This recap is coming to you slightly later than usual mostly because it took me a full twelve hours to process everything that happened in the Game of Thrones finale, and I still don’t think I’ll manage to accurately convey it all. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel anymore than I did last week, Winds of Winter showed up and laughed right in my face before granting every plot based wish I had, and then some. I don’t think I’ve ever ended a season of this show feeling as satisfied as I did Sunday night, probably because I still haven’t accepted the fact that Daario isn’t coming back.
What happened? Everything.
How many times did I cry? Twice.
How many times will I rewatch it until next April? TBA.
The first sequence of the episode set the tone for the sixty-nine minutes of action packed “fuck yous” to follow. We open in King’s Landing the day of Cersei and Loras’ trial. Everyone is preparing for the festivities in their own way: Tommen throws on a crown, Margaery gets some pretty braids, the High Sparrow probably rolls in a patch of dirt, and Cersei dons a dress made for fucking war.
Not everyone makes it to the proceedings as expected. While Loras is in the sept confessing to his many gay sins and getting some sick new forehead adornment, shit is going down elsewhere in King’s Landing. Tommen is barred from leaving his room by the Mountain, the world’s scariest babysitter. Pycelle is lured down to a basement where he is promptly stabbed to death by Qyburn’s many birds. Lancel, sent to retrieve Cersei, is also stabbed by a child before falling at the foot of what can only be described as a fuck ton of wildfire laying beneath the city. Looks like those “rumors” Qyburn was researching were just as fruitful as promised.
In the Red Keep, Cersei sulks in her room, clad in all black, chugging wine and ignoring her responsibilities. She’s never been more relatable.
Margaery, the only sensible person in this city, quickly realizes that Cersei and Tommen’s absence can’t mean anything good for the rest of them. She tries to say as much to the High Sparrow, who ignores her because his barefoot ass excels at only one thing: underestimating Cersei Lannister.
Margaery: I promise you we are all going to die if we stay here.
High Sparrow: You women and your nagging I SWEAR.
Lancel heroically tries to extinguish the tiny votive candles placed to ignite the wildfire, but much like every other aspect of his life, he proves to be completely useless. As if tensions weren’t high enough, the peaceful haunting music playing in the background as everybody burns to death will haunt me for weeks to come.
RIP Margaery Tyrell. You deserved better. Your dad and brother, not so much.
Across the city, Cersei views the raging fire from her balcony as she sips wine and smirks to herself. I am honestly a little worried about how much I am identifying with this clearly insane woman, and the respect only grows as we watch her waterboard the evil sparrow nun with a bottle of wine.
The list of things Cersei proceeds to confess to because they “feel good” is possibly the best bit of dialogue ever written for this character. They include, but are not limited to: drinking, lying, murder, and fucking her own brother. Truly inspired.
Cersei leaves the nun in the care of The Mountain, which she ominously refers to as the nun’s “new God.” To top it all off, she calmly chants “shame” as she walks out of the room and closes the door, which does nothing to quiet the anguished screams from inside. Moral of the story: do not fuck with Cersei Lannister. Give Lena Heady all the awards.
Her victory comes at a cost, however. Cersei’s antics cause Tommen, an already weak child at best, to completely snap. After hearing that Margaery has been burnt to a crisp, he very calmly throws himself out his window in the Red Keep. The last one of Cersei’s children is dead, completing the witch’s prophecy from her childhood. This time, however, she is directly to blame. Not that it matters much anymore, as her sanity was clearly abandoned the second Tommen sided with the Sparrow.
This is going to be an extra rough discovery for Jaime, who is still cleaning up the mess in the Riverlands. Other than the fact that the last of his incest babies is dead, he’s about to return home to the single act that he sacrificed his honorable reputation to prevent: some crazy asshole burning down half the city in order to defeat their enemies. Jaime loves Cersei more than life itself, but will it be enough to excuse her of this? From the very defeated look on his face as he rides in during her coronation, I’m going to say probably not.
