Game of Thrones concluded its sixth season with a satisfying, but surprisingly safe finale. It was the longest episode in the show’s history, but didn’t seem to use the extra time efficiently. Other than Cersei’s violent usurpation of the Iron Throne, events played out rather predictably. Don’t get me wrong, this was a solid season finale and laid the groundwork for next season, but it seemed to have less gravity than the previous finales.
The high point of the finale was Cersei’s successful power play. The show had been hinting at the importance of wildfire through Bran’s visions and wildlife certainly had an effect on King’s Landing. The High Sparrow committed the rare mistake of underestimating his enemy. He was easily able to manipulate Cersei and Lady of Thorns earlier in the show, but did not grasp the pure hatred of her enemies. In The Prince, Machiavelli wrote “Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance…” That quote apparently applies to women as well, for Cersei clearly did not forget the humiliation she suffered during her walk of atonement. The High Sparrow, his minions, the Tyrells, and most of all the septa who punished her, have received Cersei’s vengeance. I wasn’t surprised by King Tommen’s reaction to her wife’s death, but was surprised by her utter indifference to her son’s death. Cersei seems fully committed to the Lady Macbeth route and I’m all in for the Mad Queen Cersei next season.
Besides Cersei’s rise to the Iron Throne however, the episode was surprisingly predictable. Bran finally returned, but only as a plot device. Benjen revealed some interesting details about the Wall and the war to come, but Bran was just here to confirm a theory everybody already knew. R+L=J. It’s official and not much of a surprise at this point. I was disappointed by Bran’s utter irrelevance to the show. He’s being touted as this savior against the White Walkers, but all he’s really done is flashback to Winterfell and Tower of Joy, and get Hodor simultaneously murdered and mentally handicapped.
In the North, Melisandre finally paid the price for her horrific crime last season. I was glad that Davos found Shireen’s stag statue last episode. I was afraid that the show simply ignored Stannis being the worst father ever. The Melisandre and Davos confrontation felt honest and realistic. Being a father, I felt Davos’ pain and rage at Melisandre, who could only mumble half hearted defenses. She will remain important apparently, since she was only banished.
Otherwise, Jon seems to continue following the path of his brother Robb. Following a successful battle, he’s been chosen as the King of North, after an awesome speech by Lyanna Mormont. Seriously, that ten year old is more of a badass than I will ever be. But the most interesting part of the show’s time in the North, was Littlefinger’s heartfelt revelation to Sansa. This may be the first time, other than his epic chaos speech to Varys, that we’ve truly glimpsed Littlefinger’s motivations. Everything he does is to attain the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side. It’ll be interesting to see how Sansa handles this. I’m hoping she uses Littlefinger’s love to her advantage, a skill which her mother clearly lacked.
Like Bran, Sam’s appearance was pretty useless. He arrived at the Citadel and joined it. That’s it. All the tension between him and his father, and Sam’s bold theft of the family sword didn’t matter at all. Sam just signed up with the Citadel and saw their awesome ladder. His scene could’ve been easily replaced with the white walkers, or something else more interesting.
Arya finally reappeared in Westeros, using the magic teleportation powers she learned in Braavos. The writers apparently read some Greek tragedy before writing this scene. Arya’s vengeance on Walder Frey made sense on an emotional level. It was almost as cathartic seeing Walder Frey suffer as it was seeing Ramsey die last episode. But logistically it made no sense. Besides the obvious question of how she got there, how did Arya steal the face and murder the Frey sons without getting caught?
Finally, Daenerys took her first step in understanding Westerosi politics. She was forced to abandon someone who truly loved her for political gain. She’ll probably succeed politically because she felt nothing while, essentially, dumping Daario. Tyrion gave an eloquent speech, as he usually does, showing his belief in Dany. And while it was a nice speech, it didn’t reveal anything new. Of course Tyrion believes in her, he stayed in Meereen and ran the city after she left. And of course she trust his advice, otherwise she would’ve killed him by now. While it was a nice gesture that she named him Hand, it wasn’t altogether groundbreaking.
Varys’ secret mission was to ally with Dorne, and in the process he gained the Tyrell’s support as well. Fortunately, the time in Dorne was brief and actually served a purpose. Dany is now allied with several houses and seems perfectly positioned for her invasion. The number of ships she has as well as the variety of banners was certainly substantial. Let’s hope she can claim the Iron Throne before those pesky White Walkers come knocking.
In conclusion, this season’s finale was well done and interesting, but felt very safe. Cersei regained the power she had two seasons ago. There’s a new King in the North. Daenerys is (finally!) heading to Westeros with her army. Arya got the vengeance she so desperately deserved. But it seemed like the show wasted some if it’s time. Sam’s appearance was utterly useless and the Tyrion scene could’ve been cut short. Most importantly, the White Walkers didn’t appear! These are the major villains and since Hardhome, they haven’t shown why. Especially considering the episode was titled Winds of Winter, it feels like an opportunity wasted.