Nine, by my count, major or recurring characters bit the dust in this season finale. Nine, son! No other show on TV gets away with that—and it only makes me love it more. On to the recap.
JIM: Let’s get this shit off the table straight away and then get to the meat of the episode—Dumb & Dumber have finally made their way to the Citadel and it turns out David Spade’s smarmy receptionist character from SNL is manning the front desk. Gilly sucks so she just stands there with her teeth in her mouth, adding nothing to the scene while Sam gets the largest book boner in the history of the Seven Kingdoms. Annnnd scene. Moving on.
Oh, right…did you have any thoughts on our first foray into the home of the maesters?
ES: Okay, so I just need to admit that watching this week’s episode, I let loose at least three spontaneous fangirl squeals… and the first of these was in the “Previously on…” jawn when they showed the statue of Lyanna Stark and then immediately flashed to the Tower of Joy (which we will get to in a bit). There was SO much going on in this episode right from the jump that I actually forgot all about Sam and Gilly (a.k.a. Silly)… if you can fathom that.
In an episode RIFE with bookgeek payoffs, this was a subtle one for me as we finally got to see Oldtown. And I may have even said aloud when they arrived (to no one, because I am a lonely, lonely person), “Oooooh…. Oldtown”…. because I’m a geek and this is apparently what geeks do.
Also, the library was pretty fucking phat… you know, for a library. And did everyone notice the shot that had the jawn hanging overhead that looked a whole lot like the spinny globe-y thing from the opening credits?
As you alluded to, there’s really not much going on here other than that. Though I do think it’s worth noting that Sam now has access to the library, where I’m sure he will research his face off to find everything and anything about the White Walkers. This at least leaves me wondering less about the YEARS that he will spend to become a maester and how he could possibly help with being locked down south all that time. I envision him finding big news and catching a red eye back up to the Wall as soon as he can…. or sending a raven at the very least. I mean, this is home of the maesters, so I’m sure they have a ludicrous number of ravens hanging around.
Lastly here, where the hell was the Worst Father Evur and his crew to get the family sword back? I mean, he had to know that Sam had it, and how many roads go from his home to Oldtown? Don’t you think he would have sent riders after his son to get his sword back? That whole thing leaves me a bit puzzled.
JIM: While watching Cersei orchestrate the wholesale destruction of Tommen’s reign, the mighty Metallica came to mind.
Come crawling faster. Obey your master. Your life burns faster. Obey your master. Master of puppets are pulling your strings. Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams.
In a horrifyingly beautiful sequence, during which some awful people got their comeuppance, (I’m looking at you Lancel) and a LOT of collateral damage was inflicted, Cersei ascended to the Iron Throne. The festivities featured everybody’s favorite creep Qyburn having his army of murder children shank Maester Pycelle under the guise of a meeting with King Tommen. The Mountain paid our young king a visit in his bedroom and had me thinking he might make a pop top out of the royal dope, but alas it was to keep him from being in the Sept as Cersei’s plan unfolded.
The High Sparrow gathered his minions, all the septons and almost all of the septas for the trials of Loras and Cersei. The Sparrow had completely broken Loras as he immediately confessed to all of his sins and pledged to join the Faith Militant. He was rewarded with the summer’s hottest fashion trend—a hand-carved artisinal seven-pointed star in blood red. The kids tell me it’s all the rage, or at least they would if they weren’t otherwise busy going all Children of the Corn on the adults in their vicinity.
My sweet, sexy Magpie protests to the Sparrow and alludes to some deal they had worked out which he clearly had no intention to honor. It finally dawns on my girl that neither Tommen nor Cersei have arrived for her trial. She has no idea Tommen is on a playdate with the Mountain (ask the Hound how those usually turn out) and Cersei is suiting up in her badass black dress/armor thingy.
The Sparrow refuses to allow anyone to flee as unbeknownst to him Lancel has been stabbed in the spine by Murder Kid #12 and is desperately dragging himself toward a burning candle resting in a pool of the oft-rumored cache of wildfire hidden beneath the city. Much of the court and many main characters go up in a spectacular green fireball.
Yeah, Cersei fucking chose violence alright.
Lancel. The Sparrow. Poor Doltish Mace Tyrell. Loras Tyrell. Margaery Tyrell. My Magpie, gone in an instant. But what, to my shock and chagrin, seems to have bothered me more?
Not Geekenfreude favorite, Uncle Kevan! Yes, We Kevan?
The dream is over.
