‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Finale Recap: The Winds of Winter, Episode 10

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 10 Finale
Peter Dinklage, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Emilia Clarke in ‘Game of Thrones’ (Photo: courtesy of HBO)

I’m positive mine wasn’t the only stomach that was in turmoil in the half hour leading up to the season six finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Six season has delivered one outstanding, gut-wrenching, and game-changing episode after another, and its end was greeted with equal parts excitement and sadness. So good you wish it wouldn’t end, season six has given Game of Thrones fans everything we could have hoped for and more. Jon Snow was not only resurrected but was returned to Winterfell in large part due to Sansa Stark’s newfound confidence and ability to lead. Battle of the Bastards featured one of the most creative, complex, brutal, and realistic battle scenes ever to be seen in either a feature film or a television series. Ramsay received a fitting death – something that doesn’t always happen in the world of Game of Thrones – and the penultimate episode finally unleashed all the dragons to do Daenerys’ bidding. The Mother of Dragons gathered her army and ships, forming an alliance with Yara and Theon Greyjoy to return to Westeros and defeat Euron.

In the week between episode nine and 10, it appeared most fans were hoping to see inside the Tower of Joy and to find out if R+L=J would be confirmed in the season finale. There was also plenty of speculation as to whether we’d see Cersei unleashing wildfire on the Red Keep, King Tommen dying per the prophesy, Walder Frey sent to hell in a gory death, and Jaime Lannister finally realizing just how sick his lover/sister is and that he’s been backing the wrong horse.

So, how many of those Game of Thrones fans’ wishes were granted? Titled ‘The Winds of Winter’ after George R.R. Martin’s ‘as yet unfinished, seems like it will never be published’ novel, the season six finale actually paid off on each and every one of the most requested must-sees.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 10 Recap:

In the “Previously on” montage we return to Dorne, the Tower of Joy is seen, Dany and Yara make their alliance, Margaery reveals she’s not under the High Sparrow’s spell, and Cersei and Loras are told they’ll stand trial. Screams were likely heard in GoT households across the planet as those pivotal scenes from the past played out, guaranteeing the finale will advance all of those stories. Plus, the trailer showed inside Winterfell so the Stark story will also move forward as this season draws to a close.

The episode begins with Cersei (Lena Headey) looking out over King’s Landing while in their separate chambers Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer), King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), and the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) prepare for the day of trials. All look concerned, serious, and even a tad nervous except for Cersei. She just looks prepared and resolute. The Great Sept of Baelor fills as Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), who is looking haggard and lost, is brought in for his trial.

Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) sends the whore out of his chambers as a young boy (one of Qyburn’s sparrows) whispers in his ear.

Loras is escorted into the Great Sept and we see Queen Margaery standing next to her father, Lord Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths). Loras confesses, freely admitting to his crimes. The High Sparrow asks which crimes, and Loras admits to all of them including laying with other men. “I humble myself before the Seven and accept whatever punishment the gods deem just.” Loras kneels before the High Sparrow, saying his only wish is to devote his life to the Seven. “May I be a living example of their grace for others to witness.” Loras will abandon the Tyrell name, renounce his lordship, never marry, and he’ll never father children, he pledges. The High Sparrow asks him if he’ll fight to defend his faith against heretics, and Loras says he will. The High Sparrow motions for his followers to come forward and they lift Loras’ head, holding it in place while they carve their mark into his forehead.

King Tommen turns to say he’s ready and it’s the Mountain at his door. Tommen tries to pass him but is stopped and kept in his room.

Margaery is angry with the High Sparrow for mutilating her brother, something he did not reveal he’d be doing if she convinced Loras to confess. The High Sparrow says he’ll let him go once Cersei stands trial. And speaking of Cersei, she hasn’t shown up so Lancel and the Faith Militant are sent to get her. Lancel notices a young boy heading into the tunnels under the city and follows him.

Qyburn (Anton Lesser) greats the Grand Maester, apologizing for tricking him. As they speak, the little sparrows arrive armed with knives. Qyburn says, “The old must be put to rest.”

Lancel is still following the other boy as the children stab Grand Maester repeatedly. Blood flies everywhere.

Lancel picks up the torch dropped by the young boy and sees the containers of wildfire. The boy returns and stabs him, leaving Lancel to bleed out with a torch nearby.

Back at the Great Sept, Loras bleeds while Margaery looks on, angry.

Lancel struggles to pull his body down the row of wildfire barrels.

Back at the Sept, Margaery changes from angry to concerned. She senses something is not right.

Underground, Lancel is making slow, painful progress. In the Sept, Margaery tells the High Sparrow there’s something fishy going on because neither King Tommen or Cersei are in court. Margaery realizes that means Cersei doesn’t intend to suffer the consequences from standing trial, and warns them that they all must leave.

