Note: This post is intended for those who have read the books in the Song of Ice and Fire series. As such, the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. If you haven’t read the books yet, you can discuss this episode in our non-book reader (Unsullied) recap. Thanks!
This was an excellent episode. There was a ton going on, and a ton of it was great, but am I the only one who was seriously pulled out of the action at the very end when Varys was on that ship next to Daenerys, Tyrion, and Missandei? It’s since been pointed out to me that there was likely a big time jump involved, what with the new dragon-headed ships, but when I first saw it all I could think was, “But how? And when? And how?”
And that’s a shame, because by and large, “The Winds of Winter” was smashing, even if there were bits where the producers went for flash over coherence. I sound whiny. I liked the episode, I swear!
I’ll prove it. We start the hour in King’s Landing, and settle in for a sequence guaranteed to win composer Ramin Djawadi an Emmy. The song that plays over this part of the episode, which goes on for a very long time, is called “Light of the Seven,” and I think it’s the best piece of original music to come out the show in a while.
We see a montage of people getting dressed. Tommen, conflicted and mopey, dons a tan doublet, a jeweled necklace, and a stately stag crown. This poor, poor kid. Cersei and Margaery and the High Sparrow have pulled him apart in a hundred different directions, and the strain is showing. Margaery (oh, Margaery!) gets her hair did. We even get a shot of the High Sparrow putting on his ratty shift in that chapel where he likes to hang out. So he was naked before that? Cersei looks over all, dressed in black, with a chain strung across her front. She looks like a supervillain. She is a supervillain.
Members of the court file into the Sept of Baelor. Loras is brought in, his hair shorn. Mace Tyrell is there, and Kevan Lannister. They’re all marching to their own funeral, and “Light of the Seven” is their dirge.
Pycelle gets ready, too, fresh from a roll in the hay with a whore. He has a brief moment of satisfaction when he looks into the mirror, smiling, probably thinking that, whatever else has happened, he’ll at least get the satisfaction of watching Cersei squirm during her trial. He is dumb. He shuffles into the corridor and is found by one of
Varys’ Qyburn’s little birds, who whispers something in his ear. He stumbles after the child. This music will haunt my dreams.
Inside the Sept, the High Sparrow is getting on with Loras’ trial. Right at the beginning, Loras announces that he freely admits to all of his crimes: homosexuality, homosexuality with Renly (the crowd gasps, like they didn’t know), perjury, profligacy (a good Scabble word you can tuck away for later), and other things he shouldn’t need to apologize for. It’s pretty clear that Loras has rehearsed these lines beforehand, and I hate the High Sparrow for forcing him to do this.
Loras throws himself on the mercy of the court, which means throwing himself on the mercy of the High Sparrow. He is merciful, the thundering jackass, so long as Loras gives up his titles and claims to Highgarden. He does, and chooses to devote himself to the Seven. With Margaery (oh, Margaery!) and Mace Tyrell watching, the High Sparrow proceeds to initiate Loras into the Faith Militant by carving a seven-pointed star into his forehead. It is harrowing, and I’m with Mace when he tries to rush into the center of the room, but Margaery is still trying to play the long game, and holds him back. Of all the deaths in this episode, her’s hurt the most, especially because she was clever to the very end, but not quite clever enough.
Back in the Red Keep, Cersei is still getting dressed, her face a mask, while elsewhere, Tommen finally decides to get himself to the Sept of Baelor. However, the Mountain stands in his way. He’s not going anywhere. Cersei pours some wine and walks to the balcony.
All of this is extremely well-edited, by the way. “Light of the Seven” plays periodically to reestablish the creepy mood. We all know something terrible is coming, but the episode doesn’t oversell it.
Back at the Sept, Margaery is less than pleased that the High Sparrow mutilated her brother, but is holding it together. I want to scream at her to get out now. Cersei isn’t showing up for her own trial, so the High Sparrow dispatches Lancel to fetch her, but Lancel, showing some good instincts, sends some of his brothers to do the job and follows the trail of a strange little boy who scurries down the steps of the Sept and into a nearby door. He follows the child down a dark corridor, beneath the Sept, beneath the city.
