What. An. Episode.
What. A. Season.
For years we’ve been waiting for “Game of Thrones” to begin to answer some of our longest lasting questions: who were Jon Snow’s parents, would Daenerys ever be able to advance on King’s Landing with an army, who are the White Walkers and where did they come from?
Well, this season we finally got the pay off.
Including what may well be the two greatest episodes back-to-back in the history of television.
So let’s dive in and deconstruct what we all saw tonight.
1. The music, my God, the music.
It was a revelation. It was extraordinary. It heightened the senses for what was already an intense opening scene.
As we prepare for the trials of Loras Tyrell and Cersei Lannister, it becomes apparent that Loras — they wouldn’t even let him bathe before trial?! — has no interest in fighting for his name.
He confesses to all allegations against him the moment he enters the temple and says he now wants to live as a Sparrow, abandoning his family name forever.
He’s then branded on the forehead as Margeary and her father look on in horror.
2. PC Bromani Tommen is barred from attending the trials by the Mountain.
Which lets us know, if we had any doubt, that Cersei is finally ready for her revenge.
Something is up.
Beneath the temple the Maester is stabbed by the young children — I haven’t seen this many kids committing murder since Urban Meyer stopped coaching middle school football — and Cersei’s Lannister cousin, the sparrow, is also stabbed and left to die beneath the temple. (The irony here is that the children, remember Varys called them his little sparrows, are cutting down the big sparrows.)
The wildfire’s still there, left over from the Mad King’s plan to burn down the city, and Cersei blows up the temple and everyone in it.
We wrote about this several weeks ago so it didn’t come as a complete plot shock, but, wow, the victims are legion.
Including, sigh, Margaery Tyrell and her perfect boobs.
Margaery is the only one in the entire temple who seems to recognize the danger they’re all in, but no one listens to her and up in smoke go the High Sparrow, Loras and Margaery Tyrell.
There was no “Game of Thrones” deadpool this week, so that’s fortunate for the offshore books because otherwise they would have had to pay out three simultaneous deaths.
3. As the temple explodes, Cersei stands drinking wine, the perfect badass pose for a queen who is fresh out of shame.
Cersei then waterboards her former captor with wine.
She brings in the Mountain to extract further vengeance and then closes the doors chanting, “Shame, shame, shame.”
Damn, too perfect.
Queen Cersei got her groove back, y’all.
4. PC Bromani Tommen, unable to handle Queen Margaery dying without sleeping with him, takes off his crown and then proceeds to commit suicide by falling to his death.
Leading several of you to point out on Twitter how apropos the name King’s Landing really is.
This, of course, is the perfect way for PC Bromani Tommen to die, but it also raises an interesting question — did Cersei expect her son to kill himself once she blew up the temple? She certainly doesn’t seem that shocked when she learns of his death.
Why not leave the Mountain there to protect him? Or, better yet, why not instruct the Mountain to bring Tommen to her so she can console him over the deaths in the temple?
Regardless, Cersei sees Tommen’s dead body and instructs, “Burn him and bury his ashes were the sept once stood.”
5. Unaware what just happened in King’s Landing, Bronn is bemoaning the fact that everyone wants to bang Jaime at the Frey-Lannister dinner party.
Jaime calls over two young women and Bronn says, “Maybe I’m not in the mood.” Then he sees the girls, “Fuck it,” he says.
Jaime then asks Frey, “Why do we need you?”
Walder Frey doesn’t have a good answer.
6. Sam and Gilly arrive at the ancient library.
But there’s no women and children allowed in the library and there’s no record of Samwell’s new appointment.
Nevertheless Sam better read fast because there are more books and scrolls than was ever imaginable.
The storyline here seems fairly clear, Sam will learn everything there is to know about the White Walkers and this will allow us, the viewers, to have their history explicated.
It’s an ingenious plot device that will also turn Sam’s studies into a pressure-packed exercise. As the White Walkers advance Sam will become the equivalent of a scientist searching for a cure to a horrible plague.
7. Davos finally confronts Melisandre about her murder of Princess Shireen.
This is a conflict that has been building for several seasons, the battle between Davos, the light, and Melisandre, the dark, of the now deceased Stannis Barratheon.
“Tell him what you did to her,” Davos says.
“We burned her at the stake,’ Melisandre calmly answers.
Davos demands that Jon Snow put her to death, but Snow instead banishes Melisandre south. “If you return to the North, I’ll have you hanged as a murderer.”
We see Melisandre leaving Winterfell, an eerie parallel to her arrival at Castle Black at the end of season five.
8. On the Winterfell ramparts, Jon and Sansa meet and talk as Melisandre rides away.
Snow says Sansa should move into their Ned’s old quarters. “I’m not a Stark,” he says.
“You are to me,” Sansa replies.
Then Sansa apologizes for not telling Jon that the Knights of the Vale might be coming to aid them against Ramsay.
This is the biggest flaw, to me, of season six. Sansa not telling Snow about the possibility of Littlefinger bringing the Knights of the Vale is just nonsensical, especially given their obsession with needing more troops. Why allow her brother and almost everyone else to be killed in battle without ever giving any indication that help might be coming?
I just don’t get this entire plot point, it’s a narrative flaw that didn’t need to exist and stands as the biggest criticism, by far, of season six. There is no benefit whatsoever that I can see to Sansa keeping this a secret.
As they finish their talk, a white raven arrives, winter isn’t coming any more: WINTER IS HERE.
9. Grandma Tyrell is in Dorne.
Presumably a decent amount of time has passed since Grandma Tyrell knows that her family has all been killed, “Cersei stole the future from me,” she says, “Survival is not what I’m after now.”
