This is a review of Game Of Thrones (GOT) season 6, episode 10.
Be warned though, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS
GOT has epic episode 9s, like last week’s “Battle of the Bastards”, which provide us with some memorable battles. Then there are the season finales which, in addition to major reveals, typically have cliffhangers that keep us fans discussing and theorizing for the next 10 months.
King’s Landing :
Cersei is getting dressed up, apparently for her trial but actually in anticipation of the events to come. She takes up her position in the Red Keep with a wine glass in hand and decanter on the table. The others are also getting ready – Margaery, the High Sparrow, Loras etc. Loras gets a haircut for the big occasion. Loras doesn’t want to contest the charges levelled against him, accepting whatever punishment the Gods decree. He wants to serve the Faith and hence gets the gift of a carving on his forehead. Lord Mace Tyrell tries to stop it but Margaery intervenes. Loras’ confession and the way Marge stops it all seems premeditated. So far so good. But when Cersei doesn’t arrive for her trial, nor does Tommen (who is stopped by the Frankenmountain), Marge senses danger. She angrily implores the Sparrow to leave the Sept but he declines, scoffing at her suggestions that they’re in danger. Simultaneously, Lancel and Pycelle are lured by Qyburn’s little birds to the city’s basement. Pycelle is memorably lynched by the birds while Lancel is lured to the hallway containing drums of wildfire and stabbed in the butt/thigh. He slowly drags himself to where three candles are burning on some leaked wildfire.
Before he can extinguish the candles though, the wildfire catches fire, sending an explosion rippling through the city’s underground and blasting the Sept of Baelor – with Marge, Loras, Mace, Kevan all inside. Right before the explosion though, the smirk is wiped off the face of the High Sparrow as he finally learns that Cersei Lannister has paid her debts.
The explosion through the underbelly of the city is what we saw in Bran’s visions back in episode 6. Although the CGI of the explosions is not very good, the scene where the bell from the Sept falls on the street, is great. Cersei looks at the Sept with a contented smile on her face. Tommen though, is shocked beyond belief. Apart from the way the whole sequence was shot, I also loved the use of Piano and Violin for the background music. The music is soft and soothing but creates an eerie, unsettling effect, particularly because we know things are going to turn ugly.
Cersei isn’t done with her revenge yet, though. She drenches a bound Septa Unella in wine, accepts all the charges levelled against her and reminds Unella of the warning she had given back in season 5 about her (Cersei’s) face being the last she’d see before she dies. Unella is happy to die. But Cersei isn’t letting her off so easily. She calls in Ser Gregor Clegane (yes the Mountain has his birth name still, instead of the unattractive, and fairly normal, Ser Robert Strong), who removes his headgear for the first time since his rebirth, to do horrible things to her and leaves her screaming. After two seasons of being humiliated and underestimated by others, Cersei has finally got her revenge and her mojo back.
Poor Tommen is so depressed at seeing his love Marge and his dear uncle Sparrow dead that he gets up and jumps off the window of the Red Keep. This sequence is also masterfully shot, with the camera remaining fixed at the window from start to finish. Tommen gets up, goes outside the frame to keep his crown, comes back, steps up the window, and lets go. Now while the deaths of Joffrey and Myrcella weren’t Cersei’s mistakes, this one here is all her fault. In addition to the killings in the Sept, she also left Tommen alone in his hour of greatest psychological need. Hence the price to pay. In one season, she has lost two of her offsprings. Half of the prophecy she was told has come true now.
The Twins :
After the capture of the Riverrun castle, Walder Frey is hosting a party for the alliance in his castle’s hall. Bronn is trying to woo a girl serving drinks but she’s interested in Jaime instead. Poor Bronn blames it on Jaime’s genes and silver spoons. So Jaime fixes up two beauties for him. Walder Frey joins him at the table and starts boasting. By now, Jaime has started getting interested in that girl and tired of Frey. He gives him a piece of his mind about how useless the Freys are if the Lannisters have to keep riding north and secure castles for him.
Back to King’s Landing :
Cersei sees Tommen’s corpse and when Qyburn aks her about the funeral arrangements, with the Sept gone, she asks for the body to be burnt and the ashes cremated where the Sept once stood, so that Tommen can lie with his siblings and his grandfather. Then walks off, ashen-faced. Was this another of those moments where her joy turned to ashes in her mouth? We should maybe ask Tyrion. Send a Raven!
