I walked into this week’s episode full of trepidation and anticipation, on top of being preemptively sad that it would be another long ten months until the show is back. I walked away from this week’s episode feeling all the feels in the history of foreverness and barely able to catch my breath.
The episode opens like we’re watching a Westerosi version of an S&M “For Whom the Bell Tolls” music video: bells toll ominously before switching to a score that would fit nicely in a psychological thriller; we get long shots of the royal family being dressed, the Faith Militant coming for Ser Loras, crowds filing into the Sept of Baelor, Tommen looking all broody, Cersei looking disconcertingly smug. Basically, in case no one has figured it out yet, we’re about to see some shit.
Ser Loras is brought before the seven septons in the Sept of Baelor for his trial. Before the trial can even commence, Loras just goes ahead and confesses to all the things, renounces his name and title, and agrees to join the Faith Militant. After they get through their sadistic pledge initiation, Margaery confronts the High Sparrow: mutilating her brother’s face wasn’t a part of the deal. The High Sparrow’s just kind of all: “¯\_(ツ)_/¯, he’s free to go as soon as we’re done with Cersei.” Cersei isn’t there though; she’s still at the Red Keep getting her day drinking on. Lancel, sent to retrieve Cersei, probably remembers how it went down last time he was sent to get her and opts to chase a little kid instead, sending the others in his boy band to go get the Queen Mother.
While Lancel’s following one little kid through the tunnels under the city, Pycelle is following another little kid through the Red Keep—because, you know, he doesn’t give off enough of a creeper vibe. Pycelle is led to Qyburn’s little shop of horrors and Lancel is led to King’s Landing’s chamber of secrets. Once arriving at their final destinations, both of them get stabbed because, apparently, it’s the national pastime to give little kids knives and let them experiment with piquerism. Margaery, not seeing her husband or mother-in-law, puts the pieces together and realizes that they need to get out of the Sept right now. The High Sparrow’s minions refuse to let anyone leave, because the High Sparrow is a total diva and demands a captive audience to witness him lay Cersei low. BOOM! The Sept of Baelor errupts in an explosion of wildfire, taking out the High Sparrow, the Faith Militant, the Queen and her male family members, the Hand of the King, and anyone else in or around the Sept.
After Cersei gives herself a little toast, we see that she’s somehow also managed to take Septa Unella captive. Cersei decides to turn the tables, prodding the Septa to confess her sins and, in the process, reveals how many of her own sins she’s committed because they feel good. As she leaves FrankenMountain with the Septa, Cersei chants, “Shame. Shame. Shame.”
Meanwhile, Tommen is still in his chambers trying to process what just happened: a good portion of his city is flaming rubble; his wife, his Small Council, and the High Sparrow are all dead. And he knows that his mother is responsible. He removes his crown, returns to the window, and just walks right out of it.
Next, we head to the Riverlands, where Walder Frey is toasting the success of his alliance with the Lannisters and the recapture of River Run. Jaime looks like he is approximately one thousand percent over the Freys. Same, Jaime. Same. After Jaime gets Bronn out of his hair by preemptively playing wingman, Walder Frey comes and sits next to Jaime, continuing to pontificate about how great their houses are, how victorious he’s been, how similar they are. Jaime promptly dresses him down.
In the Reach, Sam, Gilly, and baby Sam have finally made it to Old Town. Sam tries to explain why he’s at the Citadel to a hateful maester that could probably go toe to toe with Lady Olenna and Varys in a shade throwing competition. Finally relenting, Maester Rude Dude tells Sam that the Arch Maester will discuss the irregularities of the situation with him and that, while he waits for the Arch Maester, Sam is welcome to use the library. Sam is escorted to the library and is awestruck—like a kids first glimpse at the Cinderella’s Castle at DisneyWorld. I understand, Sam. That library also speaks to me on a spiritual level.
Up at Winterfell, Jon and Melisandre are having a nice little chat when Davos interrupts, tossing the remnants of Princess Shireen’s carved stag at Melisandre. He demands that Melisandre tell Jon what she did to the princess and, when she does, requests that he be allowed to execute her for murder. After she tries to explain herself, Jon decides, instead to exile her: she must head south and never return, on pain of death.
Later, Jon and Sansa are talking and he’s insisting that she’s the Lady of Winterfell and that she’ll take their parents’ chambers. She finally apologizes to Jon for calling in Baelish and the Knights of the Vale without telling him and Jon tells her that they have to start trusting each other because they have too many enemies to be battling each other. As he walks off, she tells him they received a white raven from the Citadel: winter is here.
