Vinnie: I’ve been going back and forth on how to begin recapping the sixth season finale of Game of Thrones, but much like Samwell Tarly in a room full of books, I’m at a loss for words.
Well, not a loss, per se. It’s more like I just want to type R+L=J WILD FIRE LYANNA MORMONT PROMISE ME NED SHAME SHAME over and over in one continuous thought-vomit until someone sends me a white raven telling me to shut the hell up.
Ben: Too easy. Continue.
Vinnie: HBO just set cask after cask of wildfire under my brain and lit the fuse. And then for good measure a group of grubby homeless children stabbed it repeatedly with daggers. Game of Thrones blew up my brain and stabbed it with daggers, Ben. With daggers, Ben!
We will get to Jon Snow’s parentage, and Arya’s teleportation assassin powers, and Daenerys Targaryen leaving Slaver’s Bay–
Ben: Tsk, tsk. Bay of Dragons. Refresh your G-Maps, brah.
Vinnie: –Bay of Dragons behind like a shitty ex-boyfriend to be looked over by her actual shitty ex-boyfriend…but first we need to discuss Cersei Lannister. We need to discuss how instead of sitting through a trial she couldn’t win Cersei Lannister dressed up like a goddamn Cenobite from Hellraiser, calmly poured herself a fine red wine and blew a quarter of King’s Landing halfway to Fucksville.
I genuinely think the 10 or so minutes of lead-up to the wildfire explosion is up there with some of my favorite Game of Thrones ever produced.
Ben: I actually have a few gripes with this season finale but yes, that was phenomenal. Game of Thrones is usually such simple, linear show. You get big action sequences, yes, but dialogue-heavy interactions are usually so straightforward that they could take place on the stage. No fancy editing, minimal music. But this was just… nerve-wracking! I’ve sat through swords through faces — so many swords, so many faces — but I kept pausing here because I was so stressed. It was just such a departure for a show that usually runs through plot at Littlefinger stagecoach speed. It was like the mandate was for this not to feel like GOT for fifteen minutes and it worked. Those creepy little children will live on in my nightmares.
Vinnie: Yes! That Phantom of the Opera-ass score was so un-Game of Thrones-like, and yet made it all feel more urgent than any battle between any bastards ever could. From the moment Gregor Clegane put a hand on Tommen’s shoulder in the universal sign for “IT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN, BOY KING.”
Ben: And as we gruesomely learned this episode, that dude fucks. Silicon Valley reference.
Vinnie: From that moment to the second the High Sparrow evolved into a green phoenix, everything had this awful, thrilling dream-like quality to it. Like we were descending right along with Lancel Lannister into some old, dark place no one’s touched in years, filled with nothing but fire and dirt and death for anyone that dare tell Cersei Lannister she can’t sleep with her brother. It was like Mulholland Drive mixed with Children of the Corn mixed with a prestige pay-cable fantasy drama about incest, ice zombies, and dragons. Oh, man. This finale. This show. My brain. Wild fire. Oh, man.
Ben: This one sincerely pisses me off. Margaery Tyrell is the first character I am actively mourning on this stupid show since Oberyn. If there was one Tyrell that was supposed to make it out and rain vengeance on Cersei, it really should have been her!
Yes, I get it. It’s realistic: she played the game and she lost but to me that’s like killing Sansa by having her break both her legs in the jump from the walls of Winterfell last season. Gravity is also realistic but it’s not interesting… It’s a waste! Margaery played the game so well, and in the end, a couple of soldiers barring her way and the High Sparrow getting cocky is what killed her. That patriarchy, I tell you.
Vinnie: It’s a good thing Bran finally accepted his role as Three-Eyed Raven, because we found out Tommen Baratheon isn’t great at flying. I actually laughed out loud in that moment where Tommen took off his crown like “Yeahhhhhh nope, do not want this thing anymore.” Then my laugh quickly turned to “OH GOD TOMMEN NO THAT’S A WINDOW NOT A DOOR.”
Ben: Splat goes the Tommen. “King’s Landing” turned out to be an even deeper literal cut than Hold-the-Door Hodor. Brava on that one, GRR Martin. I also like the symmetry of Cersei and Jaime’s son willingly jumping out of a window when their original sin — within the timeline of the show — was pushing someone else’s son out of a window.
Vinnie: Was it just me or did Cersei seem…oddly unaffected by Tommen’s death? I mean, she’s already been through…what? Two dead kids? Three? I lose track of which child is actually hers, what with all the incest.