Samwell and Gilly finally reach their destination with little Sam and Heartsbane. The Citadel looks majestic. Sam goes to the reception counter and hands in the Letter o Recommendation. As it turns out, the Maester Academy hasn’t updated its records of the Night’s Watch since Jeor Mormont’s reign. The receptionist is quirky, looking and behaving like a modern-day bureaucrat. He lets Sam into the library while stopping Gilly and the kid. As Sam walks the corridors filled with bookshelves, he comes to the heart of the library. It is huge and looks so beautiful.
No wonder Sam is awestruck. Any self-respecting book reader would be. This scene is an ode to the readers of the ASOIAF books from the showrunners I think, and it’s wonderful.
Jon and Melisandre are discussing the Stark family feasts at the dining table when Davos storms in and throws Shireen’s toy stag at Mel, asking her to tell Jon what she did. When she tells what happened — terrified — and justifies that the Lord of Light asked her to do so, Davos says such a God is an evil demon. He asks Jon’s permission to execute her. Mel accepts her “mistake” and tells Jon that she can help him win the Great War. Jon walks towards her. We know what’s coming. Honour is his middle name. So Jon banishes her to the south.
Later, as Mel rides south, Sansa joins Jon on the fort where he tells her that he has got the great room prepared for her. He wants her to rule, being a Stark and all. Sansa says that for her, he is a Stark. This is reassuring after what transpired last week. Jon actually ribs her about it when he says that the Knights of the Vale came because of her. Sansa apologizes for nottelling him earlier and Jon then asks that they must stand by each other now that they have “so many enemies” and kisses her on the forehead. Sansa tells him that a white Raven came from the Citadel with the message that Winter has officially arrived in Westeros. Jon recalls Ned Stark’s words, “Winter is coming.”
Lady Olenna has arrived to meet Ellaria, wearing black. She is in mourning for her family and one of Ellaria’s daughters tries to be too smart with her. She strikes all three of them down with her trademark sharpness and then deals with their mother. Ellaria tells her that they need to wage a war on their common enemies — The Lannisters. For this purpose, she presents her trump card – Lord Varys, who speaks only this — “Fire and Blood.” This references Dany’s desire to take what’s her — “I’ll take what’s mine with fire and blood.” That’s what she says, isn’t it?
Daario comes to meet Dany in her room, expecting some romance. Dany shocks him by telling that he will have to stay in Meereen to safeguard the city’s fragile peace and that she might marry a Lord in Westeros. Daario’s question, “Who are you marrying this time?” is funny in the context of her multiple nuptials. He also gauges correctly that this is Tyrion’s plan. Now the Dany of saeson 3 or 4 wouldn’t have been able to do this – sending a man who loves her away. But it is a remarkable character development and prrof of Tyrion’s growing influence on her that she takes this step. I must say I found this facet of hers very ambitious and ruthless, not keeping any stone unturned in her quest to get what she wants. The camera’s focus in these is also pretty close-up, leading to us feeling the tension and unease of the characters themselves. Bravo, Mr. Sapochnik! Oh, and they’re renaming Slaver’s Bay to Dragon’s Bay. Another of the trademarks of changing rulerships! When the departing Daario wishes her good luck and says of the Iron throne, “I hope it brings you happiness”, it felt oddly ominous. But then, aren’t most incidents in this world full of omens?
It falls to Tyrion to console Dany, a task which he predictably messes up. He also has a couple of memorable lines here (“you’re in the great game now…”). Dany anoints him the Hand of the Queen. Tyrion is honoured and close to tears as he bows down to her. One thing that I didn’t understand in the episode is that why is everyone, from Cersei to Dany, wearing black? Season-ending collection by Ralph Lauren??
The Twins :
The girl who served wine to Jaime and Bronn is back in the hall now, but there’s only Walder Frey. She serves him cake and wine while he’s his usual profane, molesting self. As Frey calls out to his sons, the girl tells him they’re right there, on the table. Frey peels off the top layer of the delicacy to reveal body parts from his sons. As he shirks away, horrifies, the girl takes off the face to reveal her true identity – Arya Stark from Winterfell. She delivers a hugely satisfying line about a Stark looking down at him being the last thing he’d see before he dies. then she proceeds to slit his throat and hold it with a content, zen-like smile on her face. For her and for millions of fans out there, this is catharsis. It is also a fitting death in the GOT manner that punishes tyrants and oppressors with a style of death that they used against their adversaries (remember Catelyn’s death at the Red Wedding and Ramsay’s death last week).
