WARNING: Spoilers ahead for "Game of Thrones" season six.
In the premiere episode, Brienne's vow to Sansa was word-for-word the speech she once gave Catelyn Stark.
If the oaths exchanged between Sansa and Brienne sounded familiar, that's because it is the exact promise Brienne made to Sansa's mother in season two. The emotional response both Brienne and Sansa had to this solemn vow was heartbreaking to watch.
Without hesitation, Brienne lowered her sword and swore a vow to Sansa. "Lady Sansa, I offer my services once again," she said. "I will shield your back, and keep your counsel, and give my life for yours if need be. I swear it by the old gods and the new."
Brienne has wanted nothing more than to fulfill her promise to Catelyn of finding and protecting her daughters. Both Arya and Sansa eluded her grasp for a long time, but now she is in her rightful place.
Melisandre isn't just a secretly old lady — she's "centuries old."
In HBO's "Inside the Episode" segment that aired right after the credits for "The Red Woman," showrunner David Benioff spoke about Melisandre. "There have been a few hints before that Melisandre is much older than she appears," he said. "[This is] going back to a very early conversation with George R.R. Martin about her: she’s supposed to be several centuries old."
Aside from Ned, Benjen, and Hodor, we saw a glimpse of another throwback character — Rodrik Cassel.
Young Ned is on the left, but the older boy training them was Ser Rodrik Cassel, the Stark's master-at-arms on the show. Recognize those mutton-chop sideburns?
Rodrik was with Catelyn Stark for most of season one, but when he returned to Winterfell in season two he was beheaded by Theon Greyjoy.
Rodrik's final words — "Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy, now you are truly lost" — were a cutting and honest look at Theon's choice to go down a bleak path. Rodrik remains one of the most beloved men once in the Starks' service, so the small peek at him as a young man was bittersweet.
Balon Greyjoy technically won the War of the Five Kings.
In "Game of Thrones," the name for the recent battle over the Iron Throne is known as the War of the Five Kings. Joffrey "Baratheon," Renly Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark, and Balon Greyjoy all named themselves king after Robert Baratheon died. The last one to surivive the war was Balon Greyjoy. He quipped about this to his daughter, Yara — and then he died.
The War of the Five Kings is officially over. Now we're looking forward to a War of the Five Queens in season seven, with Daenerys, Cersei, Yara, and maybe Sansa. We view Margaery as the first casuality of the queens.
Roose Bolton's murder directly mirrored the way he killed Robb Stark back in season three.
One of the shockers from the second episode — "Home" — was Ramsay Bolton's brutal murder of his father, Roose. When Roose went to embrace his son, Ramsay stabbed him in the side with a dagger. This was exactly the same way that Robb Stark died back in season three.
Roose killed Robb in the same way — making his death a sweet moment of revenge.
The close embrace combined with a stab and twist is a brutal way to go. But Roose pulled this exact move on Robb Stark. As rough as it may have been for viewers to see Ramsay take more power, there was a glimmer of vengeance in the scene. Roose even fell to his knees and then backward onto the floor in the exact same way as Robb did back in season three.
In episode three, Melisandre acknowledged the name of this prophecy for the first time.
"The Lord let you come back for a reason," Melisandre told Jon after seeing he was resurrected. "Stannis was not 'The Prince Who Was Promised,' but someone has to be."
The Prince That Was Promised (often abbreviated to TPTWP in fan discussions) is one of several prophecies mentioned in the books. So far in the show, Melisandre has only used the name Azor Ahai to refer to this foretold hero.
Legend says that Azor Ahai (or TPWWP) was a hero from the Long Night, and he will be reborn to deliver the world from darkness. Melisandre previously believed Stannis Baratheon was the hero, but she's clearly starting to put her hope into Jon Snow. Hearing the name of this prophecy said out loud was an exciting moment for fans.
Tyrion mentioned his favorite drinking game in the third episode of season six — fans have seen him do this before.
"There’s a wonderful game. I invented it," Tyrion tells Missandei and Greyworm. "Here’s how it works. I make a statement about your past. If I’m wrong, I drink. If I’m right … well maybe we can’t play without drinking."
