WARNING: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6 finale, "The Winds of Winter."
Another year of 'Game of Thrones' is ended... and what a year it was! Season 6 ran through an amazing checklist of events which viewers have been dying to witness. Why, then, do I feel uneasy? It's not because of the long waiting period until Season 7 begins next spring. We've done this before and gotten through it. No. In fact, it is directly because of how perfectly this season wrapped up with the greatest two-episode stretch in the history of 'Game of Thrones' that gives me cause to pause. For so long, the series has been all about pain and misery for the good, and little else but triumph for evil. When we the audience finally catch a break and are given exactly what we want to see, it's as scary as it is exhilarating. Just how long will this good feeling last?
As I'm certain many other 'Game of Thrones' fans have done, I've racked up my own kill list just like that of Arya Stark's. It's a list of all the names of all the evil characters we want to see get their comeuppance. Most of the names on my list are dead now, several of them this season. Two of them in the finale. There had been many hints dropped that the caches of wildfire stored underneath certain parts of King's Landing would be set off. It stood to reason that only Cersei Lannister would think to use it... especially after the events of "No One," in which her son, King Tommen I, outlawed trial by combat. Instead of showing up for her trial, Cersei decided that the thing to do would be to destroy the Sept of Baelor, vaporizing the dozens of people inside with wildfire! Happily, this crosses the High Sparrow off my list. Sadly, it also results in our having to bid adieu to actress Natalie Dormer and her character, Margarey Tyrell, one of my personal favorites. The smartest person in the room, Margarey is the only one to notice... albeit too late... that Cersei is a no-show at her own trial.
A Satisfying Ending For Walder Frey
Satisfying as it was to finally be rid of the High Sparrow, it wasn't his death which had fans jumping in their seats. If there's one moment which shook the Thrones Nation to its very core, it was the Red Wedding in Season 3. We haven't seen much of Walder Frey, one of the massacre's chief architects, since then. But Death finally came for Lord Walder in the form of Arya Stark... now that she's finally done with that awful story arc in Braavos. Being the only Stark family member present at the Twins that night who lived to fight on, Arya made sure this kill was a special one. Drawing inspiration from the story of the Rat Cook (as well as channeling Eric Cartman from 'South Park'), a disguised Arya feeds Walder a pie made from the chopped up remains of his two sons... the ones who killed Arya's mother and sister-in-law... before revealing her identity and cutting the old man's throat. As Arya looks into his dead eyes, she smiles. Between this and Sansa's disposal of Ramsay Bolton last week, it's clear that the Stark girls are no one to be trifled with.
The number one spot on my 'Game of Thrones' kill list belongs, of course, to Cersei. She will likely have to wait until nearly the end of the series, because once she's gone there would be virtually no one left to root against. Her revenge in this episode extends to Septa Unella, who was in charge of shaming her into taking the Walk of Atonement and probably enjoyed it a little too much. As much as I hate Cersei... and I love to hate her (because actress Lena Headey is that good)... I didn't mind seeing her waterboarding (or should we call it 'wineboarding'?) the wicked Unella. But leaving her to be raped by the FrankenMountain? That's f'd up, Cersei!
Cersei Is Now More Dangerous Than Ever
But for all of Cersei's master planning, her victory is still a tainted one. Devastated by the destruction his mother has wrought, and saddened by the death of his wife, Tommen chooses suicide by jumping out of a window. This fulfills the prophecy which has governed much of Cersei's actions in her adult life. With no one left in the Baratheon line of succession, Cersei herself assumes the Iron Throne as Queen. She does so with little emotion. The death of her last remaining child has stripped away whatever ounce of humanity she had left in her. Cersei is now more dangerous than ever.
Despite all of the murdering in "The Winds of Winter," these sixty-nine minutes weren't exclusively about death, destruction and other dark subjects. I consider any time devoted to scenes featuring both Daenerys and Tyrion to be pure gold. One touching moment which would cause anyone to claim to have something in both of their eyes involves Dany naming Tyrion as her new 'Hand of the Queen.' We also see Dany and crew doing what we've been waiting for them to do for years, and that's set sail for Westeros. Considering who currently sits on the throne, I wonder what will be left of the place when they finally get there. Will it appear as it did in Dany's vision back at the House of the Undying in Season 2?
The King Of The North
We also have a new King in the North. Hopefully, Jon Snow will fare better than his brother, Robb. But that's the thing, isn't it? Thanks to Bran's warging adventures, we know now what we've always suspected... that Ned Stark was Jon Snow's uncle, not his father. All along, the mystery mom turned out to be Ned's sister, Lyanna, who entrusted her honorable brother with the safety of her newborn son. Thus, Jon and Robb were first cousins raised as brothers, not blood brothers. We can infer that Jon's father is Rhaegar Targaryen, brother of Daenerys. This would mean that Jon Snow is also a nephew of the Mother of Dragons. That's one complicated, extremely regal family tree.
I encourage showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to top themselves in Season 7. It's not going to be easy, considering the incredibly high bar set by both "The Battle of the Bastards" and "The Winds of Winter," but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try. At this point, fans need not be warned to keep their guard up, but it's worth saying. Too often, 'Game of Thrones' has reminded us how cruel it can be to the characters we love. The last few episodes have been uncharacteristically generous, giving us everything we could have asked for and more. But we're not in the clear yet. Not as long as Queen Cersei reigns or the White Walkers are still lingering on the horizon.