With this episode, six seasons of this large-scale television adaptation of a well-regarded epic fantasy book series have finished. Like every other season so far the audience knows that this is not the end; a Season 7 was confirmed months ago. So at least 10 more episodes will follow this one. But the world they inhabit will be altered in both small and large ways.
(I assume any audience reading about Game of Thrones has read a lot about A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones and I will not be responsible for any information you may gain as a consequence of reading this.)
Things that go boom in the day
The episode begins with 6 people getting into their costumes for this momentous day in King’s Landing. Cersei, Tommen, Margaery, High Sparrow, Loras, and Pycelle all assemble their morning vestments but … Cersei. Cersei looks different. It took my brain a few minutes to realize that she’s costuming herself similarly to Tywin, her father. It’s good usage of costume as foreshadowing, good work everyone. Margaery, High Sparrow, and Loras assemble into the Great Sept of Baelor, Cersei and Tommen are taking their time, Pycelle is told of something else.
The Trial of Loras starts up and he confesses his guilt of having committed crimes. The show chose to make same-sex relations (at least the manly kind) illegal according to the laws of the Faith and that’s the main crime that Loras admits to here, along with the related crime of lying about such relations when asked directly about them back in GoT #46. This Faith obsession with men boffing men is something that the show chose to invent, it’s not nearly as strongly present in the books, but it makes the Faith an easier enemy to understand, it makes it easier for the audience to get that they are not a force of good. Loras agrees to purge himself of his family name and anything that the Tyrell name would carry with it, and his forehead is mutilated (…also a show invention) in order to show his devotion to the cause of the Faith.
Okay Tommen is finally ready to go to the Great Sept oh wait Ser Gregor Clegane doesn’t want him to go there. How weird. And Cersei doesn’t seem to be in any rush to go there either. Hmmmmm.
Neither Mace nor Margaery is happy about Loras’s face; she had some kind of pre-trial understanding with High Sparrow that included conditions (no forehead carving!) that High Sparrow did not follow. He’s not able to be controlled. And High Sparrow and Margaery are noticing that Cersei’s not … there. Lancel volunteers to go get her! But then he sees a small boy being super obvious about getting Lancel’s attention and Lancel follows the boy to a dark underground passage because oh no the boy stabbed him and now he’s got no working legs. Pycelle follows a dwarf girl to a dark underground room. Pycelle turns around and sees a guy you never want to see in a dark underground room and the episode starts off its task of “Killing off a lot of characters” by having Pycelle stabbed by a lot of children with knives.
Everyone at the Great Sept looks around, confused on where Cersei and Tommen are. Where are Cersei and Tommen I wonder why they are avoiding this large pile of people in a confined space. I wonder why Cersei Is still in the Red Keep, watching the Great Sept from a window. Lancel gets to slowly drag himself to the really large pile of wildfire which is (rather smartly) on some candle fuses. Margaery tries to talk High Sparrow into getting everyone out of the building, he doesn’t think there’s a threat. It’s a slow buildup over a powerful orchestral soundtrack, it’s a long setup for a magic act that goes off just as Cersei planned, with her main enemies exploded along with I guess a few hundred innocent civilians including someone by a random bell.
This magic act pulls down three members of House Tyrell (Mace, Loras, and Margaery) two members of House Lannister (Lancel and Kevan) and apparently almost all of the Faith Militant, from the High Sparrow on downwards. Also Cersei sometime captured Septa Unella and sort of wineboard tortures her before letting Gregor do what he wants to with her behind closed doors. Cersei has been skirting between Full Villain and Sort-of Villain for years now so I guess it’s good to see her choose to be as Full Villain as possible.
Where things open up to interpretation are with Tommen. Gregor stands watch over Tommen until after the explosion happens; he’s an undead whatever so I guess Cersei told him to guard Tommen until there was no threat to Tommen. And then an attendant half-apologizes to Tommen for keeping him from going to the Great Sept. But did Cersei want Tommen to then die? I can’t tell. I think she put the cards on the table for Tommen to see what his reaction would be, to see if he was going to go along with Cersei’s New Westeros Order or if he wasn’t able to deal with it. And he chooses to not deal with it. Given only one option wherein he can control his own life, he takes that option. So ends the reign of King Tommen, first of His Name.