Meanwhile, Pycelle follows the little bird to Qyburn’s laboratory, where the disgraced maester watches from a shadowy corner. Apparently, the little bird lured Pycelle here on some pretext involving Tommen, but we don’t find out exactly what. Pycelle blusters that he doesn’t have to waste his time here, and Qyburn, creepy as always, begs the old man’s pardon for what’s about to happen. A little bird steps forward with a knife.
The voices kick in on the soundtrack about now, high children’s voices, and it’s goose-pimple time. The music is brilliant because it comes in waves. Sometimes it’s just a light piano medley. Sometimes it’s insistent strings. And the organ gives the whole thing a religious quality, appropriate considering what gets blown the hell up in a couple of minutes. And the use of children to carry out some of the dirty work adds another freaky layer onto an already freaky sequence. There’s a reason Children of the Corn was a hit: little kids are scary.
The kids set upon Pycelle, and stab him to death in a mob. Blood gurgles from his mouth as he dies. Beneath the Sept of Baelor, Lancel has reached his destination: a long low hallway, its walls piled high with casks leaking a glowing green substance. The casks are full of wildfire, and Cersei has devised a way to set them off: leave a few candles melting in the middle of three green pools.
Lancel came close to being a hero here, you know. He discovered the wildfire nearly before it went off, and would have gotten to the candles in time to put them out had a little bird not snuck up behind him and shanked him in the side, which for some reason robs him of the use of his legs. All he can do is crawl towards the candles inch by inch, hoping and praying that he reaches them before it’s too late.
Upstairs, the crowd is getting restless. Sweet, good, gone-before-her-time Margaery is getting especially nervous, since she knows that Cersei and Tommen’s absence means that Cersei is probably up to something terrible. She has a great moment where she implores the High Sparrow to “forget about the bloody gods and listen to what I’m telling you.” She, too, comes close to being a hero when she tries to usher everybody out of the Sept, paying particular attention to Loras, but the High Sparrow can’t let go of his newfound control and uses the Faith Militant to keep the crowd inside. This is all cut together with Lancel’s crawl toward the candles. It creates terrific tension, and while I don’t think for a second that the candle won’t go off, I allow myself to entertain the possibility that Margaery and Loras, at least, will make it out alive.
But it’s not to be. Despite Margaery’s protests, the Faith Militant won’t budge, while below, the candles burn down to nothing. We see wildfire rip through the corridor—it’s the same shot Bran saw in his vision back in “Blood of My Blood”—and the Sept explodes and collapses in a way that leaves no room for the possibility that anyone made it out alive. Margaery played the game and played it well, but she lost to the supervillain up in the Red Keep, who sips her wine with a simpering little smile as she watches her enemies burn, and her city with it.
And the day’s not over. It seems that Septa Unella was at the Red Keep during this time, and Cersei has her chained in a dungeon. She urges Unella to “confess” while pouring wine in her face. In his reaction post, Richard called it “wineboarding,” and I will happily steal that term.
And to what should Unella confessed? That she liked what she did to Cersei. That she liked making her suffer, and starving her, and depriving her of all human contact. Cersei, again acting like a supervillain, outlines how she and Unella aren’t that different. After all, Cersei also likes doing objectionable things: killing her husband, fucking her brother, lying about it, and of course, setting all her enemies on fire. That last one makes her feel better than anything.
This is the most honest scene we’ve gotten from Cersei in a while, which is a horrifying prospect. She plans to keep Unella alive and in pain for a long time—there’s actually a funny little moment where Cersei is surprised that Unella expects a quick death. She has assigned Ser Gregor Clegane the task of keeping Unella company in the interim. Gregor removes his helmet as he walks into the dungeon, and while we glimpse his mangled face, we don’t get a good look at him. (Incidentally, I dig how he didn’t end up being used as a blunt instrument to solve Cersei’s problems—this way is less predictable.) Cersei leaves him to it, and exits the room with a grin and a few last words. “Shame. Shame. Shame.”
