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Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 10 Review: The Winds of Winter

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And so ends season 6. Previous Game of Thrones finales have usually been quite tame as they follow up on the events that conspired in the previous episode, while setting up character stories for the next season. However this year I feel like we got the first proper GoT finale. There were some shocking moments, a huge reveal, some redemption and finally we’ll see Daenerys arriving in Westeros.

Before that, let’s talk about the Mad Queen.

King’s Landing
So first of all, the music in this episode was amazing, especially at the beginning while we see multiple characters getting ready for Loras and Cersei’s trial. Early on it’s evident things aren’t going to go as expected, as Cersei uses Ser Gregor to keep Tommen from leaving his room. As everyone heads over the the Sept of Baelor, Grand Maester Pycelle is lured into the depths of the Red Keep by Qyburns “Little Birds”. There he meets the other Maester, and is set upon by children brandishing knives. It’s a gruesome death, but mild by Thrones’ standards. I won’t say I’m upset to see him go, he was a vile old man, always changing his loyalties from one Lannister to the next, though his duty as Grand Maester was to serve the king. It’s obvious with Qyburn in the picture, Cersei has no use for Pycelle, and doesn’t trust him either. While this happening, another of those Little Birds catch the eye of Brother Lancel, who was on his way to retrieve Cersei for the trial. The child leads him down to the tunnels under King’s Landing, where he is stabbed in the back. As he lays there, he sees the catches of Wildfire that has been stored all around the tunnels, and there are three candles burning at one end, surrounded by the flammable liquid. As he struggles to make his way there, back at the Sept Margaery has figured out that something is wrong. She tries to reason with the High Sparrow, telling him that if Cersei and Tommen aren’t present, something bad is about to happen. He ignores her, and she breaks all pretense and starts shouting at everyone to leave. She goes over to Loras first, who has already confessed his sins, but as they try and leave, the Faith Militants block everyone’s path. As Margaery struggles to get free, explosions can be heard in the distance, and as the High Sparrow realises that she was right, the entire Sept blows up and is engulfed by wildfire, killing off Margaery, Loras and Mace Tyrell, along with the High Sparrow, the Faith Militants and Kevan Lannister. Many people had already predicted something like this would happen, Wildfire had been mentioned too many times this season, and it seemed like the perfect way for Cersei to get rid of all her enemies. Ironically, it was the Queen of Thorns who probably put the idea in her head, when she sneeringly asked Cersei, “What are you going to do, kill them all yourself?” A few episodes ago. I was however surprised and saddened that Margaery was caught in the crossfire. She’s been one of my favourite characters, one of the few people who had a grasp on how to play the game. After all the torment she went through as a prisoner, and the way she navigated her way out of that situation by convincing the High Sparrow that she was one of them, it seemed like she had so much more to do, that they were building her up for something great. She was the only one who figured out that something was wrong, she was the only one who could go toe to toe with Cersei and win. Unfortunately this season she had to hand the reigns over to the High Sparrow, and he couldn’t compete with Cersei.

Back at the Red Keep, Tommen watches the destruction of King’s Landing from afar. After being told about the death of his wife and the others present at the Sept, the young king takes off his crown and jumps out of his window. That scene was so sudden, so nonchalant, that I actually laughed. I do however feel very bad for Tommen. The poor kid was happy playing with his kittens, and ever since he became king he was manipulated by all those around him. I really don’t blame him for anything that’s happened, I blame the people around him. He so believed in making Westeros a better place, and seeing all the death and destruction caused by his mother drove him over the edge.

With Tommen dead, the Baratheon line is officially extinct, and Cercei is named Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. A few seasons ago, Tyrion told her that her only redeeming quality, apart from her cheekbones, was her love for her children. With all of them now dead, it seems like she will inherit the title of Mad Queen, as there’s nothing really left in the world that can bring back her humanity. At the end of the episode, Jaime arrives back from Riverrun to witniss the destruction of King’s Landing. He’s in the throne room while Cersei is coronated, and they both meet eyes. I have to feel for Jaime, all he’s ever done was love his sister, but that was never enough for her. Power and greed drove her to the point where her own son committed suicide because of her actions. Jaime ruined his life and reputation the day he stabbed the Mad King, who was trying to burn King’s Landing down. And now he sees that the woman he loved has done the exact same thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he also adds Queenslayer to his list of titles.

The Twins 

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The Frey’s and Lannisters gather together to celebrate their victory against the Tully’s and the capture of Riverrun. Jaime seems like he just wants to get back to Cersei, and gets tired of Walder Frey boasting about the victory, telling him that he did all the work, and that people don’t fear the Frey’s, they fear the Lannisters. Walder doesn’t mind being mocked, he tells Jaime that the Tully’s laughed at him for years and now they’re all dead. He compares himself with Jaime, remarking how everyone looks at them differently because they’re both Kingslayers.

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Later on as Walder sits by himself in the hall, he tells a serving girl to call his sons. She repeatedly tells him “they’re here“, finally indicating towards the pies Walder has been eating. As he lifts the crust of one of the pies, there is a toe mixed within the meat. Before Walder can react, the girl removes her face and reveals herself to be Arya Stark. How Arya managed to get to the Riverlands in two episodes, I’ll never know, but I’m so glad it happened. As it dawns to Walder that he’d been eating his sons, Arya tells him she wants him to remember that the last thing he ever saw would be the face of a Stark smiling down at him. She cuts his throat, reminiscent of the way her mother lost her life, and Walder Frey dies in a pool of his own blood. As book readers would know, ‘Frey Pies’ had been previously hinted in the books, and great to see it finally confirmed. It happened differently in the books though, and while I’m glad Walder is dead, I’m starting to worry about Arya. I would consider her to be a mass murderer, and though she may seem like a vigilante, killing those who deserved it, I think she may soon go over the edge. The thing about the Faceless Men was that they had no loyalties, the didn’t serve a single individual. They had a code, and they were restricted by it. Arya clearly has an agenda, she has a list and she has no restrictions. She isn’t no one, so she’ll follow her emotions and that may lead to bad things in the future.

