Recap: GAME OF THRONES Leaves Us Burning For More

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Episode 60: “Winds of Winter”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik

Words are hard to come by this morning, as I sit here attempting to formulate the extremity of last night’s episode. So many emotions, so many plot twists, so many promises made true, so many deaths. Game of Thrones gave us a season finale that not only was the longest episode to date, running at 69 minutes, but has left us breathless and impatient for more.

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Cersei (Lena Headey) stands at the window, looking out to the Sept of Baelor, whilst her son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) and daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) prepare for the Trial of the Seven. The bells toll out a forlorn beat, and Cersei seems like the only one not upset by what is to come. In fact, she is adorned in black attire, with metal shoulder accents. She looks like a conqueror in mourning. Perhaps she is gathering her mental resolve for the coming judgment?

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Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Tommen is reluctant to go, for he knows that his mother has no hope. The Sept fills up with lords and ladies, the royalty of King’s Landing. Seven chairs are filled with those who will give judgement for Cersei, and Loras (Finn Jones). Margaery stands by her father, stoically watching as her brother is escorted in by the Faith Militant. A soft sad melody plays in the background, leaving us pondering the implications.

Loras admits to his crimes, asking for forgiveness and wishing to devote his life to the faith. He kneels, and three of the militant grab him from the sides and behind, revealing a knife in one’s hand. At first we believe that he is to be killed, but the knife is placed on his forehead and the symbol of the Seven is carved in. Margaery is furious for she was promised that he would not be mutilated.

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Credit: Courtesy HBO
It is realized that Cersei has not left the Red Keep, and Margaery feels there is something not right. Tommen is confronted by Ser Gregor (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) but it is not revealed what is to happen to him. At first, I suspected that Cersei would have her owns son killed due to his betrayal to her, but this seemed very unlikely as she loves nothing more than her children and only ever considered killing her son in order to protect him.

The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) orders Lancel (Eugene Simon) to go fetch Cersei, but as he is departing with other Militants he notices a small boy run off, and Lancel decides to give chase whilst the others continue on their mission. Meanwhile, Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) is lead by another small child to Maester Qyburn’s (Anton Lesser) study. Pycelle is confused and outraged, demanding to know why he is there. Qyburn assures him that he means no ill will, but the time has come to throw out the old and bring in the new. Little children begin filling up the room, detaching from the shadows. In their hands, they grip small knives, and their eyes are filled with determination. Pycelle attempts to fight off the children, but he is far too old and there are too many of them. He falls to their knives in a bloody mess. Finally the old geezer is dead.

Lancel has tracked the boy to a deep cavern under the Sept, but loses sight of him. He is stabbed from behind by the child. As he lies on the dirt, he notices three small pins of light down the dark corridor. He slowly army crawls his way towards them, and begins to notice hundreds of barrels lining the walls dripping with neon green liquid. It is the Wyldfire that was hidden so long ago. My theory was right! Cersei did in fact employ Qyburn to assist her in finding the hidden stash so she may rid the Seven Kindgoms of the High Sparrow.

Then it dawns on me (as well as Margaery) they all need to get out of the Sept now, because at any moment they are about to go up in a fiery green blaze like a Hulk fireworks display. Margaery pleads with the High Sparrow to listen to her, that they are not safe. Cersei is not there and neither is Tommen, but all the other royalty and Faith of the Seven are all together, putting a large target on their backs. The High Sparrow remains steadfast in his cockiness that there is nothing that Cersei can do to them. When will the men of this show actually start to listen to the women? Jon (Kit Harington) didn’t listen to Sansa (Sophie Turner) and that nearly got him killed, and now no one is listening to Margaery.

When the High Septon refuses to listen to her pleas, she orders everyone out of the Sept immediately and grabs her brother. They head to the doors, but everyone is barricaded by the Faith Militant. Lancel still struggles along the floor inching his way to the lights, until he notices that there are three candles melting down to their nubs in a pool of Wyldfire. Above the Sept is chaos as people attempt to push their way out. Margaery gives the High Septon a fearful flare. Lancel, exhausted from his crawl, is unable to muster up the breath to blow out the candles, and his eyes alight in green as the Wyldfire is set ablaze.

As the High Sparrow and Margaery stare each other down, a column up green fire erupts from below, demolishing the Sept and all those inside to nothing but rubble and ash. I had to pause the show here for a few minutes. Margaery was gone. Without a doubt in my or anyone else’s minds, she was dead. I stared numbly at the paused screen, willing the tears not to fall. I knew better than to become attached to anyone on the show, but it was Margaery–she seemed untouchable. She was neither good nor evil, she just was. She was one of my favorites and now she is gone. Her death hit me harder than I anticipated.

This was the one time we didn’t want anyone to Hold the Door.

