Thoughts on Thrones: Thrones' biggest secret has finally been exposed

The Herald's in-house Game of Thrones experts take a deep dive into season six, episode ten, The Winds of Winter.
The Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, is on her way to Westeros.
The Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, is on her way to Westeros.

Robert Smith: New kings and queens are being crowned all over the place, great alliances are being forged between ancient houses, and the Mother of Dragons is on her way back home to claim her throne. So much is going on, it's almost easy to overlook the fact that the worst kept secret in Westeros is finally out.

Surprising literally nobody in the world, Jon Snow is revealed to be neither a bastard, nor a son of Ned Stark. Confirming the most obvious theory in the entire series, the show still stops short of revealing who the father is, with some awfully convenient whispering going on, but the new King in the North is one small family reunion away from the truth of his name.

Jon Snow is named King of the North in Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow is named King of the North in Game of Thrones.

And it's not just the big events, like Cersei's radical clearing of the gameboard, or the sudden Targaryen/Tyrell/Martell/Greyjoy alliance, that threaten to overshadow the big reveal. This was the series' single longest episode, and it was packed with incident and character - the stunned joy on Sam's face as he wanders into the biggest library in history; Arya's cold-fury as she gets her best murder face on and racks up some Red Wedding payback; the gentle dumping on a Queen's consort.

It's a final episode that sets things up very nicely for the last act of the saga. There are still some huge obstacles to overcome - Daenerys' war is only just beginning, and Littlefinger is already sowing seeds of mistrust between Jon and Sansa - but there is a Stark in Winterfell, and a Targaryen coming to claim her just birthright. Things are coming together nicely.

Cameron McMillan: The issue many viewers (casual or obsessed book readers) have had with GoT has been the large cast. So many names to remember from your Gendry's (still rowing by the way) to your Gilly's (who will have biceps as big as Gendry if she has to keep holding Sam Jr until the next season). Even Lady Olenna was having trouble keeping track last night. But thanks to Queen Cersei the wrap party organisers at HBO can decrease the catering budget next season. We lost the High Sparrow, Mace, Loras and Margaery Tyrell along with Kevan and Lancel Lannister, Grand Maester Pycelle and then of course, Tommen. We also said farewell to a few Freys in Walder, Lothar and Black Walder courtesy of Arya. Revenge really is a dish best served cold, with a crust on top.

Arya Stark killed Walder Frey in the season six finale.
Arya Stark killed Walder Frey in the season six finale.

From one coronation to the next, it's a shame Brienne and Pod are still possibly rowing and missed the crowning of the King of the North. Considering in the same episode Varys high-tailed it from Dorne to Meereen, Jaime and Bronn got back to King's Landing pretty quick smart and Arya raced from Braavos to The Twins.

Regardless we got the next best thing ... Lady Mormont. Moments earlier we heard Sansa telling Little Finger how naive and young she was back when the Starks last held Winterfell. And then here was Lady Mormont, even younger than Sansa was in series one, backing the bastard Jon Snow and calling out Lord Manderly (that was probably Wyman I think), then Lord Glover (wait I didn't catch his name, is he Robett?) and Lord Cerwyn (was that Medger or Cley?). Who are these new characters? At least tell us their names. Now it's even harder to keep track.

Sophie Ryan: What a blockbuster finale this turned out to be. After a season that seemed to lull and drag at times, the finale had enough pay-off moments to make it a star performer in the show's history.

The shocking moments, like Tommen's peaceful step out the bedroom window, were surrounded by knife-edge tension, thanks in part to a score that was perfectly composed.

At the heart of the episode was the rise of three of the original cast members to positions of dominance.

Seeing Cersei Lannister ascend the Iron Throne was chilling.

Her cold reaction to Tommen's death, ordering his body to be burnt and his ashes buried, showed she'd given up trying to fight the prophecy she was told as a young woman and protect her children against their fate.

King Tommen's life ended in the season six finale of Game of Thrones.
King Tommen's life ended in the season six finale of Game of Thrones.

As Jaime looked on from the wings, his face matched the horror the audience was feeling in the moment.

Further North, Jon Snow was crowned King in the North thanks to season six's best character Lyanna Mormont. The bold and boisterous Lady was the first to raise to her feet and pledge allegiance to Jon Snow as the rightful Lord of Winterfell. This scene was moving and made me realise I never truly believed Jon Snow, a bastard, would be Lord of Winterfell.

The next season is sure to hold a lot of sibling drama for both Cersei and Jon as they settle in as rulers of their kingdoms. Sansa will be focused on revenge while Jon will be focused on the war against the dead. It's not going to be easy negotiating the two causes. Jaime is likely to be totally repulsed by Cersei after what she did to the Sept and the lack of grief for their son Tommen.

Daenerys' dragons fly above her fleet of ships headed for Westeros.
Daenerys' dragons fly above her fleet of ships headed for Westeros.

