Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 10: “The Winds of Winter"
King’s Landing: The Trial
The bell tolls for the trial of Cersei and Loras while everyone gets ready to the soundtrack of a melodramatic soap opera. Tommen looks like he is bearing heavy weight, both physically (with the giant lion necklace) and emotionally (with having to witness his mother’s and brother-in-law’s trials). Cersei puts on her armor, fashioned with leather and metallic shoulder pads that would make Bea Arthur jealous. Grandmaester Pycelle gets in a good lay. Lancel looks a little to eager to carve up Loras, who is led in with complete silence, save for the rattling of his chains. Loras freely admits to everything, including screwing the false king Renly Baratheon, and vows to give up his title to devote his life as a soldier of the Faith Militant, much to the collective dismay of Margaery, Mace, and Kevan and the High Sparrow’s enjoyment. Lancel finally gets his chance to use his knife and carve the Faith’s Seven-Pointed Star into Loras’s forehead. Cersei hasn’t left for her trial yet, but she sure as hell got ready for it and pours herself a glass of wine in preparation. Zombie Mountain prevents Tommen, who is pulling his big boy pants up, from leaving his chambers. The High Sparrow orders Lancel to retrieve Cersei, but he gets sidetracked by a little boy running and follows the boy for an unknown curiosity. Lancel then is stabbed in the side, illuminating the barrels of wildfire goo before him leading to candles lit at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, Grandmaester Pycelle is lured by another child to Qyburn’s lair with a message that the king needs him. Because Tommen would most definitely send a four-year-old child to fetch him. Qyburn explains to Pycelle that he’s dying because of “out with the old, in with the new.”. To demonstrate how warped Cersei is, Qyburn has changed Varys’s “little birds” into child assassins, and they make minced meat out of Pycelle’s body, all while the soundtrack introduces children droning, “Yah, yah, ee-yah, yah!” This soundtrack is epic and discomforting... but distracting as hell. Perhaps complete silence would have been more unsettling.
While waiting, Margaery, in her steely rose dress, looks around and looks at her silent, bleeding brother, tortured into being a submissive shell. Lancel drags himself to the candles at the other end, as Margaery grows impatient and worried. Something is wrong, and she expresses her concerns to the High Sparrow. She tries to make him see reason with both Cersei and Tommen missing. Margaery relieves herself of all pretenses about being a faithful follower and tells the Sparrow to “forget the bloody gods,” knowing full well that Cersei knows the consequences of her absence and is still absent. She warns that they all need to leave immediately and postpone the trial. But the High Sparrow isn’t having any of that nonsense. Margaery orders everyone to leave and tries to lead her brother out. She is quickly blocked by the Faith Militant. Lancel makes it to the candles, just in time to see the candle melt down far enough to light the goo, creating a wildfire explosion. Margaery and the High Sparrow exchange glances before the sept blows up, and everybody is obliterated. All of her work in trying to work through the new rules to get to the top and work against the High Sparrow. Cersei is done playing the game of thrones. She’s just fucking taking it.
Someone running in the streets is smashed by the bell for gore’s sake before being swallowed by green wildfire. Cersei breathes in a sigh of relief and orgasms a bit. She smells her wine and takes a celebratory drink. She is actually savoring the drink while her enemies have been killed. She might as well do a touchdown dance. Tommen looks on, devastated, quite the opposite of Cersei. The woman he loves has been killed by his mother, and he’s left to deal with the aftermath. Cersei continues her enjoyment when she pours the rest of her wine on Septa Unella’s face. Wasting good wine on humiliating Unella is worth it for Cersei. She pours the entire cask of wine on her face, to mock Septa Unella’s own torture. She admits all her sins to Septa Unella and explains that it all felt good. She’s confessed her crimes, just not at her trial. She’s going to make Septa Unella’s death slow and painful, and Zombie Mountain is going to deliver it. She chants “shame” three times as she leaves the torture chamber. Cersei most definitely chose violence, didn’t she? Tommen can’t bear it, though, and sets down his crown to jump out the window to commit suicide, mirroring Bran's falling out the window. Cersei and Jaime, along with Littlefinger, set all of this in motion, and that nod reinforces that cycle.
