What an amazing season finale. Could we even ask for more after this supersized episode of awesomeness?
(Actually, yes: seeing as everyone seems to have found Littlefinger’s portal and can travel around 2 continents at warp speed – hell, Varys went from Mereen to Dorne and back to Mereen again in the span of two episodes! – we could have used a Stark/Brienne/Sandor Clegane reunion over in the North, or even a Jorah Mormont/Sam meeting at the Citadel, but now I’m really just nitpicking at what was a truly satisfying, fan-service-galore GoT episode).
The episode delivered in every sense: we saw a multitude of characters and plotlines finally get from point A to point B and intertwine; we got dragons, explosions, plenty of significant deaths (including that of the second King this season, the first being Balon Greyjoy a few episodes back), sweet revenge…. and we finally got to put the whole “winter is coming” thing to rest. Winter is here.
The entire episode felt more like a movie than actual television. It was cleverly bookended by two very different but very powerful scenes:
The long opening scene at Kings Landing was a beatiful sequence, and the absence of any dialogue for the first few minutes, combined with the haunting score, somehow made it more significant, more imposing, evoking a strong sense of foreboding.
The epicness of the closing scene, with Daenerys finally sailing off to Westeros, is not only the one thing both the character and the viewers have been waiting for since the pilot episode six years ago, but also suggests there are big things coming our way when GoT picks up again in 10 months.
There’s a beautiful symmetry throughout the season finale. It isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but also brilliant cinematic storytelling, tying in important plot points from earlier episodes (and past seasons) to the here and now, bringing a few character arcs full-circle and delivering on long-awaited plotlines that finally reached a – more or less – definite conclusion this week.
Jaime wasn’t there to stop Cersei from blowing the Sept to smithereens, like he did when the Mad King, Dany’s dather, wanted to ‘burn them all‘. Margaery, Loras and Mace Tyrell, the High Sparrow and all of his disciples are eliminated with one fell swoop, courtesy of the wildfire reserves beneath the city. The show had hinted at it plenty of times before, and although no one was really surprised, the (extremely short-lived) success of Cersei’s plan was definitely a shock, considering her previous plans had famously backfired over and over again.
Much like Tyrion back in Blackwater, she defeats her enemies with a tremendous blast. True to character, however, she is basking in her glory alone. Her interest is in exacting revenge and torturing Septa Unella, instead of being with her vulnerable, impressionable and highly suggestible remaining son Tommen, who jumps to his death at the sight of his wife going up in flames. Remember the last time we saw a child plummet to the ground from a high window? It was the iconic scene when Jaime sighed, exclaimed “The things I do for love” and pushed Bran off the broken tower window back in the pilot episode.
Maggie’s prophecy being realized is yet another plot point that comes full circle in this episode. Cersei doesn’t appear nearly as devastated by Tommen’s demise as she was when she lost her godawful firstborn son, or even Myrcella in the beginning of the season, as she is crowned Queen, with a very sceptical, forlorn Jaime looking on.
As she had promised the Septa last season, Cersei’s face will be the last thing she sees before she dies; she delivers her speech with glee, finally offers her “confession” and leaves her in the capable, sadistic hands of the Mountain.
But that same line wasn’t just uttered by Cersei, but also by another, much more likable, character this week: Arya serves Walder a nice slice of Frey pie and introduces herself, so he’ll know whose face he’s looking at as he dies. He is executed the exact same way his son, now playing the part of pie filling, slit Catelyn’s throat at the Red Wedding, and it’s as immensely satisfying as watching Ramsay become dog chow in The Battle of the Bastards.
Another story that comes full circle is that of Melissandre: we spent years watching the rise and fall of the powerful Red Priestess, who went from being in complete control of one “Prince that was Promised” to resurrecting another and aligning herself with Jon Snow, to being unceremoniously exiled (and spared a death sentence) when Davos forces her to confess what she did to Shireen. It’s the second big confession we get this week, and while Cersei’s was unapologetic, Melissandre’s appeared genuinely remorseful.
And then we come to perhaps the most important piece of symmery in the episode – certainly the most anticipated one: Bran goes back to the Tower of Joy and witnesses the birth of his brother/cousin/no longer bastard of Winterfell. Although not spelled out, the scene leaves little open to interpretation as we cut from infant Jon to a newly proclaimed King in the North Jon Snow. The point is driven home even more when the most kickass character of the show this season (possibly ever?) and Jon’s morther’s namesake, Lyanna Mormont, gives an impassioned speech endorsing Jon, enthusiastically followed by repenting Stark bannermen. Will someone give the kid an Emmy already?
Finally, and although obviously not intended as such, I count the Queen of Thorns’ meeting with the Sandsnakes as symmetrical, not only regarding the minor storyline that bookened Season 6, but also in terms of echoing the viewers’ feelings on the matter: Lady Olenna is quick to dismiss the three annoying Sandsnakes, much like we did as the Dorne storyline dragged on until its boring conclusion earlier this season.
There are plenty of things to ponder and further discuss about the finale and the (few) questions it left unanswered, as well as what GoT holds in store for us in the remaining two seasons, but for now I’m signing off with a bittersweet taste in my mouth: I’m glad the show delivered in this finale, but I dread the long wait until season 7 picks up next year.