Over in Dorne, we see Lady Olenna meeting with the Sand Snakes. Olenna promptly shuts down the “youths” when they try to run their mouths and insists that they let the grown women speak, because she is Lady Olenna and amazing and I love her. Ellaria tells that Cersei has declared war against the Tyrells and against Dorne and it only makes sense that they should team up for survival. Olenna makes quite plain that she has no interest in survival at this point, to which Ellaria responds with, “I chose the wrong words. It is not survival I offer; it is your heart’s desire.” And in walks Varys talking about offering her Fire and Blood! Yes!
Speaking of Fire and Blood, next we’re in Meereen and just in time to watch Dani dump Daario. Post-breakup, she goes and talks to Tyrion who then proceeds to tell her that, yep, she should definitely, one hundred percent, be crapping her pants because they’re playing at the high stakes table now. After all of that, though, he launches into a little speech about how much he believes in her and then she formally names him Hand of the Queen. D’awww!
Back in the Riverlands, we find Walder Frey sitting down to eat and creepily sexually harassing the woman serving him. The he starts yelling about where his sons are, they said they would be there at midday. The serving girl reveals that his sons are right there, in the meat pie he’s been munching on and then takes off her face: it’s Arya! “The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.” Get it, Arya!
Back up at Winterfell, we find out exactly what it is that Baelish wants from Sansa in return for his assistance: marriage. He tells Sansa that he pictures himself on the Iron Throne with her at his side and just as he tries to kiss her, she pushes him away and basically tells him, “well, that’s nice for you,” before walking off. Though, before she’s totally out of earshot, Baelish tries again to pit Jon and Sansa against one another.
North of the Wall—well, just north of the Wall—Uncle Benjen tells Meera and Bran that he has to leave them there: because he’s kind of, sort of, half-White Walker-ish, the magic woven into the Wall will not permit him to pass. Of course, if he’d wait a few minutes, he would be able to pass because the Night’s King touched Bran kind of rendering that protective magic null and void once Bran crosses it, as was the case with the Three-Eyed Ravens cave. But, whatevs; Bran thanks Uncle Benjen for the lift and then decides, since he’s leaning up against a weirwood, to get his warg on. He goes back to the Tower of Joy and follows a young Ned Stark up into the tower where he finds Lyanna bleeding out after having given birth. And, drumroll please!, R+L=J is confirmed! Jon isn’t Ned’s bastard son: he’s a Stark and a Targaryen. A Stargaryen! He’s Dani’s nephew!
Then we clip from itty, bitty, newborn baby Jon to all grown up Jon who is trying unite the Knight of Vale, the Northerners, and the Free Folk in preparation for what comes next. He gives a pretty good and very reasonable little speech, but it’s his mother’s namesake who seals the deal. Lady Lyanna Mormont proceeds to put several houses on blast for not showing up for the battle against the Boltons and then declares Jon her king. Except for the part where they had to be shamed into it by a preteen, what follows is an echo from season one: all the lords in attendance declare Jon the King in the North. Sansa looks on, from Lady Mormont’s speech forward, like a proud parent, making me wonder if she’s just enjoying watching Baelish be thwarted or if she worked with Lady Mormont to coordinate this rally behind Jon. Then she and Baelish exchange a look pregnant with, so far, indecipherable meaning.
Then we find ourselves with Jaime and Bronn on their return to King’s Landing just as they spot the plume of smoke rising from the center of city. Turns out, Jaime’s managed to arrive in King’s Landing just in time for his sister’s coronation. Dressed like the female version of Tywin Lannister, she marches into the throne room to a very slow tempo rendition of the “Rains of Castamere,” is crowned by Qyburn, and then takes her seat on the Iron Throne.
But the show’s not over yet! Just before we’re left to languish for ten whole months waiting for the next season, we get to see that Dani has set sail! This armada is enormous: Targaryen sails, Dornish sails, Tyrell sails, and Iron Fleet sails fill the screen. The Dothraki, so far, seem to be handling the open water fairly well; I mean, they’re not singing sea shanties yet, but they aren’t flipping out either. The dragons fly above, occasionally darting between ships to skim the water’s surface.
I’m not going to lie: I am definitely bummed that this season is over. It has been equal parts bananaballs and intensely gratifying. But, y’all, I am so incredibly stoked about the alliances that we’ll be following next season. Seriously, all these incredibly powerful women have teamed up to take on Cersei; I don’t imagine that Jon and Sansa will be too far behind in joining that alliance. The face of Westerosi politics has changed so much already and these ladies are just getting started. I am so excited.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rewatch the last ten episodes because, seven hells, this was a kickass season!