I have so much to say so bear with me. This might be my favorite hour of television ever made; it’s that spectacular.
It’s going to be hard for me to put into words just how phenomenal those first 15 minutes are. Set to Ramin Djawadi’s hauntingly beautiful Light of The Seven, everything about Cersei blowing up the Sept of Baelor using Wildfire is mindblowing. The great thing about this sequence is that it starts out slow but gradually amps up the tension; the hour begins with several of our characters getting ready for the trial (with some nifty contrast between Tommen’s majesty and the High Septon’s poverty), and little by little things begin to unravel: Pycelle is led to a brutal death as Qyburn’s birds brutally massacre him, Loras is branded by the Faith Militant after confessing his crimes, The Mountain weirdly stops King Tommen from leaving his room, and a wounded Lancel crawls towards the Wildfire just as it implodes. What follows is probably the show’s greatest moment ever: the Sept is blown to smithereens and a huge portion of the show’s cast is mercilessly killed off including: Margaery, The High Septon (love the CGI with his body set alight in green flames), Mace Tyrell, Uncle Kevan, Loras, and of course Lancel, Pycelle, and King Tommen (who swiftly jumps to his death). When was the last time a show took such a monumental bombshell and dropped it in its opening moments? Finally, the sequence ends in grand fashion: Cersei watches the destruction from the Red Keep with a great big satisfied smile on her face… and a sip of wine. Perfection in every way.
A lesser show would have stopped at the Wildfire explosion, but GOT lets us savor Cersei’s retribution to an even greater degree when she imprisons Septa Unella. Last season was tough to watch with Cersei being relentlessly tortured (and then forced to endure the Walk of Shame), so Lena Headey taps into that with a series-best performance (find the complete monologue below). Every single detail in this scene is inspired: the way Cersei wakes up the Septa with red wine, the way she brags about “fucking” her brother and “killing” her husband, the way she caresses the Septa, and finally, the revelation that the Mountain is there to torture Unella while Cersei mumbles “Shame Shame Shame” and locks the door. I have no words. Beyond amazing.
Finally, Cersei’s journey takes a most gratifying turn as she assumes the Iron Throne in the hour’s final moments. It’s a terrifying prospect, as all her children are dead, and they were the only ones who ever kept her in check and humanized her. Even Jaime’s wordless stare as he returns home and sees his sister’s icy glare speaks volumes. I simply can not wait to see what Cersei will unleash now that she’s in full control. I know I shouldn’t be rooting for a villain, but it’s so ridiculously satisfying after seeing her play second fiddle (to Robert and then her children) for six years. Long may she reign indeed!
Emilia Clarke was also superb in this finale. First she ruthlessly breaks up with Daario – a heartbreaking development itself since we all know how much he loves the dragon queen, and then we get that gem of a scene between her and Tyrion. I have no idea if the writers are planting some romantic sparks between the two, but either way, I love everything about their dynamic. He genuinely believes in her, and she trusts him wholeheartedly. The moment in which she pronounces him Hand of the Queen and gifts him the brooch genuinely got me all teary eyed. I could rewatch it forever.
Much like she savagely murdered Ser Meryn Trant last season, Arya finally gets her revenge in the finale by murdering the despicable Walder Frey in the most blood-pumping way possible. The reveal that she’s the new servant (whom Bronn notices at the feast) is clever, but having her kill Walder’s two sons and bake them into the pie he’s eating is the most sadistically awesome thing this show’s ever done. It’s crazy really how we root for a little girl whose innocence was lost along the way, but after everything she endured, you want Arya to tap into her strength and avenge her fallen family. Moreover, she slices Frey’s throat and lets him bleed out slowly, while the show uses a POV shot to again frame her as the last thing he sees before he dies. Wow!
As a direct parallel to the season one finale with Robb being crowned King of the North, it’s Jon who is now proclaimed the White Wolf. It’s a goosebump-inducing scene as well, as Lady Mormont makes a kickass speech, and all the houses gradually chant in their support for Jon. It’s so satisfying after seeing Jon treated so harshly and never really given the acceptance he’s deserved over six seasons. The only drawback is that it seems Littlefinger has succeeded in creating a wedge between Sansa and Jon as she starts to silently wonder if maybe she should be the one in control. Not cool sis!
