The following is a review of the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Expect spoilers for the show in this review.
This is the first time that I am ever reviewing a season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but I’ve been following the show since the beginning. I hadn’t read any of the books prior to the first season, but I have since read the first book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire-series of novels.
The fact that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was in the show, was what made me interested in the show, and his character is still one of my favorites. The first season was excellent, and every season has just been so good. Then the fifth season aired, and a lot of people were underwhelmed. This time around though, with the sixth season of Game of Thrones, HBO have given us one of the most outstanding fantasy seasons that we have ever seen.
The sixth season of Game of Thrones begins where the last one ended. With death. Lord Commander Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington) has been killed by a large group of his own men. Ser Davos (played by Liam Cunningham) finds him out in the snow, and vows to defend the body and his wolf, Ghost, from the murderous members of the Night’s Watch.
Meanwhile, Cersei (played by Lena Headey) gets out to greet Jaime (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) home from his journey to Dorne. She expects to finally see her daughter again, but, as we already knew, she was killed last season. Cersei and Jaime promise to have their revenge. Elsewhere, Daenerys (played by Emilia Clarke) is being taken to Vaes Dothrak, so that she can join the Dosh Khaleen for the rest of her days.
Let’s first talk about what was on every viewer’s mind when the season started: would this season suffer from not being as tied to the books as the first five seasons had been? Let’s just answer that. No. This season might even be better than anything we’ve ever seen on the show.
The season felt more loose, if that makes any sense. Like it had some notes, and some specific moments that the story had to lead to, but no strict guide of how to get to that place. Something was different this season, and I really liked it.
Let’s move on to the things I didn’t like about this season, and, honestly, I don’t have a lot of problems with the season. There were some stories and locations that didn’t work. Dorne was a big problem last season, and this year they pretty much just dropped the location.
I only think that we were in Dorne for maybe three or four scenes this season. I take that as meaning that the writers gave up on that storyline, it didn’t work for the show – or – it didn’t work the way they were doing it this year. The Greyjoy storyline didn’t work well either. Euron Greyjoy (played by Pilou Asbæk) didn’t feature in a lot of scenes this year, and the Kingsmoot was pretty underwhelming.
For a show that really makes you love the Starks, it was surprising how much it seems like they messed up with Arya’s storyline. No One was the weakest episode of the season, and even though I like where Arya ended up in the season finale, most of her storyline this season was just underwhelming. Some might even say that the season was slightly predictable, and I’d get why that would be a criticism. A lot of fan theories were confirmed this season. But that is all. I have no more issues with the sixth season.
Ten episodes always sounds like a lot when the season is just starting, but they always go by so fast. Thankfully, the way that this season was structured only gave us one or two episodes that were building up to an event. Every other episode had something huge in it. An important death, the return of a character, a reunion, dragons, or White Walkers.
This is where I get into a lot of spoilers for the sixth season, so turn around now, if you somehow stumbled onto this review before seeing the season. Let’s now talk about the most important events and key characters this season.
Jon Snow is my favorite character in the show. So you can understand how happy I was when he came back to life this season (“Home”). I wasn’t sure how they were going to do it, but people pretty much expected him to come back in some way. His journey this season was very different from what we’ve seen from him before.
He leaves the Night’s Watch, and joins his sister to battle Ramsay Bolton (played by Iwan Rheon) for Winterfell and Rickon Stark. Sansa (played by Sophie Turner) was a changed person, though. She was colder than we’ve ever seen her. She had real, justified anger here.
And even though, she ended up saving Snow later in the season (“Battle of the Bastards”), she could have saved a lot more people, if she had been honest with her ‘half-brother’. Ultimately, though, Jon Snow’s mother was finally revealed in the very last episode of the season, and it was handled very well, as everyone who knew of the R+L=J-theory jumped up and down out of excitement. That of course, brings us to Bran, who we hadn’t seen in a while.
I have to be honest, I was worried about what we were going to see with Bran this season. The character (played by Isaac Hempstead Wright) hadn’t always been that interesting, but this was definitely his strongest season. He became the three-eyed raven, and he was the reason why we got most of the reveals this season. And, of course, I have to mention the saddest moment in the history of Game of Thrones: he was the reason why Hodor (played by Kristian Nairn) was the way he was. You held the door very well, Hodor.
Over in King’s Landing it was the faith versus family, as the most powerful people in the capital fought to influence King Tommen (played by Dean-Charles Chapman). Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were great this season, and their real opponent, the High Sparrow (played by Jonathan Pryce), was just as good this season.
Cersei was always the one closest to being like Tywin Lannister, but this season she became much more like King Aerys II. When the season ended, with Jaime returning to a darkened throne room, Cersei became the Mad Queen, thus fulfilling her destiny by finally being the one on the Iron Throne.
This season gave us some of the very best episodes, and some of the best moments that we’ve ever seen on the show. Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Winter were the strongest episodes of the season, and they may even be the two strongest episodes ever on the show. Miguel Sapochnik directed both of those episodes masterfully.
Battle of the Bastards was awesome for obvious reasons. Full-grown dragons burning down ships, and the best medieval-style battle I’ve ever seen on television. Game of Thrones and Miguel Sapochnik deserve a lot of praise here, as the battle itself was one of the most well-shot sequences ever on television.
Sapochnik returned to direct the final episode of the season (“The Winds of Winter”), and that was another memorable episode of television. It was just so impressive to see the Sept of Baelor being destroyed. It is the most insane thing we’ve seen on the show, as Cersei essentially did what Jaime had stopped the Mad King from doing.
Ramin Djawadi also deserves some praise here. Look up “Light of the Seven,” one of the pieces that Djawadi made for the show. The best piece of music I’ve ever seen on a television show. It is absolutely haunting.
It almost feels wrong to say that the first season that isn’t based on a book, is the very best season of a show that just finished its sixth year on television. But that is honestly how I feel. The sixth season of Game of Thrones is spectacular.
It was a really satisfying season, but it was also really great. We had – what may be – the best ever battle seen on television (“Battle of the Bastards”), an unbelievable season finale (“The Winds of Winter”), and some of the greatest reveals the show has ever given us.
– I’m Jeffrey Rex