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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6, Episode 10 Recap: ‘The Winds of Winter’

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 finale ,”The Winds of Winter,” was a crowning achievement! It’s also the beginning of the end!

In what has been a season full of episodes that could easily have passed for finales on their own, D&D gave us what just might be the best 69 minutes of TV ever! Where Season 5 left fans wary of where things were headed. Cersei’s (Lena Headey) Walk of Shame barely made up for all of the questionable choices made throughout that season. Taking most of it’s cues from the last few chapters of George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, the Season 5 finale barely assuaged the fears of many fans and completely alienated others. For the devoted fanbase it was truly just the start of what would end up being the series’ best season to date.

Knowing how little there really is left in the story has been a point of anxiety for me since Season 6 started. But with the finale complete, I have to say, I would be perfectly okay if there was never another episode of Game of Thrones. I almost want the series to end here because of the utter perfection that occurred tonight. Then again, the prospect that there’s more means that D&D are only just getting started. And there’s more than enough to look forward to in the long winter until Season 7.

I’m shocked that last week’s episode is the one that was put forward for Emmy consideration in the writing category. “The Winds of Winter” is only being considered for two categories: Outstanding Costumes For A Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series Or Movie and Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series. Both categories make sense especially given the scale of the episode because it was freaking cinematic! Seriously I would watch this in the theater, just tell me when and where HBO, I’ll bring friends! But the writing was truly something else! With one jaw-dropping moment after another from the start to finish, the episode didn’t just pack in as much as it could but laid some real groundwork for the future of the Seven Kingdoms.

This is the part where I tell you that “Spoilers are coming.” So if that’s something you want to avoid you should probably stop reading now. In honor of the finale and Cersei’s penchant for alcohol I give you all the wine they drink in Seasons 1 thru 4 (we seriously need an updated version!). Also it’s not too late to play our Season 6 finale drinking game!

This was an easy episode to grade! It’s an A+ all the way around!

The Winds of Winter Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 10

A+

After years of waiting and one giant cockblock after another, Episode 10 took us where no episode had gone before. Inside the Tower of Joy where as it Bran, now knows something. Jon knows nothing still (and may never know the truth) and there’s all kinds of reasons to discuss why this is even still relevant but the scene was so much more than I had hoped it would be. We did not get Ned praying beside the Heart Tree (a little Sean Bean cameo I holding out for even at this stage in the game but we did get a moment in the pre-episode recap). Instead we saw everything we already knew for our own eyes. Lyanna’s dying wish was that Ned promise to protect her and Rhaegar’s son. And I would think Ned would be proud to see Jon keeping the Stark legacy alive. The North Remembers! Or course this was a small scene in a much greater scheme that played itself. The biggest detractor from the episode was how quickly everyone travels around the Seven Kingdoms. Have the showrunners never looked at a map? George R.R. Martin has litereally drawn them out! The title sequence is literally a 3D version. And yet Varys and Arya were somehow everywhere at once. But as a complaint I can chalk it up to “TV magic” and move on. Everything else came together to create a comprehensive tale. Winter has come!

I’d also like to note that even the weakest episodes this season were still exceptional. Overall, season 6 has also earned it’s A all the way around! On a personal note the finale proved my initial thesis statement to be accurate but that’s a conversation for another time! It’s been an exciting 10 episodes!

And so our watch begins and ends!

Meereen

You might be wondering why I’ve chosen to start here of all places. Well for one thing, too many other plots are interconnected to this location (including Dorne). And frankly, everything that happens in Meereen is the the simplest. Not going to lie, on my first watch I took a bathroom break during the Dany (Emilia Clarke)/Daario (Michiel Huisman) scene because it was a predictable conversation. Statistically a majority of the Meereen scenes are boring. I mean I’m not even remotely close to being a Dany fan but considering the forward motion of the rest of the episode this was definitely a bit of a stall. More importantly, we’ve seen Dany make this type of decision before. Just last season she chose to marry Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry), a decision she made after sending Jorah (Iain Glen) away. Dany has a track record for spurning the men that love her over and over and it’s gotten old. Also, it usually backfires in some way and then one of those men has to go and pick up the pieces. I’m just over it.

