We’re all used to it. We’ve seen it over and over throughout the years watching Game of Thrones. Characters die, and usually in horrible circumstances. But never have we seen so many characters that we know die in one episode. They are clearing the board for all the main characters to duke it out in the final two seasons of the show. A new king! A new queen! Some new boats! This episode is fundamental Game of Thrones. It’s awesome. Here’s our recap of “The Winds of Winter.”
Valar Morghulis, All Characters Must Die
What’s that you’ve been saying about wanting the High Sparrow storyline to end? Well it seems to be over now. In the Sept of Baelor, the High Sparrow and a bunch of septons have gathered for the trials of Loras and Cersei. But right from the start something fishy is going on. Loras openly confesses his “crimes.” In return he’s rewarded with a seven pointed star carved into his forehead. Ouch. He also agrees to renounce his name and titles. But once that is done, the Sparrow realizes that Cersei didn’t show up. So he sends Lancel and others to get her. But now we see Qyburn’s “little birds” (the children who used to spy for Varys) in action. They lure Grand Maester Pycelle to a secluded room. After apologizing to the Grand Maester, Qyburn and the children stab him to death. He’s been annoying for a long time, but Pycelle was a character we had around since season 1. That’s a pretty strong run. Back in the Red Keep, Cersei seems to be getting ready as slow as humanly possible. Her outfit looks like something Michael Jackson would wear to a funeral. Elsewhere, Tommen tries to leave to get to the trial. Apparently he was trying to be fashionably late. But the Mountain stops him in the doorway and won’t let him leave.
Lancel is diverted from his trip to the Red Keep by another one of those pesky little birds. He follows the child into the catacombs underneath the sept, where he proceeds to get stabbed for his trouble. That’s where we see Cersei’s plan unfolding. The room is lined with barrels of wildfire and a few small candles burning down. Lancel tries to get to them, but is slowed by his wound. Back in the sept, Margaery realizes Cersei is up to something because both she and Tommen aren’t there. She tries to get the crowd to leave the sept, but the Sparrows won’t allow it. Margaery has always been a step ahead of the bad things that come her way. She is again in this instance too, but it’s too late. The wildfire ignites and we see Lancel, then the High Sparrow and everyone else in the Sept of Baelor disappear in a blast of green light. Margaery, Loras, their father Mace Tyrell, Cersei’s uncle Kevan Lannister and the ever-frustrating High Sparrow are all killed. I liked Loras, but the biggest loss here is Margaery. She’s been a compelling character since way back in season 2. The nature of Game of Thrones in season 6 always has me thinking about a Qyburn or Lord of Light resurrection for dead characters. But all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put any of these folks back together again. That’s for sure. Speaking of the King, he witnesses the massive explosion from his window across town. But his reaction is a bit different than Cersei’s joy. Tommen takes off his crown, steps up on the windowsill and with barely any hesitation jumps to his death. It’s quite jarring to see a kid do this. Elsewhere, we learn that Septa Unella has survived the blast. But now she’s Cersei’s prisoner and will have to deal with torture at the hands of the Mountain. Qyburn shows Cersei Tommen’s body. But she coldly orders him burned and his ashes spread where the sept used to be. Wow! What a day in the capital.
Up at the Twins, oblivious to this craziness, Jaime and Bronn are feasting with the Freys after the recapture of Riverrun. Walder Frey speaks repeatedly about the alliance with the Lannisters and how he is taken seriously now. When speaking to Jaime, Walder brings up killing Robb Stark and declares himself a Kingslayer just like Jaime. Well we know Jaime doesn’t love that title. So this pushes his buttons a bit. He informs Lord Frey that he only holds Riverrun because of the Lannisters and he is only taken seriously because of the Lannisters. Jaime leaves and while Walder seems taken aback, this is obviously true.
A few days later, Walder is eating alone in the same hall. A servant girl we had seen eyeing Jaime at the feast is serving him. Walder complains about his sons being late, but the girl says they are already there. She looks down at the meat pie he’s eating. Now it seems to take a lot to gross out Walder Frey, one of the show’s ultimate creeps. But this sure does as he learns what he was eating. The girl then removes her face. It’s Arya! She tells Walder who she is and cuts his throat before watching him die. It’s a fulfilling scene for Arya, but man is that gruesome. That’s serial killer, psychopath stuff. Or maybe she’s just a fan of “Sweeney Todd” and that story’s human based meat pies.
Jaime and Bronn return to King’s Landing after the Twins to see the aftermath of the explosion at the Sept of Baelor. Like always, Jaime is worried about Cersei’s wellbeing. But he arrives at the throne room just in time to see his sister/baby momma being crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. We’ve seen Cersei near the Iron Throne before, but something about this moment with her finally getting the full power of this position seems different and haunting. We knew she was one of the show’s main villains from the start, but we’ve never seen her like this. Without her children to keep her grounded, she could be scary. Jaime looks concerned and I am too!
The Thorn in Dorne
Hey do you guys remember the Dorne storyline? Well me neither. But Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are back and now they are meeting with the Queen of Thorns, who is mourning the deaths of her son and grandchildren in the wildfire. She insults the Sand Snakes one by one in a way that seems like she is speaking for the entire audience and our view of their dull tenure on the show. But now we get to business. Everyone present hates the Lannisters. We know that. But what can they really do about it? Varys emerges from the shadows to offer them all “fire and blood.” All the pieces are coming together!
