Sunday night’s Game of Thrones finale smashed HBO ratings records with 8.9 million viewers and delivered an explosive conclusion to many of Season 6’s story-lines. Literally.
Perhaps I’m biased, but for me The Winds of Winter was one of the most fantastically chill-inducing GoT episodes in its history. Rivaling the Red Wedding and even its predecessor Battle of the Bastards, the round-up to Season 6 left us traumatised and wonderfully exhilarated in equal measure.
From the opening two minutes without any spoken dialogue and simply the creepy lull of piano and strings, fans knew something huge was coming.
As everyone gathered in the Sept for the long-awaited trial, a sniveling Loras Tyrell confessed to his sins and had the Seven Pointed Star carved on his head as he pledged to devote his life to Sparrowdom and bad clothing.
…which was sadly unnecessary in light of the events that followed. The old perve Grand Maester Pycelle was stabbed in a Children of the Corn style attack as the crowd in the Sept waited awkwardly for Cersei and Tommen’s arrival.
When it became clear that Cersei had no intention of showing up, Lancel was sent off to retrieve her but instead discovered the “rumour” that was referenced in the previous episodes: Gallons of wildfire and some low-burning candle detonators.
We need to give some credit to Margaery Tyrell. She was always a great game-player right until the end, intuitively knowing that if Cersei wasn’t present at her trial then she was up to some of her mad tricks.
An ominous underground rumble and one spectacular explosion later, and the Sept and all its inhabitants were destroyed in a magnificent display of luminous green chaos. Oh, and Cersei was smugly observing all of this from The Red Keep with a glass of wine. Obviously.
Poor Tommen. He was stopped from attending the trial by The Mountain and instead had to watch his wife being fried alive from afar. We can’t really blame him for chucking in the towel, his soul was far too sensitive for Westeros. So without words, he removed his crown and jumped to his death. *Insert King’s Landing joke here*
Meanwhile Cersei had captured Unella, the religious zealot who tormented her in the Sept. Fulfilling her promise that the last last thing she’d see before she died would be her face, Cersei locks her away at the mercy of The Mountain presumably to endure unspeakable acts of torture. Grim.
Really, Cersei should have been keeping an eye on her suicidal son. Or maybe not…she now sits on the Iron Throne and has been declared Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Jaime’s WTF expression when he returned to witness her being sworn in as Queen basically said what we were all thinking. Cersei has no children left, and nothing to lose: Gods help the Realm.
And since the white ravens were released, our official Game of Thrones tagline is no more. Winter is here. Time to get all those T-shirts/posters/Jon Snow coffee mugs amended because Winter Is Coming is SO last Season.
Samwell Tarly’s story pales in comparison to the madness of the rest of the episode, but we did see him reach the Citadel library where fans have speculated on the mysterious chandelier contraption that also appears in the opening credits of the show. A theory has emerged that this symbolises the entire Game being historically viewed through the lens of an all-knowing Maester, possibly even Sam himself. Mind = blown.
The drama didn’t stop there. Littlefinger was brutally rejected by Sansa after confessing his love and Melisandre was banished to the South after Daavos confronted her about burning Shireen at the stake. She’s bound to get up to some sort of mischievous witchery down there but it remains to be seen what purpose she will serve in the next season.
Arya used her face-swapping skills to finally murder Walder Frey, but this was overshadowed by scene-star Lady Mormont’s speech as she bigged up Jon Snow as the King of the North. Finally, the Northern Houses declared their support for him in the great war to come. Major whoops and cheers all round.
What ultimately thrilled viewers, however, was the great reveal of a long-time fan theory, r+l=j. Through one of Bran’s flashbacks we saw how Ned Stark saved his sister Lyanna’s baby before she died and promised to raise it as his own. It turns out she had been playing away from home with Daenerys’ brother, Rhaegar Targaryen, and the product of this was none other than our Jon Snow.
We always knew Jon wasn’t just any old bastard, but the fact that he is both Stark and Targaryen means he is central to the whole story and the very essence of Ice and Fire. Let’s just say things are going to get crazy when him, Dany and Tyrion finally meet.
Varys is darting around the world in Superman style, appearing in Dorne to gather support from Lady Olenna and the Dornish Sand Snakes, then swiftly making it back to Daenerys and her squad as she FINALLY sets sail for Westeros. (Yes, she really is this time. I promise.) The Mother of Dragons also shared an endearing moment with Tyrion as she named him hand of the Queen, something that he most definitely deserves.
Combine dramatic music, some determined glares and three swooping dragons overhead and you’ve got a satisfying conclusion to a Season that has spoiled us rotten as Game of Thrones fans.
It goes without saying that we’ll be wandering around aimlessly for a few weeks wondering if life has a purpose now GoT is over for another year. But alas, Throne Watch will continue (if that’s any consolation) and I’ll be keeping up morale for the next nine months with plenty of Game of Thrones banter.
Producers have also confirmed that the final two seasons will be progressively shorter. But all good things come to an end, and if Game of Thrones has taught us anything it’s a powerful lesson in non-attachment!
At this point I’d like to give huge thanks to everyone involved in the making of Season 6. It’s been a fantastic journey and all the actors, extras and hard-working people behind the scenes have done themselves incredibly proud.
May your Throne-less months be filled with wine and Season re-runs. Here’s to the 7th!