Game of Thrones season six ended with a literal bang which saw several major houses reduced to ruin. But on the plus side, the long-suffering Starks found their fortunes reversed — Jon and Sansa got to hang out in the recaptured Winterfell, Arya managed to take revenge on the Freys for the Red Wedding, and Bran seems well on his way to accepting the mantle of the Three Eyed Raven.
A lot went down during the record length 69 minute finale, and we don’t blame you if your heart was racing so fast after the Wildfire part that you missed a few of the finer details included in the episode. That’s why we’re here to point them out for you! Take a look at all the things you may not have noticed from season six, episode ten’s The Winds of Winter.
There Must Always Be A Stark In Winterfell
The show opened with a small, but important change: during the opening credits, the direwolf of House Stark was back on the tower of Winterfell. It replaced the Bolton’s flayed man sigil that had been there since Ramsay sacked the castle in season two.
Speaking of the opening credits, for six seasons we have listened to the iconic blasts of the Game of Thrones theme accompanied by clockwork depictions of the regions we’re about to see in each episode. Interspersed through all this is a sphere representing the sun, encircled by metal rings showing the history of Westeros, from the Targaryens escaping The Doom of Valyria to Robert’s Rebellion that would eventually overthrow them.
Now in this episode, we get to see the same sphere hanging in the Library of the Citadel.
These hanging globes are Westerosi versions of what we call armillary spheres, celestial maps invented by the Greeks that were popular through the Middle Ages. When special effects company Elastic created the opening sequence, they imagined “a vision of a mad monk, in a tower somewhere who was somehow keeping track of all this action and creating as he went.” So it seems appropriate that the armillary spheres from the opening credits turn up again in the Citadel. Is this a sign that everything happening is just history being read by Maesters some time into the future?
A Citadel Cameo
Game of Thrones is notoriously stingy with cameo appearances, but every so often producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss make exceptions for people they’re fans of. That’s how Mastodon and Of Monsters and Men made it onto the show, as well as a kid from Canada who does one hell of a Jon Snow impression. In this episode, they brought in comedian Frank Hvam, star of the Danish Curb Your Enthusiasm-style sitcom Klovn, to play the irritable Maester who received Sam and Gilly.
Winter Has Come
There’s one other small detail we enjoyed from Sam’s visit to Oldtown. When he arrives, you get to witness the sending of the white ravens from the Citadel that signify the start of winter. It’s one of these ravens that Sansa tells Jon about as they stand victorious on the ramparts of Winterfell, contemplating the sudden resurgence of House Stark.
My Lord / M’Lord
It seems forever ago that Arya Stark ended up as cupbearer for Tywin Lannister while his army gathered at Harrenhal in season two. He never figured out who she really was, but he saw through her claim of being common born easily, partly on account of how Arya spoke. “Lowborn girls say M’Lord, not My Lord,” he told her. “If you’re going to pose as a commoner, you better do it properly.”
It was a slip up she made again when serving Walder Frey his special pie. Fortunately for her, he didn’t notice like Tywin did.
What Did Lyanna Whisper?
Much has been made of the huge reveal that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and not the bastard son of her brother Ned. There’s even more speculation on what Lyanna whispered to Ned before saying “If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him. You know he will.” Here’s what we know: if you listen carefully, you can almost hear what she says, and according to a Redditor whose girlfriend is deaf and communicates largely via lip-reading, Lyanna is definitely telling Ned “His name is…” followed by a two or three syllable name ending in an s.
That’s led many to think Jon’s real first name may follow the conventions of the Targaryen family, which includes tons of names like Aerys, Rhaenys, Jaehaerys, Daenerys… you get the idea. It’s not all that important which specific Targaryen name he has, only that he has one, which implies a Targaryen father. But that’s something Game of Thrones must be saving for next season, when they have a little more time to introduce Rhaegar Targaryen (the almost unanimous guess for who the dad is), and why that’s such a big deal.
This isn’t the first time Game of Thrones has tucked away secret messages in whispers. In this scene, Lyanna says “Promise me, Ned,” making her brother promise to keep Jon’s true identity a secret… and he does. In season one, the last words Ned whispers before losing his head are “I kept my promise.”
The White Wolf
But back to Jon Snow. When the lords of the North were declaring for him, Lord Manderly called him the White Wolf. It’s a fitting name for several reasons. First, it pays tribute to the last King in the North, the Young Wolf Robb Stark. It also references Jon’s white wolf, Ghost. And it follows the Westeros tradition of a bastard faction’s house colors being the opposite of his legitimate family’s colors.
The most famous example of this is House Blackfyre, started by King Aegon Targaryen’s bastard son Daemon Blackfyre. The Targaryen sigil is a red dragon on a black background, while the Blackfyres took the opposite — black dragon on a red field — as their banner. The Stark sigil is a grey direwolf on a white background, so Snow’s sigil will be a white direwolf on a grey background.