Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6 and Beyond
There’s no denying the latest season of Game of Thrones was its best yet. In the course of ten weeks, the show was able to consolidate their storylines, getting rid of the many players that no longer have importance in the story and the Great War to Come. Game of Thrones has always been a story about people and power, and it’s vast array of characters allowed it to explore the many ways people are subject to and go after power. On the other hand, it is also a fantasy show with dragons and ice zombies, and as such, there is only one clear endgame: the war against the whitewalkers.
And so we no longer have pushback at the Wall (though we don’t have many people there either), no more great Houses in King’s Landing going against Cersei’s lust for power, no more gross Walder Frey, no more Boltons, and no more Essos. Bran and Arya are done training and are headed back to Winterfell, Daenerys has finally left Meereen for Westeros, and Jon has been named the King in the North. Really, the only thing left to do before the war against the walkers is to get rid of Cersei, which will be both a loss and a gain for the show.
Cersei, who has always been a major player in the Great Game, really came into her own this season, if only because she finally achieved her goal of gaining the Iron Throne. While I know she’s inevitably got to go for Daenerys to become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, it’s really been enjoyable to watch Cersei gain, lose, and then gain power again. She spent much of this season flailing around after her walk of atonement at the end of season 5, but once she blew up the Sept of Baelor with wildfyre, it was clear she’s reached peak villainy. However, it was Tommen’s suicide that pushed her to her final form. What’s ironic about Tommen’s death is that Cersei blew up the Sept and everyone in it to save him, at least that’s how she’d rationalized it in her mind. While no one can deny that she loves her children, every move she’s made is for herself. She blew up the Sept to have sole control over her son, to have him be King but for her to be ruling in truth. Instead, she ended up becoming Queen once he died, being the very thing that pushed him over the edge (no pun intended). At the same time, House Lannister is greatly damaged. While the West most likely has a great number of Lannisters and they still host a very large army, only a few are in real succession to Casterly Rock. With Tywin and now Kevan Lannister dead, Tyrion banished and now Dany’s Hand, and Lancel burnt to a crisp beneath the ashes of the Sept, in terms of players in the Game, the Lannisters are severely depleted. Only Cersei and Jaime really remain and it doesn’t seem like Jaime will be on Cersei’s side for long. On top of that, while in title Cersei is Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, she only really has a grip on maybe two or three of those kingdoms. Sure she ended the season on a high note, but her grip on power is in no way sustainable, not with Jon ruling over the North and the Vale and with Highgarden and Dorne having declared for Dany. Along with the Tyrells, it doesn’t look like the Lannisters will survive the show.
The only kingdom really up in the air at this point is the riverlands. The Freys are technically in control of Riverrun and Walder Frey was named Lord Paramount before he was Titus Andronicused by Arya. While it’s clear Arya was really only at the Twins as a stop on her way to Riverrun, it isn’t clear whether she’ll just continue on to Winterfell (or maybe King’s Landing to cross off some more names?), or if she’ll right a few things before going. Her uncle Edmure Tully is still a prisoner of the Freys and while he yielded Riverrun to the Freys and Lannisters, he could probably still raise an army, take back his castle, and unite with the North if he were freed. Another possibility is that Arya could meet up with the Brotherhood without Banners - and Sandor Clegane - on her way North and ride to Winterfell with her own cavalry behind her. At the same time, Melisandre has been banished to the south. Just south of the North is the riverlands, so it’s possible she will run into Arya. After all, she did tell Arya all that time ago that they would see each other again. Melisandre could also go even further south, however, and run into Daenerys. If that happens, I wonder if she will think that Dany is Azor Ahai rather than Jon, or maybe she’ll think that they both are and try to compel Dany to meet up with Jon against the Night King.
