BIG SPOILERS FOR SEASON 6 OF GAME OF THRONES.
How about that season of Game of Thrones? The first one to truly disembark from the books (with only a few sections from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons thrown in) it hit way more highs than lows. Winter is FINALLY here, and it’s awesome!
The Battle of the Bastards:
Once there was a time when I thought nothing could top Season 2’s the Battle of the Blackwater. Then I thought nothing would top Season 5’s the Battle of Hardhome.
In fact, this time I was kind of expecting to be underwhelmed. Sure, Jon Snow was the underdog, but did anyone expect Ramsay Bolton to win? We knew going in that somehow, some way, Jon leading a smaller army would win, and somehow, some way, Ramsay Bolton would finally get what was coming to him.
One reason it was so effective is they immediately made us waver in our certainty about the outcome. Jon totally dismisses his sister’s Sansa’s advice (which, for once, was totally on point) both about getting more soldiers first and her insights into Ramsay’s psychotic personality.
This was tragically brought home by the way Ramsay releases Jon and Sansa’s little brother Rickon on the battlefield and tells him to run. Jon’s desperate bid to save his brother is completely futile, and leaves him alone facing a horde of soldiers coming right at him after Ramsay kills Rickon with an arrow.
The ensuing battle was AMAZING. Better than CGI-filled battles in movies because every inch of it was so character-driven. Ramsay’s arrogance and savagely cruel strategy. Jon’s bravery and refusal to give up. Davos Seaworth seeing all seems lost and joining in the fray anyway because he’s a true hero. Petyr Baelish showing up at the last minute with an army because he knows he can use this to his advantage someday. The direction by Miguel Sapochnik made you feel as though you were right in the thick of it.
Absolutely fantastic. Game of Thrones has ruined movie battles for me forever.
Repeating last season’s deviation from making Episode 10 a sort of comedown from whatever big happenings occurred in Episode 9, this year’s Episode 10 was another stunner.
They took a big chance by concentrating the first half hour (of an extended episode) exclusively on Loras Tyrell’s and Cersei’s trials. As most of the aristocracy in King’s Landing gathers at the sept, Cersei and Tommen prepare for the trial at the palace. Loras’ trial proceeds without them. When it’s time for Cersei’s, she and Tommen are no-shows.
What happens next is shocking, yet also classic Cersei Lannister. She blows up the sept and everyone in it with wildfire, effectively wiping out her enemies, including her uncle, who kept her off the small council.
It’s classic Cersei, because while she’s busy torturing her last living enemy, Septa Unella, her last child leaps out the window to his death after witnessing the carnage she has caused.
At the end of the episode she seizes the crown for herself, but she is now totally, completely ALONE. She has no heir. She has no allies (she blew up the Tyrells, who were her last and best allies, even though she hated them and vice versa). Even Jaime, who returns in time to see the burning sept, is likely against her now. He once killed a monarch for doing almost the exact same thing she did.
No one is better at pyrrhic victories than Cersei.
R + L = J:
Yep, they did it, they finally did it: confirmed that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
ABOUT. TIME. Book fans waited 20 years for this, TV viewers for 6 seasons.
Arya Avenges the Red Wedding:
Anyone care for a slice of Frey pie?
I didn’t think so.
Hold the Door:
An even more effective and heartrending use of backstory than R + L = J, we finally learned why Hodor could only say the word “hodor.”
Excuse me, I need to take a break and cry for about an hour.
Lady Lyanna Mormont:
HOW GREAT IS THIS LITTLE LADY? The 10-year-old who rules Bear Island and shames the Starks’ former allies into swearing allegiance to Jon is every kind of amazing, and the actress who plays her is phenomenal.
After Episode 10 aired, I tweeted the following:
I had to turn off my notification ring on my phone, because so many people were retweeting and liking it. I’m still getting stray likes as of this writing.
Daenerys Saves Herself from the Dothraki:
“You are small men,” says Dany, just before she sets her captors on fire, then walks out of the fire unscathed to a bowing khalasar.
You said it, hon.
Sansa Gains Some Agency:
FINALLY! Problem is, people still don’t think she’s changed, so Jon didn’t listen to her before the Battle of the Bastards. We will wonder forever if Rickon might have survived if he had. Littlefinger revealing all his cards to her shows he doesn’t get it, either.
If only he had seen her smile when she fed her husband to his own dogs. He might have thought twice about doing that.
Yeah, yeah, I know there are a lot of fans who ship Jaime and Brienne, but peeps, let’s face it: he’s just not good enough for her.
Sure, Tormund supposedly had sex with a bear, but I’m pretty sure the bear wasn’t his sister, and I’m pretty sure he’s never killed anyone for the bear.
At any rate, his crush on Brienne is the cutest thing that happened this season, even though the last thing you would think to call “cute” is Tormund. But there you have it.
The Return of the Hound:
Nope, Brienne didn’t quite finish him off. He was found by a kind religious group and nursed back to health. We don’t know yet where his storyline is taking him, but I’m pretty excited to see how it plays out next season.
The Showrunners Pretending Jon Snow Was Dead-Dead:
I’ve complained about this before, but JEEZ LOUISE, this was SO dumb of them. Especially since Jon is not only not dead, by season’s end he is more vital to the story than ever.
Jon Being Exactly the Same Doofus He was Before He “Died”:
Didn’t you think a death and literal rebirth experience would make Jon a bit smarter, savvier, or something?
Ygritte wasn’t kidding when she said, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Apparently, he’ll die that way, when he’s really dead for good.
Arya’s Braavos Adventures:
Wow, considering how exciting her escape to Braavos was at the end of Season 4, this storyline kind of (excuse the pun) died. It got repetitive, even boring at times. But hey, the girl can heal really fast, considering someone twisted a knife in her abdomen.
Tyrion Trying to Banter with Grey Worm and Missandei:
Painful. Just…painful to watch.
Tyrion should always be Tyrion, but he’s evolved to the point where he can’t be the cynical smart-ass he was during Season 1.
Pretty much the only part of the books that was totally mishandled. Even Varys and the now vengeful Oleanna Tyrell going to Dorne to get them to ally with Daenerys was annoying to watch.
Uncle Euron Greyjoy:
This started out nicely—unlike the books, they show Euron killing his brother—but then it hit a rather silly dead end. Yara and Theon steal most of the ships in the Iron Islands. Euron orders everyone to start building ships. By the time they’re built, the wars in Westeros will probably be over. The internet jokes about it, however, will live forever
I can’t think of a single thing to put in this category. Sure, there was plenty of violence and betrayals, as usual, but for once, nothing felt truly gratuitous. Hopefully, I will be able to say the same about the final two seasons.