A Mad Queen Reigns After All in the Mind-Shattering 'Game of Thrones' Season 6 Finale
SO much has been confirmed in this episode. Here's a recap.
[Warning: The following article contains spoilers from Game of Thrones season 6, episode 10 "The Winds of Winter."]
As we jump into the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, the day of Cersei's trial has finally arrived. Baby King Tommen crowns his baby head in preparation. Ser Loras Tyrell is brought out from his dark chamber of hatefulness. The High Sparrow is ready and waiting to lay ruin to all the supposed sinners.
Margaery still looks to be planning something momentous, though we'll shortly discover that's irrelevant. For now, it's enough of a shocker Cersei hasn't found a way to run given that Tommen has abolished trial by combat, effectively setting her up for the noose. Perhaps this fact alone should have tipped us off to what was to come...
Loras decides to admit all of his crimes as opposed to undergoing a trial. Interestingly, the High Sparrow responds with words of mercy and mothers, and it becomes clear Margaery has cut a deal.
"My only remaining wish is to devote my life to the Seven. May I be a living example of their grace for others to witness," Loras says.
He outlines what this means: He'll abandon the Tyrell name, his lordship, and his claims on Highgarden. He'll never marry, never father children, and Margaery will be House Tyrell's MVP.
In another part of King's Landing, The Mountain confines King Tommen to his room. Pair this with the fact that Cersei hasn't shown up to her trial, and it's obvious something insidious is about to go down. But before it does, the Grand Maester goes looking for the king, finds Qyburn, and gets utterly slaughtered by a group of terrifying, knife-wielding children. Simultaneously, another errant child stabs the High Sparrow's first-hand psychopath Lancel Lannister deep below the castle.
Margaery is the only one who realizes what's going on:
"The trial can wait. We all need to leave," she says, trying to force logic upon the religious fanatic who's about to condemn them all to death.
Finally, we've come face-to-face with King Aerys II Targaryen's wildfire of lore, Lancel dragging his injured body through its fluorescent green and enlightening us of its true existence beneath the city. Ironically, perhaps the most important part of this guy's life is his death — yes, we've seen wildfire before, but Cersei's discovery of the substance hidden in excess beneath the city via Aerys II confirms what has only previously been theory.
Forget what you KNEW about the epicness of Game of Thrones, because the only true epicness we have EVER seen as of this episode is Cersei sipping red wine as she watches her enemies erupt in fire slime from a comfortable distance.
As it happens, however, Cersei isn't satisfied with this act of revenge. She proceeds to torture the "Shame Nun" who has harangued her since she was arrested:
"I killed your High Sparrow and all his little sparrows, all his septons, septas, all his filthy soldiers because it felt good to watch them burn. It felt good to imagine their shock and their pain. *chuckles*"
The Mountain takes over, and as the woman screams from the other room, Cersei repeats the word "shame." One is never enough.
Margaery Tyrell, her brother Loras, her father Mace, the High Sparrow, and the Grand Maester are all gone. Unfortunately, Tommen is gone too — before the scene ends, having just witnessed the death of his wife and kingdom, he steps up to the window of his tower and flings himself out with no hesitation.
As if this all wasn't enough, Jaime Lannister has made a pitstop at the Freys', where (not unlike Cersei) he and Ser Bronn are sipping on wine and checking out the sights. The fact that these events are going on at the same time in the same universe is mind-boggling.
Jaime and Walder Frey are having a pleasant conversation on war and betrayal: the Tullys mocked Walder Frey, the Starks mocked Walder Frey, and where are they now?
"Here we are now. Two king slayers," Frey concludes.
Jaime reminds him no one is afraid of the Freys, they're afraid of the Lannisters. Of course, he's unaware he has no living children left (and thus very few Lannisters left living to be afraid of) as well as a freshly homicidal girlfriend-sister, but hey, we're sure they'll rectify that right quick once he gets back to King's Landing.
Cersei finds out Tommen has killed himself, and while clearly bereaved, seems somewhat numb to death. It's a surprisingly mild reaction to the loss of her last living child, but it is Cersei we're talking about, and right now the only "Mad Queen" is she and she alone.
Sam Tarly finally makes a reappearance with Gilly and Little Sam after fleeing his childhood home. He is to be the new Maester, and can we just take this moment to acknowledge that Samwell Tarly is the one person in this entire show with a sense of optimism? A wonder among men.
At Winterfell, Jon Snow, Ser Davos, and Melisandre converge in the dining room where Davos chucks the wooden stag he made Shireen Baratheon straight at her. The Red Witch fesses up with a little prodding from Davos:
"We burned her at the stake," she admits. "The army was strapped, the horses were dying. It was the only way."
Ser Davos, being the best person ever, gives her hell:
"She was good, she was kind, and you killed her!"
He asks her how many died because she'd inaccurately spread the word that Stannis Baratheon was the Lord of Light's promised savior. Ser Davos wants her dead, Melisandre admitting she's been ready to die for many years...
