SPOILERS for the season 6 Finale of Game of Thrones – The Winds of Winter review.
I anticipated that The Winds of Winter will be better, or at least more meaningful than Battle of The Bastards. We’ve been waiting a while to have an episode that ties loose ends, and gives us answers to the ‘oh so many’ theories running around. Does The Winds of Winter deliver in that regard? Let us find out.
Books Are More Than Just Books
I’ll start with what seems the most irrelevant of plots. Samwell Tarly finally makes it to the citadel with Gilly and little Sam. In his signature awkwardness, he explains that he was sent by Lord Commander Jon Snow, only to find that he is not yet listed in the citadel ledger as Lord Commander. Neither is Grand Maester Aemon listed as deceased. In reality, news travels a little slow in Westeros, because Jon is, as we know, now in Winterfell, with Edd Tollet now helming the position of Lord Commander. Maybe they should have some of the stuff that has certain Essosi and Westerosi citizens travel great distances in a days’ time. In any case, until Samwell invents the internet, this will have to do. After a short lesson in current (kind of) events, access is granted to the Citadel. It was interesting to see how turned on Sam was by all those books in the Citadel Library. Definitely better than being aroused by your own children *cough* Walder Frey *cough*.
What significance does Samwell hold is still beyond me at this point, but It will probably help in forming the endgame puzzle, with the White Walkers and such, seeing as Sam was the first character on the show to kill one.
Freys No Longer Part Of The Fray
The northern skirmish is close to being over. When Jaime chats with Lord Walder Frey at the celebratory dinner for their “triumph” in conquering Riverrun, you sense that Jaime is not at ease with how it went down. Some chuckles aside earlier with Bronn, who even jokes at his behalf of a certain lady not being “blonde enough” for the Kingslayer, Jaime just wants to be done with things and get out of there. He has no respect for the ‘good for nothing’ Lord Frey, who compares between them, labeling them both as Kingslayers, and is also slightly bothered by a female servant that keeps eyeing him. Bronn insists that it’s because he’s a rich prick, and chicks dig that. Later, however, we find that the servants’ identity is much more revealing, and she is certainly not who she seems.
Days later, as Walder sits down for supper, the same servant brings the Lord his meal. Little does he know, he is being served his own children, Cartman (South Park) style as pies. Revenge is definitely a dish best served cold. There is no cooler, no pun intended, than the way Arya served her’s. Is Arya indeed turning into/replacing Lady Stoneheart? Seems like it to me, and every time she ‘offs’ one of her victims from her list, it is incredibly gratifying. Are the Lannisters next? The Mountain? The Hound?!
L + R = J. This Time For Real (Most Probably)
Yesterday, when we posted the synopsis for The Winds of Winter, we also speculated that Lyanna Stark will finally feature. Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened. Benjen, having saved Bran and Meera from the White Walkers, stays behind to serve as the first line of defense against the dead. Bran then decides it’s a good time for another vision, now that he’s the three eyed raven and he needs to learn more about the past.
We are at The Tower of Joy in Dorne once more, but this time, Ned finally steps inside the tower to witness his sister, just having given birth, now on her death bed due to loss of blood. She whispers something inaudible in his ear (which is about the moment where I was about to hurl something at my TV), but then she adds “you know Robert will kill him”. This, all but confirms that Jon is Rhaegar’s son, since we know Robert didn’t like having loose ends when it came to possible Targaryen heirs. Just like that, one of the longest, most widely discussed theories on the show (and in the books) is given a quite unequivocal answer. Jon is Ned’s nephew, and not his bastard son.
It will certainly have an effect on Bran, now that he knows the truth. I do wonder why Rhaegar is still left out of the entire story on the show, but they’ve managed so far, and it works.
Another Fool Falls For Dany
We always knew Daenerys and Daario are not a classic fairy-tale. Loose ends is what this episode was all about, so when Dany says her goodbyes to Daario, very few eyebrows were raised. She can’t have him as a lover in Westeros, if she’s to form any formidable alliances, and she needs someone to stay behind in Meereen and rule in her stead. Two birds with one stone. The more interesting thing that happened, was that Tyrion has now also desperately fallen in love with the Khaleesi. I could see them ruling together, but I doubt this is where the story is going. Would still put more chips on Daenerys fancying some Yara. To make matters more interesting, or maybe this is Dany’s way of flirting, she awards Tyrion with the Hand of The Queen pin, and makes him her number one adviser.
Now that Dany has everything that she needs in place, she finally heads out to Westeros, with the Dothraki, Unsullied, Iron Borners Theon and Yara, the three dragons, Tyrion, Missandei & Grey Worm, and – Varys?? What’s he doing there? I’ll touch on that later.
After Jon and Sansa agree that from now on they keep no secrets from each other, a character who finally discovered a secret that’s been kept from him, barges in on Jon and Melisandre in the Winterfell dining quarters. Ser Davos, having found the Stag miniature, knows Shireen was burned to death at the stake by the Red Woman, and as a consequence by her parents, who are now deceased and can’t take the blame. The performance of that man, Liam Cunningham, is just a masterclass in acting. I dare say, I was weeping like a little child when he poured his heart out to Jon, revealing how much love he had for poor Shireen. Someone give that man an Emmy!! Seriously. Jon is totally convinced that Melisandre will not go unpunished, but does let her off the hook this time, exiling her from the north, sending her south. Perhaps not the outcome Davos was hoping for, but he agrees to it. That same dining room, is where the stage is set for yet another powerful performance later. You know who I’m talking about. But first, there’s the matter of Littlefinger.