Ain’t no party like a Frey party
Walder Frey has a party at the Twins to celebrate House Lannister and House Frey taking over Riverrun and the Lannister-Frey alliance, set in place in the third season by Tywin Lannister. Interestingly the show gets to premiere (or, if you’re of a particular notion, spoil) the House words of House Frey: “We stand together.” Which are house words that make sense since they’re a house that really seem impressed by a bridge and twin castles they built; not many houses have a building on their coat of arms. Jaime is not really in the mood to celebrate. Bronn is, as always, in the mood to score some free tail. Both of them comment about a serving woman and then Jaime points Bronn to two other serving women and Bronn goes off to spit game at them or whatever Bronn does.
Walder wanders over to chat with Jaime. Walder reveals what is up with Edmure (he’s back in a cell) and Walder and Jaime discuss fighting and kingslaying. Walder seems happy to have conquered Riverrun but Jaime reminds him that he did not conquer Riverrun, the Lannister forces did. No one fears the Freys, they fear the Lannisters, and what good is Walder Frey if House Lannister has to bail him out of his mistakes? Jaime, having dropped the mic, walks off, leaving Walder there to think about how no one likes the Freys (probably because their coat of arms is A BRIDGE which is super dull).
So I hear Tommen’s dead
With I guess all of the Faith dead in King’s Landing it makes some kind of sense that Qyburn would be the person who grabbed Tommen’s corpse, and on Cersei’s insistence she looks at it. She doesn’t seem pleased, which is one of the main reasons I don’t think she wanted Tommen to die. She was already well on her way to Full Villain but with all three of her children dead (as Maggy long ago promised) Cersei has no fraks left to give.
Because the Maggy prophecy is different in book and show (primarily because the show does not mention any valonqar) I want to reiterate what Maggy’s 3 mains prophecies were on the show.
1 Cersei would marry the King. That happened when she married Robert Baratheon.
3 Cersei’s three children would have gold crowns and gold shrouds. That has now happened to all three of her children.
2 Cersei would be Queen until she would be cast down by a younger and more beautiful queen who would take all she held dear.
This last part is where the prophecy becomes weirder to interpret because Cersei hasn’t actually been cast down by anyone. So is this a reference to Daenerys or Sansa? Moreover, what does Cersei hold dear that anyone else can take from her? She has no children left, and none of them were killed by younger queens. Joffrey died by a Olenna-Petyr allied act, Myrcella died by Ellaria’s lips (so weird), and Tommen died by his own feet. She has Jaime and the Iron Throne (and maybe Casterly Rock?), so I guess that’s all she has left to lose.
It seems a lot like this part of the prophecy has become oddly self-fulfilling, that Cersei’s actions are causing Cersei to lose what she holds dear: the Faith Militant casting her down in Season 5 was a direct consequence of Cersei promoting the Faith Militant into existence and then aiming them at House Tyrell. I can’t tell if it’s the show trying to make a book adaptation work within the different narrative (so it seems off) or if this is just a prophecy that isn’t really meant to make sense.
Here’s a big library for all the book fans in the audience
So Samwise, Gilly, and Sam go to Oldtown. Technically they already have been to Oldtown because they were on a ship that went to Oldtown. But the show just picked up on their travels when they were close to Sam’s house at Horn Hill. Now they arrive, officially, in Oldtown, staring at Hightower, the giant lighthouse that is the tallest building in Westeros. (House Hightower rules from there. Their coat of arms is also a building. But a lighthouse is cooler than a bridge so they’re less dull than the Freys) (a Hightower daughter married Mace Tyrell, she’s Loras and Margaery’s mother) (she has never been seen on the show) (oops) (now she is a widow and also has two dead children :-()
There’s a ton of white ravens being unleashed from Hightower (… not where ravens come from in the books but it looks cooler on the show so whatever) and the point of these white ravens is that they announce the change of seasons. Their release means that Winter is here.
Samwise, Gilly, and Sam go into the Citadel and encounter a bureaucratic maester who is this review’s patron saint because he’s really annoyed at things changed from a book and also because he just nonverbally asks for things with an extended hand. Jeor Mormont died back in GoT #24 and Maester Aemon died in GoT #47 and apparently since then no one from Castle Black has sent a raven informing the Citadel of the changes in command structure at Castle Black. HOW RUDE RIGHT everyone is supposed to send a raven when things happen on this show how else will a person reading Wikipedia learn what happened.
But unnamed Maester guy lets Samwise go check out the library in the Citadel. He bluntly tells Gilly and Sam they’re not permitted and Sam uh awkwardly motions that he’ll be back so I guess we’ll uh we’ll pick up on Gilly and Sam later because Samwise goes to look at a library.
