Updated: 22nd November 2017

Game of Thrones recap: season six finale The Winds of Winter

Talk about saving the best until last: it was a heart-stopping and spine-tingling conclusion heavy in blood, revenge and death

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Game of Thrones airs on HBO in the US on Sunday night and on Foxtel in Australia on Monday. Do not read unless you have watched season six, episode 10, which airs in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Monday at 9pm, and is repeated in Australia on Showcase on Monday at 7.30pm AEST.

Are you afraid? Good. Youre in the great game now and the great game is terrifying.
Talk about saving the best until last. This season may at times have been patchy the dialogue has certainly lacked the subtlety of earlier years but the Winds of Winter aka Game of Thrones: The Ultimate Vengeance Edition was a heart-stopping conclusion heavy in blood, revenge and death in which scores were settled, new alliances formed, old fan theories confirmed and the stage set for what promises to be the mother of all clashes between Dany, the Queen of Dragons, and Cersei, the queen of ashes and dust.

Along the way we saw the board once again cleared of pieces as half the cast met nasty ends, Davos confronted Melisandre about Shireens death and winter finally came leaving the Starks ascendant with Jon and Sansa having won the allegiance of the northern lords and Arya serving the ever-repellent Walder Frey with meaty justice before slitting his throat. As if to underline what an enjoyable episode this was, they even managed to have a scene set in Dorne that didnt make me want to throw things at my television for which I salute Olenna Tyrell (the ever-magnificent Diana Rigg) who surely spoke for the entire audience when she told the Sand Snakes to shut up while she did business with their mother.

It is not survival I offer. It is your hearts desire. Vengeance. Justice. Fire and blood.

Dany
Dany and Tyrion, who finally set sail for Westeros. Photograph: HBO

Dany may have finally set sail for Westeros in a fantastically filmed final scene (although I cant be the only one unsure why Tyrion finds her so incredible, given that most of their acquaintance has revolved around him trying to sort out the mess her erratic rule has created while shes off on a vision quest with Drogon) but this was Cerseis episode. For nine weeks, our lady of the overflowing wine glass has barely mustered the strength for a waspish put-down. That was all forgotten tonight as a (surprisingly well-planned) coup came to fruition, resulting in the deaths of pretty much everyone who has ever tried to put Cersei in her place from Grand Maester Pycelle (hacked down by Varys little birds, who now belong to Qyburn and have turned decidedly murderous under the new regime) and Uncle Kevan to the High Sparrow and Margaery Tyrell. Unfortunately for Cersei, there was also some collateral damage in the shape of poor Tommen who looked at the Great Sept burning, realised his wife was dead and jumped to his death in a sad, quiet scene that I found almost unbearably moving. By the episodes end, Cersei was on the Iron Throne and looking set to make the Mad King Aerys Targaryens rule appear mild by comparison, while long-adoring brother Jaime had the look of a man queasily counting down the days until the words Queenslayer are added to the long list of abusive titles people fling at him in passing.

We need to trust each other. We cant fight a war amongst ourselves weve so many enemies now.
This was also an episode about alliances old and new. Varys headed to Dorne where he thrilled my heart by uttering the Targaryen words fire and blood and setting up a Targaryen, Tyrell, Dornish alliance against the Lannisters which will also pit Tyrion against his siblings. The North got down on bended knee once more, this time to Jon Snow, the newly christened White King, although I fear discord on the horizon as Littlefinger continues to rub at that small area of distrust between Jon and Sansa, the fact that deep down she sees him not as a true Stark. That said, I felt sympathy for her watching all the lords (and the little lady) of the great northern houses presume that it was Jon they should give their swords to, even though he himself had said that the Knights of the Vale fought for her. The question now is how much has Sansa learnt will she decide its better to be the lady of Winterfell and the power behind Jons throne, using her smarts to shape his policy, or will she listen to Littlefingers attempts to spread discord?

Additional notes

Tonights episode made it absolutely clear that Jon Snow is not Ned Starks illegitimate son but rather the child of Lyanna. Fan theorists everywhere rejoice.

Jon had little choice but to banish Melisandre rather than killing her, if only because he owed her his life. The question is where does the newly doubt-filled Red Priestess now go?

Alas poor Margaery you were one of the most astute players of the game and even at the end you might have escaped your fiery fate had it not been for the stupidity of the Faith Militant. You will be missed.

The idea that Littlefinger is a fan of visualisation techniques pleases me immensely. I can just imagine him spending half an hour every night picturing his happy place on the Iron Throne with Sansa by his side.

Poor old Daario, discarded like a used dishcloth after all the willing service he gave both in and out of the bedchamber. I must say Im quite impressed with Danys ability to make it sound as though shes doing you a massive favour when she dumps you. Jorah go wander the earth and find a cure for greyscale; Daario rule this city as only you can.

That said, there are times when this show hedges perilously close to being Theres Something About Dany. As Tyrion became the latest person to pledge his soul to her, I found myself wishing just one person would prove immune to her charms.

I loved Cerseis scene with the silent septa, not least for the new queens admission that she drinks because it feels good.

Jaime
Jaime has seen the future and it repulses him. Photograph: HBO

Jaimes doubts dont just extend to his sister. The scene with Walder Frey suggested that here was a man being presented with his future and it repulsed him.

This was a beautifully shot and wonderfully scored episode, particularly in the spine-tingling opening moments.

The look Davos gave Lyanna Mormont was so bittersweet he was so clearly remembering poor, brave Shireen.

Euron was something of a damp squib (or squid if you prefer, sorry) wasnt he?

Sometimes I think Sam might be the character I most identify with on this show I too would abandon the love of my life for a room filled with books.

And now a brief word about travel on Game of Thrones: I think you have to accept that these things are not all happening at the same time. Obviously a great deal of time passed between Varys being in Dorne and Dany setting sail. Similarly, time passed between Jaime talking to Walder and riding for home and I buy that the Great Sept was still smoking weeks later because Cersei used a huge supply of wildfire to blow it up.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who comments on here, youve all been fantastic and Ive enjoyed it immensely, as always. See you back here same time next year for Dany v Cersei: All Cities Must Burn.

Violence count
A particularly violent episode saw Loras have a bloody symbol cut into his head, Pycelle get stabbed to death by the little birds, Lancel stabbed then blown up by wildfire, the Great Sept get blown up, killing Mace, Margaery and Loras Tyrell in addition to Kevan Lannister and a bunch of other lords and ladies plus the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, Septa Unella get tortured by Cersei and then left to the mercy of Frankenmountain, Tommen throw himself off a ledge, and finally Arya serve Walder Frey his sons in a pie before slitting his throat.

Nudity count
One naked prostitute servicing Grand Maester Pycelle.

Random Brit of the week
A special shout-out this week for Robert Aramayo who has been excellent in a brief role as the young Ned Stark.

So what did you think? Was it a fitting conclusion? Were you surprised by all the deaths? Can Jon trust Sansa? Where is Melisandre heading? And just how bad do you think Queen Cerseis reign can get? As ever, all speculation and no spoilers are welcome below

Read more: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/jun/27/game-of-thrones-recap-season-six-episode-10-the-winds-of-winter">http://www.theguardian.com/us</a>

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