Six seasons later, Daenerys finally mounted the "wooden horses" with her Dothraki, bound for Casterly Rock. When I saw the Mother of Dragons aboard the ship, with her three dragons flying above here and her many armies surrounding her it felt like the years of waiting had faded away. The arduous journey was all worthwhile.

The wait for the next season is going to drag and the speculation and spoilers of where they're filming and who is cast will be everywhere. But this is a season that will be worth a second watch.

Rachel Bache: That was probably one of the best Game of Thrones finales the series has seen. The death toll was high, and it managed to get back to almost every storyline - minus Brienne and Pod. Maybe they've joined up with Gendry on a rowing expedition? I hope not. But it was great getting to see everyone from those we've only really seen once or twice all season, like Sam and Gilly who finally made it to Maester training camp, and the Sand Snakes over in Dorne and their new found alliance with what's left of the Tyrells (all hail Olenna, Queen of sass) and the Tagaryens.

Olenna Tyrell met with the Sand Snakes of Dorne.
Olenna Tyrell met with the Sand Snakes of Dorne.

Speaking of the Mother of Dragons - Dany finally has all her ducks in a row and getting to see her finally cross the seas on her way to reclaim the Iron Throne and the seven kingdoms was simply spectacular. It's taken her six6 seasons to get to this point and it's no doubt going to be all on in season seven. And yay for Tyrion being named hand of the Queen, it's basically everything he's ever wanted. It looked like he might cry.

Dany named Tyrion hand of the Queen.
Dany named Tyrion hand of the Queen.

It's also great to see things turning around for the Starks (finally). Bran is closer to The Wall than ever and is getting the hang of his new Three Eyed Raven status and also proved L + R = J to be true. Badass Arya is back in Westeros getting back to her kill list, starting with Frey - anyone else catch that psychotic glint in her eye? Hopefully Arya doesn't go of the rails too much in the next season. And Jon Snow (err, Stark? No wait, Targaryen) has just been named King in the North thanks to some much-needed prompting by Lyanna Mormont, who is still the best new 10-year-old character of the season. Hopefully, Sansa doesn't undo all her badassery by falling for one of Littlefinger's manipulative traps again.

Cersei took revenge on the High Sparrow's nun.
Cersei took revenge on the High Sparrow's nun.

And then there's Cersei. She finally got the revenge she wanted on High Sparrow, his followers & that annoying "shame" Nun. She even finally took out Queen Margaery (RIP). But as with all of Cersei's villainous plots, there's always backfire. It's obvious that she didn't intend for Tommen - the last of her children - to die (called it). But at the same time, she didn't seem all that bummed about it, especially not when she was taking her place upon the Iron Throne. So far a lot of Cersei's witches prophecy has come true. She was promised three children, and she was promised they'd all die. It happened. But there's more to that prophecy: "You'll be queen, for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear." Cersei obviously thought this was Margaery, but now that Cersei is Queen again, perhaps it was actually talking about Dany who's set to take over?

There are approximately 276 days until season seven. Let the speculation and theories about what will happen begin!

Siena Yates: After the way last season ended, it felt really, really gratifying to have some closure.

Actually, all of the closure.

We checked back in with everyone except Brienne and Pod, who are no doubt on their way back to Winterfell to arrive at the same time as Arya so Brienne can keep her oath with both Stark girls.

Dany's formed the ultimate alliance and is on her way to Westeros with Tyrion, the Greyjoys, the Martells, the Tyrells and a massive army.

The Starks have reclaimed the North, the Lannisters (well, what's left of them) have reclaimed King's Landing, Bran and Meera have made it back to the wall, Benjen's off to keep fighting the good fight, Sam's safe at the Citadel, Arya's back in Westeros and taking care of business, Little Finger's been thwarted for the time being, for once, we know where everyone is.

And the best part is that since Arya took care of the Freys, all the show's villains are gone, leaving things wide open to focus on the real villains: the White Walkers.

The High Sparrow was killed by wildfire when the sept exploded.
The High Sparrow was killed by wildfire when the sept exploded.

No Freys, no Boltons, no High Sparrow, no Waif. For once, all our main characters have to worry about now, is each other and the threat from beyond the wall. And once the Walkers come, I suspect they'll have to band together.

Well, maybe not Cersei.

But with Jon's Wildling army equipped to fight beyond the wall, Dany's Dragons, and whatever wildfire's left at King's Landing, they might actually stand a chance.

The Sept was destroyed by wildfire.
The Sept was destroyed by wildfire.

What makes me sad is Cersei fought for six seasons to end up on the throne, and you know it's going to be short lived.

But she made a comeback in the last episode, returning to the badass, unapologetic, no-mercy version of herself we loved to hate back in the early seasons. Forget Joffrey or Tommen or Margaery or any of the nonsense she's been preoccupied by lately, she finally let her wrath loose and it was the most powerful thing I've ever seen.

May next season bring more of what the last two episodes just gave us, and less of the on-again, off-again other episodes lumped us with.

And let's all praise the Gods we don't have to put up with having to hear about whether Jon Snow is dead or alive every day between now and next season.

- NZ Herald

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