The Twins: Joke's On You
In an ingeniously inappropriate transition, Walder Frey toasts the Lannisters. After his toast, a very forward servant girl pours wine for Jaime and Bronn. She keeps eye contact with Jaime and coyly grins. It’s obvious she’s different than the typical Frey servants, who are sheepish and subservient. Walder has a seat next to Jaime and tells him that Edmure is back in his cell. Clearly he can’t kill him because that would give the Freys a bad name. Jaime’s “uhhhhh what?” face in reaction gave me all the LOLz. Walder lacks any sort of understanding of anything when he says he never needed to fight. He has Riverrun now and didn’t have to fight to get it. Jaime dryly calls him a great conqueror, and Walder says he doesn’t care if he mocks him. Everyone—the Starks and Tullys—who has mocked him for years are all dead. Frey then refers to them both as kingslayers, and Jaime certainly doesn’t care to be called kingslayer, let alone be compared with Walder Frey. Jaime lets Walder know what a complete waste of a ruler he is when the Lannisters have to do everything for them. No one fears a Frey; they fear a Lannister, and Cersei just proved that. Walder is left dumbfounded.
King’s Landing: Bye, Tommen. Bye.
Cersei demands that Qyburn show her Tommen’s body, and she says he deserves to be with his family, who were all laid to rest in the Sept. Therefore, he must burn and be spread on the razed sept. Though her eyes are watery, she steels herself. Tommen was part of that past that must be done away with to make room for the new. Maybe it’s what Cersei wanted: for Tommen to witness everything unfold before him and her take the throne from him.
Oldtown: Ooooo Shiny
Sam arrives at Oldtown just as the Maesters release the white ravens to signal that Winter is coming. He delivers a rather awkwardly a letter from Jon that states that Sam is to be the new maester at the Wall since Maester Aemon is dead. None of these updates have been given to them, so Sam brings quite a bit of news. Wait until they hear about the Wildlings and the White Walkers. Ooph! While Sam waits for the Archmaester, he is permitted to use the library. However, Gilly and her spawn are ordered to remain because no girls allowed in this dude club. It’s also why Sarella Sand is studying in the Citadel as a man in the books. I look forward to her meeting Sam in either book or TV series. Sam giddily enters the library, and it’s every nerd’s dream. It opens to a great open area with the thing that appears in the opening credits: some sort of light catcher and magnifying lens. It seems to be used solely as a light to redirect sunlight onto various points of the library. Perhaps Sam will unlock its secrets, if it has any. Maybe it’s just what it’s being used for. I don’t know. But finally we get to know what the hell that is in the credits.
Winterfell: The White Ravens Have Come
We follow one of the white ravens to Winterfell, where Jon reminisces on family dinners as an outcast. Melisandre is quick to tell him, he was still quite lucky to even get a feast and to have a family. He quits brooding then, but Davos storms in and throws the stag he carved to Shireen to Melisandre. She catches it, and her face grows dark. Davos demands she tell Jon what she did to Shireen, and she admits that she burned her at the stake. She claims she was doing the Lord’s work, but Davos says her Lord is evil if commands to burn children. They, especially Jon, are standing here because of the Lord’s will, she argues. Others, as she points out, were complicit in the act: Shireen’s own parents. Davos calls her a liar, but she says she was wrong, not lying. Davos asks Jon to execute her, but he banishes her from the North and tells her to ride south, despite her plea to stay to help him win the war against the Night King. If she ever returns, she will be executed for murder.
Jon watches Melisandre go and tells Sansa that he’s preparing the lord’s chamber for her, which was their parent’s bedroom. Sansa suggests he take it instead, but he tells her he isn’t a Stark. “You are to me,” Sansa says. But Jon insists that it’s hers, that she is the Lady of Winterfell, because they are standing there because of her (though Melisandre just claimed it’s because of the Lord of Light). Jon asks her if she trusts Lord Baelish, and she tells him that only a fool would trust Littlefinger. How they reference him says volumes about their relations with him. Jon, not knowing him, calls him by his title, but Sansa knowing the scumbag he is, calls him by his hated nickname. Sansa apologizes for not telling him about the knights of the Vale, and Jon says they must trust each other. After he kisses her forehead, she tells him about the white raven’s arrival and says, “Winter is here.” He laughs in the falling snow. Ned’s warnings finally came to pass. Note that the beginning of this scene has Jon and Sansa separated by one of the battlement's merlons. There is an actual wall embodying that elephant in the room, creating a distance between them. When we pan in as they discuss Littlefinger and trust, they break down that wall and Jon transcends it to kiss her. It's a nice cinematic symbolism not often seen in TV shows but in movies, where symbolism cuts down on time.