Well I don’t really know where this particular piece is going in a figurative sense. In a literal sense, Sam, Gilly, and Baby Sam arrive in Oldtown and the visually impressive Citadel. Sam tells the guy at the front desk that he’s there to become a maester on Jon’s order. But apparently the Citadel never heard about Lord Commander Mormont or Maester Aemon’s deaths. So Sam has to explain the situation to the Arch-Maester. Meanwhile, he can go and use the library. It’s huge and Sam is excited. Since this is Game of Thrones, I expected him to get stabbed in there for no real reason. But he didn’t. Since women and children aren’t allowed, Gilly and the baby are stuck in the waiting room reading old issues of National Geographic.
Up past the Wall, we haven’t heard from Bran in a few episodes. So we get one short, but massively important scene with him before the season ends. Benjen tells Bran and Meera that he must leave them since there is magic in the Wall keeping the dead from passing through. That’s good to know, but I doubt it will stop the White Walkers. So Benjen leaves them near a weirwood tree and departs. Bran jumps into the half completed memory at the Tower of Joy involving his father. We finally see Lyanna, the woman at the center of the Targaryen v. Baratheon conflict. She’s lying in a pool of blood, and Ned is desperate to save her. Lyanna admits she’s afraid to die. She hands off a baby to her brother. Her final words fade in and out. But we hear that she asks Ned to keep the baby a secret from Robert because he would kill him. Ned looks like he just swallowed a bug. But it’s finally been confirmed. Jon Snow is the child of Lyanna Stark. All signs also point to Rhaegar Targaryen being the father. This theory has been so widely circulated that it’s not really a surprise. But this means quite a bit moving forward. Jon was never a Stark, he was a Snow. But now it looks like his father was a Targaryen making him Jon Waters, the bastard name for Dragonstone. Well Jon Snow sounds better. He’ll probably stick with that.
Up at Winterfell, everyone is exhaling after the Battle of the Bastards. With Jon in the room, Davos confronts Melisandre about burning Shireen last season. Davos wants Melisandre executed for this, but she says she did it for the Lord of Light and neither Stannis nor his wife objected. Jon is conflicted because the crime is horrible, but she also brought him back to life and could be useful against the White Walkers. So Jon decides to exile her from Winterfell and the North entirely. Davos’ farewell to his long time adversary is a threat to kill her if he sees her again. Jon and Sansa watch Melisandre ride away and then apologize to each other with some classic brother-sister, “I’m sorry.” “No I’m sorry.” “You were right.” “No, you were right.” They agree that they must trust each other to face what is ahead. Sansa informs Jon that a white raven has arrived from the Citadel declaring that winter has officially come. After that, Sansa ventures to the godswood for some quiet time. Little Finger turns up to be all creepy. He admits his ultimate goal is to sit on the Iron Throne with Sansa beside him. He then tries to kiss her, but she isn’t having it.
Back in the great hall at Winterfell, Jon has all of the important folks gathered to discuss the impending doom at the hands of the White Walkers. But the Knights of the Vale don’t trust the Wildlings. Also some other houses just want to go home and wait out the winter. But Lyanna Mormont, the bad ass from Bear Island tells them all what’s what. She bashes the houses that didn’t stand with Jon in battle. She then proclaims Jon the new King in the North. In a scene very reminiscent of Robb’s appointment, the heads of the houses declare their allegiance one by one before the room stands to chant their support for Jon Snow, the “White Wolf,” the King in the North. That includes the Wildlings and the Knights of the Vale. Little Finger looks on silently.
So now we end with the Mother of Dragons. In Meereen, Daenerys is setting everything up for the trip to Westeros. She informs Daario that he and the Second Sons will stay and keep an eye on Meereen and, the newly renamed, Bay of Dragons. He declares his love for her and insists he won’t get in the way of any potential marriage needed for political reasons. But she insists. So Daario will stay behind. In a meeting with Tyrion, Dany admits her nerves. She is also concerned with her lack of emotion when turning away Daario. Tyrion gives some unsympathetic words of support. But these two seem to get each other now. They’re quite a pairing. Daenerys seems to agree as she presents Tyrion with a newly made pin dignifying him as Hand of the Queen. The season ends with a look at the massive fleet of ships sailing for Westeros. We see ships full of Unsullied and others with Dothraki. There are sails representing Dorne and House Tyrell. Yara and Theon lead their ships from the Iron Fleet. Plus there are a whole lot of sails bearing the sigil of House Targaryen. Tyrion and Varys join Daenerys at the helm of a ship as the three massive dragons fly overhead. Winter may be here, but fire is coming.
I began recapping Game of Thrones at the beginning of season 3. From the crazy moments to the brutal, it’s always been fun. But it sure seems like the past seasons were child’s play compared to the stage set for season 7. This year Jon came back to the light. Arya embraced the darkness. Bran “held the door” as we looked into the past and the dragons met the Dothraki. We became reacquainted with Benjen, the Blackfish, and the Hound while some other hounds feasted on their evil master. Sansa smirked, Sam stole a sword, and Brienne and Pod seem to still be rowing their boat somewhere. Oh and has anyone seen Jorah? He could be a statue by now. It’s been quite a season and I appreciate you reading along as I’ve recapped it. Now I’m off for a vacation in the Bay of Dragons. I hear it’s nice this time of year. Well, that’s if you don’t mind the constant threat of being on the menu at the dragon BBQ.