You know those holidays you have to spend at your weird cousin’s house, where you sit in the corner with your barely suppressed misery and chug wine in an attempt to remain moderately civil? That’s Jaime during the post-siege celebration at the Freys. Not even flirting Riverland wenches can elevate his mood, probably because (as so aptly noted by Bronn) he’s not related to them.
Watching him put Walder Frey in his place is hugely satisfying, and yet it didn’t even compare to what happened next. After the festivities have ended for the night, a woman who had been eyeing Jaime brings Lord Frey a slice of pie. Except that it’s not a random girl, and it’s not normal pie. Arya clearly jumped on the red eye from Braavos to the Riverlands, just in time to disguise herself, murder Walder’s sons, bake them into a pie, and serve it to him. Clearly her time spent at the House of Black and White was a much more well-rounded learning experience than we realized.
Arya: The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.
In an appropriately poetic move, Walder dies just as Catelyn Stark did: a slit throat. Honestly, once Arya and Sansa are back together I fear for every man in Westeros. Fuck winter; the Stark girls are coming and they smirk as they watch men die.
In the most boring, and thankfully shortest, storyline in the episode, Sam, Gilly and Little Sam have finally arrive at The Citadel. Little Sam has aged approximately two years since we saw them last, because Westeros gives zero fucks about rational timelines.
They show up at a momentous time, as white ravens are being sent out across the country. This means one very important thing: Winter is finally here. It only took us six years to get to this moment.
Sam gets more emotional walking into The Citadels’ giant library than he ever did looking at his son, so maybe he and his dad have more in common they thought.
We’re back in Dorne for the first time in forever, but the brief scene is well worth our time. Ellaria and her sand snakes are joined by none other than the OG Bad Bitch, Olenna Tyrell, who made her way across the Narrow Sea to talk revenge. She has clearly gotten word of Cersei’s stunt and makes her motives here very clear: vengeance at any cost.
While watching her verbally berate the Sand Snakes was easily one of the most enjoyable moments of the episode, I was a little skeptical of this illicit deal. Sure, Ellaria proved dangerous in her coup, but she clearly hasn’t done much since then. What could she offer Olenna now, and from this far away?
My doubts instantly vanished as one very familiar and very bald head appeared on screen. Varys being in Dorne can mean only one thing: the Tyrells and the Martells will be joining Team Targaryen. Put Dany, Tyrion, and Olenna in a room together and let me just die happy PLEASE. Every bridge Cersei has ever burned (pun not intended) is now aligning against her and the confrontation next season is about to be LIT (pun definitely intended).
Varys: Fire and Blood.
Olenna: This egg shaped man is speaking my fucking language.
After six seasons of waiting, countless conspiracies, and a handful of teased moments, Winds of Winter finally gave us all what we’ve been asking for. R + L = J was all but confirmed, and if you don’t know what that is then why are you even reading this recap.
After saying goodbye to half-dead Uncle Benjen, Bran eagerly jumps into that vision that was interrupted by Hodor’s pesky death. Suddenly we’re back at the Tower of Joy, where Ned finds Lyanna in her bed of blood. But unlike what everyone has believed for the past twenty years, Lyanna’s death wasn’t of violent means (I mean unless you consider pre-modern childbirth violent, which I absolutely do). After a series of murmured pleas and forced promises, Ned agrees to protect Lyanna’s biggest secret: a baby.
More aptly, baby Jon Snow. In case this hadn’t been clear enough, the camera slowly pans from infant Jon’s brown eyes to his current day ones, and honestly the despair levels aren’t all that different. Baby Jon has the same expression as a man who has been in line at the DMV for days on end and he’s three hours old.
Present day Jon doesn’t look that much better. To be fair, he’s had a rough time since reclaiming Winterfell.
First he had to preside over the confrontation between Davos and Melisandre, which was tense to say the least.
Davos: You set a child on fire!
Melisandre: Well yeah it sounds bad when you say it like that.
