Article by: Anthony Florez
Spoilers ahead. Spoilers ahead. Spoilers ahead.
How beautiful was the opening King’s Landing sequence in Game of Thrones season finale, The Winds of Winter? And I’m not talking about just the typically great cinematography, but the music, that piano arrangement that delicately built layer after layer of tension as Cersei played her hand. It’s worth a second look for the sake of appreciation, it reminded me of the sequence in Interstellar where (spoilers for that movie, though, if you haven’t seen it – “Shame. Shame. Shame.”) Matt Damon tries to maroon McConaughey and Hathaway. It was a surprisingly subtle sequence that revealed her merciless game plan step by step, letting the visuals and the music do the storytelling; any dialogue present was entirely unnecessary to understand the suspense. And Lancel being literally at ground zero for the epic conclusion to this plotline and the High Sparrow himself at the epicenter… oh, this was as satisfying as I could have hoped for and it was so long overd-… BUT MARGAERY, NOOOOOO!
Damn it all to hell.
You finally did it, you maniacs! You blew her up. What the hell kind of plan was that, to just blow up the whole damn Sept and kill how many innocent people alongside the two or three that deserved it? None of whom were Margaery Tyrell, the most beautiful girl in the room?! It’s nice to see that GoT is exploring not only the idea of female empowerment, but that not all female leaders are going to be inherently good. Because, as Cersei has shown us, being an asshole is not gender specific. One could argue that the cost was pretty high; she is now childless as she sits on the Iron Throne, the definition of a Pyrrhic victory.
Although this took waaay too long transpire, this felt like the old days of GoT. The dark days, where not everything is sunshine and hugs and handshakes. George R.R. Martin has asserted that his books eschew the idea of absolute good versus absolute evil, and that everyone is doing what they think is right, however badly that affects others. This plot arc of Cersei’s felt like a return to that. Yes, she has temporarily won the Game while at the same time losing whatever was left of her soul. Further, I’ve been pretty harsh on little Tommen this last few weeks but it’s easy to forget what things must have been like for the kid. His mother is a certifiable sociopath. His father (at least the man he thinks is his father, Robert Baratheon), brother, and sister have been murdered one after another. His family and his rule are collectively reviled by the common folk. And the only person he really trusted or looked to with love in his heart was Margaery who was ultimately just another person playing him. When his mother took her away you really come to understand the loneliness this kid must have felt to make the choice that he did.
So as incompetent as he could be at times, it’s on me for forgetting that he still had a heart that could be broken like anyone elses. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown and all that. So rest easy, little T.
Moving on. The coronation of Cersei Lannister was a riot, wasn’t it? That felt like a funeral for a pile of kittens and the common folk looked absolutely desperate for someone to invent democracy right that instant. King’s Landing is in for a long winter of its own under her rule and even Jaime looks less than excited about what’s to come. If I were a citizen I’d be packing up and hitting the countryside, especially if I was a citizen who threw excrement or rocks at her while she was being marched naked through the streets. On the outside she looked magnificent, regal even, but on the inside I think I know what she was thinking staring out at the silent, frightened primitives. And frankly, although I loathe the woman with a passion at this point, I think the common folk have it coming for not throwing her out on her ear three seasons ago. Long live the Queen.
Walder Frey is a shining example of the old saying about the good dying young while assholes live forever. It was uniquely satisfying to see Jaime finally express some disgust at the company his family keeps (as if the attempted child murderer/debated rapist Kingslayer has any right to lecture someone on integrity). And that flirtatious servant girl, wow, this was the best slight of hand that Weiss and Benioff have accomplished this season. While the King’s Landing sequence had the hair on my arms standing up for almost 25 minutes straight, the revenge of Arya Stark seemed to come out of nowhere and I went from slightly bored to oh holy shit in a matter of seconds. I had a hard time figuring out if there was a sufficiently horrible way to take Frey out that would satisfy my anger over the Red Wedding, and one thing I did not think of was going full Scott Tenorman on the son of a bitch. Suffice it to say the Stark girls are absolutely, I believe the term is, ‘savage af,’ with both of them delivering vicious killing strokes this season with a side of wicked grin. With Arya back on the main stage I hope we get a reunion with Sansa early on next season along with plenty of Just Girly Things memes.
Speaking of just the girls, there was quite the Lady’s Night down in Dorne and that is not a eunuch joke directed at Varys. Okay. Maybe it is. The big reveal here is two-fold; Olenna Tyrell is officially taking the gloves off and Daenerys has a place to land her forces safely in Westeros. It looks like Lilith Fair 2017 has revealed its lineup and I’m all about it, except for the Sandsnakes. They don’t feel like they’ve earned it as much as anyone else on the bill and rightly received an absolutely fantastic tongue-lashing from Mama Tyrell, who has clearly had enough of everyone’s shit. But the alliance is in place and this should make for an interesting combination of Tyrell, Dornish, Unsullied, Second Sons, and Dothraki armies. I sense sitcom potential.
