Monday, June 27, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x10 Recap: “The Winds of Winter” (Rise of the Queens) [Contributor: Melanie]

“The Winds of Winter”
Original Airdate: June 26, 2016

Holey moley. We may have just witnessed the two best episodes in Game of Thrones history back-to-back at the end of this season. “The Winds of Winter” was so full of swerves and gasps that it’s hard to pick one stanout moment. With the amazing opening sequence of Cersei and Loras’ trials ending with the Sept of Baelor turned into a wildfire pyre, you didn’t think it could get any better. In fact, I was sure this episode was playing its best hand first and it’d be a downhill cleanup from there. After all, historically the tenth episodes of the seasons have been calm falling action compared to the crazy of the ninth episodes. But this one went so far beyond “Battle of the Bastards” in all the best ways.


The episode opens with various members of court preparing for Cersei and Loras’ trials. Cersei is dressing in what I could only describe as murder clothes, while Tommen is stopped at the door by Ser Gregor. In the sept itself, Loras repents of his sins and receives the seven pointed star on his forehead. Margaery is enraged with this and insists to the High Sparrow that Cersei’s lack of presence for her trial suggests she has something awful planned, and insists they need to leave. The High Sparrow ignores her and Lancel chases a “little bird” into the catacombs beneath the Sept where a massive store of wildfire sits, leftover from the time of the Mad King. He’s wounded by the child and attempts to crawl to the fuses but makes it only in time to watch it all ignite. The Sept is engulfed in flames and everyone within — including Loras, Margaery, Mace, and the High Sparrow — are killed instantly.

Tommen watches in horror from his room. As he watches the smoke rise, he quietly removes his crown and jumps out his bedroom window to his death. Meanwhile, Cersei has taken Septa Unella prisoner and, after berating her for her treatment of her, leaves her with Ser Gregor to be tortured. She is then presented with Tommen’s body and tells Qyburn to have it burned and spread the ashes around the ruins of the Great Sept. She is then crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in her own right and Jaime, returned from the Riverlands, looks on in anger.

At the Twins, the Freys celebrate their victory over the Blackfish in the Riverlands and Jaime warns Walder that the Lannisters will not be pleased if they are called to fight his battles every time he loses a foothold in his own lands. He and Bronn depart with their army to return to the capital. Later, a serving girl brings food to Walder who asks where his sons are; she replies that they are here, and clarifies that they are the meat he has been eating. She removes her face to reveal herself as Arya, who cuts Walder’s throat and tells him the face of a Stark is the last thing he will see before he dies. She leaves him there and departs undetected. Meanwhile, down in Oldtown, Sam and Gilly arrive and he is granted access to the library until they sort out from Castle Black their outdated information on the Lord Commander and Sam’s official letter.

Beyond the Wall, Benjen leaves Bran, warning him that the Night’s King will be back, though nothing dead can cross the Wall because of magic. Bran then wargs into the weirwood tree and sees young Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy where we learn that Lyanna Stark died in childbirth in the Tower, giving birth to Jon Snow. The present-day Jon Snow is holding court at Winterfell with Sansa, after banishing Melisandre for her previous sacrifice of Shireen, as discovered by Davos. Sansa informs Jon that a white raven arrived at the castle, signaling the beginning of winter. The hall of northern lords proclaim Jon the King in the North and swear to follow only him.

In Dorne, Olenna is bartering an alliance with the Sand Snakes in the wake of the massacre in King’s Landing. Varys arrives at the meeting and offers Olenna vengeance in the form of “fire and blood”. The Tyrells and the Dornish agree to the join forces and back Daenerys as the queen. Meanwhile, in Meereen, Dany informs Daario he will not be joining her when she sails to Westeros; he is distraught, but she holds her ground. When she walks out, she informs Tyrion the decision did not bother her and she is ready. He tells her she is finally a part of the game of thrones and she admits she is scared. She then offers him a pin and proclaims him Hand of the Queen.

They sail with a fleet of thousands of ships bearing Targaryen, Greyjoy, Tyrell, and Martell banners as the dragons fly overhead.


So, I’m breaking my form on these recaps a little bit but there’s some serious game-changing logistics that need to be discussed. First of all, Jon taking up position as King in the North is an interesting (and much theorized) turn. This is cementing his position as a Stark, which is interesting since this episode confirmed the theory that his mother was Lyanna and his father Rhaegar (we didn’t get confirmation of the father, but we all know). The North is now united behind Jon as their king, as well as the wildlings and the remaining men of Castle Black. Essentially, the North has completely solidified into one unit. Which we’re going to need.

But that makes the stuff with Dany even more fascinating. She has the support of the Dornish forces and the Reach, which means she controls the entire South. Song of Ice and Fire much? The stage is set for Dany and Jon’s fateful meeting as twin rulers of their respective geographic holds of Westeros and the fact that they’re actually related is going to make it interesting as well. And with Dany’s acceptance of Yara’s claim as queen of the Iron Islands, she’s likely to also accept the Stark claim of sovereignty over the North.

But speaking of Dany’s army, she has got an invasion force like nothing the world has ever seen. Three dragons, 8,000 Unsullied, an uncounted number of Dothraki, the Tyrell army, the Dornish forces, and what remains of the Iron-born. Based on the number of ships, that is a %&$@-ton of soldiers willing to die to get her that iron chair. Keep in mind, the Tyrells have the largest army in Westeros already. And with Cersei likely to become one of the most unpopular rulers Westeros has ever seen, the thrones has essentially been handed to Dany. Well, it won’t be easy, they’ll probably be more fighting and endless bureaucracy before she gets to comfortably sit down on her ancestral throne, but emotionally, Westeros is ready to hand itself back to Targaryen rule if it means deposing Cersei.

And that’s one of the most interesting set-ups of last night. The last two seasons will become the Dany vs. Cersei show. Which is insanely cool and, honestly, probably where we all should have seen the show heading from day one. Cersei is the anti-Dany, not only in temperament and action but she constantly compares herself to the worst parts of the Targaryen legacy, while Dany consistently tries to rein in her darker parts and emulate Rhaegar’s legacy. What’s more, Cersei’s prophecy of her children dying before her has come true, the “queen come to take everything [she] holds dear” is on her way, and the “little brother” she was warned to fear is now Dany’s right-hand man.

It’s ON.

I’ll have some follow-up posts but this is my word vomit reaction to last night’s crazy awesome episode.


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