If you thought all of the action occurred in last week’s penultimate episode, we urge you to reconsider. Finishing off the acclaimed sixth season in fantastic fashion, episode ten’s “The Winds of Winter” incinerated loose ends while forging new beginnings. If you haven’t caught the Game of Thrones season finale, switch off now and meet us back here… for this post is dark and full of spoilers.
For the love of the holy seven, what in the world did we just witness? This episode felt almost out of place with the rest of the season, the ominous violin backed thematic in this episode probably the reason for seeming so. Descending keys and soaring violins occupied most of the sixty-nine minute special, playing those notes like creators David Benioff and D.B Weiss do our emotions. One of the first – if not the only episode this season to own the entire cast, the “Winds of Winter” saw all characters receive screen time to round off all unanswered questions. Where we begin is obviously the first.
Honouring the inevitability of change, Qyburn (Anton Lesser) reveals his upcoming intentions when visiting Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) for one final conversation: “Sometimes, before we can usher in the new, the old must be put to rest.” Surrounded by Varys’ Qyburn’s little birds, Pycelle’s end proves imminent. We won’t lie, he won’t be incredibly missed. House Tyrell on the other hand, perhaps. Speaking of, this week saw the start of the long-awaited trials of Loras (Finn Jones) and Cersei (Lena Headey) – whose absence at the trial doesn’t go unnoticed by the faith. Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and her father watch on as the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) guides Loras to the light of the seven via a lovely forehead carving.
Grandeur, to say the least, Miguel Sapochnik captures the vastness of the trial effortlessly, all while conveying the scenes tension down to the worrying expressions on everyone’s face. The High Sparrow had us all believing he wielded unchallenged power, until this week, where we finally realise he was always truly at the mercy of the crown. With a little trip to the cellar from Lancel, audiences discover a staggering amount of wildfire lie underneath the sept. Margaery seems to be the only one putting the pieces together, informing the faith that Cersei purposely missed her trial, before attempting to leave the sept with her brother. Proving the gods offer no foresight, the wildfire below is set aflame and obliterates the sept and everyone inside.
Easily giving last week’s the “Battle of the Bastards” a run for its money, the sudden death of many this week had us all feeling cold inside. Dressed entirely in black, Cersei sips some wine as she watches the sept disintegrate into dust. Unlike his mother, Tommen (Dean Charles-Chapman) proves none too pleased watching the demise of so many, and thus fulfils the prophecy promised to Cersei when he takes his own life. We thought last week was shocking, but Tommen’s exit was certainly not anticipated and definitely solidified a bleakness within the show like never before. Margaery is another we’re sad to see gone. By far one of the show’s most impressive female characters, we hoped Margaery might survive the never-ending violence and get to finally sit on the throne. George R.R. Martin strikes once again, confirming this is a game without happy endings. Natalie Dormer will definitely be missed, her portrayal of Margaery was immaculate from the start. Now one of the last remaining members of house Tyrell, Olenna (Diana Rigg) finds herself in Dorne this week for a meeting with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and the Sand Snakes. Still sharp as Valyrian steel, the heads of house Martell and Tyrell align forces who – with a little assistance from the master of whisperers – can counteract Cersei’s hold on power and seek revenge for those they’ve lost.
Confess! We all got our laughs throughout season five when Septa Unella bombarded Cersei with pressures to “confess”. The season finale saw their relationship come full circle with the reversal of roles. “I said my face would be the last thing you see before you die, do you remember?” Cersei asks Unella before inviting the Mountain into her cell. Proving some things are worse than death, Cersei leaves Unella in the hands of Gregor, all while shouting “shame” on her way out. Morbidly hilarious if we’re being honest. After joining Sam and Gilly in completing their journey to the Citadel, we’re over in Winterfell, where Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) is forced to explain Shireen’s death to Davos (Liam Cunningham). Throwing her the Baratheon stag carving, Davos scolds the red woman in front of Jon (Kit Harrington), undermining all her godly claims over the years. Davos hopes to execute Melisandre, but Jon allows her to ride south free, never to return to the north again. It’s been six elusive years but the red woman feels no longer enigmatic, but simply a woman in the dark as much as the rest of us.