Only A Fool Would Trust Littlefinger
Ever the opportunist, Littlefinger stops to chat with Sansa after the great victory against house Bolton. His angle? He wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms of course, with Sansa at his side. He doesn’t believe the northern houses will rally behind a bastard. Sansa however, is the ultimate queen in the north, in his eyes, and himself the ultimate ruler. Did I hear someone say megalomania?
I can certainly see the character responsible for the final blow to Lord Ramsay Bolton, ending up as the villain who replaces him. An outlying character thus far, I expect Littlefinger to play a much bigger role in what is to come.
Lyanna The Second
When the houses are still discussing whether they should survive the coming winter by hiding behind shut doors, one champion rises to the challenge, Lyanna Mormont her name, and convinces the northern houses, with some incredibly valid points, that Jon is the man to lead them as king in the north. This applies to the fight against the remaining rogue houses, as well as the impending White Walker threat that looms, edging ever closer.
Her speech works wonders on the Lords (and why wouldn’t it – she is amazing), and they all pledge to support Jon as King In The North, and House Stark as the one to lead them in the future. The only caveat being Littlefinger in this scenario. He keeps giving Sansa that creepy look, and it makes her worry. What is she worried about? Probably that he will now plan to undermine Jon’s every move, since his original plan is now obsolete, unless Jon approves him ruling with his sister. It is too far off to actually speculate with any certainty, so I’ll just have to wait patiently, like everyone else, to find out.
The Mad Queen Strikes Back
Everything this season has brought us to this point. When Cersei found that she will not be facing a trial by combat, she had a plan set in place that would see her prevail, regardless of other’s actions. As clever as the High Sparrow was throughout the season, he couldn’t match Cersei in the crazy department, and when her mind was set, there could only be one outcome. What I liked most about the events that took place at the beginning (and end) of the episode, was that from the get go, I knew this was going to be an incredible episode. How, you ask? Cue morbid music. It is ALL about the music. Just like with the best episode this series has seen, The Red Wedding (my opinion 🙂 ), the music gives way to the events that transpire. Having many big characters in the same room, only enhanced the anxiety I felt when watching Loras on trial, and then Lancel and Gran Maester Pycelle meeting their respective ends at the hands of the ‘little birds’, aka little assassins. I always thought Margaery would live to see the end of Cersei, but I was sooooo wrong.
More terrifying, was Cersei’s demeanor throughout the burning/exploding of all those innocent lives. Supposedly, the one thing she cared about, her son and king, Tommen, was kept safe when she sent the Mountain to prevent him from attending her trial. But notice her new black outfit, fit for mourning a close one, and how she handled Tommen’s death, when he nonchalantly leaps off the Red Keep’s ledge, and you just know that she knew this would be the outcome. Just like Littlefinger, the only thing she cares about is the Iron Throne. Maggy The Frog’s prophecy is edging closer to its conclusion. As Jaime returns from his conquest, he finds a city in turmoil, with the Sept burnt to a crisp, and his only remaining son now dead. The look of hurt and disgust on his face as Cersei claims the Throne for herself, makes him my front-runner to fulfill the prophecy as the Valonqar. Want it to sound even more crazy? Not only will he be Valonqar, but also effectively be a King(Queen)Slayer again, which, if you add Bran to the story, creates a loop that will mess with your mind.
The Race To Kill The Queen
Now that Daenerys is on her way, and Jon will probably still be occupied in the north, There’s another who will seek vengeance on Cersei. Olenna, one of Cersei’s fiercest rivals, is living proof that some news does travel fast in the seven kingdoms, and not just people (I’m looking at you Varys). The Spider is on hand to form an alliance between Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Martell. Olenna, having lost her future, with no family left alive, only has vengeance and justice to guide her. Who better to form an alliance with than Ellaria, if that is what she seeks. What strikes me here, is that it looks like Varys knew Olenna would be there. If he did, it means he was either in on Cersei’s plan or at least knew about it. Always time for new conspiracy theories. Either way, he finds his way back to Meereen incredibly fast, in time to join Daenerys and her crew.
This was, in my mind, the best episode of the season, and in the top 3 Game of Thrones episodes in the entire series. It was also the longest, which isn’t surprising, considering how show-runners tied up so many loose ends, setting the stage for next season. The episode itself was still mostly predictable, but not nearly as much as Battle of The Bastards, and the score used in the King’s Landing scenes was gripping and dramatic as much as it was terrifying. The season ends with a bang, literally, and I hope there is more of what we saw today in the final seasons of the HBO phenomenon.
- Will Arya kill Cersei? She’s on the list, but I can think of at least five other major characters who would want the newly appointed queen dead. See my point on Jaime ^
- Is the “shame” nun’s story going to carry on to next season?
- Where would Daenerys head first when she reaches Westeros? The North, or will she begin forming alliances while laying siege to King’s Landing?
- Bran’s role will probably be even more important from now on.
- I wonder how long Littlefinger will last, now that Sansa knows his plan, and also what he thinks of Jon.
- Jaime’s next interaction with Cersei is what I’m looking forward to the most next season.
The season Poll of Death is now closed, and we have the final results. Where you right in your predictions?
Thanks for sticking with my reviews throughout the season. It has been a pleasure. Let me know what you thought about the episode and the season as a whole. I’d love to discuss further after the dust has settled, and if I missed anything, I would love to read your two cents (and more) in the comments!
For all Season 6 reviews head here!
Until next year! Valar Morghulis!