabling of her actions.
Before Jaime gets back to King’s Landing, however, he is at The Twins, feasting with the Freys to celebrate their taking of the Riverlands from the Tullys. Bronn sullenly points out a serving girl across the room who keeps eying Jaime. Jaime does Bronn a favor and introduces him to two girls and his seat is quickly taken by Walder Frey. Pretty much all Frey talked about was how great his House is now that he has Riverrun, though Jaime points out that he doesn’t really have Riverrun and the riverlands if the Lannisters have to come help him take it back all the time. Frey continues talking though no one asked his opinion on anything ever, and all the while the serving girl continues looking over at them.
Later, Walder Frey is alone, waiting to eat with his sons Black Walder and Lothar. The serving girl appears again with a pie. Walder sexually harasses her and complains about how late his good-for-nothing sons are and the girl tells him that they are already there. Walder is confused, but it is revealed that the girl is IN FACT ARYA STARK and a girl has taken a page from Shakespeare’s book and baked his sons into the pie he is eating. After revealing herself, Arya slits Walder’s throat in what is NOW the most satisfying death of the season. Shout out to Sansa and Arya for doing the Lord’s work.
We get a brief scene in Oldtown, as Sam and Gilly finally arrive, just in time to see thousands of white ravens being sent across the realm to announce that winter has finally come. They go to speak with one of the maesters and find that there is some clerical issue, as the last Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch they have on record is of the old bear, Jeor Mormont. Sam explains that Lord Mormont is dead and that Jon Snow has taken his place, hence the letter, which is hilarious given the fact that Jon is no longer of the Night’s Watch and apparently didn’t think it might be a good idea to send a letter to his closest friend. The maester tells Sam that he will speak with the Archmaester to speak about the discrepancies between their information and Sam’s. He allows Sam use of the library, which may be the best fictional library since Hogwarts. Sam, though now separated from Gilly and the baby, looks in heaven as any book nerd would be, and we end his small role in season 6 on a happy note.
Up north in Winterfell, Jon is speaking with Melisandre when Davos comes storming in and tosses Shireen’s stag figurine to her. Davos is angry and distraught, telling her that he “loved that girl like she was my own.” Melisandre seems remorseful, but as always makes excuses. While she admits she was wrong, she also doesn’t seem to take full responsibility for her actions. Davos asks for permission to execute Melisandre, and the red woman tries to convince Jon to say no. In the end, Jon banishes her from the north with the promise that if she were to return she would be killed. Davos amends the statement, telling her that he would kill her himself.
Later, while Jon watches Melisandre leave, Sansa comes to speak with him. They have a brief conversation about who should have power over the north. Jon tells her he has ordered she be put in the lord’s chambers, while Sansa thinks he should have it. It’s clear that the two of them are aware of their fragile position as the Wardens of the North even if they grew up in Winterfell. As a daughter and a bastard, there are many who could question their claim, and while they are working together, it seems like they even have some doubts about themselves. Still, their bond continues to grow, when Sansa apologizes to Jon for not telling him about the Knights of the Vale. While Jon accepts the apology, he tells her that they need to start really trusting each other, especially with all the people around who would tear them apart (ahem, Littlefinger). Winter Is Here and they can no longer mess around.
Speaking of Littlefinger, he comes to speak with Sansa in the godswood. He tells her that he wants to be on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side. While it’s fine that he wants to be King – it’s not really a horrible offense – the gross thing about his relationship with Sansa isn’t just that she’s much younger than him, but that he projects his feelings for Catelyn onto her. It’s disgusting and untrustworthy and Sansa rejects him, knowing both this and from his giving her to Ramsay that he isn’t to be trusted, that he will get rid of anyone in his way, including her if necessary. However, Littlefinger, ever the strategist, attempts to sow seeds of distrust between Jon and Sansa, asking her who the North should fall behind.
