My anticipation for Game of Thrones season 6 was the highest it has ever been for any TV show. Despite a disappointing season five, with no more source material to go off of and the end of the series in sight, I hoped season six would be one of the best seasons of Game of Thrones, and it didn’t disappoint. After watching all ten episodes of season six, I would only put season four ahead of it for best season of GoT. From the Starks regaining control over the north to Daenerys finally sailing to Westeros season six gave fans several moments they have been waiting years to see happen. While season six had the most feel good moments in the entire series, most of these moments were completely predictable. Part of the appeal of GoT is how its storylines tend zig where most stories zag. While in previous seasons the heroes lose and die to the villains in scenarios you would expected them to win, this season the heroes win in almost every scenario you expect them to. This change could be seen as a negative to anyone that loved GoT’s unpredictability above any other reason to watch the series, but I think this was just an unavoidable part of the show’s story getting closer to the end. GoT started with the Starks being one of the most important houses in the series, and few fans would be happy with Ramsey Bolton leading the north in a great victory over the White Walkers as Tommen ends the series as king of Westeros.
Like last year’s GoT season five review, the rest of this review will cover all of this season’s major storylines based on their location.
For the first two seasons of GoT I hated the Night’s Watch storyline, so it seems odd that I consider it the best part of season six. With last season ending with Jon Snow’s death and Sansa escaping from Winterfell with Theon. I expected Melisandre to bring Jon back from the dead, so I’m glade the show didn’t drag this storyline of when would be Jon revived past two episodes. Jon’s return lead to one of the few happy emotional moments in the series when Jon reunited with Sansa.
The Jon and Sansa working together to defeat Ramsay Bolton and rebuild house Stark storyline showed how much Sansa has changed as a character, while also showing how death appeared to change nothing about Jon. I was surprised how quick Sansa was to suggest that Jon take the army of Wildlings he saved to attack Ramsay. I understand Sansa wants to get revenge for the rape and torture, but I didn’t expect her to bring it up during what appeared to be their first private conversation they had in what was likely years and the first time the two characters were shown speaking to each other in the series. I think Sansa rushing to convince Jon to attack Ramsay without caring about his problems with the White Walkers or how he was struggling with coming back from the dead, was good foreshadowing for Sansa’s decision to not tell Jon that the Vale army could be coming to help them during the Battle of the Bastards.
I initially thought it was a minor plot hole that Sansa wouldn’t tell Jon that she was able to convince Little Finger to send an army after she was telling Jon to wait until they have more soldiers before they attack Ramsay. Based on the information Jon had there was no reason for him to listen to her. Jon knows Ramsay has their brother and they have already asked most or all of the houses pledged to the North and only a few of decided to support them, so why would Jon consider waiting to attack Ramsey? He wouldn’t, and Sansa getting mad at Jon and trying to convince him that Ramsey was going to kill Rickon no matter what he did after using Rickon as the primary reason to attack Ramsey made Sansa look bad.
But Sansa’s storyline this season was probably about her transformation from always being a victim to a sadist with power, to being capable of manipulating people around her to get whatever she wants. Despite Little Finger being the main reason she married Ramsey, she still allowed him to live and accepted his help in defeating Ramsay while promising him a reward she never gave him after using his army. I’m not sure Sansa didn’t tell Jon about the Vale’s army because she though he would potentially tell Ramsey as some way to threaten him to give them back Rickon or that it was more effective as a surprise, but Sansa was willing to risks her half-brother’s trust and life if it increased her chance at killing Ramsay.
The actual Battle of the Bastards continue the GoT tradition of having Hollywood style block buster battles on a TV show, and did not disappoint. Seeing soldiers on horses colliding into each of at full speed, Jon suffocating in a pile of dead bodies, and how one giant can make a huge different in a fantasy battle was amazing TV. While the Battle of the Bastards began and ended more predictable than previous big GoT battles, it was still one of the best moments of season.
Beyond the Wall
It’s been an entire season since we last saw Bran, Meera, and Hodor, but episode five “The Door” made up for their long absents with possible the best episode featuring thesw three characters. Previous episodes established that Bran could see events in the past, but this episode showed that he can change events from the past and the future has already accounted for Bran’s changes. Wylis was a stable boy who had a seizure years ago and now can only saw “Hodor,” but Wylis had that seizure because Bran ordered him to hold a door years later while he was using his powers to visit Wylis in the past causing a space and time issue that permanently damaged Wylis’ mind and made him hold the door until his death. While up until this point GoT has been suggesting that Bran’s power will make him one of the ultimate heroes of the series, it’s possible that Bran becomes an accidental villain. Bran ignoring the Three-Eyed Raven’s advance is the reason he got marked by the Night King and that caused Hodor to have his mind destroyed and die. It’s likely that Bran will be the main reason the White Walkers take down the wall, because it’s the magic inside the wall not the was itself that keeps the White Walkers from invading Westeros and Bran’s mark allows the White Walkers to bypass magic barriers. Once Bran goes past the Wall he will unintentionally allow the White Walkers and their undead army to follow him there, and whatever powers he gained to fight them will just be used to fix mistakes he made.
This storyline also confirmed that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard son, but his nephew that he promised his sister to say was his bastard son to make sure king Robert didn’t kill him. We also learn what happened to Benjan Stark – Ned’s Night’s Watch Brother that has been missing since the first season – and his short cameo as half human/white walker hybrid that was tasked with helping Bran was good.
Arya has been one of my favorite GoT characters, but I haven’t liked her storyline ever since she went to Braavos. I liked the idea of her learning to change faces and becoming an assassin, but having to give up on getting revenge and losing her identity as Arya Stark really hurt my interest in this storyline. Eventually Arya has to go back to Westeros and be back involved with the other storylines. So most of last season and some of this season, we see Arya repeatedly beaten for not truly becoming no one and struggling to complete assassination missions she doesn’t want to do.
