So I think I normally do an okay job of being somewhat professionally dispassionate in these recaps, despite being a huge Game of Thrones nerd, but the season six finale of GoT was so f*cking awesome that it's testing my cool. "The Winds of Winter" had some of the most stunning, tense moments of the entire series thus far. Not just the season; the whole show. Where to begin? Warning: spoilers for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones below, obviously.
Cersei and Tommen!
Cersei's plot had been simmering along so quietly this season that it barely came up in these recaps; when I focused on King's Landing, the machinations of Margaery and the High Sparrow seemed to be driving the plot. As it turns out, I made the same mistake Margaery and the High Sparrow did—thinking that a powerless Cersei made her less dangerous instead of more.
Witnessing the wildfire-fueled destruction of the sept, Tommen abruptly decides to kill himself, leaving Cersei with no children—but the Iron Throne all to herself. With Tommen and Margaery both dead, it's clear that the "younger, more beautiful queen" prophesied to replace Cersei after her children had died wasn't Margaery at all, as Cersei had feared—it's Daenerys. (Well, probably.)
Anyway, it's very sad to think that Jonathan Pryce and Natalie Dormer will not be back next year, but what a scene to go out on. And by the way, thank the gods that the Queen of Thorns was not at the sept. May she live forever.
Jon and Sansa!
Bran learns the truth: Jon Snow is Ned Stark's nephew, not his son. He is the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, who apparently either raped Lyanna or eloped with her (the show still doesn't make some of the details around Jon's birth clear; it's not even 100 percent canon yet that Rhaegar is his father, although it's strongly implied). That makes him a potential claimant to the Iron Throne—something Ned kept secret to keep Robert Baratheon from killing Jon, according to the closed captioning of Lyanna's whispers (she said "His name is [audio cuts out]. If Robert finds out, he'll kill him, you know he will. You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned." Uh, what the f*ck is his real first name? Is it "Rhaegar?").
But right now, Jon is claiming a different crown: the King in the North. The scene with the Northern houses rallying around him (led by the 10-year-old Lyanna Mormont, your new favorite character) is touching, but the episode hints at some future conflicts—Littlefinger thinks that Sansa should be queen, not her "brother," and Sansa noticeably doesn't join in for calls for Jon to take the crown (though she does smile). And, of course, the north's rightful lord, Bran Stark, is approaching the Wall, and will likely meet up with Jon and Sansa by next season. It's hard to imagine any significant conflict among this family, but it's a least a little awkward.
Daenerys and Tyrion!
Meanwhile, Daenerys is a single woman sailing to Westeros in search of a throne—and possibly a husband, raising the question if it's grosser if Jon marries his aunt Daenerys or his cousin Sansa (sure, they were raised as siblings, but they kind of have chemistry and also this show has completely desensitized me to fictional portrayals of incest).
The thing is: she is completely unstoppable, right? Dany has three dragons, 100+ ships, the entire Dothraki army, the Unsullied, the support of Dorne and House Tyrell alongside the rebel faction of the Iron Islands—and to top it off, Tyrion Lannister as her Hand. All her rivals—Cersei, Euron Greyjoy, possibly Jon Snow—have nothing that compares. She has the largest army in the world, and also magical monsters. Barring someone stealing one of her dragons (maybe Euron? His plot in the book seems headed that way), who is going to stand between her and the throne besides, like, the Night King? Her quest from here on seems almost ominously simple, which means, in the world of Game of Thrones, that she probably dies in like the third episode of season 7.
Walder Frey eating Frey pie is something that happens in the books, in a much different context—but I was still surprised to see it happen here, with Arya Stark as the chef (who taught her how to bake? Hot Pie?).
Thanks for making all the Sand Snakes shut up, Olenna.
Jaime looks like he's going to murder Cersei. The Cleganebowl is dead; the Lannisterbowl is on.
The plots of Jaime, Brienne, and the Hound this season seemed to exist pretty much just to make me go crazy writing too much about Lady Stoneheart in these blog posts. Come on, guys.
By the way, apologies for not writing a recap for the also stellar episode 9, "The Battle of the Bastards"—I was getting sunburned in Cape Cod. Suffice it to say that I give that episode an A. This episode might be worth an A+. See you next year.