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.


  1. Loved the finale episode! I was not expecting what happened in King's Landing at all! I am sad about Margery. I loved her character and could have kicked Cercei's ass!

    1. I'm going to miss Margaery- she knew how to play the game and I liked that she could match Cersei. They cleaned a lot of players out of the show and she's the one I'll miss the most. Still it was quite an epic hour!

  2. I honestly still have to watch the finale, but I couldn't help myself and already read all the recaps so it's okay that I read your post as well! :)
    This sounds like such an epic episode and I really love how they are really setting up all the pieces on the board for the final episodes. I will miss Margaery, but on the other hand I am happy we are finally getting some Stark revenge! I hope to be able to actually watch the episode soon :)

    1. I do that too. I spoil myself all the time lol. I'll miss Margary too, and yes to Stark revenge!!

  3. Hahaha- I also had to smile first at Arya magically getting to the Riverlands from Braavos so fast and then Varys appearing on Daenerys's ship after just being in Dorne! And Jaime and Bronn got back to King's Landing pretty quickly, too, now that I think about it.

    It should be VERY interesting to see how Cersei's actions in this episode affect her relationship with Jaime next season. Maybe this will FINALLY be a wake-up call for him where she's concerned?

    I was thrilled that the Frey pies made it onto the show, and that Walder Frey himself ate it! It was very gratifying to watch Arya get her revenge. Another name struck from the list.

    The closing shot was so EPIC- all those ships and of course the dragons. Glad Varys could make it, too, lol.

    I also found it interesting that the finale focused on the looming battle for the Iron Throne- no sign of the Night's King and the White Walkers. Now I'm really curious where that plotline is headed!

    It's been so much fun chatting about this season with you. :D Here's hoping that we get The Winds of Winter soon- before the season 7 premiere would really be nice, lol!

    1. I love all the teleporting on this show! I was reading some recaps and everyone's talking about it. I'm hoping you're right and that Jaime will finally undersrand about Cersei- that seems to have happened in the books, I thought it might as well on the show but they haven't entirely gone that place yet. Frey pies! They did it. lol

      that was quite the end. And lol yeah nice you could make it Varys! And you're right- this was all Iron Throne. I actually thought they'd bring the Wall down in the final, but Dany setting sail worked too!

      I've enjoyed chatting with you too, and discovering your blog! Your recaps are fun and thought provoking. And yes to the next book- that will give all of us LOTS to talk about.

  4. Screw the king in the north and the queen across the sea, I'm down with Arya, the Queen in the Shadows!!! For me that was the best scene of the episode, and probably the season (Clegane taking the axe to the Lone Wolf Brothers previously held the title). I will say a lot was redeemed this episode. I know you have been enjoying the season so far, Greg, but honestly for me it has been a pretty huge letdown. I have felt it was paced poorly (nothing happens, nothing happens, tons happen, nothing happens, etc), it didn't have a Martin-esque feel (did he write an episode?), so many characters seemed out-of-character (Jaime, Jon, Arya) and the big moments generally were ... not (Arya and the candle, battle of the bastards, Dany and the fire/kalasar). So this episode made up some lost ground for me - some lol.

    I thought all the scenes in Winterfell were weak. Jon and Sansa, weak; The King in the North, weak (sorry HBO writers, we saw all this 4 years ago). The lone exception being Davos, he is a great actor who can generate true emotion - I expect him to be named Hand of the King in the North (again double-weak).

    I thought the Jamie / Riverrun / Brienne scenes were passable at best. The best here was the Blackfish, and the book-based dialog at the drawbridge and regarding Edmure's hanging was nice. (We don't think the Blackfish is really dead right?) It's just too bad Brienne had to be there to ruin it all. We never saw her after the boat scene - maybe her and Pod bought some seeds and became farmers and will never be heard from again in Westeros. I can dream right? :)

    The Kings Landing scenes were nice, but predictable (do you think Cersei planned on Tommen's suicide?). I was also sad to see Margaery go, but especially Loras. I always liked him. Well aside from HBO pushing the homosexual angle. Best swordsman in the realm (once Jaime lost a hand) if I recall.

    Maybe the books made me hate Dany too much, but I just cannot get behind her, so needless to say I didn't enjoy those scenes either. At least it was better than the horrible joke/drink scene - that one was just brutal to sit through. Yes the dragons looked nice last episode, but they are just too big, too fast and they don't make up for all the bad in Meereen (Grey Worm looks like a wimp, the pseudo-sexual relationships are a joke, Dany is lost and indecisive, etc). And Asha is just a horrible actress and weird looking; which the obligatory nod to the LGBT community line ('up for anything') only highlighted. I wonder which HBO producer is her father.

    How's that for complaining?? lol Anyway, the last few episodes did have their moments...

  5. How's that for complaining?? lol Anyway, the last few episodes did have their moments...

    "I choose violence." She's the character you love to hate, but the actress is superb. She makes most of the rest look like center square contestants. I was cheering out loud when I saw that scene - literally. Of course Gregor should have killed all the star-heads, but hey ya cant get everything.

    "Hold the door!" Yeah it was nicely done. The writing was tight, the back and forth timeline was well edited, and honestly I believed it all. Mike thought is was BS but hey I bought it. It was a sweet scene.

