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GAME OF THRONES SEASON FINALE ‘WINDS OF WINTER’ RECAP

Has there ever been an episode in television history with as much at stake as this Game of Thrones Season Finale?

The episode opens with the Stark direwolf sigil back in the opening credits, which made just about every fan excited. Needless to say, and don’t say you weren’t warned…SPOILERS ahead.

 

THE TRIAL

With all of the foreshadowing this season, from Bran’s vision and random Mad King conversations, to the whispers between Qyburn and Cersei, viewers new something big was going to go down in this episode.

In the Sept, Loras does not have a trial. Instead he admits his ‘sins,” and joins the Faith Militant, his beautiful face now marred with seven pointed star of the Faith.  We learn Marg had struck a deal with the High Sparrow allowing Loras to leave King’s Landing after Cersei’s trial.  Unfortunately for Loras, Cersei has no plans to attend her trial, and only Marg recognizes that she is playing them.

Back at the Red Keep, a child aka “little bird,” (formerly Vary’s, now Qyburn’s), lures Grand Maester Pycel into Qyburn’s lab. Qyburn is waiting for him.  The room fills with sweet little murderous street urchins who kill Pycel with daggers.

Image courtesy of HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

 

FROM PAGE TO SCREEN

Pycel does die in the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons, but it’s Varys that kills Pycel, as well as Kevan Lannister. The speech Qyburn gives Pycel is based on the Speech Varys gives Kevan.

In Dance, Kevan had been very successful at repairing the damage done to King’s Landing, the people, and the crown, at the hands of Cersei.  Kevan’s success uniting the 7 Kingdoms under Tommen was going to make it more difficult for Varys to get might-be king on the Iron Throne- Aegon Targaryen.    The same Aegon Targaryen, Dany’s nephew, thought murdered many years by Gregor Clegane, (Aegon was one of the deaths Oberyn was avenging as Tyrion’s champion).

Varys’s weapon of choice was a crossbow. He knew this weapon would create even more turmoil in Westeros, as fingers would be pointed in every direction, including at Tyrion.  Since Aegon, aka Young Griff, is not a character on the show, (there’s debate whether he is the 3rd head of the dragon, or an impostor), Varys backs another exiled Targ with Tyrion, Dany.

Image courtesy of HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

 

Cersei had no plans to attend her trial.

When Tommen gets up to leave the Red Keep for the Sept, he is blocked from doing so by The Mountain.  Across the town in the keep, the High Sparrow sends a few members of the Faith militant to bring Cersei to her trial.  This is only after Margaery, sensing something if off, informs the High Sparrow that Cersei has planned something.

One of the men sent to bring her in, was Lancel Lannister, Cersei’s cousin and former lover.  A small child catches his eye, and he follows him deep into the basement of the Sept. The little bird stabs Lancel, and flees.

When Lancel falls to the ground, paralyzed, and realizes that he is in a room full of wildfire barrels.  Unable to walk, he desperately crawled across the room to blow out the candles before they were low enough to ignite a puddle of wildfire.

 

Unfortunately, the High Sparrow has his guards block the doors, preventing people from leaving.  Below, Lancel is unable to blow out the candle in time, and the wildfire ignites in his face, setting off the rest of the cache.

Just as the High Sparrow finally looks to believe something is amiss, hears the roar of the wildfire traveling through the underground tunnels…

OH SHIT.

Image courtesy of HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

 

The green flames of the wildfire consume the Sept of Baelor.

Cersei watches, sipping her wine, relaxed.

Loras, Marg, Mace, Kevan, the High Sparrow, and seemingly everyone else within a city block of the Sept, were burned alive. The blast is so powerful it propels the Sept’s massive church bell through the streets.

CERSEI’S PLAN BACKFIRES

When the sept burst into green flames, Tommen was watching on.  Poor, sweet Tommen. 

After the explosion, Gregor left his doorway, no longer imprisoning him.  A servant enters and gives his condolences and we can assume news, of Marg’s death.

Tommen removes his crown, walks purposefully to his window, and jumps to his death.  In the novels, he’s much younger, so it’s more likely he dies in another way, but very likely will be due to something Cersei has put into play.   

