Game of Thrones S6E10 “The Winds of Winter” Review
WHEN YOU SPOIL THE GAME OF THRONES YOU DIE!
I promise there’s a rhyme and reason to the order of this review, but we’re going to build up to the best parts.
Walder Frey hosts the Lannisters at the Twins. He makes no pretense about the alliance between these two treacherous houses. Bronn is still bitter about Jaime catching every girl’s eye and not getting any attention himself. Good of Jaime to play wingman though.
Walder is sitting pretty right now, with the Tullies surrendering Riverrun and the Lannisters backing his claim.
Jaime isn’t pleased to be likened to Walder. Walder and Jaime both had to deal with the Starks thinking they could walk all over them, but Jaime is much more honorable and braver on the whole. Also he makes it pretty clear to Walder that he won’t be marching back up the Riverlands to clean up his messes again any time soon.
Walder finally dines alone in his hall. One servant girl we spotted earlier brings him another meat pie. It’s Frey! Have a little Frey! Is it any good? Sir it’s too good, I’ll say! This would probably be the best time to remind viewers that Game of Thrones has disconnected time scales. I admit I never expected Arya to return to Westeros, much less cross off such a big name on her list, this quickly. But Arya’s story is still the most logistically isolated this season, so it’s possible that what we saw of Arya in Braavos happened months before she returned to Westeros.
How did Arya clear the whole hall, kill Walder’s sons and have enough time to bake them? Who cares?
Also it’s Arya giving laser guided karmic justice to Walder Frey, so really, who gives a $#%@! For the second season finale in a row, Arya gets bloody satisfying revenge on a creepy old man who abuses her. This scene is extra appropriate because way back in the Red Wedding episode, Bran had a scene where he told his friends a tale of a lord who broke guest right. He killed a guest he had accepted into his protection under his roof. For this crime he was cursed to be a giant white rat and eat his young. Serves Walder Frey just right.
Samwell and Gilly arrive at Oldtown. Quite the impressive city, especially with the towering Citadel. A whole flock of white ravens can be seen escaping the top as Sam and Gilly approach.
So far, the Maesters look like every trope about stuffy, snooty librarians we’ve ever seen. Sam has to tell them that Jeor Mormont isn’t the Lord Commander and that Aemon isn’t the Maester anymore. Sam wasn’t kidding about the biggest library in the world. Let’s hope he doesn’t forget completely about Gilly and Little Sam and Heartsbane with his nose in these books.
Bran, Meera and Benjen are still trekking through the wilderness north of the Wall. Benjen is going? But he just got here! What can he do on his own that’s more important than keeping Bran safe? What would happen to him if he approached the Wall?
Eh, fine. Bran takes another shot at controlling his own visions. Of course, finally he goes right back to where we left off at the Tower of Joy.
It feels so weird. To finally see this scene. This is the longest and arguably most anticipated revelation book readers have been waiting for since the show started.
The scene really captures how young Lyanna is meant to be, just like the books. She pleads for her big brother to save her, wanting to be brave in the face of death. But she has to tell Ned something. If Robert finds out he’ll kill him? You have to protect him?
“Promise me Ned, promise me…”
A babe is thrust into Ned’s arms. A baby boy with saucer black eyes…
The eyes of Jon Snow! R+L=J CONFIRMED!
Jon reminisces in the great hall of Winterfell about when the whole family dined here. He was always the bastard so he dined in the corner. At least he had a family, and feasts in a great hall, Melisandre reminds him.
Davos storms in. he chucks the carved stag at Melisandre and yells at her to confess what she’s done. Their horses and men were starving. The Lord of Light told her to do it. Davos does not care. Not even that the Lord of Light supposedly brought Jon Snow back. And not even that Stannis let it happen. She burned a kind, good innocent young girl, who Davos thought of as a daughter, and it was all for nothing anyway. Melisandre was wrong. Davos wants Jon to let him execute her. Melisandre won’t profess to be innocent but she does say that Jon will need her power in the war against the dead to come.
Jon banishes Melisandre from the North, under penalty of death, which Davos threatens to carry out himself if she ever returns.
It’s weird inheriting a parent’s house in non-fantasy worlds. Taking over your parents’ old chambers in a castle after winning them back in a battle must feel even weirder. Just rewards for Sansa though, who’s dealing with Littlefinger saved a losing battle and brought Winterfell back to the Starks. We still don’t know why exactly Sansa didn’t tell Jon about Little finger, even though she admits it was a mistake, but Jon forgives her.
