Before we get into the episode (and there’s a lot to get into), it might be worth noting that imdb falsely credited several actors as appearing in the episode. So if you’re an obsessive (and I am), you might have expected The Hound, Euron Greyjoy, or the Brotherhood without Banners to make appearances. No dice. Arya’s in it though!
Game of Thrones has been built on the expectation that any character could die. They set the precedent in season one with Ned. People are likely accustomed to that, so for The Winds of Winter the writers opted to turn it up to 11 and kill everybody. In the wake of Ramsay’s demise, Cersei is adopting the role of the main villain. And what a villain she is! She blows up the sept shortly after her trial, killing almost every character in King’s Landing at that time. The board is being tightened, and the pieces weeded out.
Things are going a little better for the Starks this week, however. Jon unites the North, and takes the spot formerly occupied by Robb as the new King of the North. Mister Petyr Baelish still poses a threat however, as he, like always, has his own plans in mind. It’s been interesting to see his attraction to Sansa germinate, like he is still infatuated with her mother. Littlefinger’s tragedy is rooted in his obsession, and it’s clear that Thrones is nearing its crescendo with him. Jon may not even be a problem however, as R + L=J was confirmed this week. Jonny’s half-Targaryen!
Our check-ins with Olenna and the Sand Snakes in Dorne, and with Bran, now at the wall, are purely expository, but there’s some material to talk about in Riverrun. As Cersei has gotten worse and worse, Jaime seems to be growing, and developing an actual code of honor. Their dynamic in Season 7 will be exciting, because I’m not convinced Jaime will let himself be strung about by his queen-lover, especially now that her love of vengeance has cost them their last son.
As a follow up to the Bolton defeat last week, the Frey’s get a rude awakening in the form of Arya. The following scene betrays the realism the show initially marketing itself on, but I’ll be damned if Arya going full Charles Bronson isn’t a lot of fun. She finds his sons, kills them, bakes them into a pie, which she then serves to Walder, whom she tells about what she’s done, before revealing herself and cutting his throat. Don’t think on it too hard. I’m sure Martin will smooth out those pesky details whenever he finally finishes his bloody book.
Pretty smooth hour for camp Targaryen as well. They win over the Martells and the Tyrells, and Dany dumps her boy toy, having him stay to keep the peace in Meereen as she sails to Westeros (Fist pump! Fist pump!) She has a pretty sweet moment with Tyrion as well, which is nice because it’s one of the few times this season where Tyrion hasn’t felt completely static. The whole series, Tyrion has been an outlier looking in, looking in on Robert, looking in on Joffrey. Dany has finally won him over. Tyrion believes in something, for the first time in his life. It would be just like Game of Thrones to rain on his parade. We shall see.