In the distance, two figures are talking. The taller of the two, a woman all in red, has her head bowed. The other figure is a child. They have been talking for some time. There was much to say, and much to hear. The other spirits, ever protective of the child, keep watch but hang back. This is the child’s moment. The Red Woman arrived in flames, but the fire and the smoke faded almost immediately. The child has nothing to fear any more. Besides, a funeral in the world below has caught their attention.
Jorah: [softly] Don’t cry, Khaleesi.
Theon places his hand where Sansa’s direwolf pin would be.
Robb: See? You are a Stark now.
Edd: It’s a bit weird watching your own funeral.
Beric: It makes a pleasant change, to be honest.
Thoros: The world needed you, my friend.
Stannis: Why are they burning all the bodies? Isn’t that a waste of firewood now the threat has gone? Don’t they need the wood for Winter?
Edd: They promised they would burn the bodies.
Olenna: It’s quicker and more efficient than trying to bury all of them.
Viserys: They could have just got the dragons to do it.
Margaery: Daenerys still isn’t popular in the North. Having her dragons burn the dead might have looked disrespectful.
Edd: I wouldn’t have minded. A flame is a flame.
Olenna: I don’t think she would have been able to give that order. It may have been a dracarys too far.
Jorah: My queen has a tender heart.
Olenna: She’s not too fond of you, King Robert.
Robert: [awkwardly] Well… Look, she was a legitimate threat!
Tywin: It’s true.
Robert: [gasps in delight] YES! MY BOY!
Olenna: It seems she has a brain as well. Not the only one who’s clever… My dear girl, that Imp of yours hasn’t had a good idea in years. Why does Sansa look so affronted?
Margaery: [sighing] She’s not as good at this game as she thinks she is.
Olenna: Ugh, this Bran fellow is so tedious.
Margaery: Toasting Arya — that was nicely done. Arya’s victory becomes hers.
Olenna: She’s using her charm more effectively today. That’s the happiest those Northerners have ever looked.
Olenna: I think we spoke too soon, my dear. All it takes to undermine her is a drunken wildling.
Margaery: I thought you liked him.
Olenna: He’s better in the field than at a feast. Killing things? Yes. Politics? No. Someone shut up this oaf.
Jorah: She made those dragons. Raised them. Trained them. Tested them in battle. Jon sat on Rhaegal twice.
Olenna: Like a sack of potatoes, too.
Margaery: Why isn’t he praising her?
Jorah: I never trusted him.
Viserys: I know this feeling… Watching someone else win over a room full of thugs and take what is yours…
Jorah: Is that what happened, Viserys?
Olenna: So, Tyrion is now stupid and cruel. That’s quite a turn of events.
Tywin: He was never clever. He had a certain kind of low cunning, that’s all.
Olenna: Someone take the idiot wildling outside and throw a pail of water over him. He’s a liability at this feast.
Margaery: We’ve seen worse feasts, grandmother.
Olenna: Of course the Imp is giving Tormund more wine. Unless it makes him pass out, that’s another terrible idea.
Olenna: Oh, now he’s reached the maudlin stage. Self-pity isn’t a good look for him.
Robert: The Hound’s mood hasn’t improved much either.
Ned: Did drinking ever do much to improve your mood, my friend?
Robert: You should have seen me without it. As long as the Hound gets to kill what’s left of that brother of his, I’ll be happy.
Oberyn: I can’t believe the Mountain is still standing.
Tywin: He won, Prince Oberyn. You lost.
Stannis: It was a draw, actually. We’ve been through this before.
Robert: Arya turned down my boy?
Ned: That’s not her, my friend.
Robert: Yes it is!
Ned: No… That’s not what I meant.
Olenna: Maybe his performance left a lot to be desired?
The ghosts giggle. Robert pouts.
Margaery: Oh look! Jaime and Brienne! [She claps her hands in delight.]
Jorah: [softly] Jon Snow got one thing right at least. [He turns away.]
Robert: We’re all a bit uncomfortable with Daenerys and Jon kissing, Ser Jorah.
Cat: I know.
Cat: That secret came at a high cost. For a very long time. But it was for a good reason.
Ned: When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. That’s what Cersei said. I never wanted him to play this game.
Cat: Whether he wants it or not, it doesn’t matter. It will only lead to ruin.
Ned: Daenerys is right. Keeping it a secret was, and is, the only way.
Cat: He is a good man. He is so much like you.
Ned: Starks belong in the North.
Cat: Yes, but —- forgive me —- he’s good at a lot of things. Apart from keeping secrets. But he wouldn’t be a good king.
Lyanna: He’s my king.
Cat: King in the North, perhaps. But not Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
Robert: Being a King is all politics, Little Bear. You wouldn’t like it.
Ned: He would hate it.
Robert: Just as you did.
Ned: I wasn’t a king, my friend.