In a final fuck you to all involved, Cersei was able to kidnap Septa Unella and keep her out of the explosion by chaining her up in a dungeon and waterboarding her with some Lannister Red. She then allowed the Mountain to have his undead way with her and promised to torture her for a long time before allowing her to die.
Shame, Shame, Shame.
Before we had time to recover from the shock of Uncle Kevan’s demise, Tommen reacted to the destruction of the sept from afar by removing his crown and jumping out the window, immediately marking the most decisive thing he’s ever done in his time on the throne. Hope he didn’t land on Ser Pounce!
The questions are too many to ask so I’ll just tell you to run with your thoughts on the entire incredible sequence but will ask you just what deal do you suppose Margy made with the Sparrow and is there any way it could still come back to bite Cersei?
ES: There is just SOOOOOOOOOOOO much to say here that I hope I can cover it all.
Firstly, I found the opening, showing everyone getting ready for the trial, to be fascinating in its own strange way, and the music, as always, was on. fucking. point. ESPECIALLY so as it brings in the strings and starts to swell as ALL THE SHIT is about to go down. It added so much to a 20-minute sequence that was as riveting as it was horrifying as it was beautifully shot.
The crazy thing here for me is that the show talks about the wildfire cache a whole lot this season, and I knew from the subtle hints that were dropped that Cersei knew about it, so why did all of this catch me almost by surprise? Maybe I was thinking that she would just blow up the High Sparrow and the other people in the Faith Militant, but no…. girlfriend killed ALL THE PEOPLE….. and I was just jaw-droppingly stunned, especially considering that your Magpie bit it here as well. NEVER did I think that she was going to go out like that, and I was fairly certain that she had a bit more of a role to play going forward.
I guess this means that she was not the one in Cersei’s prophecy from Maggy the Frog about someone younger and more beautiful coming along and taking everything Cersei holds dear…. that, I firmly believe, is now Dany… which we will also get to in a bit.
I was so in disbelief of this, in fact, that I was thinking of how Margy may have survived Greensplosion 2 (can I throw in an “Electric Boogaloo” here or is that just hackneyed at this point?). It took me a minute or two to grasp what happened, and when it dawned on me that EVERYONE there died, I had a hand-clasped-over-mouth moment where I said “Oh… my…. god… OH…. MY…. GOD”… and then I thought of you, James, and just how distraught you may be about losing your girl.
Are you okay?? Have you ever before rooted for Lancel to be the hero and save the day until you realized your Magpie’s life was at stake and he was literally the only one who could save her? (That said, let’s be honest, there was no way this sub-subordinate character was ever going to reach those candles in time, and he was only there to give us insight as to what was going on… and to see the great shot of the Greensplosion igniting reflected in his eyes.)
I thought for a second that since Margy figured it out… or, at least, figured out something horrible was afoot… that she would find a way out of it. That said, even if she got past the nameless goons keeping everyone in the sept, with the size of that Greensplosion, it wouldn’t have mattered. Though that raises the question of: Are the people watching this trial like forced to be there? If people wanted to come and go at will, would the High Sparrow be like, “No…. no…. you have to stay here the whole time. You can’t just walk in to view a trial and leave before it’s over!” Like is that against the rules or something?
This whole power move on Cersei’s part was the first TRULY shocking thing to happen from my perspective on the show so far. Allow me to clarify… obviously this show is full of shocking moments… Ned’s head, the Red Wedding, Jon getting repeatedly shivved… but this was the first one that I didn’t know about because there was no book (yet… I’m now hearing Jan 2017) to let me know about it beforehand.
That said, if this is what non-book readers go through during these moments, I think I’m a tad jealous. Everything that happened in the first 20 or so minutes of this episode was just AMAZING… and a lot of that was because, while I saw it sort of coming, I really didn’t see THAT coming…. and it was awesome. Terribly, frightfully awesome.
At this point in the episode I was like, “THAT is what you BEGIN with? Where the fuck do you go from here?? I mean… HOW DO YOU TOP THAT!!?!” And yet, the rest of the episode didn’t disappoint me… not even a little bit. After watching I thought that this may be front-to-back the best episode of the show ever. If it’s not, it is right up there. I mean, I had a moment where I thought to myself that I was WHOLLY satisfied with this finale, and there was still 15 minutes left in it at the time. Just fucking fabulous.
Three final very random and stray observations here. First, why was Pycelle lured down to Creepburn’s murder room? I mean, wouldn’t he have been at the trial anyway?
Secondly, oh Lancel, you should know better… because EVERYONE should know better… than to follow a creepy kid into a dark and dank tunnel.
