Where do we begin?
All hail Our Grace, ‘Winds of Winter’ of the houses Martin and HBO, Second of Its Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. Long May It Reign.
Game of Thrones asks just as many questions as it answers; a wonderful quality in a TV show. The repetition of absorbing the material, asking big questions, theorizing about what comes next, and seeing the resolutions that inevitably give way to more questions is the wheel that has kept Game of Thrones rolling over the last six years.
While there are certainly lots of questions and theories that will come out of the season six finale, the resolutions we saw tonight felt different. There is always room for interpretation in any form of media, but The ‘Winds of Winter’ felt… definitive. Sitting here at my kitchen table, now two and a half hours removed from finishing the episode, and I’m still trying to wrap my exactly what happened.
So let’s get into it.
As soon as I saw Cersei in the opening moments of the episode, I thought to myself how marginalized she has been this season. Despite being locked away in the Red Keep with her power stripped away, I had a feeling something big was going to happen around Cersei. I assumed that it would be Ser Gregor battling the Faith Militant in a trial by combat. I assumed that Jaime would swoop in and save her at the last minute, not unlike how her father Tywin did at the end of Season Two. I assumed that her son, King Tommen, would come to his senses and dismiss all of the charges against his mother. You get the idea; someone was going to put forth a grand heroic act in defense of Cersei Lannister and her scheming would continue in future seasons the way it always has.
All of these assumptions were wrong.
All this time I assumed Cersei needed her family to protect her, but it was Cersei was the one doing the protecting. After watching her father die, her two oldest children die, and losing her youngest son first to a political marriage and then to religion, Cersei ran out of people to protect. She ran out of distractions. Putting her in the Red Keep for months to await a trial wasn’t a way of punishing her… it was a chance for her to focus on what an unchecked Cersei is capable of.
While all of the other major players in the Game dressed for court, Cersei dressed for war. The image of Cersei dressed for battle in black chain mail as she marches from room to room literally burying her enemies one by one is one is about as definitive statement as a character can make. While there are seasons and seasons of prelude here, I get the feeling that this is the Cersei Lannister we’re supposed to be seeing– as if the first 59 episodes of the show were her origin story. What we saw in ‘The Winds of Winter’ is all we need to know about the character Cersei Lannister is becoming– The Mad Queen version one.
AP History: Winterfell
Heading North to Winterfell, we see three instances of history repeating itself, which is more often than not horrible news in Game of Thrones.
R+L = J: Confirmed. History is literally repeating itself here. Through Bran’s training as the Three Eyed Raven, we as audience members are finally given a definitive answer to one of the show’s most important theories: R+L=J or Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon. This is a huge moment for show-watchers and book-readers alike as R+L=J is the only thing both camps agree on. To see it played out after being teased for the majority of the season is both a very satisfying moment of fan service and a anchor-sized plot point for seasons seven and eight to revisit.
Sansa & Littlefinger sitting near a tree. P-L-O-T-T-I-N-G. The wedge being driven between the Starks isn’t here just yet… but it’s sitting on deck just waiting for its turn to bat. Following in her parents footsteps, Sansa refuses to do any more dealings with Littlefinger. Despite the Grand Canyon sized gap between their ages, and his role in both of the terrible marriages she has survived, refusing to work with Lord Petyr Baelish is a terrible idea.
While Littlefinger may rub everyone in Westeros the wrong way, he isn’t a liar when it comes to issues of power. Sansa had very small chance to announce herself as the Stark who should lead Winterfell and she refused to do it, just as Ned refused to take the iron throne when he had the chance in season one. The look Littlefinger gives Sansa in the Winterfell Banquet Room speaks volumes… and the look Sansa gives Littlefinger says twice as much.
THE KING INNA’ NORTH: Jon Snow had a pretty amazing year. From being murdered by his brothers-in-arms, to being resurrected from the dead, to uniting Westerosi & Freefolk under the flag of war, to being pronounced The King in the North. It hasn’t been easy for Jon Snow, but it has been very much worth it. The pending war with the Night’s King should be a little more straightforward than the the War of the Five Kings and twice as bloody. Here’s hoping that Jon Snow doesn’t get Red Wedding’d… again.
The Wars to Come
As the show enters its seventh season this coming spring, we’re again being asked to take a huge step back to see what is actually important for our characters. As I sit and type this right now, I can hardly remember the seemingly petty squabbles our characters fought over in season one. If history has taught us anything in regards to this show, we probably won’t care that much about what happened in season six by the end of the series.
In what is becoming the most overheard comment regarding this show, This Last Episode was easily the best episode of the entire series. Get use to saying that phrase because we’re in encore mode now. There is only so much left for Game of Thrones– rumor has it only 13 more episodes total. If I were you, I wouldn’t miss any of them.