“A White Raven from the Citadel. Winter is here.”
“Well Father always promised didn’t he.”
Littlefinger finds Sansa in the God’s wood, sitting where Ned Stark once sat. Now the wood is covered in snow and there are far less Starks in Winterfell. Sansa knows better by now than to waste time with Littlefinger’s circumlocution.
What does he want? We might have just gotten his most honest answer in the whole series. He wants to sit the Iron Throne. With Sansa at his side. Looks like Sansa doesn’t want any part of that. Is Littlefinger really trying to drive a wedge between Jon and her? Start a civil war between the Vale and the North? Jon wants her to be the Lady of Winterfell himself.
The Lords of the Vale and the remaining Lords of the North are squabbling over the new Lords of the North, and the Wildlings who’ve settled south of the Wall. With the Boltons gone, most of them are ready to ride back home and wait out the Winter.
But Jon knows, Tormund knows, and Lady Mormont knows, the real war against the Winter is just beginning. Jon and Sansa defeated the Boltons to unite the North against the White Walkers. So who will they unite behind?
Lady Mormont calls upon the proud lords of the North, to honor, to remember their oaths, to the Starks. At the head table sits the proven warrior and leader, a natural son of Eddard Stark. Her true words rouse rumbles of ascent. One by one, just as their predecessors hailed Robb Stark, the lords Kerwin, Manderly, Glover and Royce draw their swords and declare Jon Snow, “THE KING IN THE NORTH, THE KING IN THE NORTH, THE KING IN THE NORTH!”
Through the cheers, Littlefinger catches Sansa’s eye. I don’t like this one damn bit. If Littlefinger (somehow) finds out about Jon’s true parentage. It could be just the leverage he needs to usurp Jon Snow and thrust Sansa into the spotlight, making her his pawn again. Remember what happened to the last King in the North?
The buildup in King’s Landing is absolutely incredible. We start with each of our major players dressing for the forthcoming trial. Cersei, Margaery and Tommen look their best selves while the High Sparrow’s robe looks a bit whiter and cleaner. Instead of heading for the Sept when fully dressed, Cersei pours herself a generous cup of wine.
Maester Pycelle also prepares to attend after rising from bed with a whore. He’s detoured by one of Qyburn’s little birds. They lead him into Qyburn’s study. Qyburn assures Pycelle that he’s never meant him any harm, but that the old must be laid to rest before the new can rise. More of the little birds appear from the shadows with knives drawn. Pycelle slaps one of them across the face before the rest over take him and stab him to death. Finally sending him back to the dirt.
Tommen is also barred from exiting his chambers by Gregor Clegane.
Lancel is sent to retrieve the Queen mother from the Red Keep, but he spots some of the birds scurrying around the Sept and follows them. They lead him to the catacombs below and wound him too. He crawls along the corridor lined with barrels, oozing some glowing green liquid. Lancel knows that it’s wildfire, he saw it’s power himself at the Battle of Blackwater Bay. At the end of the hall are 3 pools of wildfire, each with a candle in their middle burning low…
The unusual piano riffs also build tension in these scenes. It gives an inevitability and grandeur to the whole affair.
The assemblage files into the Sept of Baelor, followed by the seven Septons. Loras Tyrell is the first to stand trial. To the surprise of the court, he confesses his crimes. Laying with Renly, conspiring against Joffrey, committing perjury before the gods. The High Sparrow accepts Loras’s confession, on the condition that he devote his life to the Seven and brand himself on his forehead like every other sparrow. Looks like he meant it when he said to Margaery, let them win. When Mace protests, as the sparrows carve their symbol into Loras’s forehead, Margaery sternly tells him “Faith is the way, Father.”
This wasn’t what Margaery and the High Sparrow agreed to. Cersei and Tommen are late, Margaery notices. The septons will try Cerisei in absentia, but Margaery knows something is wrong. She tries to warn them, and then flee with her brother when they won’t listen, but it’s too late.
Little aside, Bran saw this very scene when he was trapped in his vision in episode six. It’s the exact same shot of the wildfire in the catacombs. “Burn them all!”
I had hoped that Margaery and Loras would escape. But Cersei finally found a way to work the High Sparrow’s blind faith against him. His sparrows forbid anyone from leaving the Sept of Baelor. Let’s get an ash count here: High Sparrow, Margaery, Loras, Kevan, Mace and Lancel. Them along with hundreds of others in and around the Sept were incinerated.
