Well, friends – here we are at the end of the series. Most of the loose ends have been tied  up, and  I take back last week’s grumble regarding frustrating cliff-hangers. For the most part, I’ve been vastly impressed by the showrunners’ interpretation of A Song of Ice and Fire, particularly their ability to condense hundreds of pages, axe dozens of characters, change fairly significant details and still remain totally loyal to the best parts of the plot. I still find this show highly problematic and wish some things had been done differently, but I don’t think it’s necessary or wise to flog a dead Dothraki horse. The Children provided resolution to the major story arcs, sent nearly everyone across their own personal Rubicons, and looked frigging impressive while doing so.

Jon Snow scurries past the outer gate to negotiate peace with Mance Rayder, passing a literal feast for crows (do you see?) as he leaves. Mance seems naively shocked at Jon’s sudden but inevitable betrayal. He asks after poor, dead Ygritte, and they both drink in her memory, as well as Mag the Giant King’s and Grenn the Farm Boy’s. Jon politely but firmly requests Mance and his army simply turn back, but Mance’s not having any of that. The White Walkers are not Killbots with a pre-set limit, and Mance isn’t Zapp Brannigan, willing to send wave after wave of his own men to die while he cowers in a bunker, clad in a handsome velour tunic. What he will do is send his people out of the true North into Westeros, whether the Night Watch likes it or not, because Winter Is Coming. Of course Jon’s really there to kill Mance, but they sort of let that slide. The offer of “Let us in, and we won’t slay the lot of you,” has hardly fallen out of Mance’s mouth when – da-daaah! The slaying begins anew as a proper army with banners and everything descends upon the camp.

It’s Stannis, hooray/whatever (delete as necessary), which was what I was afraid was going to be left unresolved till season five. Like the big ol’ bully he is, Stannis doesn’t just want surrender, he wants ritual humiliation as well. Mance’s cantaloupe-sized balls prevent him from kneeling, so his men are taken away in chains. Stannis questions what Jon’s doing there, and he gives him the usual sob story about being Ned Stark’s bastard, blah blah blah, but because Mance has been such a bro to him, he convinces Stannis to take him prisoner and farm him for intel rather than execute him, because that’s the Nedly way.

In King’s Landing, The Mountain That Rides is slowly dying from Oberyn’s poison. Maester Pycelle and not-Maester Qyburn quibble over whether or not they can save him, but Cersei needs him to live, so she tells Pycelle to get bent and hang the consequences. The process will change him, but as long as he isn’t weakened, she doesn’t care. She goes to try and weasel her way out of marrying Loras, but Tywin’s having none of it. Cersei is so panicked at the thought of leaving the Red Keep and Tommen that she tells Tywin she nearly poisoned him at the Battle of Blackwater when someone horrible may have been coming to take him away from her. Now it’s her own her father and Margaery who are the monsters. She then fairly pointlessly confesses the Gross Truth about Jaime and their children. Tywin refuses to believe it, but totally knows, and Cersei storms off elegantly.

Jaime’s moping over The White Book again when Cersei interrupts to tell him she spilled the beans about their special kind of loving. Before she can, they argue over Tyrion for a bit before deciding to bury the hatchet and get sexy, because she choo-choo-chooses her brother/lover. Guess she’s forgiven the sexual assault in the High Sept, then.

In Meereen, Daenerys receives supplicants. First, a freedman wants to sell himself back into slavery, because he’s old and confused and things are actually pretty sucky in the post-Master world. This burns hard, but she accepts it. It only gets worse when the next person in the queue shows her the charred bones of his daughter, torched by an apparently wayward Drogon the dragon. Out of control of her freed slave children and her dragon children, Mhysa then locks up Rhaegal and Viserion in the catacombs to everyone’s unhappiness. This is where we leave Dany for the time being, finding out that winning is not ruling and being the world’s mama is a vastly overrated job.

Back at the Wall, the dead Crows receive a traditional send-off while Stannis’s family looks on. Melisandre peers hungrily at Jon from across the flames, and you can see that she may have Made A Huge Mistake. Tormund rages against his chains, and he and Jon have a super awkward conversation, with Jon unable to answer questions about his former friend’s fate. He too lays on multiple layers of guilt re: Ygritte, peppered with some handy advice as to how to give her a proper funeral, so Jon sledges her body just outside the Wall and burns her.

