Well, this is finally it, we are officially in the endgame of Game of Thrones. All of the narrative chess pieces are in position; everything has come together for the final arc of the series. Due to its importance, I thought i’d take a deeper approach with this episode than my typical vlog style video reviews. Take this as an in-depth examination into Sunday’s masterpiece, and its implications on the narrative as a whole.
One thing I wanted to address before diving right in was my main problem with this episode, the issue of “teleporting characters”. This isn’t the first episode that has had this problem, and probably won’t be the last. However, I still think it’s worth addressing. There is no way Arya could have made it from Braavos, a city on the west coast of Essos, to the Riverlands in western Westeros that quickly. There is also no way that Varys could have left Meereen, made it to Dorne, and returned to Meereen in a matter of days. Now you are probably shouting, time has passed between scenes! I was inclined to agree, until I noticed one detail, Lyanna Mormont. When Jon is named King of the North, Lyanna is still in Winterfell, at this meeting. If time has passed between scenes, there is no logical reason as to why Lyanna would not have returned to Bear Island, but stayed at Winterfell. Evidently, these “teleportation” issues are a mistake on the writers’ end. If I hated the show, I would be more pissed about this than I am; but since it’s my favorite currently running show, I can look over this without much hesitance.
Now to dive into the actual episode. I first want to address a scene that, although overshadowed by the rest of the episodes developments, should not be ignored. Sam and Gilly have arrived at the Citadel in Oldtown. This was the first time have seen Oldtown in the show, and boy was it spectacular. The design of the Citadel was flawless. The reason why Sam’s presence at the Citadel is so important for the narrative, however, is that he now has access to the largest library in the world (other than Asshai perhaps, but that doesn’t seem to be a location that will be visited in the show). With the war for the dawn approaching, it is my belief that Sam has been placed in this location for a reason. He will most likely be responsible for finding information that will help Azor Ahai, who is most likely Jon Snow, or should we call him Jon Targareyan now (don’t worry, i’ll get into that soon) defeat the Night King. After all, with all non-essential characters killed in this episode, Sam has to still be alive for some reason. He may also potentially find information pertaining to the true parentage of Jon, leading him to become one of the few alive who knows of Jon’s lineage. This leads me into one of the biggest reveals of the entire show.
That’s right boys, R+L=J is cannon! I legitimately believed that, after all that they showed already of the Tower of Joy battle, the identity of Jon’s parentage would be left up to viewer interpretation. However, they actually went through with it, using Bran’s last weirdwood flashback of the season to reveal this to the audience. Jon Snow is canonically the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, it’s not speculation anymore. Now the question of whether she was kidnapped and raped, or they were in love and ran away together is not really addressed, but hey, we should at least be satisfied that we got anything. This also provides further leverage to the theory that Jon is Azor Ahai, for it is heavily hinted that the new Azor Ahai will have “dragon blood.” Jon has also now been somewhat legitimized as a Stark, being officially crowned King of the North by his fellow northern lords. This will most likely put him at direct odds with Cersei (there is no way she will allow him to be Warden of the North while she rules Westeros), who I will get to very soon. He will also likely have to deal with the issue of Littlefinger, who wants nothing more than to rule the north alongside Sansa himself. Let’s say Littlefinger decided he wants the north. He has no legitimate claim, but he also has the Knights of the Vale under his command. If Jon and Sansa refused, he could easily have his troops take the castle, and force Sansa to be his bride. So although the Starks have control over Winterfell, it is a very fragile control. Of course none of this will be possible if the White Walkers invade anytime soon, but i’ll get to that later.
There is also the issue of Melisandre, who was banished from the North after being outed as a murderer by Davos. In one of the best acted scenes of the season, Davos reveals Melisandre’s crimes to Jon, and Jon, rather than executing her, banishes her southward. I believe this banishment will lead her directly to the Brotherhood Without Banners. After all, why else would a random group of red god worshipers be brought back into the show this late in the game. Its very likely that Melisandre will only return north during the war for the dawn, giving both the Brotherhood and the Hound to Azor Ahai as soldiers.
Now back to Cersei. The theories were right, the wildfire imagery shoved in our faces all season wasn’t coincidental. Cersei used the Mad King’s wildfire reserves, still buried under the city from the time of Robert’s rebellion, to destroy the the Great Sept, killing everyone inside. Casualties include Margaery, Loras, Mace, the High Sparrow, what is most likely all of the Faith Militant, and hundreds of innocents. What was not part of Cersei’s revenge plan, however, was for her son, King Tommen, to commit suicide in response to the death of both his wife and greatest advisor. Tommen’s death fulfills Maggy the Frog’s prophecy that Cersei has been trying to avoid all her life. However with Tommen having no heir, and no one left alive to contest her baseless claim, Cersei has herself crowned as the queen of Westeros. Jaimie arrives home just in time to see her crowned, watching as his sister becomes the Mad King he slayed all those years ago. This leads me to believe that Jaime will be the one to kill Cersei, slaying her when she goes too far. As opposed to Robert Baratheon’s forces being on the doorstep of King’s Landing when the “Mad Ruler” will snap, Daenerys’ forces will be. Jaime will once again sacrifice the ruler he is loyal to in order to save thousands, just as he did as the head of the Mad King’s Kingsguard. If history is not learned from, it is bound to repeat itself.
However, the newly titled Mad Queen’s reign probably won’t last long. Daenerys has officially left Essos, beginning the conquest that has been destined since the first episode of the series. The parallels to Aegon’s conquest are uncanny here; history repeating itself is a big part of the Song of Ice and Fire franchise. Before setting sail, in what might be one of the most touching scenes of the season, maybe even the series, Daenerys names Tyrion her Hand of the Queen. This is an extremely important moment for Tyrion’s character development. During his entire time advising royalty in King’s Landing, he was not once treated with respect and given the credit he deserves. Tyrion, for the first time in his life, is being respected and honored for his service, as opposed to abused for it. Tyrion’s character development is evident even before he is named, however; he cites Daenerys as the first thing he has ever truly believed in. While Tyrion is naturally traveling to Westeros with Daenerys, Daario is being left behind to keep the peace in Meereen. This is an extremely logical decision on Tyrion’s part; Daenerys will need to be open to a new lover in order to solidify her power in Westeros. This opens the possibility of a marriage to Jon in the future, returning the Targaryen line to its insestous roots. Leaving Daario behind in Meereen will also help her maintain control of the now named Bay of Dragons. She can’t afford to send troops back to Essos every time a threat faces Meereen, especially while she’s conquering a continent.
So there you have it, the factions are set up for endgame. After all, with two shorter than usual seasons left, they better be.
Factions (Red for Possible Defectors)
. Team Daenerys
- Daenerys and her dragons
- Tyrion and Varys
- The Ironborn
- The Dothraki
- The Martells and Tyrells (Recruited by Varys in this episode)
. Team Stark
- Littlefinger and the Nights of the Vale
- The major houses of the north
- Outliers, but probable allies: Arya, Bran, Sam, the Brotherhood Without Banners (also includes the Hound and Melisandre)
. Team Mad Queen
- Qyburn and the Mountain
With the War for the Dawn rapidly approaching, I was very surprised that this episode did not end with the White Walkers destroying the wall and entering Westeros. However, I understand why they didn’t take this approach. I feel that Team Stark and Team Daenerys
will eventually become one; but probably after her conquest. The White Walker invasion will most likely come either coinciding with or shortly after she takes King’s Landing. A cruel twist of the series will be if Daenerys successfully conquered Westeros, but falls in the War for the Dawn shortly after. However, knowing Martin, this may be a somewhat plausible end for this character.