There’s so much to discuss I don’t even know where to start.
One of the most breathtaking sequences ever put to film is Cersei’s walk of atonement. The entire thing is so horrifying, and Lena Headey manages to convey so much without a single line of dialogue. Instead, her facial expressions communicate the character’s entire journey; she starts out with her head held high even after getting stripped down, only to gradually break down as the people of King’s Landing begin screaming obscenities and flinging filth at her. Cersei became particularly unlikable this season, so the fact that one sequence can singlehandedly make us root for her again is a real achievement. Lena Headey, you are magnificent.
I can’t remember the last time I watched something as satisfying as Arya viciously murdering Ser Meryn Trant in cold blood. The scene is especially gratifying because the Kingsguard is in the process of raping two young girls when Arya surprises him as the third (woohoo, she’s gaining Jaqen’s morphing talents). Who can forget Trant killing Syrio Forel all the way back in season one? Trant has been on Arya’s kill-list ever since, so the payoff after five years is just incredible. Every single blow that Arya lands on the baddie is more cheerworthy than the last, and I love that the young Stark is finally in a place of power after running for so long. That is, until Jaqen punishes her by taking her sight in the end. Game of Thrones, you just never let up!
And so Stannis Baratheon’s journey arrives at its tragic conclusion. After barbecuing his poor daughter Shireen, his men desert him and his wife Selyse hangs herself. Nevertheless he tries to carry on with his assault on Winterfell and ends up condemning his army to death. But the highlight here is Brienne finally getting her revenge and killing Stannis like she promised long ago after Renly was murdered by Melisandre’s shadow baby. Brienne has kind of been treading water this season, so it’s reassuring to see her finally kick something off her bucket list.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau hasn’t gotten much to do this season, so it’s a relief that Jaime gets such a powerhouse of a scene with Myrcella on the boat heading back to King’s Landing. Just when all seems quiet, it’s revealed that Ellaria’s goodbye kiss to Myrcella was a poisonous parting gift, and the princess dies in her father’s arm. The stunning part here is that Myrcella tells Jaime that she always knew (and loved) that he was her father. Waldau conveys a hell of a lot of emotion here without saying much, and it’s yet another earned moment for a character who never got to be a father for his own children. Here’s to bigger and better things in season six oh Kingslayer.
And finally we’ve got Jon Snow’s death. It’s a gut-wrenching development because our hero has been such an idealist throughout the show’s run, and he now pays the ultimate price when his loyal “brothers” turn on him for opening Castle Black’s gates to the Wildlings. Jon’s death scene is painful to watch, because the men of the Night’s Watch each take turns stabbing him culminating in a bitter Ollie delivering the final blow. The finale’s end shot is downright unforgettable, with a bloody Jon staring lifelessly into the sky on a stunning bed of snow. How can we ever get that visual out of our minds? Suggestions are welcome!
Bits & Beheadings
– Sam has a new purpose now: he wants to go to the Citadel in Oldtown and become a Maester. It’s a fitting character decision, although his goodbye with Jon is quite sad.
– The fact that Stannis and his men WALK to Winterfell since there are more horses is equal parts pathetic and hilarious.
– It’s nice to see Sansa get proactive and use the tool she stole to break into the tower and light the candle for Brienne. Sadly, Brienne looks away at the exact moment it lights up. So frustrating eh?
– The bird’s eye view of Stannis’ army getting surrounded by all sides is just surreal.
– Love how casually Stannis tells Brienne to finish him off and complete her duty. There’s also a nifty transition as she swings her sword to Ramsay doing the same.
– Finally Reek gets to do something as he throws Myranda to her death after she threatens to abuse Sansa. But how in the hell do he and Sansa expect to survive that huge jump?
– I’m wondering if the face that Arya adds to the chamber (and which she used to deceive Trant) is the that of the girl whom she helped poison a few weeks back?
– I’m not sure what to make of Jaqen “killing” himself only to appear again as the Waif. Did the Waif never really exist? There’s a cool effect with Arya removing a million faces before finding her own. Creepy.
