Review – Game of Thrones Season 6
I’ve never reviewed Game of Thrones before. Shocker, I love it, the whole point of being geeky is to embrace the things we love with a passion and not to get too bogged down in the things we hate (unless what we hate is paying us enough). Before you ask, no I have not read the books, but I have learned enough over the years to be able to discuss some of the differences, or at least I could have done until now…
As of this sixth season we are almost completely off the books, having gone through the source material, and while A Song of Ice and Fire has been rather heavily changed, the story and characters remain very close to the originals. George R. R. Martin has been closely involved with the production and his creation has not strayed far from his control, so it’s not entirely fair to criticise the HBO show on the basis of straying so far from the series, and numbers don’t lie. It’s been a monolith in the ratings, almost always the most heavily pirated TV series, and some claim that to even be to the show’s benefit.
This is set to be the last “full” season, being ten episodes where the next two seasons will amount to thirteen episodes between them, so let us review the years events.
We left Westeros in shambles, lunatic torturers hold the north, every remaining Stark is dead, including the one named Snow who we left bleeding from the knives of his brothers. Stannis Baratheon is dead, and with him the last hope of reclaiming Winterfell, except for Sansa and Theon, weak, and fleeing from Bolton hounds. Jaime’s noble quest to save his daughter ends in misery, and Cersei is marched through King’s Landing in disgrace, but at least former maester Qyburn greats her with a towering undead soldier.
After an entire season of absence, Bran is finally dragged before his destiny, the Three Eyed Raven who has guided his footsteps, and the ancient children, servants of nature.
In Essos, the Sons of the Harpy have been left decimated by dragon’s fire, but Daenerys is taken by a horde of Dothraki screamers, leaving Tyrion and Varys to account for her absence, and Jorah and Daario search for her. Arya has her sight stolen from her as punishment for taking a name from the Many Faced God.
And somewhere in this world Gendry is just rowing along…
… Tied Up
Of course Jon Snow wasn’t dead, they couldn’t leave the most popular character bleeding to death, but now his watch has ended! He’s finally free to do what he must, to go into the rest of the continent and fight for the living, by first removing those who revel too highly in death. Most recently we see the greatest villain torn to shreds by his own hounds. While Ramsey Bolton has managed to out-do Joffrey as a completely detestable creature, I think in Iwan Rheon we may have found the one person in the world who could play the Joker better than Ledger, Nicholson and Hamill combined.
Interesting to note that this is the first time Jon and Sansa have shared dialogue, and it’s been kind of heartwarming watching the last siblings gather so enthusiastically that they can’t even zig-zag! Oh did we forget that somewhere Rickon and Osha were still running around trying to stay safe? Well there’s one abandoned plot line put rather abruptly to rest.
We also lost the favourite character we never knew we had, and learned the secret behind the name Hodor. In his efforts to keep Bran safe while he learned the powers he was born with Hodor not only lost his life at the hands of a horde of dead men, but also lost his entire future when Bran’s meddlesome time-travelling caused him to have a paradox-seizure. While the whole “exploring the past” plotline has led to some great exposition (including all-but proving a fan theory about Jon Snow’s parentage) it’s still fairly hard to see what it’ll all build up to at this point, but it’s the only divergent plot left that’s dangling.
In the south, Cersei’s continued idiocy has left her alone, childless, and at the mercy of the very church she empowered, but not to worry. Her new master of whispers and her terrifying bodyguard have helped her secure her own place, even at the cost of everything she loved, and possibly the last traces of human emotion. In the end she might be the one true villain we have left, because while Jaime is doing a superb job of bumbling along next to her accomplishing not a lot. Does anyone else notice that all the worst things happen to that family when Jaime is not in Kings Landing and berating his sisterwife into moderation?