Cersei has everything she wants, and in revealing her true nature, loses the thing she valued most. Tommen watched the destruction of the Sept of Baelor from his room, and whether because he knows he’ll never see Margaery again, or because he can’t live with what his mother did, or because he can’t live in a world where this kind of thing happens, he decides to end it. He walks to the open window and falls out. The moment is quiet and perfect and horrible.
So this sequence, right here. It’s definitely the best thing in the episode, quite possibly the season, and maybe even the series. It pays off plotlines that have been simmering for seasons, some of the particulars were unexpected (Margaery dying) even if the generalities weren’t (Cersei getting revenge), and it mostly holds together logically. But above all, David Benioff, Dan Weiss, Ramin Djawadi, and director Miguel Sapochnik deserve credit for going all in on the sequence and creating a hypnotic rhythm that made it feel like a tragic opera. This is one for the books.
The metaphorical books, that is. I have absolutely no idea if anything like this will happen in A Song of Ice and Fire.
Later, Cersei stands over Tommen’s body, although we’re spared the sight of having to look at whatever became of his corpse after his fall. As usual, she’s impassive. I suppose we’ll have to wait for next season to get an idea of how she really feels about this. She orders Tommen’s body burned and buried where the Sept of Baelor used to be, near his grandfather, brother, and sister. Cersei’s adrift now, and that can only end badly.
Our first non-King’s Landing scene of the night takes place at the Twins, as Jaime and the Lannister army celebrate the retaking of Riverrun from the Blackfish. Walder Frey addresses the crowd. “[W]hen we drive our swords through our enemies hearts, may we speak the words of our alliance: the Freys and the Lannisters send their regards.”
Jaime, looking none too pleased to be here, is drinking with Bronn. A serving girl who on rewatch I realize is Arya in disguise gives Jaime a look. Bronn thinks she’s sweet on Jaime, but more likely she’s just trying to place where she recognizes him from. They banter about the girls at the party, Jaime does a little wingmanning, and Bronn wanders off with a couple of brunettes. Where’s that rich wife you promised him, Jaime? Huh?
In Bronn’s absence, Walder Frey wanders over and chats Jaime up in an uncharacteristically chummy way. Apparently, he feels a sort of connection with Jaime, given that they’re both kingslayers and know what it’s like for people to talk behind their backs. The comparison does not please Jaime in the least, and he makes a good point about the Lannisters not always being willing to come rescue the Freys whenever they get themselves into trouble. Ah, c’mon, Jaime—the old man was trying to connect with someone for the first time in what I’m just going to guess was decades. Humor the guy.
Later, after Jaime and Bronn have left the Twins, Walder Frey is eating alone in his hall. Certainly-Not-Arya wanders up and endures a little sexual harassment before placing a pie in front of the old man. When Lord Walder wonders after the whereabouts of Black Walder Rivers and Lothar Frey (at least I assume those are the two sons he’s talking about), Certainly-Not-Arya tells him that his sons are “here.” Walder Frey lifts up the pie crust and finds a fingernail in it. Gross.
So the show managed to work in the Frey pie bit before the season ended. It’s a shame Walder Frey never actually took a bit from the pie—this is another fan service moment. Anyway, Certainly-Not-Arya pulls off a mask to reveal that she’s actually…Arya Stark! Surprise!
Arya very calmly tells Lord Frey who she is, and then slits his throat in a way that’s supposed to remind us of how Black Walder cut Catelyn’s throat back in Season 3. And then she smiles creepily, because that’s what the Stark sisters do after they murder people.