Image courtesy of HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

 

Every person and building within a block of the Sept was destroyed. Both Cersei and Tommen witnessed the destruction.  After a servant offers his condolences, Tommen removes his crown, walks with purpose to his window, and jumps to his death.

In the novels, Tommen is much younger, so it’s unlikely he commits suicide.  It is likely that his death is caused by something Cersei puts into motion.  While her son was committing suicide, Cersei was torturing Septa Unella, handing her over to Gregor.

The problem with show Cersei is that the high’s and low’s she exhibits in the books, are not present.  There’s very little change in show Cersei’s demeanor between her joy over the Sept’s destruction, and her grief over Tommen’s death.

When Jamie returns, she’s being crowned Queen of Westeros.  He looks disgusted.  Can you say “valonqar’?  She looks irritated that he’s even there.  In the novels, Jamie is done with Cersei.  There, Clegane bowl is still an option, as Jamie has denied her request to represent her in combat against the Faith.

Is there a chance that she uses wildfire to destroy the Sept in Winds?  Well, according to the World of Ice & Fire, there is a precedent.  Sort of.  Maegor the Cruel, who battled the Faith Militant his entire reign, destroyed the Sept of Remembrance using Balerion ‘the Black Dread’s’ flames to destroy the Sept, and archers to kill anyone who tried to flee.

The problem for Cersei now is that she is without allies.  Sure she has the Frey’s but their days are numbered.  In the books she has more, but they have yet to make their appearance as supporters in person.

When the Lannister and Tyrell armies marched on the Sept, they believed that they could not use force to free Marg and Loras.  The Sept was surrounded by citizens who had turned to the Faith for help the crown no longer provided its people.  During Cersei’s coronation, there aren’t any riots, and there are people in the throne room watching, but none look happy.  The city is in shock right now, but I anticipate that is going to change during season 7.

WALDER FREY CELEBRATES

Before Jamie returned to Kings Landing, he was at the Twins, with the Frey’s.  Walder was celebrating his victory over House Tully.  Jamie was still in “get home to Cersei” mode.  Bronn points out that here are several serving girls eye-f@cking him, and he pays them no mind.  However, one catches his eye, sparking curiosity more than attraction.  That leads Bronn ask, “Not blonde enough for you?”

Bronn leaves with two of the girls, and Walder takes a seat next to Jamie.  Walder pisses Jamie off over his comments regarding the Blackfish dying while fighting.  Walder also makes a comment about them both being Kingslayers, not caring what people think of them.

The insinuation that he and Walder are the same angers Jamie.  Jamie killed Aerys because he had.  Which makes coming home to Cersei succeeding at Aerys’s plan in his absence, an even bigger deal to him.

The next day around noon, Walder waits for Black Walder and Lothar in the hall.  He flirts with the serving girl from the night before.  She puts a pie in front of him.  He asks her where his sons are.

It’s just the two of them, alone, in the hall Robb and Catelyn Stark were murdered in.  The serving girl tells him that his sons are there, right in front of him.  He’s confused until she points to the pies.  Frey pies.  The inspiration for this, (and its book version), is drawn from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

 

 

A KEY DIFFERENCE FROM THE BOOKS…

In the novels, it is the greatly underestimated, and underrated, Wyman Manderly that is behind the Frey pies, in Winterfell during the Ramsay Bolton/fArya wedding.  Book fans were disappointed that Frey pies didn’t make it into the drastically different Ramsay/Sansa wedding.  Here, it feels like lip service.

What makes Wyman’s Frey pies so amazing, is that, unlike the spoon feeding we get on the show, the reader has to read between the lines, so to speak.  And it isn’t Black Walder and Lothar who end up in the pies, it’s Symond, Rhaegar and Simeon.

The best part of it all, is that Wyman asks Abel the Bard (who is Mance in disguise), to sing the song Rat Cook, and then he then eats the pie himself.  Several pieces.  All the while, being the most unassuming looking threat imaginable.  It’s much more satisfying than Arya’s version of Frey pies, Walder’s death aside.

