Game of Thrones: The Winds of Winter

476290-game-of-thrones-season-6-episode-10-dragonsPreviously on Game of Thrones: The date of Cersei’s and Loras’s trials were set, Dany got herself a fleet, and Jon retook Winterfell.

Last episode of the season, folks! In previous years this has tended to be a quiet episode, but this year the powers that be decided to go a little off script and do something exciting. And thank God for that, because most of the rest of the season was a bit draggy, don’t you think?

Least interesting first: Sam finally arrives in Old Town and immediately runs into bureaucracy. Nobody there knows of a Lord Commander Snow, so until they can get this sorted out, his training is on hold. He does get to spend time in their astonishingly awesome library, though. It’s so amazing he very nearly weeps and apparently forgets that Gillie’s being made to just cool her heels out in the hallway with Little Sam. It doesn’t look like the greatest place to take a toddler, though.

At The Twins, Walder Frey is celebrating with Jaime like he’s actually accomplished something, but Jaime points out that Walder is useless, cowardly, and also kind of an asshole and the only reason he’s in his current position is because the Lannisters are keeping him there, and why are they doing that again?

Subdued, Walder has a quiet dinner by himself another night, wondering to the serving girl where the hell his sons are. It’s rude to be late to dinner, and if this family prides itself on anything, it’s mealtime etiquette, right? The girl informs Walder that his sons are already there—in the pie, which he’s been delightedly eating this whole time. The girl is none other than Arya Stark, here to get some sweet, sweet revenge. I can’t help but wonder, though, how she pulled this off. I know there are a lot of Freys wandering around, but did no one notice that some of the most prominent ones were going missing? Did no one notice her butchering people? Did she take pie-making lessons at the House of Black and White?

Arya introduces herself (polite!) and informs Walder that the last thing he’ll see is a Stark smiling down at him as he dies. It’s about time someone finally paid this jerk back for the Red Wedding. She slits his throat, but her smile is not one of relief or satisfaction, it’s of slightly deranged joy that makes me a little worried for her. Stay strong, Arya! Don’t join the crazies, there are already so many!

We’ll get to that.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]If there’s anything the Freys pride themselves on, it’s mealtime etiquette, right?[/cryout-pullquote]First, Bran. ZomBenjen drops him and Meera off near the Wall, explaining that he can’t go any further south, because the dead can’t pass beneath the Wall. I doubt that rule will stand for much longer. He wishes them well and rides away. Bran notices one of those creepy weeping trees and decides to take another trip down family memory lane. He puts his hand to the tree and is taken back to…

…the Tower of Joy, which is seriously misnamed. Ned bursts in to find his sister, Lyanna, dying in a pool of blood on a bed. With her last breaths, she whispers something in his ear, and then implores her brother to protect ‘him.’ A newborn is then brought forth and placed in Ned’s uncertain hands. And thus was the theory of Jon Snow’s true parentage confirmed, though it was such a certain thing I don’t even know that it could be referred to as a theory even before this episode. So, Jon Snow/Targaryen, everyone. Our once and future king.

He’s getting his regal feet wet at Winterfell, where things are already getting tricky. Davos wastes no time confronting Melisandre about Shireen’s death, and she owns up to it, though I will say that it seems she feels really badly about it. Too little too late, Melisandre. Davos asks for permission to execute her, but she points out to Jon that the Night King is coming, and she can help him with that not-so-little problem. Instead of executing her, Jon banishes her south, warning that if she ever returns to the north he’ll have her hanged as a murderess. Davos seems satisfied with that.

Jon next meets with Sansa, who apologises for not telling him about having sent for the Knights of the Vale. She doesn’t explain why she made that particular decision, which makes me suspect that the writers don’t know either, and they just did that to needlessly build drama. The two sibling/cousins agree that they need to start trusting each other. Hey, you have to be able to trust at least one person, right?

Know who you can’t trust? Littlefinger, who gets super creepy with Sansa and tells her that what he really wants is to be King of the Seven Kingdoms with her as his queen. She’s like, ‘keep dreaming, weirdo.’ Having struck out with her (for now, you know he’s not giving up), his next move is to tell Sansa that she should really be ruling at Winterfell, that the Lords of the North won’t fall in behind a bastard.

Won’t they? Apparently they will if Lyanna Mormont tells them to, because Lyanna’s just that awesome. While the men bicker, she gets bored and starts shaming several of them for not fighting when called upon. She throws her support fully behind Jon and the other lords, embarrassed by the fact a 10-year-old girl just exhibited far bigger balls than any of them could possibly dream of having, agree. Jon Snow is declared the King in the North while Sansa sits beside him, smiling, pleased.

