How do you follow an episode like the Battle of the Bastards, it’s a problem. But that’s the huge expectations placed on a Game of Thrones series finale. I had some expectations coming in, I believed that’s Cersei would blow up King’s Landing and that Jon would discover his true parentage.
We begin as Cersei, Tommen, and the High Sparrow tensely prepare for the trial. This was such an atmospheric opening it really set the mood. Loras is brought before the seven septons, where he freely confesses to his crimes. He renounces his Tyrell name, lordship, and right to inheritance as he joins the Sparrows. Tommen is prevented from going to the trial by the Mountain, whilst Cersei remains in the Red Keep. Pycelle is drawn out by Qyburn children spies to be killed by them. Meanwhile Lancel Lannister is similarly drawn down into the streets below the sept and stabbed. Margery is the only one at the trial who understands that Cersei has something planned, and encourages them to leave, before attempting to do so with Loras, but they are blocked off by the sparrows. Lancel discovers the Wildfire but is unable to stop it. The sept is destroyed in the explosion, that I completely predicted. I am very surprised that Cersei went to the trouble of keeping Tommen alive, I thought she had given up on him with the prophecy. This was one of the most beautifully directed sequences in the series’ history. Cersei then tortures Septa Unella, and leaves her with the Mountain to continue to be tortured. Tommen then promptly commits suicide, completing the prophecy. As a big fan of Cersei it was fantastic to see her get revenge, but I was devastated to see Margery die. But I am very much expecting the Queen of Thorns is going to come back against Cersei with a vengeance.
At the Twins Jaime is feasting with Walder Frey. Jaime promptly put Walder in his place. Cersei is brought to Tommen’s body, and she says the will burn him and bury his ashes where the sept stood.Sam finally arrives at the Citadel of Oldtown to complete his Maester’s training. This is a very impressive looking location, the library looks fantastic.
At Winterfell Davos comes to Jon Snow to confront Melisandre about the burning of Shireen. He wants to execute her for the murder. She appeals that she is needed to fight the Night’s King. Jon tells her that she must leave the North and if she comes back then she will be hanged as a murderer. I thought Davos would be a lot more ‘murdery’ than this. Sansa tells Jon only a fool would trust Littlefinger, burn Ned. She also mentions that a white Raven arrived from the citadel, winter is here.
I said Olenna might wreak vengeance on the Lannisters, and she comes to Dorne where the Dornish want to ally with the Tyrells. I love the scene where she absolutely puts the Sand Snakes in their place. They are joined by Varys, where it appears that the Martells are prepared to side with Daenerys, and the Tyrells may join them.
Daenerys tells Daario that he will be left in Meereen with the second sons, as she may have to make marriage alliances in Westeros. She reveals that she has renamed Slaver’s Bay as The Bay of Dragons. Daenerys reveals she had made up a Hand of the Queen badge for Tyrion.
Back at the Twins and Walder is served his own sons baked in a pie. The serving girl then reveals herself to be god damn Arya… WHAT? I did not see that one coming. She finished off Walder, and claims vengeance for the Starks, this was badass, brutal, and I loved it.
Littlefinger talks to Sansa, he tells her that he only acts if it helps him claims the Iron Throne, with Sansa by his side. She doesn’t buy into this. He then tries to play off Sansa and Jon against one another, this is an interesting tactic, and it’ll be interesting to see if it paid off.
Benjen gets Bran and Meera to the Wall, but he is unable to pass it because of the spells. Bran lays himself by a weirwood tree to see the end of his unfinished vision. He takes himself to the tower of Joy. FINALLY! And we get it finally confirmed. R + L does indeed equal J. Jon is a Targaryen.
The Knights of the Vale don’t want to side with the Wildlings. Some want to return home and wait out the winter. But Jon points out that the Walkers are coming. Lyanna Mormont then stands up and makes a big speech about how Jon is the only King she will follow (although really everyone should follow Lyanna, she’s the only option for the North of you ask me). Lord Manderly declares him the White Wolf and the King in the North. The other house follow suit, and chant the King in the North. This is awesome, and I loved it. But there is a little look between Sansa and Littlefinger, could we be seeing a Stark civil war at some point? I think very possibly, Littlefinger knows the game and could be turning Jon and Sansa against one another (always #TeamSansa).
Jaime returns home as Cersei takes her place on the Iron Throne. She may be surrounded by enemies, but I love this SO much, my queen is now the ruler of Westeros (until she sadly gets murdered by that usurper Daenerys). I found it hard to read Jaime at this point, and am not sure what he thinks about what is going on.
Meanwhile Theon, the Greyjoys prepare to set sail to Westeros, finally things are really underway, and Dany has stopped wasting time, and is coming with an army.
I asked how do you follow an episode like the Battle of the Bastards? Well you make what is easily the best episode in the history of the show, and one of the greatest episodes of TV ever. The Winds of Winter managed to create an episode that had everything. Huge impressive moments, and those smaller, intimate ones as well. All tied up in some truly fantastic direction. Well let’s start with Cersei. I love it, my girl Cersei is now the queen. I’m not sure how long it will last as she now has everyone else gunning for her, but I’m going to revel in it whilst it lasts. Seeing the High Sparrow meet his end was the moment to me, that many people got with Ramsey last week. I also loved her personal moment of revenge, against the priestess who tormented her. I thought the use of music in the opening sequences was so perfect to create what was, a very tense atmosphere. Whilst the juxtaposition of the huge explosion, with Tommen’s very quiet, understated suicide, was equally as powerful. I absolutely called the wildfire explosion (along with most other people) and we lost some big players in that fire. Not just the Sparrows, but Margery, Loras, Mace Tyrell, and numerous other dignitaries, this was a big move from Cersei, who played it to perfection. Meanwhile Jon was declared as the King in the North by the Northern Houses. We got another wonderful Lyanna Mormont moment (my favourite Lyanna moment of the episode, even though the other one will probably be more talked about), when she gave her speech calling the other houses to unite behind Jon. But Littlefinger is back playing his games. He went for the romantic approach to Sansa and was quickly shot down. So planting that seed of you should rule, not Jon, is looking like it will pay off big time for him. She initially seemed happy as the rallied behind Jon, but that look with Littlefinger said so much (Sophie Turner killed it in this moment, so so good). And technically she has every right to be upset, she’s the only one with a claim, she’s responsible for their win in the battle, whilst Jon just messed up and needed bailing out. But man that scene where the Lords of the Northern Houses chanted for Jon over and over gave me chills. And we also got some catharsis with the other perpetrator of the Red Wedding being taken down, this time by suddenly good at being an assassin Arya Stark. This was a great shock moment, and feeding him his own kids in a pie, that’s a new level of sadistic for this show. We also got, after 3 and a half seasons of furiously shout at her to do something, Dany on her way to Westeros. The scene between her and Tyrion would stand out in most episodes, but here, it actually gave us a nice quieter moment amid huge events, and was beautifully played by both actors. Finally we have to talk about it, they have finally given us the confirmation that we ALL knew was coming, R+L=J. That is that Rhaegar Targarian and Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) are Jon’s parents. This hasn’t yet been stated, but it is essentially confirmed, as Lyanna hands Ned the baby and asks him to look after it, before fading from the babies face to Jon’s. He’s still half Stark, just on his mother’s side, not his fathers. I cannot understate just how good, epic, and brilliantly directed this episode was. Miguel Sapochnik, who also directed Battle of the Bastards, did a fantastic job. The opening half hour or so, will live long in my memory, for the incredible direction, whilst the monumental nature of the rest means that this has to go down as the great episode of Game of Thrones ever.