Last night’s Game of Thrones season finale was so chock full of quick cuts and action that the show ran 10 minutes longer than usual, and you almost needed to take notes to keep track of the developments. But the upshot is that everybody is back in Westeros, or at least well on their way there, accompanied by flapping dragons overhead. That means we’re heading toward a colossal confrontation next season.
Watching the episode, I almost felt like the show’s creators wanted to be sure to touch every major character, and every major setting, at least once. So we got to see Cersei exact her revenge on the High Sparrow and his acolytes, as well as Margaery Tyrell and her brother and father, by blasting the Great Sept of Baelor to kingdom come. Of course, Cersei being Cersei, her triumph came at a cost, as decent King Tommen hurled himself from the Red Keep. So, the old crone’s prophecy was right — all of Cersei’s children are dead. That didn’t keep Cersei from somehow crowning herself queen, however. And we also got to see that Cersei is moving well into dear departed Ramsay Bolton territory on the sadism scale, by letting what’s left of The Mountain have his way with Septa Unella, the burly, grim-faced nun who sternly shamed Cersei last year.
In the north, Jon Snow and Sansa have gotten back onto the same page. Sansa has rebuffed Littlefinger’s creepy and huskily stated attentions — so far, at least, but he’s a pretty persistent guy — and thanks to the gutsy young girl leading House Mormont, Jon Snow has been crowned King of the North by acclamation. (Wait . . . seriously? Another King of the North?) Even more shocking, Bran’s ability to see the past through heart trees has clued us in that Jon is not Ned Stark’s bastard son at all, but rather the son of Ned’s sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen. Since Rhaegar is Daenerys Targaryen’s older brother, that means The Unburnt and the Mother of Dragons is Jon Snow’s aunt. It’s all pretty confusing, and sets up next season for some further reveals on what happened to start Robert’s Rebellion so long ago.
What else? Well, Sam’s in the library of the Citadel. Ser Davos got Jon Snow to throw the child-burning Melisandre out of the north. Benjen’s brought Bran and his gal pal back to The Wall. Jaime threw a few insults at Walder Frey and got back to King’s Landing in time to see his beloved sister crowned as queen. Daenerys cut loose her paramour. Grandma Tyrell made it to Dorne in time to hush the brash sand snakes and start to plot her revenge against Queen Cersei with the assistance of Varys — who really is getting around these days. And speaking of getting around, Arya Stark made it from Braavos to the Twins in the blink of an eye and, using those skills learned in service of the Many-Faced God, got to scratch old Walder Frey off of her to-do list. About the only people we didn’t check in on were Ser Jorah Mormont and his battle against greyscale and Brienne of Tarth.
The episode ended with Daenerys, and Tyrion, and the Unsullied, and the Dothraki horde, and her dragons, in full sail toward Westeros, where she will try to wrest the Iron Throne from Cersei’s cold, dead hands. So, after long forays into Meereen, and Braavos, and the Dothraki plains, all of the main characters are finally coming back to the Westeros chessboard.
Oh, yeah, and one other thing: The Citadel has announced that, as the Starks have long warned, winter has finally come. We may as well start to get ready now for some undead White Walker action when next April rolls around.