Man, right off the bat this one slaps you in the face with raw emotional pain. I was wondering what the odd structures were in front of Winterfell, thinking maybe they were some kind of defenses. Nope; they were funeral pyres. There were actually fewer than I expected for the number of lives lost by the Winterfell army. Going by the pyres, I counted eight rows of ten of the three-decker pyres. Each of those held 22 bodies for a total of 1,760 dead. Then there was a row of single-deck pyres with ten bodies each and one at the end of each column of the triple-deckers for a total of eight pyres, giving us 80 bodies. That’s a grand total of 1,840 bodies being burned. Yes, I counted what they showed on screen because what they told us and what they showed us were vastly different. Unless what we saw in the distance that looked like maybe a tree line was a wall of bodies, but if that’s the case why didn’t those folks warrant a place on the pyres?
I thought that each of our main characters lighting the pyres and being shown their respective friend was touching. Daenerys lighting the pyre upon which Jorah Mormont lay, Sam with Edd (the 999th and likely final Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch), Sansa placing the Stark pin on Theon before lighting his (this was probably my favorite of the mourning scene) and Jon doing the honors for Lyanna Mormont. Jon’s speech was nice, and we know he’s not overly clever or quick-witted so his appropriation of the Night’s Watch funeral speech was very fitting. After all, those who died did so defending the Realms of Men and essentially did the work of the Watch despite not swearing the oath.
POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS GONE WRONG
Legitimizing Gendry was, for once, a wise move by Daenerys. She needs allies because her staunchest supporters are pretty much wiped out. As we learn in the war council scene, half of the Unsullied and just about all of the Dothraki were wiped out. This was very smart, although it only means anything if she ends up sitting on the Iron Throne (if there is a throne at the end of all this).
Gendry hopes that his newfound title and land will be enough to win Arya’s affection, but as longtime fans of the show know, she doesn’t want to be a lady. She’s always wanted to fight, she even told him this way back in season three. She does not want to be tied down. She wants to live her life her way, and despite her feelings towards Gendry, she doesn’t want to give up the life she’s always wanted. Like she said, “That’s not me.”
Daenerys seems to be spiraling towards madness. She’s beginning to mirror Cersei, in a way. People are challenging her authority, she’s lost children but still has one left and she is supremely confident in herself. Although if she continues her “by any means necessary” approach to what she believes is her birthright, she’s going to end up dead. She gave Jon a terrible ultimatum, forcing him to betray himself for what she wants. Yes, she helped fight the war against the dead, but if she wants to rule, she must live up to the title she makes sure everyone hears when she gets introduced. Remember, part of that series of titles is “PROTECTOR OF THE REALM”. That means the whole realm, the North included. She doesn’t seem to realize this, like when she gets upset that Sansa has the temerity to suggest that less than 24 hours after surviving a massive battle that the wounded need time to rest. This is despite the advice against it from Tyrion and Jon. Daenerys gets angry when she receives bad advice but refuses to listen to good advice. She is not a good queen, and would be nothing but a problem for the realm should she take the throne.
IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE
We get a Ghost sighting, finally, and we see that he’s got some battle scars as well. For several seasons Ghost has been, well, a ghost when it comes to screen time. We’ve always been told that it was because there wasn’t enough money in the budget and it costs too much to generate the direwolves. Then we learn that this season has the largest budget ever and we get what, less than 60 seconds of screen time for him? And the one time we really get to see him it’s during a scene in which Jon is leaving him forever and giving him to Tormund so he can live in the North beyond the Wall. So no elephants, no ice spiders as big as hounds, and no direwolves? I’m not too pleased with this. On a side note, this must be the same reason why Bronze Yohn Royce hasn’t gotten much screen time, especially the last two episodes – he must cost too much to generate.
Tormund in this scene also gives us some foreshadowing during his farewell speech with Jon, because I’m fairly certain we will see him and the Free Folk again. We also get confirmation that Gilly is pregnant with Sam’s baby. There had been some speculation that the actress who plays her, Hannah Murray, was pregnant because people were saying it looked like she had gained weight.