8:30am PT by Josh Wigler
Week in 'Game of Thrones': Chronicling the Season 6 Finale's Fallout
The Red Woman's secret, Jon Snow's resurrection, Hodor's creation and destruction … they all feel like distant memories in the wake of the final two episodes of Game of Thrones season six. Indeed, after leaving the "Battle of the Bastards," it was difficult enough to imagine Thrones topping itself in the subsequent week; more often than not the HBO fantasy drama builds up to its climactic penultimate episode, while using its season finale as a place to let the situation cool down.
That was not the case with "The Winds of Winter," one of the single most eventful episodes in Thrones history. From Daenerys' decision to the Jon Snow revelation and all of the wildfire in between, the final episode of season six packed enough firepower to keep fans burning for more in the painfully long wait between seasons.
Here's how the week played out once the finale was unleashed:
The opening scene of the finale featured Cersei Lannister scorching her enemies with wildfire, willing to burn her own city and thousands of innocents just to claim the lives of a few. Sadly for Cersei, that meant the death of her own son, Tommen.
"I think he knows Cersei's behind this," Dean-Charles Chapman told THR, speaking about the reasons for Tommen's suicide. "To think that his mom was behind this, and he's not in control of any situation and he should be — in a way, he feels worthless to the world. He gives up. Knowing that his wife is in the Sept as it's blown up … it must be so hard."
The success of the wildfire sequence relies on dramatic fallout like Tommen's death, as well as the haunting piece "Light of the Seven" from composer Ramin Djawadi, created specifically for the scene.
"We knew right away we couldn't play a Lannister theme, because even though the scene is about her and her trial, it would put too much in her court," he told THR. "It would have said to people that she's up to something, right away. So we made this conscious decision to have a new piece of music that's very minimal in the beginning, so it feels like everyone is waiting on something, and we don't know what it is."
In the end, it all comes back to Cersei, smiling and sniffing the air as she watches wildfire consume her enemies from a safe distance. Shooting this scene was somewhat tricky, according to Miguel Sapochnik, director of the episode.
"The thing we discussed the most was how to react to the sept's destruction," he said. "This was mainly because there was obviously no sept, just a huge bluescreen with a bunch of dots on it and a fan and such to create a shockwave. With such a big event taking place, having nothing there to see or even interact with complicated what in the end was already a complicated enough emotional response. So I would talk her through what was happening in each take and she'd react accordingly. Lena does not need much hand-holding. She brings her A game to work. Mostly you just have to get out her way and let her do her thing."
Away from King's Landing, House Targaryen enjoyed a big night on a few fronts, beginning most obviously with Daenerys making the choice to finally set sail for Westeros. The move, six seasons in the making, comes at the height of Dany's power, as her army includes Unsullied and Dothraki soldiers, Greyjoy ships, alliances with Dorne and Highgarden, and three ferocious dragons. Really, can anything stand in her way at this point?
Well, maybe, but it's an unexpected problem: Jon Snow, secretly the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany's older brother. The reveal came in the form of a flashback to the Tower of Joy, where young Ned Stark witnessed Jon's birth and his sister Lyanna's death.
"Everything's just exploded," actor Robert Aramayo told THR about Ned's reaction to seeing the child. "He hasn't formed a plan. He doesn't know how he's going to deal with the situation at this point. I think he just knows that he's made the most important promise of his life, and he's going to figure out how to maintain that promise. But in that moment, he's got a baby in his arms and his dead sister next to him. It's epic. It's huge. I don't think he knows what the next step is."
As it stands, nobody knows about Jon's true lineage … nobody, that is, except for Bran, who witnessed the birth thanks to his ability to travel back in time. For his part, Isaac Hempstead Wright wouldn't speak much about the identity of Jon's father, even if ancillary material has confirmed the reveal.
"If the fan theories prove to be correct, then it's pretty self-evident what's important about this," he said. "It's telling us that maybe Jon Snow is actually not who we think and could actually be a very valuable asset and ally in these times. For Bran right now, the fact that he's seen it and has now learned that it's not his father's son, I think that makes Bran go, 'Well, then the father is clearly an important figure that has something to do with the history and future of Westeros.'"
What will happen when Jon finds out about his past? And just as importantly, how will it impact his standing as King in the North? Jon earned the title thanks to some advocacy from Lyanna Mormont, easily the breakout character of the season.
But even if he holds the crown for now, will Jon hold it forever? The finale featured a tense look between Sansa Stark and Littlefinger, indicating that Jon's half-sister — or, more accurately, cousin — might have her own ambitions for Winterfell.
"I think Sansa trusts Jon to make morally right decisions, but I'm not sure if she trusts him with the kind of political things," said Sophie Turner. "I don't know if she trusts Davos completely, and he's kind of his advisor. I think it's more about being open with each other, like with Sansa writing to Littlefinger for the Knights of the Vale. I think Jon means they need to be more open with each other and tell each other what's going on — and it's very frustrating for Sansa to hear him say that. She knows he means it more about her than it is him talking about himself. And he really needs to trust her."
In any event, the Jon Snow reveal ends years and years of speculation among book readers, who long theorized the truth about the hero's origin. Indeed, "The Winds of Winter" was a massive night for book readers, especially those who were eager to see someone serve up a heaping plate of Frey pie.
Even the King's Landing sequence owes origins to the books, if altered somewhat. Though there's been no wildfire outbreak in George R.R. Martin's source material yet, the final chapter in his most recently published Ice and Fire novel, called A Dance with Dragons, ends with children murdering Grand Maester Pycelle and others — an image hauntingly adapted for the show.
But even with so much attention paid to the finale, it's time to start thinking about the future. Season seven now stands on the horizon, likely to boast a shorter number of episodes than ever before. The players are on the board. The pieces are set. It's now time to find out who wins, who dies and where the middle ground lies.
Watch the video below for more season seven predictions:
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