Speaking of Jon, The Winds of Winter is home to yet another bombshell: Jon is in fact half Targaryen, as Bran taps into the Weirdwood tree and returns to the tower vision. He sees Ned Stark reuniting with his sister Lyanna Stark, who gives him a baby boy that is the product of rape(?) after being kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen. Yup, that means that Dany is Jon’s Aunt! How insane is that? Guess we now have another player in the game for the Iron Throne. After all, Jon is the only living grandson of the last Targaryen king.
Finally, the season ends with a sequence that is six seasons in the making: Dany with her enormous fleet en route to Westeros. Her fleet comprises the Unsullied, The Dothraki, House Tyrell (thank you Olenna), House Martell (thank you Ellaria), and House Greyjoy (thank you Yara and Theon). Notice how all the houses are now run by women, and the two biggest (Dany and Cersei) will be clashing in season seven. How fantastic is that? I can hardly wait! And let’s not forget three gigantic dragons flying overhead and bookending the scene? Speechless!
Bits & Beheadings
– Pycelle is back with his whore. Remember her? Can’t say I’ll miss the Maester; he’s outlived his usefulness.
– How badass does Cersei look in black?
– Seriously the CGI used for the Wildfire explosion is top-notch. The green just adds a hint of beauty to the chaos. I particularly love the bell crashing through the city as a result.
– Poor Margaery, she really did sense something was wrong but no one would listen. And it’s a pity we’ll never know what plan she had for the Septon. Cersei beat you after all.
– I love the way Tommen’s death is shot. The camera never moves from his window. He simply walks out of frame, takes off his crown, and comes right back into frame and walks out the window very casually. King’s Landing indeed!
– The Mountain finally takes off his helmet after a whole season since his rebirth. We don’t see much but it’s pretty creepy.
– Notice how Jaime is rude to Walder Frey at the dinner. Love it.
– Cersei has no more emotions left when Qyburn shows her Tommen’s dead body. It’s heartbreaking.
– Sam and Gilly finally reach the Citadel, and it’s so impressive! Talk about unique interior design!
– Notice the White Raven which signals that Winter has arrived as Sansa proclaims. It only took six seasons!
– Even more payoff one season later: Davos attacks Melisandre and asks Jon’s permission to execute her. Our Stark instead banishes her. I do wonder where the Red Priestess will go now. I’m still waiting for answers about her necklace and that old lady twist we got in the premiere.
– Is there anything funnier than Olenna insulting the annoying Sand Snakes? Still, her family’s slaughter is the perfect development to send her and Ellaria (who already hates the Lannisters) into Dany’s army. The moment where Varys reveals himself and says the Targaryen sigil “Fire & Blood” is chillingly good.
– Both Arya and Cersei want their two enemies (Frey and Septa) to see their faces as the last thing before they die. So sadistic. Can’t wait till these two cross paths. Will Arya be the one to take her out since she’s on her list?
– Love that Dany is changing the name of “Slavery’s Bay” to the “Bay of Dragons”. Seems appropriate.
– Notice the body language when Dany sits next to Tyrion on the steps. Adorable. And the way he bows down in gratitude at the end? Perfect.
– Is anyone surprised that Littlefinger’s dream is to be on the Iron Throne with Sansa by his side? I’m ready for this snake to be killed off.
– Since Benjen is technically dead, he can’t go with Meera and Bran across the wall. I hope he’s a big part of season seven. The Starks need a father figure.
– In case you weren’t sure the baby in the flashback is Jon, the show does an amusing little transition from the baby’s face to Jon’s in present day.
– Love the use of the GOT theme when Jon is announced King.
– How badass is Cersei as she struts into the throne room in that black armor all majestic and amazing? It’s such a foreboding scene with Qyburn and The Mountain by her side. Plus, the Light of the Seven is used again. Perfect.