Giving Sansa (Sophie Turner) credit for calling on the forces of the Vale, Jon has a well overdue conversation with his sister: “We need to trust each other, we can’t fight a war amongst ourselves, we have so many enemies now.” Jon declares. Strengthening the bond between the formerly estranged siblings, we imagine Sansa and Jon will remain inseparable into foreseeable future. We can only guess they’ll head the northern attack on the looming white walkers. After all, we heard Sansa say it herself – “winter is here”. After six years of teasing the fact, it seems the final pieces have fallen into place, ready for frozen forces to shake them up again – The white walkers have surely reached the wall by now. Without Petyr’s (Aidan Gillen) assistance last episode, Winterfell would’ve surely remained in the hands of the Bolton’s, so our patience for him increases this week. Patience which is quickly tested when revealing his creepy aspirations to Sansa once more. Hoping to sit on the Iron throne with her by his side, Littlefinger might have to adjust his vision when Sansa rejects his offer. While Lyanna Mormont conjures up some inspiration for the king in the north, Littlefinger watches Sansa from the corner with his beady eyes, no doubt plotting away. We predict he’ll become a major antagonist next season.
Further south, the Lannister’s and Frey’s are celebrating the re-taking of Riverrun, though Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is struggling to see the continued usefulness of house Frey. After Jaime departs for Kings Landing, Walder Frey (David Bradley) is left alone to meet his maker – no one. Confirming her return to the western continent, Arya (Maisie Williams) re-emerges on the radar with a taste for blood. Avenging her family at the same place they met their demise, Cersei might want to start packing if Arya finds her way south – and we all know she will. Welcome home Arya, we’re anticipating her narrative in season 7.
Elsewhere in the land of always winter, Brandon (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) finally make it to the wall with the help of Benjin. Unable to pass the wall, Benjin leaves the pair, declaring he’ll be fighting for the living on this side of the wall. Posting up near a Weirwood tree, Bran re-visits the past for the last time this season. Taking us back to the past, we see a young Ned Stark consoling his injured sister Lyanna. Giving birth to a brown eyed baby, Lyanna makes Ned promise to look after the child most think is Jon Snow. We know Lyanna was taken by Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) late brother, Rhaegar Targaryen, and so with this flashback, the theory that Jon Snow is half Targaryen is practically confirmed. So Jon’s a Targaryen? Where’s the silver hair? Perhaps he and Danny will align forces and restore the Targaryen legacy?
Down in Kings Landing, Cersei is mourning the loss of her last child, while audiences still reel from the episodes fatal start. With the death of Tommen and now that house Tyrell is near extinction, Cersei is left to claim the throne for herself – and unsurprisingly does so. As Jaime and the rest of the throne room watch on, Cersei proceeds to occupy the realms most powerful position. Let’s just say, everyone’s screwed. While Cersei warms to the throne, over in Essos, Daenerys prepares to depart for Westeros. Leaving Daario (Michiel Huisman) to watch over Meereen and after appointing Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) hand of the queen, Danny and her dragons begin their way across the narrow sea. Finally. With the climatic end of this episode, audiences find themselves at the beginning of the end of ‘a Song of Ice and Fire’. It’s been one crazy journey – an even longer one for book readers, but finally the last pieces of the vision created by George R.R. Martin find their way on screen, readying all for an explosive seventh season. As previously predicted, we imagined the world of Westeros and Essos would look a whole lot different come season’s end, and we weren’t wrong.
Overall, we consider Game of Thrones’ sixth series a soaring success. The game is changing, many are dead and the future proves as uncertain as ever. With Daenerys finally en route Westeros, Cersei now holding unparalleled power, Arya returning home to cross off the names on her list, the Starks finally finding retribution, and with the white walkers making their final approach, winter proves finally here.
Game of Thrones returns next year.