Ben: That was a woman snapping, Vincent. Pray to God, you never see it. Cersei has gone insane. It’s really that simple. All that statement jewelry was made by hand, rocking back and forth and singing “Rains of Castemere” to herself.
She’s the person that knocks over the board game when she’s about to lose and thinks that means she won. We now have a Cersei Lannister with no cumbersome children left to love and one Iron Throne. Man, what a great character that I utterly loathe in the best of way.
Vinnie: And she did just left a Septa locked in a dungeon to I believe repeatedly be violated by an undead monster giant, which does have a tendency to make a person feel a little emotionally cold.
Ben: …Yeah. That was… Oi. Hey, remember this time last year when every viewer wanted Cersei to get her revenge after enduring her Walk of Penance? Well, wish granted, people.
Vinnie: But “burn him and bury him where the Sept once stood” read to me as the ultimate I-Loved-Joffrey-More moment.
Ben: *adjusts B+ in Psych 103 glasses* Cersei is just pure narcissism. There’s the argument that she doesn’t actually love Jaime or her children, but saw them as extensions of herself. That is literally all gone. All that’s left is power and the monster her motherly love used to suppress. Just like the map keeps getting smaller (goodbye Essos), the character’s alignments are getting simpler too, I feel. Jaime: Tortured good. Cersei: Evil. I think we’re done swimming in the grey there.
Vinnie: So…a couple things happened up North, huh? First of all, I absolutely love having some Starks back in Winterfell. It just feels…right?
Actually, a large portion of this episode had a “time is a flat circle” quality to it, considering a ton of characters introduced long after season one got blown to actual fiery bits, we’re back to a strong conflict over who gets to sit on a pointy chair that kills literally everyone that wants it, and we have a stoic, noble man and strong, badass redhead sitting at the Winterfell high table. Now, they just so happen to be siblings, so it puts a bit of an incesty twist on things but hey, this is Game of Thrones. The Incesty Twist is this show’s signature dance, baby.
There were three scenes that left me emotionally drained, though, all taking place in or around the Northern storyline. The first, and most obvious, is Bran’s trip through time to find out the world’s most obvious twist — Jon Snow is, in fact, the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
Ben: I mean, really, did she have to whisper it? Did somebody, somewhere, drop their mug and gasp at the jump-cut to Jon’s face?
Vinnie: My mother, probably. She’s easily startled and takes this very seriously.
Also, me saying it’s “obvious” does not mean this scene didn’t ruin me emotionally on a level usually reserved for the deaths of mute giants. “Promise me, Ned” is a line I’ve seen, heard, and read a thousand times but to hear it out loud? These Starks, man. This tragic-ass family. The Starks and the Skywalkers should get together for lunch one day and compare notes on how inter-family issues can ruin the world for literally everyone.
Ben: I’m a complete sucker for people who are about to die, saying they don’t want to die. It’s just really affecting.
Vinnie: I also loved that little scene with Jon and Sansa, two characters that didn’t exchange one word since this season, up on the roof of Winterfell. It was simple, but simple was very much needed in an episode where, I’m not sure we mentioned this yet, Cersei Lannister blew 1,000-plus people into the the literal heavens.
“A raven came from the citadel. A white Raven. Winter is here.”
“Well, father always promised didn’t he?”
Why am I not shocked Jon Snow is up to date on his memes?
Ben: Okay, am I wrong or did we not first get white ravens in Season 2? Tyrion was first coming back to King’s Landing and walked into a Small Council meeting where Pycelle (that pincushion to the sketchy youths) presented one. So, what, now winter is REALLY coming? Get your mailing list together, Citadel. Nobody likes receiving duplicates.
Vinnie: Something completely different — Davos Seaworth earned his Onion Knight nickname because that dude brought the tears. It’s sometimes a shame in big, ensemble shows like Thrones that little standout performances like the one Liam Cunningham put in here largely go overlooked. You buy that Davos wanted to bring the nubby-fingered hand of justice down on Melisandre right there, because you forget among the horror of the way Shireen died that season five worked pretty hard to earn that relationship she had with Davos. She taught him to read. He didn’t recoil from her grotesque rock-face. It was adorable, and Melisandre put a match to it in a metaphorical way but also in a way that was setting a little girl on fire.
Ben: Look, everywhere in the world they burn little girls. Melisandre is right; she didn’t give the order. Stannis and Selyse did. Turning away Melisandre just seems, I don’t know, gratuitous? She is much less insidious this season. No harm in just having her around. Also, you never know when you might need a green mushroom, Jon.
