27 Jun 2016

Game of Thrones "The Winds of Winter" Review

This post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 10, "The Winds of Winter".


Ten gruelling episodes later, we are brought to the conclusion of the sixth season of Game of Thrones. After the excitement of last week's battles, we got to witness the political fallout of Jon and Dany's respective conquests. Sam arrives in Oldtown, and Arya in the Twins. Cersei hosts a barbecue in King's Landing. Lot of stuff to cover for this review so, as always, I shall split up my review by focusing on each location/storyline.


King's Landing

We open with a chilling piano and organ song composed by Ramin Djawadi (the track is called Light of the Seven if you want to give it a listen) as Loras Tyrell begins his trial in the Sept of Baelor. But instead of being tried, Loras instead decides to confess his crimes and wishes to devote his life to the Faith, which would mean giving up his right to marry, rule and father children. 

And then, in what may be the most malevolent, immoral and evil action ever committed in the series, Cersei uses wildfire to blow up the Sept, killing hundreds of innocent people in a single extremely painful burst of green flames. And she fucking smiled about it. And if that wasn't bad enough, she then holds Septa Unella in a prison chamber, strapped down. She tortures her, and wishes to give her a slow death. She even willingly lets the Mountain rape her. Game of Thrones hasn't normally been about good and evil, there's usually a balance between the two, but she might have just become a straight hardcore villain that only seeks to further her self-preservation and doesn't give a shit what happens to anyone else. I also want to give props to the costume department for the design of Cersei's outfit in the last scene. Simple, elegant, but above all commanding. She is absolutely in charge and the strongest she's ever been. Frightening, really when you consider the steps she has just taken; that level of self-confidence is quite chilling. I love Lena Headey, because it's damn fun to watch her play the role, no matter how much you hate the character.

When Jaime returns to the capital, you can see the look of contempt on his face as he watches his sister's coronation. She's too far gone to be someone he can love, and I think this hints at Jaime not only being the Kingslayer, but may become the Queenslayer too. Considering Daenerys' impending invasion, Cersei's madness could escalate to the point where she would threaten the lives of everyone living in King's Landing, much like Mad King Aerys. Jaime would have no choice but to repeat history for a second time.

Oldtown

He was absent for a few episodes, but poor Sam has finally made it to Oldtown with Gilly and the baby. I was expecting some kind of twist à la Pate from the books, but I much preferred that we got a more peaceful, serene treatment. He wanders into that library like Belle, and his face just lights up. It's one of the more magical reactions of this season; he is finally somewhere he belongs, somewhere he can enjoy using his talent for reading well. I wonder what's going to happen next to him; this seems like a good place to leave the character for now. He may pop up again in the future, after all we need to solve the conflict with him stealing his father's sword. But until then, I'm just going to assume he's happily reading and training to be a maester.

The Riverlands


When Walder Frey compares himself to Jaime, and tells him they are alike, you can see he not only does he look disgusted, he gulps. He's troubled by it, and fears for what kind of person he will be remembered as. Some good acting from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau there. It's a nice detail that serves for us to like Jaime even more. His character did a complete 180 a few seasons ago, and now he couldn't be any further apart.

I'd been telling everyone all week that I bet Arya would cross someone from her list, and I'm glad I stuck to it! Seeing her use the skills she picked up from her time in Braavos allowed her to infiltrate the Twins using another face to get close to Walder. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Frey pies, a reference to the Rat Cook story Bran tells in Season 3, while also a slight nod to Lord Manderly in the books. It feels good to finally have Arya's story back on track, and there are so many different ways her story could go now. Will she go north to be with Jon and Sansa? Will she go south to try and kill Cersei? She's in the same region as Sandor, so could that be a possible reunion? It's exciting, because it could literally go any way!

One thing is for certain though, I definitely think Arya will die by the end of the series. Her entire story has been involved with death and murder, it seems naturally fitting that that's how it will end.

The Wall and Beyond

Benjen takes Bran and Meera to a weirwood tree in sight of the wall, and must leave them. Bran then uses his clairvoyant abilities to look into the past, and long-time fans and theorists finally get the satisfaction of confirming one of the oldest fan theories to date. We see young Eddard finally go inside the Tower of Joy, to find his dying sister. She has a newborn baby. She whispers into his ear, something that goes along the lines of: "His name is... Robert will kill him if he finds out, you must protect him if he does. Promise me, Ned." 

As Ned looks at newborn child, his eyes open up to reveal dark colored eyes - the same as Jon Snow.

The North

One thing that made me immensely sad was seeing Davos confront Mel about Shireen. This scene was perfect in that it made me sympathise with both characters. It made me really depressed to see him break down, seeing how the one person he loved in the world was taken away from him and used as part of a religious sacrifice. On the other hand, Mel's actions have all been a result of her faith, feeling practically helpless for the deeds she has committed. She knows it's wrong but doing what the Lord of Light wants is all she cares for. What an incredible performance by both actors, and was certainly strengthened by their palpable chemistry and close friendship off-screen.