Peter Dinklage & Emilia Clarke as Tyrion Lannister & Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: elvishgirl via Tumblr

Dany tells Daario point blank he’s not coming and that it’s his job to keep the peace in Meereen. Dany thinks that she needs to make alliances. Little does she know she probably won’t have to do that since pretty much all the houses that have already agreed to join her fight are currently run by women but like I said, she’s the Queen of the Poor Choices. I did like Daario’s double standard argument, “A King wouldn’t think twice about it.” He professes his love for her and Dany claims that no one tells her to do anything, which is exactly what causes all her problems really. And Slaver’s Bay is renamed the Bay of Dragons. How clever.

Possibly the most significant point of the scene is Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) locker room pep talk about believing in Dany. She names him her Hand, complete with a pin she had made just for him. Couldn’t suggest a better man for the job. Dany doesn’t know how lucky she is to have him!

In the final scene we get a quick shot of Theon (Alfie Allen) and Yara (Gemma Whelan) on their ships. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) is among his Unsullied and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) are all there as well. And most inexplicably, Varys (Conleth Hill), who has mastered the art of teleportation, stands aboard the fleet of Targaryen-sigil bearing ships. Khaleesi is heading to Westeros!

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: elvishgirl via Tumblr

OldTown

The second simplest scene, with even less strings attached is Sam (John Bradley-West) and Gilly’s (Hannah Murray) arrival at the Citadel. This was gorgeous. And the immense scale of beauty out did itself once Sam makes his way inside. While mostly known for being ahead of the times what with their white ravens heralding the change of seasons – in this case Winter has come – they’re sadly not up to date on the change of leadership at Castle Black. The “irregularities” of the situation will be discussed with the archmaester. In the meantime, Sam gets to use the library! But no girls or babies allowed!

It was like childhood me, intersected with adult me and all I kept imagining was the Beast surprising Belle! I mean floor to ceiling it was books! Somewhere in the distance Emma Watson’s version of live action Belle and Hermione Granger bonded over their spontaneous orgasm!

If Sam is taking requests I have a list of things I need him to find: 1) The actual copy of The Winds of Winter and 2) Tyrion didn’t mention it but he asked a while ago to find out where whores go! And 3) Why Captain America is suddenly Hydra?! Also, please send D&D a map of Westeros because The Twins is literally no where near King’s Landing (or what’s left of it). I’ll think of more! I hope the archmaester isn’t even a real person and Sam is just destined to read forever!

The Twins

Okay this takes some backstory. So back in Season 3, right after The Red Wedding, Bran told the story of the Rat Cook. But for those of you who need a refresher the story goes that a cook at the Nightfort became infamous when he served an Andal king a pie that was actually made of the king’s son. Except this revenge angered the gods and they cursed the cook and transformed him into a massive rat who was doomed to be unable to eat anything except his own young. The point of the story was to illustrate what happens to those who violate guest right and the sacred laws of hospitality. “It was not for murder that the gods cursed him, nor for serving the Andal king his son in a pie. A man has a right to vengeance. But he slew a guest beneath his roof, and that the gods cannot forgive.”

Bran tells this story shortly after Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) were murdered by the Boltons and the Freys. If you’ll remember, early on in The Red Wedding scene Walder Frey (David Bradley) offers the Starks and Talisa (Oona Chaplin) bread and salt. Catelyn makes a point of insisting they take it not just to insult Walder Frey but once guest right is invoked they cannot be harmed. Of course things play out very differently despite all of that but the legend still stands. Which is to say, Walder Frey was overdue for his punishment. And the fact that it didn’t come from just anyone made it all the more sweeter!

Maisie Williams & David Bradley as Arya Stark & Lord Walder Frey in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: hardyness via Tumblr

But I get ahead of myself (I mean in all fairness so did Arya (Maisie Williams), like how did she make it all the way to the Riverlands so fast? Can Westerosi apparate?).

The Freys are celebrating their victory over Riverrun. Walder Frey even brings up those infamous words we heard from Roose Bolton as he stabbed us in the heart, I mean Robb…he stabbed Robb!

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) half-heartedly raises his glass in the toast not really interested in the festivities. He and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) are served wine from a girl who can’t keep her eyes off of Jaime. Bronn and Jaime discuss the women in the hall and there’s actually a really funny moment. Jaime notices two women giggling in a corner and tells Bronn that they have their eyes on him but Bronn knows they’re looking at Jaime who claims their not his type. Bronn says, “Not blonde enough?” and I just realized that Jaime totally has a type! And then Jaime gives Bronn this sideways, “Wow you went there!” look but decides it’s just easier to be his wingman than to argue. I however, would love that argument because Bronn is a bigger Jaime/Brienne shipper than I am!