Ah, here’s Sam and Gilly arriving at Oldtown. I don’t know how Sam managed to get away from Horn Hill without his father coming after that sword he stole (the carriage he and Gilly arrive in is markedly less fancy than the one from “Blood of My Blood,” but this is a rare happy moment in the episode, so I’ll deal with it. The production has rendered Oldtown splendidly. The Hightower stands by the bay, its base a mass of black stone, just like in the books. However, there are white ravens flying out of it, suggesting that, in the show, the Hightower is part of the Citedel, rather than the seat of House Hightower. Gilly and Sam stand agog. Little Sam poops himself. Probably.
Inside the Hightower, or maybe in the Citadel…whatever—elsewhere in the city, Sam and Gilly approach a guy I’m assuming is Lorcas, the dickish gatekeeper who gives Sam a hard time when he arrives in Oldtown in A Feast for Crows. Lorcas is supposed to have been an acolyte for 50 years, and this guy looks much younger, but close enough. The takeaway is that Lorcas is a jerk. He won’t take Sam’s letter from “Lord Commander Snow” until Sam leans way over and puts it directly in his hand, and seems irritated by the fact that the Citadel’s records haven’t been updated to reflect the fact that both Lord Commander Mormont and Maester Aemon are dead. “This is most irregular,” he says, and John Bradley cracks me up when he replies, “Yes, well, I suppose that life is irregular.” That little ingratiating smile is what does it. I didn’t much like Bradley in the early seasons, but I’ve come around.
Lorcas says that Sam can discuss the irregularities with the archmaester, and for a second I think we’re going to see Marwyn or something, but no such luck. Lorcas leads the way to the library, and hilariously stops Gilly and Little Sam from following with a bark of “No women or children!” He sounds so offended!
Sam makes a conciliatory gesture and follows Lorcas through high long stacks of books that, for some reason, have chains hanging in front of them. The maesters really stick to theme. He fondles the books and emerges into an enormous library so big the camera has to pan up to show us all of it. Sam is in heaven, and looks like he’s going to convulse from happiness right then and there. It’s a sweet moment.
Also, there’s an astrolabe hanging in the middle of the room that looks a lot like the one in the opening credits. Oh, you sly writers, you.
Up North, a white raven flies to Winterfell, where Jon is hanging out with Melisandre and reminiscing about what it was like to grow up in the castle. The chit-chat doesn’t last long, as Davos storms in and wastes no time in accusing Melisandre of burning Shireen alive in Season 5. She doesn’t deny it, although she admits she was wrong about her visions. Then there’s nothing left but the punishment.
Davos, who’s angrier than we’ve ever seen him, wants Jon’s leave to execute Melisandre. Jon seems like he’s considering it, but she points out, rightly, that she could be invaluable in the coming war against the White Walkers, so he banishes her instead. Davos, to his credit, lets her go, but warns her that he’ll kill her himself if she ever returns.
Yeah, sending away the lady capable of bringing people back from the dead is probably not your best move, but Jon’s on a roll lately so far as bad moves are concerned. I wonder if Sansa would have wanted her to stay.
Speaking of Sansa, she meets Jon on the ramparts of Winterfell as he watches Melisandre ride away. They have a good-natured chat about which of them is in charge now that they’ve retaken Winterfell—each of them wants the other to lead, but Jon presses his case more firmly, and Sansa doesn’t seem to mind the idea of taking the top spot. The conversation turns to why Sansa didn’t tell Jon about her alliance with Littlefinger, and while she apologizes for keeping that information to herself, she doesn’t offer an explanation as to why she did it. Jon seems satisfied, though. They reaffirm their bond, and Jon kisses her on the brow. The Jon-Sansa partnership is far from over.
And it’ll likely be tested soon enough. Sansa tells him about the white raven, which is sent out from the Citadel to mark the changing of the seasons. “Winter is here,” she says. We might need to change the name of this website.
Later on, Sansa is sitting a spell in the Winterfell godswood, remembering when she would come there and pray she could be somewhere else. Littlefinger saunters up and gets personal. He reveals his big picture plans to Sansa: him on the Iron Throne with her as his queen. I suppose he thought that would get her the mood for love, but she stops him when he leans in for a kiss. “It’s a pretty picture,” she says. Shut down but proper.