At the top of the hour if I had told you the coolest looking CGI spectacle in this episode would be inside a library you would have probably have doubted me but did you see the inside of this library omg. This looks like a really cool place I can’t wait for some Library of Alexandria kind of thing to happen and throw Westeros into an even deeper funk.
We need to check in on Winterfell
It’s been a whole episode since we were in Winterfell I wonder what’s happening in Winterfell. Oh it’s Melisandre finally being confronted by Davos about how Melisandre burned a child to death. Right. About that. Melisandre plays the “R’hllor told me to do it” card and the “Jon is alive because of R’hllor” card and the “you need me to fight the Night King” card and Jon and Davos don’t care. Jon exiles Melisandre out of Winterfell and declares the North off-limits to her. Davos says he will execute her if he sees her again (I don’t get why he doesn’t just say kill).
Melisandre is so beyond this petty morality that she eyerolls everything pretty hard. She is centuries old and this cause, this war against the Great Evil of Westeros, is in her long lifetime the only cause that matters, it’s the only reason why she cared about Stannis Baratheon’s claim to the Iron Throne or Jon’s claim to Winterfell, because she knows that an alliance of men is the only thing that will stop the Others. She’s an ardent militant who does the wrong things for the right reasons and I’d be worried that Tyrion made an alliance in Meereen with Melisandre-types but I don’t know if the show wants me to worry about Meereen so…
Sansa and Jon chat about Jon’s new plan to redecorate Winterfell and it’s a half-spoken conversation about a very real question: who is the Heir to Winterfell? Because logically and legally (within the show’s legality) it’s Sansa.
“I’m not a Stark,” Jon says, completely and utterly correctly within the realm of Westerosi law. “You are to me,” replies Sansa, which is an opinion not backed up by the facts on the ground at all.
The two of them kick the ownership of Winterfell around (Jon does not want it) (somehow neither does Sansa) and Sansa tries to patch up the discord she caused by not telling Jon about the alliance she forged with the Vale. Jon accepts it and says that they need to trust one another. Sansa also explains to the tv-only audience what white ravens mean, thanks Sansa. And Jon jokes about how father always promised that Winter was coming and ha ha ha joke’s on you Jon Ned’s not your dad OH WAIT SORRY TOO SOON
The showrunners liked this dialogue but not the characters
So Olenna Tyrell went to Dorne (to the Water Gardens? Is that where this is?). Apparently Ellaria’s oligarchy, who rule unquestioned? in Dorne, invited Olenna to Dorne. Olenna, speaking as an audience surrogate, makes fun of Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene. (sigh) But this is where House Martell and House Tyrell, well, what’s left of them, ally.
“It is not survival I offer, it is your heart’s desire,” Ellaria quips, ringing a bell she has on her chair’s armrest. “And what is ‘my heart’s desire’?” Olenna asks in Patented Olenna Snarky Tone. “Vengeance,” says Ellaria. “Justice.” “Fire and blood,” adds in Varys who wanders in.
This is a sweet sequence of dialogue I wonder who wrote it.
Speaking of fire and blood let’s give a scene to Daario
Hey everyone remember Daario well he’s back in wet blanket form. Since GoT #59 ended the attack on Meereen, Daenerys has decided to leave Meereen to go invade Westeros. She will let “the people choose their own leaders” (so the oligarchy in charge when she took over will just take over again right?) and she will leave the Second Sons, a mercenary group, be the peacekeepers in Meereen.
“Fuck Meereen. Fuck the people,” says the guy who was just told to protect the people in Meereen, a good start to his new job. Daenerys is of the (correct) opinion that she shouldn’t go to Westeros with an unwed lover if she seeks to make any marriage alliances over there.
This raises the question of who in Westeros can Daenerys even marry but we all know the answer is Jon Snow because Targaryen Incest Hype.
But Daario here is begging to stay in Daenerys’s life and she has already made up her mind that that’s not going to happen, so that decision is not going to change.
After Daario walks out of Daenerys’s life she goes to speak with Tyrion who attempts to console her but he is not good at consoling people. He raises the point that she is on the cusp of taking over everything she ever wanted. She counters with the point that she just made a huge life choice involving someone she thought she cared deeply about and felt nothing but impatience to get on with it. This is either the most ovetly meta the show has ever been or I’m reading too much into it or maybe it’s both.