Walder comes to sit beside Jaime, which is a surprise. I had no idea he could get up from that dias of his. The serving girl is still watching Jaime across the way, now even more closely and he’s extremely aware of it. He also looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, literally. Or maybe he’d just rather be in that boat with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod (Daniel Portman)?!

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones Gif: hardyness via Tumblr

Whatever it is, Jaime is clearly anxious about something and he takes it out on old Walder, which is fine. I mean this is the Jaime I know and love. Walder thinks he and Jaime are the same and they’re not. Not even their choices to kill kings was the same. The whole conversation just seems to rile Jaime up a bit and he ends up pointing out how utterly useless the Freys are.

But being the finale the gods and the showrunners are good and it gets so much better! Later, Walder is alone in his Great Hall eating and drinking. The serving girl brings him what book readers would know as Manderly Pies but the scene is also the reason I brought up the guest right story I mentioned earlier. Walder is waiting for Black Walder and Lothar but the serving girl insists that they’re already here finally directing his attention to the meat pies. The serving girl then removes her face revealing herself to be Arya!

Maisie Williams & David Bradley as Arya Stark & Lord Walder Frey in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: hardyness via Tumblr

My little assassin has arrived in Westeros and she’s doing the good work of her dearly departed mother (I will never stop holding a torch for Lady Stoneheart though!). It’s more than fitting since Arya was present as The Red Wedding went down, saved by The Hound with the blunt end of an axe to head. She’s back for her revenge! And then she cuts Walder Frey’s throat and watches as he dies!

I have about a million questions! Like how did Arya steal a mask (and a body?) from The House of Black and White? Why was she staring at Jaime? Cersei is the one on Arya’s list! Will she find Gendry?! Any and all theories are welcome!

King’s Landing

Oh man! How gorgeous did Cersei look in her black dress? It looked like a version of the armor was back. I cannot wait to see the cosplays of it!

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: crayjoy via Tumblr

So here we are, it was hard to pick a good placement because it had to go after the Jaime stuff but before Dorne but we’re here!

The episode wastes no time in blowing up the Sept. I honestly thought Cersei was going to go down with it but turns out this is the rise of House Lannister, not the fall.

Loras (Finn Jones) is trotted out to confess for his crimes. He does, agreeing to be a part of the Faith Militant. They carve the seven pointed star in his forehead but Cersei does not show up for her trial. Margaery (Natalie Dormer) realizes something is amiss but no one is permitted to leave. Lancel (Eugene Simon) is tasked with retrieving Cersei. Meanwhile, Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) is given a version of Kevan Lannister’s death complete with Qyburn’s (Anton Lesser) murderous little birds doing the deed.

Natalie Dormer, Finn Jones & Jonathan Pryce as Margaery & Loras Tyrell & The High Sparrow in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: crayjoy via Tumblr

Lancel, for his part, ends up being the match that really sets off the wildfire. First he’s stabbed by a little bird and then that bird lights a candle. Of course Lancel doesn’t get there in time to blow it out and the whole thing explodes, right under the Sept killing everyone!

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: gifthetv via Tumblr

Cersei is busy wineboarding Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham). She condemns her to be tortured by The Mountain, leaving the room Cersei repeats “Shame,” “Shame,” “Shame” and it’s unbelievably iconic!

Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) witnessed the whole thing from his window, barred from attending the trial by The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). He watches what’s left burn, and once he’s left alone he removes his crown, walks away for a moment and then comes back into the frame and casually jumps out the window. Bringing the prophecy Cersei feared into reality.

Jaime and Bronn return just in time for Cerei’s coronation. She sits on the Iron Throne and the twins spot each other from across the room. Jaime looks like he knows what she did and the risk she poses as Queen and Cersei challenges him with her stare. Their relationship just changed by a staggering amount and it’ll be interesting to see that dynamic play out.

