GAME OF THRONES Season 6, Episode 10, ‘The Winds of Winter’

PrintE-mail Written by Hayden Mears

Five seasons ago, when winter still hadn't come and Ned Stark still had his head, few could have predicted that Game of Thrones would blossom and balloon into the phenomenon it is today. The series has built itself into our culture, its characters and concepts pervading a collective consciousness that has become hopelessly invested in a story that stands with the best fantasy of our time. Now that we have arrived at the concluding hour of the show's propulsive sixth season, we can't help but wonder if the path forward will climb upward or slope downward. This stunning, sweeping season capper, aptly titled The Winds of Winter, further elevates and escalates an unpredictable, unrelenting narrative, reaching an apex that almost can't be eclipsed. It's difficult, maybe even impossible, to fathom a final two seasons that top and trump the excellence on full display here. Here is an hour of television we probably won't ever let slip from our minds.

Following the Battle of Winterfell, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark contemplate their next move while Cersei is rewarded for her plotting in the most terrifying manner. Meanwhile, Daenerys finalizes her plans to rally the Dothraki and sail off to Westeros, where she will undoubtedly wreak havoc until she's either stopped or sitting on the Iron Throne. Bran learns more about his father's connection to the Tower of Joy, and winter finally comes.

In typical finale fashion, The Winds of Winter serves as both a culmination and a continuation, wrapping up seasons-old arcs while simultaneously prepping viewers for what's to come. Director Miguel Sapochnik, the visionary who guided us through the chaotic Battle of the Bastards, returns for a second go at the Game of Thrones mythos, once again showcasing his knack for angling shots and connecting viewers with the characters and concepts he so deftly directs. This may be the most beautifully rendered, emotionally compelling entry in the show's short but storied run, which impresses on many levels considering the lofty production value of every episode.

There's a kind of sick poetry to the proceedings that imbues the story with perverse beauty; it's hard not to feel a sickening mix of satisfaction and horror at some of the goings-on here. Westeros has always been a cesspool characterized by an odd blend of cruelty (Cersei) and compassion (Tommen), and the sickness showcased in this season-wrapping hour continues to divide us on how and what we feel toward these characters.

While it's not the best episode the show has put out, The Winds of Winter is, without a doubt, the strongest season finale to date. Everything from its quiet, thoughtful music to the grandeur of its closing shot epically and easily submerges us in the world that George R. R. Martin first envisioned so many years ago. It's a stunning hour of an equally stunning show, and it'll be a treat to see where it goes next.

We've reached the end of the season, folks! Check back next spring for Season 7 reviews, and keep your eyes trained on the STARBURST newsfeed until then!


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