Five Thoughts Recapping the 'Game of Thrones' Season Six Finale
What does the Game of Thrones finale tell us about what might come in the next couple of seasons, expected to be the series' last?
Summer is coming.
I repeat: Summer is coming, and it follows Sunday’s Game of Thronesiest “Game of Thrones” episode yet, no less. If you watched that television spectacle, then, you, like me, probably still have your eyes stuck to their most wide open. I will go to sleep tonight with visions of the meat-pie scene playing in my head.
I will also possess, alas, the knowledge that summer is coming. All of the warnings within the “GoT” universe have been about the approach of the chilliest season and its ice warriors from the far north. But for those of us who don’t live in Westeros, the real scary time is now, the balmy months, when there is only a chasm devoid of dragon flight and ye olde treachery between the last run of episodes and the next.
We go into this fallow period knowing, of course, a lot more than we used to. A. Lot. More. Sunday’s hopped-up, wildfired-up, Tommen-downed season finale was one of the great barnburner episodes any episodic series has put before the public. Three, even five seasons of patient setup paid off in one headlong explosion of secrets revealed, lives sacrificed, vengeances taken.
Cersei is on the loose, childless, bloodless, claiming for herself the throne her incestuously produced offspring couldn’t hold. Daenerys is at last on a boat sailing toward the western sunset, the most hotly anticipated cruise since Odysseus finally boarded that ship bound for Ithaca. Jon Snow is the new King in the North, and we now know who his father is, even if he remains clueless. Melisandre is exiled to the south, Red Woman on Brown Horse. Many “GoT” actors are now free to pursue other career interests. And, said Sansa Stark, “Winter is here.”
All that, and Samwell found a nice library, as exciting as people in our time coming across a still-open Barnes & Noble!
And that is just a taste. What I’m saying is that stuff happened in this 69-minute episode, the longest in the six-season history of “Game of Thrones.”
What does the finale tell us about what might come in the next couple of seasons, expected to be the series’ last? What does it teach us — again! — about putting too many hopes in the basket of one character who is, after all, only flesh and blood? What is this going to do to the already troubled pot pie industry?
For the last time this season, here are five thoughts, this time on “Game of Thrones” Season 6, Episode 10, The One in Which Pretty Much Every Moment Earned a “Holy (Expletive)” from the Teenager on the Couch Adjacent:
1. This might be the beginning of the end for King’s Landing.
Almost the first half of the episode focused, brilliantly, simmeringly, on what were supposed to be the trials of Ser Loras Tyrell, Queen Margaery’s brother, and Cersei Lannister, Margaery’s mother in law, for multiple offenses against decency.
When Cersei didn’t show, Margaery realized, a little too late, what that meant. In a delectably drawn-out sequence, “Game of Thrones” showed us the long-rumored wildfire beneath the building that held the trial, the candles placed in it dripping down, Margaery barred from the exits.
And, then, an explosion and a holocaust and Cersei drinking red wine from the Red Keep tower. A toast to all her enemies being toast, Margaery and her brother, the High Sparrow, much of the power structure of his Faith Militant that had taken control in the capital. It was a Cersei masterstroke until, in a shocking moment, King Tommen stepped up to a window and then stepped out.
So now Cersei has seized the Iron Throne for herself. But brother and (former?) lover Jaime watches her warily. He already killed “Mad” King Aerys Targaryen for wanting to use wildfire on his own people; how will he treat his sister, who did use it?
Olenna Tyrell has made a pact of vengeance on Cersei with the Dornish, in the presence of Varys, who is in league with Daenerys (and who got back to Dany’s side suspiciously quickly; Dragon Air?). Daenerys’ attack plans, we learned, include going after the Lannister stronghold at Casterly Rock. And if winter has come, as Sansa promised, that means the true battle is coming from the north, and the game of thrones is but a game.
All of which means Cersei may have become Queen in King’s Landing at exactly the wrong moment in history.
2. Jon Snow may have some corrections to issue on those Father’s Day cards he used to send.
Our boy of rebirth is a bastard, true. But he is not, it turns out, Ned Stark’s bastard. Viewers finally got to follow Bran Stark, Ned’s son, into the misnamed Tower of Joy on one of his vision quests, and what they learned was that the screams we had heard early in the season were those of natural childbirth not going well.
In the bed, bloody, dying, was Lyanna Stark, sister of Ned, and she whispered to Ned something about Robert (Baratheon, future king, who loved her) never knowing. So Ned would announce the boy as his own bastard son, and we were left knowing the child’s true father was, indeed, as fan-ticipation has long had it, Rhaegar, one of the good Targaryens, son of the Mad King, brother of Daenerys.
Confirming this was the last scene there, which showed the baby’s face and then cut directly to Jon’s. Jon and Daenerys are nephew and aunt. Dany said in the episode she plans to wed again, once in Westeros. And we all know that Targaryens like to marry other Targaryens, so maybe those two will indeed be our alliance of fire and ice.
3. The Arya Stark revelation scene was among my favorite “GoT” moments yet.
We knew Arya was coming back to Westeros. We knew she could disguise herself. We knew the doddering lech Walder Frey was on her revenge list for hosting the “Red Wedding” that saw Arya’s mother Catelyn and brother Robb murdered during what was supposed to be a night of hospitality.
So my Arya sense should have tingled when the lone servant approached Walder with a layered meat pie. But it didn’t hit me until she told Frey his sons are “already here,” gesturing to the foodstuff and explaining, “They weren’t easy to carve.”
And then she pulled off her mask and announced herself so that Walder would know who killed him. It was a scene that paid off five seasons of Arya being on the run, accumulating skills, adding to her recited-nightly list of those who deserve to die for wronging her.
And not only will she be roaming Westeros next season as a sort of free-range assassin, but she has yet to realign with the direwolf that was her beloved childhood companion and protector and is now, George R.R. Martin’s source books suggest, running its own pack between King’s Landing and the Stark’s northern stronghold, Winterfell.
4. Sansa and Jon need to watch their backs.
Sure, everything seems rosy now. Jon was proclaimed King in the North after the feisty tween Princess Lyanna Mormont shamed all those Northern leaders who had failed to side with the Starks.
But Littlefinger, Peter Baelish, is lurking. He has a claim to respect, having once loved Sansa’s mother Catelyn and, much more recently, having led forces to save Jon and Sansa in the previous week’s epic battle with Ramsay Bolton.
And Baelish proclaimed his ambition to Sansa, saying that all he wants is to sit in the Iron Throne with her as his queen. As Jon is proclaimed northern king, Littlefinger watches with calculation on his face, not unlike the look we saw from Jaime Lannister as his sister anointed herself Queen. A powerful King in the North is no help to his hopes to be king of the Seven Kingdoms.
5. Please don’t let Dany on a boat be just one of the series’ dream sequences.
In another plot point that was many seasons in the paying off, Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, the Mad King’s not-so-mad daughter, finally started heading home from Troy, er, Meereen.
It seemed irrevocably, irrefutably real. She’s got ships. She’s got armies. She’s got dragons. She’s got a powerful sense of entitlement to the throne. And as a secret wespon, she’s got Tyrion Lannister as her newly anointed Hand, or most trusted adviser, of the Queen.
So Arya will be wreaking havoc. Dany will be making mayhem. Cersei will be trying to hold on, probably by making some trouble of her own. Jon Snow will be preparing to fend off the White Walkers. Summer may be coming, but so, too, is Season 7.