The snow is beginning to melt – looks like killing young Shireen was the right choice, from Melisandre’s point of view. Of course, nearly half of Stannis’ troops deserted before dawn, and still more “good” news awaits Stannis: his wife hanged herself from a tree. Stannis truly has nothing left but to continue the march toward Winterfell. They are haggard and diminished; Stannis proclaims their siege will begin at sunrise. But they don’t get that chance – the Bolton army is coming, fast.
While the rest of the castle is busy preparing for battle, Sansa sneaks out of her room and makes it to the tower with her candle. However, Brienne just misses the signal. Podrick spied Stannis’ army marching forward and alerted Brienne, who decided to pursue her first mission: to kill Stannis Baratheon. She has hardly been gone for two minutes before Sansa’s candle appears. While in the tower, Sansa sees the Bolton army rushing towards the Stannis army. The scope is incredible; the Boltons must outnumber the Baratheons three to one. Seeing this, Sansa hurries back to her room.
Bolton’s army wins handily. Ramsay slaughters everyone he can find, and when one remaining, injured Baratheon soldier offers his surrender, Ramsay takes it – and stabs him anyway. Stannis, above all odds, is still alive – but he is badly injured, both physically and emotionally. So when Brienne introduces herself and accuses him of murdering his brother, he doesn’t deny it. She offers him his last words, which are, “Go on, do your duty,” and Brienne kills him.
On her way back to her room, Sansa is confronted by Myranda, who has a bow and arrow at the ready. Reek hovers just behind her, clearly having ratted out Sansa. Sansa is pretty much ready to die: “Let it happen while there is still something of me left.” Myranda chuckles and informs Sansa that she cannot die until she has produced a male heir or two for Ramsay. The insinuation seems to be that she will mutilate Sansa, leaving her enough to have children, then when the children are born, Ramsay will have his way with her until she is dead. Myranda raises her bow again and seems ready to proceed with her maiming, when Reek, at the last minute, decides to grow the pair that Ramsay took from him, and tackles Myranda. She falls over the fall and splats on the ground. Ramsay and his troops are returning to the stronghold, and Reek rushes Sansa off. But the old glimmer of Theon is starting to come back, so rather than return Sansa to her prison, he helps her up onto the wall. Holding hands, they jump. I am assuming the thought process behind this is that if the snow is thick enough, it will act like an air bag and allow them to land reasonably safely. Of course, I have never been in snow, so I don’t really know – seems dicey to me.
Meryn Trant has a new cadre of underage girls to abuse, and he starts his fun with caning. The first two girl scream and cry under the caning, but the third girl, her hair obscuring her face, is silent and motionless. She takes three more canings without emotion, and finally reveals her face – it’s not Arya. Trant dismisses the other two girls, seeing this third girl as a challenge. He sucker punches her, and she doubles over. When she stands, she reveals that she is, indeed, Arya, wearing a mask and wig. Trant recognizes her, but can’t say or do anything. Arya attacks him in a brilliant, visually horrifying way: she jumps him, immediately stabs out his eyes, gags him, and starts cutting him while she screams and explains why she is killing him. She reminds him she is Arya Stark, tells him that he is no one, nothing, then slits her throat. I have never loved Arya more than in that moment.
Arya returns to the temple and puts her mask away. Jaqen and the blonde are there, waiting for her. Jaqen accuses Arya of taking a life that wasn’t hers to take; now a life is owed, and only a death can pay for life. The blonde is gleeful and holds Arya back while Jaqen produces a vial of poison. Instead of pouring it down Arya’s throat, he drinks it himself and drops dead instantly. Arya flips out and rushes to Jaqen’s side. “He’s not your friend; he was no one,” says a voice behind her. It is Jaqen. Arya pulls the face off the corpse. And another. And another. “The faces are for no one; you are still someone,” Jaqen continues. “And to someone the faces are as good as poison.” Arya freezes when she pulls off a face, and discovers her own on the corpse. She starts screaming as she loses her sight. I am not sure if this is because she went first for the eyes on Trant, or if her face is being erased all together.
On to Dorne! Doran, Ellaria, and her daughters are seeing off Jaime, Myrcella, Trystane, and Bronn. Ellaria gives Myrcella a deep kiss goodbye, and Tyene says a naughty goodbye to Bronn. On the ship, Jaime sits with Myrcella and congratulates her on an arranged marriage that is working out much better than most arranged marriages do. Then Jaime sits, takes a serious tone, and attempts to tell Myrcella that she is his daughter. She assures him she knows; he doesn’t think she does. “I know about you and mother. I’m glad that you are my father.” She hugs him, and Jaime is stunned – but gives in to the warm gesture. She smiles up at him… then blood starts pouring out of her nose and the girl collapses. Back on the docks, blood drips from Ellaria’s nose. Her daughter passes her a hankie, and after dabbing the blood away, she takes the antidote that hangs around her neck.
