In all the many episodes of Game of Thrones, there has never been one to change the tide of its story and its history as much as this one. It was an excellent episode, incredibly engaging, taut with tension and terrific performances, and it changed the landscape of this world completely — in some cases, quite literally. There’s a lot to unpack, so instead of going the traditional route, let’s just bullet point this thing:
— The parley between Danaerys and Cersei was marvelous, in so many ways. It brought so many characters back together, and each little meeting was engaging in some fashion or another. Jaime and Brienne, Tyrion and Cersei, Tyrion and Bronn, the Brothers Clegane, Pod and Tyrion — all of them were rich with emotion and thoroughly enjoyable, even the ones — such as Sandor staring down his Frankenstein’s monster brother — that were somewhat terrifying. We saw Jon’s sense of honor be so strong that it actually becomes a detriment, almost ruining all hope of bringing their forces together to face the Night King. And while the meeting of Cersei and Dany was not perhaps as exciting as one would expect, it did bring one of the first highlights of the series, namely…
— The meeting of Tyrion and Cersei. This was the first of two amazing scenes that featured Cersei. It was filled with rage and fury and bitterness, hatred and sadness and resentment, and Dinklage and Headey were amazing in their ability to convey all of those feelings. With broken hearts, tears glittering in their eyes, and venom spewing from their mouths, they were absolutely marvelous.
— But of course, Jon and Dany will have to face the Night King alone, because even in the face of annihilation, Cersei cannot be trusted. She breaks oath almost immediately, she secretly allies with the vile Euron Greyjoy so that he may bring her an army of mercenaries, and finally — finally — Jaime sees the monster she truly is. For all her talk of letting the monsters kill each other, it’s she that he is now, at last, the most terrified of and disgusted by. And so, just as Winter finally arrives, Jaime leaves Cersei behind him, perhaps for good.
— While the scene of him battling another Ironborn and persuading them to go rescue Yara was a solid one, I’m getting a little tired of “The Redemption of Theon” stories. Enough already. There’s an easy joke about Theon finally showing some balls, but I’m going to let that go.
— And then, there’s Winterfell. I felt myself gritting my teeth through Sansa’s scene with Littlefinger, raging at the foolishness of it all. I was waiting for Arya to leap out of the dark and kill one of them. But what we got was much, much, MUCH more satisfying. I think I speak for many of us when I say that the trial of Petr Baelish was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever seen in this show. No more can he twist minds and hearts with his words. In the end, he was shown for exactly what he was. They played him perfectly, and exposed him as a traitor, a murderer, a coward, and in the end, a mewling, pathetic, worthless excuse for a human. That it was Arya who got to carry out the sentence — without even blinking — was that much tastier. Their final scene, with Arya and Sansa bantering on the wall, was wonderful, and I am 100% behind a spinoff series called ‘The Lady of Winterfell and Her Executioner’ that just features them getting into shit.
But of course, there’s more. The world as we know it, the kings and queens as we know them, are now totally different. Finally, the truth of Jon Snow is revealed… just as he falls into bed with Danaerys. Jon is in fact Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and this changes everything. Of course, it’s not like Cersei is going to cede the throne to him, but it radically changes the dynamics of the alliance between him and Dany (not to mention makes their love scene very uncomfortable to think about) and it will promise far-reaching consequences.
— In the end, the dead march on. They arrive at the Wall, and a terror we’ve never seen the likes of appears. The Night King, riding an undead Dragon that destroys the Wall with blue flame. The Wall, which has stood for time immemorial, has fallen. Winter has arrived, and the dead are marching towards the land of the living.
We are done with this season of Game of Thrones, and it’s a long wait until the final season. Much has changed. Winter, long-promised, has arrived, as has a great deal of change. We’ll see you when it returns.