Robert: You were. Cat’s right. You are a good man, and being my Hand killed you. Jon’s better in battle than he would be on a throne.
Olenna: Forgive me, your grace, I am only an old woman, and know so little of warcraft… Is he really much better in battle?
Edd: He saved Castle Black.
Edd: Fine. What about Hardhome?
Stannis: That decision got him stabbed by his own men.
Robert: He took back Winterfell! Defeated the Bolton bastard!
Stannis: He abandoned his plan, broke ranks, got most of his men killed, was out-manoeuvred, and was only saved by the magical arrival of the Knights of the Vale.
Olenna: And what was his great moment in the battle against the dead? Sending thousands to their deaths? Crashing his dragon? I’m surprised he kept his seat as long as he did. Was it baiting the Night King into raising the slain? Being saved by Daenerys again? Or was it shouting impotently at Viserion? The boy’s talent seems to be failing upwards. Or perhaps he is just desperate to join us all here. Yes, yes, he is a good man. But what good is a noble heart without cunning? He hasn’t got the brains or even the stomach to be king.
Tywin: For once, I agree with you.
Olenna: What a terrifying prospect.
Olenna: It seems Tyrion doesn’t have the stomach for the job either.
Robert: Who is the new prince of Dorne?
Oberyn: [shrugs and looks baffled]
Margaery: Jon’s plan is to starve the people of King’s Landing. And he thinks this will make the common folk love Daenerys and hate Cersei?
Olenna: Is this really the best they can do?
Stannis: Sansa never misses an opportunity to undermine Daenerys, does she?
Cat: Is she wrong?
Olenna: Come now, we all know she’s not really saying this for the health of her men.
Margaery: She needs to work on her tone.
Viserys: She will wake the dragon.
Olenna: Perhaps it would be better if she did.
Margaery: Ooh, Ser Jaime is staying in Winterfell! It seems like he’s found something in the North that he likes after all!
Robert: What are your girls playing at, Ned?
Olenna: Have they all been drinking suspicious wine? On one side, Cersei, the Monster Queen. A woman who blew up her own city, because her crimes had come back to haunt her. On the other, a woman they don’t quite trust. My, my. Such a quandary.
Margaery: What has she done to make them hate her so much?
Ned: She has an unfortunate last name.
Olenna: So do Tyrion and Jaime. And Podrick, for that matter. This all reeks of Littlefinger. He might be dead but his influence lingers like the stench of rotten guts on a Summer’s day. I wish I had had the chance to teach Sansa a thing or two.
Theon: [frowning] Did Tyrion just make a joke about Brienne’s height?
Olenna: I am really starting to dislike that man.
Robert: Oh, here comes trouble.
Cat: [shocked] She’s going to give him Riverrun?
Olenna: My house!
Tywin: The only thing that man deserves is a quiet knife in the back.
Olenna: It is really quite disturbing how much we are in agreement with each other today.
Tywin: Ser Bronn of the Blackwater has outlived his usefulness. He will continue to extort my children until someone puts a stop to it. Permanently.
Olenna: I’d drink to that. Upstart cut-throat.
Oberyn: So, the Hound is going to kill his brother. Arya’s going to kill Cersei. Why didn’t they just make this the official plan? Why send the armies when you can send an assassin? She has defeated the Night King. One Lannister Queen will be easy.
Stannis: It’s folly to attack King’s Landing. They have learned nothing from the Blackwater. I did. They should do what I did instead, when I went to the Wall. Act like a ruler.
Beric: There is lawlessness and anarchy across the kingdoms. The Brotherhood isn’t there to help any more. She could restore order, one kingdom at a time. Cersei Lannister doesn’t care about the people.
Jorah: It would be like the purging of Slaver’s Bay. She would pick up friends along the way. Free the people from oppressors.
Cat: There are a lot of empty great houses. She could tour the kingdoms, installing allies in those seats where she cannot find a friendly heir. Have them call their banners. Raise a Westerosi army.
Robert: All Cersei would have left would be King’s Landing. She would just be a miserable queen in name only, perched on an uncomfortable throne.
Renly: Eventually, Daenerys would draw out the Golden Company, and destroy them.
Tywin: A soft conquest? It would take time. But it could work.
Ned: [sighs again]
Cat: Sansa, what have you done?
Margaery: She thinks she is doing the right thing…
Cat: She has betrayed her family. And may have started a civil war.
Viserys: When Targaryens branch out into rival groups, it doesn’t end well…
The direwolves whine and whimper when they see their brother, injured but alive.
Edd: Sam the Slayer, you little devil!
Ned: At least they aren’t going to name the baby after its uncle…
Robb: Wait, isn’t Jon going to say goodbye to Ghost?
The direwolves growl. Ser Pounce hisses.
Cat: Direwolves aren’t pets.
Rickon: No. They are family.
Ned: Ghost will be happier in the North.
Rickon: He should have said goodbye.