As part of Cersei’s arc, this was an absolutely thrilling end. But I would have lied to see more from Margaery and Loras, especially since Loras did nothing but be persecuted and jailed for the last two seasons. Olenna may get her revenge though.
Cersei watches from her room in the Red Keep, the satisfaction beaming on her face. She probably wishes she could see their faces. But she did save one victim to personally torture.
Septa Unella. We find her strapped down to a table in some cell. Cersei wakes her by pouring wine all over her face. She’s finally going to have her confession, but now the dynamics have changed. Cersei confesses, to murdering King Robert, having sex with Jaime, lying to everyone, all because she enjoyed it, keeping herself in power. She knows that Septa Unella enjoyed torturing Cersei too.
She may be prepared to meet her gods today, but Cersei won’t let her off the hook that easy. She’d like to introduce her to Gregor, famous for raping and murdering Elia Martell. Who knows how long Cersei will leave those two be.
“Shame! Shame! Shame!” she jeers and she closes the door on Unella’s screams.
Savage, Cersei. Absolutely savage.
Tommen stares across the city in horror, knowing that his wife was in the Sept. He sets his crown aside and hurls himself from the window. Cersei probably thought that she could manage whatever emotional damage Tommen suffered from this. She’s probably too overloaded with shock to deal with the fact that she caused the death of her own, last living child. She decides to burn Tommen’s body, along with the bodies of his grandfather and brother and sister she just burned.
Jaime can still see the smoke billowing from the ruins of Baelor as he rides towards King’s Landing. He’s just in time to see Cersei’s coronation as the unqualified, totally uncontested Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Queen of a City she terrorizes, Queen of House that is dead but for her and her brother, Queen of a Kingdom that loathes her. And Qyburn as her Hand, brilliant.
Where’s Tommen? Jaime must wonder. Will he still be by Cersei’s side once she explains what’s happened? Was it worth it Cersei? What will she be with all this power, and no children to protect, to give her perspective?
She already has a rival on the horizon.
I wish we could have gotten to see Lady Olenna react to the news of her family’s death. For now she just seems to be even snarkier than usual. She and the Sand Snakes hate the Lannisters equally, but that doesn’t make them friends. Fortunately, Ellaria and Olenna not only hate the Lannisters, but have a common enemy in them. Vengeance is the only thing Olenna wants, and nobody does vengeance like the Sand Snakes. But a little Fire and Blood will certainly help too. Olenna and Varys have some catching up to do.
Daenerys is finally leaving Slavers, scratch that, Bay of Dragons, and sailing for Westeros. But there are some matters to settle. Daario will not be coming. She wants him to stay in Meereen with the Second Sons and protect the city until they choose a leader of their own. Daario wants none of that weak sauce. He wants to fight by her side in Westeros and be with her when she’s not playing queendom with some perfumed lord she’ll have to marry again.
The sorrow in Daenerys eyes is there, but her mind is made up. Daario feels sorry for himself. How can any woman compete with the mother of Dragons? Daenerys suspects many women will have the opportunity.
Maybe Tyrion suggested it, maybe not. It’s not fair. Daario did have a point that a king would be able to bring whatever consorts he pleased, And Daario would totally settle for being Daenerys’s mistress, but alas, Daenerys is a Queen.
It certainly would be overwhelming, being and cusp of realizing your lifelong ambition.
“You’re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying,” Tyrion tells her. But that’s not what’s preoccupying Daenerys right now. She’s worrying at the coldness with which she dismissed Daario. There will be other lovers, Tyrion says. Daenerys is not consoled. Finally Tyrion says that he’s been a cynic all his life, never once finding anything in this world he truly believed in. Until Daenerys Stormborn.
That touches her at least. She takes his oath of council and presents him with her a badge she had made specially, signifying the Hand of the Queen. With tears in his eyes, Tyrion takes a knee before his Queen. Everything about this scene is so sweet, including the little step that puts Daenerys and Tyrion almost at eye level with both standing.
Her fleet sets sail. Yara and Theon at the head of the Greyjoy fleet, Grey Worm captaining the Unsullied, The Dothraki actually sailing with pens for their horses below deck, and Tyrion, Missandei and Daenerys at the head of the fleet with fully painted Targaryen Dragon sails.
And above them all, Martell, Tyrell, Dothraki, Unsullied, Greyjoy, Targaryen, flies her three dragons. Viserion, Rhaegal and Drogon, going home to reclaim their Kingdom. (The shenanigans of Varys continent jumping in one episode can’t diminish the awesomeness of this scene.)
So many game changers, so many revelations! The end game is near Game of Thrones fans!