Another Sunday, and we’re at the Season 6 Finale of Game of Thrones. And damn. That is all. Let’s do this.
We start off in King’s Landing, where bells toll the long-awaited trials of Loras Tyrell and Cersei Lannister before the Seven Gods. Cersei herself stands in the Red Keep looking out over the city before being outfitted in some kind of “Evil Queen” number. Everyone is getting dressed to impress for the big day. Margaery, having gone through her alleged conversion to piety, is having her finery put on. The Bernie Sanders-ish High Sparrow is donning his humble fanatic robes. The conniving Maester Pycelle is putting on his own robes and chains, relishing in anticipation of Cersei’s demise and dismissing a young naked sex worker from his bed. A tortured and broken Loras Tyrell is taken out of his cell by Sparrows of the Faith Militant to have his unkempt hair and beard cut down. The weak boy-king Tommen is getting decked out too, having the crown he can barely hold up placed on his head–having allowed his kingdom to become a theocracy.
All the while, there’s music as somber as the Rains of Castamere playing in the background. That should have been our first warning.
At the Sept, the High Sparrow, along with all the important figures of the court are in attendance for the trial. Among them are Margaery along with her father Mace Tyrell and Kevan Lannister. Tommen, meanwhile, seems unable to confront what he’s about to allow to happen. He sits quietly in his room thinking over life choices but refuses to answer the summons to go. I guess feeding your Moms to her enemies makes you feel some kind of way.
In the hallway, Maester Pycelle is confronted unexpectedly by a child wandering the halls (guess that’s normal) who whispers something in his ear we can’t hear. But it’s enough to make him pause in his walk to the Sept and follow. More on that in a bit.
At the Sept proper, a chained and somewhat cleaned up Loras Tyrell is brought out for judgment. The High Sparrow asks if he’s ready to confess his sins before the gods. Loras says yes and then”confesses” to everything: most prominently his alleged crimes of sexuality, as it turns out the Seven are a homophobic bunch. Loras goes further, and says he wishes to serve the gods fully–renouncing his title, his name, his house and everything, to become one among the Faith Militant. Mace Tyrell looks like he’s about to have a heart attack–because there goes the future of House Tyrell. The High Sparrow, however, is pleased. At his command the Sparrows grab Loras, draw a knife, and begin carving the sign of his renewed faith *in literal blood* on his forehead. Mace Tyrell looks like he’s ready to run down and fight, but Margaery holds him back.
Meanwhile, Tommen still ain’t moved. But when the doors to his room open again he finally stands up and says “Alright, I’m ready.” Only he turns around to find it’s not one of his servants. It’s The Zombified Mountain. Looking all big and Mountain-ish. When Tommen tries to leave through the door, saying he has to go because he’s late to the trial, Zombie Mountain puts up an armored hand like, “Nah.”
That music is still playing.
At the Sept, Margaery is pissed at what was done to Loras. But the High Sparrow assures her that as soon as Cersei shows up and gets judged, it’ll all be good. But umm, where’s Cersei? Cousin Lancel, one time Cersei lover turned Sparrow, says she never even left the Red Keep. High Sparrow tells him to take some of the Faith Militant and fetch the Queen for her trial. Cersei up there pouring wine and drinking though, like ain’t nothing wrong.
The music is still playing.
On the way to the Red Keep, Lancel notices some little boy running through the streets and making his way into a tunnel beneath the Sept. Suddenly there’s errant kids everywhere in this show. For reasons that aren’t explained, he’s like, “Hey look, a running kid. Should follow him.” Because of course. Elsewhere, Maester Pycelle has followed his own kid guide to none other than the laboratory of his arch-enemy the mad ex- maester Qyburn. Turns out, the kid had told Pycelle he would find the king here waiting to speak to him. But there’s no king, just Qyburn and a whole lot of unwashed kids–with knives. And we remember from a past episode, that the mad ex-maester has taken over the spy network of “little birds” that once belonged to Varys the Spider–children. Qyburn apologizes for what’s bout to happen, and says that “sometimes before we can usher in the new, the old have to be put to rest.” Then those kids shank the f*ck out of the maester to a bloody end. I ain’t seen a stabbing that bad since Caesar in ROME.