The pan out is really a work of art though because you can’t tell if it’s Joffrey or Tommen or Cersei on that throne! I am so okay with Queen Cersei! The woman literally has nothing to lose, we should all totally be terrified.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: melisandlre via Tumblr

Dorne

While I had hoped to never return after the untimely demise of Prince Doran earlier in the season, that wish was too good to be true. Luckily the answer to fixing horrible plots and indistinguishable characters is The Queen of Thorns! Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) was sent away from King’s Landing last we saw her. Given the events that occur earlier in the episode the Lannister/Tyrell alliance is blown to smithereens! Slightly desperate but also hellbent on revenge, a mourning Olenna finds herself among the Sand Snakes, asking for their help. It’s an unexpected turn of events given the past Tyrell/Martell animosity. But what better type of alliance is there than one with a shared hate for a specific person? Everybody in the scene wants Lannisters dead, specifically Cersei. So they’re in agreement.

Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: ginaalexisrodriguez via Tumblr

The North

Benjen (Joseph Mawle) leaves Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) near the Wall. It’s guarded by ancient magic that prevents him from passing. He’s off to fight for the living in the war to come. Bran notices the Heart tree and Meera helps him toward it. She’s concerned he’s not ready but Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven now and he has to be. He touches the face and we’re transported back to the Tower of Joy!

Young Ned (Robert Aramayo) hears his sister’s screams and is back to running up the steps where we last saw him. He stops once again when Bran first learned he could have some influence on the past and then heads up the stairs, Bran behind.

Robert Aramayo & Aisling Franciosi as Ned & Lyanna Stark in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: danysdragonsqueen via Tumblr

He bursts through the door and Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi) is there, bloody rags on the bed. She’s sweaty and weak but she recognizes him. Ned rests Ice – his sword – on the bed post and goes to his sister’s side. Her sheets are covered in blood and she’s surprised to see him, relieved he’s not a dream. It’s at this point that I had to grab like tissues and even as I’m typing this I’m getting misty because this scene is all I have wanted all season and even though they made us wait it was kind of sort of worth it! Of course the whole fragile moment was nearly ruined by the stupid silent whispering! Lyanna talks about dying and Ned gets frantic asking for a Maester but she just begs him to listen.

We get a shot of Bran taking in the siblings and realizing what he’s about to learn. Lyanna echoes her most famous line, “Promise me, Ned” and I was honestly surprised there were no signs of winter roses around. For his part Bran also looks rather emotional.

Baby Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: kit-harington via Tumblr

One of the ladies with Lyanna hands Ned the baby who opens his eyes and really has the Jon Snow (Kit Harington) brooding face (complete with furrowed forehead) down pat! So much so that the scene transitions right to present day Jon making the exact same face just to further press the point that R+L=J. Hooray!

Winterfell

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: kit-harington via Tumblr

A white raven flies toward Winterfell, recognizing that winter has in fact arrived. Fun fact: If you show that scene without any context pretty sure everyone will think it’s Harry Potter.

Melisandre (Carice van Houten) brought Jon back like eight episodes ago. Since then she’s done mostly nothing. And lest we forget that she burned Shireen last season and Davos (Liam Cunningham) found the remnants of the before The Battle of the Bastards. Reckoning day has come for Mel.

Jon talks about how he wasn’t allowed to sit with the family and Mel tells him to check his privilege because the poor little white boy at least had a family. Jon agrees he was lucky and then Davos enters demanding Melisandre tell Jon what she did.

Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: lifeisstydia via Tumblr

She admits what she did but when Davos asks for answers why she doesn’t apologize. She doesn’t ask for forgiveness. She justifies it as the only way. She claims she only does what R’hllor tells her. Davos doesn’t hold back proclaiming that it’s outright evil. Mel tries to point out that the reason they’re even standing there is because of the Lord of Light but it’s a meaningless argument.

Davos is wrecked and it really brings up all the horrible feelings from the moment last season when we all wondered what he would do when he did eventually find out. Davos says that he loved her like she was his own and I’d argue that he was a better father to her than both her parents. He yells at Melisandre for killing Shireen (Kerry Ingram) and again, she points out that Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Seylse (Tara Fitzgerald) didn’t stop her. Worse, Mel says they knew what needed to be done. And Davos points out it was all for nothing. Mel doesn’t have an answer to that. So Davos continues that she lied but Mel insists she was just wrong. It’s still not an apology.

They’re all silent a moment as Jon takes in what he’s learned but Davos is a diplomatic man so he asks Jon’s permission to execute Mel. There was never a moment of doubt what Jon would say. What Mel did is indefensible. Despite not actually being Ned’s son, Jon acts more and more like him with every leadership related choice he needs to make. He gives Mel one more opportunity to speak. She offers to help Jon win the war against the Night’s King.

