“I am not really into fantasy, so I am not sure I will really like Game Of Thrones” – Me, an idiot, 6 years ago when someone suggested a new HBO show to me.
“AIUDHASIDUAIUSHDIASUDHIFBKJASFKBJASFBKH” – Me, still an idiot, last night after watching the action-packed season finale of one of my favorite shows of all time.
My oh my, how things have changed since Jaime Lannister gave Bran Stark a little push from a window in Winterfell. Six seasons later and scores of beloved character’s deaths removed from the simple, sinister shove, and I am just one of millions and millions who, rapt and anxious, watched the sixth season finale of one of the most impressive (if not the most) shows on television.
We began, of course, in King’s Landing where Cersei treasonously fulfilled the Mad King’s crazed exhortations and ignited the Sept of Baelor, catalyzing a chain of events signifying that Game Of Thrones is rocketing full speed ahead toward its version of a conclusion. And while the in-universe time has become sometimes jarringly accelerated and disjointed in order to align all of the proper events before the inevitable living vs. dead showdown, some of the most rewarding moments in the show are those that occur slowly, meticulously over time, even if we know the end result already.
Though many fans were prepared for King’s Landing to erupt in an ball of ghoulish green, the most dramatic moments of the opening sequence of last night’s finale were those preceding the initial cataclysm in the catacombs. These precipitous moments were largely the work of Ramin Djawadi’s original composition, “The Light Of The Seven”, which Miguel Sapochnik used to pace and frame these tense scenes.
The 10-minute piece begins with slow inhales and exhales, mournful pianos stirring and taking pause to let in negative space and darkness quietly. All the while we see the banality of evil as both the High Sparrow and Cersei get dressed for the day as it were any other. One sleeve and then the other. Dozens of unsuspecting victims pour into the Great Sept and the sparrows, with their specious piety, take seven seats, perhaps even deigning to consider themselves the gods they pray to. The piano cuts out momentarily so we can hear a pathetic Ser Loras, but then resumes when Lancel pursues a little bird into the tunnels beneath the sept. The music intensifies slowly at first, with cascading strings, and then with what sounds like a chorus of children repeating some mantric church hymnal, despite the godlessness of the following minutes. And with Qyburn’s death sentence to Maester Pycelle–“Sometimes before we can usher in the new, the old must be put to rest,” the song’s wick is finally lit, only to outpace Lancel’s futile crawl with its racing, contrapuntal strings and a Halloween-esque organ. By the time we reach the song’s denouement, which ends just as abruptly as a flicker of a candle, Djawadi’s work has already done what the Wildfire wreaks on those denizens in King’s Landing. And then, silence.
It is truly a masterful showcase of suspense, something that Game Of Thrones has grown to trade in, now that the initial gimmickry of surprise deaths has long since worn off. What we already know can be just as ruthless as the things we don’t know yet. Season 7 is going to be fucking brutal.
Here’s 12 things you may have missed in the episode last night.
Matt Grosinger is the music editor of Nerdist and doesn’t want to wait a whole fucking year until Game of Thrones comes back.