Cousin Lancel finds himself dealing with his own kid problem, as the boy he’s chased into a tunnel stabs him as well (who’s allow these kids to have knives??). But the wound isn’t meant to kill, just to terribly injure. And as Cousin Lancel lays there he begins to look around. All about him, stacked high to the walls, are barrels full of green stuff. Wildfire. Oh my damn.
We realize now why that solemn music is playing. This is a hit. Cersei is Michael Corloeone at the baptisms, just waiting for the murders of her enemies to get carried out. Only one person seems to realize that something’s hella wrong–Margaery Tyrell. She notices Cersei isn’t here, and is like “hold up, this sh*t here ain’t right.” She tells as much to the High Sparrow, but fanaticism breeds hubris. He ‘splains to her that all’s well. Margaery ain’t having it though. She grabs up Loras to get the hell outta there, imploring everyone else to do the same. But the Faith Militant bar the way. And as they’re trapped inside, pressing to get out, somewhere deep beneath the Sept, Cousin Lancel makes a desperate crawl towards some candles set to burn in a pool of Wildfire. The music speeds up to a crescendo and just as he reaches the candles maybe, must maybe, he might make it to blow them out?
Nope. Don’t act brand new about how this show goes down.
The flame catches. The Wildfire erupts. There’s a rumble through the Sept. And the whole damn place goes up. THE WHOLE DAMN PLACE! The High Sparrow. Margaery. Loras. The Faith Militant. The entire friggin’ court. The Sept. BOOM. GONE. VAPORIZED. Cersei has just taken a page out of the book of The Mad King Aerys Targaryen II, and burnt everybody up. I mean EVERYBODY.
From her balcony in the Red Keep, she watches in triumph. Smiles. And takes a sip of wine.
From his rooms, Tommen watches it all with a WTF just happened expression. And he realizes that it’s all over. His mother done burned down half the city. His wife is gone. His kingship is ruined. And it wasn’t much of a kingship anyway. So, he removes his crown, promptly climbs to the ledge of the window–and jumps to his death. Wow. Did it clean too. So goes Tommen Baratheon, last of his name. We’re fresh outta Baratheons now guys.
That’s the first 20 minutes. Everybody take a breather and process all the sh*t that just went down. Ready? Okay. So…
Cersei, basking in her revenge, has managed to get her hands on the really brutal Septa Unella who tormented her when she was a prisoner. She’s now giving her as much in turn, with perhaps the most high-class artisinal water torture ever devised–using wine instead. “Confess,” she demands of the Septa, that the woman’s brutality had nothing to do with salvation but pleasure. Cersei says she understands pleasure, and then confesses all her own crimes that were done just because they felt good. She says she killed her husband (the king) because it felt good, and f*cks Jaime because that feels good, and burned all them people up cuz it felt damn good. As a wise man once said, “Evil is good.” The Septa puts on a brave face saying she’s ready to face the gods. But Cersei is like, you ain’t gonna die–not today, not easy. She calls in The Zombied Mountain who finally takes off his helmet–and it ain’t nuthin nice underneath. “Your gods have forsaken you,” Cersei tells the Septa, “this is your god now.” Then she leaves the screaming woman in his hands, closing the door and pronouncing the words “Shame. Shame. Shame.”
When it comes to vengeance, Cersei is Final Boss level.