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Credit: Courtesy HBO
Cersei looks from the window and smiles, taking a sip from her wine, and then the black warlike outfit makes sense. She retires to the dungeon where Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham) lies strapped to a table. Cersei douses her in wine, and a tiny voice in my mind cries out at such a waste. Cersei orders the Septa to confess that it felt good to torture her, not because of belief, but because she enjoyed doing it. Cersei walks around the table confessing to all of her sins and how she enjoyed every one. It is a small justice to see the Septa squirm from her words and touch. Cersei reminds Unella that hers would be the last face she would see before dying; Unella is pleased, saying she is ready to meet the gods. Cersei patronizes Unella, telling her she will not die today, nor for quite a while. She has Ser Gregor come in, and Unella stares in silent fear as he lifts the helmet off of his head, revealing the dead zombie-like countenance beneath. Cersei leaves the two of them in the room together uttering the word ‘Shame’ as she closes the door, Unella’s screams echoing off the dungeon walls.

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Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
As Tommen stands at the window, staring quietly at the destruction of the Sept, a man offers his condolences for the death of the Queen and then leaves for the King to sit in mourning. Tommen, unable to take the sight any longer, walks away, and the screen stays on the window a few seconds more. I turned to my husband at this point and told him, “Watch, Tommen is going to jump.” As if on cue, he returns to the window, and without hesitation, he falls to his death. I guess that’s why they call it King’s Landing. Budump tss

Even though I predicted it, it still caught me off guard, I think because of the sheer silence and abruptness of his fall. Though, honestly, who is going to miss Tommen?

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In Walder’s (David Bradley) keep, they celebrate their victory over Riverrun. While Bronn (Jerome Flynn) sits jealously, noticing the sight of pretty women staring at Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), in turn Jaime takes no enjoyment of the celebration. He does, however, assist Bronn in attracting two women who take their leave together. Noticing the abandoned seat next to Jaime, Walder takes his place. He cockily attempts to compare the two as equals, for which Jaime shuts him down, saying if it weren’t for the Lannisters they would have nothing, and who really needs the Freys anyway? Walder sits there stunned as he realizes that Jaime is right, and that with one stroke of a sword, the Freys could be demolished.

Victory is finally Cersei’s, but it came at great cost. She stands at the slab where her last child, Tommen, lies, a sheet covering him. She orders Qyburn to show her, for she is the kind of woman who must see what has been done. She does not cry, she does not scream, she only stares, sadness and possibly guilt etched in her face. Qyburn suggests they hold his funeral in the throne room, as there is no longer a Sept to bury him in. Cersei tells him that Tommen should be with his Grandfather and siblings. She orders him to be burned and buried in the ashes of the Sept. It would seem though she was successful in destroying her enemies, she also destroyed her children. The prophecy that Maggie the Fortune-Teller (Jodhi May) told young Cersei (Nell Williams) in season five, came true; that her children would die, due to Cersei’s desire for power.

Far away, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), Gilly (Hannah Murray), and young Sam finally reach Oldtown where out of the Maester’s Citadel tower flocks of white ravens fly off to deliver the message Winter has come. Sam greets the Maester at the Citadel, whom might I add is very pompous and rude. Sam delivers the news of Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) passing, and Jon’s commandership of the Night’s Watch. The pretentious Maester, whom–let’s face it–is a glorified secretary of the Citadel, sneers at Sam, and tells him he will have to meet with the Archmaester about the irregularities. While Sam must wait, he is permitted to use the library, but unfortunately Gilly and little Sam are not allowed in. I want to know where they are supposed to go? It’s a new place, and from the looks of it, they haven’t even set up home anywhere. Poor Gilly, already being left out.

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Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Sam walks amongst a shelf of books, all of which are chained to the shelves themselves. He carefully strokes the spines, relishing being amongst the words again. He comes to end of the corridor of shelving, and the room opens up before him. It isn’t just a few shelves of books: it is stories upon stories high of books, pun intended. Hundreds of thousands of them line the walls from floor to ceiling. As a little girl, I always wanted the library from The Beauty and the Beast, but forget that! That is a community library compared to the library of the Citadel. I could happily spend the rest of my life in this library and still not be able to read all of them before I die. Samwell Tarly, you aren’t the only one with tears in your eyes.

Up North, Jon Snow consults with Melisandre (Carice van Houten) about the past, until Davos (Liam Cunningham) storms in, throwing something to the Red Witch. She catches it, surprised at first, until she realizes what it is: the burnt stag that Davos had found. Melisandre bows her head in shame and guilt as Davos yells at her to tell Jon what she did. Jon remains silent as she explains, poorly, why Princess Shireen (Kerry Ingram) was murdered. The anger and sorrow seeping from Davos could be felt deep in our own hearts. Melisandre admits to being wrong, and begs Jon to let her live, because she can help him in the coming war. Part of me wants Jon to keep on Melisandre because she could potentially help, but the majority of me wants him to take out his sword and cut her down right there and then.

