The Game of Thrones Awards, Season 6, Episode 10: Winter Is Here

wictoryGreetings, and welcome! My name is Ben, and you have stumbled upon the ONLY Game of Thrones recap on the entire internet. Week to week I will be breaking down each episode of season  6, giving out highly prestigious awards, and wrapping everything up with a haiku.

Season 6, Episode 10: “The Winds of Winter”

If you’d have told me that there would ever be a Game of Thrones episode in which Arya Stark cutting Walder Frey’s throat wouldn’t even crack the top five most momentous events, I’d have called you crazy. Knowing this show, however, I might also have picked up some heart medication…just in case.

I’ll return to the feats of everyone’s favorite miniature assassin later. Let’s start in the capital.

The opening montage featuring Cersei, Tommen, Margaery, the High Sparrow, and Pycelle getting ready for the trial is ominous from the moment the creepy tinkly piano starts up—and with good reason, as only one of them ultimately makes it out of the episode alive. As it turns out, Margaery’s story for most of this season was a big red herring, not too different from Cat and Robb’s plan to take Casterly Rock, which we learned about just before the Red Wedding. It seemed she had one final trump card to play, but we’ll never know what it was, and no matter, since it was obviously a losing hand. The rest of the characters that perish in the wildfire explosion I can deal with losing, but Marge’s story still feels unresolved. Her character was far more prominent on the TV series than in the books, so perhaps I shouldn’t have held onto hopes that she would have a significant part to play in the wars to come. Her sendoff was fitting in one sense—as was true for most of her life, she died as the only one in the room who really knew what was going on.

King Tommen doesn’t take kindly to the news that his wife, his new BFF the High Sparrow, and a bunch of other citizens had blown up along with the Sept. Cersei’s plot made allowances to keep him safe in the Red Keep, but she could not protect him from his own feelings. He calmly removes his crown and leaped to his death in what was one of the more chilling scenes of the season. (Is anyone feeding Ser Pounce?) While his mother always thought she had Tommen’s best interests at heart, she never seemed to understand that her children weren’t concepts—they were real people. Tommen’s reign was doomed from the start because he actually wanted be a good ruler, a foreign concept in King’s Landing. The episode ends with Cersei Lannister assuming the throne herself, an iconic moment in television history if there ever was one. If we can only photoshop a pantsuit on the new Queen, the Cersei/Hillary memes can begin in earnest.

Cersei’s opposition will be fierce next season: Daenerys is angling to be queen of the Seven Kingdoms herself. After saying goodbye to her lover Dario (not regretting that in the slightest, by the way), she and her now sizable army depart for Westeros, but not before she pins a Hand of the King pendant on Tyrion in a scene that made your trusty recapper let loose with an audible “aww.” Which, when was the last time that happened on this show? Has that ever happened?

Speaking of Dorne, and people who aren’t super keen on Cersei, we visit the southern city for the first time since the season premiere. The Sand Snakes remain in power, and are meeting with Olenna Tyrell, dressed all in black and mourning the death of her son and grandchildren. Varys makes a surprise cameo, and implies that they will all attempt to align with Dany. The Mother of Dragons needs allies, but I’m not sure if she will look favorably upon Dorne’s rulers (though it looks like a number of Dornish ships are in her fleet at episode’s end). The Queen of Thorns telling all the young girls, “the adults are talking” was another great moment from one of the series’ best performers. Literally every scene Olenna is in is purer-than-Lannister gold.

Cersei will also be dealing with Jon Snow, the newly anointed King in the North. (I may or may not have yelled “The King in the North!” as I lay down my sword—aka a wrapping paper roll—in front of the television.) The eye contact Littlefinger shares with Sansa leads me to believe that Jon’s reign will proceed smoothly as many fans would hope.

Another thing that might get in the way of Snow ruling Winterfell is the fact that, as many fans have theorized about for years, he doesn’t appear to be a son of Ned Stark. Bran’s flashback to the infamous Tower of Joy seems to confirm that Jon is the son of Rhaeger Targaryan and Lyanna Stark. It isn’t a 100 percent confirmation, as we don’t get the full audio when Lyanna whispers the name of her baby daddy to Ned, but the fact that it cuts from the baby’s face to Jon’s is more than telling. R + L = J now appears to be a real thing. Don’t get hurt patting yourselves on the back, nerds!

For the second week in a row, a house that wronged the Stark family is all but wiped out. As I alluded to earlier, Walder Frey is taken out by Arya Stark, who has definitely learned a few tricks from the House of Black and White—but not before he is literally fed his two bumbling sons. I more or less figured out what was going just as the scene started, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love every second of it. The Arya revenge tour (let’s make this a t-shirt, please) will make for some very satisfying television in the seasons to come (the biggest name left on the list: one Queen Cersei).

There are other moments that might have relevance later on—Jon dismissing the Red Woman, Benjen alluding to the magic that is built into the wall, Sam getting his library card—but given the abundance of holy-crap-game-changing moments in this episode, they barely merit speculation right now. Perhaps the most notable event of the entire episode is the arrival of the white ravens in all of the major cities, signaling the beginning of winter.

This wasn’t Thrones’ strongest season overall, but it ended with the best finale yet, and possibly the most eventful episode in the show’s six season run. It appears that Lady Stoneheart truthers can finally give up hope, but those of us who still dream of a #Cleganebowl can hold onto at least a little of it. I look forward to the next 10 months of insane internet speculation about season 7. The finish line is visible on the horizon, whether it is 13 episodes away or 20, a fact that elicits equal feelings of sadness and excitement.

Quotable Quotes

“Sometimes before we usher in the new, the old must be put to rest.” – Qyburn, whose level of detachment from the horrifying scene that follows makes him one of my favorite characters.

“Winter is here.” – Sansa. Well it’s about time!

Awards

  • The last “We Miss You and Wish You Weren’t Murdered in Horrifying Fashion” award of season six goes to the one, the only, Walder Frey. Yeah, we all wanted him to die, but David Bradley’s turn as one of Westeros’ most insufferable characters was as memorable as it was loathsome. I, for one, will never look at a wedding invitation the same way again.
  • The first ever “Conspicuous by Their Absence” award goes to Euron Grayjoy, who I expect to take up Ramsay Bolton’s mantle as the show’s most unhinged pyscho over the last two seasons.
  • The “Horror Trope of the Week” award goes to the children that stab Pycelle and Lancel. With enough candy you can get kids to do just about anything.
  • The “Furrowed Brow Foreshadowing of the Week” award goes to the look that Jaime gives his sister, the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Despite how much he loves Cersei, I think he knows this is bad news.

And Now, a Haiku by Brandon Stark

The Tower of Joy
Full of secrets and bastards
You’re welcome, internet

Thanks to everyone who read along this season. This show, and its source material, inspires a lot of passion and being able to discuss it in this forum has been an honor. Seven blessings to you all.

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