TV Review: Everybody’s Talking About Game of Thrones
After a 60-hour Game of Thrones marathon, you learn a few things. I can probably speak conversational Valyrian, could skin a rabbit in a pinch, and my kitchen knives now have nicknames.
This show is best when gorged upon. It’s easier to follow the threads of the various storylines as well as remember the myriad character names. And bonus: you can watch characters like Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) go through puberty in a matter of hours.
If you’re not caught up on Game of Thrones yet, read carefully. This review covers the entire sixth season.
This season began with our beloved Jon Snow (Kit Harington) coming back to life, thanks to the Red Woman (Carice van Houten). But I must admit, I felt a little guilty that we got Jon Snow back so easily. We’ve seen other characters come back from the dead with pretty severe consequences (i.e., the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson)), and yet we didn’t have to sacrifice anything to keep our hero.
The Stark movement gains momentum as Snow is reunited with his half-sister Sansa (Sophie Turner), who has escaped Ramsay Bolton’s (Iwan Rheon) clutches back in Winterfell. Soon after, Jon gets word that Ramsay now has their youngest brother Rickon (Art Parkinson). Jon and Sansa leave the Wall together, gathering forces to join them in their quest to take back Winterfell.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) also manages to get ahead, eventually. In my least favorite plot line this season, Arya suffers the temporary loss of her eyesight, daily beatings from the Waif (Faye Marsay), and is constantly asked the question, “Who are you?” Correct answer: No one. But what is the point of all this? Why is Arya trained to fight when the followers of the many faced god use poison? And what does a girl have to do to finally JOIN this cult?
After disobeying the many faced god…again, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlashiha) puts a hit on Arya. The Waif is all too delighted to do the deed, and manages to stab Arya several times in the abdomen. Arya seeks refuge with a local actress (whom she was supposed to poison) who stitches her up, good as new. Wait, WHAT? How does Arya survive those injuries? Well…she does, and luckily, Arya reclaims her trusty Needle and kills the Waif.
Meanwhile, Bran Stark is still lost in the North. He finds refuge with the Children of the Forest, and the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) leads him through lots of visions. Eventually, Bran learns that the White Walkers were actually created by the Children of the Forest. However, like a spoiled child, they can’t control them, and the White Walkers eventually close in on Bran. He narrowly escapes, but the White Walkers overtake Hodor (Kristian Nairn). I mourned him like I would a close family member. Poor Hodor.
Bran is now the Three-eyed raven, and in his last vision of the season, we discover the identities of Jon Snow’s parents: his mother is Lyanna Stark and his father is Rhaegar Targaryen. Surprise!
Speaking of Targaryens, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) manages to rise to the top by the end of the season. She starts off far from Meereen after hitching a ride on the back of Drogon, her wayward dragon. She is captured by the Dothraki, who want to send her to live with the rest of the Khal widows in the Dosh Khaleen.
Meanwhile, two men are looking for her, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), who’s fighting a mean case of greyscale, and Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman). They also happen to be in love with her. They find Daenerys, but she surprises everyone by going back to the Dothraki, and meeting with the Khal (Joseph Naufahu). He mocks and belittles her, but like a true heroine, Daenerys lights the place on fire, and emerges victorious and “unburnt”.
Daenerys has now amassed the largest army this side of the wall, with the Unsullied army and the Dothraki horde behind her. She also gets a better handle on riding Drogo, and leads all three of her dragons into battle back in Meereen against the masters. And duh, she wins. As she tells her enemies, “My reign has just begun.”
Daenerys assembles her troops and begins to sail to Westeros. The Greyjoys are along with their army, and Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) is also on board, so I assume Daenerys also has the Dornish and the Tyrells behind her.
While the Starks and Targaryens are hitting their stride, the Lannisters have been falling apart in a big way. Myrcella Baratheon (Nell Tiger Free) has been killed by the Dornish, and new king Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) has proven to be pretty wimpy. He can’t get a grip on the Faith of the Seven, and adopts the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach. He also puts his mother Cersei (Lena Heady) to trial for her sins.
But Cersei manages to come out on top by killing just about EVERYBODY with the few allies she has, and the wildfire kept in storage under the city. The High Sept explodes, killing everyone in attendance for her trial. She makes sure Tommen is safe inside the castle, but he still can’t bear the weight of the destruction his mother has caused. He throws himself out of the window, now leaving Cersei (and Jamie) with no surviving children. She ends the season as the newly-crowned Queen.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), however, has found himself leading Meereen in Daenerys’ absence. Wasn’t he just in a box yesterday? Dinklage is THE comic relief on the show, as well as one of the more exceptional actors. He serves Daenerys well, and pledges his loyalty to her. As a reward, she makes him Hand of the Queen, a position he coveted back in King’s Landing. They seem to make an unbeatable team.
After failing to bring his daughter/niece home from Dorne, Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) then heads to River Run to clean up a dispute. In the last few episodes of this season, we see more depth from Jamie. In a threatening speech to his prisoner, Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies from Outlander), Jamie confesses his devotion to his sister, Cersei. Sure, she’s his twin, but you have to admire the guy for pouring his heart out. His internal struggles are brought to light, and you have to wonder if he really is all that bad.
In episode nine, Jon Snow, Sansa, and their small army descend upon Winterfell. The “Battle of the Bastards” is one of the best fights scenes on the show to date. Ramsay uses Rickon Stark to goad Jon Snow out onto the battlefield. Predictably, Rickon doesn’t make it, and the battle begins. This scene is spectacular, showing the mayhem and absolute randomness of battle. We follow Snow through the whole thing, rooting him on. There are piles of bodies on the field, and Snow gets trampled. Just when things look bleak, the Knights of the Vale swoop in and save the day.
But why didn’t Sansa tell Jon that the Knights of the Vale were on their way? It seems she doesn’t trust him, but why not? And what does this say about her character?
Snow gets Ramsay to fight one-on-one, and ends up knocking him down and punching him, almost to death. However, it’s Sansa that gets the last word with Ramsay, “…All memories of you will disappear.” She then feeds him to his hounds. Zing!
We get to see Arya again in the final episode. She’s back in Westeros, and exacts her revenge upon the Freys. In disguise, she serves Lord Frey (David Bradley) a pie made from his own sons. Arya then slits his throat, proving that all those beatings back in Bravos made her a trained assassin.
As a whole, the writing on this show is unbeatable. It is tough to write a show for avid fans of a book series, but the Game of Thrones writers have risen to the challenge. This show is definitely character-driven, and every character has a clear, focused motivation which drives the plot forward. And don’t forget those plot twists! For example, the Hound (Rory McCann) is alive!
This season, instead of “Winter is coming,” we’ve moved on to “The dead are coming.” Jon Snow, now “King of the North,” is attempting to gather forces against the White Walkers, and it feels like we’ll see much more of them in season seven. And now that winter is here, I can’t wait to see how they rally against them.