Tyrion the ultimate cynic admits that he’s tried believing in causes greater than himself before and they all sucked. But now he truly and honestly believes in Daenerys, and she rewards his belief by declaring him the Hand of the Queen, annoying Missandei to no end because Missandei has advised Daenerys for, like, years longer. I’m not entirely sure why (other than blatantly wanting to be promoted, which seems out of character) he gives this speech because I don’t know if the show has given a strong reason for him to unquestioningly trust Daenerys. Yes, she has gathered a large army of Dothraki. … after she killed a dozen+ of their leaders to take this army. Yes, she saved Meereen … after several hours of it being sieged. … after leaving it. No she didn’t go burn down all of Yunkai, Astapor, and Pentos. … she just had two of their leaders killed. Somehow the “brutal but not too brutal” nature of the Mother of Dragons is the best pragmatic hope for the world that Tyrion has ever seen and he’s no longer a cynic because he’s mostly sure that this Targaryen is less mad than her dad.
Ain’t no pie like a Frey pie ‘cause a Frey pie don’t taste good
I mean the episode already has show characters using book characters’ lines, so it makes sense that it would also have show characters enacting book character plots. Book Frey pie is a complex situation because it requires that Freys go to House Manderly’s city, be killed, made into meat pie, and then brought to the Ramsay-Fake Arya wedding as food.
In the show Walder hits on some random serving woman (earlier seen flirting??? with Jaime at the party) and asks where Lothar and Black Walder are at. Lothar and Black Walder are two of Walder’s many sons, the former legitimate and the latter not. Those two sons are the two Walder sons which the show has followed around; in GoT #26 they were who went to Riverrun to negotiate with Robb, in in #29 Lothar killed Talisa and Black Walder opened up Catelyn’s throat, this season Lothar and Black Walder were the leaders of the Frey siege at Riverrun. I had to look them up at the GoT Wiki to remember any of this because the show has 30,000 characters. Neither of them is the heir to the Twins, that’s another Frey seen once on the show, Stevron. The only time he’s seen he was less of a jerk than his dad. Which might be why the show never showed him again, the show doesn’t want to confuse us with a male Frey who is not a jerk.
Random serving woman insists that Lothar and Black Walder are here and Walder opens up the pie crust to see yeah there’s human finger in there oh no he’s a cannibal. She takes off her mask to reveal that she’s Arya!!!!!!!! and she opens up Walder’s throat.
I know you’re asking yourself how did Arya even get to Westeros let alone how did she kill two Freys off camera and then butcher them and cook them in a pie and well there’s a good explanation to that
::reviewer falls off a horse, Arya creepily smiles::
Petyr loves Sansa?
So apparently Petyr Baelish, in his own internal dreams, sees himself on the Iron Throne with Sansa as his Queen. That sounds like a realistic interpretation of this character, yes. And he claims that every action he does is pushing towards that internal dream.
“That explains why last season he threw Sansa to the Boltons” I said to myself, not believing any of that but not wanting to dwell on this further because the show has no interest in talking about this so neither do I.
He has declared House Arryn for the Starks and he argues for Sansa to declare herself the Lady of Winterfell because she has a stronger claim to the North than Jon does. And he’s not wrong and she knows it but she walks off.
Meanwhile North of the Wall
Benjen of House Coldhands drops Meera and Bran off. …somewhere. Somewhere north of the Wall, since apparently if Benjen touches it he magically explodes or something. So he leaves Meera and Bran without a sled at a weirwood tree and Bran hacks himself into a tree. But this is the moment that fans have been waiting for for twenty friggin years because Bran is going to the Tower of Joy to see what happened there.
Back in GoT #56 Bran had a vision of lots of scenes thrown together and one image was this one:
Ned goes into the Tower of Joy and his sister Lyanna is there. She does not look like she’s in good shape, she is on her deathbed, there is a lot of blood, she knows she’s going to die. It is the same scene that was seen by Bran four episodes ago:
And she tells Ned to do something, something so important it changes the course of his life and forces him to lie to his wife, his best friend, everyone he knows, and pretend to be a man he is not.
And Ned is handed baby Jon “Snow” and then the show wants to make sure you get it by immediately cutting to Jon Snow in the present day I hope you get it did you get it the baby at the Tower of Joy was Jon and Lyanna’s his mom and his dad is Rhaegar Targaryen so he’s a song of ice and fire and the prince who was promised (get it? GET IT?) yadda yadda yadda etc etc.
This show is downright hilarious when it alternatingly whispers and then yells out an important point. I know that some of the audience isn’t paying attention (on a show with 30,000 characters this sounds like a bad idea) so it has to hit the audience over the head but it’s still funny to watch.