Instead, Jon orders her to ride south, and if she is to return he will have her executed. Davos stops her and gives her a likewise threat, but promising that it will be him that lays the sword upon her. Where’s your god now, Melisandre?

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Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Jon watches from atop Winterfell as Melisandre rides away. Sansa (Sophie Turner) meets him up there, and they share a touching conversation of who they are to each other and promising to trust each other. Jon admits to being wrong for not listening to her, and Sansa apologizes for not telling him about the army from the Vale. Well, it’s about time, you two! Good gracious, you two should have done this before the Battle of the Bastards, but pride is a hell of a thing. Sansa informs that a white raven had been sent from the Citadel, marking Winter has come. They smile, after all this time being told that Winter was coming, and it finally has made its appearance. I wonder why they would be smiling? Does it not seem odd that Winter has arrived just when the Night’s King (Vladimir ‘Furdo’ Furdik) is nearly at their door with his army of the dead? They should be much more concerned than they are.

In Dorne, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg), adorned in the black of mourning, meets with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and her daughters Nymeria (Jessica Henwick), Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes), and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers). Obara admits that they invited Olenna, for they need each other’s help to avenge the deaths of those they love at the hands of the Lannisters. Olenna, in her no-nonsense old lady ways, silences the Sand Snakes with harsh cutting words, telling them to leave the grown women to speak.

May I just say how much I love Olenna? She is the most real, shade throwing, woman on this show who is not afraid to speak her mind. Ellaria offers an alliance between Dorne, and HighGarden, with that alliance comes the downfall of the Lannisters. Olenna is hesitant at first, but at the ring of a bell, a man walks out from a building to join them. It is Varys (Conleth Hill).

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Credit: Macall B. Polay/ HBO

Another theory of mine that has proven right. When Varys left Meereen on his secret mission, there several possibilities–one of which had been to sail to Dorne and make an alliance, therefore allowing Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) easy passage into Westeros. By not only building an alliance with Dorne but now HighGarden, there will be no stopping the Dragon Queen. My only concern is that of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). He is a Lannister, and although he has been disowned by his family, the enemies of the Lannisters may decided to overlook that and attempt to take his life. All’s fair in love and war after all.

In Meereen, Daario (Michiel Huisman) informs Daenerys that her ships will be ready soon. She orders him to stay in Meereen with the Second Sons so that he may keep the peace and let the citizens pick their own leaders. Daario is not happy about this, and begs her to have him by her side. She refuses, telling him that she cannot bring a lover, as she will be looking to marry. Daario confesses his love for her, and instead of reciprocating the sentiment, she simply tells him she cannot. He realizes that he will never be with Daenerys again, yet still he stays loyal to her and her orders. She bids him farewell. It must really sting Daario to know that Jorah (Iain Glen) was right.

Daenerys meets with her counselor Tyrion, letting him know that her separation from Daario was final. He attempts to console her, and they both joke about how terrible he is at it. As they speak of what’s to come and the fact that her dream is actually happening, it almost feels like a wall of formality between the two has broken. They speak to each other not as Queen and Counsel, but as friends, and it is a sweet and thought provoking moment. He tells her she is in the great game now, but this doesn’t scare her. In fact, Daenerys admits that the only thing that she feared was not feeling love or even care for saying goodbye to someone who loved her. Tyrion mentions Daario not being the first to love her, and he wouldn’t be the last. When he says this, he is looking at Daenerys, and it could be interpreted as adoration–possibly even love. Yara (Gemma Whelan) may just have some competition for Daenerys’ affections. Deanerys names him Hand of the Queen and he beams with pride, kneeling before her.

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For once, there is someone who not only looks to him as a person and not a disgusting creature, but listens to him and gives him respect. Not only that, but it is all at the hands of a woman. He has always fallen for someone who later betrayed him, and while they were whores, Tyrion is still apprehensive to fall for another woman, especially one so powerful as Daenerys. He may even be wondering if he can truly trust her or how long until she attempts to have him killed. Regardless of these thoughts, he swears his counsel to her, for always and forever.

Back in the Frey keep, Walder sits in his hall eating. A pretty serving girl brings him more of the meat pie, and he inquires as to why Black Walder (Tim Plester) and Lothar (Daniel Tuite) have not yet arrived for lunch with him. The serving girl persists in telling him they were already there. Walder is confused by the girl and what she is implying, until she lifts the crust of the pie revealing a thumb mixed in. Walder gags as the realization that he ate a part of his sons hits him. She admits that his sons weren’t easy to carve. She then lifts her face off to reveal Arya (Maisie Williams). It seems killing people wasn’t the only thing she learned in Braavos, though I’d hate to have her cook for me. I do love that it did not take her long to get to Westeros, and instead of heading home, she went straight for the man on her kill list. She announces who she is just for extra measure, telling him she wants him to know that it will be a Stark’s face he sees as he dies. She then cuts his throat, the same way her mother’s was. I cheered and whooped for Arya to get her revenge, and she tempts me to have a third daughter just so I can name her after this tough little mercenary.