Which leads to a perfect entrance from Varys, who somehow has traveled all the way from Meereen to Dorne in the space of two episodes, “Fire and blood,” he says.
How did Varys go this far this fast? We’ve spent entire seasons on trips that were much shorter than this one.
Anyway, Daenerys has Dorne and the Tyrells on her side too.
How can Cersei stand up to this at all? She needs Littlefinger.
Is it possible Littlefinger marries Cersei to get closer to the Iron Throne and bring in the Knights of the Vale on her side? I wouldn’t put it past him.
Or, even crazier, could Cersei marry Robyn and could Robyn sit on the Iron Throne?
Maybe even more likely than this? Cersei marrie Euron Greyjoy and his big cock.
10. Daenerys dumps Daario because he’ll be a hindrance towards her taking over the Iron Throne.
She might need to marry someone at some point, you see. Daario doesn’t care, “I don’t want a crown,” he says, “I want you.”
Unfortunately, she doesn’t want him. “I pity the Lords of Westeros,” he says, “they have no idea what’s coming for them.”
11. Daenerys and Tyrion discuss the coming battle for the Iron Throne.
Tyrion, honestly, has had a fairly minimal role this entire season. But he’s had many quality lines, “You’re in the great game now,” Tyrion says, “and the great game is terrifying.”
When Daenerys confesses she felt nothing during the break up, Tyrion responds, “He wasn’t the first to love you, and he won’t be the last.”
Finally, Tyrion says, “I believe in you. It’s embarrassing, really.”
And he’s named the hand of the queen and kneels before her.
Important detail here, remember that Daenerys can’t have children. So what would happen if she sat on the Iron Throne, who would rule after her? Our ideal world is probably Jon Snow and Daenerys having hot incestual sex, but their hot sex can’t produce an heir.
And by the way, am I the only one thinking that Daenerys and Tyrion are going to fall in love? And if so, when did “Game of Thrones” have so many lovable characters?
I refuse to accept Cersei as a villain, so other than the White Walkers who are the villains now? There aren’t any.
12. Arya wipes out the Freys.
And delivers a bad ass line to Walder Frey after feeding him his sons for dinner, “The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.”
The Red Wedding is avenged.
At least partially.
I need to go back and look at Arya’s death list, because she’s an incredible assassin now.
13. Littlefinger and Sansa meet by the magic tree.
Littlefinger says that everything he’s done is with one thing in mind, “A picture of me on the Iron Throne and you by my side.”
But Sansa rebuffs him, “It’s a pretty picture,” she says, dodging his attempted kiss.
Hard to recover from this. Especially when Littlefinger says Sansa needs to rule the north and she doesn’t even agree with this idea. (Final Sansa question, is she pregnant or not? I’m still going with yes.)
14. Benjen Stark, the best looking man on the show, drops off Bran and Meera at the tree near the wall.
Bran finally completes his Tower of Joy vision where we see, as long forecasted in this column and many other places, that Jon Snow is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. (And it doesn’t seem likely, at least based on this vision, that Rhaegar raped her to do it.)
Lyanna, covered in blood from childbirth, begs Ned to take her baby and raise him as his own because otherwise Robert Barratheon would kill the baby. “Promise me, Ned,” she says.
We don’t hear all the conversation, but Ned obviously agrees to her wishes.
The result: now we officially know that Jon Snow is half Stark and half Targaryen. He’s the union of fire and ice, the nephew of his uncle Ned Stark and the nephew of his aunt Daenerys Targaryen.
Just to erase all doubt, we move from the eyes of a baby Jon Snow to the eyes of a grown Jon Snow at Winterfell. (For some reason the eyes of the baby scene reminded me of the white walkers turning the baby into a white walker. Do we have any idea what becomes of those baby white walkers? Are they significant at all? Samwell! Get to work.)
Anyway, Snow is persuading the commanders of the north that their battles are not over. “The true enemy won’t wait out the storm, he brings the storm.”
The little girl Mormont stands up and says, “He’s my king from this day until the last day.”
And then everyone else falls into line too.
The white wolf, they call him.
THE WHITE WOLF.
So badass. (This, honestly, should be the nickname of the best white player on the Minnesota Timberwolves. I’m looking at you Ricky Rubio.)
Also, where the hell has Ghost actually gone? First he misses the battle and now he can’t bother to be present when his master becomes a king?
We build to an incredible crescendo that should have had the hair on your arms standing up too, “The King of the North,” chant bathes Jon Snow, the man who unites fire and ice and doesn’t know it yet.
So how will Bran get the news to him and will this knowledge change anything? After all, since Snow’s a bastard he’s not technically eligible to be the Iron Throne ruler, but he has at least as good of a claim as our buddy Gendry, still out there rowing somewhere.
15. Cersei is installed on the Iron Throne and many questions loom.
Will the people of King’s Landing support her after the explosion she rigged?
Will Jaime support her or is their incestuous love going to be tested anew?
Is it possible Cersei abdicates the Iron Throne when she sees the forces arrayed against her?
Or will she be able to persuade Littlefinger, Euron Greyjoy and others to support her? Could this be the shortest reign ever?
Will Cersei have to marry to try and combat her enemies?
But, most importantly, now that her children have all died, what does Cersei actually want?
16. Daenerys and Tyrion are in the lead ship sailing for Westeros.
The dragons fly above them, an entire array of ships aligned to their rear.
At long last, Daenerys Stormborn, mother of dragons, is set to assert her claim on the Iron Throne.
I can’t believe we have to wait almost a year to see what happens.
You guys have been fantastic all season. What a fun journey each year of Thrones really is.