So there shall be no Queen in the North (for now), but down south it seems it’s a different matter. The day of Cersei’s trial is upon us, and she has apparently come to the conclusion that the only response is to go nuclear. Literally. Margaery, Kevan, Mace, and a fairly significant portion of the court gather at the Great Sept while Cersei attires herself in her finest Couture Collection by the Wicked Witch badass gown and Ser Gregor blocks Tommen in his room. Loras’s trial goes ahead, but before things get underway he admits to all his sins and asks to join the Sparrows.

Pycelle, meanwhile, is lured to some underground lair by one of Qyburn’s urchins, where he’s stabbed to death so viciously by a group of kids that I wonder what the hell has been in those candies Qyburn’s been giving them. Lancel Lannister, too, is lured away by one of these kids, who gut-stabs him in the sewers underneath the Sept. While he’s lying on the ground down there, Lancel notices a whole lot of wildfyre nearby, with candles burning lower and lower in it. He desperately crawls towards it.

Up in the Sept, Margaery notices that both Cersei and Tommen are missing, which she knows means serious trouble. She tells the High Sparrow they need to get everyone out of there, but he’s just so single-minded he can’t even conceive of not going ahead with this thing. She orders an evacuation, but the Sparrows prevent everyone from leaving. What the hell kind of a trial is this, where even the people watching are kept prisoner?

Lancel does not make it to the candles in time, and the entire Sept, everyone in it, and several surrounding blocks go up in a massive explosion while Cersei watches from the Red Keep, sipping wine and looking satisfied. Damn, that’s a waste of Margaery. She was such a cool character, to lose her like that is…really unsatisfying. We never even got to find out if she was playing the Sparrows or what. Bummer.

Tommen receives the news of his wife’s death (though, considering the smoking crater that’s the middle of the city, I doubt the official notice was necessary). He quietly removes his crown and jumps out the window. And thus, the last Lannister king is dead. Cersei views his body and then, a little coldly, tells Qyburn to burn the corpse and bury the ashes in the remains of the Great Sept, where his older brother, grandfather, and sister were buried.

She also takes a moment to exact some revenge on that horrible Septa who enjoyed torturing everyone so much. First, there’s some wine waterboarding, and then Cersei talks about all the awful things she’s done, purely because they all felt good. She then leaves the woman in Gregor’s hands. The door isn’t even closed before the bloodcurdling screams begin. You don’t mess with Cersei. Like the North, she remembers. Also, she has a tendency to be petty.

And now Cersei Lannister, a woman who has gone her whole life being treated fairly poorly by men—neglected by her unloving husband, dismissed by her father and most male relatives, straight up ill used by the High Sparrow—puts an end to this Westros sausagefest and takes the iron throne herself, as Qyburn places a new crown on her head and declares her queen. Jaime returns home just in time to see this happening, with a very understandable ‘WTF is going on here? What just happened?’ look on his face.

But it’s unlikely Cersei will remain on the Iron Throne for long. Oleanna, draped in mourning garb and having lost her entire family, takes herself to Dorne, where she has a sit down with Ellaria and awesomely tells the little Sand Snakes to STFU so the grownups can talk. Ellaria understands what Oleanna wants: revenge. And they’re going to get it, with the help of Varys, who’s apparently been working with the Dornish for some time now.

Having secured the backing of both Dorne and Highgarden, Varys heads back to Meereen, where Dany is finally (finally!) preparing for her invasion. Her first order of business is to rather unceremoniously dump Daario, telling him she can’t have a lover with her when she goes to Westros, because she’ll have to make a marriage of alliance there. I don’t see why she can’t have a lover with her—surely any lord who marries her knows it would be a marriage of convenience? Daario agrees with me and makes the case to be her…mistress or whatever the male equivalent of that would be (master doesn’t seem quite right), but Dany wants him to remain in Meereen to keep the peace and arrange for elections. I don’t know, this seems like an odd choice on her part. Daario’s a warrior, he’s not a peacekeeper or a politician. He seems like the person least likely to be able to make these things happen. It seems more like Tyrion should be handling things (not that he did such a splendid job before…) but I guess Dany needs Tyrion with her because she’ll need someone who knows and has connections with the other great houses in Westros. And, indeed, she names Tyrion her new Hand and has made him up a pin and everything. Aww.

Dany loads up her MASSIVE fleet of ships with Dothraki (probably going to be seasick as hell, poor guys), horses, Unsullied, Grey Worm, Missy, Theon, Yara, Varys, and Tyrion and sets off, the dragons flying overhead. Everyone looks delighted, pleased to finally have things underway. Heaven knows I am.

And thus ends season 6, a season that felt very much like the writers were clearing the chessboard (deaths all over the place!) and getting the pieces lined up. A lot of this season felt painfully slow to me; I made the comment some weeks ago that it seemed characters were constantly talking about doing things, but then not actually doing much. I still feel that way. It picked up at the end, and there’s obviously great promise of exciting things to come, so here’s hoping they can see it through.

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