Just a half hour before the Game of Thrones season finale, "Mother's Mercy", I posted three predictions on my Twitter page, about what I think will go down tonight. Those predictions were, "Stannis dies, Tommen loses the throne, the White Walkers breach the Wall." Did all three of these come true? Well, one out of three isn't bad, but regardless of my supposed clairvoyance/educated guesses, the show still managed to deliver an absolutely thrilling finale, with a slew of shocking deaths, which has fans immediately looking ahead to Season 6, which will be the first season to delve into fully uncharted territory, unless author George R.R. Martin delivers his sixth book, The Winds of Winter, earlier than expected. Obviously, if you didn't watch the finale yet, there will be super-massive SPOILERS below, so read on at your own risk.
We start out in the North, where Melissandre (Carice van Houten) is watching icicles melt, smiling, telling Stannis (Stephen Dillane) that the Lord of Light has made good on his promise, melting the snow, after Stannis sacrificed his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram). Melissandre tries to embrace him, but Stannis isn't having it. Some guy comes up to Stannis, tells him that over half of his men deserted him in the night, with their horses. Another soldier approaches, leading him into the woods, where he finds his wife Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) hanging from a tree! Apparently the sacrifice of her daughter was too much for her to bear. Stannis, conflicted but determined, tells them to assemble the troops for their march on Winterfell.
Back at The Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) tells Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) about the Night's King turning the dead into his undead soldiers. They talk about how his Valyrian steel sword Longclaw killed a white walker, but Snow says there aren't enough Valyrian steel swords in the Seven Kingdoms. Samwell asks Jon for permission to let him leave for Old Town, along with Gilly (Hannah Murray) and her baby, so he can become a Maester, since it was what he was meant to be, especially after Maester Aemon passed. Snow says he needs him here, but Samwell says that if he, Gilly and the baby stay here, they will die. He says he'd rather see a thousand white walkers than see that. Snow is troubled, but nods his head. Samwell says he will return, and they toast to his journey ahead. Samwell and Gilly get on a cart and wave goodbye to Jon before they leave. Is it possible that Samwell and Gilly won't be back for Season 6? We haven't seen Oldtown yet in the series, so it's possible that we could go there for the first time in Season 6, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Samwell, Gilly and the baby skip this next season, just like Bran and Hodor skipped this season.
As Stannis and his dwindling army march on foot towards Winterfelll, we see Sansa (Sophie Turner) escaping from her chambers, walking through the town, possibly to light that candle she was told to light if she's in trouble. Finally, we reunite with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman). Podrick sees Stannis' army marching, and reports to Brienne, and just after they both take off, we see a light start flickering from the tower that Brienne was watching. Stannis says to start a foraging party immediately and the siege begins at dawn, but, unexpectedly, Winterfell's army has come to them. We see Sansa standing in the tower next to her candle, as Stannis looks on apprehensively his meager army battles the much larger Winterfell army. Sansa sees this unfold and quickly leaves the tower.
We then go to the aftermath of the battle, which Stannis survives, but he's hurt badly, limping, using his sword as a makeshift crutch. He turns to face two Winterfell soldiers, and starts taking them both on, killing them both, while still badly injured. His leg is bleeding as he slumps against a tree, when he sees Brienne. She says she was kingsguard to Renly Baratheon and that she was there when he was murdered by a shadow with his face. She asks if he murdered him with black magic, and he says he did, which is a great moment because no one believed Brienne's claims before. Brienne sentences him to die, pulling out her sword, asking if he has any last words, which he replies, "Go on and do your duty." She brings up her sword, but before she brings it down, we cut to another part of the battlefield, where Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) is killing the stragglers of Stannis' army. One crawling soldier says he surrenders, and that he accepts his surrender, but kills him anyway. What a prick. Of course, since we never actually saw Brienne's sword come down on Stannis, many will think he's still alive, but we do get somewhat of a cryptic hint at his death a little later on at The Wall.
Back in Winterfell, Sansa makes her way back to her chambers after lighting the candle in the tower, where she finds Ramsay's bitchy, conniving ex-girlfriend Myranda (Charlotte Hope), holding a bow and arrow to her, along with Reek/Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). Sansa says if she is to die, let it happen while there's still some of her left. Deviously, Myranda talks about Ramsay's plans for her, and she is about to shoot an arrow at Sansa, when Reek finally mans up and saves Sansa, pushing Myranda off the stairs, likely killing her. Reek then holds Sansa's hand, as they both jump off the castle wall.
