For anyone who thought ‘Game of Thrones’ might have lost its touch this season because they lost the book material, after the final two episodes of this season, I think the show proved them very wrong. Coming off the strong ‘Battle of the Bastards‘ episode, I, like many, thought that the finale would be mainly wrap-up material, and could not possibly be as epic as the episode that preceded it. Boy, was I wrong.
Starting off in King’s Landing, the show gave us an extended (making the most of the long run-time) build up sequence, with everyone prepping for the trial in their own way, mainly putting on clothing that best reflected who they were at that point in time, most notably Cersei putting on a rare black dress with shoulder pieces that looked oddly like armor, while the High Sparrow put on his cleanest white robe yet (still, they are never very clean). Also of note was the score for this part of the episode, as they used a lot of piano, unusual for ‘Thrones,’ but which helped set the religious, and ominous tone, building the tension because we all knew something big was about to go down. The trial begins, King Tommen is trapped in his room by the Mountain, Grand Maester Pycell is “summoned” by the King, Cersei does not leave the Red Keep, and Margaery is very suspicious. They start with Sir Loras, who confesses to all his crimes and agrees to become a sparrow, and then allows them to carve his forehead, all of which pisses off Margaery who claims this was not part of the deal she reached with the High Sparrow, who seems to not care about her wishes. Meanwhile, Pycell ends up in the quarters of Qyburn, who sicks his “little birds” on the old Maester, and they shiv him to death. The High Sparrow sends Lancel Lannister to find Cersei and bring her to the Sept for her trial, but Lancel spots one of the little bird kids and follows him to a crypt beneath the Sept, where he finds an enormous cache of wildfire. The kid stabs Lancel in the spine, but Lancel still tries to crawl to the candle about to set the stockpile ablaze. Margaery realizes something is wrong as Cersei nor Tommen have arrived and tries to get everyone to evacuate, but the High Sparrow’s pride gets the best of him, and he orders everyone to stay put, dooming them all (so much for the High Sparrow being humble). Lancel watches as the igniting candle finally reaches the wildfire, and his eyes flash green as the violent substance catches fire, and the cache explodes, destroying the sept and everyone within it instantly, vaporizing all bodies. Cersei meanwhile watches from the Red Keep, a glass of wine in hand, smiling victoriously, knowing she has killed almost all her enemies in King’s Landing including Margaery, Sir Loras, Kevin Lannister, Pycell, Lancel, the High Sparrow, and Mace Tyrell. Tommen also watches from his room, as the Mountain leaves his doorway now that the King is safe. Heartbroken, and realizing he has lost, Tommen removes the crown, and then jumps out the window, finally having the balls to make a decision. Later Cersei, surveys the body of her son, and though she is sad, there is almost a sense of relief. The prophecy came true, her children are lost, but now that it has happened, she can finally stop worrying about it and just accept things as they are. In her final moment of triumph, we learn that Cersei had spared Septa Unella, and is keeping her in the dungeons beneath the castle. She tortures the Septa, waterboarding her with wine (wine-boarding?) and reminds the religious woman that Cersei swore that hers would be the last face Unella would see before she died, right before launching into a true confession, where she icily admits to all of her crimes, from killing Robert to her incest with Jaime, and demands that Unella confesses that she too has her own sins, including torturing Cersei just because it felt good. Unella says she is ready to die, but Cersei informs her she will not die anytime soon, as she is now in the care of the Mountain, who enters the room. Unella is his to do with as he pleases, and as he approaches his new prize, he takes off his mask, revealing his grizzly, corpselike face, and we all realize that Unella is going to have all kinds of horrible things happen to her in the chamber. As Cersei heads out the door, she chants “Shame” to Unella, mirroring and mocking the Septa as she leaves her to her dark fate.
