Cersei’s calamitous conspiracy came to a climax as the Capital City burned to the ground this week on the season finale of “Game of Thrones.” With the Great Sept of Baelor lying in ashes, Cersei becomes the Mad Queen in ways Aerys II Targaryen never was. Claiming hundreds of lives with her ruthless scheme, Cersei also finds the blood of her own son and fan favorite Margaery Tyrell on her hands. As Cersei orchestrates a hostile takeover in King’s Landing, Daenerys sets sail for Westeros with intentions to do the same. Meanwhile, the Northern houses offer up their swords to Jon Snow, the new King in the North, in preparation for the great battle to come between the living and the dead.
“The Winds of Winter” is at its best with the production of the unveiling of Cersei’s plot. Mesmerizing for the viewer, the framing and placement of the shots paired with a carefully crafted music score created an atmosphere of apprehension leading up to the explosion. Lancel Lannister’s desperate effort to stop the inevitable plays between scenes of the chaos that unfolds in the Sept as Margaery realizes what Cersei has planned. As the anxious violins ring and the viewers’ heartbeats quicken, the High Sparrow realizes his time to meet the gods has come. The music stops as the explosion of green engulfs the Sept and the nearby buildings. The wreckage fades into the background as Cersei’s sip of wine rings loudly above the screams of the afflicted. Theses choices made by the production team make what could have been a straight-forward demolition staggering and emotionally consuming.
By the time wildfire has burned the Sept to ashes, Cersei has fully embraced her descent into revenge-driven madness. Her reaction to Tommen’s suicide confirms her utter apathy. With all of her children dead and Jaime slowly but surely questioning his loyalty to her, Cersei’s allies are few. Cersei finally has everything she’s always wanted, but it comes at the ultimate cost. For the longest time, Cersei’s role as a mother to her children has driven her to do the unspeakable. Despite this, her children seemed to be the only things that could evoke her empathy. With the last of her children dead, it seems Cersei’s humanity has died with them. Without anything holding her back, Cersei morphs into a viciously destructive ruler to rival the Mad King himself.
To Jaime, Cersei’s actions are all too familiar. The Kingslayer, given his name by killing the Mad King in order to prevent him from burning the city to the ground with wildfire, arrives in King’s Landing to see that his own sister has managed to do that very thing. The sacrifice of his honor and reputation to keep the citizen’s of King’s Landing safe suddenly becomes meaningless in the wake of Cersei’s reckless revenge plot.
Jaime’s character arc throughout the seasons has been moving toward rejecting Cersei’s means to power. His interaction with Brienne in episode eight and his conversation with Walder Frey in the finale show Jaime longing for the honorable lifestyle a knight should live. As his character has developed this season, more are beginning to theorize that Jaime may be the “Valonqar” that Maggy prophesied would end Cersei’s life.
Speaking of theories, fans of the books rejoiced this week as a popular long-running fan theory was finally confirmed. The theory, commonly called “R+L=J,” claims that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark are Jon Snow’s true parents. Though it was implicit, the fading of Lyanna’s newborn into the adult Jon Snow at Winterfell proved to be evidence enough.
Many of the major loose ends were tied up in “The Winds of Winter.” With few lingering questions remaining, the coming season promises the unveiling of pivotal arcs the characters have just begun to tap into. As Daenerys leads her fleet to Westeros, Jon and Sansa prepare the North for the long winter that has finally arrived. With the magnitude of shocking chaos and violence that rained down relentlessly this season, it remains to be seen just how much fiercer these winter winds can get in season seven.
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