ARYA RETURNS

 

When the girl removes her face and reveals herself to be Arya, it’s satisfying as a viewer, but predictable.  And the question is, where did she get the face?  Is she still a Faceless Man?  If so, how?  And who was the girl she killed to get the face? 

Arya couldn’t even kill Lady Crane, who had been promised to the Many Faced God, it’s doubtful that it’s in her character to kill a random serving girl.  Did she steal the face from the Hall of Faces?  Once an assassin, always an assassin? S

he took out three people from her list, which is great, but the how’s and the plot holesare many. 

WE FINALLY SEE THE CITADEL!

Sam and Gilly finally make it to Oldtown, and it is gorgeous, as it should be.  Sam is unable to completely enter Maester training, as there is some bureaucratic bullshit to deal with. The Citadel, home of knowledge, has not received knowledge of Jeor or Aemon’s death.  Sam is, however, allowed to roam the library.

Poor Gilly. She may be gone soon, as Sam looks at those books in a way he has never looked at Gilly.  That is, if he stays.  When they arrived in Old Town they saw the white ravens leaving the Citadel.  Sam may not have time for anything other than reading up on how to defeat the White Walkers.

WINTERFELL

In Winterfell, Jon prepares to have the Northern Lords into the Great Hall to discuss the future.  Mel enters, and he tells her he wasn’t able to sit with his family at the table.  This isn’t the case, and when it happened during Robert and Cersei’s visit in season 1, it was addressed as a one time occurrence.

Davos enters, and it’s surprising he doesn’t kill Mel then and there, he’s furious.  He tosses her the stag he found in the ashes with his Westerosi eagle eyes. She’s affected by this, but gives him her  reasons for burning Shireen, and Davos is made aware for the first time that Stannis and Selyse were in on her death as well.  Why Davos would ask Jon for permission to kill Mel, and why Mel felt he had the authority to banish Mel, is beyond me.

The show has decided to omit Robb’s will, which may have named Jon Lord of Winterfell, because at the time of it being written, both Bran and Rickon were presumed dead.  Jon is not even Lord Commander any more.  If anything, he’s a Night’s Watch deserter, which is punishable by death (and one of the reasons behind his stabbing in Dance– he has decided to ride South on Winterfell after receiving the infamous pink letter.

That death technically freed him from his service, but do the others know that it happened?

Image courtesy of HBO
Image courtesy of HBO

Jon and Sansa meet later, and Jon informs Sansa he has made the Lord’s quarters up for her.  She wants Jon to have it, and it’s touching to hear that Sansa considers Jon as much of a Stark as she is.  Is this Sansa legitimizing Jon?  Eh, probably not yet.

Jon tells her they need to trust each other, and she apologizes for not telling him about the Knights of the Vale.  No one brought up the fact that had she told him, thousands of his men would still be alive, but whatever. She’s as guilty of the loss of innocent lives as Mel is.

At least she confirms that she doesn’t trust Littlefinger.  Although, this character has been written in such a way we never know what she’s thinking, until she has a tantrum.  We need her inner monologue.  They smile, looking over Winterfell from above, and Sansa tells him a white raven has arrived from the Citadel.  Winter has come.

Littlefinger finds Sansa in the Godswood and makes his motivations clear for the first time- he wants the Iron Throne, with Sansa at his side.  He again pushes her towards distrusting Jon, pointing out again that he is a bastard, and now that they are in Winterfell, that he was born in the South.  She doesn’t trust him, but can she stay out of his traps?

CAN WE GET A LYANNA MORMONT SPIN-OFF SERIES?

During the meeting, Lyanna Mormont gives the best speech of the series, shaming the other Lords who failed Jon when he needed them most. This kid is just great.

She rallies the other Lords, including Manderly, (who’s granddaughter in the novels is what this character may be based on), to declare Jon King in the North.  He wasn’t expecting to be Lord of Winterfell, let alone King in the North.

Sansa is all smiles, but when she looks over and sees the look Littlefinger gives her as the Lords chant “The King in the North!” her face changes to “Oh shit.”  Is it that she fears for Jon’s life?