Ned: He will be safer too.
Rickon: Ghost doesn’t want to be safe. He wants to be with Jon.
Olenna: For a supposedly clever man, has Tyrion ever pondered the definition of the word ‘secret’?
Margaery: Does Jon really have a better claim to the throne? Stannis, I’m sure you know.
Stannis: Yes and no. If this was just about succession, then yes. You can’t ignore the line of succession just because you don’t like it. [he looks pointedly at Renly]
Renly: Even if the next in line would be a terrible king?
Stannis: [glares at him before continuing.] But this is not a case of succession. It’s conquest.
Margaery: She’s not behaving like a conqueror though, is she?
Margaery: And the Baratheons took the throne by conquest, but also claimed succession.
Stannis: Yes. In a way. For a time.
Margaery: Even though there were other living heirs.
Stannis: It was mostly conquest. With a claim based on succession.
Viserys: [coughs] Usurpers.
Margaery: If Jon was offered the throne, he could abdicate and pass it to the next in line, Daenerys, anyway.
Olenna: She’s a true dragon. She shouldn’t have to be given power by a man.
Ned: And neither of their families would ever be safe.
Robb: Father! Jon would be a just and noble king! Wouldn’t he, Theon?
Theon: Please don’t make me choose a side.
Jorah: Everything they are saying about Jon is just as true of her, if not more so.
Robert: What we can all be sure of, however, is that Cersei Lannister’s arse has no business being on that throne.
Olenna: Except it is, so it does. She took it, so she has it. Conquest, your grace.
Stannis: She seized it, she didn’t conquer it.
Olenna: Either way, her arse is on the right seat at the right time.
Robert: Not another one!
Olenna: Ugh, not this pirate again. I look forward to Drogon burning him to a crisp. I want to see his eyeballs melt.
Jorah: Fly away, Khaleesi!
Viserys: BURN HIM, DANY! BURN THEM ALL!
Jorah: Oh gods, the fleet…
Olenna: Oh come on. How is Cersei going to pass off that spawn of hers as a little baby pirate?
Robert: [affronted] She can be quite convincing you know.
Jorah: Oh, sweet Missandei, no…
Tywin: Varys would never have dared to talk to another ruler like this.
Olenna: No, he just quietly replaced them. This is some progress, perhaps?
Robert: Are you on his side again now?
Olenna: No. He occasionally makes some sense. But he is also failing to offer an alternative. The spider’s web has shrunk, it seems. Tyrion’s alternative is what? Appeal to Cersei’s better nature? She doesn’t have one!
Jorah: My queen is not a tyrant!
Olenna: A couple of decisions he doesn’t like, and suddenly Varys is abandoning Daenerys? How long did he give you, Robert? And Joffrey? And for a eunuch, he places a lot of faith in the power of cocks.
Oberyn: Your kingdoms are so uncivilised. We don’t rank our heirs based on whether they have a cock. Or our lovers, for that matter. Besides, which great lords are left to worry about what is between their ruler’s legs?
Jorah: Is she too strong for Jon, or too strong for you, Varys? [He sighs] She still needs me.
Olenna: I suspect Varys may be joining us soon. How he can speak of regicide and still act like a sanctimonious protector of the realm is beyond me.
Tywin: You have a problem with regicide now?
Olenna: I have never pretended to act for the good of the people. I protected my granddaughter first, and did the Seven Kingdoms a favour in the process.
Margaery: Oh damn you, Jaime Lannister.
Renly: You utter bastard.
Cat: He’s back on my list.
Jorah: I remember the first time I met Missandei. She was a slave. My queen freed her. She became one of her dearest friends. And Cersei has put her back in chains. I saw my queen burn Astapor and break chains across Slaver’s Bay. She will not stand for this.
Olenna: Nor should she.
Robert: Gods, why is he trying to talk to Cersei again? It didn’t work last time!
Olenna: And he’s wrong. She is a monster.
Robert: [gleefully] Has Tyrion just ruined Cersei’s plan for the baby?
Olenna: I don’t know. That pirate doesn’t look very bright.
They watch, aghast, as the Mountain takes Missandei’s head.
Robert: You heard her, Daenerys! BURN THEM!
Olenna: BURN THEM ALL!
Viserys: DO IT!
Cat: She has lost two children, most of her troops, and her closest friends. Who could blame her?
Oberyn: DRACARYS! Burn the mad queen!
Margaery: THE HATEFUL BITCH DESERVES IT!
Across the space, hordes of Dothraki and the fallen Unsullied join in the call. More and more voices join in. The direwolves howl in support. Ser Pounce meows his approval. When the spirit of Missandei appears, the air is thick with cheers. She is startled, but quickly turns to watch the action below.
Missandei: Zaldrizes buzdari iksos daor.
Far away in the depths of the space, the spirits hear the terrifying echo of two dragons, roaring.
Header Image Source: HBO