This question is answered by the most badass little girl since season 1 Arya Stark. Jon tries to convince the North and the Vale of the importance of rallying behind House Stark in the war to come against the Walkers, and most of the houses are initially uninterested, especially given the wildings that have been brought past the Wall. However, it is Lady Lyanna Mormont who shames the lords who didn’t come to Jon and Sansa’s aid during the Battle of the Bastards, namely the Glovers and Manderlys. In the end of her speech, she nominates Jon as the King in the North, and the other lords in the north rally behind her call. Initially Sansa seems happy about it, but after glancing at a salty and ever-plotting Littlefinger, it’s possible there could be some future conflict between Jon and Sansa, seeded by Lord Baelish.
We finally get back to Dorne after going weeks without hearing anything about them. There, the Sand Snakes are meeting with Olenna Tyrell, and interesting alliance given the long and bloody rivalry between the Tyrells and the dornishmen. Of course, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and when it comes to Cersei, the Sand Snakes and Olenna are able to put away their animosity for the joint goal of getting revenge on the new Queen. Initially, it’s not clear what the two can do on their own, that is, until Varys turns up, promising that he can help them get their revenge on Cersei through Fire and Blood (the Targaryen words), and securing the forces of Dorne and Highgarden for Daenerys.
In Meereen, Dany and Co. prepare to finally leave the Bay of Dragons (!!!) for Westeros. Before this however, Dany has to break up with Daario Naharis. She tasks him with staying in Meereen and keeping the Queen’s peace. Daario is upset, since he is in love with Dany and wants to go with her, not caring about what happens in Meereen. However, Dany knows she can’t bring Daario – and doesn’t really want to – to Westeros, where she knows she will have to marry in order to rule.
Dany later speaks with Tyrion about leaving Daario, and how she felt nothing in doing so, which may be a bit of foreshadowing for how Dany is changing, becoming more and more of the dragon, only focused on her goal. Tyrion attempts to give her a pep talk, which doesn’t fully work, though he gives a great speech on how Dany made him truly believe in something for the first time in his life – her. Dany names Tyrion the Hand of the Queen before they set out with their army, including the Greyjoys and the DRAGONS.
Beyond the Wall
Beyond the Wall, Benjen Stark announces that he has to leave Bran and Meera. It’s not clear where he’s left them, since there’s no money-shot of the Wall, but I’m betting they’re fairly close to it at this point. Benjen promises that he will continue to fight for the living and leaves them beneath a heart tree. Bran, ignoring Meera’s trepidation, touches the weirwood and goes back in time, back to the Tower of Joy. There, we see Eddard go up to the tower where he finds a bloody Lyanna Stark. Lyanna is on her deathbed, though she doesn’t want to die she knows she most likely will. A baby is brought into the room as Lyanna tells Ned that he has to “protect him. Promise me, Ned.” Then we get a close-up of the baby’s face and IMMEDIATELY GET JON’S FACE IN THE NEXT SCENE. While it’s clear that the show intends for us to believe that Jon is in fact Lyanna’s son and not Ned’s – as the R + L = J fan theory tells us – it’s still left very open-ended. Bran is the only one who knows, so how will he get this information to Jon? Will Jon figure it out on his own? Will it remain a secret?
The ending of this season solved a lot of storylines, but also opened up for much more to happen. It’s so great that they were able to deliver on giving us such badass women this season, with their own storylines and motivations and not just as pieces for men. What with Arya, Sansa, Cersei, Olenna, the Sand Snakes, Dany, and Yara, we’ve been getting great characterizations of the women on this show after having to endure so much to get there. Even though Starks gonna Stark, the remaining children have really come into their own and now that Winter Has Come I feel like they’re really going to get in their stride. Though there have been some minor time discrepancies (like why were the Sand Snakes waiting so long to attack after killing Prince Doran for waiting too long to attack, and did Varys Apparate onto Dany’s ship from Dorne or something?) the show has more than made up for it, and I’m so salty we have to wait a year until the next season.
The best part about this episode and this season is that I still have so many thoughts about it, so next week I’ll conclude this series with an overall review of the entire season with predictions and thoughts about the next season and the eventual ending. Thanks for sticking with me! And remember, valar morghulis.