 

MEANWHILE, BACK IN DORNE…

Olenna Tyrell has made her way to Dorne, and is in negotiations with Ellaria Sand about a possible alliance in order to exact revenge upon the Lannisters.  I love the undressing Olenna doled out on the Sandsnakes when they attempted to interject their thoughts into the meeting.  Varys appears, and a Targ-Martell-Tyrell alliance is made.  It’s frustrating that Doran was not on the show to give his book-famous speech,

Vengeance. Justice. Fire and blood.

Instead, it was given to Varys and Ellaria on the show.  When Doran says these words, it’s a shock.  He is believed to be weak and spineless.  And then, he speaks these words and we learn that he has been playing the long game against the Lannisters.  He is planning to seat a Targ on the Iron Throne.

This is the same thing that makes Arya’s Frey pies less impactful than Manderly’s.  All Ellaria and Arya want are vengeance, it’s not a shock.

THE MOTHER OF DRAGONS FINALLY SET SAIL

Dany breaks her relationship with Dario off, as she understands part of her power in Westeros may come via marriage alliance.  He’s cool with being her side piece, but she doesn’t want that for him.  She is leaving him and his Second Sons in Meereen to keep the peace.  Will this come back to haunt her?  They are sells words, and anyone with the right amount of money can hire them to fight against her, in Westeros.

Dany meets with Tyrion and tells him that the one thing that scared her most, was that she didn’t feel anything when breaking it off with Dario.  This was a very sweet conversation between the two, and I found Dany less annoying than usual. I’m thankful she didn’t give a speech.

When Tyrion tells her that he has never believed in anything, but he believes in her, I think there was a universal single tear drop among viewers.  She pins a hand of the Queen pin on his vest, and off they go.

Per usual, Dany ends the show.  This was by far the best ending since her dragons hatched.  She is accompanied by her usual entourage, plus Yara and Theon.  And Varys, who has somehow made it back to Meereen with both the Martell and Tyrell fleets.  There’s no rhyme or reason when it comes to time frame on the show.

One thing I found funny was that the Dothraki were manning the ships as well.  They’ve never even set foot on a boat.

 

WHAT ABOUT BRAN?

Benjen dropped off Bran and Meera, as he is unable to pass through the Wall to due its magic. As long as the Wall stands, the dead will stay to the North of the Wall.  if it falls, well, Westeros is SOL.  This is information we learned from Sam in Storm, when Coldhands sends him to bring Bran & Co. back to him, so he can get them to the 3-eyed crow.

Benjen has left them in front of the Godswood Jon and Sam say their Night’s Watch vows in front of.  Bran enters the Weirnet after Coldhands departs, and immediately picks up where he left off in his vision of Ned at the ToJ.  Now, it wasn’t said explicitly that Jon Snow is Rheager and Lyanna’s child, but it cuts from a very Jon Snow eyed looking baby, to Jon Snow in the hall during the meeting.

The actress playing Lyanna also looks a hell of a lot like Kit.  And of course, there’s “Promise me, Ned.”  The show had more words than we were given in Ned’s fever dream.  The only words the viewers could hear other than “Promise me, Ned,” were some about Robert.

By the look on Bran’s face, he heard the whispers we didn’t as viewers, as it’s a very “OMFG,” look.

R+L=J. It has all but been confirmed.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN SEASON 7?

This was a well directed and brilliantly scored finale.  Loose ends were tied up, characters were killed, Cersei is full Mad Queen, Jamie is now on a redemption path (hopefully), and Jon is King in the North. So now for a few predictions.

  1. I expect the next season to be a war between Dany’s army, and whoever Cersei has on her side.
  2. Jon will face off against Littlefinger.  His role in Ned’s death is still unknown to Jon and Sansa.
  3. Bran will make it to the Winterfell.
  4. Sam makes it to the Wall OR he is killed by his father.
  5. The remaining armies of the South will join Jon in the North to take on the White Walkers.

Who knows with D&D.  Hopefully, GRRM releases The Winds of Winter before season 7 premieres, however, there are several chapters from the book that have been released, and the show is not even close to following them.

Still, there’s one thing we know for sure…

WINTER IS HERE