Lastly, Loras’ confession, while unsettling to watch, was made a whole lot better by some $5 vocabulary. He actually used the word “profligacy” when admitting to the things he’s done. I tend to think I have a very decent handle on the English language, but this one I had to look up. And when I looked it up, it…as a COMPLETE word geek… made me so happy, because the definition included other $5 words such as “licentiousness” and “dissipation”. Don’t you just fucking love when you look up a fantastic word and learn two other fantastic words in the process?!?!?
Oh wait… is that just me? Hmmm…. er…. um…. I think we’ll just move on to the next question. James, if you would, please….
JIM: Let’s go to your favorite place on the map—Dorne. Lady Olenna, in her mourning dress, is having none, absolutely none, of the Sand Snakes and their shitty attitudes. She chides one for looking like a little boy and chides “do shut up dear, and let the grown-ups talk.” It’s like she was speaking for all of us.
Lady Olenna speaks of wanting vengeance just as Varys appears and speaks the Targaryen words: “Fire and blood.”
In case you’re keeping track at home, Dany has the Unsullied, the Dothraki, some of the Iron Born, a shitload of ships, 3 grown-ass dragons, and now perhaps the Sand Snakes and what’s left of Highgarden.
Bitch gon’ be tough to beat. Thoughts?
ES: First time ever on this show that Dorne was even remotely interesting. Hooray for minor miracles! Though, admittedly, this is PURELY because of the Queen of Thorns and Varys… who apparently is some sort of mutant who can clone himself and be at two different places halfway around the world at the same time. Or… maybe he’s a teleporter? Anyway….
I thought it was great that “Fire and blood” was all he said here, and did you happen to notice a lot of house words were said in this episode? At the Twins when they’re toasting the Lannisters and the Freys the people in the hall shout their house words: “Hear Me Roar!” and “We’re All Creeps!”, respectfully. Then there was the play on “Winter Is Coming” with Jon and Sansa. Shame there was no reason for the Baratheon words to pop up, because “Ours Is the Fury” is just bad. fucking. ass.
Since you listed Dany’s assets here, I just want to say that with ALL THE SHIT she is bringing to Westeros, and with everyone who is already gathered in the North, including the Knights of the Vale, it goes to show you just how many people and how much force will be needed to battle the Army of Teh Deads. Craziness.
JIM: Coldhands/Uncle Benjen has arrived at the Wall with Bran and Meera and informs them he can go no further thanks to a spell placed on the Wall to keep out the undead. Which means if the White Walkers are ever going to attack they’re gonna have to get past the Wall. Does that mean they can get through the gates or are they gonna have to knock that shit down?
More importantly, Bran jacks into the Matrix again and returns to the Tower of Joy where we left off a few episodes back. Young Ned Stark rushes up the steps to find his sister Lyanna bleeding out after giving birth. She whispers to Ned and makes him promise, presumably, to take care of her baby.
Finally, after years of tiptoeing around it on this blog we can openly discuss R+L=J!!
Long story short —Lyanna Stark was betrothed to Robert Baratheon. She was “kidnapped” by Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King who Jaime Lannister eventually murders. This “kidnapping,” and some other stuff, spark Robert’s Rebellion during which the Usurper Robert Baratheon kills Rhaegar, the Mad King’s heir (and Dany’s brother) and takes the Iron Throne. Ned then travels to the Tower of Joy to rescue his sister who compels him to take care of her baby, who is none other than Jon Snow. Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon.
So it appears more than likely that she wasn’t really kidnapped though it wasn’t explicitly said out loud. Do you buy into the kidnapping version or the lovers version of the story? Was it any less exciting that we kind of already knew this outcome cuz people who read the books don’t miss a damn thing? What will Bran do with this info?
ES: First let me touch on Bran and that whole deal. I think that the White Walkers are going to have to bring the Wall down… though before Benjen split, don’t you think that Bran should have asked him about the mark the Night’s King gave him that allowed him and his army to get into the big ol’ weirwood they were camped out in?? I mean will THAT allow the White Walkers et al. to get past the Wall?
Also, as a very minor thing, I found it interesting that Benjen’s parting words to Bran and Meera included “I wish you good fortune…” and there was no “in the wars to come” that we often hear said on this show.
Moving on to the BIG stuff…
So, despite the fact that I was confused as to why Bran disregarded the entire Army of Teh Deads bearing down on him to jack in one last time to find THIS bit of information out (is it really THAT vital to fighting the White Walkers? is it because it’s showing him that Jon is the “prince who is promised” and that he will be the one to defeat the White Walkers?), when it cut to Punk Kid Ned going into the Tower of Joy… well, yeah, I squealed, sat up in my seat, and may have even clapped a little.