Over in Frey land, Walder Frey throws a celebration now that they have Riverrun back, and Jaime and Bronn attend, neither looking too happy to be there. Bronn is annoyed that all the ladies are only looking at Jaime, and Jaime is annoyed that he has to be there at all. He even goes so far as to point out to Walder Frey that he is no warrior, that Jaime had to reclaim Riverrun for the Freys, concluding with asking if the Lannisters always have to come forth and bail out the Freys, why do they even need them? Walder Frey does not have long to think on that though, as a few days (I’m guessing at the time frame) after Jaime and company leave, he sits down to eat with his sons and find they have not arrived. He calls over his errand girl, who is new, to demand where everyone is, and she tells him continually that his sons are there, finally pointing at the food before Walder Frey, letting the old man realize his children have been murdered, chopping up, and served to him in a cannibalistic dish. He turns to the new servant and she removes her false-face, revealing Arya Stark. She tells Walder her name, and says a Stark face will be the last thing he sees before he dies, and then she slits his throat. She then watches with satisfaction as the man bleeds out, dying before her, and Arya seems very pleased that she has finally gotten to work on her list and crossed off a big name.
In Dorne, while the audience groans at returning to the home of the most boring storylines of the show, we see that the Queen of Thornes is there, and Lady Olenna is out for blood. She may not like the Sand Snakes or Lady Ellaria, but she knows they can help her get revenge on Cersei, who just killed her son and her grandchildren. After an amusing scene where she verbally abuses the Sand Snakes and tells them to be quiet so the adults can speak, she tells Ellaria that Cersei stole her future, and now she just wants revenge. In that moment, Varys is revealed, and we know where his errand was from earlier this season. His only words in the scene are “Fire and blood,” which is the house motto for the Targaryens. It seems Daenerys might already have some allies when she reaches Westeros.
Sam, Gilly, and Sam Jr. finally arrive at the Citadel, and after an amusing scene where the Maester greeter is confused as his last Raven said Mormont was still the Lord Commander and Aemon still the Maester, Sam informs him of the regime change and the death of Aemon which is why he is there to learn so he can replace the man. While the Maester verifies this story, he invites Sam in the library, but demands that Gilly and Sam Jr. stay behind. With a shrug, Sam follows the man in the library of the Citadel, which is a beautiful, massive hall, with more books that Sam could ever hope to read in his lifetime.
Back in the North, Benjen Stark leaves Meera and Bran at the weretree right before the Wall, where they will be safe, and be able to pass the wall once the Night’s Watch spots them. He says he cannot go with them as the wall has ancient spells preventing the dead from crossing it, all of which sounds like foreshadowing that the White Walkers are going to be destroying that wall soon so they can make their way south. Bran decides he needs more information, and touches the tree, launching himself back into the Tower of Joy flashback, where we pick up right where we left off. He follows young Ned Stark up the stairs to find Lyanna Stark dying on a bed, just having given birth to her son. She tells Ned that Robert would kill the child if he found out, and whispers some things we cannot hear, and then she dies, saying “Promise me Ned” as she perishes. As the camera zooms in on the baby, the show cuts to Jon Snow, just to make sure we all understand who exactly the child was. And now we know, Jon Snow is not Ned’s child, but Lyanna’s, meaning he may have a right to the Iron Throne the same as Daenerys, all of which is very troubling for the future (and all depending on who the father is. The show went out of its way to not say it was Rhaegar).