– In addition to everyone else in her arsenal, Dany is rightfully surrounded by Missandei, Tyrion and Varys (who sure travelled fast these few episodes). If only Daario and Jorah were also there to make things complete. Poor Grey Worm is stuck on another boat like an outcast.
– The final scene is so perfect, I wouldn’t have minded if the show ended here. So series finale-ish and epic.
Kings & Quips
Cersei: Confess. It felt good. Beating me, starving me, frightening me, humiliating me. You didn’t do it because you cared about my atonement. You did it because it felt good. I understand. I do things because they feel good. I drink because it feels good. I killed my husband because it felt good to be rid of him. I fuck my brother because it feels good to feel him inside me. I lie about fucking my brother… because it feels good to keep our son safe from hateful hypocrites. I killed your High Sparrow… and all his little sparrows… all his septons, all his septas, all his filthy soldiers, because it felt good to watch them burn. It felt good to imagine their shock and their pain. No thought has ever given me greater joy. Even confessing feels good under the right circumstances. You’ve always been quiet. I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Do you remember?
Septa: Good. I’m glad to see your face. I’m ready to meet the gods.
Cersei: What? Now? Today? You’re not going to die today. You’re not going to die for quite a while. Ser Gregor. (he walks in) This is Ser Gregor Clegane. He’s quiet, too. Your gods have forsaken you. This is your god now. (Septa begins to scream) Shame. (Cersei walks out and locks the door) Shame. Shame.
Bronn: You don’t even have to do anything, do you? You just sit there, a rich slab of beef, and all the birds come pecking.
Jaime: You’re welcome to her.
Bronn: She doesn’t want me. She wants your golden fingers up her twat.
Jon: When we had feasts, our family would sit up here… and I’d sit down there.
Melisandre: Could have been worse, Jon Snow. You had a family. You had feasts.
Jon: I’m not a Stark.
Sansa: You are to me.
Olenna: What is your name again? Barbaro?
Olenna: Obara. You look like an angry little boy. Don’t presume to tell me what I need.
Tyene: Forgive my sister. What she lacks in diplomacy, she makes–
Olenna: Do shut up, dear. Anything from you? (She looks at Arianna) No? Good. Let the grown women speak.
Daenerys: Don’t get angry.
Daario: I’m not angry. I’m full of self-pity. Who comes after you? Who can ever follow Daenerys Stormborn, the Mother of Dragons?
Daenerys: A great number of women, I imagine.
Tyrion: How did he take it?
Daenerys: No tears.|Tyrion: I know it was hard for you. You turned away a man who truly loves you because he would have been a liability in the Seven Kingdoms. That’s the kind of self-sacrifice that makes for a good ruler, if it’s any consolation.
Daenerys: It’s not.
Tyrion: No, I suppose not. I’m terrible at consoling.
Daenerys: Yes, you really are.
Tyrion: All right, how about the fact that this is actually happening? You have your armies, you have your ships, you have your dragons. Everything you’ve ever wanted since you were old enough to want anything, it’s all yours for the taking. Are you afraid? (She nods) Good. You’re in the great game now. And the great game’s terrifying. The only people who aren’t afraid of failure are madmen like your father.
Daenerys: Do you know what frightens me? I said farewell to a man who loves me. A man I thought I cared for. And I felt nothing. Just impatient to get on with it.
Tyrion: He wasn’t the first to love you and he won’t be the last.
Daenerys: Well, you have completely failed to console me.
Frey: Where are my damn moron sons? Black Walder and Lothar promised to be here by midday.
Servant: They’re here, my lord.
Frey: Well, what are they doing, trimming their cunt hairs? Tell them to come here now.
Servant: But they’re already here, my lord. (She motions to the pie he’s eating) Here, my lord. They weren’t easy to carve. Especially Black Walder.
(The servant’s face changes to Arya)
Arya: My name is Arya Stark. I want you to know that. The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.
An absolute masterpiece in every way, this is the gold standard of television. Every show should aspire to this.