Davos wants Melisandre executed, but Jon compromises and banishes her instead. This probably isn’t the best move seeing as how she tends to find her “one true king” anywhere she sets up camp, but she’s also looking pretty tired these days. She’s also seems to have lost her fight, which might be a direct result of barbecuing an innocent little girl.
Melisandre: I’ve been ready to die for many years.
Jon: Same, tbh.
Next, Jon endures a heartfelt and moderately awkward talk with Sansa. He tries to offer her the Lord’s rooms and, by extension, power of Winterfell but she denies. Sansa tells Jon that he’s a trueborn heir in her eyes, a sentiment that is later repeated by our Lord and Savior Lyanna Mormont. Sansa also apologizes for keeping the Knights of the Vale to herself, and while it seems sincere she also doesn’t seem like she’ll be all that forthcoming in the future.
Jon: We have so many enemies now, we can’t fight battles between us.
Sansa goes straight from this confrontation to another, far more unpleasant one. Littlefinger is back to sow seeds of discontent in her pretty head, and it makes me so viscerally angry that it actually appears to be working.
Petyr: I see myself on the Iron Throne, and you by my side.
Sansa: Read 3:15 pm
Last on the list of events that Jon must endure is a Northern family meeting in the Great Hall at Winterfell. Things seem rocky at first, until Lady Mormont stands up and pledges her allegiance to Jon, all while shitting on every other family that bailed on him in the first place. If you haven’t yet, please take some time to watch a nine year old girl shame a room full of grown men. It cleared up my skin, cured the California drought, and retroactively improved my GPA.
Following her lead, the entire room declares Jon the King in the North, their White Wolf. It was super emotional until you realized that Ghost is STILL MIA GODDAMNIT.
Sansa, sitting off to the side like a supportive sister, catches Baelish’s eye from across the room. What started out looking like a proud and satisfied smile on her face suddenly turns sour, and as much as I wish it was because of Littlefinger’s smug face it seems much more likely that his words earlier had gotten under her skin. Sansa has tasted blood and winning back her home might not be enough to satiate it. She wants to rule and any man would be foolish to underestimate her at this point.
I cried twice during the course of this finale. Both times were during Mereen scenes. Neither was caused by death.
The first was while Danaerys broke up with Daario. She tells him that she can’t have distractions in Westeros, where she might be forced to marry for an alliance. He suffers in silence, drinking wine while she lists the many reasons her decision makes sense, further cementing my everlasting love for him. Daario is possibly the first character to leave this show without dying and I'm irate over my lack of closure.
Accurate representation of their entire conversation:
Daario blames Tyrion for this, and while Dany denies his involvement it’s clearly true, evident by the fact that Tyrion is waiting on the sidelines for all that post dump gossip.
Tyrion: How did he take it?
Danaerys: No tears.
Me: THOUSANDS OF TEARS.
The second interaction that actually drew real life emotion from my cold, dead heart was the one between Tyrion and Danaerys, where he pledges his allegiance to her. Tyrion explains that Dany is the first thing he’s ever truly believed in, and she responds by handing him a Hand of the Queen pin. The look on his face was all it took for the tears to start, because you realize in that moment that this is all that Tyrion has ever wanted: to be valued. Danaerys sees beyond what the people of King’s Landing couldn’t ignore, and because of that Tyrion will follow her until the very end.
As if that moment wasn’t powerful enough, the episode ends with one of the most impressive (and deeply satisfying) shots of the season. Danaerys and her fleet, complete with Greyjoys, Tyrells and Martells, are finally setting sail for Westeros. If the number of ships wasn’t impressive enough, the three dragons flying overhead should do it. It’s finally happening, you guys. IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING.
Thus concludes another season of Game of Thrones, one I’d confidently call the best yet. Here’s to nine months of fan theories and excessive wine consumption in a fruitless effort to fill the void this show has left in my Sunday nights. The off-season is dark and full of terrors, see you on the other side.