Having failed with the direct approach, Littlefinger tries to keep pounding on that wedge he shoved between Sansa and Jon back in “The Door.” He tells her that she’s the one to lead the North now, since she, as the trueborn daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark, has a better claim to Winterfell than Jon Snow, a bastard born in the south. Will he get inside her head again? We’ll have to wait and find out…
…but not before we visit Dorne. Wait, don’t go! This is probably the best scene that’s ever been set in Dorne, although I was digging my nails into my palms the entire time expecting something stupid to happen.
Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are chatting with Lady Olenna, whom they’ve invited to Dorne so they can strike a deal. Olenna wastes no time in brightening things up by nailing Obara for looking “like an angry little boy,” interrupting Nymeria in mid-grovel, and cutting off Tyene before she has a chance to say a thing. Okay, that’s one way to make Dorne more palatable: have the characters we like insult the characters we don’t whenever they’re onscreen.
Ah, but Ellaria still talks. Clearly, this meeting is happening sometime after Cersei’s scheme came to fruition (since Olenna knows about all her relations dying) and probably after she’s been declared queen (since Ellaria reveals that the Crown has declared war on Dorne, a very Cersei-esque move). Olenna wants justice for Mace, Loras, and Margaery, and I want it with her. Ellaria rings a bell, and then steals Doran’s lines from A Feast for Crows. She will give Olenna her heart’s desire. “Vengeance. Justice.” Varys walks out of the shadows. “Fire and blood.”
Dude, did she just summon Varys with a bell? I know the writers wanted him to have a dramatic entrance, but that’s kind of humiliating, don’t you think?
Currently, Olenna’s best hope for revenge is still in Meereen, but Daenerys is finally making preparations to leave for Westeros. But first, she has to have the Talk with Daario. He assumes that he’ll be traveling west with her, but she tells him that he’s staying in Meereen to keep the peace and oversee the implementation of democracy. I figured she would leave someone behind, but I thought it would be Missandei or Grey Worm. Show-Daario isn’t quite as volatile as Book-Daario, but he’s still the last of Dany’s advisors I would leave in charge of a city.
He’s doesn’t like the idea, either. “Fuck Meereen,” he says. “Fuck the people.” These are not the words of an effective governor. But Dany pushes on, and explains that she’ll likely need to marry somebody in Westeros to cement an alliance, and that taking a lover along might upset matters. But Daario’s not going down without a fight. “I love you.” Do you, though? “And I make you happy.” Really? “You know I do.” Well, okay. But her word is final. He takes it without breaking down or getting emotional, which was always kind of the problem with these two. I never felt like Emilia Clarke and Michiel Huisman had much chemistry together, so I’m fine with this being the last we see of Daario Naharis. Hey, he got out of the show alive.
Dany seeks out Tyrion for some consolation, which she freely points out that he is terrible at providing. Their budding friendship is endearing. See, Clarke has more chemistry with Dinklage than she did with Huisman, but then again, a cactus can have chemistry with Dinklage, so maybe that’s nothing to get excited about.
Tyrion says what the audience needs to hear. “How about the fact that this is actually happening?” Pinch me, she’s finally leaving. Daenerys is ready for the trip, but freaked herself out a little when she walked away from her breakup with Daario without feeling anything. Maybe a ruler needs a little sociopathy from time to time?
Tyrion tries to buck her up by giving a speech about his lifelong cynicism. Dinklage, as usual, acts the pants off it, but I’m not sure it’s well-written enough to earn its ending line: “I believe in you.” Anyway, he swears to counsel her, “now and always,” and she presents him with a gift: a Hand of the King pin she had made special. “Tyrion Lannister, I name you Hand of the Queen.” It’s a nice moment, although I’m not sure I buy how emotional Tyrion gets over it. He has had this job before, and has already been doing it in practice for Dany for a while. Maybe it’s the fact that someone he respects gave him the job because they honestly believe in his abilities?
