Welcome to Part 3 of 4 of my Game of Thrones The Winds of Winter recap/review!! I’ve already covered the events in the North, as well as everything going on with Daenerys, so now it’s time for King’s Landing. Or should I say, Queen’s Landing.
The episode began with Cersei looking out at the Sept of Baelor, while Tommen, Margaery and the High Sparrow dressed, preparing for the trial for both Ser Loras and the Queen Mother. The crown is placed on Tommen’s head, and the bells toll, signalling the beginning of the trial.
Again, I have to give a shout out to the show’s composer, Ramin Djawadi. His scores are simply beautiful and breathtaking. And this opening sequence held so much suspense. The music alone was enough to terrify and excite.
The people file in, and Loras is dragged from his cell up into the Sept, where seven Septons will judge and determine his fate. You can feel the tense energy in the room. Margaery looks down, she almost looks ashamed. I don’t think she wants to be there. She would destroy the people who made not only her, but her brother suffer through this if she could. But she’s trying to play this smart, and she’s trying to save Loras’ life. Margaery looks around, no doubt for Tommen, and she knows then that something isn’t right. As do we. Cersei is not being dressed for a trial, that much is clear. A high collared dress that almost looks leathery, covered in chains, this is not a dress for a trial. This is a battle dress. There is a deadness in her eyes, a slight smirk on her lips. It is clear that the madness has already descended.
The trial begins, all the while the Grand Maester is called away, but I’ll come back to him. Loras is brought before the Septons. The High Sparrow stands, asking if he is ready to stand trial. But Loras says without hesitation that there is no need for a trial. He freely confesses his crimes, willing to face whatever consequences and judgments the Gods deem fit. While it wasn’t the best option, it was the only one that would ensure his survival. And being trapped down there most certainly began to unravel his mind. I think he was desperate to get out of that cell, and make sure he never entered it again.
The High Sparrow is smiling all the while, and goes on, repeating the bit about the Gods’ justice. The Warrior who punishes those who think themselves above justice, and the Mother, who grants her mercy to those who kneel before her. And so Loras kneels. He renounces his Lordship, his claim on Highgarden. He will not marry, he will father no children. He offers himself, his life, and will devote it to serving the Gods. The sparrows tilt Loras’ head back, and carve the symbol into his forehead. It’s ridiculously painful to watch, and I think that’s mainly because of the sound. At one point I’m pretty sure I heard bone? Gods, talk about painful.
Meanwhile in the Red Keep, Tommen stands, ready to go to the trial. But Ser Gregor blocks his way, stopping him from leaving. If there was any doubt that something wasn’t wrong, it is gone now. If Cersei is keeping her son in his room, it is for a reason.
Margaery is smart, but the High Sparrow is not. He is blinded by his faith in the Gods and does not see what is before him. He orders Lancel to go and retrieve the Queen Mother, thinking that it will be that easy. But no. It won’t be. Lancel leaves the Sept and sees a child running down the steps. So he follows, naturally curious.
As he does this, back in the Red Keep, Maester Pycelle meets Qyburn down in his workshop. Qyburn says that he bears him no ill will, and asks for forgiveness. And I think he means it. He never would have killed Pycelle if Cersei hadn’t ordered it. He’s not a threat. But Cersei wants all the past wiped out, Pycelle along with it. Not that any of us were really complaining. Pycelle kind of sucked. But the fact that the Little Birds did it, it just proves how savage a place King’s Landing really is. They look at the Dothraki, or the Wildlings, and they call them savages. But they are truthful, whatever else they may be. They do not stab each other in the back. There is a respect there that many Westerosi lack. There’s no denying that.
So, yet another character from Season 1 is dead. And he won’t be the last. Lancel runs after the child, down into the depths of the city, directly under the Sept of Baelor. He finds the torch the child was carrying on the ground, and bends to pick it up. He finds himself surrounded by barrels, confused. And the child takes this opportunity to stab him. He falls to the ground, but he still draws breath. Lancel looks at the barrels and sees the green, glowing light coating the lids. And at the end of the hall are three candles, placed on the ground and burning low. He begins to crawl towards them.
By this time Margaery knows that something is very wrong. And she tells the High Sparrow as much. “Cersei is not here. Tommen is not here. Why do you think they are not here?” He thinks she’s worried about justice, and tells her that there is nothing to worry about, that the trial shall go on with or without the Queen Mother. The Gods will deliver justice. And Margaery spits out, “Forget about the bloody Gods, and listen to what I’m telling you!” This small line carries a huge weight, because this entire season she has been playing a girl who has been reborn into the faith of the Seven. To say forget about them, to curse, it is not only a risk, but it enforces the importance and truth of what she’s saying. She knows Cersei, and she knows that because she is not here, she does not intend to face the consequences of her actions. They all must leave. She goes to her brother and helps him up, leading him away. Others quickly follow.
By this point Lancel has gotten close enough to the candles to see the truth. They are not on the ground. They are in pools of wildfire. As soon as they burn down, the entire place will go up.
Margaery is so close. But the High Sparrow is blind, and his followers block her way. They do not give anyone the chance to escape. Kevan Lannister, Hand of the King, Mace Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell, and countless others, royals and citizens alike are trapped within. Lancel crawls as fast as he can, but he’s too late. And we know it. Margaery knows it. She gives the High Sparrow one last look, and it is of pure hatred. A look that says, “You have killed us all”. A look that tells him that the Gods will punish him for what he has done. It is such a powerful moment.