Weirwood tree, Winterfell :
Littlefinger finally lays his desires bare in front of Sansa and us audiences. He wants both the Iron Throne and her. Sansa, despite knowing it all along, turns him down politely. When he tries to sweeten the deal by saying he (meaning the Vale) has declared in her favour, she puts him in his place. This is proof of her growing maturity. She’s no longer the awed, starstruck teenager we saw in season 1. This lady has learnt from the best player in all of Westeros and has now come into her own. Still, Littlefinger manages another parting shot, an attempt to drive a wedge between the half-siblings.
North of the Wall :
Benjen has brought Meera and Bran to the edge of the wall (almost). Since there are powerful spells in the wall, he can’t cross it, being dead and all. After he leaves, Bran tries to warg into the nearby Weirwood tree. Meera questions whether he’s ready for this step. Bran replies that being the Three-Eyed Raven, he has to be ready for this. This greensee ability is one of the most powerful things in the whole world, far as I know. We immediately get our wish fulfilled as Bran goes to the Tower of Joy. Perhaps he too is most interested in just one question — Who are Jon Snow’s parents? So he follows Ned into the Tower where Lyanna is on her deathbed. after some small talk, Lyanna says something inaudible in his ear, then continues at a higher pitch, “If robert finds out, he will. You know he will.” What does this mean? Well, as any half-wit kid would tell you, this most possibly referred to the idea that the kid she had then was Rhaegar’s. And if Robert came to know of him, he’ll get him killed, just like all the other Targaryen children.
So she hands the kid over to Ned with the famous last words, “Promise me, Ned.” The camera shifts to the face of the kid, whose hair as I could see, is blonde, unlike Jon’s. But then, the scene morphs into Jon’s face at Winterfell, with the focus remaining the same. So? I think short of screaming it out aloud, this is the clearest indication of the R+L=J theory being true. Happy? You bet!
The various Lords of the North have been invited to discuss the aftermath of the BoB. While a few are sniggering at the wildlings and others still are bickering amongst themselves, Lady Mormont, she of the Valyrian steel-esque tongue and ammo of Max Payne, stands up. With her verbal shotgun at the ready, she mows down Manderlys, Glovers and Cerwyns in short order, then goes on to declare that she knows no king other than the one whose name is Stark, regardless of his being a bastard. Jon and Sansa, who’ve already experienced what her wrath can be like, are smiling. they know these petty Lords stand no chance against her. Sure enough, all the lords declare Jon their king,the White Wolf. Jon and Sansa are both initially taken back. But seeing the overwhelming emotions, they accept things and are happy at the turn of events. the only jarring note is Littlefinger, who’s sitting in a corner like he’s waiting on his friend to bring him some cocaine. He and Sansa exchange glances. This doesn’t bode well for Jon I guess. But I’ll wait and watch (as if I have any option. 😀 ).
The remarkable thing is, Jon came back from being dead to being crowned king in the space of 10 weeks!
King’s Landing :
Jaime returns with his troops to see the ruins. He is angry. Really angry. He gets to the throne room in time for Cersei’s coronation. The siblings-cum-lovers (eww!) look at each other, both stony-faced. Now this I think will fulfill the other half of that prophesy, about Cersei’s Valonquar (little brother) killing her. Of course, I’m talking about Jaime. He killed his king once because the King wanted to burn King’s Landing down. Cersei has actually done it. Plus, she’s, indirectly at least, responsible for Tommen’s death.
Dany’s armada of some 300-400 ships is leaving of Westeros. It has the Unsullied, the Dothraki and the Ironborn too. Varys and Tyrion are on the deck with Dany. I presume this is a time jump from the meeting in Dorne. There aren’t helicopters or private jets in Westeros, are there? The episode, and the season, ends with the flying dragons screaming as they move towards Westeros. It is an imposing scene, one which shows us what kind of a headache the Lannisters, and more accurately, Cersei, are going to be facing next season.
Phewww! This was a very long post. Apologies for holding you here and many thanks if you made it thus far. I will be posting on my expectations and predictions for season 7 shortly. Thanks for the love through these ten weeks. Valar Morgulis! Winter has come!
What do you think of the episode and the season? What do you think will happen next? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments section. Thanks for reading.
Images Credit : HBO.