(Warning: this post contains spoilers for Season Six , as well as moments from the books)
There was point last year where I considered not watching game of thrones anymore. I hoped, as did everyone that the Winds of Winter would be published before Season Six premiered, and then I could watch the show, with the show and the books being caught up.Season Five, was simply a mess. Even those who haven’t read the books still noticed a drop in the storytelling and the direction the show was taking. The decisions the show runners made in a lot of cases didn’t make sense, and the changes from the book seemed to have no logical reason behind it (i.e Dorne and Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay)
My expectations were low. The endless media stream of how this season was ‘the best yet’ only reminded me of the hopes I’d had for characters last season that were ultimately dashed. I decided to keep watching, because regardless I was going to find out on the internet what happened, and knew my curiosity would get the better of me.
Every scene with Lyanna Mormont.
A character we have yet to properly meet in the books, she simply stole every scene she was in. You have to give all the credit to the casting director who manages to find all the best child actors. I’d much rather have her ruling the Iron Throne than Daenerys.The character was a big hit with the fans, and I want to see more of her in Season 7.
At this point there wasn’t any doubt by numerous fans that this theory wasn’t true. It all made sense, and it was great to finally have it confirmed on the show. They did the Tower of Joy perfectly, and again the casting was fantastic. They found the perfect actor to play a young Ned, and Lyanna as well Arthur Dayne. They kept the main quotes from the books, and the heart-breaking ‘Promise me Ned’. The only issue I have with this scene was that they didn’t say Rhaegar’s name when Lyanna gave the baby to Ned, and so I think some show watchers many not have understood who the father was at first.
Best episode of the season: Battle of the Bastards /Home/ The Winds of Winter= Overall The Winds of Winter
It would be easy to name the’ Battle of the Bastards’ the best episode of the season, with many already claiming it’s the best episode of the show yet. I can understand why, it was exhilarating to watch, bloody, brutal and brilliant. Miguel Sapochnik masterfully directed the best fight scenes I’ve seen on television, a long unbroken shot at the same level as Jon making the audience feel as if they’re on the battlefield with him, getting a very real image of how the battle is quickly engulfed in chaos. The pile of bodies is a reminded throughout of the horrific cost of war, and the episode doesn’t glorify it at all. As a watching experience, this could be the best episode of the show. However looking into the plot and rewatching it again, highlights the weakness of the plot in comparison to the other battle episodes. Either Jon or Ramsay was going to win, and whoever lost was going to die. It was unlikely they would kill Jon off again after the end to last season, and everyone predicted that Littlefinger and Sansa would save the day. Apart from Ramsay and Smalljon Umber there were no characters on the other side we knew, and the two we did you despised. The Battle of Blackwater in season 2 is my favourite because you have conflicted feelings regarding both sides of the battle. There were no real heroes or villains, whereas this episode showed clearly who the good guys were, and who were the bad guys.. In terms of production and visuals, this episode was the best o the season. It was an incredible viewing experience, but looking at the narrative compared to other episodes, it fell short.
After the first episode of the season, my low expectations for season six didn’t change until next week’s episode, ‘Home’. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an episode that I genuinely enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised at throughout.We finally saw Jon’s resurrection, the reintroduction of the Iron Islands storyline and the brief moments we got of Euron were nowhere near as disappointing as the introduction of the Dorne storyline. Balon, a character I thought the show had completely discarded was finally killed off, as he should have been a long time ago. The Ramsay storyline was the only weak point for me, as explained later on. After that the show pleasantly surprised me more than it disappointed me, and this was in large part due to the show branching out and not following the books, or poorly adapting parts, not leaving many disappointing moments for book readers, or plots that didn’t make sense or were expanded on properly. Was ‘Home’ one of the best episodes of the season? No. But I do rank it highly than episodes with far more important and dramatic moments because it proved the show was on a better path this season, and even straying from the books could lead to an enjoyable, mostly well written episode of television.