The candle goes out. Lancel’s eyes fill with the reflection of the green fire. And within seconds, the entire Sept and much of the city is obliterated. Countless main characters are dead. This death toll is bigger than the Red Wedding. This was a massacre. And all at the hands of the Queen Mother herself, Cersei Lannister. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever seen her looking truly happy. The hatred for this character is unbelievably strong, which makes my love for Lena Headey even stronger. She is an incredible actress, and played this scene perfectly.
But while Cersei watches with joy, drinking her wine and taking in the sight with great pleasure, Tommen watches in horror and absolute misery as it dawns on him that his Queen is dead. The woman he loves is dead. He looks out of the window, staring at the smoke and flames, listening to the screams. His face shows no emotion. He takes off his crown and walks out of view of the camera. We hear him set it down. We hear a moment of complete silence before he walks back to the window. He steps up, and falls out of the window, committing suicide.
That scene was so well done. He didn’t even jump, it isn’t even right to say he threw himself out of the window. He simply fell, his body went limp. It’s like he literally had no effort to give, no reason to give it anymore. There was nothing. And they could not have portrayed that better. And while I have nothing against Tommen, he’s actually pretty sweet, it was, in a way, satisfactory to see him go. Because it’s the ultimate torture for Cersei. She has won. But in doing so she handed her son the knife. And she will live with that for the rest of her life, however short it may be.
Meanwhile, stupid and unaware as she is, Cersei drenches Septa Unella in wine, telling her to confess. She wants her to confess that everything she did to her, beating her and humiliating her, she did with pleasure. And she confesses herself, admitting that she has sex with her brother, that she killed her husband, all of that fun stuff. Cersei reminds her that she promised Septa Unella that her face would be the last she saw before she died. Unella tells her that she is ready to meet the Gods. But she will not die today. Cersei lets Ser Gregor in, leaves the room, and says, “Shame.” One can only imagine what horrors she will face.
When Cersei sees Tommen, it is proof that she has finally gone mad. She grieved over Myrcella, she wept and screamed over Joffrey, but she simply stares at Tommen. When Qyburn asks what should be done with his body, as the Sept of Baelor is no longer an option (thanks to you Cersei, ironically), she says he should be with his grandfather, his brother, and his sister. He will be burned, his ashes buried where the Sept once stood. How many Kings is that now? Robert, Renly, Stannis, Balon, Robb, Joffrey, Tommen? I’m definitely forgetting some, I’m sure of it. Mance Rayder, I suppose. Either way, Kings do not last long in Westeros.
Later, at the head of the Lannister army, Jaime and Bronn ride up to King’s Landing and see so much of the city in flames. The Sept of Baelor destroyed. And I think he knows even then that this was Cersei’s doing. His anger is clear.
Cersei enters the throne room, still in her battle dress, and walks up the Iron Throne. Jaime watches her walk, and there is no love in his eyes. Nor is there love in hers. “I now proclaim Cersei of the House Lannister, first of her name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms,” Qyburn recites. He smiles before placing the crown upon her head. “Long may she reign,” he cries as she sits upon the Throne.
SO, WOW. This is important for so many reasons. One, a Queen is on the Iron Throne!! Not a King, a Queen!! Girl power!!! Woo!!! That’s awesome, and I’m really happy, except I hate Cersei, and she is a terrible leader. She will be a horrible Queen and will no doubt lead to the destruction of King’s Landing.
Everyone thought it would be Daenerys that would become the Mad Queen, but some of us knew better. Cersei is far too power hungry, and she was already a little off her rocker. And I cannot wait to see Jaime interact with her in Season 7! Not only did Cersei make some very, very stupid mistakes, but she more or less killed Tommen. She is responsible for his death. She knew how he would react to Margaery dying. I think all she ever wanted was to be on the Throne. I think there’s a very likely chance that Jaime will kill her. And I really want him to! Jaime is a fantastic character, but this season he was reverting back to his old ways. Cersei corrupts him. We don’t love the man who loves Cersei. We love the man who back in Season 3 jumped into a freaking bear pit to save Brienne of Tarth. Jumped in without a sword, and with only one hand, I may remind you. With Cersei out of the way, he will be free to become that man again.
But I also want Tyrion to kill Cersei. So here’s my suggestion. As Tyrion helps storm the city with Daenerys, Jaime’s about to kill Cersei. And then Tyrion walks in, they hug it out and apologize, let bygones be bygones, and kill Cersei together. Huh? You feeling it?
I’m feeling it.
Whatever her demise is, it will come. And while I hate her, she’s a good villain. And it’s going to be a very interesting time, seeing Mad Queen Cersei ruling Westeros, sitting on the Iron Throne. Let’s just hope Dany kicks her out soon and reminds them of what a good Queen is.
While the death count was huge in this episode, all of my favourites are still kicking. Daenerys, Jon, Sansa, Tyrion, Jaime, everybody’s doing great. And while I really liked both Margaery and Tommen, it wasn’t devastating like previous seasons. But truthfully? I will miss them both.
As always, thanks for reading, and remember, part 4 is still to come! We’ve still got to get through the Citadel, the Riverlands, and Dorne, so stay tuned!