Still, she presents a counter-argument:
"You know the army of the dead will be upon us soon, and you know I can help you win."
Unconvinced, Jon banishes her south, telling her he'll have her hanged if she ever returns to the north. This is a poor judgment call, because yeah, they really could use a full-fledged re-animator once the big bad White Walkers hit hard, but Jon is a man of honor and all that.
A bit later, Jon offers Sansa their mother and father's room because he's "not a Stark," to which Sansa replies, "You are to me," and we very much enjoy this hardcore sibling bonding. Jon acknowledges Sansa was the sole reason they beat Ramsay, Sansa admits she should have told Jon about the Knights of the Vale, and they agree that from then on they need to trust each other. They share a nice forehead kiss and part, but not before Sansa tells Jon that a white raven has come from the Citadel:
"Winter is here," she announces.
Jon laughs, smiles up at the sky, and says, "Well, father always promised, didn't he."
Across the world in Dorne, Lady Olenna Tyrell has arrived to speak to Ellaria, Obara, and the rest of her girls. She is sassy, perfect, and officially constitutes elderly relative goals:
"Cersei stole my future from me," Olenna says, acknowledging she's aware Margaery and the rest are gone.
Lord Varys steps in, and it becomes clear a battle is being waged between Daenerys Targaryen and House Lannister, which really doesn't stand a chance without their wildfire stock.
Too soon, Cersei. Too soon.
In Meereen, Daenerys orders Daario to stay there to keep the peace, but Daario doesn't want to leave her:
"I love you, and I make you happy. You know I do. Bring me with you. Let me fight for you," he urges.
She shuts him down, and he's "full of self-pity," but what did he expect? Dany has been there, done that. Slaver's Bay is now the Bay of Dragons, as per her orders, and it will be in Daario's care after all.
Turns out Tyrion is the best wingman ever, waiting to confer with Daenerys after she breaks the bad news to Daario around the corner:
"He wasn't the first to love you, and he won't be the last," he says.
Tyrion cheers her up by reminding her she has everything she's ever wanted "since she was old enough to want anything." He says it's good to be afraid of the future, because the only men who aren't afraid are the "mad men like her father."
They bond over the fact that Tyrion will provide her continued counsel, and Daenerys names him Hand of the Queen. He's already served her this way for quite a time, but it sounds like the three-month probationary period is through, and to that we say he deserves a big glass of wine.
Back at the Freys', Walder is having his typical supper, with the minor exception that it's his sons on a plate.
Revenge is literally served on a platter — by Arya Stark. Having borrowed a disguise from the Many-Faced God, she unmasks herself, grabbing Frey by the forehead, slitting his throat.
In Winterfell, Sansa lounges underneath a tree in the snow as Petyr Baelish impedes upon her alone time like the schmuck that he is. He tells her he wants to be at the Iron Throne with her by his side. He moves in for a kiss, only to be swerved HARD:
"That's a pretty picture," she says as she floats away.
She is no longer a girl, and she won't be manipulated by a smart man with a smarter mouth, and we have never been more proud.
In Bran's neck of the woods, Benjen has guided them as far as he says he can because "the dead cannot pass." Benjen, it turns out, is a White Walker fighting for the living; while this fact has been strongly hinted at before, this is the first time it's been explicitly confirmed.
Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven now, so he places his hand on a tree and is catapulted back to his original vision of Ned Stark fighting Ser Dayne. Brace yourself, because this is about to get wild:
Lyanna IS the woman screaming at the top of the Tower of Joy, alive but bloody and barely breathing:
"I don't want to die," she says.
She whispers something in Ned's ear:
"If Robert finds out, he'll — you know he will," she says.
And after six seasons, the theory of L+R=J is finally confirmed...probably. Jon Snow is not Ned Stark's illegitimate bastard as we've been led to believe, but is instead the child of Ned's sister Lyanna, with who we assume is Rhaegar Targaryen.
Meanwhile, an oblivious Jon Snow is in a meeting with all the greatest leaders of the North.
Lyanna Mormont is back, and better than ever. Despite her age, her size, and her small army, she is the bravest in the room:
"We know no king but a king in the north whose name is Stark," she says amongst tens of men three times her size. She's the first to make the argument that it doesn't matter if he's a bastard or not because the Stark blood runs through his veins:
"He's my king," she says. And miraculously, she convinces the rest of those men to recognize Jon as King of the North, standing behind Jon Snow as the White Wolf.
Named for Jon Snow's mother Lyanna, it's a marvelous turn of fate that it's she who has his back when it matters most.
In closing, Jaime has finally arrived back to King's Landing, only to see it up in flames. Cersei has returned to the Iron Throne, and she sits atop it unquestioned by those in the city she has yet to set ablaze.
Little does she know that on the sea, Theon and Yara Greyjoy are just two of the thousands of fighters sailing across it to shatter her fragile world. Daenerys' dragons fly atop the ships as she, Tyrion, Grey Worm, Missandei and Varys lead the fleet.