We've watched Tyrion play this game before — back when he first met Shae.
In season one, Shae, Bronn, and Tyrion all stayed up the night before a battle, drinking and learning more about each other.
Tyrion played the game with both of them, trying to guess their backgrounds. He claimed it was the type of game he was best at, since he has a great judge of character. Unfortunately it didn't work as well with Missandei and Greyworm, since neither of them drink.
Tommen's declaration to the High Sparrow — "I am the king!" — directly mirrored Joffrey's inexperienced attitude.
Tommen confronted the High Sparrow, and at one point told him "I am the king," when he felt ignored. Back in season three, Joffrey threw a mini fit at a small council meeting. When he declared "I am the king," Tywin told him "Any man who must say 'I am the king' is no true king."
Given this context, viewers could see clearly that Tommen is struggling to truly rule over the kingdoms. Joffrey's attitude was similar, and look where that got him.
In a way, this statement foreshadowed Tommen's eventual death, though many were shocked when he comitted suicide in the season finale.
Tommen's final costume was a callback to the prophecy predicting his death.
Back in the season five premiere, viewers watched as a young Cersei had her fortune told by a woman named Maggy the Frog. The witch told her that all three of her children would die. "Gold their crowns, and gold their shrouds," she said. Tommen was dressed in a golden jacket when he committed suicide by jumping from his window in the Red Keep. Cersei's prophecy is complete.
At least, the whole children dying bit is complete. Jaime could have an unpleasant destiny with Cersei in season seven if the fan theories about her prophecy are correct.
That's not the only big costume callback — Jon Snow's new outfit in episode four was actually blue and brown Stark armor.
In episode three, we saw Jon easing back into his Stark roots with an outfit similar to his season-one getup — but it was still all black. But in "The Book of the Stranger," we saw Jon finally embrace the full Stark colors. The blue undershirt with a brown padded gambeson is the same uniform Ned and Robb Stark wore in earlier seasons.
The same outfit was most noticeable in season one, right before Ned Stark was executed on Joffrey's orders.
The costume change for Jon was a clear indicator he was allying with the Stark name and turning away from his life at Castle Black. This symbolism carried all the way through to the Battle of the Bastards and Jon's coronation as king in the North. He may not have the name, but the North recognized him as a Stark.
In episode five, "The Door," fans saw the first ever White Walker created. But he was no ordinary man.
We finally know where the White Walkers came from — the Children of the Forest created them. But that man tied to the tree isn't transformed into a regular White Walker. Actor Vladimir Furdik (above) normally wears prosthetics onscreen, so you likely didn't recognize him in Bran's vision. Guess who he plays?
The Night King! Here's how Furdik looks with all his White Walker makeup and prosthetics on:
"The Night's King was sort of the embodiment of absolute evil," producer D.B. Weiss said in a feature after the episode aired. "What you're watching is the creation of this absolute evil, so the absolute evil isn't absolute after all."
So we now know the Night's King was the first White Walker, created millennia ago by the Children. And though he appears to be pure evil, there was once an innocent man underneath that icy facade.
Speaking of the Children of the Forest, this spiral pattern has been seen before.
During the scene when the Night's King was created, the camera zoomed out to reveal a spiral pattern of rocks surrounding an ancient weirwood tree. According to showrunner David Benioff, this is one of the "ancient symbols of the Children of the Forest used in their rituals."
The last time we saw the spiral pattern was in season three.
Back in season three episode three, "Walk of Punishment," Jon Snow was with Mance Rayder and the wildlings. They arrive at the Fist of the First Men, a landmark in the north where the Night's Watch was attacked by an army of White Walkers. All that was left behind was the dismembered corpses of horses, arranged in the spiral pattern seen above. "Always the artists," Mance said upon seeing the arrangement.
This pattern is not mentioned in the books, so previously we weren't sure what its significance was. Now — thanks to Bran's visions — we know it's somehow associated with the magic of the Children.
The title of George R.R. Martin's next book was mentioned during the Braavosi play about King's Landing.