Out at the Twins, the treacherous Walder Frey is toasting his alliance with the Lannisters to room full of Frey and Lannister soldiers celebrating their victory at taking House Tully and defeating the Blackfish. Jaime’s in the audience with the sellsword Bronn and doesn’t appear to be enjoying himself. As Jaime’s ogled by a nearby serving woman, Bronn shakes his head at the rich Lannister’s fortune. After playing the best wingman ever, Jaime finds himself alone for a short while–only to be joined by Walder Frey. Lord Frey appears pleased with their work, especially the death of Blackfish, but Jaime not so much. He mocks Walder Frey’s boasting, asking when he’s ever actually fought anyone in battle. But the old dude shrugs, and calls a win a win. Besides, he points out, Jaime and he share something in common–they’re both King Slayer’s. Ouch. He says the Starks and the Tullys and others once looked down on the Freys, but now everyone fears the name. Jaime retorts that no one fears the Tully name, because it’s Lannisters who have to pull their asses out the fire. In fact, he wonders aloud before leaving, why do they even need the Freys? That shuts up Lord Frey, who for once begins to ponder his possible irrelevancy.
On a more lighthearted note, guess who’s finally made it to the Citadel? Samwell Tarly with Gilly and baby! He heads to the Citadel proper, and offers up his note proclaiming himself the new maester-in-training for Castle Black. The bureaucracy doesn’t have him listed but they agree to let him see the library at least–though not with Gilly and the baby. For Sam it’s like being a kid in a candy store, and it’s our first glimpse into the great center of learning in Westeros.
In the North, we see a white raven flying into Winterfell. Jon stands looking over his old home, now newly won, with Lady Melisandre. They’re interrupted by one ticked off Ser Davos Seaworth. The Onion Knight enters and tosses over a burned carving of a stag. “Tell him,” he demands angrily. “Tell him who it belongs to.” In short order, Jon learns the truth–that the carving belonged to Shireen Baratheon, who her father Stannis Baratheon burned at the stake at Melisandre’s behest for the Red God. Ser Davos asks permission to execute her–not now but right now. Melisandre however reminds that there’s still a war to fight (ahem, White Walkers) and that Jon needs her. He seems to weigh this over. Then he tells her to get gone, or get hanged. She gets gone. Though I doubt that’s the last we’ll be seeing of the Red Lady.
Watching her ride away, Jon is joined by Sansa–who we ain’t seen since she had those dogs chew off Ramsay‘s face? Remember that? When Sansa had those dogs chew off the sick Bolton boy’s face? Yeah. Good times. Jon tells Sansa he’s prepared the main room in the castle for her, as she’s the Lady of Winterfell and should take it. He after all, isn’t actually a Stark. Sansa apologizes for not telling him about her arrangement with Littlefinger. Jon says in turn that they can’t keep secrets from each other any longer–because they have too many enemies now. As he makes to go, she stops him to say that a white raven’s just come from the Citadel announcing what their father been warning about:”Winter is here.” And quiet as kept, that may be the most under appreciated part of this entire episode. Because umm… these guys.
Somewhere in Dorne, the Sand Snakes and Ellaria Sand (who we last saw murdering their prince and his son in a coup) are having a meeting with Olenna Tyrell. The Queen of Thorns is wearing all black, and especially thorny–dismissing the three Sand Snakes as little girls and telling them to shut up as grown women speak. Ellaria tells Olenna that they both have a common enemy in the Lannisters and that they must be allies to survive. Olenna says the Lannisters have taken everything from her (alluding to the deaths of Margaery and Loras) and that she wants more than survival. Ellaria agrees, and says she chose the wrong words. “It is not survival I offer,” she relates, “but your heart’s desire–vengeance, justice…” She rings a bell and a figure emerges from the shadows to finish Ellaria’s sentence with “…fire and blood.” It’s Varys (that dude appears just where you don’t expect him!) who we last saw telling Tyrion he was on his way on a diplomatic mission to secure them Westerosi allies. The pieces on the chessboard are arranging up nicely.