It’s clearly not the answer that would have spared her, though it’s hard to imagine there was one. Jon isn’t swayed and he banishes Mel threatening that if she returns to the North he’ll have her hanged as a murderer. Davos echoes the threat adding that he’ll do it himself. Jon watches her ride out from the castle walls.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: cerseis-lannister via Tumblr

Sansa (Sophie Turner) joins Jon and they talk about sleeping arrangements. Sansa says he should have the Lord’s room not her but Jon insists he’s not a Stark. Sansa says that he is to her, which is sweet. Jon knows the battle would have been lost without her.

The conversation shifts when he asks if she trusts Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). Her response is very much the grown woman she has become, thanks in part to Baelish’s tutelage. She’s no longer the foolish girl she once was and she will never trust anyone again, especially Littlefinger. Sansa then apologizes (which is more than Mel could muster for much more heinous crimes) for not telling Jon about him and the Knights of the Vale in the first place. Jon just asks for trust between them and then he kisses his little sister on the forehead. They have a laugh about it officially being winter, even mocking the Stark words a bit. But seriously what do they say while it is winter?

Aidan Gillen & Sophie Turner as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish & Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones Photo: HBO Gif: petyrbaelishs via Tumblr

Sansa is sitting by the Heart tree thinking about how naive she used to be. Littlefinger shows up to share his hopes and dreams of him on the Iron Throne and Sansa at his side. He leans to kiss her but she pushes him away, telling him it’s a pretty picture but quickly walking away. Rejected, Littlefinger tries a different assault (no? not a good enough reason to use that word…tactic perhaps?), suggesting that the North should rally behind Sansa, trying to pit brother and sister against each other.

Jon sits at the head table watching the lesser Houses of the North argue. The Knights of the Vale don’t want to side with Wilding invaders. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) points out that they didn’t invade they were invited but it doesn’t really help his cause. Jon stops the fighting and is forced to talk about the real war that’s coming.

Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) notices that Jon isn’t having an easy time and stands up to defend him. That precocious little child will literally give Jon a run for his money! She points all the ways the various houses failed when it was time to help the Starks. And she stands behind the fact that House Mormont recognizes only the King in the North. Sansa’s smile disappears though, when Lyanna reveals she’s talking about Jon. At the end of the scene, Littlefinger shares a creepy little “Told ya so” look with Sansa so there’s that to look forward to.

Anyway, Lyanna doesn’t care if Jon is a bastard, Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins…weellllllll….Close enough, yeah kind of we can argue why the R+L=J still matters later. She declares Jon her King. Jon looks completely shocked. Lord Wyman Manderly (Sean Blowers) (who is not nearly as large as I expected him to be) declares himself to Jon and then Lord Glover (Tim McInnerny) follows suit. Unsheathing their swords the rest of the room takes up the chant, “The King in the North!” I was already emotionally compromised by The Tower of Joy and this just set me over the edge! I may have stood up too, I admit nothing!

The North Remembers!

Three-Eyed Raven Observations:

  • Gendry (Joe Dempsie) has been rowing a boat for like three seasons but everyone else can go gallivanting up and down the entire Continent in a matter of hours!
  • Lady Stoneheart Watch: I’m not putting down the torch! No! I’m going to keep carrying it even if I have to do it myself (I don’t I know people who want her too so don’t yell at me that it’s not happening because I will fight you!) I will never give this up! Even if Arya is getting some of her plot line! She is still the only conclusion that makes sense for both Jaime and Brienne after those two have sex of course! Unless D&D call me personally there is still a chance! Melisander was banished from Winterfell, she could totally go south and bring back Catelyn! We don’t need Beric!
  • Clegane Bowl: Postponed!
  • Northern Rebellion Watch: They remembered!
  • Death Scorecard: Oh so many people! Lyanna Stark, Grand Maester Pycelle, Lancel Lannister, Mace, Loras and Margeary Tyrell, The High Sparrow, everyone in the Sept and surrounding areas. Tommen, Lothar and Black Walder, Walder Frey. Did I get them all?!

Well this is it! We’ve reached the end of our watch! It’s been my absolute pleasure to bring these weekly recaps to you all and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them! What a fantastic season! There’s still so much to talk about so don’t be stranger during hiatus!

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Be sure to tune in!

And be sure to check out all the great GoT content we’ll be rolling out weekly! What did you think of the of the episode? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments!