Game of Thrones The Winds of Winter Review
Game of Thrones The Winds of Winter Review. HBO‘s Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 10: The Winds of Winter explosively ended numerous story-lines, began new ones, and revealed long-held secrets. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) blowing up the Sept of Baelor was one of the greatest narrative and character moments of the Game of Thrones TV series. Not only did Cersei kill her greatest enemy, The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), and all his flock, she killed off a major portion of the aristocracy of King’s Landing, including two generations of Tyrells. Cersei committed a major atrocity just to avoid going to trial and possibly being found guilty by seven septons.
What was astonishing is that Cersei had a chance to win her trial. All she had to do was be truthful. Instead of risking a verdict against her, she thought short-shortsightedly (like she had been by giving The High Sparrow power), killed two present enemies (the aforementioned High Sparrow and Grand Maester Pycelle), Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), an enemy that sought to usurp Cersei in the King’s heart (from Cersei’s point of view), and two members of Cersei’s family that had betrayed her, Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) and Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder).
Now the people of King’s Landing not only loathe Cersei, they fear her. Cersei has created a mortal enemy in Olenna “Queen of Thorns” Tyrell (Diana Rigg). Now the people of King’s Landing and the rest of Westeros will no longer have access to the crops of High Garden. Why is that last point important? The long summer is over and the long winter has come. The War of the Five Kings has destroyed a large portion of the crops of Westeros, except High Garden. High Garden’s lands were untouched by the ravages of that war. When winter closes its grip on King’s Landing and the people begin to starve, the people will have nowhere to turn. Neither will Cersei. High Garden will burn their crops before sending them to King’s Landing. Cersei can’t take out a loan from the Iron Bank to pay for food and supplies either. The crown already owes vast sums of money to the Iron Bank from Robert Baratheon’s reign, money that’s compounding interest year after year.
King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman)’s suicide after Cersei blew up Queen Margaery was another example of Cersei’s myopic nature and her inability to think outside of herself. Cersei didn’t factor into her plans Tommen’s love for Margaery. How many times did King Tommen profess his love for Margaery to Cersei? Cersei knew from experience how powerful a first love could be and that her son was in the grips of that emotional and physical tumult. Leaving him in his chamber with a vantage point of the-love-of-his-life being blown to pieces was a tragic miscalculation, one that Tommen took definitive advantage of, following his love into the supposed afterlife.
By blowing up the Sept of Baelor, Queen Cersei backed herself into a terrible corner. Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) did not look happy that: his last remaining child was dead, Cersie was the indirect cause of that death, and the prophesy of the old woman in Cersei’s past turned out to be true.
The first twenty minutes of The Winds of Winter were better than the entirety of some of the episodes in the series. That is especially true regarding the last two seasons of Game of Thrones. The trial inter-cutting with Cersei, Tommen, Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover), and Lancel Lannister kept building in a effective way until it was revealed what was to be Cersei’s checkmate move. The first twenty minutes of The Winds of Winter were an example of excellent writing and editing by the team behind Game of Thrones, topped off by Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones)’s branding, his father Mace Tryrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths)’s emotional reaction to the branding, and Queen Margaery vainly trying to save everyone in the Sept of Baelor. Killing innocent people to get at your enemies is the mark of a ruthless leader. Cersei is not a good leader. She is short-sighted, seemingly incapable of thinking three or four moves ahead, but she is certainly ruthless.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) killing Walder Frey (David Bradley) had absolutely no build-up and had no sense of resolution or triumph to it at all (though it was supposed to with the extended shot of Walder’s bleeding throat, a nod to what happened to Catelyn Stark in that very room). The viewer just watched it happen and that was that.
Here is what was odd about the Arya / Walder scene:
- Why was Walder in that gigantic room eating alone? Where were his guards?
- Where did Arya get that mask from? Did she steal a bag full of them before leaving Braavos?
As a character, Ayra seems invisible and invincible now, a ghost that no one can touch or hurt with permanence. Case and point: Ayra got sliced in the stomach then stabbed twice by an assassin that knew what she was doing in The Broken Man and Ayra was able to swim then walk afterwards. Lancel Lannister got stabbed once by a child in The Winds of Winter and couldn’t walk afterwards, a trained knight that had seen combat and had been seriously injured previously. Lancel knew what being penetrated violently by something sharp and foreign felt like, Ayra didn’t, yet Ayra, having suffered multiple stab wounds, was able to walk afterwards, and Lancel, having suffered only one stab wound, could not. It was very strange and inconsistent to see this play out. The rules were bent and manipulated from one character to the other.
Unlike the murder of Walder Frey, when Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) was made Hand of the Queen by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the viewer had an emotional reaction and felt joy for Tyrion. Unlike when Tyrion was made Hand of the King before, this time he had earned the title by delivering nearly consistent good counsel to the Queen. Tyrion was humbled by her trust in him to the point of tears. It was a wonderfully acted moment in the episode.
Also turning in a noteworthy, emotion-ridden performance during The Winds of Winter was when Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) confronted Melisandre (Carice van Houten) about burning-to-death Princess Shireen Baratheon. I was surprised and impressed that Davos subdued lashing out so well even-though rage burst from his mouth as he spoke of the atrocity that Melisandre instigated. Melisandre’s punishment was extremely lite (Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus-lite) but I guess the new King in the North was imbued with gratitude towards his resurrector.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington)’s true heritage reveal during The Three-Eyed Raven (Isaac Hempstead Wright)’s vision was a moment that readers of the A Song of Fire and Ice book series had surmised for decades. It was one of the moments readers of the book series didn’t want ruined by the TV incarnation until The Winds of Winter novel was released. That moment and Jon Stark’s resurrection are two plot points from that unreleased book that are now, unfortunately, out in the open. Aisling Franciosi, who portrayed Lyanna Stark, did an excellent job during her one scene, a scene that tied directly in Lord Eddard Stark (Robert Aramayo)’s character, the first season of Game of Thrones, and the known fact that Ned Stark always kept his word.
Olenna allying herself and High Garden with Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and Dorne was a surprising move until Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) revealed his presence. Varys was a master string-puller. When Varys heard about the destruction of the Sept of Baelor by Cersei, he realized that he had been given a great gift and exploited it fully for the benefit of The Dragon Queen.
Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish (Aidan Gillen) revealing to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) what he really wanted and her gentle rebuff were of no surprise. Neither was Samwell Tarly (John Bradley)’s awe when he reached the library in the Citadel of Oldtown. It was an impressive CGI moment though as was Daenerys Targaryen’s fleet sailing towards Westeros. My guess: Dany and the fleet make for Storm’s End first during Season 7 of Game of Thrones, the old seat of House Targaryen. This will allow for a marshaling of Daenerys’ allies in Westeros before they attack and take King’s Landing.
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