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‘Game of Thrones’ Review: “The Winds of Winter”

Jessica Morris ‘19 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer

With the final episode, “The Winds of Winter,” Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones has come to a close. While not everything about the episode or the season as a whole may have made perfect sense, season 6 of the show has proven to be anything but boring. In particular, this season finale turned viewers’ expectations for the show on their head. By the end of the episode, audiences were left with several deceased characters, one tremendous fan-theory confirmation, and plenty to look forward to for next season.

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

The episode begins with Cersei (Lena Headey) and Loras’ (Finn Jones) trial as ordered by the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). However, Cersei does not show up to her own trial. Instead, she has other plans that involve violent revenge. Beneath the Sept, a cache of wildfire is ignited, engulfing the building and a large portion of the city in a green inferno. Margaery (Natalie Dormer), Loras, The High Sparrow, Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), and Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder) are all killed in this explosion. Cersei’s actions cement her as not simply an antagonist to the Starks, but a major and despicable villain of the series.

Composer Ramin Djawadi’s score for this opening scene is one of the episode’s most commendable moments by far. The score invokes a feeling of rising dread and desperation from its first note. Though a beautiful piano-heavy track, you are still made instantly aware that something is amiss for these characters. Titled “Light of the Seven,” this is a piece of music that deserves to be highlighted. It is high-time for Djawadi to win an Emmy for his work on the show.

Upon spotting the blaze in the distance and hearing of Margaery’s demise, the young king Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) commits suicide. With Tommen’s death, Maggy the Frog’s prophecy seems to be becoming reality. All three of Cersei’s children are now dead. It will be interesting to see where Cersei’s character goes from here, without the love she had for her children to ground her. It will also be interesting to see the remainder of this prophecy play out on screen.

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

For now, Cersei sits on the Iron Throne, though it is unlikely that anyone in King’s Landing would support her claim at this point. Where is the Tyrell army? Why have none of the commoners attempted to revolt after their major place of worship was just decimated? It’s not even as though Cersei has many friends in high-places any longer. Every great house in Westeros is now vehemently against the Lannisters, and the Tyrells and the Martells have joined forces. Hopefully, we will see Cersei grapple with this exact issue next season, especially with Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) ships now sailing for Westeros and the Starks having reclaimed the North. Cersei will have to rally some support to stand a fighting chance against her rivals.

The rest of the episode is something of a blur after the initial shock of the opening scene. Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) is shown conspiring in Dorne against Cersei with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and the Sand Snakes, almost immediately after the deaths of her son and grandchildren. After making a speedy trip back to Westeros, Arya (Maisie Williams) kills Walder Frey (David Bradley) as well as two of his sons, finally getting her vengeance for the deaths of her mother and brother. At Winterfell, the other Northern lords rally around Jon Snow (Kit Harington), declaring him the King in the North, despite his status as a Stark bastard. The truth about Jon’s true parentage is also revealed, when it is confirmed that Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi), Ned Stark’s younger sister, was actually, Jon’s mother. Assuming it has also been confirmed now that Rhaegar Targaryen fathered Jon, that makes Jon the “song of ice and fire” of the series. For many fans, this was by far the most satisfying event of the finale.

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

With only two seasons left in its run, the show seems to be beginning to wrap-up the story by streamlining or condensing some of the characters’ arcs. This makes sense, but also may cause some of the characters’ storylines to feel rushed or unfulfilling. It would have been nice to see the lead-up to Arya’s revenge, so the audience could better understand how she infiltrated the Twins in the first place. But, with a series as lengthy and complicated as this one, screen time sacrifices must be made. It seems likely we may see the surviving Starks back together again soon, and that the show’s attentions next season will not be as far split between multiple storylines and their many characters.

Season 5 was rather disappointing (the Dorne storyline was one of the series’ lowest points), while this past season of Game of Thrones triumphed in comparison. With so much at stake for next season, hopefully, Game of Thrones will continue to deliver. For now, viewers can only wait for season 7 and hope that the long wait proves to be well worth it.

Game of Thrones will return to HBO in Spring 2017.

Overall Grade: A

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