So of course, this takes us to Meereen. Dany sits sipping wine, and has the awkward task of telling new-faced Daario that he won’t be joining her to conquer Westeros–now that she has a whole fleet of ships (Iron Born and those captured in battle) at her disposal. He balks and declares his love, but she tells him the flat truth: she will have to gain an alliance in the West through marriage, and she can’t have a lover as well. Daario unhappily acquiesces, and says he hopes the throne she wants so badly brings her happiness. Not the worse breakup.
Afterwards she meets with Tyrion, and we learn, though she had denied it, this was his idea. Dany is disturbed that she didn’t feel anything at doing it, that she is more anxious on getting about the business of beginning her conquest. Tyrion asks her if she’s afraid, and she nods yes. He says that’s good, because it should be terrifying. She’s about to join the big leagues now. He also professes that she’s perhaps the first person he’s ever put faith in. He swears his counsel to her and she in turn gives him something–a pin declaring him Hand of the Queen. It’s an emotional moment for Tyrion, because he’d been Hand before, and we know how that turned out. Let’s hope this one goes better. He bows in acceptance, seeming to have found (at last) something to believe in.
So, let’s talk take a trip back to the Twins. Walder Frey sits alone dining in his great hall as he’s wont to do, eating a delicious bit of meat pie. Mmm. Nothing like a hearty bit of meat pie. Likes it so much, he has the serving girl cut him another helping. It’s the same serving girl who had been trading eyes with Jaime earlier. He notices she’s not one of his usual servants, and promptly sets about some sexual harassment–cuz he’s a pervert. We know this. While doing so he begins to grumble after his sons, asking where they are. The serving girl tells him, “they’re right here sir.” He looks around but doesn’t see them and grumbles some more. She tells him again, “but they’re already here.” When he looks up at her in confusion, she leans forward to pat the pie he’s eating–that delicious meat pie he’s been devouring. He stops to lift up the crust and looks inside. The serving girl casually begins to talk about how hard it was to carve up his sons before she cooked them and he gets the heaves because DUDE YOU’RE EATING YOUR KIDS! It’s the story that Brandon Stark told us back in Season 3–right after the Red Wedding–the punishment for those who betray the guest right of salt and bread.
Faint now. Everybody just drop and faint and then die and come back to life. Rip ya wigs and weaves off. Bawl and cry. Do whateva you gotta do to get through this. Because Arya is back in Westeros. She got her list. And she’s bout to do the damn thing. Walder Frey stands there staring in diselief, as Arya gives her name and tells him “the last thing you’re going to see is a Stark staring down at you as you die.” Walder Frey tries to run, but she’s like “naaah.” Grabs him, pulls the knife, cuts a new smile in his neck and holds him as he bleeds out.
To Winterfell again, where Sansa is alone with Littlefinger beneath the giant Weirwood Tree. There, he does a creepy old guy seduction thing, revealing he has a picture of himself on the Iron Throne with her at his side. He leans in for the kiss–but Sansa pushes him away, saying “pretty picture” and leaves. Like I endured Ramsay Bolton and had dogs eat dude’s face just to fall for this. FOH dude. As she walks off, Littlefinger tells her that after what’s happened the North needs to be united against what will likely be a retaliation from King’s Landing. Who will they rally behind he asks: herself, a true Stark of Winterfell, or Jon, a motherless bastard born in the South. Littlefinger doing what he does best, sow confusion, doubt and fear. Run Sansa, run.
Out far, far North, in the Wilds, we see Brandon and Meera Reed who have managed to survive their battle with the White Walkers with the help of Benjen Stark–Jon and Sansa’s Uncle whose now some human-White Walker hybrid (Coldhands). He leaves them at a place of strong magic where their enemies can’t cross, and neither can he. There, Brandon reaches for a Weirwood to do another vision quest–to finish what he had earlier begun. Meera is wary because he’s so weak. But he says he has to.