Much further beyond the Wall, Bran and the bog children finally reach the tree from Bran’s weirwood vision – summing up nearly his entire story arc from A Dance with Dragons in less than ten minutes (HOORAY). Before they can reach their destination, they’re attacked by White Walkers, one of which kills Jojen. Bran wargs into Hodor, but the skeletons just keep coming. An eerie child-like girl throws some magic fireballs as Jojen’s eyes ice over. They just barely escape into the bowels of the tree, and here Bran meets the Greenseer that he’s been hoping will solve all his problems. Lols no. Bran won’t walk again, according to the man, but he will fly.

To the best and saddest part: Brienne and Pod awake to find their horses have scarpered. She spies Arya practising her water dancing. Sword introductions are made, and the two appear to regard each other with non-traditional womanly pride. The Hound turns up for some more formal introductions, and the penny drops for Brienne that an actual Stark girl stands before her. She’s determined to keep her promise to Catelyn, but The Hound’s not giving Arya up, as he recognises Lannister gold in Brienne’s armour. He also goes over all adoptive-fatherly, in a moment where surely everyone got something in their eye. The two fight brilliantly, in another scene invented by the showrunners just to rip our conflicted hearts asunder. Brienne wins via lots of punching to his nutsack and a conveniently placed cliff. Arya cleverly hides during their tussle, forcing Brienne and Pod to search for her. As the Hound lays dying, he attempts to goad Arya into giving him the gift. Arya’s cold, heartless, silent stare reminded me so much of Sansa ascending the staircase after lying to the Vale’s half-hearted murder inquiry, it gave me chills. She doesn’t need to cross The Hound off her death prayer anymore, and she probably can’t even remember what the butcher’s boy looked like anyway. She takes the pouch of silver stolen from the kindly peasant and leaves Sandor Clegane to die alone in agony. Valar morghulis, eventually.

Jaime arrives in the dungeons to save Tyrion, with the help of Varys. Their goodbye is short, sweet, and tearjerky. Sneaking his way through the Red Keep, Tyrion takes a detour through his old chambers as the King’s Hand, and is betrayed by both Shae and his father one last time. Tywin hypocritically appears to have shacked up with Tyrion’s former lover. He stumbles in shock and horror as Shae wakes, murmuring about her lion. She freaks upon seeing Tyrion and grabs for a knife, meaning he’s got to kill her in order to save his skin. Peter Dinklage is pure gold, weeping and apologising to her strangled corpse before swiping a crossbow from the wall.

It gets worse, of course, as he confronts the old man sitting on the bog. Tywin tries to get Tyrion to discuss things in more dignified way, but Tyrion refuses to give him what’s been stolen from him his whole life. Tywin tries to explain that he won’t let his son be executed, but fucking Shae was beyond betrayal. On top on that, treating her with disgust and flippancy was the final straw. Because Tyrion is his son. Remember when everything was coming up Lannister? Poor Tywin – all he ever wanted was to crush his enemies, to see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentations of their women. But he died on the shitter all the same. Varys walks in on the sad scene and tuts briefly before escorting Tyrion to the docks.

Arya too heads to the waterfront, seeking passage to the Wall, but upon hearing that the ship’s captain is going to Braavos, she presents him with Jaqen H’ghar’s coin. He returns her “valar morghulis” with “valar dohaeris” and she boards. The final scene, of the ship sailing while Arya leaves behind her old world possibly for good, music swelling, was tantalizing. Everything’s been as resolved as it can be, while still leaving us wanting MORE THINGS TO HAPPEN. 9/10

Sexy, Important Thoughts:

  • In the books I loved Davos like I love Fresca, but to be honest here he’s really beginning to chap my hide with his super-boring crush on Stannis – to the point where I actually told him to shut up. I find this a great pity.
  • “The power that moves them is powerless here” – well that clears it up, creepy not-Child lady person.
  •  Hearing Sandor Clegane nearly beg for mercy was awful. How dare this show make me feel feelings!
  • “You refused to die – I respect that!”
  • Thanks again to everyone sharing this vexing, amazing, bewildering televisual journey with me. And yes, I will be reading The Winds of Winter, by all seven hells.