Vinnie: There was a lot of gigantic mileage covered in an absurdly short amount of time this episode, the most hilariously obvious being Varys. Apparently being a eunuch makes you more aerodynamic or something because that dude flew between Meereen and Dorne and back again to make sure the last shot of the episode was framed properly.
Ben: Unlike Littlefinger and his many furnecklined robes, Varys is historically a very efficient traveler. Remember when he left King’s Landing with Tyrion in the blink of an eye just because bells started ringing? …Infamous kinslaying dwarves, sorcerers that previously castrated him: the man packs swiftly and efficiently and makes it past checkpoints in the blink of an eye.
Vinnie: But let’s focus on Arya for a second, whose continent-hopping I actually did not mind so much. I mean, the alternative is a story like A Dance with Dragons, which is basically George RR Martin describing in detail every single step Tyrion takes on the way to Meereen. Pretty sure there’s a whole chapter that is strictly leg cramp description. Cut out the middle man, I say. Or his face, at least. I love that there was an actual pay-off for Walder Frey just blindly whacking the ass of any teenage girl that comes within arm’s reach, be it daughter, wife, waitress, or vengeance-seeking half-trained assassin Arya Stark.
Ben: Ouf, there is… a lot happening with Arya, isn’t there? This season effectively confirmed that we are never getting a Lady Stoneheart and it looks like Arya is going to embody that spirit of Stark vengeance in the Riverlands. And baking the Frey pies. And possibly rejoining/leading the Brotherhood Without Banners with her old left-to-die biffle, The Hound. It just seems at odds with the “My name is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home” pledge she made last time… Shouldn’t she be heading north now knowing that Sansa and Jon have taken back Winterfell?
(Also, she totally murdered that girl to swipe her face.)
Vinnie: I know Cersei is the one who literally set an entire church full of people on actual fire, but it was Olenna Tyrell who was truly roasting fools out here. “What was your name again? Barbara?” It’s so enjoyable how self-aware Game of Thrones’ writers are of the audience reaction to their Dorne plot. They put the Sand Snakes on the sideline for an entire season, then brought them back just to have Olenna call them unimportant. That woman just found out most of her family died horribly in a wild fire explosion, and she still put time aside to be like “lol yeah that Dorne subplot sure didn’t meet expectations.” She’s like the sassiest comment on Reddit come to glorious life.
Ben: Speaking of getting the short staff, big ups to Loras Tyrell who was tortured in a dungeon for three times as long as Cersei — I want to say close to 7 months in the show’s own wonky timeline — publicly shamed, gruesomely mutilated, and then roasted alive. They’ve come up with a shittier way to die than at the hands of someone named “Bolton.”
Vinnie: But still, lines are drawn for next season, huh? We have a united North, against a rebellious Dorne-Highgarden alliance that appears to be siding with Daenerys, against a divided Lannisters headed up by Cersei-turned-full-batshit. Then you add that pesky army of the undead hellbent on mankind’s destruction to the mix, and that’s a tasty season seven stew right there. You mix that up and light a match and more than one Sept is getting ruined. Boy kings gonna’ be jumping out of windows all over the place.
Ben: Don’t forget Euron The Underwhelming; I’m guessing he’ll side with the Lannisters now that his big cock has been preempted.
Vinnie: What else can we look forward to? Coming from the South is Daenerys, bringing three fully grown dragons and a ton of Dothraki. (I want, minimum, three hours devoted next season to how hilariously afraid of boats the Dothraki are).
Ben: So, much for “I can’t take the seven kingdoms without you, Jorah.” LOL, JK, I just left the continent with all the viable ships. But good luck with with your skin cancer and junk, I’ll totally like all your pictures on Instagram. XOXO, DS
Vinnie: They’re headed directly towards a Lannister family that appears to be as strong as ever, until you see that look on Jaime’s face that screams “I have stabbed people for so much less than this.”
Ben: Yeah, Jaime is obviously killing Cersei. It will be long, protracted and in the end, he’ll do it to save the remaining 2/3s of King’s Landing or something, but there is no other way for her to die than at his hand. I sincerely don’t believe Cersei has more than a season left in her. Her character has been both strengthened and hollowed out beyond repair.
The Lannisters really aren’t that strong. They’re almost the under-dogs at this point. Everyone knows Cersei is crazy, Jaime severed their pact with the Freys, and everyone from Dorne to Highgarden hates them. Their stupidest member is on the throne.
