The Starks send their regards.
Season 6 of Game of Thrones is over, and with it the end of act two. Dany sets sail, Arya is home, Cersei is Queen and Jon is good and alive, so at least we don’t have that to worry about over the break. Oh, spoilers by the way.
We open on preparations for Cersei’s trial. Cersei no longer has trial by combat – all she has left is a sh*t ton of wildfire, and she marks the occasion by dressing like a Sith Lord.
She makes sure Tommen is safe, before Qyburn’s little birds attack Pycelle and lead Lancel into the crypts. Lancel is stabbed by that one kid from The Walking Dead, and he drags his body towards three lit candles, which sit burning on a puddle of green.
Way above, Loras is branded by the High Sparrow, and there goes the heir to Highgarden. Cersei still hasn’t turned up though. Margaery is the only one who realises something’s up, but too late. There goes the rest of Highgarden.
But Cersei’s plan backfires. Tommen, who watches on from atop the Red Keep as his wife is burned alive, sets down his crown, and with a quick ‘f*ck this, I’m out,’ he jumps right out the window.
Cersei gets a look at the corpse of her third and last child, declaring that he be burnt and thrown into the rubble, before she is named Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, so you have to wonder whether her plan backfired at all.
Walder Frey, meanwhile, is eating a pie with his smug face, but his sons are totally in that pie. The maid who was eyeing up Jaime earlier and is in absolutely no way Arya Stark put them there. Oh no wait, she just took off her face.
Arya, who has somehow become both a Faceless Man and the world’s worst Faceless Man this season, slits Walder Frey’s throat with a cool, ‘The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you.’
More on Arya later.
We finally got a scene worth watching in Dorne; Lady Olenna arrives and tells the Sand Snakes to shut the f*ck up. Ellaria summons Varys to say three words (‘Fire and Blood’, the words of House Targaryen, who will exact revenge upon Cersei for Olenna), before he teleports back to Meereen.
Sam gets a look at the library from the opening credits, from which he sends a white raven to Winterfell, where winter has, officially, come.
Davos confronts Melisandre about a murder that happened 11 episodes ago, and Jon sends her south, while Littlefinger tells Sansa Littlefinger things – yada yada Iron Throne yada yada you by my side – but the Lady of Winterfell ain’t buying it.
That is until Jon is proclaimed King by all the same northern houses who abandoned him a few episodes back. Lyanna Mormont shames a bunch of grown men, and what follows is a repeat of season 1’s ‘King in the North’ ceremony, where the north rallies not behind Robb, but ‘the white wolf’ – Jon Snow. Sansa meets Littlefinger’s eye and absolutely no good can come of that.
The rightful heir to Winterfell, Bran, says goodbye to Benjen because Benjen was only around to put Bran down slightly near a weirwood tree.
Bran’s vision takes him right back to the Tower of Joy, where a baby is thrust into the arms of Ned Stark, who gives a dying Lyanna his word that he will protect the Prince that was Promised.
And the cut that follows is almost unnecessary. We look at that tiny little completely disinterested face and right there is a baby that knows nothing. R + L = J is canon. It’s real.
Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, and (assuming Rhaegar and Lyanna secretly wed) the rightful King of Westeros. Remember when we all thought he was dead? Lol.
As has become Game of Thrones law, we end the season on Dany. She banishes Daario on Tyrion’s advice, and she admits that she feels nothing for having left behind a man she thought she cared for.
Tyrion is rewarded for consoling the Mother of Dragons with a Hand of the Queen badge. His only job will be to keep Dany from becoming her father, and considering he won a war on his own the last time he was Hand, he got this.
The final shot of the season sees Dany sailing to Westeros to finally do all the conquering she keeps banging on about. Add three dragons, half of the ironborn, a handful of Martells, a Dothraki horde and an army of Unsullied – I’d say she’s got a fair shot at it.
The stage is set for Daenerys’ invasion, but this season was Jon Snow’s. Brought back to life as early as episode two, all we asked for was to know where he came from.
We got everything we asked for and more this season. We had to get through the usual mid-season slump to get there – Jaime’s siege of Riverrun was necessary only to reintroduce Walder Frey so that we could watch 15 seconds of him being murdered.
Those 15 seconds are great and all, but where did Arya get that maid’s face? Did she stock up on faces before she left the House of Black and White? Do they just let people do that?
I have a lot more questions regarding Arya this season. I don’t feel like the Faceless Men were utilised as well as they could have been, and don’t get me started on the Waif and her complete lack of both subtlety and the ability to actually kill people.
Whatever you thought of ‘The Broken Man’ and ‘No-One’ (both of which absolutely have their moments), season 6 got right back on track with ‘Battle of the Bastards’, the biggest and best episode 9 yet, with some of the most stunning visuals you’ll ever see on television and the single most satisying death since Joffrey’s.
The weaker scenes in ‘Battle of the Bastards’, as well as earlier episodes like ‘Oathbreaker’, might have been episode-enders in another season, and that only shows how much season 6 was able to cram in.
We even had time for Hodor’s origin story in ‘The Door’, which was the climax of the best first five episode of any Game of Thrones season, and a sequence that I need to make some room for in my pre-season Top 10 Game of Thrones Moments.
The season lost some momentum after Hold the Door, but ‘Battle of the Bastards’ got it right back, and ‘The Winds of Winter’ carried forward that momentum like Hodor used to carry Bran. Good times. Good season.
Game of Thrones returns with a seven-episode season next year.