Spoilers Ahead on Game Of Thrones Season 6 Finale
The final shot of Dany sailing across the narrow sea with her army and dragons encapsulated the episode as a whole. “Winds of Winter” is confidently written and steadily paced with a self-assured direction. There’s a mostly understated yet gripping vibe to the finale that is punctuated with some OMG moments. If you were to make a list of things that needed to happen, “Winds of Winter” checked them off one by one: The High Sparrow and the Faith Militant are blown up, Dany is finally headed for Westeros, Jon’s parentage is confirmed and so on.
Another way of summarizing the finale is the amount of literal and figurative housekeeping. Many story lines and characters needed to resolve some outstanding issues like Davos confronting Melissandre about Shireen and Sansa not telling Jon about the Vale. In the bigger picture, House Tyrell and Frey took the biggest hits, while House Stark rallied the support of the North and House Targaryen forged an alliance with Dorne. The Westeros power structure has a new outlook and the Iron Throne is ripe for conquest, more so than ever before.
Let’s Discuss Key Moments
Cersei vs The High Sparrow
I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that Cersei made the biggest and boldest power move, destroying her enemies in one fell swoop. Cersei didn’t accomplish it through ingenious political maneuvering, she did it by violence. As a woman, she’s stood behind many kings, so for her to finally sit upon the throne herself as the Queen of the Realm is unprecedented.
But this isn’t quite a victorious moment for Cersei because she had to lose her children to get to this position. If Cersei’s one redeeming quality are her children, what will we make of her now that she is childless? Cersei’s portrayal on the show is more sympathetic than the books. This could be her turning point towards becoming outright villainous, the creepy scene with the Septa might suggest that. I do love how complex the show has depicted Cersei, especially when there are so many one dimensional “evil Queen” archetypes in literature and film.
Another reason why I don’t quite see it as her shining moment is because the Iron Throne is the most dangerous place to be. Her famous line “You win or you lose” is an oversimplification because the power is continually shifting. Cersei may be on top for now but it’s only a matter of time before her number is up. She’s mostly keeping the seat warm until Dany shows up.
So the slate is wiped clean in King’s Landing. From a writing standpoint and heading into Season 7, King Tommen and the Faith Militant needed to be done with. However, I do feel that from a character perspective Margaery deserved a better fate. It seemed that there would be some pay off to Margaery pretending to be under the High Sparrows’s influence but that didn’t come to fruition. On a broader level, this sets up the most interesting and dangerous Tyrell, Olenna, to seek vengeance against the Lannisters. The Lannisters don’t have any strong alliances left, especially now that Walder Frey and the Boltons are dead.
The part of the wildfire explosion scene that isn’t the most organically set up but still worked is how Lancel got easily sidetracked by Qyburn’s little bird. The writers needed to have a character viewpoint to what’s happening beneath the Great Sept of Baelor. Perhaps it’s a little convenient that the little bird injured Lancel just enough so that he could only crawl which added suspense as he made his way to the burning candle.
A Song of Ice & Fire
I started to get a little frustrated when Lyanna whispered into Ned’s ear as if the show wasn’t going to make the long-awaited confirmation. But as soon as the little baby came on screen and then cut to Jon Snow’s face it’s a great moment. We can assume that Rhaegar Targaryen is Jon’s father which wasn’t explicitly mentioned. What this tells us is A Song of Ice and Fire is really Jon’s story, the Ice being Half-Stark and the Fire being Half-Targaryen.
As much as this moment is about Jon, it also brings us full circle back to Ned. It goes to show how incredible Ned is for keeping Jon’s true parents a secret. Upholding his promise to his dying sister Lyanna meant more to him than his personal honor, which he valued very much. He took on the shame of fathering a bastard child, when he probably wished he could tell Catelyn the truth. He also kept it a secret to keep Jon safe since many people would have wanted the Targaryen blood line to be wiped out completely.
Like a lot of fans, I was kind of hoping the show might bring back a certain character. If the show was going to make it happen, I think this finale would have been the time. I might be wrong, but I don’t believe it’s going to happen anymore. The ship has sailed so to speak. This is mainly because the show is working over time to tie up loose ends and they’re not about to reintroduce any players if it isn’t directly needed for their end game, they certainly won’t be introducing any new major players.
I also think that the instrument of vengeance is clearly given to Arya’s storyline. I’m very glad that it’s a Stark who puts away Walder Frey, not some random person. Walder’s death mirrors that of Catelyn’s since his throat is slashed from behind. I’m guessing GRRM got the idea of turning sons into “human pie” from Titus Andronicus which in turn might have a historical context, but don’t quote me on that. Arya must have had her Nikes on for making it to the Twins in record time, but perhaps not as fast as Varys going to and back from Dorne in a blink of an eye.
• One of the first things I noticed is how different the musical score is in this finale. It captures the tone of each scene really well and adds to the intensity in certain places. I don’t normally pay that much attention to the score but I couldn’t help but to notice its brilliance here.
• As mentioned earlier about this finale’s confidence, I liked that the White Walkers didn’t need to show up at the end to leave us on an ominous or exciting cliffhanger. They already did that with Season 2’s finale.
• By Tyrion’s standards, this was a low key season for him. But I did like the quieter moment between Tyrion and Dany.
• Lady Mormont steals another scene, where did they find this young actress? The casting dept. does an amazing job.
• The Dorne storyline just got a 100% more interesting by having Olenna there and dishing out her barbs to the Sand Snakes.
“Winds of Winter” is a very solid finale. As much wrap up and talk heavy scenes that were given, there are still a boat load of more questions remaining. But what made it satisfying is that the essential items are addressed albeit some not as adeptly handled as others eg. Jon and Sansa’s conversation. This finale does a good job of laying out how the Westeros dynamic will be different heading into next season. House Stark is as powerful as ever and it’s a nice touch that the opening credits replaced the Bolton sigil with the Stark’s at Winterfell. The power is highly stacked in Dany’s favor while the Lannisters are standing on shaky ground. All in all, the set up for Season 7 is quite promising.
What do you think about the finale? What do you want to see happen next season?