Up north, things are a little less complicated, as Jon and Sansa (with the help of Lady Lyanna Mormont) have solidified their hold on the North and Jon has been named King in the North. Sansa seems genuinely happy that Jon has been named King; for one, it means that she will be able to stay in Winterfell, and for another it means she won’t have to marry in order to stay there (though there is a theory that she and Jon will marry). After the Battle of the Bastards, Jon and Sansa’s relationship seems much stronger, despite the ashy lord that wants to tear them apart. Speaking of Littlefinger, after all he’s done to Sansa, I highly doubt she will listen to anything he has to say without a grain of salt. Sansa knows that she can’t trust Littlefinger, but she also knows that he loves her in his own creepy way. Knowing this, and his endgame, I really think Sansa is too smart to let Petyr Baelish tear her and Jon apart, no matter how much doubt he tries to sow into her mind. On the other hand, he does control the Vale and is a large part of the reason they were able to retake Winterfell. The thing is though, it’s clear Littlefinger can’t survive this show. The two things he wants - Sansa and the Iron Throne - he isn’t going to get, and it’ll be fun to see him fall after all the horrible things he’s done throughout the show. While he controls the Vale, it is a fragile control in that he only has power over Lord Robin rather than the actual knights, and if he dies I doubt anyone will be avenging his death or anything. Really I’m just hoping Jon and Sansa are able to stay strong long enough for Bran and Arya to get to Winterfell.
I have a feeling Arya will get there first, and it’ll be great to see yet another Stark reunion, especially considering the relationships Arya has with both Jon and Sansa. The Arya they remember is in some ways completely gone, but in other ways she is the same girl Jon gave Needle to. The fact that Arya still has Needle and has clung to the sword is a testament to how much she loves her family and her relationship with Jon in particular, but it would be interesting to see Jon and Sansa have to navigate the fact that Arya is a skilled assassin and will want to fight against the walkers, not sit in Winterfell where it’s safe. Maybe Jon will even give Arya a larger sword. At this point, I’m not even sure Bran will make it to Winterfell. While I do think, and hope, that he’ll finally meet up with his siblings, the fact that he still has the Night King’s mark on him is a pretty big problem. The Wall is riddled with the same spells and magic that the three-eyed raven’s hideout had, and I have a nasty feeling that when Bran and Meera cross the Wall, it will crumble and Bran will officially become the Stark who has taken the biggest L, surpassing Robb for that title. The only thing I wonder now is when it will happen. I think it would be a good season finale cliffhanger, but Bran and Meera are pretty close to the Wall now, so if it happens sooner in season 7, it would be a great way to raise the stakes even further. Honestly, I just feel bad for poor Edd, who only just got command of Castle Black and is commanding the lowest numbers in the Night’s Watch ever in history.
I have a feeling the North will be ignored by the rest of Westeros for a while, which will be good and allow them time to get things together for the battle against the Long Night. Earlier in the season, Bran had a vision of dragons over King’s Landing, which suggests that that will be the first place Daenerys hits. It’ll be so satisfying to see the look on Cersei’s face when she looks out of the window to see dragons coming for her. It’ll be great to see the battle between Dany and Cersei, though I think Jaime is going to be the one to kill Cersei after everything that has happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cersei decides to delve back into the Book of the Mad King and decide she too would rather King’s Landing burn than be sacked, therefore forcing Jaime’s hand. After that happens though, I’m curious what will happen to Jaime. I don’t know whether Dany will want her father’s murderer in her employ, and he and Tyrion aren’t on the best of terms, so I have a feeling he’ll end up dead too.
Once Dany has taken King’s Landing, and thus four of the seven kingdoms, she’ll look north, and this is where things can get interesting. As of right now, the Starks along with the Lannisters are enemies to the Targaryens. At the same time though, Jon is the last person to be concerned with Targaryen rulers (not to mention, he IS one!) and while they may have similarities Jon is not Ned. It also helps that Jon and Tyrion are actually friends and even Sansa had a cordial relationship with him. The thing is, the entire show has been building up to this point, to Jon and Dany finally meeting each other. Their stories have paralleled each others for so long and most likely the two of them combined are Azor Ahai. Dany will most likely come to Winterfell in order to gain the last of her seven kingdoms, but since the northerners know no King but the King in the North whose name is Stark, it will not happen so easily. I’m sure Jon will have to convince Dany of the Night King, and rather than burn Winterfell with her dragons, Dany will offer a marriage pact. While it’s not clear how Jon (or Dany for that matter) will find out he’s really a Targaryen - and actually has more claim to the Iron Throne than Dany - Targaryens are known to wed within their family anyway. It’s an easy way for Daenerys to secure the north, and Jon could give rule of Winterfell to Sansa. Dany and Jon getting married makes the most sense to me, as they are the embodiment of Ice and Fire, the story’s theme.
There’s a lot that needs to happen before the finale of the show, but season 6 has set up a lot of it already, and I’m so excited to see everything play out on screen. Here’s to continuing to be salty that we have to wait a whole year before we watch things continue to unfold.