The Winds of Winter
The morning after this episode came out I was staying at a friend’s house before I went on holiday that morning. I woke up at about 6am, and just put my headphones in and quietly watched the episode on my phone. I knew that the finale was not something I wanted to be spoiled, especially when I wasn’t certain I would be able to watch it while I was away. This s the episode I think I’m most grateful not to have been spoiled, because ‘The Winds of Winter‘ is just an incredibly intense episode of television that managed to anger, amaze and frustrate me. Miguel Sapochnik also directed this episode, and I’m sad to hear he’s not directing anything in Season 7 because I want him to direct all the episodes on the show. All the directors bring their own talents to their episodes, but he just makes every look better. This episode didn’t feature the battle scenes of ‘The Battle of the Bastards‘ but Miguel Sapochnik makes the smaller, quiet feel just as intense. The trail was wonderfully executed and edited, between Margaery and Loras at the trail, Cersei watching from her balcony, Pycelle meeting his end by Qyburn and his little birds, and Lancel discovering the wildfire while it was too late. I expected Cersei to blow up the sept, but the loss of so many characters in 20 minutes was unexpected. I really expected Margaery to live and get out. Margaery was arguably my favourite character on the show, and I’m sad to see her go. I wished we got to see more of her plan for the High Sparrow, but I’m glad she went out still being more intelligent and observant than everyone else, and trying to protect her family. Jon being titled King of the North was a nice callback to Robb at the end of Season One, but I really hope Sansa rules over the North in the end. The ending shot was maybe a bit predictable, but it’s about time Daenerys set sail for Westeros, so Season 7 is already looking interesting.
Ian McShane spoiled the return of the Hound in interviews before the season started but it was still an incredibly enjoyable moment to see the cold open in ‘The Broken Man’ showing us the return of a character everyone thought was dead at the end of Season Four . Ian McShane’ character Brother Ray (who I will always just refer to as Septon Meribald) gave a nice speech to the community in this episode, but due to the episode title, a lot of ans, myself included were expecting the incredible ‘Broken Men’ speech Septon Meribald gives in A Feast For Crows. Even so, they merged parts of the book quite well in this storyline, and it’s good to have the Hound back on the show and I’m intrigued to see what direction this character will go in. (Seriously though please give us CleganeBowl in some form)
The improvement of Bran’s storyline
Bran’s storyline for the first time, was interesting. I don’t dislike Bran, but I’ve never found his story as engaging as others in the books as well as the show. It was a smart move to keep him out of the uneven last season, and his return and the application of his abilities meant I actually cared when he was on-screen. Bran can show the audience significant moments from the past, and now being the three eyed raven makes his character more crucial, made evident in the interactions with the Night’s King that are bound to be developed further, and witnessing the Tower of Joy and the revelation that Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Even smaller moments such as watching young Ned and Lyanna at Winterfell were still just as great to see and I hope we see more flashbacks next season.
Sansa and Jon’s reunion
This scene was so emotional, I couldn’t help but tear up during it. For so long the Starks have been separated, and to finally have two of them reunited was something so unexpected. Sansa and Jon had never shared a scene previously on the show, and yet Kit Harrington and Sophie Turner portrayed the relief and shock perfectly. On a show filled with dark moments, especially for the Starks, having a simple moment of happiness for these two characters who have suffered so much was beautiful to watch. Their relationship this season was one of the show’s highlights, and I really hope they stay united next year.
No one will ever see the phrase ‘Hold the door’ in the same way again. George RR Martin revealed this moment to the show’s writers, and they pulled it off in the most heartbreaking and memorable way. Hodor isn’t a character that people are attached to in the same way they are to characters like Jaime or Sansa, but his character was always a constant comforting presence. Hodor was always a fixture in the background, and to show the origin of his name and the part Bran played in causing it all was one of the season’s most surprising moments. Hodor was a loyal and good-natured character until the end, and Game of Thrones made this episode one fans won’t be forgetting any time soon.
I love composer Ramin Djawadi’s score on this show, but in ‘The Winds of Winter‘ alone he produced the best pieces of music on the show so far. The opening sequence of all the characters getting ready for the trial in King’s Landing was stunning, and as the trail started and the events unfolded, the music just managed to heighten everything and the sense of dread and unknown at what was going to occur. The piece of music ‘Light of the Seven‘ is hauntingly beautiful and the trial sequence would have been nowhere near as powerful without the music building up to the dramatic climax of the Sept blowing up. The other piece of music, titled ‘Hear me Roar‘ played over Cersei’s coronation blends together music from ‘Light of the Seven‘ and last season’s ‘Atonement‘. It’s dark, and fits the scene perfectly as Cersei becomes Queen. ‘Tower of Joy‘ is another heart wrenching piece that plays when Ned discovers Lyanna.
Overall this season was a much better improvement compared to last year, and showed they know how to create some of the most memorable moments of television. The casting, directing, and acting are always consistently fantastic, with actors like Sophie Turner, Kit Harrington, Alfie Allen, Lena Headey (and of course, Bella Ramsey) bringing the best performances this season.
The next part looking at the weaker points of Season Six should hopefully be up next week!