Back in the North, Bran, Meera, and Benjen are approaching the Wall. Benjen can’t take them any farther on account of the “ancient spells” carved its foundations, spells designed to protect the land to the south from the undead, of which he is a card-carrying member. Still, you’d figure he could drop them off closer than this. How the hell are they going to cover the rest of that ground, especially after Benjen takes the only horse?
From their calm, I’m guessing they have a plan. Benjen stalks off to do his part in the “great war” to come in Season 8, and Bran thanks him for carrying him all across the far north and them dumping him miles from the Wall. Well, no, Bran just thanks him, but that’s all subtext.
After Benjen’s gone, Bran decides to get his vision-trip on and travel back in time to when Ned Stark defeated Arthur Dayne outside the Tower of Joy. You may remember that in “Oathbreaker,” the Three-Eyed Raven stopped Bran from following Ned into the Tower, but now that Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven, there’s nothing holding him back. He lays his hand on a nearby weirwood tree, and away we go.
We’re back in the past. Inside the Tower of Joy, we see a long-expected sight: Lyanna Stark, lying in bed and bleeding out following the birth of her child. Ned cradles her in his arms and whispers reassurances that she’s not going to die, but she can tell the end is near. She whispers to him as she did in A Game of Thrones, although we don’t hear as much of what she says as I expected. The only snatch we get is, “If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him. You know he will. You have to protect him.” And then, of course, “Promise me, Ned.” She says it over and over.
Ned weeps, and a nursemaid brings over the newborn baby. We look into his dark eyes. And then smash cut to…
…Jon Snow’s eyes, staring out for a long unbroken shot as the camera pulls out. And there you have it: textual evidence that R+L=J, that Jon Snow is the actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Honestly, I was expecting a little more confirmation. As in, I expected someone to mention the name “Rhaegar Targaryen” at some point, but the show has made a point to mention him before, and even though we didn’t hear everything that Lyanna said, Bran might have. At minimum, it seems he knows the secret. What will he do with it?
We’ll have to wait a year to find out, confound it. For now, we’re in Winterfell’s great hall, where the lords of the Vale, the wildlings, and the lords of the North are deciding what to do with themselves next. Several Northern lords that helped neither Jon nor Ramsay during the Battle of the Bastards, including the long-absent Lord Wyman Manderly, are in attendance. (Manderly is fat, but he doesn’t look too fat to sit a horse.) Jon and Sansa must have summoned them to swear fealty. Brienne and Pod are absent. Apparently, Arya can get from Braavos to the Twins and Varys from Meereen to Dorne and back to Meereen again before Brienne and Pod can make it back to Winterfell from Riverrun. But I’m not bitter.
There is much hemming and hawing in the hall. The Knights of the Vale don’t like the wildlings, but no one’s tearing out throats, so all in all things are going well. One lord wants the party to break up and retreat back to their castles to wait out the winter, but Jon warns everyone that the White Walkers are on their way, and that action is required. There is more murmuring, such murmuring as you have never heard. Little Lady Lyanna Mormont lives up to her reputation as the breakout character of Season 6 when she stands up, cuts through the chatter, and calls out the Northern lords who didn’t answer Jon’s call for their cowardice. She even takes it a step further and announces that she’d follow Jon as a king despite his bastard blood, which inspires…you guessed it…murmuring.
Lord Manderly stands up next, and becomes the first lord to declare Jon Snow the new King in the North (he also names him the White Wolf, which is one of those names you just know is gonna stick the second you hear it). Other lords follow, and soon the hall is ringing with cries of fealty. It’s inspirational, but then again, we’ve seen this scene before, back in Season 1 when Robb was made King in the North. We know that this can end badly, and there’s a significant look that passes between Sansa and Littlefinger that implies it could turn sour again. Stay tuned.
