This review contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 6, episode 10 “The Winds of Winter”. This is your only warning.
Well, well, well! What a finale. Last week’s episode was fantastic, and this week’s episode was just as excellent, albeit for different reasons. Most of last week was dedicated to big, epic battles and here what some of the fallout of those and undoubtedy some build up toward future ones.
Things begin a quiet, somber tone, setting the tone nicely for a good portion of the episode as Tommen and Cersei prepare for the trials, and you see the High Sparrow and co preparing the Sept on their end.
All seems kosher at first, as Loras admits his sins and even gives up all claim to Highgarden and his Lordship. What shocked me, is he seems to have been drinking the same KoolAid as Lancel, and even agrees to join the Faith Militant. However, the tension ramps up as the Mountain stands in Tommen’s way, not allowing him to go to the trial.
Given the “rumours” Cersei and Qyburn spoke about last week, and the speculation that this was referencing the wildfire under the Sept, worry starts to seep into the scene. As Loras is marked as a member of the Faith Militant, Lancel is following one of Qyburn’s “little birds” down some black tunnels underneath King’s Landing, leading to what we all suspected: the huge caches of wildfire. The kid stabs him in the back and runs off, leaving Lancel to slowly creep towards three spots of light at the end of the tunnel.
Back at the Sept, Margaery senses something is up and tries to warn the High Sparrow, who is completely deaf to her words. Here the tension is replaced by a sense of doom, as Lancel slowly makes his way to the light, while at the Sept Margaery tries to get everyone out. Just as the Faith Militant block her from leaving, Lancel sees that the spots of light were candles, placed in the middle of a puddle of wildfire.
The whole thing erupts into flame, eviscerating the High Sparrow, the Faith Militant, Loras and Margaery. This death was a pretty big shock to me, I hadn’t even speculated that this would happen. In all honesty, I’m disappointed to see her go, Margaery seemed like a match for Cersei, and someone who would finally take her down a peg. Sadly, we lost one of the most interesting characters in King’s Landing.
The sorrow over the loss of the Queen is quickly redirected as anger toward Cersei, as she smugly looks on as the Sept erupts into flame. Her smugness won’t last, however, as a bereft Tommen removes his crown, before calmly and quickly throwing himself out a window. We all knew Tommen’s days were numbered due to the witch’s prophecy, but I think many expected him to be an unintentional victim of wildfire.
Given that we were still reeling from the loss of Margaery, this quiet death from Tommen hits all the harder, aided by the wonderful cinematography. You truly feel his despair as he quietly removes the crown, stores it, then drops out of the window.
We finally move on from King’s Landing to the Twins, were Jaime and co are “enjoying” the company of Walder Frey. Jaime looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, and promptly lays the smack down on Lord Frey when he comes over to gloat over his “victory” at Riverrun. Jaime rightly points out that it was Lannister men who won, not him. Even though he didn’t run the old man through like I wanted, this was still satisfying.
After a brief catch up with Cersei and the corpse of Tommen, we move swiftly on to Oldtown. As far as I can remember, this is the first real look at Oldtown and the Citadel, and it does look very impressive. The library of the Citadel also gave me chills, and my inner book nerd immediately wished that this impressive but impractical library were real.
One of the things we had last week was the discovery of the burned Bathareon stag by Davos. Just as Jon and Melisandre are having a friendly chat, Davos comes in and makes Melisandre tell Jon what she did and why she did it. Davos (rightfully) called for the Red Woman to be executed, but I guess Jon felt like her owed her one so he showed mercy and simply banished her from the North.
I have no doubt we will see Melisandre again, but what will she do now that she cannot be with the Prince that was Promised? Perhaps a visit to a certain Dragon Queen? We also get a nice scene between Sansa and Jon. After Sansa’s baffling decision to not tell Jon about the Knights of the Vale, I was expecting them to have a falling out. Happily, though, Sansa apologises and even recognises him as a Stark. It’s nice to see their bond repaired, and here’s hoping it holds strong.
After a very welcome absence, we get a scene in Dorne. I couldn’t help but groan inwardly, as the sand sneks were the worst part of early season. Thankfully, Olenna Tyrell is there and she rapidly makes short work of the smart talking sand sneks. We also see Varys, who apparently has been very busy making Dany allies instead of going to Westeros.
The Queen of Thorns is one of the most interesting characters in the show, and seeing her put the sand sneks in their place was fantastic. Next up, is the final preparations for Dany and her crew. We know that she now has the ships and the men to invade Westeros, so it’s time for her to say some goodbyes. That includes her lover, Daario Neharis, who pleads with her to let him come to Westeros.
She rightly points out that if she is to rule the Seven Kingdoms, she shouldn’t really turn up with a lover in tow. Tyrion and Dany cement their friendship in the following scene, and we get a truly heartwarming moment as she presents him with a new Hand of the King style pin for his lapel, and proclaims him Hand of the Queen. I couldn’t help but squee a little, and I truly think that Dany + Tyrion is a dangerous combination.
Next up, denied the reverse Red Wedding of our dreams, we instead get a mysterious serving girl bringing food to the ever grimy Walder Frey. He begins calling for his children, but the woman says they are right here, my lord, pointing to his food. Then, she rips off her face and who is it but Ms. No One 2016 – Arya Stark. She tells him who she is, before slitting his throat. Yes! While this isn’t the glory I was picturing, it’s still a delicious just desserts.
Back at Winterfell, we see Littlefinger make the move we all saw coming. However, he doesn’t stop at declaring his love for Sansa, he is foolhardy enough to say that he wants to be on the Iron Throne. Given the power that Sansa seems to have over him, I feel as if this is Littlefinger’s first real misstep. Sansa softly but firmly rejects him, despite Littlefinger’s attempts to sow discontent between Jon and Sansa.
Next up is the reveal of something we got teased on episodes ago. Bran and Meera are finally back at the Wall, but before heading South, Bran decides now is the perfect time for some flashbacks. To my joy, we are at well – the Tower of Joy. Within, we see Lyanna giving birth and a promise from Ned to “protect him” and because of “what Robert would do”. And, then, finally we get the answer – R+L=J CONFIRMED!
This is a huge twist, and has pretty long reaching implications. It puts him forward as a serious Azor Ahai contender, and also technically gives him rights to the Iron Throne. It also has implications on the next scene, as Lyanna Mormont busts the balls of men three times her age by pointing out that these supposedly loyal houses did not answer the Stark call.
She then says the goosebump inducing line: “There is no King but the King in the North, who’s name is Stark.” She then proclaims that Jon is her king, he has Stark blood, setting off a chain of proclomations of loyalty from all the houses who did not answer the call. We then end the scene with the glorious chants of “KING IN THE NORTH!” I couldn’t help but cheer myself, as Jon totally deserves this. Sansa, to her credit, looks more than happy with this arrangement.
This is a harsh juxtaposition to King’s Landing, where everyone is somber and sad as Cersei climbs the Iron Throne as Jaime looks on, not even a hint of a smile on his face.
Appopriately, we end with a slow establishing shot of Dany’s ships as they slowly sail towards Westeros. Here we see the sheer size of her army: Unsullied, Dothraki, the Martells, the Tyrells, the Ironborn and of course – dragons. Westeros is in for a bad time in season seven.
Overall thoughts: Outstanding! Miguel Sapochnik not only has a huge talent for epic, realistic feeling battles, but slower and more methodical episodes as well. He is truly an amazing talent, and he executed the finale with aplomb. Sapochnick for director of every episode, anyone?