“WINTER IS HERE.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the season. SPOILER ALERT!
I’ve only read 39 pages of the current and growing 4,451-page A Song of Ice and Fire series, so I’m not exactly a die hard fan of the books. What I do know, from hardcore googling, is that the show caught up with the books at a certain multi-impale event of one Jon Snow. With that, Season 6 was the season to introduce TV show viewers, and more importantly, book readers, to plots which have yet to be published. (Book Readers: “We’re seeing some shit we ain’t nevah seen befoah.”)
I’ll put another spoiler warning here. SPOILERS for all things ‘Game of Thrones’ follow.
After Season 5’s disappointing follow-up to the near perfect Season 4, Season 6 had a lot to prove to both parties. For TV show viewers like myself, Game of Thrones had to prove that even in its sixth season it could top itself, something rare for the medium. For those who like to read a plethora of pages about the way the food looks (again, hardcore googling), Game of Thrones had to answer questions and flesh out plots with the detail only the medium of novels can provide. From the former perspective, Season 6 did right by me.
In a show that has taught us not to never have hope, or love, or happiness or joy (of the emotional and tower variety), this season gave us all of those things, while still reminding us that this world will still gut you if left vulnerable. Jon Snow was brought back and reunited with Sansa, a sibling pair we’ve only seen on screen once. While the moment was precious given what five seasons have done to these characters, Jon and Sansa don’t quite trust each other in end. We got to witness Arya get her sight back, (almost) become no one and kill the Waif. The caveat to this is her final scene of the season where she kills Walder Frey after feeding his sons to him, all with a sadistic smile that foreshadows our heroine becoming a villain. These moments where we as the audience feel like we can fist pump, slowly devolves into us sitting down, sinking into the couch and rethinking life.
The most exciting thing this season has done is move its key players into what seems like their final roles in this series. Jon is now the King in the North, Sansa may have her goals set to be Littlefinger’s queen, Arya and Bran are heading for Winterfell and Daenerys is finally (FINALLY!) sailing for Westeros. Cersei has the power she has always wanted, Jaime has no authority to keep him from her and Tyrion gets the respect he deserves as Hand of the Queen. All of these major characters managed to survive the great game thus, and the show makes that the utmost importance by slicing off the fat in killing off characters thought to be integral in Margery, Ramsey, Rickon, etc.
Game of Thrones has proved to us that it’s the best show on TV. There’s two things it can execute perfectly on: spectacle and drama. We’ve seen huge battles done justice in the “Blackwater,” “The Watchers on the Wall” and now “Battle of the Bastards” episodes. And we’ve seen high stakes drama done in spades throughout the show’s history, with “The Winds of Winter” showing that this show can still hit perfection this late in the game. Some shows can do one or the other, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that does both flawlessly.
While the penultimate and the ultimate episodes of this season made the ride worth it, I can’t completely omit my annoyance with the slow trudge to the finale. Game of Thrones is not a traditional show, and I will always praise it for that, but damn did we need a traditional ol’ montage with some of these plot points. The rallying of the houses for the big battle and Daenerys’s return to Meereen are of note. I’m all about the slow burn; I’ve sat through two season of Bloodline. But to have build-up this late in the game feels unwarranted. When seeing Cersei sit on the throne, Daenerys sail for Westeros, Jon become king and Arya become an assassin, I was proud, but I asked myself, “Did it have to take this long?”
Watching Game of Thrones rock it out and go its hardest in is sixth season felt like watching Harrison Ford steal the show in The Force Awakens. So often shows peak early and fade out into mediocrity, but Game of Thrones still has tons of steam left (because fire and ice make steam, right?). This season’s biggest accomplishment, aside from introducing Lady Mormont, was setting up the end. While the show never opened the wounds of the Red wedding, it still shows us it can kill our characters in one way or another—there’s more than one way to flay a cat, so to speak. We’re in the semi finals—Daenerys v Cersei and Jon v White Walkers—and watching this tournament play out will be quite the ride.
Should all of this have gone down in Season 5? Book readers: How do you feel about what just went down? Tweet me @NerdDotMe. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
Edited by April Soller
The Night Of: “The Call of the Wild” Review
Vice Principals: “The Foundation of Learning” Review
The Night Of: “Ordinary Death” Review
Joe Hill’s ‘The Fireman’ Review
How Speedrunning Changed My Perception of Games
Vice Principals: “Circles” Review
The Night Of: “Samson and Delilah” Review
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Review
Vice Principals: “Run for the Money” Review
The Night Of: “The Season of the Witch” Review