The tenth episode of After the Thrones, HBO’s in-house “Epic Weekly Recap Show,” has arrived. You can watch it on HBO Go, HBO Now, HBO on Demand, and HBO.
There is a new King in the North. There is a smoking crater in the south. Dragons are flying west. And if you’re landlocked, maybe don’t try the pie.
The conversation immediately turns to Cersei “sweep(ing) all the pieces off the (King’s Landing) chessboard” and the 20 opening minutes of the episode:
Andy: “The first 20 minutes of this season finale was unlike anything they had ever done before. An amazing tonal shift . . . What other medium would allow Miguel Sapochnik to make Braveheart one week and then basically make The Godfather the next week?”
Chris: “And Cersei Lannister, she settled all Corleone family business today . . . it did actually have echoes of that (The Godfather) and part of it was the ritualistic nature of the way this happened.”
The hosts discuss the meaning behind the choice to show the characters dressing for the trial, or dressing specifically not to attend it.
Andy: “The montage that opened the episode of all the characters in King’s Landing putting on their armor, not before battle, but putting on their clothing in a way that suggested what their identity was . . . We talked about in “Battle of the Bastards,” the way that the outcome wasn’t necessarily in question, but the way it was laid out was remarkable. This was the same thing. It wasn’t so much the story, it was the gradual, horrifying telling of it.”
Chris: “You’re talking about these people putting on these uniforms and and embracing who they are. Jon has embraced being a messiah. Danaerys has finally embraced being a conquering queen, and Cersei has embraced being a villain.”
Talking about how Cersei dominated the first half of the episode, Andy and Chris suggested that her muted response to Tommen’s death is caused by her capitulation to the truth of Maggy the Frog’s prophecy. Andy suggests that Cersei has accepted what has happened to her children because she sees it as inevitable, and now she can wipe the slate clean (literally) and start over again, this time without the hindrance of fear or emotion. Speaking of how present, past, and future are becoming intertwined in the Game of Thrones universe (remember that Bran saw glimpses of the wildfire destroying the Sept of Baelor in his vision from “Blood of My Blood”), Andy drew an eerie connection between Cersei and Tommen:
I thought about that at the end of Cersei’s storyline for this season, when she is back on the Iron Throne. She sat on the Iron Throne once before, if you remember, during the Battle of Blackwater . . . she sat on the Iron Throne with a much younger Tommen, about to kill him . . . That history repeated itself: she’s back on the throne and her son did die.
The hosts then turn east. They mention Daenerys dumping the “dead weight” Daario into the Meereenese friend zone, and Tyrion’s utter devotion to his new queen. The boys decide to have some fun and run through a list of potential suitors for Daenerys, including Jon (though Dany may be his aunt), Yara (perhaps becoming the new Daario), Euron Greyjoy (with his big offer), Jaime Lannister (the wild card), and Bran Stark, who faces issues of transportation and geography.
Andy and Chris bring out the familiar Mallory (best GoT T-shirts ever) Rubin and Jason Concepcion for the ASK THE EXPERT segment. The Daenerys-suitor debate continues, and Andy throws one more potential candidate into the ring: Tyrion Lannister. Kidding aside, the gang discusses politically arranged marriages and the history of that institution in the time of the Mad King.
Turning to the Tower of Joy, Mallory kicks things off by saying, “This was the most emotional thing I’ve ever seen” because “for the book readers this is a twenty year mystery.” The confirmation that Lyanna Stark is Jon Snow’s mother means that Jon, now important regardless of the nature of his bastardy, WON THE WEEK. Jason adds that we know Jon is a Targaryen for sure, and suggests a long-shot theory that Jon’s father could possibly be the Mad King, although the great majority of fan chatter pegs the father as Rhaegar Targaryen.
The discussion turns to Bran and how he is beginning to gather powerful secrets, though he is still geographically isolated.
The hosts and guests take a look at the new alliances (Team North and Team East) that will lead us into Season 7, and the emotionally powerful scene where Lyanna Mormont shames the northern lords into remembering their duties.
Andy: “The scene we’re about to show, where she (Lyanna Mormont) rallies everyone, this show hasn’t always tugged at my heartstrings . . . This scene got me. This has been six years of wanting to see this family which has been suffering non-stop, reclaim their home, reclaim their place in the world, and a smart-mouthed eight-year-old to get them there and it was a really remarkable scene.”
Next, Jason leads a discussion about Sansa’s relationship to Jon and Jon’s acceptance of his role as king, plus Varys’ diplomatic success in uniting the Tyrells and Martells with the forces of Daenerys. The change in the Cersei-Jaime relationship is explored, plus the hosts look at two more big teams: Team Wildcards (Euron, the Brotherhood without Banners, Arya, Melisandre, and Littlefinger) and Team Death, aka the Night King and his army.
In unanswered questions, the team wonders if there’s any way Littlefinger can make his vision of ruling Westeros with Sansa at his side come to pass, whether Jon made a mistake by exiling Melisandre, and how Arya is still operating as a faceless assassin even though she left the Club of the Many-Faced God. What do YOU think?
In their final thoughts for the season, the group acknowledges that winter is finally here, and that we have Sam researching how to defeat the White Walkers at the Citadel in Old Town, an ancient, important city. They vote on WHO WON THE SEASON, and the winner is…House Stark.
This was the best episode of After the Thrones so far, with as much time as possible being devoted to discussion. The group dug deeper into the topics than ever before, and their affection for the show is coming through in their warm humor and playfulness with one another. It took a while to get there, but it bodes well if the show returns for Season 7.