It cuts away before seeing how they land, but we can see there's already snow on the ground, which will likely cushion their fall, even though it's much higher up than Myranda's fall... but she landed on her face, which isn't good, and from the way they jumped (i.e. not head first), it's certainly possible they could survive. Basically, Sansa and THEON are (or at least should be) alive, and will likely spend most of Season 6 going on a journey somewhere together. Remember that Theon told Sansa that Bran and Rickon were still alive, so it seems likely that they may journey north to find her brothers. While we know where Bran is, we haven't seen Rickon and Osha since the end of Season 3, so Season 6 could be a good time to bring them back. I only say that Sansa and Theon are still alive because it's such a weird cliffhanger that isn't addressed again, and I can't imagine they'd do that to such a major character in the finale... but then again, maybe they would.
We then head to Braavos, where pederast Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) is back at the brothel, this time with three young girls in his chamber with him. He whips all of them with a stick, but one doesn't whimper, standing tough, and Meryn says he has his work cut out for him. He tells the other two girls to leave, as the remaining girl pulls her hair back and faces him, as we see it's the girl that Arya gave the water too at the House of Black and White. He punches this girl in the gut, sending her to her knees. She gets up and its Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who pulls out a knife and stabs Meryn in the eyes, face, and several other places in one of the most gruesome scenes we've seen all year. She tells him he was the first on her list, after he killed Sylvio Forel, her former sword trainer. She tells him he's no one, he's nothing, before slitting his throat!
Back at the House of Black and White, she puts the girl's face back in its proper spot, and Jaquen (Tom Wlaschiha) says she took the wrong life, one that wasn't hers to take. The Waif (Faye Marsay) brags, says she knows she wasn't ready. Waif holds Arya back, Jaquen says death must be repaid by life, and he drinks a poison potion, presumably, and he falls. Arya cries, The Waif asks why, Arya says he was her friend, but Waif turns into Jaquen again, as Arya starts literally peeling off a ton of different faces, before getting to hers. Jaquen says she has to truly become no one to wear the faces, but she is still someone, and the faces are like poison. She screams that she is becoming blind and starts freaking out.
In Dorne, Doran (Alexander Siddig), the Sand Snakes and Ellaria (Indira Varma) see Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Trystane (Toby Sebastian) and Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) off on their journey back to King's Landing. Ellaria gives Myrcella a weird kiss on the lips before she gets on the boat, and Bronn says goodbye to Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), as he tells her he may visit her some day, and she says she may visit him. Jamie gives Myrcella her necklace back, and says he's glad she's coming back, since her mother misses her dearly. Jamie says there's something he wants to tell her, saying now that she's seen the world, people are complex. He says how odd it is that she is actually in love with the man she was arranged to marry. As he fumbles trying to tell her that he's her father, Myrcella says that she knows, and that she's glad he's her father. Jamie is awestruck as she embraces him. After they break, though, blood starts trickling down Myrcella's nose and she collapses! Then we cut to Ellaria and the Sand Snakes watching the ship leave, when blood starts dripping from Ellaria, as Tyene gives her a piece of cloth to wipe the blood off, and then Ellaria pulls out a tiny vial and drinks it. It seems that weird kiss transferred poison from Ellaria to Myrcella, and the vial she drinks is an antidote.
Back in Meereen, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Daario (Michiel Huisman) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) are hanging around, presumably waiting for Danerys (Emilia Clarke) to come back. Tyrion speculates that both Daario and Jorah both love her, when Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) come in, as Grey Worm says Jorah shouldn't be here. Daario says that Tyrion won't help on their journey to find Dany, and that he'd better be served staying here. They hatch a plan for Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei to stay in Meereen to govern the people, etc., while Jorah and Daario go on their journey to track down Dany. All season long, there's been romantic tension between Missandei and Grey Worm, but recently, Tyrion saved her life and people have rumored that there may be a romance there. With Daario and Jorah setting off to find the woman they both (presumably) love, and Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei staying in Meereen, it's possible we could get two intriguing love triangles next season.
At long last, we finally see the return of Varys (Conleth Hill), who we haven't seen since Jorah kidnapped Tyrion. Varys says he needs to learn which of his friends are not really his friends, etc. Varys' speech seems rather cryptic, almost like this whole thing was part of Varys' plan to, essentially, "rule" Meereen. Of course, he doesn't come out and say it, but there's an odd tone in his voice that suggests it was all part of his plan. After all, Varys did rescue Tyrion and see him across the Narrow Sea to Meereen, and he often talked about how important Tyrion was to the future of Westeros. Still, even with Missandei and Grey Worm at his side, could Tyrion manage to successfully hold Meereen together?
