It's all over. Game of Thrones Season 6 came to an explosive conclusion in The Winds of Winter. The chess pieces are at last set for the series' final conflicts. The scale of carnage was unprecedented, even for a show that thrives on spectacular deaths. A favorite son's true heritage was revealed. Alliances were cemented. A new King of the North was christened through fealty and respect. A new dark Queen snatches The Iron Throne with merciless cunning. A girl realizes her true potential as a killer and exacts a satisfying revenge. Most importantly, across the narrow sea, The Mother of Dragons sails to Kings Landing with her colossal army and the finest mind to guide her. It doesn't get any more epic than this folks. For a year that had some decidedly lackluster episodes, Game of Thrones leaves on a staggering high. Proving again it is the best show by far on television.
Cersei (Lena Headey) kills all of her enemies in one deft move. The show has long stated that The Mad King hid wildfire below King's Landing to burn the city to cinders upon his defeat. In a coup de grace for the ages, Cersei and Maester Qyburn (Anton Lessor) use this knowledge to destroy the Great Sept of Baelor. They kill all the lords, septons, Faith Militant of the Seven, and The Tyrells in a huge explosion. While The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) initially kept Tommen (Dean Charles-Chapman) at bay, he leaves the boy to watch the temple burn. Overwhelmed, Tommen commits suicide by jumping from his chamber windows. Even in her moment of great victory, Cersei loses her last precious child. Unaware of his death, she takes sadistic pleasure confessing her sins to a bound Septon Unella (Hannah Waddingham). She's left The Mountain, unmasked in hideous deformity, to take his slow pleasures with her. Yikes.
Sam (John Bradley-West) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) arrive at the Citadel of the Maesters. He's treated rudely at first. His petition for training challenged because they did not know of Ser Mormont's death. But they allow him into the library while his petition to become a maester is reviewed. Sam is stupefied by the size of the library and the knowledge that awaits him. The excitement has waned for Gilly and the baby, women and children are not allowed inside.
Walder Frey (David Bradley) and his treacherous sons get their comeuppance at the hands of a girl. Jaime (Nicolaj Coster Walder) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) notice a fetching servant girl at the Frey's victory banquet. The next morning, the girl serves Walder a tasty pie. As he wonders where his sons are, she calmly explains that he has eaten them for breakfast. She pulls away her face to reveal Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). She calmly slits his throat and explains a Stark is watching you die. The girl has indeed become someone. The villains of The Red Wedding have all met their just fates.
At Winterfell, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) pays for her burning of Shireen Baratheon. Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) forces her to admit the truth to Jon (Kit Harington). He banishes her from the north. She will be hanged as a murderer if she ever returns. On the castle wall, Jon and Sansa (Sophie Turner) swear to harbor no secrets. He credits her with their victory. They have won back their home, but are surrounded by enemies. Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) makes his play for Sansa, admitting his desire for her to rule with him on The Iron Throne. She coldly rebuffs him.
In Dorne, The Queen of Thornes aka Lady Tyrell (Diana Rigg) meets with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and The Sand Snakes. Cersei has killed her entire family. She wants retribution. As the women join forces, Varys (Conleth Hill) steps out of the shadows. His mission to Westeros has been successful.
Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) gives Daario (Michael Huisman) bad news. He will not join them in Westeros. He will stay and protect Mereen. This breakup crushes Daario, but he knows that this is the work of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), and the correct move. Danaerys had no emotion dumping Daario. She takes her trust in Tyrion to a new level. She names him Hand of the Queen. Unwavering and emotional, he admits that he believes in her and bows. The Mother of Dragons has found her right hand dwarf.
Benji (Joseph Mawle) takes Bran (Isaac Hempsted Wright) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) to The Wall. He can go no further as the magic in The Wall prevents The White Walkers from crossing. Bran embraces his role as The Three-Eyed Raven. He goes into a trance to finish the vision of his father. Fandom can rejoice about being right. Jon Snow is indeed the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryan. The Mother of Dragons has a nephew with a Stark. One word as this pertains to the entire narrative...HUGE!
Jon Snow rises to the King of the North. At Winterfell, the north lords quibble. Young Lady Mormont (Bella Ramsey), named after Lyanna Stark, admonishes them for their cowardice. She then swears allegiance to Jon, claiming him her king. The north lords fall in quick step. The room erupts in cheers as Jon is awed by his pronouncement as king. But all is not joyous, Sansa stares at Littlefinger ominously. Bella Ramsey, with mere minutes of screen time, is a lock to win the Emmy for Supporting Actress.
Jaime returns to a different world in King's Landing. With Qyburn at her side as Hand, Cersei proclaims herself Queen. And then takes a chilling seat on the Iron Throne. The room is hushed as everyone who witnesses knows the ramifications. Cersei's children are gone. Any love or kindness that existed within her evaporated. She destroyed all of her adversaries. Her ruthlessness may be unmatched.
The last shot in this glorious episode gave me chills. Danaerys, with Tyrion and Varys by her side, sets sail to Westeros. Her gargantuan fleet stocked full of dothraki soldiers, the Iron Born, the Second Sons, and the Unsullied; led by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). Soaring above them, Drogon and his fire-breathing brothers. The game is truly afoot. Cersei in the South, Jon Snow King of the North, Lady Tyrell in Dorne, Danaerys en route, all while The Night King and The White Walkers are looming. The long winter has arrived on HBO, but the battle for control of The Seven Kingdoms is just heating up.