Lancel is crawling toward small candles set in wildfire, ready to ignite the crates.

Margaery tells Loras they need to leave, as everyone turns toward the doors. The Faith Militant won’t let Margaery or Loras leave, and Lord Tyrell is also being held back from exiting the Sept.

Margaery turns to look angrily at the High Sparrow.

The wildfire explodes, killing Lancel first before completely destroying the Great Sept. Green flames burst out of every door and window as Cersei watches from the safety of the Red Keep, a wicked smile gracing her face. Tommen is also safe in the Red Keep after being denied exit by the Mountain.

Cersei begins her torture of Septa Unella by repeatedly saying, “Confess.” She tells her to confess that it felt good to beat her, starve her, and humiliate her. She knows Septa Unella did it because it felt good, not for her atonement. Cersei says she killed her husband because it felt good, she f**ks her brother because she likes it, and she lies because she wants to keep her son safe. She tells Septa Unella she killed the High Sparrow and all of his little sparrows because it felt good to watch them burn. Nothing’s given her greater joy. She’s even happy to confess all this to Septa Unella. Cersei reminds her that she told her her face would be the last she saw before she died, and Septa’s fine with that because she’s ready to meet her gods. But, not so fast. Cersei’s not giving her a quick death, instead Sir Gregor is ushered in. He’ll be the one who tortures her, taking off his helmet and revealing his grotesque face. “This is your god now,” says Cersei. “Shame, shame, shame,” she adds as she leaves the room.

King Tommen looks out over the devastation, knowing Margaery and others are dead. He removes his crown, climbs to the ledge, and throws himself out the window. What the hell?! Did not see that one coming.

Walder Frey (David Bradley) toasts the Frey and Lannister alliance. “The Freys and the Lannisters send their regards,” says Walder. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) lifts his glass but doesn’t look in the least bit impressed. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) teases Jaime about how easy it is for him to get women, and Jaime introduces the nearby ladies to Bronn who takes off for an evening of sex. Walder heads over to Jaime’s table where he wants to talk about the Blackfish, and Walder makes fun of the fact the legendary Blackfish was taken down by foot soldiers. It’s obvious Jaime hates Walder Frey as Walder jokes the Tullys and Starks mocked him and where are they now. Walder believes he and Jaime are now equal since they’re both kingslayers and that fear is a marvelous thing. Jaime knocks him back down to earth by telling him no one fears the Freys. They fear the Lannisters and he wonders why they need the Freys at all.

Cersei asks Qyburn to show her Tommen’s dead body. He uncovers it and Cersei displays no emotions at first. Then tears barely appear in her eyes as she explains what she wants done with his body after it’s burned. She’s cold as ice as she says she wants his ashes spread where the Sept once stood.

Sam (John Bradley), Gilly, and baby Sam are next up as they have now made their way to the Citadel. Sam delivers his letter of introduction from Lord Commander Snow at Castle Black. Sam also updates the Citadel rep on the happenings at Castle Black, and he’s told the Arch Maester will discuss these irregularities but Sam can use the library while he waits. Gilly and baby Sam can’t however, because women and babies aren’t allowed. Sam is in heaven walking among the rows of books and scrolls and emerging to an incredible, gigantic library with books lining the walls up to the sky.

And now we have made our way to Winterfell… Jon Snow (Kit Harington) strokes a chair in the great dining hall, recalling his days with the family. He explains to Melisandre (Carice van Houten) that he would sit away from the family when they had feasts because he wasn’t accepted at the big table. She tells him that despite that he’s lucky. Davos (Liam Cunningham) walks in and tosses Shireen’s burned stag at Melisandre, demanding she tell Jon who it belonged to and what she did to her. “We burned her at the stake,” she says, obviously upset at the memory. Davos asks why, and Melisandre says it was the only way to keep Stannis’ army together. He tells her her lord is evil and she reminds him Jon Snow is alive because the lord willed it. Davos loved Shireen like his own; she was good and kind, and he can’t believe Melisandre killed her. Melisandre isn’t about to take all the blame, telling him Shireen’s mother and father also were in on the burning. Davos says she’s the one who told them what to do. They burned the child because of her, and Davos asks Jon if he can execute her for this crime. Jon Snow asks what she has to say for herself, and Melisandre says she’s ready at any time to die if her lord says to. But, she tells Jon she can help him win the upcoming war. However, Jon’s verdict comes quickly and it’s harsh but not fatal. He tells Melisandre to ride south and if she returns to the North, he’ll hang her as a murderer. Davos tells her he’ll execute her himself if she ever returns. She leaves the stag on the table and rides off, with Jon Snow watching her leave Winterfell’s grounds.