In Winterfell, after a White Raven arrives from the Citadel announcing that Winter has come (FINALLY!) Sansa and Jon have a talk, with Jon thanking her for winning the battle with the knights of the Vale, and giving her the master bedroom as she is the Lady Stark of Winterfell, even though she tells him in her eyes, he is just as much a Stark as her. Later, Davos confronts Melissandre with Jon in the room, and she confesses to killing Shireen on the pyre, though she points out the girl’s parents were also onboard with the sacrifice. Davos demands her death, but Jon instead decides to exile her to the south, with Davos promising to kill her if she ever returned north. Sansa meanwhile is confronted by Littlefinger, explaining that all his actions were set in place to try to get him onto the Iron Throne, and that he desperately wants her standing there with him. He even tries to kiss her, but she denies him, saying the picture he has of their future is “pretty” but she still cannot trust him, and knows everything he does is for his own interests. That night, all the Lords of the North gather to discuss their options now that the Boltons are gone, and all admit that they should have stood by Jon and Sansa, especially after Lady Mormont shames them all and reminds them of their oaths to House Stark. They decide they do not care if Jon is a bastard, and declare him the King in the North, which is awesome for Jon, except when you remember what happened the last time a child of Ned Stark was given that moniker. (Although since we now know he is not Ned’s son, hopefully his fate will not be the same as Robb) While Sansa initially seems happy for Jon, one look at Littlefinger rolling his eyes is enough to make her think twice about the matter, which also does not bode well for Jon Snow.
Back in King’s Landing, Jaime arrives to see the burning Sept, and races to the Red Keep to find out what happened. He arrives just in time to witness Cersei’s solemn coronation ceremony, with grim looks exchanged between the two of them, Jaime’s eyes basically demanding to know what the hell she did to make this happen. The honeymoon might just be over for these two, especially if Jaime blames her for the death of Tommen. On the bright side, Cersei is the first Queen ruler of the 7 Kingdoms, and the first competent adult on the throne in the series, so it might be interesting to see how smoothly things can run with her in charge.
Lastly, in Mereen, we watch Dany tell Daario to stay behind and rule the Bay of Dragons (formerly Slaver’s Bay), as she cannot go to Westeros with a lover, not when choosing a husband could be a potential power play. He is upset, but obeys her commands, though he suspects Tyrion is behind the decision, which Dany denies. Speaking of which, Dany next meets with Tyrion, who offers her little comfort about losing her lover, though he does try. Instead, he reveals to her that he has always had a hard time believing in anything, from religion to leaders, and that she is the first person he has every truly believed in. Good thing too, because she also has news, as she makes him her hand, and gives him a pin she had forged for him. It is everything Tyrion ever wanted, to be promoted on his own merit, and respected and appreciated for his own talents despite his family name or his dwarf stature. No wonder he believes in this woman.
In the final shot of the episode/ season, we see Dany’s fleet heading to Westeros, with a sweeping camera move that shows Iron Born, Dothraki, and Unsullied aboard thousands of ships, with dragons flying escort around them, with Dany in the head boat, Tyrion and Missandei at her side, and oddly enough, Varys standing behind her as well (he got back from Dorne rather quickly, didn’t he?) After 6 seasons of planning, waiting and random tangents, they are finally on their way to take back to the Iron Throne, promising a very exciting Season 7 next year.
– Tyrion or Arya, those are my guesses for who is going to kill Cersei next season, though it would be sweeter if it was Arya, and even better if it was a situation where she worked with Tyrion to get it done
– Will Dany’s army land in Dorne and make their way North to King’s landing? Am I the only one who thinks the Dornish and the Dothraki would get along wonderfully? (both live in desertlike areas and are fierce warriors)
– Melissandre’s part in this war is not over I’m sure, I bet she meets up with Dany’s forces in the south before too long.
– No Brienne and Pod? Is there a chance they ran afoul of the Brotherhood with Banners and the Hound, a story which we’ll see in Season 7? (it would kind of match what happened to her earlier in the books)
– How ominous is it not to see any White Walkers in the finale? Could their absence mean they are busy working on something to take down the wall, which the show does not want to reveal until Season 7?
– With only 2 short seasons left, is there a chance Season 6 will deal with Dany taking over Westeros, and then Season 7 will be the final, epic battle between the living and the dead?
Very, very happy and satisfied with this finale, and with this season in general, and I cannot wait to see where everything is going. The show definitely has some amazing momentum now, which is part of why I am happy they are doing short seasons from here on out. No more time for filler episodes, just actions, plot advancements, and getting ready for the war with the White Walkers. See you back here next season!