Arya Stark watched a play about Robert Baratheon's death and Ned Stark's execution. Aside from being a wonderful look at how the Lannisters are regarded outside of Westeros (Cersei is a hero in Braavos?), there was a little Easter egg for book readers. "I feel the winds of winter as they lick across the land," the woman playing Cersei said.
"The Winds of Winter" is the official title for book six in Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. So far, there's no release date set for the highly anticipated installment.
Icelandic folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men made a cameo appearance in Braavos.
The real-life musicians were featured as the band playing music during a play about King's Landing. Before the episode aired, the official "Game of Thrones" Twitter account posted a behind-the-scenes photo of the group posing with Maisie Williams (Arya Stark).
Winter killed Summer — literally and metaphorically.
Bran's direwolf, Summer, was among the list of casualties in the fifth episode. He sacrificed himself to protect Bran, Meera, and Hodor from an incoming group of wights. Though the death of yet another Stark direwolf was hard to swallow, the metaphor made sense.
Winter has officially come to Westeros, and the White Walkers came with it. Summer, both the season and the direwolf, were killed by the onslaught of winter.
We saw the Mad King onscreen for the very first time.
During Bran's whirlwind of greensight visions in the opening scene, we were given a glimpse of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen — Daenerys' father and ruler of the Seven Kingdoms before Robert Baratheon. Not only did we finally see him in the flesh, but Bran's vision included Jaime Lannister killing Aerys by stabbing him in the back. For a full breakdown of the vision, head here.
Bran's vision also showed Cersei's wildfire explosion — four episodes before it happened.
This exact shot was shown during the wildfire explosion in the season finale, but if you looked closely, it was also featured in Bran's vision from episode six, "Blood of My Blood."
This sneaky foreshadowing gave some viewers an inkling of Cersei's devastating plot to come. We knew it couldn't be a flashback because the Mad King was never able to set off the caches of wildfire.
Arya Stark's fake identity was derived from an unpublished chapter of Martin's upcoming book.
Martin's next book, 'The Winds of Winter," has yet to be published, but the author has released several preview chapters. One of these — released is 2013 — is titled "Mercy," and follows Arya on an assassination mission with a group of "mummers" (actors) while under the disguise of a girl named Mercy.
The show's adaptation is slightly different, and plays off this false name of Arya's even more. She shows mercy to Lady Crane, saving her life at the expense of her own safety.
The paper Margaery gave to Olenna in episode seven had their house sigil drawn on it.
Though Margaery was working hard to convince the High Sparrow and Septa Unella that she had dedicated her life to the gods, the viewers at home knew better. Not only did her new crown hint at her family's importance (there are roses intertwined with the antlers), but the drawing she slipped to Olenna is concrete evidence. This may have seemed straightforward to some people watching, but not all the fans know that the rose is House Tyrell's sigil.
Margaery was letting Olenna know that she had not forsaken her house name and pride. The Tyrell motto is "growing strong," and their banner features a single yellow rose on a green background. Margaery wants her grandmother to leave for her safety — not because Margaery no longer wants her around.
In episode eight, Tyrion once again re-used a line from past seasons.
In "No One," Tyrion began to tell Missandei and Greyworm a joke. He starts saying: "I once walked into a brothel with a honeycomb and a jacka--. The madame says — " and then Tyrion is cut off by the arrival of the Sons of the Harpy.
This isn't the first time Tyrion was interrupted while telling that story.
Back in season one, Tyrion said the same opening line during his trial in the Eyrie.
When Tyrion was captured by Catelyn Tully for the attempted murder of Bran, he was taken to the Eyrie. There he was forced to confess his crimes. But instead of talking about Bran, Tyrion chose to admit to silly instances of pranks he pulled as a child. The last thing he says, before getting cut off by Lysa Arryn, was: "I once brought a jacka-- and a honeycomb into a brothel."
Maybe we'll finding hear the punchline before the series ends.
Jaime also repeated an iconic line from the first season.
