“Game of Thrones” is moving pretty fast in Season 6, so if you blink you may miss key plot details. For example, during the euphoria of Sunday’s triumphant reunion, one character confirmed a plot point that was otherwise shrouded in mystery.
In the Season 5 finale of the HBO drama, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) led his army to its doom at the hands of the Bolton forces in Winterfell. Being one of the toughest members of his household, the would-be king was the last of his men left standing on the battlefield when Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) came upon him and appeared to finally exact justice for the assassination of her lord, Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony). Fans watched as Brienne drew her sword, gave Stannis a chance to say his last words and then brought it down.
But in an episode that was marred by deaths that seemed fake, the fact that we never saw Stannis’ killing blow led many to suspect that Brienne spared him for some unknown reason. This impression was compounded when “Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin told Entertainment Weekly that, in the books, Stannis is still very much alive. But viewers hoping for a major twist had those hopes dashed in episode 4 when Brienne took a moment to gloat about her exploits in that particular battle.
During Sunday’s installment, Brienne took a moment to approach Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) while they were talking about what happened to Stannis. Brienne seized the moment to explain that, although the duo have risen high in popularity at the Wall, she remembers that they were responsible for the blood magic that killed Renly while she was in his king’s guard. Davos reminded her that all that was in the past, at which she twists the knife by revealing the truth about Stannis.
“That doesn’t mean I forget, or forgive. He admitted it, you know,” she said. “Stannis, just before I executed him.”
Just like that, the fate of Stannis is finally set in stone. Admittedly, his chances of survival alive didn’t look good as Brienne had no real reason to spare his life, other than the fact that he would have been the only other man with a claim to the Iron Throne that’s currently in Westeros. But without a body or shot of the killing blow, fans were simply waiting for Brienne to reveal whether she actually did execute him. Now, we all know for sure, as she simply couldn’t resist the urge to let Davos and the Red Woman know that he’s gone.
Fortunately, the implications don’t end there. As some fans have noted, Davos was very close to finding out that one of Stannis’ last acts was sacrificing his daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), to the Lord of Light for good fortune in the battle. Right now Davos and the Red Woman have a tense alliance, but that could change if Davos ever finds out what happened to his surrogate daughter.
“When we leave at the end of Season 5 … from episode 9, the audience are one step ahead of Davos because we’ve obviously seen who did it and what happened to Shireen. He doesn’t know, so when she comes back at the end of 5 and walks in, all he knows is that his world is gone,” actor Liam Cunningham told Access Hollywood last month. “He doesn’t know why, so going into 6, we’ve got to assume unless somebody comes up and goes, ‘You’ll never guess what she did!’ then he ain’t going to find out.”