Dorne

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So I’ve never liked Dorne on the show, and I don’t think I ever will. The only reason this scene went well was because we had a surprise visit from Olenna Tyrell. It seems her only purpose there was to provide some fan service and shut down the Sand Snakes (which was great). Another surprise, Varys pops out of nowhere, and it seems like he’s the one who has arranged this meeting. The Martells and Tyrells have both been hurt by the Lannisters, and Varys promises them revenge through Daenerys Targaryen. Now for the people who’ve read the books, we already know that the Martells are allied with Daenerys, and now that she has one of the most powerful houses in Westeros by her side, she’ll be unstoppable when she arrives next season.

Oldtown 

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This was just a small scene, setting up Sam’s story for next season. He arrives to the Citadel with Gilly and we basically see him deal with a medieval receptionist. He is to meet with the Arch Maester to begin his training to become the new Maester for the wall. Until then, he’s allowed into the library, where I’ll expect he’ll be spending most of his time till season 7 starts.

Tower of Joy

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People have waited years, even decades for this scene. By now most people have accurately guessed the true identity of Jon parents, Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany’s brother) and  Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister). We finally got confirmation of that this episode, as Bran once again steps into the past and enters the Tower of Joy. We see Lyanna covered in blood, along with some handmaidens. She’s given birth, and knows she’s about to die. As Ned tries to save her, she tells him “promise me.” Then she whispers something in his ear, but we hear her say “if Robert finds out, he’ll kill him“. Now she is of course talking about the late Robert Baratheon, who Lyanna was betrothed to until Rhaegar kidnapped her. From what we see, she’s had a son with him, and she knows Robert would have him killed if he found out. Now there are multiple theories that support Jon being this baby, and if you needed any more proof, they transition to his face the very next scene.

Winterfell 

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We see a white raven arriving to the Castle, announcing that Winter has finally arrived. Jon tells Sansa he’s had the Lords room prepared for her, but she tells him he should take it, because she considers him a Stark. She also apologises to him for not telling him about Littlefinger or the Knights of the Vale. He tells her that they need to trust each other, and we get a sweet moment between the siblings.

This doesn’t last long though, as Sansa is confronted by Littlefinger, who starts putting thoughts in her head to try and pit her against her brother. He wants her to take the North, and he wants her by his side when he takes the Iron Throne. However Sansa turns him away, but the seeds have already been planted.

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In the great hall, Davos confronts Jon and Melisande about the death of Shireen. He forces Mel to admit what she did, though she tries to defend herself, saying she did only what the god told her to do. Davos tells her she led to the deaths of thousands after convincing Stannis he was Azor Ahai, and then asks Jon permission to execute her. Now I’ve never been a fan of Melisandre, I don’t care if she brought Jon back, and I was really hoping Jon would let Davos kill her. But she obviously still has a part to play in this story, and Jon exiles her to the South, saying she’d be killed if she ever returns. Now this is the type of thing that makes me think Jon isn’t fit to be a leader, or a king. He had a hard choice to make, either keep Melisandre by his side to help him in the war to come, or have he killed for murder. Yet he couldn’t choose, so he took the easy way out and banished her. A King or leader will be faced with tough decisions like these, and they need a firm response. Robb beheaded his own lord after Karstark killed the Lannister boys, it was a tough choice, but he chose and stuck to it. I think Jon needs to learn that if he is to be king.

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Later on, we see all the great Lords of the North gathered at Winterfell. After the defeat of the Bolton’s, Jon tries to convince them to unite against the upcoming threat from the North. Lyanna Mormont gets and finally gives us the “North Remembers” speech we’d been waiting for. She declares Jon her king, saying he’s still a Stark because Ned’s blood runs through him. One by one, from Houses Manderly to Glover, all the Northern houses declare Jon the new King in the North. This was a great scene, reminiscent of season 1 when Robb was first declared king. Sansa sits smiling next to Jon, and I may be one of the few people who’d have preferred if everyone was chanting “Queen in the North” instead. Like I said before, I don’t think Jon makes a great leader. We’ve already seen how bad things went while he was Lord Commander at the Watch, and I don’t think he’s learnt from his mistakes. Sansa on the other hand has a better idea of how politics and ruling works, having spent so much time with Lords and Ladies in King’s Landing and the Vale.

Meereen

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It wouldn’t be a Game of Thrones episode if it didn’t end with a shot of Daenerys or her dragons. So after 6 long seasons, she’s finally ready to go to Westeros. Before that, she ditches Daario under the counsel of Tyrion. I’m glad she’s following his advice, however it mustn’t have been that hard of a choice, telling Tyrion she felt nothing after leaving the man who loved her. She then appoints Tyrion her hand of the Queen, and along with Yara, Theon and her armies, she sets sail towards Westeros. Oh and Varys is there, somehow making the journey back from Dorne just in time for Daenerys’ departure. I’d just like to point out that she dumps Daario an episode after meeting Yara… Just saying. I would have liked to have seen how she managed to convince the Dothraki to board the ships, as them crossing the sea has been an issue that was brought up since season 1. However I’m still happy that they wrapped up Daenerys’ storyline, and excited to see what happens next.

Overall season 6 far exceeded my expectations, which were quite low one it was confirmed that this would be the first season which wouldn’t be following the source material. D&D along with the other writers and directors did an excellent job, and I feel this season was a lot better than both 4 and 5. I know it’s a long wait till the next season, but I’m very excited to see where this story will go, and I have high hopes for season 7.

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