Littlefinger made a grave mistake by telling Sansa his plans. He seems to have planted a seed of doubt in her mind regarding who will rule the North, as he says she technically does have a stronger claim than Jon. But of course, as she says, "only a fool would trust Littlefinger", so it's possible that he'll only screw himself by telling Sansa what he wants. We find out that he imagines himself sitting on the Iron Throne with her by his side. I don't really like this. I've always thought of him as this character that wanted to abolish the monarchy and have a true democracy, but instead he's just another guy who wants to rule. Kind of ruins his character.

In one of the best parts of the episode was seeing the Northern lords proclaim Jon as King in the North. It eerily parallels a scene from Season 1 when Robb Stark became king. One thing I found interesting to note is that he is called the "White Wolf" (also a reference to his direwolf Ghost), and in Westeros, bastards that take arms have to use the father's sigil but reversed. House Stark's sigil is a grey wolf on a white background - so Jon's sigil will be a white wolf on a grey background. One thing that these last two episodes have proven, is that House Stark is anything but defeated. In fact, they are growing strong.

Dorne

I hate Dorne. But I guess this needed to be shown. Watching Olenna Tyrell belittle the Sand Snakes was the most satisfying thing of the whole episode. Anyways, they strike a deal which leads to...

Meereen

People seem to think that Varys can teleport. I posit that the Meereen storyline takes place five times slower (explains how we've been there since Season 4), allowing Varys to be making trips this quickly within our scope. With him, he brings the fleets of Tyrell and Martell to bring Dany's army across the Narrow Sea. Finally, he is getting what he wants - which is to support the Targaryens and get them back into power. We'll have to wait and see how that goes down. It'd be pretty anticlimactic to not have her sit on the Iron Throne at this point. But it's not going to go untested.

We also bid farewell to Daario this episode, who likely won't show up again in the show. He's keeping the peace in Meereen while new leaders are chosen by the people. For what it's worth, I liked the character but it's certainly time to move on; Daario represents a part of Daenerys' life that wouldn't work in Westeros. I'm glad that he managed to get an ending he deserves.

And one of the best things about this ending is also the fact that I finally feel myself drawn to Dany's character, for the first time since like Season 2. Tyrion says to her, "How about the fact that this is actually happening? You have your armies. You have your ships. You have your dragons. Everything you've ever wanted since you were old enough to want anything. It's all yours at the taking." And finally, he asks her, "Are you afraid?" Tyrion seems to think that she's afraid of the politics of the Seven Kingdoms and leading her followers to defeat, hence the following line, "Good, you're in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying." But this isn't what she's afraid of at all. Emilia's voice quivers as she replies: "Do you know frightens me? I said farewell to a man who loves me. A man I thought I cared for. And I felt nothing. Just impatient to get on with it." 


It's really impressive acting, for an actress who is subpar at best. This is as brutally honest of a Daenerys as we've ever seen. Almost throughout the entire run of the show, we never really see her break down. In this season specifically, we see her regurgitating her titles, assuring others of her own grand status, that she is the Mother of Dragons, the Queen of the World, the savior of Slaver's Bay. The Red Priests call her Azor Ahai and no doubt she's aware of such rumors and worship as well. Her citizens, the Dothraki and her followers literally believe she's a God. Yet, in the face of such an enormity of ordinance, of meaning and value and the cosmic importance of who and what she is--we find that in her heart of hearts, she's wracked with the most fearsome thing of all, nihilism.

Summary

Cersei rules the south, Jon rules the North, Dany's on her way with many armies and Bran's coming back and unknowingly bringing an army of the dead with him to lay destruction. With just one season left (according to rumours), there's a lot of setup for an exciting final battle between fire and ice. Altogether, I've really enjoyed this season. Despite a few iffy moments and a few storylines that just don't go anywhere, I really felt like the action was amped up to the max. It felt like the pre-climax of an adventure movie. Next season is going to be bloody good if it keeps to the same standard of quality. Fans definitely won't expect less. I'm hoping Miguel Sapochnik can come back to do some more directing, as he directed both "The Winds of Winter" and "Battle of the Bastards", as well as last season's "Hardhome". He's the best thing to happen to Game of Thrones. See you all next season!

Overall I'd give this episode a 10/10. 

By adding all the scores I gave for my previous episodes together brings me to an average of 7.4/10 for the season.

In Memoriam

King Tommen Baratheon

Queen Margaery Tyrell

Mace Tyrell

Loras Tyrell

Pycelle

Lancel Lannister

Kevan Lannister

High Sparrow

Walder Rivers

Lothar Frey

Walder Frey

Lyanna Stark (in a flashback)

Hundreds of King's Landing citizens

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