In Meereen, Tyrion, Daario, and Jorah are sitting in the queen’s chambers, trying to figure out the next move. It is finally decided that Daario and Jorah will head out to find Daenerys, while Tyrion remains with Missandei and Grey Worm to govern. Tyrion isn’t particularly happy about this, until Varys shows up. “You need to learn which friends are not your friends,” he advises. This is not supposed to be a threat; I think Varys is trying to promise his friendship, but it just comes across as sketchy. Could Varys be behind the Sons of the Harpy attacks?
Drogon has taken Daenerys to, seemingly, the middle of nowhere. Drogon is in pain and ignores his master’s pleas to take her home. He licks his wounds, and Daenerys climbs on his back, trying to force him to fly. Drogon is weak and in pain and tosses her off, then lays his head down to take a nap. She grouses about how he could at least get her some food (what a b*tch) and wanders off to find some. Out of sight of Drogon, a man on a horse appears over the hills. More and more join him, and Daenerys is soon surrounded by an enormous horde of Dothraki, circling her menacingly. She drops her ring before they get too close.
Cersei has decided to confess, and is brought to the High Sparrow. She thinks this will set her free, and admits to “laying with a man outside the bonds of marriage.” She will only admit to Lancel; she swears he is the only one. High Sparrow seems to be suspicious of this and addresses rumors of her children’s parentage. Cersei insists those were lies from Stannis in an attempt to wrest the throne away from her children. High Sparrow accepts this, but tells Cersei she will still need to go to trial, “which will separate truth from falsehoods.” High Sparrow agrees to allow her to see her son… but first she must atone.
Back in her cell, Cersei is stripped bare and scrubbed clean by a pair of female jailors. They shave her hair down, then present her, clothed, on the steps of the Sept of Baelor. High Sparrow introduces her as a sinner who is demonstrating her repentance. Everyone knows this is Queen Cersei. The women strip her and force her to walk. Unella walks behind her, ringing a bell and shouting “Shame.” Cersei holds her head high as she walks through the silent crowd. After a while, the crowd overcomes its shock and start screaming profanities at her: “C*nt!” “Whore!” “F*ck off!” “Hail the royal t*ts!” The crowds get more vicious, throw rotten food and chamberpots on her, spit on her, attempt to accost her. The Faith Militant beat back those who try to physically attack her, but otherwise they allow the abuses hurled at Cersei.
The Red Keep is within sight, and the crowds step back. Cersei begins to sob as she approaches the gates. The small council is waiting inside for her, but it is only Qyburn who comes to her aide, draping her in a blanket and insisting he take a look at her feet, which are raw and bloodied. Qyburn introduces her to the newest member of the king’s guard, an enormous – dare I say, a mountain of a man – in gold armor. Qyburn tells Cersei he has taken a vow of silence until her enemies are vanquished, but Cersei knows.
It is quite an extended scene, Cersei’s walk, which both goes to show the enormity of her humiliation and also make the viewer uncomfortable. I initially thought that Cersei would join the Faith Militant and become a zealot; after all, many of the tactics employed by the High Sparrow and his followers are classic cult brainwashing methods. But as she arrived at the Red Keep, there seemed to be a newfound hatred to cross Cersei’s face. I think she is going to go scorched earth on all of Westeros.
Sam begs Jon Snow to allow him to go to the citadel and train to be a maester. Jon does not want to lose his friend, but agrees to it. Jon tells him that he is worried that the white walkers will make it over the wall, and feels bad about sacrificing many of the Night’s Watch in an attempt save wildlings. Sam alludes to finally sleeping with Gilly, which actually lightens Jon’s mood. “Glad the end of the world is working out for someone.” So Sam, Gilly, and the baby set out for Old Town.
Melisandre rides in to Castle Black, a numb look on her face. Jon asks her about Stannis; Davos asks about Shireen. She can’t respond to either of them. That night, Jon is going over scrolls in his office when Olly comes in, saying that one of the wildlings claims Jon’s uncle Benjen is alive and knows where to find him. Jon rushes outside, where he is met by Alliser, who directs Jon to a small crowd of guards. Jon pushes his way through… but all he finds is a wooden cross with the word “Traitor” painted on it. Alliser comes up, stabs Jon, and whispers, “For the watch.” Several other men follow suit, with Olly taking the final, angry stab. The men wander away as Jon bleeds to death in the snow.
I have to say, Jon’s death does not come as a surprise. I feel like actor Kit Harington has gotten a lot more movie roles as of late, which would suggest that his workload has lightened. However, he does die shortly after Melisandre defects to the Night’s Watch… could she resurrect Jon? Would she resurrect Jon?
A strong finish to a season that started off slow but grew progressively more awesome. I was worried that GoT blew its wad with with the white walker battle, and the Sons of the Harpy massacre, but I was pleasantly surprised to see they had more juice to give to this final episode.
You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the episode using the players below!