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Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Not too far away in Winterfell, Sansa sits beneath the Godswood tree, staring out at her home. Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) approaches her, apologizing for interrupting her at prayer. She reflects on her past, and that she had prayed to be anywhere but there. She admits to having been a stupid girl. Petyr tells her that every decision he had made it was so that he could sit on the Iron Throne with her by his side. He goes in to kiss her, but she places a hand on his chest pushing him back and leaving him standing in the snow as she walks back home. She is not going to be married a third time to a man she does not love or trust. Also, I might add, it is very laughable that Petyr would think he could make it on the throne. He’s lost all chance of ever reaching that dream.

Past the wall, Uncle Benjen (Joseph Mawle) leaves Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) at the foot of a Godswood tree, telling them he cannot continue on with them as there are spells in the Wall that keeps him from passing through. Does this mean that the spells will be enough of a deterrent to keep the White Walkers at bay? I will say that I am a little upset by the fact that Benjen made his long awaited debut and is now disappearing again. I figured we would at least get some time of Bran being trained on how to be the three eyed Raven, but I guess because it is implied, then it must be so. Benjen doesn’t even leave them his horse. How is Bran and Meera supposed to go anywhere without some form of transportation? Bran crawls the short distance to the face of the tree, preparing to Warg, so that he may get some answers.

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Credit: Helen Sloan/ HBO
Thankfully, he wargs to when his father Ned (Robert Aramayo) went to rescue Lyanna (Aisling Francioso). Screams can be heard from the top of the tower and Ned storms up the stairs coming to a room, where a pale and bleeding Lyanna lies. Her bed is covered in fresh blood. Ned attempts to order the maids to fetch her water, but Lyanna knows that she is dying and nothing can be done to save her. She orders him to listen to her and she whispers in his ear. All that can be heard is “… His name is …. If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him, you know he will, you have to protect him, promise me, Ned. Promise me.”

A newborn baby boy is handed to Ned as Lyanna continues to ask Ned for his promise. The screen focuses on the baby’s face, and is then turned into that of Jon’s face. Finally: we get the answer we have been wanting! Lyanna is the mother to Jon, and it is assumed that his father is Rhaegar Targaryen, making Jon the nephew to Daenerys. This is huge, but even though we know the truth, no one else does, and unless Bran can somehow make it home in time, the truth will die with him when the White Walkers come.

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In Winterfell, Jon convenes with the other Lords of the North, asking for their allegiance. He tells them the war is not over, referring to the White Walkers. The lords begin talking amongst themselves, neither one brave enough to swear his sword to Jon. Lady Mormont (Bella Ramsey), bored with the musings of old men, stands and shames all of them for not keeping to the call of the Starks. She proclaims that Jon is the King of the North. The Lords are stunned, for they just got showed up by a ten year old girl. This just solidifies the already bad-assery that is Lady Lyanna Mormont, and she tempts me to have a fourth daughter so I can name her Lyanna. Game of Thrones may seem like a male-run show, but if anything, this season has only proved how wrong that idea truly is. The women run this show, and even though Jon is the King in the North, it is Sansa who truly rules the roost. The rest of the Lords devote their swords and lives to house Stark, and all proclaim Jon as King in the North.

Jaime and Bronn ride to King’s Landing, and as they crest the hill, Jaime sees the pillar of smoke. He enters into the Red Keep just as Cersei is being lead to the Iron Throne still in her war like finery, a true picture of a conqueror. She is made Queen of the Realm. She is the picture of stone–and iron, hard, and sharp. To all those who doubted and shamed her, I’m sure they are clutching their throats in fear of retribution by the War Queen.

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Wind whistles through the sails of the Iron and Targaryen Fleet. Theon (Alfie Allen) looks on, his thoughts hidden, as hundreds of ships sail to Westeros. The dragon’s fly above, reaching to the front of the Fleet where Daenerys looks on. The sun is rising behind them, signifying the beginning of a new reign to come. A Targaryen reign. Winter may have arrived in Westeros, but the Dragons are coming, and with them comes fire and blood.

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Credit: Courtesy HBO
This season finale did not disappoint, it gave us the answers we have all been waiting for. Unfortunately, it also left us with even more questions and we have 42 weeks before we can even hope to receive some of those answers. This final season is going to be the bloodiest, most shocking, emotion churning season ever. I’m not sure if we are all going to make it out the same as we went in, but I’ll be here, by your side, as we brave the storm that is coming, for the night is dark and full of terrors.

 

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.

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