Monday, June 27, 2016
Game of Thrones The Winds of Winter
"Winter is here."
The most important words spoken in the season finale of Game of Thrones. The white raven has gone forth signifying winter has arrived. Aptly named, this episode- The Winds of Winter- leaves no doubt that after all the waiting, we are getting to the endgame. This may be the biggest and best episode the show has had- every storyline has a twist and the landscape has entirely changed by the end of the episode. There are three forces now that matter in Westeros- the North, the crown in Kings Landing, and the forces of Daenerys across the sea.
Spoilers for books and show.
The white ravens have gone forth, and winter has been officially named. Jon and Sansa get the news at Winterfell just as Jon is sending Melisandre away- is that a wise decision?- and we have a nice moment between the two of them. I thought in some ways the scene with Melisandre and Davos was the most impactful scene - there was real emotion there, and Jon was put in a tough spot. Just as he is learning to trust Mel, he is faced with the horrible truth of something she did -and this decision may have consequences. Where will the red priestess go? She is certainly not done playing a role- will she end up with the Brotherhood without Banners? Or perhaps she will also ally with Dany?
We start though with Kings Landing, and another very important decision. This decision is made by Cersei and changes both Kings Landing and perhaps the Seven Kingdoms forever. As many expected she uses a wildfire cache beneath the city to rid herself of the Faith and her Tyrell enemies at the same time. It's crazy even by her standards- and what is most intersting to me is how Jaime will respond. Consider that Jaime killed Aerys to prevent just such a conflagration- and he was disgraced and called the Kingslayer for it. He has shared the knowledge that he saved the city with few, perhaps only one- Brienne- and now he returns to find that his sister has done the very thing he dreaded.
Cersei's children are gone, and now she has nothing holding her back. The show has had a tendency to paint her as a more sympathetic figure than the Cersei of the books, but that's done with. After this we see her as she truly is. And we have a large array of players swept from the board- Margaery and Loras, as well as Kevan Lannister and Mace Tyrell. In the books Varys uses his "little birds" - children- to kill Kevan so as to remove any moderating influence on Cersei. Here they riff on that by using the "birds" to kill Pycelle and set off the conflagration. I thought it was a great- and chilling sequence- and the music upped the suspense even as I wondered why Loras would be so dumb. I'm going to miss Margaery on the show, and Mace Tyrell is still alive and not such a buffoon in the books- but they're streamlining the plot big time so they don't need him.
"Fire and blood."
These words are spoken by Varys as he arrives in Dorne to meet with Lady Olenna and the Sand Snakes. As expected the alliance between Daenerys and Dorne seems to be in effect. These same words are spoken in the books when Dany discusses a possible alliance with the Dornish- and with the Tyrell family decimated by the events in Kings Landing, Olenna is out for blood. This should be interesting- all the players are lining up now. Dany dismissed Daario from her life- book Daario is so different and I don't see him going quietly like that- and then Dany makes Tyrion the Hand of the Queen. They're getting along just swimmingly, aren't they?
Frey pies! We get to see Frey pies- didn't think that would happen. Readers of the books know that the Manderlys "prepared" some Freys for a feast and fed them to their own kin, as well as the Boltons- here Arya does it and presents it to Lord Frey before offing him. What a moment- and I loved that the serving girl Arya was pretending to be flirted with Jaime. Maybe she was going to snuff him? Never mind the passage of time or distance on this show- as satisfying as it was to see Arya do her thing, I had to laugh that she is in the Riverlands now. Teleport!
"Promise me Ned."
Those words have hovered over this show (and especially the books) since the whole saga began, and tonight we got confirmation that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. When you think about it, the first book was published twenty years ago, so a twenty year old theory was pretty much confirmed tonight. That's a big moment- as is the return of a King in the North as the northern houses fall in behind Jon Snow. I thought Sansa looked proud until she exchanged a look with Littlefinger- you could see him calculating the shifting winds as the northern houses swore fealty. He's going to be a wild card- and they named Jon a king, not Sansa a queen. How will that play?
Finally- the conclusion. The Greyjoys are allied with Dany and they're sailing for Westeros- another big moment that has been long in the coming. I thought that was a great shot at the end with the fleet sailing and the three dragons whirling overhead- very nice. Varys was on deck- Teleport- after just being in Dorne, but whatever. It might be a fun drinking game to take a swig every time someone teleports on this show- but I digress. Bottom line is, for a show that has been hit or miss for me all along, I thought this episode was effective, brought everything together and managed to juggle a lot of storylines pretty well. A great end to an eventful season.