Sansa (Sophie Turner) joins Jon to watch Melisandre leave. Sansa tells him he should take their parents’ room, telling him he’s a Stark to her. He says she deserves the room and the battle would have been lost if the Knights of the Vale hadn’t arrived. He asks if she trusts Littlefinger and of course she doesn’t. She apologizes for not telling him about the Vale, and he says they need to trust each other. They can’t fight amongst themselves when they now have so many enemies, and kisses her gently on the forehead. She tells him a white raven came from the Citadel. “Winter is here,” she says. They both smile and Jon looks to the sky as the snow falls. “Well, father always promised, didn’t he?” replies Jon. He and Sansa seem to be in a good place, sibling-wise.

It’s off to Dorne next where Lady Tyrell (Diana Rigg) is meeting with Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). Lady Tyrell puts the young Sand Snakes in their place before fully turning her attention to Ellaria. Ellaria says they need each other now because the Lannisters have declared war on both their Houses. Dorne is going to give Lady Tyrell her heart’s desire – vengeance and justice. Or as Varys puts it when he enters the meeting, “Fire and blood.” Next season it appears we’ll definitely be seeing the people of Dorne and House Martell unite to fight for Westeros with Daenerys, Mother of Dragons.

And now we’re checking in on Meereen where Daario (Michiel Huisman) tells Dany (Emilia Clarke) her ships are ready to sail. She then delivers the bad news that he’s not going to be joining her in the battle. She wants Daario and the Second Sons to stay and keep the peace in Meereen. “F**k Meereen. F**k the people,” replies Daario. But, Dany commands it. She needs to make alliances in Westeros and the best way to do that is with marriage. Daario asks if she’s a queen or fish bait, obviously not worried she’ll respond by having her dragons turn him into a crispy critter. Dany says she can’t bring a lover to Westeros, but Daario claims to not care. He doesn’t want a crown, he wants her. “I love you and I make you happy. You know I do. Bring me with you. Let me fight for you,” says Daario, but Dany flatly turns him down. He blames her decision on Tyrion and says no other woman will ever measure up to her. She’s going to leave him with orders to take care of Meereen and the newly renamed Bay of Dragons. Daario doesn’t want to stay, but tells her she’ll get her throne and he hopes it brings her happiness. “I pity the lords of Westeros. They have no idea what’s coming for them,” says Daario. So, is this the last we’ll see of Daario? Quite possibly as there’s no legitimate reason to return to Meereen when all the action has moved on to Westeros. We’ll miss Michiel Huisman.

Dany meets with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and he knows it was hard for her to tell Daario he had to stay. Tyrion tells her that self-sacrifice makes for a good ruler, but that doesn’t console her. He reminds her this is all actually happening; she has her dragons, ships, and armies…it’s all hers for the taking. “Are you afraid?” he asks and she replies, “No.” “You’re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying,” says Tyrion. But then Dany confesses the only thing that frightens her is that she said farewell to a man who loved her and that she thought she loved and yet she felt nothing. Tyrion says Daario wasn’t the first man to love her and he won’t be the last. Tyrion explains that he doesn’t believe in anything, but he believes in her. He’d swear her his sword but he doesn’t own one, and laughing Dany says all she asks for is his counsel. Tyrion says it’s hers now and always. She hands him a gorgeous Hand pin. “Tyrion Lannister, I name you Hand of the Queen.” He bows at her feet.

Walder Frey’s in the middle of another feast when he’s brought more bread. He doesn’t recognize the servant girl and asks after his sons who he hasn’t seen since they returned from Riverrun. The servant tells him they’re there. “They’re already here, my lord,” pointing to his food. They’ve been baked into the pie! She carved them up, confessing that Black Walder wasn’t easy to carve. Holy crap! It’s Arya Stark! Arya (Maisie Williams) takes off her face and tells Walder the last thing he’ll see is a Stark smiling down at him as he dies. She slices his throat and smiles as he bleeds out. Go Arya!!! That’s one more name she can cross off her list.

Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) approaches Sansa at the tree where she prayed as a child. Sansa says she was a stupid girl and Littlefinger excuses her behavior by saying she was just a child. She asks what he wants and he says she knows. He always sees her face when he closes his eyes. He also reveals he only does things if it advances him toward the outcome of bringing the picture he sees in his mind – him sitting on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side – closer to fruition. She says it’s a pretty picture but stops him when he leans in for a kiss. Littlefinger reminds him he’s declared for House Stark and the news of the battle will spread and everyone will know it. He asks who the North should rally behind: a trueborn Stark daughter or a motherless bastard born in the South?