And when Lyanna uttered the immortal line that has haunted book readers for like two decades… “Promise me, Ned. Promise me.”… chills ENGULFED every bit of my body and my eyes even got a little warm.
So, if you’re asking this total and complete geek, the fact that I knew what was coming did not detract from the excitement of this scene for me AT ALL.
Also, I loved that they didn’t like spell out in the scene who it was, but just had the zoom in on the baby, then the cut to Jon. Seriously… LOVED THIS. Though I was a bit irked that there was whispering going on, because I was like, “Oh my god, are they going to drag this out even more!!?”
And because of this whispering, there were many who started to theorize that the Targaryen father of Jon was NOT Rhaegar and was instead the Mad King himself. Though HBO just put all of that theorizing to bed. For info, check this out. There’s even a nifty chart!
JIM: At the Twins, Jaime and Walder Frey share a meal to celebrate their taking back of Riverrun. The Kingslayer can barely hide his contempt for the Freys in general and decides he’s had about enough and wants to get back to Cersei, but not before setting up a threesome for Ser Bronn of the Blackwater and dismissing his chance to slip the old goldfinger to a pretty, young servant girl.
It’s a good thing he passed cuz that same servant girl ended up serving creepy old Walder Frey his own sons carved up in a pie before Mission: Impossibling her face and revealing she was everybody’s favorite Wolfgirl, Arya Stark, all along. She slits his throat in a way reminiscent of her own mother’s murder in that very same room.
Jaime then returns to King’s Landing in time to see Cersei take the Iron Throne and shoots her a look that says “WTF, Sis?”
My question to you—how much did the time travel implications piss you off in this episode? I know you’re extremely sensitive about these things. Where does Arya go from here? Is she making her way to Winterfell? How does Cersei explain to Jaime that yet another one of their children is dead?
ES: I found it interesting that Disguised Arya was eyeing up Jaime. Good thing he’s not on her list, I guess?
And to answer your question, as happy… and disturbed (because let’s face it, Arya is moving FAR beyond the level of being fucking creepy)… as I was to see old Walder get sliced up, along with his J.O. sons, my first reaction to this was, “Arya’s at the TWINS????” Though I read something that said the show runners know there’s all kinds of time jumps going on, but they find it better than having Arya on a motherfucking boat for four episodes. I get it… I suppose.
What actually bothered me more on a logistical level for this scene was how the F did Arya kill Walder’s two sons, cook them into a pie, and have no one notice this? Like really!?! That said, this was another great bookgeek payoff with the Frey Pie being served.
Also, apparently Arya is NOT going home and is just going to travel the country being all murdery? I’m very curious as to who she’s going to go after next. I would think Cersei, but methinks that she is most definitely not going to be the one to take the queen down. I still don’t see how Arya fits into the big war brewing up North, which makes me think that she’s gonna go out soon… though I’ve been worried about her for a while, and have been wrong the whole time.
And the fact that I worry about such an unrepentant killer has me concerned about a whole lotta things going on in my psyche. Anyway….
Segueing into Jaime and Cersei, brotherlover CANNOT be pleased at what she did. I mean, he killed a king he swore to protect to stop him from doing what his sisterlover just did! This isn’t going to end well. It also has me wondering where Jaime’s storyline goes from here and how it ties into the BIG battle that we are going to rapidly approach when things start up again next spring. Seriously, though, we gotta wait for SPRING for this shit to come back on??? My Sundays are now ruined.
One last note here, because I didn’t get to it above. The shot of the Greensplosion blasting through the underground tunnels was the same one from Bran’s vision, which shows that he can not only see past events, but future ones as well. Hella interesting, for sure.
JIM: In what was probably your favorite scene of the series so far, back in Mereen, your boy Daaaaarrrriooo was sent packing, as Dany can have no entanglements back in Westeros. He confessed his love to her but as she confessed to Tyrion afterwards, she felt nothing, Jon Snow. Tyrion gives a nice speech about how he never believed in anything before but he does believe in her.
Cut to Dany and her hordes on ships as “Come Sail Away” blared over the soundtrack and Varys played air guitar in the background. Ok, that was only my version, but most importantly we are leaving Mereen behind as Dany FINALLY sets sail for Westeros.
As outlined earlier, she has quite the crew with her and seems relatively unstoppable. Now that it’s confirmed there are two seasons left, there are two great wars to come—Targaryen vs Lannister and Everybody vs The White Walkers. Where will Dany land her ships? Can Cersei and Jaime mount a serious defense against Dany? What happens if/when Aunt Dany meets Nephew Jon Snow?