    "You're shit at dying." Thank god (the old gods? Yes I think so) for Rory McCann. For me he single handedly dragged this season back from the brink. His twin scenes nearly bookending ep8 were amazing; it is good to see the old Sandor back. I could write 3 paragraphs and quote most of it, but I'll just say, more of this please ^^

    "Promise me Ned." Yes, as I said before the device of Bran seeing the past is a nice added touch - I cant wait to see Bang! Bang! Roberts silver warhammer come down upon Rhaegar's head ... err ruby breastplate lol. The fight against the Sword of Morning was way cool, and the final reveal of Jon's parentage was nice. It is something we all knew, but its one thing to know and another to KNOW.

    "My name is Arya Stark. I want you to know that." Sounds like Martin, but my hat is off to whoever wrote it. The nod to the cooked Walders was a nice added touch. When Arya pulled that face off and delivered the line, again I literally slapped Mike in the leg and yelled 'YES!!!' Arya was another character that had become lost this season (I think meeting/killing Sam/Dareon would have been cool) but her final few scenes were great (aside from the overdone, fatal stab wounds). I was sooo afraid they were just going to throw her back with Sandor and return them to spinning their wheels in the hinterland. But having the old (read: confident and capable) Arya back and checking her list was sweet - CHECK! (Who's next?)

    So I guess in summary, this was one of the worst GoT seasons for me, only redeemed in the final few episodes by a few great scenes. To me this felt like 'HBO's season.' Ya know the one where they clean out the riff raff, get rid of the complexities of Martin's world, streamline the cast and plotlines, and get lined up on the runway for a couple of straight forward, wrap-it-up seasons. Not sure what this bodes for the future of the television series, but to be honest, I can't wait for the next book so I can see how it was REALLY supposed to go.

    Great work on the blog, Greg! Thanks for giving me somewhere to rant and chat with you :) See you soon!!

  6. I thought it was a fantastic episode and really set things up nicely for next series. I spotted that about Varys too and it confused me, I was like, wait how did he get there! I can't believe we have to wait 10 months now for more! I should just start reading the books :)

  7. I frickin' LOVED this episode. It was fantastic from start to finish. And the score for the first part was just beautiful. I haven't read the books (yet! I just bought the whole set, and it's now standing on my desk, as I longingly stare it while doing Boring Stuff), so I can't really compare anything, but I genuinely love the show. I thought this season dragged a little at first, but the last few episodes have been great, and this one was epic. I loved the last shot too - I can't imagine Danny is FINALLY on her way. Then again, everything IS lining up and it's awesome, but it also means the show will end soon. I'm very intrigued to what Cersei will get up to now that the only thing that kept her human is gone. She always had a spark of redemption in her because of her love for her children, but now she's unleashed I'm very curious as to what will happen. And how Jaime will react - I mean the dude pushed a child out of a window in the first episode, and he made it quite clear that he'd do anything for his sister again just recently, but he did also become Kingslayer to save the city, so... we'll see what (or who) he's going to choose, I guess. OH and Margaery! I was so mad about that! I mean, it was a great scene, but she was one of my favorite characters, I'm really going to miss her. I think what bothered me most was that she didn't really have a great storyline lately, so it feels a bit like they wasted her character? I wanted for her to have a better ending, if she had to die at least. And then the North - I'm sure Littlefinger is going to cause trouble (when does he not?). I hope Sansa stands with Jon or does her own thing, but if she allies with Littlefinger Imma throw something at my screen. And yeah, a lot of people have complained about the teleporting - I just assumed a lot of time passed between those different scenes? It's always a bit hard to follow what happens when, because I'm pretty sure the things we're shown don't happen simultaneously, but I get the feeling much more time passed in this episode than it usually does. For example, Olenna seems fairly in control when she talks business in Dorne, but I'm sure she would have been devastated to hear of her family's death. I mean she's not the kind of person to show it in front of people probably, but still, I got the feeling quite some time passed between that part and the beginning of the episode. I would have liked to see her initial reaction though! She's one of the most badass people on the show, so I can't wait to see how the whole alliance thing turns out. Daenerys certainly has some powerful allies now!

    1. This episode was awesome. I am so glad you're reading the books, I can't wait to see what you think. I've re- read 'em a few times and always find things I missed. One of the biggest things for me are the visions various characters have, or remembrances- you know how the Tower of Joy just happened this season, but in the first book fairly early on Ned thinks backto what hapoened and you get those clues and hints a lot earlier. That's one of my favorite things about the books- the added depth. And some characters are just more badass in the books. :)

      I hear you, it's fun to see the endgame approaching but that measn the show will end and that's no good! lol I agree with you about Jaime, I love his story arc when he becomes a POV in book three, and his character arc is pretty nuanced. I mean yeah he's still a bad guy but you almost can't help but feel for him (at least I did). And Margaery- I'm going to miss her big time. She was great on the show and I was hoping she's be around to plot some more...

  8. Great recap! What an amazing season finale -- I can't wait to for next season already

    1. Thank you! I'm the same way- bring on S7!!

  9. It blew me away, literally, that explosion was just amazing! Just like that all those characters killed off. I just wish we had the book to go with all of this, it seems to be no closer to publication.