He touches the tree and finds himself once again transported through time. He’s with a young version of his father (Ned Stark) outside the keep of Rhaegar Targaryen where he can hear a woman screaming. Ned races up the stairs to a room where he finds the woman–his sister Lyanna Stark–who’d been kidnapped by the prince, initiating a war. She’s covered in blood and near death. It’s too late to save her she tells him, but he can save someone else, a child he can keep safe. Brandon for the first time releases the blood is from a birth. Those were labor screams. The newborn infant is placed in his arms who opens its eyes as a scene cuts immediately to Jon Snow.
And there you have it.
It’s what every book reader has long suspected, what’s been alluded to–Jon Snow isn’t Ned Stark’s son. He’s Lyanna Stark’s son. And he isn’t a bastard after all. Instead, his father is Rhaegar Targaryen. That makes him Jon Targaryen. And Dany is not the last of the name after all. That folks, is HUGE.
So… Jon. He’s sitting at a raucous meeting at Winterfell with numerous lords and Wildlings and what-have-yous to decide what’s next. Most are ready to head home, now that the Boltons are defeated. They’ve heard that Winter is here, and want to get back to wait out the storm. But Jon tells them there’s no waiting out any storm. The one who’s coming, he says, brings the storm. This dudedude. There’s lots of muttering but everyone still appears skeptical. Most of them after all, haven’t seen a White Walker or their dead horses or wights in their hundreds.
In the middle of their hesitation, ten-year old Lyanna Mormont of House Mormont stands up–and proceeds to shame everybody. She throws shade at dude whose son was killed at the Red Wedding, but refused to come when Jon called. She tells dude who swore his allegiance to House Stark that when they came calling, he refused to keep his word. She tells another that his father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton, and he still refused to come fight when called. She’s like, ya’ll might be a bunch of punk asses, but House Momont remembers because the NORTH remembers. She declares Jon the true King of the North, bastard or no, and having said her bit sits down. Shade game is flawless. That’s enough to shame the others, who get up, give their speeches and pledge themselves–one by one–to the new King in the North. In between the clamor and cheer, Littlefinger is looking maaad salty. Sansa’s smiling at first, but when she catches his eyes, it fades…and a lil’ bit of salt creeps in.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei done already stood with Qyburn over the covered shroud of Tommen. She demands to see her son’s face–then orders him burned and his ashes scattered where the Sept once stood. She’s done with that life. Turns out she’s got more important things to do than mourn for children she no longer needs to protect. It’s some time later that Jaime arrives. At seeing a giant burned out hole where the Sept once stood, he rushes into the city, arriving just in time to see Cersei marching into the throne room, accompanied by The Zombie Mountain and the Kingsguard. She’s wearing her new Evil-Lyn outfit. And as he watches in disbelief, and perhaps dismay, she takes the Iron Throne before a room of onlookers that look as dazed as confused as the rest of us. “Long may she reign,” Qyburn pronounces, and the image pans out with her in the seat of power.
Man. I just… I mean… Cersei… Man.
Finally, somewhere near Essos, out on the Summer Sea, Theon Greyjoy watches a flag bearing the kraken of House Greyjoy go taut in the wind. He’s on a ship with Yara, one of several moving across the waters. On one ship with a dragon carved in gold as its figurehead, we see Grey Worm and the Unsullied. The standard on that ship is Dany’s red dragon. On other ships there are Dothraki and their horses. Big ass Drogon wings through the sky, with Rhaegal and Viserion following close behind.
On the main ship, Missandei, Dany and Tyrion stand watching. Varys is there too. And if you’re wondering, “how the hell did he get back from Dorne so fast?” remember you’ve already allowed for three flying dragons. So…sometimes you just gotta let sh*t slide.
In the final scene of the season, the camera pulls away to show dozens–perhaps hundreds–of ships. This is an invasion force. A new player is about to descend on the Seven Kingdoms. And she’s bringing three dragons, Unsullied and a massive Dothraki horde. It’s about get real.
So that was the finale. Just about everything that could have happened (except a Lady Stoneheart appearance) has happened–ending perhaps been one of the most fulfilling seasons so far. See you next year.