When speaking with Edmure Tully in his tent, Jaime explained how he admired Catelyn Stark when she was alive. He compared Catelyn's love for her children to Cersei's fierce protectiveness of her kids. "They'd do anything to protect their babies," Jaime said. "Start a war. Burn cities to ash. Free their worst enemies ... The things we do for love."
Does that sound familiar? It should ...
The last line echoes the exact same thing Jaime said right before he pushed Bran Stark out of a window in the pilot episode of "Game of Thrones."
Bran caught Jaime and Cersei having incestuous sex in season one. Cersei was frantic when she realized Bran had seen them, and Jaime seemed to believe he had no choice but to silence the 10-year-old boy. Right before shoving him out of the tower window, Jaime turned to Cersei and said "The things I do for love."
A comedian who does "Game of Thrones" impressions made a cameo appearance.
Steve Love is a Canadian comedian with a knack for doing impressions. More specifically, "Game of Thrones" impressions. Apparently, Love's work is so well known that he was given a guest appearance on the show. He played "Steve," a member of the Brotherhood without Banners whose head was sliced off by the Hound in a brutal murder scene.
In episode nine, "Battle of the Bastards," Daenerys had an old family insult tossed her way.
Razdal mo Eraz, one of the Wise Masters of Yunkai, was among the leaders in the siege against Meereen. The last time he came face to face with Daenerys was in season three, when he offered her gold and ships in return for leaving their city alone.
When discussing surrender terms with Daenerys and Tyrion, Razdal tells the Mother of Dragons that she will now be forced from the city with nothing. "You will flee Slaver’s Bay on foot, like the Beggar Queen you are," he said. Book readers will recognize this dismissive insult as par for the course when it comes to Targaryens.
Daenerys' brother, Viserys, was commonly referred to as the Beggar King.
Before he was killed by Khal Drogo, and before Daenerys had even married into the Dothraki horde, Viserys was known in Essos as the "Beggar King." When Daenerys and Viserys first fled Westeros in exile, they had valuable possessions like a royal crown. But during their travels and attempts at staying hidden, Viserys and Daenerys were robbed and left friendless. It was then that Viserys acquired the nickname "Beggar King," and Razdal's comment to Daenerys indicates that leaders in Essos have not forgotten this.
Ramsay's brutal death was foreshadowed at the beginning of the season.
Sansa Stark took some hard earned revenge on Ramsay, allowing his own starved dogs to eat him alive as she watched. This was a poetic death for Ramsay, who killed his own stepmother and infant half-brother using the hounds earlier in the season. He also sent a threatening letter to Jon Snow, taunting him about feeding the Stark family to the hounds.
But Ramsay's own father, Roose, saw his bastard son's fate coming.
Right before Ramsay murdered him, Roose warned his son about the consequences of his actions.
Roose frequently tried to guide Ramsay down a less tortuous path of leadership. Though Ramsay's, uh, "talents" at manipulation were effective, Roose was able to see the potential backlash that came with flaying and torturing your subjects.
Minutes before Ramsay shoved a dagger into his side, Roose told his son: "If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog, you'll be treated as a mad dog — taken out back and slaughtered for pig feed."
Ramsay got the mad dog treatment all right. And now viewers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Winterfell is out of Bolton hands forever.
The title credits formally recognized the Stark's return to Winterfell during the finale's opening sequence.
The Bolton sigil was removed from Winterfell in the opening credits. The above image shows how Winterfell's tower appeared ever since season four. The flayed man sigil of House Bolton previously sat atop Winterfell, and the broken Stark sigil could be seen on the ground next to the tower. But all the changed after episode nine, "The Battle of the Bastards," when Jon and Sansa finally defeated the Boltons.
Speaking of the Starks, Jon Snow's new nickname has a significant meaning.
When Robb Stark was crowned King in the North back in season one, his men called him the Young Wolf. Now in season six, when Lord Wyman Manderly declared Jon Snow the King in the North, he referred to Jon as the "White Wolf." This nickname is more than just an allusion to Jon's albino direwolf, Ghost. It has ties to his bastard status.
