“You’re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying,” Tyrion tells Daenerys as she is about to begin her mission to retake the Iron Throne. The final round of the ‘Great Game’ is here, and Cersei ushers it in with a literal bang.
Season 6’s outstanding finale begins with King’s Landing’s major players getting dressed for the long-awaited trial of Cersei and Loras Tyrell. Everything about this sequence is expertly done. Beautiful camera work combined with outstanding music proves director Miguel Sapochnik should helm the rest of the series. His work on ‘The Winds of Winter,’ ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ and ‘Hardhome’ is incredible.
Loras Tyrell is escorted into the Sept of Baelor where he quickly confesses his sins. The future heir of House Tyrell renounces his titles and devotes himself to the Faith. Margaery is livid at what happens next. Lancel carves the seven-pointed star in Loras’ forehead. Her anger at the High Sparrow is short lived.
Neither Cersei nor King Tommen has arrived at the Sept. For Cersei, it’s by design. She was held by the High Sparrow once before. It was not going to happen again. Tommen is prevented from leaving his room by the towering Ser Gregor Clegane.
The High Sparrow dispatches Lancel and several Faith Militant members to get Cersei.
While this is all happening, Cersei’s other loyal servant, Qyburn, is taking care of Grand Maester Pycelle. The Master of Whisperers lets his knife-wielding ‘little birds’ do the dirty work.
As Lancel leaves the Sept, he notices a suspicious child nearby. He gives chase and ends up in a dark tunnel. The child runs by and stabs him in the back and runs off. Lancel collapses to the ground and is wishing he had some of that special training that let Arya bound across Bravos after being stabbed multiple times.
Margaery knows Cersei’s absence is not by accident. She is playing the ‘Great Game’ too. Margaery understands that Cersei knows the consequences of not being here and the only reason she isn’t is because she never intends to suffer them.
After being stabbed once, Lancel starts crawling towards a light at the end of the tunnel. As he crawls, we start seeing faint flickerings of green among the barrels. That light at the end of the tunnel? It’s a candle burning in a pool of wildfire. The whole tunnel is filled with it. This is the same stuff Tyrion used to halt Stannis’ assault of King’s Landing at the Battle of the Blackwater.
Back in the Sept, Margaery drops the faith act and tries to convince the High Sparrow and everyone else to leave. The High Sparrow’s arrogance gives way as an explosion rocks the city. Seconds later he disappears in an explosion of green fire along with everyone else in the Sept.
We saw the Mad King scream ‘burn them all’ earlier this season in one of Bran’s visions. He was stopped by Jaime ‘Kingslayer’ Lannister. But no one was around to stop Cersei from burning her enemies, real and perceived. Cersei’s fall was over. And now, she’s back on top.
Her actions didn’t just cause hundreds of deaths at the Sept. Her son Tommen, sees what his mother has done. She killed his wife, her uncle and countless innocent people. In another fantastic shot, we see Tommen walk out of the camera frame to take off his crown. He comes back, climbs up the window and falls to his death.
King’s Landing is the center of the ‘Great Game.’ For six seasons, the nobles of Westeros have jockeyed for position. Their end goal? The Iron Throne. Cersei began at the top and fell to the bottom. She was done falling. With zero allies outside of a zombie bodyguard and Qyburn, she rose all the way back up.
Jaime Lannister, who earned his reputation by preventing a similar act, returns to King’s Landing to find a crater where the Sept once stood and his sister wearing a crown. Will Jamie’s love for his sister win out over what he believes is right? The show paints a conflicted Jaime whose love for his sister always wins out. I think Cersei will lose everything for what she gained. Her children. And her brother’s love.
The North Remembers (Lady Mormont Reminds Them
Up in Winterfell, Davos is pissed. In episode 8 (I believe), Davos finds Princess Shireen’s burned stag toy. With the Battle of the Bastards over, Davos confronts Melisandre with the toy and demands to know the truth.
Melisandre explains Shireen was burned at the stake to help turn Stannis’ fortunes. A fuming Davos calls her out on it and says they all died anyways. He turns to Jon and asks for permission to execute her. Melisandre doesn’t quite beg for her life but says she will be useful in the war with the White Walkers.
We see Jon wrestle with this. He’s a Stark and knows what should be done. But he also knows he needs any advantage he can get against the White Walkers.
He orders Melisandre to ride south. If she returns, she will be hanged for her crimes. As Melisandre goes to leave, Davos blocks her way and says he will execute her himself if she ever returns.
Where will she go? Will Arya and Melisandre meet again?
With Melisandre riding south, Sansa joins Jon on the wall of Winterfell. Why didn’t Sansa tell Jon about Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale? It’s a question that hung over the otherwise outstanding ‘Battle of the Bastards.’
Jon ends up thanking Sansa for bringing the reinforcements. Sansa apologizes for not telling Jon about Littlefinger sooner. Jon shrugs it off and says the two need to trust each other. Now more than ever. They are surrounded by enemies and can’t afford to be wondering what the other might or might not know.
