By Logan Gossett
On Sunday, Miguel Sapochnik concluded season six of Game of Thrones with two of the three best episodes in television history, per IMDB and totally objective Game of Thrones fans. If it wasn’t the best episode in television history, “Winds of Winter” was at least the best episode in the series. You know an episode’s phenomenal when “best episode in the series” is a compromise. Due to the resonant hype from the impeccable season six finale “Winds of Winter,” a coherent recap of Sunday’s episode is out of the question. What that question is, I have no idea. Instead, these are six incoherent ramblings from an overhyped Game of Thrones fan. Bullet points are present to give the illusion of structure.
- “Winds of Winter” essentially confirmed the most popular fan theory in the history of entertainment, but two scenes somehow carried more gravity.*
First, Peter Dinklage elevated the exchange between Tyrion and Daenerys to another impossibly impressive level. Tyrion hasn’t appeared to be that genuinely fulfilled since his relationship with Shae in season four, which turned out to be manufactured by his father who was *ahem* similarly fulfilled by her.
Second, the first twenty minutes of the show displayed unparalleled visual storytelling. The word “game” in Game of Thrones has never felt more darkly ironic. Cercei’s game overcooked a notable slab of King’s Landing, including the player at the top of the leaderboard in Margaery Tyrell, although an argument can be made that Mace “the ace” Tyrell’s rousing, even arousing, motivational abilities will be missed with greater longing. Perhaps the most impressive cinematography of the episode was Tommen pulling a voluntary Bran by falling from a window after Cercei’s wildfire explosion. The longshot of a charred King’s Landing framed between two pillars illustrated the collapse of faith and the crown, with Tommen falling in-between them. The visual storytelling was like Pearl Jam’s music video for “Jeremy” except good, and not similar whatsoever. Plus, the casting budget for next season was reduced considerably. The Great Sept of Baelor’s explosion was basically a cost saving collaboration between Cercei and frugal HBO executives.
- Imagine if the most attractive tourist destination in the Bahamas was a kiddie pool with hungry piranhas in it. Now imagine a great white shark idling next to the pool, yelling obscenities at visitors. Throw in a Steve Buscemi selfie at the bottom of the pool for good measure. Thanks to Dorne, this is the obstacle Miguel Sapochnik overcame to make “The Winds of Winter” the greatest episode in Game of Thrones history. Sapochnik turned an episode featuring a Dorne scene into the best episode of the series. Dorne is a kiddie pool with piranhas inside, a verbally abusive shark outside, and a picture of Steve Buscemi at the bottom. Yet, Sapochnik’s brilliance meant that somehow didn’t ruin the experience. Amazing.
- Bronn should totally be dead by now. When a side character becomes likable, they suffer a prompt, brutal death. Just a few victims of the Law of Likability™:
- Myrcella Baratheon (aka Cercei’s normal kid) : Poisoned by the belligerent great white sharks of Dorne.
- Roose Bolton (aka vampire guy): Poisoned by his enemies.
- Syrio Forel (aka ballerina warrior): Killed by the Lannister’s Gold Cloaks, beaten mercilessly by fan theories involving Jaqen.
- Oberyn Martell (aka staff-wielding ballerina warrior): Rekt by the Mountain.
- Shireen Baratheon (aka hyper-literate greyscaled girl): Burned at the stake.
In sum, Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss don’t beat around the bush: they uproot it. The fact that Bronn is still alive is unprecedented in Game of Thrones. After hearing “bad pussy,” I’m surprised he didn’t uproot his bush himself.
- Apparently Arya killed Walder Frey, so that’s nice. Arya’s efforts to ensure that Walder Frey sniffed out her pun before she killed him were admirable. This scene was mostly forgettable, despite its implications for Arya and the satisfaction of seeing Walder Frey eat his sons and die. Many fans bemoaned the heartless nature of Arya’s morbid execution of Walder Frey, but I’m all in on vengeful Arya. If Melisandre peered into Arya’s peepers now, even she would be mortified by the killing machine staring back. Considering Melisandre’s placement on Arya’s list and her removal from Jon Snow’s, Mel should avoid studying flames for a while, because her future doesn’t appear promising.
- What the hell is Euron Greyjoy doing? There’s no way he’s built more than 15 ships by now, and the few that he has can be quickly charred by dragons. With Dany sailing to Westeros, everything but the White Walkers seems pretty trivial anyway. What are 1,000 ships without a dragon? What’s an Iron Throne with a limitless army of the dead marching to the wall? What’s a god to a non-believer? What’s one more rhetorical question?
- Game of Thrones fans have universally lauded Lyanna Mormont (aka bear queen?), but I’m having a difficult time reconciling her role. The reason D&D increased the ages of most POV characters is because a 7 year old killer-assassin-Arya rampaging through Westeros is impossible to take seriously on-screen. If a 14-year-old Jon Snow were to giants in the north and evolve into Lord Commander, we might as well be watching Spy Kids. Bella Ramsey, Lyanna Mormont’s actress, provides a nice performance, but she’s also portraying a 10-year-old girl.
When I was 10, I was probably learning how to walk. An exceedingly competent, inscrutable kid is just intrinsically ridiculous. Arya’s a believable kid character. She’s reactionary, unintelligent, and lacks clear judgement. Her bravery and resolve have triumphed, but she’s not going to hush a maester when he’s offering sage advice. If she did, arrogance and neglect would be the motivating factors, not wisdom.
Dragons? Totally believable. I draw the line at unimpeachable kid characters.
*This is probably hyperbole, considering how widely accepted R+L=J was by A Song of Ice and Fire fans in the 20 years preceding Sunday night. Then again, I can’t imagine “Jimmy Neutron is actually an eggplant” or “Family Guy is literally human feces,” carried as much hype as R+L=J.