* MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN “The Winds of Winter.”
No, really, if you haven't watched this episode yet, YOU NEED TO BEFORE READING THIS!
Where do you even begin with the towering, epic, INSANE sixth season finale?! I just watched the episode again, and I still haven't absorbed everything that happened. I feel like the term "game changer" is a bit cliché, especially when paired with a show called Game of Thrones, but it's oh so apt here. This single episode irrevocably altered EVERYTHING.
The Great Sept of Baelor Goes Bye-Bye
The show wastes zero time getting down to the drama—and starting the body count. About the only preamble we get is quick shots of Tommen, Margaery, Cersei, and the High Sparrow/Septon getting ready for the trials of Loras and Cersei. Is that a new robe the Sparrow is sporting? Isn't that a worldly good, even though it resembles a burlap sack? Shame!
Let's talk for a second about the music in this episode. It was intense from the very beginning of "The Winds of Winter" and in every scene it accompanied and was just absolutely brilliant.
So many things are going on simultaneously: Loras's trial, Pycelle getting lured down into Qyburn's dungeon, and Lancel discovering the horrible truth of the rumor. Loras first: he confesses and renounces the Tyrell name, his title, everything. He's to join the Faith, and they brutally carve the seven pointed star onto his forehead. I really felt bad for Mace, who's been an oaf in just about every episode he's been in but who looks so terribly pained for his son here. Margaery confronts the Sparrow about mutilating Loras, and she also points out that Cersei, who's to stand trial next, is ostensibly missing from the assembled crowd in the sept. Lancel pipes in that Cersei's litter never left the Red Keep, and the Sparrow dispatches him to retrieve her. Cersei, meanwhile, is enjoying a nice glass of wine. She looks too calm for someone who could be sentenced to die, and get a gander at her getup: doesn't her dress appear rather armored?
Qyburn awaits Pycelle down in his office/lab/dungeon. And so do the Little Birds, who stab the hell out of Pycelle. Looks like the Grand Maester position just became vacant!
Lancel's adventures underneath King's Landing aren't going much better. Another Little Bird stabs him, and he realizes that he's surrounded by wildfire. And some candles that are about to ignite the wildfire.
Back up in the sept, Margaery knows that Cersei has plotted something big but can't convince the Sparrow that everyone in the sept is in imminent danger. The Faith block the exits as back underground, Lancel struggles to reach the candles in time. But he doesn't. There's an epic shot of the wildfire reflected in his eyes just before the massive explosion that utterly destroys the Great Sept of Baelor, everyone in it, and who knows how many others within the vicinity. The bell, which could be heard ringing at the beginning of the episode, is seen crashing to the ground, rolling, and crushing anyone in its path.
Cersei surveys all of this from her view in the Red Keep with a very satisfied look on her face. She just killed a bunch of her enemies in a single, devastating blow. We cut to Tommen, who's just staring out the window at the burning destruction.
Ah, but Cersei isn't quite finished yet. Septa Unella is her prisoner now, and Cersei sounds certifiably crazy while talking to her. Cersei leaves Frankengregor, whom we get a glimpse of sans helmet for the first time, to deal with the septa as she says "Shame" while locking them in.
There are still plenty of shocks to come in this episode, but one of the biggest ones for me was this: after taking off his crown, Tommen jumps out the open window.
Walder Frey's "Wit" Falls Flat
Old Walder is crowing about retaking Riverrun. Poor Jaime has the misfortune of suffering Lord Walder's attempts at conversation, during which Lord Walder jokes that they're both kingslayers. Jaime is not amused and reminds him that the Lannisters had to come mop up the Freys' mess.
Cersei's worst fear has come true: all of her children are dead. Qyburn tries to dissuade her from viewing Tommen's body, but she insists. He asks her what kind of funeral should be planned since, you know, the Great Sept of Baelor just got permanently decommissioned. She tells Qyburn to have Tommen's body burned and the ashes buried where the sept once stood.
What a Library!
Sam and Gilly arrive at the Citadel, which is behind the news on who's in charge up at the Wall. While this gets sorted out, Sam is allowed access to the Citadel's library, which, not gonna lie, I would live in. :D
Winter Is . . . Here!
But first, a furious Davos calls out Melisandre in front of Jon on what she did to Shireen. Melisandre counters that it wasn't only her who burned Shireen; Stannis and Selyse were to blame, too. Davos wants Melisandre executed. She goes on to say that she can help in the war to come against the White Walkers. Jon orders her to ride south and never return to the North unless she wants to be hanged. He watches her ride away from the Winterfell parapet and is joined by Sansa. They have the tough talk about her not telling him she asked Littlefinger to send the Knights of the Vale, and Jon tells her that they have to trust each other. Sansa lets him know that a white raven arrived from the Citadel; I got the chills when she said, "Winter is here."
Fire & Blood!
Lady Olenna, dressed in black, is in Dorne, the guest of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. Even in mourning, Olenna's words are razor-sharp as she puts down Obara, Nym, and Tyene. Obviously, all the ladies assembled hate the Lannisters, so it makes sense for them to ally against Cersei. And then, ta-da! Varys appears!
No Westeros for You
Daenerys breaks the news to Daario that he and the Second Sons are staying behind in Meereen to keep the peace. He accuses Tyrion of having convinced Daenerys to dump him, and afterwards, she does go debrief Tyrion on how the conversation went. Their talk concludes with Tyrion telling Daenerys that he believes in her, and her presenting him with the Hand of the Queen's pin. Um, I almost cried at the expression on Tyrion's face.