Her storyline really improved once she went to assassinate the actress. First it was nice to see how the world interpreted Joffery’s death and that it was basically pro Lannister propaganda. Second it lead to the end of this storyline. I liked that Arya’s blindness that came from her using one of the faces to get revenge last season was used to defeat the Waif, but overall this was the weakest storyline this season that ultimately ended on a high note when Arya killed Walder Frey.
My biggest question and worry entering the Meereen storyline this season was how the show was going to handle Daenerys Targaryen’s absence from Meereen. Season five ended with Daenerys being surrounded by a horde of Dothraki and Tryrion Lannister basically serving as the unofficial Hand of the Queen and working to find a solution to the Sons of the Harpy after their failed assassination on Daenerys. I was happy that by the end of episode four GoT gave a great answer to how Daenerys would escape thousands of Dothraki by having her force a meeting with all of the khals and burning the whole building/temple down with everyone – including her – inside. It was very smart strategy by Dany, and a great call back to season one’s finally when she walked into the fire with three dragon eggs and emerged unburnt with three baby dragons, because she knew the fire wouldn’t kill her but will kill the everyone else stuck inside the temple and would make the other Dothraki see her as a Jesus like figure giving her even more soldiers to destroy the Sons of Harpy and eventually retake Westeros.
Tryrion’s role in the Meereen storyline was a positive change for the character after seasons of losing power and influence, despite his plan to keep the Sons of the Harpy from attacking Meereen ultimately failing. While agree with Grey Worm and Melisandre that slavery needed to be abolished, Tryrion’s deal with the slave masters to slowly get rid of slavery over a ten year period did help delay the Sons of the Harpy’s assault on Meereen long enough for Dany to return and Meereen didn’t have the fighting power to win without Dany’s dragons and Dathraki army, so his plan did have some benefits. By freeing the dragons from their chains and making a deal with a red priestess – based on everything we’ve seen red priest and priestesses do over six seasons of GoT, I think it was a good decision to have them support Dany despite Tryrion not understanding the full extent of their power – Tryrion had more successes than failures and made Dany’s decision to make him her Hand of the Queen look great.
While the Greyjoys’ storyline was smaller than most of the other main characters’ storylines and getting Dany more ships seemed like the main point of it, I believe Theon’s uncle Euron Greyjoy will likely be a major part of next season and made a huge impact with the limited screen time he had this season. After killing King Balon Greyjoy, Euron interrupted what should have been Yara Greyjoy’s election as leader of the Ironborn and became the King after winning the Kingsmoot by popular vote. While the viewer was likely suppose to feel bad for Yara after getting Theon’s complete support to fail to convince people to elect her queen, she didn’t have a plan beyond build a lot of ships. Between Euron’s Theon is dick-less jokes, his plan to build a lot of ships and offering them to Daenerys Targaryen was a good idea and Balon was a terrible King that did nothing to improve the lives of his people. The election ended up being pointless because Yara and Theon stole all of the ships on Pike and realized Euron’s plan was better than anything they had in mind, so they made a deal with Dany where they help her take the throne as long as she helps them make Yara queen of the Ironborn and give them independence from the throne.
While Theon’s redemption this season was interesting to watch, I believe Euron has to be a major part of next season. After season six ended, Dany’s army seems so powerful that it’s hard to see the Lanisters posing much of a challenge. While show Euron didn’t mention having any magical weapons, the book version of the character did have a supposedly magical horn that should give them the power to control dragons, which would be one way to make the upcoming war between Dany and Cersie more competitive if Euron does in fact have the ability to steal at least one Dany’s dragons and help Cersie keep control of the throne.
Until season five I always enjoyed anytime the show spent time in King’s Landing, but King Tommon is a boring character that brought the storyline down last season. I was happy when Joffery died and his younger brother Tommon became king, but overtime I have grown to miss Joffery. It wasn’t just that his love of torture was more entertaining than Tommon’s love of avoiding conflict, I truly believe Joffery was a better King than Tommon. When Tommon made a deal with the High Sparrow to get his wife Margaery out of jail and basically conceded control of Westeros to High Sparrow to avoid a battle between the Sparrows and the Lanister and Tyrell armies, I realism that he is a worse king than I thought. Joffery would’ve just killed the Sparrows which would’ve prevented Cersie from carrying out a terrorist attack using wildfire that killed the Sparrows and led to Tommon committing suicide and the Tyrell’s supporting Dany as queen for revenge.
Jaime’s trip to Riverrun allowed Bronn to enter the story and featured a reunion between Jaime and Brienne, but other than feature a storyline in the books that hasn’t happened in the show yet, it wasn’t really all that necessary. It sucked that Blackfish chose to die instead of help Sansa and Jon fight Ramsay, but non-book readers probably felt this storyline was mostly filler and a reason to have Jaime away from Kings Landing while Cersie blowup several people.
Speaking of Cersie, I was happy to see her get revenge on the High Sparrow. While I’m rooting for Dany to take the throne away from Cersie next season, High Sparrow was in tough competition with Tommon for most boring GoT character and Cersie’s actions lead to the entire GoT story to an interest direction for next season. Cersie has always believed that she was the best Lanister to rule Westeros, but due to being a woman would never truly be able to rule. Using the wild fire to kill the Tyrells and Tommon’s suicide, Cersie’s dream came true, but she lost all three of her children in the process. A Cersie whose sole purpose is to stay queen and is willing to do anything to keep power – possibly even blowing up the entire city like the Mad King wanted to do – without having to worry about protecting her children.
Game of Thrones season six was a great season and showed that the show can still be compelling without relying on source material.