Grieving in black, Lady Olenna Tyrell meets with the newly crowned Princess of Dorne Ellaria Sand at the Water Gardens of Sunspear. She notes the last time a Tyrell set foot in Dorne, he was killed by a hundred scorpions. Ellaria ensures her that she’s safe in Dorne. Olenna points out that she murdered her own prince. Trust doesn’t come easily in this situation. Obara responds that they need each other’s help, and Olenna just doesn’t like a little brat speaking out of place and telling her what she needs. She looks at her like an idiot and asks, “What is your name again—Barbara?” When Nym speaks up, Olenna silences her and asks if Tyene has anything to add. Tyene begins to open her mouth, but Olenna stops her and says, “No? Good. Let the grown women speak.” I’ve been waiting for this meeting for a long time, and it’s finally here, and it’s everything I’d hoped. Now they just need Lady Lyanna Mormont, and I will lose all of my cool. Ellaria coolly says that the Lannisters have waged war on House Tyrell and Dorne, so they must be allies. Cersei killed her future, including all her immediate family. She is the last of her house. Survival is not what she’s after; she’s after revenge in the form of Fire and Blood: an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen. Just as I suspected, Varys sought out Dorne, the new matriarchy of Westeros, that would be Dany’s ideal ally. Now there’s a foursome of women in charge, and I’ve never been more excited.
Meereen: What is Love? Baby, Don’t Hurt Me No More.
Cersei orders Daario to stay behind in Meereen to keep order as the Meereenese elect new leaders. The best way to make alliances in Westeros is with marriage, so she can’t have a consort hanging on her when she gets there. She’s got to look like she’s available and like she’s wholesome. He says that a king would have no problem doing that, but, hey, double standards, amiright? He tells her he loves her and asks to bring him with her. But, nah. They’re over, thanks to Tyrion’s advice. In terms of his love life, Daario says no one can follow the Mother of Dragons. She says a great many women will follow. He’s a little hurt, but probably realizes she’s right. She tells him that instructions will be left for him, as if she’s going on vacation and gives him house sitting tasks. Make sure to water the plants once a week, Daario. She can’t have that Sago Palm dying on her. She’s renamed Slavers Bay to Bay of Dragons, which is far cooler by so many means. Daario tells her that he hopes she’ll get the throne because it’s the only thing she truly desires, which is another way of saying that she’s heartless and has broken his heart. It’s interesting to see that Dany is leaving a democracy in her wake of Meereen, yet she is trying to claim rightful queenship as a monarch.
Tyrion tries to console Dany by telling her that it’s just the type of sacrifice that a ruler has to make. She sits beside him on the step. This is a pivotal moment. She’s never anyone’s equal. She’s always standing above them, but here she’s sitting beside Tyrion in the most informal fashion. He says she’s got all she ever wanted and asks if she’s afraid. She admits that she is, and he responds, “Good. You’re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying.” Only those who are mad, like her father, do not fear. Dany reveals that she felt nothing when she broke up with Daario, just impatient. Tyrion looks at her and says with tears welling up that he wasn’t the first or the last to love her. She stands, and he rises, too, to tell her that he believes in her, despite never having believed in anything before. Dany admits that she needs his counsel and gives him the Hand brooch, and she names him the Hand of the Queen.
The Twins: Look Who’s Laughing Now
The serving girl that kept a flirty eye on Jaime serves Walder Frey some meat pie, knowing she isn’t one of his servants. In typical Walder fashion, she eyes her butt and smacks it as he tells her that she’s pretty. He look around and wonders in a very loud manner where his “moron sons” are. The servant keeps telling him that they’re here in the room, but Walder doesn’t get it. She directs him to the pie, and he lifts the crust to see a finger in it. She evenly tells him that they weren’t easy to carve and takes off her face to reveal Arya Stark slightly smiling as Walder realizes his death is here with pants of duress. Arya tells him her name and tells him the last thing he’ll see is a Stark smiling down at him. He starts to get up and run, but she adroitly stops him and slices his throat open. Like the Tommen scene mirroring Bran, this scene mirrors Catelyn's death. Arya gives him a death just like her own mother's, and it's a satisfying one. The more his life leaves him, the more she enjoys it. She even fingers the sliced open neck. Arya now is hardened so much that she enjoys killing, which poses a parallel with Dany, who felt nothing when breaking up with her lover. They are both becoming hardened and heartless by their experiences.
Winterfell: Littlefinger’s Play
Littlefinger approaches Sansa in at Winterfell’s weirwood tree and tells her he’d leave if she is praying. “I’m done with all that,” she cuts him off. She used to pray, she admits, for the gods to take her away from Winterfell, and they did. It was always about what she wanted and not what she had. When she was in King’s Landing, she prayed for the gods to take her away from there. She was placing her life in others’ hands. She’s not only given up on the gods, she’s given up on Littlefinger, too, and is forging her own path. Sansa asks what Littlefinger wants. “I thought you knew what I wanted.” Oh, that kiss in the Vale, huh? Get over Cat, you creep. She’s dead. Oh, he wants the Iron Throne with Sansa ruling beside him. After knowing what’s coming from North of the Wall, he still cares about a stupid throne forged of rusty swords? Sheesh. He goes in for a kiss, but she stops him and walks away. He says news of the battle will reach all of Westeros and that he’s declared himself an ally of House Stark. He plants in Sansa’s mind that she, as a trueborn heir to Winterfell, should have ladyship, and after she just made up her mind to let Jon have the lordship, too. Good grief.
