(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 may have ended its sixth season with a bang in last night's finale, but a certain explosion was by no means the only debate-worthy element in an episode largely made up of fist-pumping moments of vicious awesomeness (that then left you feeling a little bad for having celebrated them). However, the episode also featured something that definitely deserves a little close attention: A seriously muddy timeline.
Now, with Game of Thrones' whole sixth season having been noticeably less chronologically consistent than previous seasons, that's perhaps not all that surprising, but all the same...
Let's Untangle The Game of Thrones Season Finale's Twisted Timeline
After all, it sure did seem as though we just watched Varys magically teleport himself from Dorne all the way to Meereen, and that's not a superpower eunuchs have yet been shown to have in the Game of Thrones universe.
So, first up?
A Lot Of The Episode Followed Immediately On From Last Week's 'Battle of the Bastards'
Jon's banishing of Melisandre, his discussion of future plans with Sansa, and Sansa's rejection of Littlefinger's offer can all be assumed to have taken place within a few days of the Stark's victory over the Boltons.
Similarly, the events in King's Landing occurred not too long after our last visit to the city, with Cersei's trial having been revealed to be imminent not too long ago. Much the same is true of Jaime's meal with Walder Frey, Sam's arrival in Oldtown and Bran's vision by The Wall. All of those scenes make sense in the wake of the last time we saw their leading characters and considering the amount of time that's passed since we last saw them.
That, though, is about the only part of the episode's timeline that isn't complicated. Y'see...
Pretty Much Everything Else In The Episode Could Be Happening At Several Different Times
Jon and Sansa's meeting with the Stark bannermen, for instance, could well be taking place a few days after their victory, but since some of the lords present will have had to have traveled for weeks to get to Winterfell, it seems far more likely that an extended period of time (perhaps upwards of a month) has passed.
Daenerys's conversations with Daario and Tyrion may be similarly distant from the events of last week's episode, with there being every chance that we're seeing her final preparations for departure (something that may explain her suddenly close working relationship with the previously slightly un-trusted Tyrion).
Arya's big surprise, too, may well have taken place immediately after Jaime's departure, or it may have been weeks (or months) later. After all, pie-making takes time, and a whole lot of planning. Her presence alongside Jaime also suggests that much of her Braavosi adventure did indeed take place much earlier than the rest of the current season, thus explaining her ability to make it all the way to Westeros in just two episodes.
The biggest reason to suspect that the timeline is jumping significantly, though?
Varys's Adventure In Dorne Suggests That Daenerys Waited Awhile To Cross The Narrow Sea
Y'see, even if we assume that Olenna Tyrell had already made her way down to Dorne from her home in Highgarden before hearing word of her family's fiery murder (something that we have no guarantees of), that still places that scene at least a few days after Cersei's fire-bombing of the Sept of Baelor.
Which, with Varys being present for that meeting, and then clearly finding his way back to Daenerys's fleet in time to hang out with her on deck, sure does seem to suggest that everyone's favorite khaleesi is, in fact, heading to Westeros a fair amount later than we think. What's more, the apparent presence of Martell and Tyrell ships within Daenerys's fleet may even suggest that we're actually seeing an even bigger gap than that would suggest (with both houses likely having needed several weeks, if not months, to join their navies with Daenerys's).
Could we even, perhaps, be set to see a major chronological jump between Seasons 6 & 7, with the show returning next year with its plot many months — or even years — further down the line? It certainly seems more possible than it did before this week's finale.