There was no mercy for viewers, book readers and Unsullied alike, in tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers! If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
In tonight’s episode, the Shireen BBQ was declared a success; the ice is melting! (Or hey they could’ve waited a couple days to see if the weather changed but okay, let’s thank R’hllor.) Melisandre notifies Stannis of their good fortune and tries to rub up on him; the king brushes her off coldly.
Outside the tents, his general brings bad news: nearly half their solders (and horses) are gone. Mercenaries aren’t known for their loyalty. Before they have time to deal with that news, another guy brings more shit news: Stannis’s wife Selyse has hung herself from a tree, presumably out of remorse for roasting their daughter.
The general tells Stannis then that Melisandre has just been seen riding out of camp. Taking this as a sign, Stannis decides to march for Winterfell regardless of their current condition.
At Castle Black, Jon relates the events of Hardhome to Sam and they assess the situation: the dragonglass is back up north and they don’t have nearly enough Valyrian steel to fight off the White Walkers. Sam asks Jon to be sent to Oldtown to become a maester, since the Night Watch’s maester is now dead and Sam’s not much to the Watch presently. He can also save Gilly and the baby by taking them away from the Wall. Jon reluctantly gives his permission, and figures out that his best friend has gotten laid recently.
Stannis’s grim march reaches Winterfell territory. Inside the castle, Sansa uses the corkscrew she stole to pick the lock on her door and makes her way to the Broken Tower. Just outside the walls of Winterfell, Brienne and Pod wait for a signal. The young man spies the soldiers marching toward the castle and alerts Brienne, who abandons her post…just before Sansa finally lights the candle in the tower. Dammit!
Stannis and his men arrive, only to find the Boltons were prepared for them. With overwhelming numbers, the Boltons soldiers ride out to face them. Knowing its futile, Stannis draws his sword and readies himself to fight.
In the forest, after the slaughter, Stannis staggers through the trees as two Bolton men finish off the wounded Baratheon men. They come after Stannis, and it’s strange- despite what Stannis did to his daughter last week, I’m rooting for him to cut these guys in half. Because Stannis Baratheon should not die at the hands of two chumps. He deserves to die at the hands of a boss, a strong death.
The soldiers fight and wound Stannis further, but he wins, taking down both men and collapsing against a tree…until Brienne finds him.
This is the meeting we’ve been waiting for. She tells him who she is, reminds him of the blood magic he used to kill his brother, and he owns it. She draws Oathkeeper, and in the name of her king Renly sentences him to die. He tells her to do her duty, and Oathkeeper falls.
In a field nearby, Ramsay finishes a wounded enemy before heading back to Winterfell.
Her candle-lighting request for assistance a failure, Sansa hurries from the tower and runs into of Myranda and Reek. Ramsay’s weirdo torture girlfriend teases and threatens to hurt Sansa with her bow and arrows until Reek snaps and shoves the woman over the railing, killing her.
With Ramsay about to ride into the castle courtyard, Reek and Sansa make their escape hand-in-hand with a leap of faith, jumping off the walls of Winterfell.
In a Braavos brothel, Meryn Trant menaces a trio of young girls before choosing the one who can take an extraordinary amount of pain. He punches her and she falls to the ground. She pulls her face off, and reveals her true one- Arya. Meryn’s eyes widen in shock for seconds before Arya gouges them out. She stabs him repeatedly, and reminds him of killing Syrio. She takes her time killing him, stabbing him again and reaffirming, she’s Arya Stark. And he is No-One. She slits his throat, and returns to the House of Black and White.
Jaqen and the Waif confront Arya in the Hall of Faces as she returns the young girl’s face she borrowed. A debt is owed because Arya took a life that wasn’t supposed to be taken- so Jaqen drinks poison and falls to the ground dead. Arya screams and cries, until another Jaqen steps forward. Arya pulls the face from the dead man, and sees an unfamiliar face. He is No-One, and Arya needs to learn that lesson.
She was still Someone when she took a face from the Hall, and to Someone, the faces are as good as poison, Jaqen explains.
She pulls face after face from the dead man, until at the bottom she sees her own face. Everything goes blurry, and Arya cries out.
She’s gone blind.
On the docks in Dorne, Jaime, Trystane and Myrcella say goodbye. Ellaria bids farewell to the princess with an inappropriately lingering kiss. Bronn hits on Tyene one last time; Tyene hits back harder.
