Spoilers for the season six, episode ten of Game of Thrones are below.
Did Game of Thrones just go and become the best television show in the history of premium cable? I think it did.
Following up on last week’s outstanding ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ the Season 6 finale,
‘The Winds of Winter’ look at the bar established by that episode, said, “That’s cute” and that cleared that bar by a good couple feet. As much as the long, long wait that now commences will be excruciating, Sunday’s episode sent us off at the highest of highs.
Here’s what went down.
King’s Landing: It’s trial day and almost everyone gathered in the Sept. Notably absent were Cersei, who got all dolled up, but had no intention of going; Tommen, who got all dolled up and was made to stay in his room by FrankenMountain; and Maester Pycelle, who received a message from one of the grimy kids from Low Bottom while en route, which detoured him to Qyburn’s lab.
Cersei’s creepy apothecary-slash-mad scientist let’s Pycelle know that it’s time for a change, at which point Qyburn’s grimy “little birds” all pull out shanks and get to stabbing. One down.
In the Sept, Loras confesses all of his sins – he basically just says, “All that stuff you’re accusing me of doing, I did it, so let’s get on with things” – and asks for the mercy of the gods. The High Sparrow does the usual “The Mother Forgives” bit and gets Lancel to carve their cult symbol into his forehead.
As much as Margaery is pissed about the whole “mutilation” of her brother, she’s also real worried that Cersei and Tommen still haven’t turned up. The High Sparrow dispatches Lancel to take a few members of the Faith Militant to get her from the Red Keep. Before he can get there, Lancel “catches” one of Qyburn’s “little birds” heading down the stairs of the Sept and follows him into the dungeon.
There, he gets shanked too, taking one in the gut. As he lays there bleeding out, Lancel notices barrel after barrel of wildfire stored under the Sept. It’s the cache of highly flammable liquid that The Mad King planned on igniting before Jaime cut him down. He crawls his way down the hallway in a futile attempt to extinguish the flame sitting in the puddle of nuke juice, getting there just as… KA-BOOM!
Everyone in the Sept gets incinerated – The High Sparrow, Margaery, Loras, Uncle Kevan; everyone – and Cersei watched it all take place from up in her room, dressed all fancy. Tommen saw it go down too and rather than stick around to deal with the repercussions of having picked the church over his family, King Tommen steps out the window, fulfilling the prophecy that all three of Cersei’s kids would perish.
The Twins: Walder Frey throws another one of his “We Won!” parties and Jaime clearly had zero interest in being there. There is a flirty serving girl showing interest in “The Kingslayer,” but he’s not interested. He tries to pass her off to Bronn, but he declines, opting instead to roll out with two others.
Jaime and Lord Frey sit and have a conversation about their conquests, with the old man making like he’s had a major hand in his various victories, only to have Jaime remind him that every time the Freys have taken over a new castle, it’s because the Lannisters have come in to do it for them. He ends it by basically asking Lord Frey, “What do we need you for?”
Back in the dining hall, Lord Frey is having some dinner and the flirty serving girl brings him a giant baked pie. He asks where his sons are and the serving girl lets him know that they’re right in front of him… in the pie.
Off comes the mask and it’s Arya and she’s crossing a big name off her vengeance list, doing it with a cold, satisfied smile on her face.
Dorne: After Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes made an appearance in the season premiere, we returned for the first time since in the finale to find Lady Olenna Tyrell sitting with the ruling violent women of the city.
They make a pact over their mutual desire to get revenge on Cersei, but Olenna isn’t sure how they’ll make it happen. That’s when Varys steps out from the shadows, revealing Team Dany as part of this alliance.
The Citadel: Sam and Gilly arrive in Oldtown. He’s allowed into the library, but “No Women and Children!” It’s a beautiful library, but that’s pretty much all that happened.
The Wall: Benjen says his goodbyes to Bran and Meera, explaining that The Wall was built to keep White Walkers out and there is a spell on it that keeps the undeaded from passing, so he’s snookered. He’ll keep fighting and keep trying to stay alive.
Nestled in the crook of a weirwood tree, Bran decides to tap into his green-seeing abilities, hitting play on his paused vision from the Tower of Joy.
The Tower of Joy: Rather than draw this out, let’s just get right to it: R + L = J is confirmed! Jon Snow is not Ned’s bastard; he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and Ned promised to raise him as his own to protect him from the many, many people that would like to kill a half Stark, half Targaryen.
Jon’s new confirmed importance is made brilliantly clear by zooming in on the baby’s eyes and then back out again to reveal him as a full-grown, brought back to life by Melisandre man.
Winterfell: Ser Davos confronts Melisandre about Princess Shireen and “The Red Woman” cops to the whole thing, but rightfully counters with “Look, her parents were down with it and that same god that told me to do that helped me bring back your boy here.” She’s right, and makes a pitch to Jon about the impending arrival of the Night King, saying she can help.
Stuck between keeping her around or killing her on the spot as per Davos’ wishes, Jon selects Option C, banishing her from the north with the promise to hang her as a murderer if she ever returns.
As she rides out, Jon and Sansa watch her go and have a “we need to trust each other conversation.” Jon also says he’s giving Sansa the master bedroom because she’s an actual Stark and he’s not.
Sitting out by the Winterfell weirwood, Sansa and Littlefinger have a little reunion, with Littlefinger telling Sansa that his vision of the future is him sitting on the Iron Throne with her by his side. As he leans in for a kiss, Sansa denies him. She calls his vision a “pretty picture” and reminds Littlefinger that as much as he’s publicly pledging House Stark now, he’s pledged for other houses in the passed and turned on them, so yeah, you’re not so trustworthy.
Bad Ass Sansa isn’t falling for your nonsense Lord Baelish.
In the dining hall, Little Lady Mormont takes the houses that didn’t step up to aid Jon in the Battle of the Bastards, and two of them basically say, “We screwed up, but it will never happen again.” They laud Jon as the new “King in the North” and for the first time in forever, Jon actually looks proud and happy. We know there is a wrinkle of course – he’s got Stark blood running through his veins, but it’s not Ned’s like everyone things – and that might change how the people in the room feel about “The White Wolf.”
Sansa sits there, happy for her brother, but catches a look from Littlefinger, who is holding up the wall with a “Can you believe this shit?” look on his face.
King’s Landing: Jaime and Bronn, returning from the Riverlands, see the clouds of smoke from where the Sept used to stand and he’s curious, so he rushes into the city and the Throne Room where he arrives just in time to see his sister-lover declared the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Cersei notices Jaime up on her flank and the look he gives her says, “What have you done?”
Mereen: Dany tells Daario he’s not coming with her to Westeros because she might have to marry someone and having a not-so-secret lover in town wouldn’t be a good idea. Daario is frustrated, tells her he loves her and still doesn’t get asked to come along. He thinks it’s all Tyrion’s plan, but Dany says it’s not.
Dany and Tyrion chat about what’s next – she’s got her dragons, her army and her ships; everything she’s ever wanted. Dany confesses that she didn’t feel any emotion during her exchange with Daario – she just wanted to get it over with already – and that the body of water just outside her pyramid will now be known as the Bay of Dragons.
“We can’t call it Slaver’s Bay any more,” she quips.
Tyrion, who wasn’t as big a part of this season, has a great speech, basically saying, “I’ve never believed in anything, but I believe in you,” which is followed by Dany naming him her Hand of the Queen.
And then we set sail for Westeros, with a sweeping exit sequence that shows all of Dany’s ships and dragons and Dothraki and iron-born and Yara and Theon and Tyrion and Varys, who made the quick trip back to Essos from Dorne.