Jon's new sigil as King in the North will be a reversal of House Stark's banner.
In Westeros, bastards who take up their house banners must reverse the colors of the sigil. This custom is meant to signal the man's bastard status. House Stark's sigil is a gray direwolf on a white background, which means Jon Snow's banners will show a white wolf on a gray background.
Jon Snow, the King in the North, will be known as the White Wolf. The fact that he owns a snowy direwolf is really just a foreshadowed cherry on top.
Sansa and Littlefinger's conversation was a reversal of a scene from season one.
When Littlefinger approaches Sansa in the godswood of Winterfell, they were echoing a conversation between Catelyn and Ned Stark in season one. Remember, Littlefinger set the events of season one into motion when he convinced Lysa Arryn to poison her husband, Jon, and send a raven to Catelyn telling her it was the Lannisters' plot.
Catelyn told Ned the news of Jon Arryn's death in this exact same place.
Sansa still doesn't seem to know Littlefinger was the one truly responsible for all the horrors done to her family. Not only was he the one who flared the rivalry between the Starks and Lannisters, but he betrayed Ned in King's Landing. Sansa's refusal of Littlefinger in this same sacred place her parents once stood was a poetic role reversal.
Arya's murderous scene had a hidden reference: The Rat Cook.
Feeding Walder Frey's two sons to him in a pie was actually an adapted storyline from the book series. Though Arya (and Lord Walder) aren't the key characters involved in the books, the showrunners clearly had this plan in mind for awhile. A big hint about the Freys' cannibalistic fate was given back in season three.
Bran Stark told the fable of the Rat Cook right after the Red Wedding.
"The cook killed the king's son and cooked him into a big pie with onions, carrots, mushrooms and bacon," Bran told Meera and Jojen. "That night, he served the pie to the king. He liked the taste of his own son so much he asked for a second slice. The gods turned the cook into a giant white rat who could only eat his own young."
When Meera mocks Bran's concern about a common murderer being turned into a rat, Bran corrects her.
"It wasn't for murder the gods cursed the Rat Cook, or for serving the king's son in a pie," he says. "He killed a guest beneath his roof. That's something the gods can't forgive."
Bran tells this story right after Walder Frey and Roose Bolton kill the Starks at the Red Wedding. Walder Frey gave Robb, Catelyn, and their men bread and salt, the symbol of guest right in Westeros. By killing the Starks under his roof after feeding them, Walder violated the tradition of guest right. Now, three seasons later, Walder was punished for his crime against the Starks and the gods.
There was a neat Easter Egg in the Citadel library.
This chandelier-looking contraption was hanging in the Citadel library when Sam entered. It seems to be built to reflect sunlight around the large room. Look familiar?
It looks exactly like the spinning astrolabe from the opening credits.
Redditor Samurio noticed the similarities and uploaded screenshots to the /r/GameofThrones subreddit. This is likely a symbol of the vast knowledge contained in the Citadel. With thousands of books documenting the history of the world, maesters of the Citadel have the globe at the their fingertips.
Were you wondering how Varys managed to get back to Meereen so fast?
In the finale episode, we saw Varys in Dorne with Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell as they discussed an alliance. But at the end of the episode he was right behind Daenerys as she set sail for Westeros. The journey from Meereen to Dorne is a couple thousand miles, so how did he do it?
The show skipped ahead by a few weeks at least. We know because you can see Dornish ships among Daenerys' fleet.
Dorne's sigil is a golden spear piercing a red sun on an orange background. You can spot this symbol among the fleet leaving Meereen. Varys went to Dorne in order to convince Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell to join Daenerys. Because we see Dorne's ships among her Targaryen fleet and the Greyjoy ships, it's clear that a significant amount of time passed between Varys' scene with the women of Dorne and Daenerys' departure.
The Tyrell fleet is present as well, meaning Lady Olenna has officially teamed up with the Mother of Dragons.
House Tyrell's sigil, a golden rose on a green field, was also spotted behind Daenerys ships. For both the Martell AND Tyrell fleet to be there with Daenerys, we'd guess a solid month went by before that ending scene.