Game of Thrones fans beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect. If you're in need of a catch up, you can read this to get you up to speed. This week: Much killing. Very deadly. Big Armies. Wow.
Cersei's big revenge goes with a bang. It's bye bye birdie and Tommen takes flight. Briefly.
Shaboom! In what must mark as one of the more satisfying moments, the Thrones team trims its acting payroll considerably as Cersei finally enacts her plot against the High Sparrow, blowing up the Sept with wildfire and killing him, Mace Tyrell, Margaery, Loras and many others. Plus Lancel Lannister, who has long been a convert. Also dead as part of the plot, Maester Pycelle, who has farted his last. At least he got to go out having spent the night with a prostitute before he was slaughtered by the cast of Oliver! They've got to stab a muppet or two... Lena Headey once again delivers the quiet fury as Cersei, blended with triumph as she turns the tables on "shame"-spouting Septa Unella, which, for all its cruelty, also feels deserved. Finally there's poor Tommen – credit to Dean-Charles Chapman for the grief etched across his face before he takes a walk out the window to his own death. We're sorry to see him go, but we do love it when a plan comes together. And when we come back to visit with Cersei soon after, there's an effective undercutting of the victorious feel as she confronts the reality of another dead son. Praise is also due to composer Ramin Djawadi for some haunting piano and choir work during the sept sequence - the temptation might have been to build to a loud orchestral moment, but his choices are fantastic.
Walder celebrates his latest victory, but Jaime's in a reflective mood.
Usually Bronn's filthy banter is entertaining, though it seems vaguely out of place here, even as he does seem to be trying to cheer a thoughtful Jaime up. And then there's Walder Frey's chat with everyone's favourite Lannister. David Bradley is marvelously smug and nasty (as ever) here, making you root for someone to slit his throat before he can grin again. Jaime is not that man.
Sam and Gilly finally arrive.
Of all the scenes this week, we unfortunately have to say that Sam's is the one that could have been lost with very little impact. True, it offers some comic relief, and the implications of Sam getting access to that truly huge library are not to be ignored. But it could have shifted to the opening of next season, where we fully expect Sam to be performing the Breakfast Club dance montage.
Davos reveals a tough truth. Sansa and the rest receive a weather report.
The fury of Ser Davos is a sight to behold as he angrily confronts Melisandre about what happened to poor, toasted Princess Shireen last season. Liam Cunningham is – no pun intended – on fire here, and it's satisfying to see the usually reserved Davos explode. Good work also from Kit Harington and Sophie Turner on Winterfell's battlements, especially as they get the news that winter has arrived at last. Jon's smile is of a man who realises that the world is truly going to face something serious, and just when he thought he settled one problem, the next is waiting around the corner. Or beyond the wall...
Lady Olenna is offered and allegiance. And there is a new arrival.
Hey! It's the dudettes of Dorne! We completely forgot they were even in the story. Still, it's a welcome change for someone – Olenna, with Diana Rigg at her cattiest – to be taking them down a peg. Varys might not be a surprise arrival, but we now know at least one of the big forces that will be scrapping to rule all come next year.
Dany orders Daario to stay home. Tyrion offers more counsel and receives a gift.
Poor old Daario realises he's been dating the Taylor Swift of the show, that she's off on her big crusade and they are never, ever, ever getting back together. Maybe he can find Jorah Mormont (not present in the episode) and drown his sorrows. The better scene is the one between Dany and Tyrion, full of low-key interplay. One thing that worries us... Does she realise what happened to the last person he served as Hand? People died on his watch!
Walder Frey tucks into some delicious, familiar pie.
Blimey... they really are going all out with the deaths this finale, aren't they? Yes, another loathsome character is snuffed out, this time by Arya who appears to have flown Westeros Air to be back so quickly. The timelines in this show really are hard to track.
Littlefinger needs a cold shower after a cold shoulder.
We'd say "poor Littlefinger", but despite his assistance last week, he's still a manipulative bastard who sold Sansa out. You can understand, then why she'd turn him down. Colder than the Snow, Lady Stark. Colder than the snow.
Beyond The Wall
Benjen departs and Bran goes back in time again.
Benjen Stark: walking plot point. Yes, he's off again after getting Bran and Meera safely to near the wall. Hopefully he'll be able to pop in again next season for three minutes or less. Much more interesting is the big – long suspected by many fans – revelation about Jon's parentage as shown by Bran's latest trip back in time. He's Lyanna Stark's son! And, we are to assume, Rhaegar Targaryen's too (R+L=J!). The show loses a few marks for the less-than-subtle crosscut to the grown Jon. Find out more about Jon Snow's parents here.
Hail to the king, baby!
If we're being honest, the look of apprehension – or terror – on Jon's face when he's finally acclaimed as the King In The North makes us think that Lyanna Mormont would be a better leader of the various houses. Still, he's in it now, soiled trousers and all. Good luck, Jon! Try not to think of what happened to the last couple of Starks who held the position.
Hail to the queen, baby!
Cersei: triumphant. We're not sure we would have predicted this scene when everything was going wrong for her, but she has finally ascended to the throne, and frankly should have been there all along. Even if she might prefer to be the power behind it. It was clearly decided that this should be the night for sidelong looks as new rulers are celebrated – see Sansa giving Littlefinger the side eye at Winterfell now the glance between Cersei and Jaime, who rushed back, probably worried that his sister had been blown up. Again with the fast travel, Thrones team?
Hail to the... We've done this bit.
Sailing from the newly renamed Slavers' Bay in a formidable armada, ships flying Targaryen colours, Dany's much-delayed invasion of Westerns begins! With dragons circling overhead, here comes the future queen, who will probably add Lady High Commander Of The Oceans to her business card-worrying list of titles. And as a version of the theme tune swells, we're out!
We were a little worried that this was turning out to be a slow season early on, but things certainly ramped up mid-way and this was a great capper to a sterling run of episodes. The big finish clears the decks of several storylines and many characters and lines up the armies we'll be seeing next season, which may or may not be the big finish. So it's Jon vs. Dany vs. Cersei? We'll see if it truly shakes out that way, and let's not forget that the Night King and his frosty minions are also on their way. And they don't just bring chilblains. The slow burn storytelling that built to this point gave it a real power.
Highlight: Cersei rulez ok.
Lowlight: Sam visits the library. Sorry Sam.
Kill of the week: Where to start? But we'll go for roasted Sparrow.
Quote of the week: "Shame... Shame..." Cersei knows how to drive the knife home, even if she doesn't do it herself.
MVP: Davos. For that speech.
Random thought: Forget Daario seeking Jorah, who might be more statue than man now. He can find Littlefinger and they can start a Spurned Blokes support group.
Season 6, Episode review guide