North of the Wall: Bed of Blood
From one weirwood to another, Benjen leaves Bran and Meera just North of the Wall because he can’t pass by magical protection at the Wall, since he’s dead. He’ll do everything he can to help them out until he dies for real. Bran touches the weirwood tree and travels into the past to the Tower of Joy. Ned climbs the steps to his sister Lyanna screaming in a bed of blood, and he lays Ser Dayne's bloody sword down by Lyanna's blood, indicating that Jon is the Azor Ahai, the Promised Hero, which comes right after he banishes Melisandre, who declared him so. Lyanna tells Ned that she is afraid to die, though she wishes she weren’t. She whispers to him to promise her that he’d protect her child at all costs: Jon. The weirwood trees are heavily featured in this episode, both as a transition and direction of the weirwood's increasing importance in the network of Westeros that transcends time and space.
Winterfell: Lyanna Mormont is the Pillar of the North
After ending the last scene on baby Jon’s face, we transition to Jon’s baby face. He is in the banquet hall with his mother’s namesake Lyanna Mormont, his cousin Sansa, Wildlings, Northern lords, and knights of the Vale. Some sorry excuse for a Northern lord (Cley Cerwyn) suggests they all head home to wait out the coming storms, now that winter’s come. Lyanna stares him down, as only she knows how to properly do. Jon says the war is not over, and the true enemy will not wait out the storm; they will being the storm. The room swells in chatter, and Littlefinger continues to watch from the shadows. Lyanna takes a stand to shame each house that refused to answer the call to support the Starks, unlike House Mormont. Sansa smiles at Lyanna’s speech, until she realizes that Lyanna is swearing fealty to the bastard Jon instead of her. Lord Manderly and Lord Glover then swear support for Jon Snow, the King in the North, followed by the entire room of soldiers and lords, who’ve won back Winterfell. It takes a little girl who stood up to evil to make the North unite once more. Lyanna gets little credit for doing so, unlike Jon who will get all the credit.
King’s Landing: The Mad Queen
Jaime returns home with Bronn and his army to find that the sept has been destroyed and is still burning. While Jon is crowned King in the North, Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. As if she were in Beyonce’s formation video, Cersei enters the throne room with a stern face. Silence fills the air. This is a fearful coronation, unlike that of, say, Margaery, who was beloved. Jaime watches from the sidelines as Cersei is crowned by Qyburn and takes her seat on the throne. She and Jaime exchange stares. She will take on the world and kill that horrid Septa Unella, like she promised.
The Narrow Sea: FINALLY
Finally Dany sails westward with her dragons, an army, and a fleet of ships with the combined houses of Sand, Tyrell, Greyjoy, and Targaryen. The dragons just dip and dive through the sails, showing off that they can fly and don’t need ships. The fleet is spectacularly massive, and the moment is epic feeling as we pan from Dany’s proud face to the sea’s horizon, dotted with ships. They even ensured to show the Dothraki’s ships carrying their horses.
Oh, Hello, Winter.
Cersei has managed to completely come out on top in King’s Landing, which I did not see coming. It doesn’t bode well for her or Jaime, though, with Highgarden, Dorne, Iron Islands, and Dany’s eclectic group of peoples on their way. The matriarchy has come, and it’s here to stay and here to slay. What will Winter look like now that there are five major players in the game: Cersei, Jon, the Night King, Daenerys, and Littlefinger? There are wildcards running around, too, in Arya and Bran. Power has already been consolidating, and alliances are coming to fruition for the coming storms. All I request of next season is more Lyanna Mormont, Yara Greyjoy, and Lady Olenna.
My one main complaint about this episode is that it focused too heavily on advancing plot, not so much in character. Previous seasons saw character development and took time to pace plots. The weight of choice is expedited here for epic thrill. The episode is still amazing, but it felt unrewarding and superficial at times. I still gasped and rose in response to the razing of the sept, but I didn’t feel utterly sad like I thought I would when Margaery died. I felt almost like Dany did when breaking up with Daario. Margaery’s insistence on leaving was not nearly as emotional as I’d think it would be. Transitions, as I usually like to point out when they smartly happen, were related in some way and clever.
Who is winning the game of thrones?
Who is winning the game of thrones, as of this episode?
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