Now the Tyrells and Sands are united in Dorne against the Lannisters, and may very well have Daenerys’ assistance too thanks to the machinations of the worlds fastest eunuch. I know the timeline is a little distorted but somehow the man gets from the south of Westeros and straight onto Daenerys’ fleet in record time, how wide is the Narrow Sea exactly?
Arya’s plot has brought her back home, and she has begun the process of ticking names off her immortal list with the skills she learned (basically stole) from the Faceless Men. Her story is undoubtedly my favourite, as she was becoming a little too bitter for my taste, but after saving a life that did not deserve to die, and taking one that probably did, she’s back to being the real Arya Stark instead of the stumbling no-one from season five.
And now the Mother of Dragons has got it all! She’s a real leader, with boats, three armies and three dragons. I barely know where to begin with exactly how terrifying a force is on its way to reclaim the Iron Throne, but very soon we may very well be seeing her walk through the Red Keep as snow falls through the windows, just as she foresaw at the House of the Undying. Winter has come, and brought quite a lot of closure with it.
And somewhere in the world Gendry is still rowing…
This season has rather scaled up. The Battle of the Bastards has made the Blackwater look tame, the siege of Castle Black look like a joyride, and the massacre of Hardhome a simple misunderstanding. It was bloody, claustrophobic, heartbreaking, epic in scale while grounded in realism (apart from the giant) and the whole thing would have been so much easier if Sansa had have mentioned the Knights of the Vale were on their way.
Daeny has also given my new favourite speech, right before immolating its audience, as she berates the assembled Kahls of the Dothraki for not being half the man her husband was, and how they would have lived forever as barbarians where he offered to seize the world for her. Once again she steps from the fire to be hailed as a goddess by her people, and has a glorious return to her besieged kingdom, raining fire from the sky against the former Masters. Tyrion has proven to be far better in her company than ever before, and as Hand of the queen I sincerely hope he survives to see the final credits roll.
We’ve seen new degrees of cruelty from Cersei and Ramsey, and without Brienne even Jaime is slipping back into a loathsome and embittered shadow. Cersei blowing up the Sept might well be the most deranged act since the massacre of Roberts illegitimate children.
All in all we’re left in a rather tense place for season seven to come and put the final pieces into place.
This is where I get slightly too enthusiastic about Lyanna Mormont. Remember the adorable letter from the nine year old lady of her house?
“Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, who’s name is Stark”
Turns out she’s not so adorable! She not only dresses down Jon and Sansa for having the audacity to beg her men to fight for a castle that does not belong to them, but she also has every nobleman of the North bending the knee to the new King in the North. Here’s an actress that will be on everyone’s radar for years to come, and if she stays that terrifying she could well be the best newcomer to the scene in history. She’s due to take the role of Mildred Hubble in the upcoming remake of The Worst Witch, a book series which I may have outgrown, but not by that much.
One fan theory has been put to bed, even if Jon Snow’s identity has only been heavily eluded to we now know for sure the fate of Benjin Stark (whom you may recall from a brief appearance in season one) is indeed the dead man who fights for the living, Cold Hand. It would have been nice to have seen more of his involvement, such as saving Sam and Gilly, asking them to send Bran to the Raven, so on and so forth, but it’s a nod to the truth that fans have been waiting for.
It is a shame that the fan theory surrounding the possibility that Daario and Euron Greyjoy are the same person have not come to the screen because I have seen an excellent case made for it that involves a few major plots not featured in HBO’s hit fantasy.
In short there has been – as there always is – far too much to go into, but here is just a sliver of my opinion. And on the subject of the shorter upcoming series? Looking at how plots are starting to converge I honestly don’t think Game of Thrones needs more than a dozen or so episodes to neatly conclude its saga without dragging it out too long, although I’d rather a single season rather than the two shorter ones. We’ve seen a rich world built across six incredible years that have seen fantasy dragged into primetime and post-watershed viewing in a whole new way. Television may never be the same again.
And nor will Gendry.
He’s got to have forearms like beer kegs by now…