Game of Thrones: Season 6 Episode 10 Review – The Winds of Winter
Never has Game of Thrones closed out a season so well as it did last night, and one would also have a claim to arguing that this might have been the very best season yet for the show. Both of these are all the more powerful statements given that this was the first season that (for the most part) surpassed the point of the narrative in the books. Below you will find our spoiler-heavy review of last night’s episode.
Rather coyly titled ‘The Winds of Winter’ (which is the name of the book that George R. R. Martin is currently writing), the ambition of the writers was clearly set very highly from the outset, and we’re glad to say that they delivered. Last night brought us a handful of absolutely pivotal moments that we have been waiting years to see realised on the screen.
The most important of these, for us, was what occurred within the Tower of Joy. Previously this season we saw a young Ned outside of the Tower of Joy as he raced towards Lyanna’s cries, and we even saw the bloodied hand of Lyanna in a very quick flash in different episode. Back when those snippets aired we hoped that they would show the inside of the Tower of Joy and the twist about Jon Snow, but in truth we assumed that they would skip it altogether, or wait for a later season.
It is much to the writers’ credit then that they decided to execute this twist within this Season 6 finale. As Ned raced up the steps, he first turns for a moment, somehow sensing Bran’s presence, then he enters the Tower of Joy and we were granted the scene that book fans have long waited for (and remember – also what got the showrunners the job in the first place, when George tested them by asking who they thought Jon’s parents were).
As a dying Lyanna whispered into Ned’s ear and pleaded “promise me,” it brought a huge smile to our faces and we felt truly satisfied. Lyanna’s words were inaudible and we never heard the name Rhaegar spoken, but the message was as pain as day: Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned did what a good Brother does, which is to keep his sister’s lie.
If you will permit us to jump around a little, the second most gratifying event was that of the episode’s close. This was getting to see Daenerys sail her fleet and dragons across the seas, towards the West, which is something that everyone has waited far, far too long to see. It also makes next season’s arrival much more enticing than the arrival of the average Game of Thrones season. Now we’re in the endgame territory and the endgame is the best part of any story arc.
Elsewhere in the episode, the death count was high. Cersei proved that she’s still a character worth keeping around by exacting a massive and horrific revenge upon The High Sparrow and also the Tyrells (because why not take out two birds with one stone, if the opportunity presents itself). In a fiery blast that was reminiscent of The Mad King’s follies, Cersei arranged it so that everyone within the Sept met their end. This means Margaery Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, The High Septon, all of the Sparrows, and all of those in attendance at the trial. Not to mention Maester Pycelle too, who we’re surprised Cersei kept around this long, and also the capture and torture of the female who worked for The High Sparrow.
What Cersei did not count for, through her wickedness, is how Tommen would react to the death of his beloved Margaery. He flung himself very calmly and cooly to his death from his window. We loved this, as it exhibited how Cersei puts herself first and whilst claiming to do everything for her children, how she doesn’t think about the ramifications of her actions upon said children. Tommen has always loved Margaery fully and freely, and it was expected that he would be forlorn. Perhaps this is what Cersei counted on: his sorrow and that’s all, but just like us, she underestimated the degree of her son’s love and her son’s grief.
Arya’s inception of House Frey was another surprise that we did not see coming. We simply did not expect her to have travelled so far, so fast, nor to be so adept (given that she wasn’t very good at her training, despite killing the Waif) to be able to murder such high profile Freys. It was very satisfying to see Walder meet his end, but the level of barbarity involved in Arya killed and dicing up his sons is beyond reproach for us; exactly who has she become? Her eyeing of Jaime too now makes us concerned for his wellbeing.
As is want to happen in a season finale, a few other threads were tied up. Jon found out about Melisandre burning Shireen alive and he exiled her from the North (because you simply cannot kill the woman who brought you back to life), Sam arrived at the Maester’s place of learning, Littlefinger tried yet again to kiss Sansa, and most crucially, Jon was accepted and acknowledged as the King in the North. Although we wanted to see Sansa claim the title of Queen in the North, seeing the Northmen rally for Jon exactly like they once did for Robb Stark was pleasing. And although they are mistaken in thinking that Jon holds the blood of Ned Stark, he is still the son of Lyanna Stark and therefore still is of Stark descent.
In conclusion of this finale and of the series, the show trod dangerous ground this season by surpassing the books and a lot of people expected it to flounder and sink in the process, but we’re very pleased to say that it proved us wrong on this occasion. This season has been full of content that has been designed precisely to please book fans, and we have heard non-book fans talk about this season as surprising them with its level of quality too.
This makes for an impressive feat – to have pleased both audiences, and it’s something that the show has never really managed up until this point. Many shows lose quality by their sixth season, but Game of Thrones has managed the opposite. The only down side of this is when we do get around to reading The Winds of Winter, much will have been spoiled for us indeed, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’re just excited to see how the show will pull of its final two seasons.
Image credits: HBO