Also fun fact if Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son is not legitimate, if they did not actually marry or whatever (it’s unclear) then Jon’s last name is determined by where he was born. The Tower of Joy is in Dorne, so, Jon “Snow” is … Jon Sand. The Sand Snakes rule Dorne and a Snake rules in Winterfell Snakes are on the top of the leaderboard here folks.
The King in the North Redux
So we end the episode by previewing next season’s main conflict, the War of the Three Queens. Firstly we return to Winterfell wherein the various Free Folk, Northerners, and the Knights of the Vale all discuss what to do next. Jon tells everyone that the White Walkers are north of the wall and they will crush the North (and the rest of Westeros) if all they do is try to wait out the winter. Lady Mormont, Season 6’s MVP, speaks up on behalf of Jon. Lord Manderly speaks up on behalf of Jon, declares for the White Wolf, the King in the North. Lord Glover does the same. Everyone else in the Hall (including Davos, definitely, and maybe even the Free Folk who earlier claimed they don’t bend the knee to any king) does the same.
Petyr and Sansa trade a lot of glances and we’re supposed to guess what they’re non-verbally saying to one another; her smile goes away after looking his way. Honestly this entire scene requires an interpretation of how Westeros / the North works that I don’t understand. Everywhere but in Dorne, bastards do not inherit, end of sentence, no discussion after. But here’s a scene full of men loudly proclaiming that Jon inherits Winterfell while his sister, who has a stronger claim, is sitting right there next to him. Is this scene supposed to make me feel like the North is a giant misogynistic cesspool? Is this some kind of meta statement about how overly qualified women have to fight to gain power while unqualified men can simply grab it?
The show this season previously attempted to say that some of the Houses of the North are somehow wary of Sansa because she’s married a Lannister before (and they’re jerks) and a Bolton before (and they’re even bigger jerks). So I can see this continued wariness of Sansa’s claim to Winterfell in light of that, but:
1) women now choose who they marry? That’s news, Westeros, when did that happen.
2) they … trust a bastard more than Sansa?
Does Petyr Baelish know about Jon’s actual parentage, which would make Jon into a Targaryen usurper of Winterfell? Is this some wrench he’s going to throw into the works to derail the King in the North? TUNE IN NEXT YEAR TO FIND OUT
The Mad Queen Rules
Jaime returns to King’s Landing he’s been really really wanting to get back to King’s Landing so he can make out with his sister more oh wait why is King’s Landing on fire where is the Great Sept of Baelor why is there a fire where that used to be
Jaime happens to show up in the middle of Queen Cersei’s coronation ceremony and the Great Hall looks more imperial than ever so that’s new. After decades of wanting to be Tywin’s superior, she finally gets to sit on the Throne that he merely stood by. And the thing is that this is where she wants to be, this is where she has always wanted to be. She has wanted to rule but been forced by ruling patriarchal notions to not just seize what she thinks should be hers. With her enemies defeated (… mostly) she now gets the reward she has worked so hard for. If people had only been nicer to Cersei, she wouldn’t have ever needed to explode anyone.
Jaime watches, probably really confused on why everything exciting happens when he leaves King’s Landing. Will he ask why Tommen is dead? Will he ask why Cersei exploded their uncle? Will he ask why Cersei has gone Full Villain? TUNE IN NEXT YEAR TO FIND OUT
The Less Mad Queen Sails
Over a gorgeous soundtrack, Theon and Yara are on their ship watching their Kraken flag flap in the winds and looking at … A ship full of Unsullied, led by Grey Worm, with a dragon figurehead at the prow of the ship, which the camera follows until it zooms out to catch the shadows of dragons flying overhead. A ship of Dothraki is panned past, their horses in the hold, the camera looks up at Drogon flying overhead, and then tracks with Drogon as Viserion and Rhaegal join him flying, they fly past the lead ship. On the aftcastle of that ship, Daenerys, Missandei, Tyrion, and Varys (??!?!) watch and look forward to the destiny that awaits them in Westeros.
This fleet is really big and it’s a combination of Targaryen ships, Greyjoy ships, Tyrell ships, and I think there’s some Martell ships in there too. This is three and a half Great Houses of Westeros aligned together to sail to Westeros and take it over from that Madwoman on the Iron Throne.
Will this fleet run into Euron’s Ironborn fleet? Where in Westeros is this fleet headed? Where is Gendry? TUNE IN NEXT YEAR TO FIND OUT