On a mountainside somewhere, Dany is chilling with Drogon, who is hurt, with the bones of several animals littered around him. Dany tries telling Drogon that he needs to take her back, her people need her, but Drogon isn't having it. She tries to get on top of him but he gets agitated and then lays back down. Since Drogon is being lazy, Dany goes for a walk, when we see a few riders approaching. She drops her ring, when we see tons of horses approaching from all sides... all Dothraki warriors, hundreds of them, all circling around her. She drops her wedding ring in the grass, as they approach her from all sides. We don't see anyone specific standing out in this Dothraki herd, but it's clearly them. Have they come back to have her lead them? Or do they have more sinister plans for the Mother of Dragons?
In King's Landing, Cersei is disheveled in her cell, when the cranky old nun comes back and keeps saying, "Confess, confess." Cersei looks at her, weeping, before giving in, realizing that she finally has to confess. She goes to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce, says she wants to be clean again, she wants absolution. She asks if she confesses, will she be free? She confesses to extramarital/incestual relations with her cousin Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon). She tries to rationalize it by saying her husband was a whore-monger, but he says his sins don't forgive hers. He asks if there were any others, and she says no, not admitting her relationship with Jamie, but he says there has been rumors of her relationship with Jamie, which she denies yet again. Convincingly, she says that the rumors of her children born of incest (which would reveal that Tommen is not the true heir to the Iron Throne) was a rumor, which Sparrow seems to believe.
Much to Cersei's surprise, High Sparrow says there will still be a trial, since she only confessed to one sin. Desperate, Cersei says she needs to see her son, and he says she has taken her first step on the path to righteousness and he will allow her to return to the Red Keep. He asks if she's free to go, and he says 'After your atonement.' We then cut to the nuns washing Cersei's naked body, they sit her down and one of the nuns pulls out a straight razor and starts cutting off her hair. Eventually, Cersei is given a crude buzz cut, of sorts, sitting there naked as they leave and lock the door. The nuns then dress her and lead her outside, where High Sparrow waits, with tons of peasants outside. Sparrow lists her crimes and that she has confessed her sins, and says she will cast her ways aside, as she has to make her walk of atonement, from her prison back to the Red Keep. The nuns remove her dress as she has to walk down the stairs naked, while one nun keeps saying "Shame" over and over again, while ringing a bell. She walks throw the crowd of people. After awhile, one guy calls her a "Cunt," which snowballs into the crowd shouting at her, calling her a whore, some throwing food at her. Crowd starts getting unruly, one guy comes with his cock out, asking her to suck him off. Someone spits on her face, as she's covered in all sorts of stuff. Everyone is yelling and booing, while Cersei seems on the verge of a breakdown, as she falls to her knees. Her feet are bloody and there's blood on her shoulders as she reaches the end of her walk, crying, as she approaches a large door. She steps inside and sees Qyburn (Anton Lesser), who says it's good to have her back, but it's clear he's the only one who feels that way, as Pycelle (Julian Glover) and some others. Qyburn says he wants to present the newest member of the Kingsguard, who is all in armor, completely covered, who picks her up. Qyburn says he has taken a vow of silence and he wont rest until their enemies are gone. You may recall earlier this season that Qyburn was experimenting with some form of resurrection, and now it seems that The Mountain has come back to life, and assigned to Cersei as her new protector. It isn't ultimately clear if the High Sparrow is still proceeding with the trial, but if he does so, Tommen's true lineage will surely come out, which would result in Tommen being stripped of the throne.
Back at the Wall, Davos (Liam Cunningham) pleads with Jon Snow to give him more supplies and men, but he says the wildlings won't fight for them. Suddenly, Melissandre enters, as Davos asks her about Stannis and his daughter Shireen, but she says nothing, looking terribly sad and distraught, which we've never seen from her before. Davos most likely knows they're both dead. judging by the expression on his face. Jon Snow is deep in thought, when Olly (Brenock O'Connor) rushes in, saying that one of the Wildlings knows Jon's uncle Benjen, that he's still alive, and that he knows where to find him. We haven't seen Benjen since the first season, after he took a journey north of the Wall, and only his horse comes back. Jon meets Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), who takes him to this wildling..... but it's a trap, as he sees a crude cross with the word TRAITOR on it! Alliser is first, stabbing him in the belly, saying "For the Watch," as five or six others come up and do the same. Then Olly comes up, conflicted, angry, staring at him, before stabbing him in the heart, saying "For the watch," as he falls to the ground, dead, blood soaking up the snow-covered ground! Jon Snow is DEAD! What?
Of course, there is no preview of next week, since this is the season finale, but we do have three featurettes from HBO, where series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss shed some light on the finale's shocking deaths, including Myrcella's and Jon Snow's, Cersei's walk of shame and much more. What did you think of tonight's finale? Chime in with your thoughts below, or reach out on Twitter. I'd also just like to say thanks to everyone who read these recaps throughout the season, and we'll see you next season!