Game of Thrones R+L=J
Robert Aramayo and Aisling Francioso in ‘Game of Thrones’ (Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO)

Finally, we’re about to get a visit with Bran which means if episode 10 is going to go to the Tower of Joy, it’ll happen in the next few minutes. Benjen (Joseph Mawle) says he’s leaving Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) since he can’t go past the Wall because of its strong magic. While the Wall stands, the dead cannot pass which means he can’t pass. He knows the great war is coming and he’ll help men against the White Walkers as long as he can. He wishes them both good fortune and rides away on his stallion. Meera and Bran are left to take care of themselves. Bran touches the Weirwood tree and says he’s ready for this because he’s the new Three-Eyed Raven. Immediately he sees a young Ned Stark rushing up the stairs at the Tower of Joy. Lyanna Stark is screaming inside. He bursts in and she calls him to her side. Soaked in blood and lying in bed, Lyanna can’t believe it’s Ned and thinks he’s just a dream. He assures her he’s there and she says she’s missed him. He’s missed her too. “I want to be brave,” she says. “I’m not.” She doesn’t want to die and he tells her she isn’t, even though it’s obvious she is. He calls out for a doctor and she pulls him down to whisper in his ear. “If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him. You know he will. You have to protect him,” gasps Lyanna before uttering the line book readers have known and been waiting to hear said, “Promise me, Ned,” confirming once and for all that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Baby Jon is swaddled and handed to Ned Stark. Just to completely, without a doubt confirm that Jon Snow is the baby, the scene immediately goes from a shot of the baby’s face to a lingering close-up of Jon Snow.

Following the big reveal, the camera pulls back from Jon Snow’s face to reveal a crowded meeting room where an argument between the free folk, the Knights of the Vale, and the different Houses of the North is taking place. Jon tells them the war is not over and the true enemy won’t wait out the storm. “He brings the storm,” says Jon. There’s much discussion of what they should do and if they should just return home to protect their own people when Lady Lyanna Mormont (the scene-stealing Elizabeth Barrett) stands up. She reminds Lord Manderly that he refused the call. Lord Glover also gets called out for refusing to step up and side with the Starks when they were needed. House Mormont remembers and the North remembers, says the brave Lady Mormont. “We know no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark.” She doesn’t care if he’s a bastard; Ned Stark’s blood flows through Jon’s veins and Lady Mormont declares, “He’s my king from this day until his last day.”

Lady Mormont speaks harshly and truly says Lord Manderly. He didn’t commit to their cause and he was wrong. Jon Snow avenged the Red Wedding. “He is the White Wolf – the King in the North.” Glover also apologizes for not fighting beside him in the field. He admits he was wrong and asks for forgiveness, pledging House Glover to House Stark. “I will stand behind Jon Snow. The King in the North!” They all stand and chant, thanks to Lady Mormont’s brilliant speech. Jon looks surprised, overwhelmed, and then quickly accepting. Sansa smiles at her brother and then catches Littlefinger’s eye. The smile is quickly gone from her face.

Jaime and the Lannister army return to King’s Landing where smoke still rises. The townsfolk line the chamber as Cersei and the Mountain walk in. Cersei approaches the Iron Throne as Jaime secretly watches from the side. Qyburn declares Cersei Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. He places the crown on her head. She looks straight out over the crowd and then sits down. Only then does she glance toward Jaime. Neither are smiling. “Long may she reign,” says the crowd after being prompted.

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) watches his banner fly while standing next to his sister on her ship. They are all sailing toward home with Daenerys, the Unsullied, and the Dothraki. The dragons accompany them, flying over the ships and occasionally dipping their wings into the sea. Dany, Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei stand at the bow of a ship as it heads toward Westeros. The camera pulls back to show the fleet of ships and Dany’s three dragons.

A Brief Summary:

Breathe. Just breathe. It’s over and the expanded 69-minute episode (the series’ longest) will go down as the best season finale in Game of Thrones history. Here’s the key events, in brief:

– Cersei and Tommen aren’t present when Sept of Baelor burns, but we lose Queen Margaery, Lord Tyrell, Lancel, Loras, the High Sparrow, all of the Faith Militant, and many of the citizens of King’s Landing.
– Tommen reacts to his mother’s destruction of the Great Sept by jumping to his death.
– Cersei gives Septa Unella over to the Mountain to do with as he pleases. She’ll die a slow, painful death.
– Arya makes her way to The Twins where she serves Walder Frey his sons before slicing his throat, smiling while she holds his head as he bleeds to death.
– Jon Snow banishes Melisandre from the North after Davos makes her confess to burning Princess Shireen Baratheon at the stake.
– The Tyrells and Dorne have now formed an alliance to get revenge on the Lannisters, with help from Varys.
– Littlefinger wants to sit on the Iron Throne with Sansa, but the Northern Houses have now pledged their support to Jon Snow as King of the North thanks to Lady Mormont.
– Jaime Lannister returns to King’s Landing just in time to see his certifiably crazy sister crowned Queen of the Andals.
– However, the biggest reveal was the birth of Jon Snow and the confirmation that R+L=J.

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