– Hilarious scene with Tyrion telling Daario and Jorah that although they both love Dany, they can never be with her. Daario then wisely takes charge and gives everyone their orders.
– Varys is back! But why didn’t he mention Jorah’s kidnapping of Tyrion?
– Sadly, Dany’s story climaxed in the penultimate episode. She only gets one measly scene here as Drogon drops her at a mountain top and refuses to return her home. She then very idiotically goes out looking for food and finds herself surrounded by a Dothraki Khalassar. It’s a full circle development (literally since they form a creepy circle around her) as the show began with her in Dothraki captivity.
– It’s a quick moment, but Dany drops her ring on the ground before being surrounded, wisely knowing Jorah and Daario will be searching for her.
– Love that Arya starts out by stabbing Trant right in the eyes, then stuffs his mouth and stabs him repeatedly. And the cherry on top: she tells him who she is and says that he is “nothing”. Speechless!
– Out of all the charges, Cersei admits only to sleeping with her cousin Lancel Lannister.
– Before her walk, Cersei is demeaned even further by getting stripped down, washed, and getting her hair cut savagely.
– How satisfying is it to watch the Faith Militant beat down those men who start flashing and trying to grope Cersei?
– Some lines that the people utter at Cersei: “All hail the royal tits.” and “Brother fucker!”
– For those who don’t know, Lena Headey chose to have a body double for the walk scene. It’s not about shyness, but the fact that she wanted to focus on the emotions instead of getting distracted. Her face was digitally superimposed on the body double’s body. The CGI is mildly distracting.
– The way the Septa keeps endlessly uttering the word “Shame” as she follows Cersei is enough to drive anyone mad.
– The most heartbreaking moment of the walk: Cersei falling to the ground with her bloody feet and then rising back up again as she finally reaches the Red Keep. Then she breaks down (and breaks all our hearts in the process) as Uncle Kevan and Pycelle heartlessly watch. But it’s Qyburn who offers her comfort, in addition to The Mountain who is now a freak monster hybrid. He carries Cersei and pledges to get her retribution as her eyes turn vengeful. Outstanding!
– Is anyone surprised that Melisandre immediately ditches Stannis when the going gets tough? She arrives at Castle Black where she provides no response when Davos asks of Shireen. I can’t wait for her to get her ass kicked.
– Very sneaky of the traitors to lure Jon by saying his Uncle Benjen has returned. We last saw him in season one.
– I always knew Alliser was not to be trusted. I can’t wait for the day Jon introduces that snake to Longclaw.
Kings & Quips
Sam: If Gilly stays here, then she’ll die. And the baby that she named after me will die. And I’ll end up dying, too, trying to protect them. Which means that the last thing that I’ll see in this world will be the look in her eyes when I fail them. And I’d rather see a thousand white walkers than see that.
Arya: You know who I am. I’m Arya Stark. (She stabs him) Do you know who you are? (he cries) You’re no one. You’re nothing.
Tyrene: (to Bronn) You want a good girl, but you need the bad pussy.
Jaime: You’re lucky. Arranged marriages are rarely so– so well arranged.
Jaime: Have you ever known your mother to like anyone aside from her children?
Myrcella: She likes you.
Jaime: I’m not so sure about that.
Daario: Forgive me, but why would we bring you?
Tyrion: Pardon me?
Daario: Have you ever tracked animals in the wilderness?
Tyrion: Not precisely, but I have other skills that would be useful.
Daario: Can you fight?
Tyrion: I have fought. I don’t claim to be a great warrior.
Daario: Are you good on a horse?
Daario: So mainly you talk.
Tyrion: And drink. I’ve survived so far.
Daario: He’s the toughest man with no balls I ever met.
Daario: The queen’s closest confidante, the commander of the Unsullied, and a foreign dwarf with a scarred face. Good fortune, my friends.
A jawdropping and perfect season finale. Absolutely epic in every way!