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A powerhouse finale for ‘Game of Thrones’

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark in “Game of Thrones.”
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark in “Game of Thrones.”HBO

Yowser. That was quite a finale. “Game of Thrones” wrapped up its sixth season with a super-sized episode that also happened to be quite super. Rather than obsessing over whether Jon Snow is really, truly dead, “Game of Thrones” fans will have a host of more interesting possibilities to play around with during the many months until the show returns.

The finale nicely tied up a season that had high points and low points as the story line went beyond George R.R. Martin’s books. There were many extraordinary set pieces this year, not least of all last week in the Battle of the Bastards, but then they didn’t always build momentum from episode to episode.

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In the finale, the number of characters got thinned out rather effectively. With only a few seasons left, the three or so remaining forces are getting more defined and consolidated — the alliance of Jon Snow and Sansa Stark, the Lannister crew, and the fierce Daenerys Targaryen, now with Tyrion Lannister by her side as “hand of the queen.” One of the sweetest scenes in the death-filled episode was Dany asking her loyal adviser for his pledge. Were they looking at each other with loving eyes? Are Dany-Tyrion shippers — they must exist — feeling more confident at this moment?

THE GREEN FIRE: Cersei, her hair still short from her walk of shame, ignited wildfire, a liquid that incinerated, in a great explosion of emerald fire, nearly all of her enemies. A whole mess of people burned alive in the conflagration, not least of all the nefarious High Sparrow, the ambitious Margaery Tyrell, her brother Loras, and her father, Mace, the man with the Munchkin face. Lady Olenna, Margaery’s grandmother, is so totally not pleased about all this, and she is plotting revenge with the ladies of Dorne. Yes, thankfully Diana Rigg is still on the show.

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Alas, Cersei’s son King Tommen threw himself from a window in a quick and quiet but haunting scene. Of course she must have been upset, right, at the loss of another son? But the weak Tommen had betrayed her with the High Sparrow. Plus, his death left Cersei sitting quite prettily on the Iron Throne. The lady made it, after her husband and two sons finally got out of the way.

MEAT CAKE: In a scene to savor, a disguised Arya Stark showed up in Westeros and made sure that Walder Frey, the architect of the Red Wedding, died with a Stark in his vision. Oh, and that meat pie he was eating before she knifed him? Soylent Green is people! Sorry. The meat in the pie was the made from the bodies of two of his sons. Revenge accomplished. “They were difficult to carve,” Arya said before doing Walder in.

LITTLEFINGER: Lord Baelish doesn’t do favors for nothing. He lent the Knights of Vale to Sansa for the Battle of the Bastards; now, he pictures himself on the throne, with a Stark, namely Sansa, by his side. He goes in for a kiss, but she turns away from it. He says he doesn’t imagine people will rally behind a bastard — but he was wrong, as old and new allies chanted “King of the North” to Jon. Were those dark plans — and a plot for season seven — crossing his face when he made eye contact with Sansa at the gathering?

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JON’S MOTHER: Bran and his visions — the show’s sometimes cheap way to deliver backstory — appear to have uncovered new information about Jon Snow’s parentage. His dying mother was Ned’s sister, Lyanna, and not Ned’s mistress. Which means Jon is Ned’s nephew and Sansa’s cousin. It’s not certain, but Jon’s father is probably Dany’s brother, Rhaegar Tagaryen. Which means Jon is Dany’s . . . nephew? Which is a lot to process. But it does mean that he’s both a Stark and a Targaryen and therefore has major claims to the Iron Throne.

The power shifts all over the place on “Game of Thrones,” and that makes the show a lot of fun. Yeah, I think we’re going to see a few more major chess moves before this game is over.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.