The pair then talk about who should rule Winterfell again. Sansa says the soldiers follow him, while Jon points to her pure Stark bloodline. So who will lead House Stark? The always awesome Lady Lyanna Mormont had her say during a meeting of the northern lords. The young Lady scolded the older men for abandoning House Stark when they needed them most. She pledges her loyalty to Jon Snow, the King of the North. And the rest of the lords follow suit.
If Jon and Sansa can’t get the job done, I say let Lady Mormont take over. Give her one season, and everyone will be in line including the Night King.
With the lords shouting King of the North, Littlefinger looks on as he watches a little girl threaten his plans to the Iron Throne. He wants to marry Sansa and rule Westeros. His wishes might have come true if he didn’t give Sansa up to the Boltons. Sansa knows he can’t be trusted, and knows he will continue scheming.
I can’t wait to see where Sansa goes from here. She was willing to give up Rickon to kill Ramsay. While Jon still has Ned’s moral compass, Sansa doesn’t. Her time with Joffrey and Ramsay has given her a darker edge. Ramsay told her he was a part of her right before he died. Some took that to mean Sansa was pregnant. Maybe it’s the darkness from Ramsay she now carries.
The North ends with Benjen dropping Bran and Meera off at a Weirwood Tree near the Wall. Benjen can’t join them because of ancient magical wards placed when the Wall was built. Which brings up another big question. How will the White Walkers breach the Wall? Something tells me Sam is going to find some answers at the Library at the Citadel.
Bran sees the Weirwood Tree and goes to touch it. Meera asks if he’s sure, and Bran replies something along the lines that he’s the Three-Eyed Raven now, he has to be. Besides seeing into the past and turning Hodor into Hodor, the show still hasn’t given us a clear idea of what the Three-Eyed Raven exactly does.
Anyways, Bran touches the tree and goes back to the Tower of Joy. The moment every book reader has been waiting for. R+L=J. Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Fire and Ice. Many of us knew it was coming, and it was still incredible. Jon is a Targaryen. That means he can ride dragons. And the fight against the White Walkers just got a bit easier.
Damn, I almost forgot about Arya. And she’s on a mission. To take out anyone who hurt her or her family. The first target? The Freys. It looks like Arya did indeed learn a thing or two while training to be an assassin. She revealed herself after the celebration between the Freys and Lannisters and slit Walder Frey’s throat. That’s after she revealed his two sons were in the pie he was eating. Cold-blooded.
Ruthless Arya is the best Arya. I can’t wait to see the look on Jon and Sansa’s’ face when she shows up as a badass assassin.
Even Dorne was good
Ok, if you needed any more proof Sapochnik should direct the rest of the series here it is. Dorne was not only tolerable. It was good. Olenna Tyrell meets up with Ellaria Martell and her Sand Snakes in Dorne. The Sand Snakes are quickly put in their place with a few barbs from Olenna as she wants to know how Ellaria can help her. Ellaria offers the thing she wants most – revenge and justice. And in walks Varys who offers “fire and blood.”
I groaned when I first saw Dorne again. Once Varys was done, I was pumped.
Daenerys finally gets moving
Hey, it only took a few seasons. Daenerys is finally beginning the trek she set out on so long ago. She has her dragons. Her armies. Her ships. Tyrion as Hand of the Queen. And the forces of Dorne and Highgarden.
Hell, Westeros fell apart before she even got there. Cersei seized control of King’s Landing in an instant. Though, it’s not clear what the fallout is going to be for blowing up a few hundred innocent people. Will Jaime and the Lannister armies continue following her?
Jon and his forces have one eye on the Wall and the other on the Lannisters. And then there’s Littlefinger. He couldn’t foresee Lady Mormont rallying the northern lords to Jon, but he’s a proven survivor. Don’t ever count him out. Then again, last night’s episode showed characters overplaying their hand (Margaery). Will the same happen to Littlefinger? He better keep an eye on Sansa. She knows his game and doesn’t seem like the person to mess with right now.
Last night’s episode was heavy on pushing the plot for many characters, but a few were left out. What is Euron Greyjoy up to? Daenerys is at her most vulnerable right now. A large portion of her army are not fans of the ocean. We know Euron and the Ironborn are busy building ships. And where was Euron at before he came back to the Iron Islands?
We know he wants Theon and Yara dead. Will he lash out at Daenerys’ forces when he sees them there? Daenerys appears impossible to stop right now. Something will happen as her armies move to take over the Iron Islands, and it won’t be good.
And then there’s the Brotherhood Without Banners. With their hatred of Lannisters, they seem to be a lock as allies for House Stark. Arya and The Hound back together kicking ass and taking names. That needs to happen.
I know it’s the post-show high probably talking, but that was the best episode of Game of Thrones I’ve ever watched. Miguel Sapochnik’s directing over the past two episodes has been exceptional. If I’m HBO, I’m throwing all my money at him. I get that he had a bigger budget to work with the past two weeks, but damn – TV doesn’t get much better than this.
The wait for season 7 is going to be a hard one. Maybe George R.R. Martin will actually publish a book for a change, and we can see if there are any season 7 nuggets in there.