‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Finale: Here’s What to Expect From “The Winds of Winter”


We've barely had time to breathe in the wake of the chaotic "Battle of the Bastards," but our watch begins again on Sunday with the season finale, which is expected to be the biggest — and longest — episode in Game of Thrones history. "The Winds of Winter" clocks in at a whopping 69 minutes (nice), and will put a bow on a terrific season filled with resurrectionsfemale empowerment and the death of the most hated character in modern television. 

But before we leave Westeros, there's still plenty of narrative threads that the show has left dangling, and we hope that the season finale will address as many of them as it possibly can without feeling too bloated. 

Here are the things we want most from this Sunday's episode:

The trial of Loras Tyrell, and perhaps a scorched King's Landing. As they do every week, HBO has released a handful of photos prior to the finale, one of which shows Loras Tyrell finally being tried by the High Sparrow. However, regardless of the verdict, Loras seems to have people on his side. 

His sister Margaery, for one, appears to be manipulating the High Sparrow by presenting herself as a changed woman, someone entirely devoted to the Faith of the Seven. What he doesn't know, however, is that she sent a hidden message to her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell, which plainly hints that her loyalties still lie with her house.

However, even if whatever the forward-thinking Margaery's planning does not come to fruition, the High Sparrow still has the unrelenting wrath of Cersei Lannister to contend with. Now that King Tommen has forbid trial by combat as an option for her trial (and, sadly, Cleganebowl in the process), some fans theorize that Cersei is planning to use wildfire to, essentially, set her enemies on fire. 

Cersei has repeatedly said that she'd "burn cities to the ground" for her family. Perhaps, quite literally, that will be realized on Sunday. 

Dany, are you actually sailing to Westeros? Daenerys Targaryen has spent the entire series in Essos, so it's understandable to not be completely convinced that she'll be sailing to Westeros by the end of the season; we've been tempted before. However, after six seasons, it finally — finally! — feels inevitable. 

In one fell swoop, she's handled the Sons of the Harpy and the Masters in Slaver's Bay with the help of her dragons and her new Dothraki, leaving little narrative value for her to stay in Meereen. Coupled with an entire Greyjoy fleet of ships that's ready to sail her to Westeros — and endless sexual tension with Yara Greyjoy — Daenerys could finally stake her claim to the Iron Throne (assuming Cersei hasn't already burned it to the ground). 

The Red Wedding, part two. The Boltons' karmic justice ended with Ramsay's death at the hands of Sansa Stark, but the other house that conspired in Robb Stark's demise during the Red Wedding is still around — and for the first time in three seasons, they've appeared onscreen. The Freys are back in the mix, and not much of consequence has happened so far in the show's return to Riverrun. 

But it prompts one question: After all this time, and with presumably little left of the show to go, why have we returned to the Riverlands? It looks like the series is setting up something big — perhaps even a Red Wedding-esque revenge plot.

There's several ways the Freys could meet their demise: The Brotherhood Without Banners still occupies the same area; Arya Stark is returning to Westeros with all the skills of a faceless assassin; and some fans are holding out hope for an appearance from a book-only character, Lady Stoneheart, whose sole, zombified purpose is to exact Stark vengeance on the Freys. 

It's unclear how this could unfold, but Walder Frey should be wary of his guests. After all, it wouldn't be the first time someone was stabbed inside those halls. 

Helen Sloan/HBO

R+L=J, confirmed? While Bran Stark did peer into the past and visited the infamous Tower of Joy, viewers were never formally provided the conclusion to the most popular Game of Thrones theory: "R+L=J." Put simply, the theory posits that Jon Snow's true parents are Ned Stark's sister, Lyanna, and Rhaegar Targaryen. 

The theory has massive implications for Jon, who might be George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire personified and also the rightful heir of the Iron Throne. Whether or not Jon wants the throne for himself is another question entirely, but Jon's parentage is clearly an important element of the series. Why else would Martin require the showrunners guess who Jon's mother is prior to allowing HBO to create the show? 

While the evidence for R+L=J is nearly indisputable, it's unclear how it'll be revealed onscreen — possibly, as soon as Sunday. 

The White Walkers will destroy the Wall (thanks a lot, Bran). It's not enough that Bran's actions caused the tragic death of Hodor, he could also be a catalyst for the destruction of the Wall. The idea harkens back to Bran being marked by the Night's King, which was the reason the White Walkers were able to enter the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven (where, previously, vaguely defined magic repelled them). 

By being marked, however, if Bran were to cross the Wall to reach Castle Black and the North, that same magic-nulling effect could apply to the Wall, which is also said to have magical properties that keep the White Walkers at bay. The Wall's destruction would be a cataclysmic event for Westeros, but frankly, it needs to happen. The White Walkers have been a looming presence throughout the series, and it's been delightfully creepy to watch in small doses. However, they need to march into Westeros in order to pose a tangible threat to others besides the Wildlings and the Night's Watch. 

That Sunday's episode is called "The Winds of Winter" presages this chilling conclusion. The Starks were right all along: Winter is Coming. And Sunday, it may finally be here. 

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