ES: Firstly, I can’t believe you didn’t touch on the whole Dany/Tyrion scene where he says he believes in her and she names him Hand of the Queen! Is that the first time that Tyrion kneels? I know that Joff was yelling at him to kneel at the Purple Wedding, but I don’t believe he did.
I thought this scene was surprisingly touching, though I fear that Tyrion may be heading into that whole “love” territory with his newly accepted queen, and that is just…… ehhhhhhhhh….. no. I hope this doesn’t become a plot point, unless he’s somehow who she’s going to marry?? I find that notion doubtful, though. Especially because Targaryens are noted for their incest, so she may as well end up with her nephew.
And Dany left someone in Meereen? I don’t recall that. I don’t even know what you’re talking about here. (Side note: good. fucking. riddance. jerk.)
I can’t see how the Lannisters stand a chance, but after last week, I don’t put anything past Cersei. It’ll be interesting to see how she goes out, though, for sure.
Also, how fucking EPIC was that last shot of ALL THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ BOATS? Like seriously. Did you take a good hard look at them?
JIM: Speaking of snow, the Maesters of the Citadel have officially confirmed that winter is here. Oh, ya think so, doctor? In Winterfell, Sansa apologizes to Jon for not telling him about Littlefinger and the Vale Knights and Jon wisely points out they have too many enemies to fight amongst themselves.
Littlefinger finally finished reading “How to Seduce the Woman You Sold to a Sadist in 10 Easy Steps” and approaches Sansa with his “vision” of his master plan, which consists of himself on the Iron Throne with Sansa by his side. He moves in for the kiss but she stops him short.
Later in Winterfell’s great hall, Jon is hailed as the King in the North after a rousing speech from young Lady Mormont unifies all of the houses who failed to answer Jon’s call like 4 days ago. I’m not sure I’d feel secure with such fickle fuckers on my side.
Except for Lady Mormont who deserves her own spinoff show at this point.
Littlefinger quietly seethes while telepathically telling Sansa they should be following her, not Jon. Do you think he can successfully drive a wedge between Sansa & Jon? If he can’t, does he resort to more violent means? How do you think Jon feels about the sudden adoration? He’s got to be wary considering it got him shivved in the past, right?
ES: Okay, so the amazing Lady Mormont was just handing out SERIOUS ass whoopings… and I was eating it ALL up! It made me wonder if they wrote the character that way, or they saw what a force of nature Bella Ramsey is and gave her more to do? She’s fantastic either way… especially for an actress so young. Phenomenal.
I will say this, though, seriously, who the fuck knows how much time has passed since the battle and this scene? The show is obviously and ridiculously condensing time here, so this could really be weeks after… or even like a month or so. Still, that’s not a whole lot of time, and your point about being fickle stands. And I think that it would definitely have to make Jon nervous. How could it not?
I also found it interesting that the dude basically blew the battle by charging in after Rickon, and after what should have been a terrible defeat if it wasn’t for Sansa, Littlefinger, and the Knights of the Vale, he’s THEN named King in the North? Odd that this honor comes on the heels of what should have been a spectacular failure on his part.
The thing that really struck me about this scene, though (other than Lyanna Mormont), was the look exchanged between Sansa and Littlefinger, and how her face shifted from somewhat happy (she even was smiling as the Little Bear was raining down ALL KINDS of shame on the Northern lords) to gravely serious. And the truly interesting thing about this was, does this mean that she has some sort of jealousy of Jon and is now thinking about joining Team Littlefinger to see his dreams come true? OR, and this is what I thought initially, does she now realize that Jon’s become an obstacle to Littlefinger, and that he is now going to have Jon in his crosshairs? I mean, Jon is seriously no match for Littlefinger if the dude wants to take him out. Amirite?
One final note from me here on the season as a whole… Due to how terrible some things were when they went off book with the show (see: Dorne), I was concerned that this season was going to be disappointing because they didn’t have George R.R. Martin’s story to draw off of. And I found out this season that those fears were completely unfounded, as I think this was quite possibly the best, most enjoyable season of the show so far.
Now some of that may have to do with the fact that I didn’t know many of the details of what was going to happen, so there’s the sheer shock factor for the first time. But even if you just look at the last two episodes of this season, I think they just crushed it, especially when you throw in some of the other amazing episodes (see: Door, The). SO many questions were answered, SO much was paid off, more and more characters are meeting up with each other, while people are moving into position for endgame. I simply cannot WAIT until we get to see what happens next!