Davos finally had his moment to confront Melisandre but I think the real star of this scene was actually Jon Snow. Bear with me, although it was great to see the Onion Knight letting out his contempt for the Red Woman, and watching her squirm was a treat, Jon had to make a big call here that wasn’t a battlefield decision. The big finale hadn’t happened yet so he doesn’t technically have any authority at all to banish her from the North. It’s a compromise to let her live but he knows it might be a mistake to lose her as an asset. But he had to do something or else lose Davos’ respect. Surely we haven’t seen the last of Melisandre, but what I was really hoping for was some big reveal, some breaking of her glamour where everyone sees her true form and then, like the ending of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, half the army that she’s made out with or banged realizes what they’ve done.
Poor Daario. As someone who identifies as a Beta male, I’m with Dany, I felt nothing for this swarthy, arrogant bastard making his case for her heart. “How am I ever going to do better than you?” Well, that’s romantic. It’s like she’s a mint condition Honus Wagner baseball card. And I’ll answer that question for you D, you’re not. Because you’re a good time, you’re the dangerous one with the sexy devil-may-care attitude, but you’re not marriage material. You’re the guy that tries to settle down and ends up boffing the nanny once things get boring– (HOW COULD YOU, BEN?! Jennifer was in Alias. Alias! I still have some issues to deal with there.)
Anyway, this is all to set up a tender moment between Tyrion and Dany where she essentially puts a ring on it, making him the Hand of the Queen. So now he gets benefits or something. I dunno, this whole plot line is six years in the making and I’m not saying she hasn’t earned it or overcome plenty of obstacles, but at the same time it’s felt a little bit like Whack-A-Mole. Let’s all hope that when we get started next season it’s in medias res, because if I have to watch the ol’ Duke boys at it again I’m officially turning on our dear platinum pixie.
Speaking of which, Raisin Bran has fulfilled his life’s purpose of becoming the Three Eyed Exposition and the big fan theory has been confirmed (for book readers, this means having waited twenty years for the truth to be revealed): Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s son, but rather his sister Lyanna’s. The real mystery now is who his father is. The popular opinion is Rheagar Targaryen which would make Daenerys Jon’s aunt. (This puts her in the running for the hottest aunt since Marisa Tomei was cast as Aunt May.) This would also make Jon half Targaryen, which means he’s not so much the heir to the North as he is a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne itself. And although he is still a bastard, he’s also doubly noble. None of this is known to anyone besides Bran-Flake and Meera who still have to find a way back over the Wall and give him the news. Ugh, season 7, you can’t come soon enough.
Jon Snow and Sansa Stark are now sitting at the head of the table in Winterfell and all the Northern Houses have come to pay respects or offer some kind of excuse for being a bunch of punk asses. In all honesty, with the threat of being flayed alive by House Psychopath, I probably would have kept my head down, too, at least until I’d seen Jon in action. Not so for Lady Lyanna Mormont, the charming prepubescent ballbuster who just called out an entire dining hall of noblemen for being gutless oathbreakers, all without having yet suffered through acne. She’s not written with much complexity, but my hat is off to the casting here. This
little girl young woman carries the ‘old soul’ thing off so well I completely buy her rallying cry without looking back.
This scene also had my hair standing up on end because it’s another triumph for Jon and if there is another way to be inspired by the character, it’s that he seems to accept the anointment with reservation. It’s not a responsibility he’s ever wanted or fought for, he’s only wanted to do the right thing when he can. And that sounds like a good king to me. However. Did you see the look on Littlefinger’s face? That’s trouble on the horizon, friends, and if Sansa were smart she would deal with that ricky-tick.
I’ll wrap this up with my only real disappointment with this episode, nay, this season. The scene of Daenerys finally sailing off into the sunset with her armies has been so long coming that it’s permeated every aspect of pop culture. And I was not expecting this to be the final scene this Sunday, not with a title like The Winds of Winter.
I’ll probably do a more comprehensive season review in the near future but, for now, this whole year has felt like… what’s the opposite of The Empire Strikes Back?…ah, Return of the Jedi. That’s what it was. Which, as a kid, I loved but there’s a lot of wish fulfillment going on, which I wasn’t prepared for. An inferior force of undisciplined, disorganized hairy wild folk somehow defeated a larger, superior army when the odds were against them. Check. Brother and sister reunite and re-establish a just rule. Check. A seemingly invulnerable stronghold demolished because it had one extremely accessible vulnerability that lit the whole thing up like the 4th of July? Welcome to Earf. Granted, Arya’s arc finally felt justified since it was seasons in the making, but I don’t remember an earlier season that didn’t make me desperate to see the next. And this one didn’t. Because I’m an adult now, I know this because I owe a bunch of strangers money every month, and I kind of miss the ambiguity, the depth, that somehow seemed to be absent this time around.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this season when it finally came down to it, but if it’s proven anything to me at the end of the day, it’s that George R.R. Martin is a superior storyteller and writer to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. All due respect to D and D, it was the directing that put season six in the black. Without Miguel Sapochnik and his brilliant turns in the chair there was genuine doubt about their abilities as showrunners, a doubt that I am not fully relieved of. My point is, the season ended and it felt like everything is going to be okay which is the opposite of the dramatic tension and suspense that made the show great. That being said, again, I’m more than happy with the….hey, WAIT, why the hell didn’t Tormund and Brienne hook up?! After all meaningful gazes? Weiss and Benioff, you suck.
Bonus: Here’s an hour or so of goofy moments with the cast. See you all next year.