Vinnie: Up North, am I wrong or were we getting a tease for KING IN THE NORTH: CIVIL WAR? While Littlefinger’s uncomfortable-as-hell Tinder message disguise as political maneuvering was quickly rebuffed by Sansa, I do believe he managed to sew a tiny seed of doubt into Sansa’s mind over who should actually be sitting at the head of the Stark table.
Ben: God, I hate, hate, hate this looming plotline. The Starks are supposed to be different. I hate Jon and my girl Sansa falling into some petty power squabble just because Littlefinger’s thirstiness is looming around.
Vinnie: Which makes it even more of a wrinkle that Jon is not only a legitimate Stark, but half a Targaryen as well. That dude has all the claims. Plus, he kind of came back from the dead which, as someone who went to Catholic school, I understand tends to get the people good and riled up.
Ben: Y’know, I’m really curious as to how the Targaryen in him comes into play, because as the bastard of the Mad King’s son, who himself never ascended to power, he is technically second to Dany. Although, then again, the law of succession is insane in this world. The prime suspect of a former King’s murder — a woman no less — can apparently ascend to the throne if she kills every other possible successor out there, so who knows?
Vinnie: If it was up to the Tumblr Gif-caps of the world, we’d just throw Lyanna Mormont on to the Iron High Chair and let her rule the Seven Kingdoms through pure, unfiltered prepubescent sass.
Ben: Are you really going to make me come on record and say it? Are you going to endanger my family and loved ones that way once word spreads around the internet? Fine: I can’t fucking stand Lyanna Mormont. There. She is a walking meme. A cousin Oliver and I am so over it. Every time someone shares a GIF of her, every time she gets a ZOMG listicle reordering the fourteen frames she’s had on screen, I groan. Nothing against the actress, obviously, but everything about her reeks of disdain for the internet masses.
She is insufferable and I hate that the internet is just gobbling it up. The same badassery we saw in characters like Brienne, Dany, Arya and Sansa — y’know, actual characters — stripped of context delivered into a series of GIFs and I am so over it. Hey, internet: are you losing your shit because a 10-year-old gave on-the-nose dialogue? Is she your “ZOMG, everything” now? How simple are you?
I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from… Actually, I do. The heart. It came from the heart, Vincent. God, she sucks as a character.
Vinnie: Well, it looks like someone needs a good stern talking to from a 12-year-old girl draped in wolf furs. I recommend heading to Bushwick.
Speaking of people that suck as a character: Euron Greyjoy. A small thing Jon said which I found interesting. Regarding the Night’s King: “He won’t wait out the storm. He brings the storm.” Isn’t that…essentially what Euron Greyjoy said about himself before tossing his brother off a rope bridge? I’m not throwing out any tinfoil ideas about Euron and the Night’s King being the same person (…unless you’re into that? No?)
Ben: …What? No, I’m not into that. Can I get some editorial oversight here? No, Vincent. This is Daario = Benjen territory. We’ve seen the Night’s King’s origin on screen, for God’s sake!
Vinnie: Daario = Benjen territory is where I live, Ben. It’s my own personal Shadowlands of constant disappointment. We’re holding a funeral for the Cleganebowl later today, if you can make it.
But seriously, I do know both George RR Martin and the Double D showrunners of this series love themselves some parallel and foreshadowing. His terrible introduction aside, is there a chance Euron Greyjoy is more of a big bad than we thought?
Ben: Euron Greyjoy was a clunker all the way, I’m afraid. I’ll leave him room to improve next season, but his performance here was a D-. Which is strange because George keeps releasing chapters that increase his badassness tenfold. He has a horn that can train dragons, Valyrian armor, and is being setup as a true reckoning… Who knows? Maybe he’ll get a truly killer montage in season 7.
Vinnie: Oh shit, I just remembered Sam went to Hogwarts!
Ben: They might seriously owe J.K. some royalties on that one. That was straight-up Hogwarts. Nothing to add there, really. Books and voice-overs are coming. Did you notice that the the sundial wheel thingy from the show’s opening credits is totally hanging hanging from the library’s ceiling? Narf, I geeked hard.
Vinnie: Wow, great catch. You’re offically hired to come and recap next season, which will be roughly 20 percent devoted to Jon and Sansa’s strife, the other 80 percent consisting strictly of Lyanna Mormont reaction shots. Can’t wait!