Revenge Is a Dish Best Served as Frey Pie
This scene—holy shit. Walder Frey is alone with just the servant girl who was eying Jaime earlier. He grumbles about his sons Black Walder and Lothar not turning up like they were supposed to, and the servant says that they are here. Lord Walder is confuzzled until she tells him that his sons are IN. THE. PIE. Like, he just ate them! The servant girl whips off her face, and it's Arya! She states her name and then proceeds to slit Walder Frey's throat, just as her mother's had been at the Red Wedding.
Just No, Littlefinger
Littlefinger intrudes on Sansa in the Winterfell godswood, admitting that he wants to sit on the Iron Throne. With her by his side. Then he leans in for a kiss, which gets denied. Sadly, Littlefinger is not one of the casualties of this episode.
CONFIRMED: R + L = J
Benjen has to leave Meera and Bran because he can't travel beyond the Wall due to the magic built into it to keep the dead out. He's left them by a weirwood, which Bran touches. WE RETURN TO THE TOWER OF JOY, AND THIS TIME WE FOLLOW YOUNG NED INSIDE! He finds his sister, Lyanna, dying, but first she makes him promise something. Lyanna whispers most of the specifics to her brother, but then Ned is holding a baby, and then the scene cuts to . . . Jon Snow! BEST. SEGUE. EVER!!!!!!!
THE WHITE WOLF! THE KING IN THE NORTH!
Jon is trying to convince the motley assembled group of Northern lords, Knights of the Vale, and Wildlings that they need to work to together to fight the White Walkers. There's a lot of grumbling going on in the hall when Lady Lyanna Mormont rescues Jon's ass again, LOL. She gives this absolutely fearless, MAGNIFICENT speech, in which she also manages to verbally bitch-slap Lords Manderly, Glover, and Cerwyn. First Lord Manderly then Lord Glover admit that they were wrong in not answering their liege lord's call, and they bow to their King in the North—Jon Snow, the White Wolf! And then everyone in the Great Hall of Winterfell is hailing the King in the North! I. Almost. Fucking. Cried.
The Mad Queen?
Jaime and Bronn are approaching King's Landing and see the smoke. Visibly alarmed, Jaime spurs his horse, and he arrives in the throne room just in time for Cersei's coronation. Qyburn is sporting his own snazzy Hand of the Queen pin. Jaime and Cersei make eye contact, and he does not look very happy for her.
Ah, But Long Cersei May Not Reign
Because Daenerys, the Unsullied, the Dothraki, the fleet, AND the dragons are on their way to Westeros! Oh, and so are Tyrion, Missandei, Grey Worm, Varys, Yara, and Theon. Varys certainly got back fast from Dorne, lol. What a stunning closing shot that was, capping off one hell of an episode and one hell of a season, really. Bravo!
Final Thoughts on Season 6
As a reader of the books, I was very, very, very wary at the start of this season, knowing that the show was well and truly off on its own path now. Maybe because of that, this season just went all out with the plot advancement and the plot twists. While there were still plenty of quotable lines, season 6 felt less "talky" than its predecessors and much more action oriented, not that I'm complaining. Characters also seemed to travel at record speeds across Westeros and beyond, lol.
We got quite a few HUGE moments this season, starting with Jon Snow being brought back to life! Then we had the Sansa/Jon reunion, Daenerys lighting up the temple in Vaes Dothrak and leading ALL of the Dothraki, the White Walkers' origins, the Stark banners flying over Winterfell once more, the complete Tower of Joy sequence, every scene Lyanna Mormont was in, and the episode that pulverized my heart, "The Door." I know I'm forgetting others, but that's my point—there are so many to choose from! This moment may not have been on the scale of the others I mentioned, but one of my favorite scenes from the season was Brienne attempting to give Oathkeeper back to Jaime and him telling her that it was hers and will always be hers. ♥
So this was supposedly the last 10 episode season, which already feels short enough. With so much power shifting (and so many major characters dying, lol) over the course of this season, what are seasons 7 and 8 going to look like? Cersei vs. Daenerys? Everyone vs. the Night's King and the White Walkers?
And of course I must ask this requisite question: will readers get The Winds of Winter in their desperate hands before the start of Season 7? I'm more curious than ever to see how TWoW will differ from the show and vice versa.
For the last recap of the season, I usually list all the characters we said goodbye to in that season. This time, however, I also feel like I need to make a list of characters we said hello to again after not seeing them for quite a while, lol, so here goes:
Peeps We Said Hello Again to This Season
Bran Stark, Hodor, Meera Reed, Rickon Stark, Osha, Yara Greyjoy, Balon Greyjoy, Robin Arryn, the Blackfish, Edmure Tully, Walder Frey, the Hound, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr.
Peeps We Said Goodbye to This Season
Doran Martell, Trystane Martell, Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton, Balon Greyjoy, Alliser Thorne, Olly, Osha, Shaggydog, Rickon Stark, Hodor, the Three-Eyed Raven, the Blackfish, the Waif, Wun Wun, Tommen Baratheon, Loras Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, Lancel Lannister, Kevan Lannister, the High Sparrow, Grand Maester Pycelle, Walder Frey.