(WARNING: The following contains giant, Wun Wun-sized plot SPOILERS for 'Game of Thrones' recent season finale — Season 6, Episode 10. Proceed with whatever level of caution your friendly neighborhood Three-Eyed Raven suggests is wise.)
Now, Game of Thrones Season 6's watch may now have ended — leaving us with a cold, frost-bitten wait for the show's return in 2017 — but that doesn't mean we're quite done with television's grittiest dragon drama just yet. After all, the season finale wasn't just loaded with murder, mayhem and political intrigue, it was full of subtle detail too.
Here, then, are...
7 Things You Might Have Missed On Game Of Thrones Season 6, Episode 10
Including: bloody vengeance, beloved fan theories, and Bronn. Always Bronn.
7. The Two Kinds Of Westerosi Vengeance
Now, while most of us were too busy pumping our fists in the closing moments of last week's episode to really dwell on it, it's worth remembering that Game of Thrones has always been particularly skilled at getting us to cheer at things we really shouldn't be cheering at. Sansa's near-gleeful dog-murder of Ramsay, for instance, was still a cruel and unusual execution (just one we collectively felt was well deserved enough to cheer along to).
That's the thing about Westeros, though — there are two kinds of vengeance there. There's the "good" kind, where the likes of Arya prove us all wrong and turn out to have had a cunning, fan-pleasing plan all along, and then there's the "bad" kind, where Cersei abandons someone to months of agonizing torture (and, it's implied, brutal sexual assault). For all that we may have hissed at Septa Unella being dastardly, was anyone cheering her horrifying fate? Even Cersei's fire-bombing of the Sept of Baelor was far closer to the work of a crazed terrorist than that of an aggrieved torture victim. Though, since she's been hinting that she "would burn cities to the ground" for most of the show's run, it's perhaps no overly surprising.
Speaking of which...
6. 'You Did It Because It Felt Good'
Westeros' double standard when it comes to brutally murdering those who've hurt you can perhaps be explained by Cersei's apparent justification for the brutalizing of Septa Unella (and the mass-murder of an entire religious movement). Doing things because it "feels good," she suggests, is a perfectly reasonable approach to running a national government — something that, it seems, puts her at odds with a whole lot of philosophy (and common sense). After all, both "The Golden Rule" and Kant's categorical imperative make it pretty clear that if you're going to behave a certain way, it's probably best to make sure you'd be happy for everyone else to do the same.
Cersei, on the other hand, is willing to tolerate only her own scheming (and her own vengeance) and has little justification for her actions beyond her own desire for power. Arya, by contrast — who looks set to commit a whole lot of bloody murder herself — is determined to seek vengeance only against those who deserve it, and on behalf of her wronged family. Vengeance for the sake of personal relief — the show seems to say — is "bad," where vengeance brought about for the greater good is, well, "good." Which side of that divide Sansa's hound-harnessing revenge falls on, however, is a whole other question. While we're on the subject of which...
5. 'Let The Grown Women Speak'
Now, Game of Thrones' whole sixth season has done a lot to address the hugely problematic misogyny of previous seasons (giving its female characters actual agency helped a lot, for one thing), but there's something particularly intriguing about a season finale that positioned women at the head of every major house. From "Mad Queen" Cersei, to the invading Daenerys (with a whole lot of Sand Snakes, Queens of Thornes and Avenging Aryas in between), Westeros looks set to spend the majority of Season 7 letting its female leads sort out its menfolk's war-torn, zombie-army-tempting, murder-strewn mess.
Heck, even up in the North, where the lords are willing to get schooled by a pre-teen girl, but not to let the smarter, less penis-possessing Stark lead them (despite her being the actual heir to Winterfell), things may well soon be set to change. After all, once Bran (eventually) turns up to reveal that Jon is, in fact, not Ned's son at all, the good bastard is going to move even further down the line of succession. After all, as Lyanna's son, he'd be behind both Sansa and Bran, even if he were legitimate, being as he is the child of Ned's younger sister. Though, on the plus side, he's now got almost as good a claim to the Iron Throne as his aunt (yup, that's right, aunt) Daenerys.
4. Of Queens, And Prophecies
Now, Cersei's grief over Tommen's death is likely to be a major factor in Season 7's body count, but that doesn't mean it was a huge surprise for Westeros' new queen. After all, Maggy the Frog did (way back in Season 5) tell the young Cersei that: "the king will have twenty children, and you will have three…gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds." For all that Cersei has made it clear that she believes that prophecy, though, there's a pretty solid argument that she was actually trying to escape it by destroying the Sept of Baelor.
After all, Maggy also told her that she would be queen, but only for a time. "Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear." Cersei (and many of us) had assumed that prophecy to refer to Margaery, and her usurpation of Cersei's role as queen, but with Margaery's death (and Cersei's ascension to the throne), it's also entirely possible that she was mistaken all along. After all, both Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark are younger than Cersei, and considered more beautiful. And they're both looking to take down all she holds dear, as soon as humanly (or dragonly) possible.
3. In A Mirror, Darkly
Now, a whole lot of the season finale was riffing on moments from earlier seasons (Tommen's death mirroring Bran's fall in the very first episode, though this time pushed by Cersei's actions, rather than a devoted Jaime, for one thing), but the most intriguing callback came in the home of Walder Frey. Having already tempted fate by paraphrasing Roose Bolton with: "The Freys and the Lannisters send their regards," Frey soon found himself on the receiving end of a moment from the books that originally had a fair bit less to do with him, but a lot to do with Roose.
Y'see, the novels' Wyman Manderly (above) hasn't yet gotten around to pledging his allegiance to Jon Snow, as he did in this week's episode. Instead, he's been busy avenging the death of his son at the hands of Walder Frey by (fans widely suspect), surreptitiously feeding three young Freys to the guests at Roose Bolton's wedding. We may not have seen any such action from Manderly in the show, but Arya took much the same approach to a far more cinematic extreme with Walder Frey himself, and his sons. Not all mirrors reflect back perfectly, after all...
That being said, though:
2. 'House Mormont Remembers'
Or, at least, the internet's new favorite pre-teen badass, Lyanna Mormont, does. What's more, in pretty much single-handedly winning over the Stark bannermen to Jon and Sansa's cause, she also seems to have proven herself to be both a worthy heir to the likes of Jeor and Jorah (the show's previous leading Mormonts), and a far more effective figure than either ever managed to be.
After all, while Jorah has spent the past six seasons mooning over a teenage queen who doesn't have any romantic feelings for him (and constantly screwing things up along the way), and Lord Commander Jeor managed to get himself and half of the Night's Watch's best men killed north of The Wall, Lyanna has already both helped win back the North, and make a Stark Bastard a king. House Mormont remembers its history, it seems, and as such may not be doomed to repeat it.
1. The Missing Pieces
Now, there are a whole lot of dangling plot threads that Season 6's finale very much intentionally left hanging — just where is Daenerys going to land her army, and just how quickly was Varys able to cross the Narrow Sea? — but there were none more achingly frustrating than the absence of both Brienne and The Hound. After a season that had largely sidelined the fan-beloved Brienne, and only recently restored The Hound to its cast list, many were hoping that we'd see the pair kick a whole lot of ass in the season finale.
Instead, we didn't see them kick (or do) anything whatsoever. We know they're both in their respective ways to do something, but we're now going to have to wait the best part of a year to find out what. Could we see one of them run into a certain lady during Season 7's cold open, perhaps? Or, alternatively, did the show simply run out of time and opt to leave the fates of two of its most fan-favored characters a mystery? Y'know, to screw with us.
Only time — specifically, about ten months of it or so — will tell.