Game of Thrones season finale - the big shocks of the night
Here are the seven biggest shocks from this year's sign-off episode of Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow dead, Stannis defeated (and dead), Sansa and Theon leaping from the battlements of Winterfell (possibly to their deaths)…the bombshells came thick and fast – and deadly – in the season finale tonight.
Jon Snow Is Stabbed In The Back (By Which We Mean the Front)
Et tu, Oly?
Figuratively, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch suffered much the same faith as did Caesar at the hands of his generals – betrayed and knifed to death. On the other hand, at least Snow's assassins had the courage to gaze him in the eye as they went about their foul business.
The conspirators' greatest crime of all, perhaps, was to raise the hopes of the Bastard of Winterfell by claiming a Wildling had seen his uncle Benjen alive.
Alas, it was a (not very elaborate) ruse to lure Snow into a dingy corner of Castle Black where Ser Alliser Thorne and half a dozen cronies (including turncoat Olly) dispatched the only man who could save them from the White Walkers.
Our final sight was of Snow on the icy ground, blood pooling in an awful red halo around his head.
Cersei Has The Last Chuckle
The Walk of Shame was an unspeakable humiliation, the naked, violently-shorn Queen Mother forced to negotiate a gauntlet of offal-chucking peasants as she was whipped by a trio of nuns.
This was to atone for her "sin" of sleeping with her cousin Lancel and would serve as appetite-whetter for a trial to determine if she had also had unlawful relations with twin Jaime.
However, her tormentor the High Sparrow committed the potentially ruinous error of allowing Cersei return to the Red Keep, where Maester Qyburn had a gift – the reincarnated Mountain ready to defend her to the death.
As the monster held her tight something like a scowl of triumph crossed Cersei's lips. The Sparrow had outflanked her once.
She would not allow him to do so again.
Melisandre Pegs It
The Lord of Light had seemingly gazed with kindness upon the sacrifice of adorable Princess Shireen, causing the snows about to engulf Stannis's army to melt.
But this moment of triumph turned to dust as half of the Baratheon troops deserted in disgust, leaving Stannis hopelessly outnumbered by the Boltons.
Rather than stay with her 'chosen' king to the death, Melisandre was out of there quicker than you could say "abandon ship".
Stannis Gives Up
Sending Shireen to the pyre caused something to break within Stannis.
He led his forces to oblivion against the Boltons, then reacted with stoic indifference as Brienne of Tarth happened upon him and revealed she had sworn to avenge Renly, one of the first victim of Melisandre's dark magic.
Cutting her off mid-monologue, Stannis told the Lady of Tarth to get on with her dreadful duty.
Sansa and Theon Take A Leap Into The Unknown
With the brutal Bolton bastard busy butchering Baratheons (try saying that after you've been up until 2am watching Game of Thrones in 'real' time), Sansa seized her chance to escape Ramsay and his vile humiliations.
She was confronted by his broken lover Myranda, who was in turn overpowered by Reek, remembering at the last that he was once Theon Greyjoy, ward of Ned Stark. How would he and Sansa flee the fortress? By jumping from the battlements, of course.
What lay on the other side? We're going to have to wait an ENTIRE YEAR to find out.
Myrcella Receives The Kiss of Death
Just when you thought Dorne was a feel-good dud, Myrcella's heart-warming reconnection with uncle/dad Jaime turned nasty, as the slow-acting poison Ellaria Sand had planted on her lips took horrific effect.
With blood seeping, then gushing, from the princess's her eyes and mouth, your thoughts went back to the prophecy with which the current series had opened – that all of Cersei Lannister's children would wear 'golden shrouds' before the end.
The Tyrion – Varys Buddy Movie is Back On
At last – something to be positive about. Daenerys was surrounded by Dothraki, with romantic rivals Daario and Jorah in impassioned pursuit.
Back in Meereen, Tyrion received some unexpected good news – Varys was alive and eager to help quell dissent in the teetering desert city.