And with that, this season of Game of Thrones comes to a close. As an episode filled with many massive moments, it’s hard to know where to start. Actually, scratch that, we know exactly where to start…
The final scene of each season is traditionally a big game changing development. Yet while seeing Jon bleed out in the snow was a big deal, it felt way more like the sort of moment that usually happens in episode nine, with the subsequent repercussions dealt with in the finale. This time we have a whole year to mull over just what will happen next. The immediate and long-term future up at the Wall depends on the answers to 2 questions: A. Is Jon dead? And B. If he is, will he be reanimated as a Wight?
Now, the former question might seem like fanboyish clutching at straws, but as the show has caught up with the books at this point, it means that we have absolutely no knowledge of what will happen next. And there are a couple of threads hanging that George R. R. Martin and the show could pull on too. Melisandre, being a Red Priestess, could resurrect Jon in much the same way as Thoros of Myr brought Beric Dondarrion back. Seeing as this would seem too much like a cop-out without slightly more set-up, I’d say that’s out of the picture. Which brings us to B. Is it fantastical to imagine Jon becoming the new Night’s King? Yes, almost certainly. Yet it would bring a more characterised dynamic to that army.
Whatever the outcome, seeing Jon and Olly’s ‘et tu Brutus’ moment was horrible, yet brilliant. This strand with Olly feels too much like the classic ‘naive child’ trope being flung into the serious world of Game of Thrones. It worked perfectly when he killed Ygritte, as he was simply doing as he was told. Yet over the course of the season, it feels like he’s been written to have a brick wall around any mitigating factors for Jon’s pro-Wilding policies. Of course, one could argue that having had his village and family killed by raiders would set him against the Wildlings for life, but it’s always been apparent how much he respects and listens to Jon, like a surrogate father figure. This end seems at odds with the relationship the pair had developed over the course of the season.
Moving southwards, we saw the Bolton-Baratheon showdown come to a head, finally. Yet if a big, episode-defining, Blackwater-worthy battle was what you were expecting, think again. If I’m being honest, I enjoyed it being so subversive, but more so how it played with the audience before the big battle. We opened with the realisation that the snow had pretty much thawed, that maybe Melisandre had worked her magic after the sacrifice of Shireen. Yet from there it all went downhill, as commander after commander brought Stannis grave news – the Braavos sellswords were gone, his wife had killed herself, and then the Bolton army swarmed. There’s no real concept of karma in the world of Game of Thrones, yet this felt like the closest thing we might get to it. It was a bit odd smash-cutting away from Brienne killing Stannis though. Are we to assume she did kill him?
Religion has always been a fascinating element of the series, primarily because it hasn’t been restricted to partisan theology and the concept of faith, but has actually been shown to have implications in the show’s world. While it should be said that the religions of Westeros haven’t seemed to enjoy such abilities, those from Essos have been far more powerful. Of course we have the followers of the Red-God, but the Many-Faced God came to the fore tonight.
We all knew in some way that the third young girl in Meryn Trant’s line-up was Arya, And boy did she get her revenge in style, channelling Kill Bill and Beatrix Kiddo a bit, or maybe more appropriately Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl. Maisie Williams’ control of that scene was such a powerful moment for the series. The question remains as to how far she’s actually come this season though? As it turns out, that was an ‘off-the-books’ job and Ayra still isn’t ready to be a Faceless (Wo)Man. Perhaps her going blind at the end might be more significant than just a neat ending to the scene?
Moving to King’s Landing and Cersei finally confessed her sins to Jonathan Pryce’s High Sparrow, followed by a brutal walk of shame that was quite painful to watch. Along with the scene between Jaime and Myrcella – where she revealed that she knew of her incestuous parentage and accepted it – it felt as if the Lannister family had finally achieved absolution, with almost all of Cersei’s indiscretions out in the open. And then poor Myrcella died in her father’s arms, after a poisonous kiss from the vengeful Ellaria (she wasn’t going to give up that easily). It’s an abrupt way to kill off a character that was only just getting started, but it does feel like a catalyst for more developed characters instead. Lannister revenge will no doubt be on the cards next year, aided by a new, monstrous knight (who could that large fellow possibly be I wonder?).
And finally, over in Mereen, it was more of a setup episode for next year, as Tyrion took control of the city in Dany’s absence, while Jorah and Daario set out to find her. The Queen herself, however, was kidnapped by a rival Khalasar! This is an intriguing development for the series and there are numerous exciting ways it could go next year. Dany has finally hit a full-blown roadblock, not one that develops her or makes her think, but a great big ‘what happens next’ sort of thing. This should be a season 6 highlight.
All in all then, the Game of Thrones finale was a jam-packed, emotive episode that capped off a strong final run of episodes for the season. See you all next year!