Jaime and Myrcella chat on board- she wants her mom to like her boyfriend, while Jaime works up the courage to tell his niece that he’s also her dad. She cuts through his rambling bull, and reveals that she knows about him and Cersei, and is happy he’s her father. It’s really sweet, with her hugging him, and Jaime finally getting to be a parent to one of his children. It’s wonderful until blood starts to pour from her nose.
The kiss from Ellaria wasn’t just her being a creeper. Myrcella’s been poisoned. She collapses in her father’s arms.
On the docks, Ellaria’s nose starts to drip blood. Unworried, she takes an antidote from her necklace. She departs, with the Sand Snakes trailing after her.
Meereen’s Worst Boyband hangs out in Dany’s pyramid trying to figure out what to do with their lives since their queen flew off without looking back. The still-bandaged Grey Worm returns on Missandei’s arm, to meet Tyrion and learn of Jorah’s return. The boys sort out their plan and assess Tyrion’s abilities (“So mainly you talk?”) before deciding Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei will stay in Meereen to rule the city while Jorah and Daario will ride out to search.
On one of Meereen’s many thinking-porches, Tyrion is joined by a surprising guest- Varys! He found his way to Dany and Tyrion, naturally and he’s going to help Tyrion rule the city, since he does have experience.
We see the queen herself now, in the middle of fuck-all-nowhere, in a grassy field. Drogon’s made himself a comfortable napping spot on a pile of charred bones, and isn’t cooperative about Daenerys’s need to return to Meereen. Hungry Dany goes off hunting for a bit of food, and hears a horse rider. Over the hill comes a Dothraki rider…and then another. And then some more. And then she’s in the middle of an entire khalasar, thousands of unfamiliar warriors.
Oh boy. Probably not good.
In King’s Landing, Cersei’s situation in unchanged, down to the same septa repetitively asking her to confess. Only this time, Cersei relents and goes before the High Sparrow. She kneels and confesses…to some things. Lancel, sure. Jaime, no fucking way. The High Sparrow doesn’t totally buy it but he’s willing to let her at least leave custody if she completes an act of atonement.
Stripped, scrubbed and shorn of her hair, Cersei is forced to walk nude through the streets of King’s Landing from the sept back to the Red Keep. The Faith Militant guard her from being manhandled, perhaps, but humiliation is still heaped upon her, with refuse thrown at her. She’s spit on, screamed at and mocked. In the beginning, she holds herself much as she always does, shoulders squared and head up. The Walk wears on her, though, the weight of their hatred ripping into her and the tears flow. By the end, Cersei’s feet bleed from walking on the rough ground, and she’s stumbling.
She reaches the doors of the Red Keep, and says nothing. She weeps and hurries inside to find Qyburn, Pycelle and her uncle Kevan waiting for her.
The newest member of the Kingsguard, an unusually tall and silent knight (book readers, commence cackling in glee or declaring GET HYPE, whatever you fancy), carries Cersei upstairs to have her wounds examined by Qyburn.
At the Wall, Davos has found a new leader to pester. Jon Snow isn’t giving in, either. Their argument is interrupted by Melisandre’s arrival. She’s oddly silent and not herself. Davos sees the trouble in her and asks after Stannis and Shireen; the priestess tellingly says nothing.
At work in his office, Jon is interrupted by Olly, telling him that a wildling has brought incredible news: that he’s heard rumors that Benjen Stark was seen at Hardhome and he knows where to find him. Jon sees Thorne in the courtyard, who confirms this awesome-super-cool news and directs Jon to where to find the man with the information. Jon rushes over the spot, only to find a sign that reads “TRAITOR.”
Jon is surprised. He processes the sign. He turns around- as Alliser Thorne steps up and stabs him in the gut.
“For the Watch,” he says.
Othell Yarwyck, Bowen Marsh, others take their stab at Jon. “For the Watch.”
In the end, Olly joins them. Jon looks up at the boy, his eyes pleading. “Olly.”
The boy looks saddened and conflicted for a heartbeat. But then his blade stabs into Jon as well. “For the Watch.”
Eyes staring up sightlessly, Jon’s blood flows from him into the snow.
With the season ended, I don’t particularly feel the need to nitpick. I’ve said enough about the Dorne story not being that strong. At this point, I just want to appreciate the fact that that Game of Thrones is so well-made, engrossing and packed with an incredibly talented cast, from the stars down to the minor roles. In terms of quality, the show can only be compared to itself, and I love it. It’s always transporting, and full of passion. If it didn’t inspire passion in viewers, then we wouldn’t spend so much time debating it and occasionally complaining. There is nothing else like it on television, and I’m happy to have the show. The finale tonight was powerful and enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to next year already!