Game of Thrones “The Winds of Winter” 6×10 Review

There is no way I can do the Game of Thrones season 6 finale “The Winds of Winter” justice in a single review. Far too many significant events brimming with emotional charge occurred. To spare you a thesis paper, I leave you with the following thoughts:

While much has changed in 6 seasons of Game of Thrones, “The Winds of Winter” demonstrates that at its essence the show hasn’t changed that much. The ending of season 6 has so many fascinating parallels to the ending of season 1. A ruthless Lannister with nothing to tether their sanity sits on the Iron Throne (Joffrey in season 1, Cersei in season 6). A Stark child is named King in the North (Robb Stark in season 1, Jon Snow in season 6). Jon’s still a Stark in my opinion for so many reasons, but more on that later. Furthermore, the season ends with an incredibly powerful and triumphant moment for Daenerys.

The players and their positions have changed dramatically over 6 seasons, but the game is still the same, and most of the players and families are still playing by the same rules, guided by the same values.

Cersei is far savvier than Joffrey when it comes to politics and understanding how people operate. Joffrey could never have pulled off the devastating yet brilliant plan Cersei executed in this episode, eliminating all her known enemies. While Joffrey did whatever his spoiled and psychopathic mind wanted, there were individuals like Tyrion and Tywin who could generally prevent him from going too far. No one, not even Jaime, can fulfill that role where Cersei is concerned. Game of Thrones brilliantly made us root for Cersei, one of the show’s most despicable characters, in the conflict against the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant. By the time we realized how wrong we were to ever support this woman regardless of her opponent, the Great Sept of Baelor and majority of characters we knew in King’s Landing were incinerated or stabbed to death (a specially reserved intimately violent and disturbing ending for Grand Maester Pycelle). It’s difficult to process that all these characters are gone, particularly Margaery who’s been a major player in the game of thrones since season 2, so cunning yet so compassionate. At least she realized what was happening and tried to escape. She and Loras might’ve even made it out alive if not for the High Sparrow’s hubris.

And Tommen, one of the most manipulated and conflicted yet innocent characters, has tragically committed suicide. Cersei has no one to blame but herself where the death of her last child is concerned.

Examining further parallels, Jon is far more similar to Robb than Cersei is to Joffrey. However, there is one facet of being King in the North that Robb failed at where Jon will succeed. Jon will keep the North unified by staying in the North. While Robb turned out to be a brilliant military strategist and constantly defeated the Lannister army on the battlefield, he lost control of the North. In the absence of many Northern lords, ladies and the bulk of their armies, the ironborn invaded and Ramsay Bolton began his reign of terror. Like Robb, Jon lives honorably and bravely, sometimes to the point of naiveté. But Jon has already succeeded in unifying the North in a way we haven’t since season 2. And with the White Walkers and Night King coming, Jon definitely won’t be marching any armies South. The King in the North will stay and defend the North.

Among the many satisfying events in this episode is confirmation of the R+L=J theory (thanks, Bran). While it’s rewarding to finally have the mystery of Jon’s parentage confirmed, it doesn’t really change anything about Jon’s character for me. His values and identity are still the same values instilled by his Stark upbringing and Stark family. From growing up at Winterfell, to his time at the Wall and beyond the Wall as a brother and later Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, to his resurrection and journey to retake Winterfell and the North with Sansa at his side, Jon is very much so a man of the North. His biological mother is still a Stark, and the man who raised him and arguably shaped Jon more than anyone is still Ned Stark himself. The truth about Jon’s parentage will definitely create conflict, and it’ll probably be Littlefinger who will sow said conflict.

It’s satisfying to know what Littlefinger’s ultimate motives are, even if they aren’t at all surprising. Sansa has matured and toughened herself to an incredible extent, asserting herself as a true player in the game of thrones. However, Littlefinger still unfortunately has a hold on her and will do his utmost to turn her against Jon. I understand that while Sansa is happy to see the Northern lords and ladies declare Jon King in the North, she is irritated about not getting the respect and recognition she deserves for the integral role she played in defeating Ramsay and his army, and taking back Winterfell and the North.  But with the main threat in the North now being the White Walkers and wights, Jon Snow is definitely the best person to be in charge. And with Jon being as honorable as he is, I am confident that he will trust, respect and listen to Sansa moving forward more than he ever has before.

Meanwhile, Jon’s Aunt Daenerys (isn’t that weird to think about?!) has come so far from the young woman who emerged unscathed with three baby dragons from Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre at the end of season 1. She’s learned what it takes and what it means to be both a conqueror and a ruler. She’s surrounded herself with the individuals and forces she needs to succeed. Even though we’ve been rooting for her since season 1 and she’s allied with characters we love like Tyrion and Varys and Missandei and now Olenna Tyrell, it’s still kind of terrifying to witness the depth of her armed forces when united. Now the burning question is whether she will be seen more as a savior or invader when she lands in Westeros.

Ultimately, this episode is largely about payoff for longtime Game of Thrones fans. Which of the following events and revelations did you find most satisfying and why? Be sure to comment your answer on this blog post or on social media.

  • Cersei blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor and all her known enemies
  • Qyburn’s little birds killing Grand Maester Pycelle
  • Cersei Lannister becoming Queen of Westeros
  • Winter has come.
  • The conversation between Jon and Sansa atop the ramparts of Winterfell
  • Davos facing Melisandre concerning the truth about Shireen
  • Littlefinger finally admitting his true motives to Sansa
  • Bran discovering Jon’s parentage through his visions
  • Jon Snow becoming King in the North (Lyanna Mormont is a boss)
  • Sam and Gilly reaching the Citadel
  • Olenna Tyrell putting the Sand Snakes in their place
  • Daenerys naming Tyrion her Hand
  • Arya assassinating Walder Frey (Red Wedding revenge!)
  • Daenerys and her vast array of forces setting sail for Westeros
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