Back in the south, Jaime arrives in King’s Landing to find the smoking ruin of the Sept of Baelor. Worried about his sister, he spurs his horse on. But he needn’t have panicked. With all the other options eliminated (except, oddly enough, Jaime himself), Cersei has taken it upon herself to be crowned the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the Andals and the First Men, and Protector of the Realm. She has gone full Disney villainess for the occasion, with a long black gown with a high neck and silver plates on each shoulder, connected by a chain. Like the other scenes in King’s Landing this week, this scene has a Gothic, operatic feel, aided in no small part by Ramin Djawadi’s terrific score.
It’s everything Cersei ever wanted, but it came at a tremendous cost. What will an unhinged Cersei with nothing to lose be like as a ruler? We’ll have to wait until Season 7 to find out, but Jaime looks more than a little unsettled by the prospect.
Finally, we head to Meereen to see Daenerys off. Theon and Yara look out from the deck of one of their Ironborn ships. The newly remade Targaryen ships, black with black-and-red sails, are packed with Unsullied and Dothraki—Grey Worm looks out at the sea from one. The dragons fly overhead, and Drogon takes us by the ship at the front of the pack, where Missandei, Tyrion, Varys (why?), and Daenerys stand on the prow, their gazes fixed westward.
I think a lot of us saw that ending shot coming, but I also think a lot of us can agree that this episode was pretty terrific. It did what a good season finale should do: it set up the next chapter of the story while providing a punch of its own. The stuff with Cersei in King’s Landing was especially good, better than I thought it would be, and set her up as the next big antagonist for our heroes to vanquish. I honestly don’t know what chance she stands against the likes of Daenerys, but I do want to see those two face off.
Congratulations to Benioff, Weiss, and everyone else involved in making Game of Thrones Season 6. That was some fine watching. And thanks for you guys for sticking with us through the season. After a finale that good, it’s gonna be a long, long wait for Season 7. Let’s try to get each other through it as best we can.
Odds and Ends
Fare thee well, Pycelle. Wait, why wasn’t Pycelle at the trial? Why did Cersei feel the need to kill him separately via little birds? Maybe he was never planning to go, so he had to be dealt with another way? This feels like the producers wanting to get some version of the scene from the epilogue from A Dance with Dragons in the episode, even though the episode didn’t really call for it.
Time makes fools of us all. Particularly the Game of Thrones people. Look, I realize that things we see on the show aren’t necessarily happening in real time relative to other things we see on the show. In some cases, weeks may have passed between scenes. In other cases, it could be days, and in others hours. But they have got to do a better job delineating this stuff. The thing with Varys was the worst example this week, but it was also hard to tell exactly how much time has passed between Cersei burning down the Sept of Baelor and Lady Olenna arriving in Dorne. You’d figure that it would take Olenna longer to get the news and travel to Dorne than it would for Jaime to return to King’s Landing from the Twins, but the Jaime scene falls later in the episode than the Dorne scene. In the past, I’ve defended the show when people bring up all the time-jumping, but it’s starting to bug me.
One silver lining: with characters coming together geographically, it should be a little easier to keep the timelines straight.
Whither Arya? So long as we’re talking about timing, I could have stood another episode of two between when Arya left Braavos and turned up at the Twins to kill Walder Frey. It must have taken her some time to get a gig serving tables there, right? But my problem with Arya, if you want to call it a problem, has to do with her disguise. Her leave-taking from the House of Black and White was already muddled, but are we to imply that Jaqen H’ghar lent her a face or two now, as well? And she didn’t go blind when she used it. I guess she has had more experience since she last put one on, but I feel like the writers are getting away with this partly because they haven’t bothered to clearly define the rules that govern the Faceless Men, and that’s a little annoying.
But it is nice to have Arya back in Westeros. In Season 7, we shouldn’t have any plots in Essos. Things are truly coming together. As for Arya herself, where will she go? Will she hear about Jon and Sansa and head north? Or perhaps she’ll try and infiltrate King’s Landing further south. It’s all wide open.