Since this was the season finale, I think it’s appropriate to do a review that covers the whole season, focusing on the arcs in the various groups and how everything was resolved:
- I figured I’d start with something positive, since I felt the plot at the Wall was handled the best overall and the action scenes were amazing.
- Kit Harington really stepped up to what the role demanded of him this season and played a commander that was both strict and practical. He made decisions that focused on the long-term survival of his people and his death, while tragic, makes sense.
- That being said, his betrayal feels rushed (much like the rest of the season). This partly has to do with the fact that everyone now knows how real the danger of the White Walkers is and how taking in the Free Folk wasn’t a good choice, but the only choice. It also has to do with the fact that tensions within these two groups of people that categorically hate each other were never allowed to brew. We were told that the Watch wasn’t happy with the Free Folk, but we were never shown it, apart from a couple of glares.
- Sam coming into his own and finding his real strengths was brilliant to see. I also love that he and Gilly are together, even though I will forever roll my eyes at how they ended up consummating their relationship.
- For any non-book reader sad about Jon, head on down to the end of the review for some grade A+ season 6 spoilers/theories.
- By far the biggest disappointment of the season. Myrcella’s probable death by poisoning proves that if harming Myrcella was their goal, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes could have achieved it without all the hullabaloo of attacking her in broad daylight.
- Also, Ellaria kissing her full on the mouth in order to transfer the poison was both unnecessary and creepy.
- Jaime’s father arc–while an interesting departure from the books–never really takes off. Myrcella’s acceptance of him as her father comes both too late and too suddenly. Their conversation about love aside, this relationship could have used a lot more time to develop.
- I loved Doran and Areo Hotah’s realization on screen, but I still can’t fathom how out of the three royal children the two to be axed from the show were POV characters, one of whom had very real goals that involved Myrcella and weren’t “Let’s start a war for revenge, graaaarhgh!!”
- A strange beast indeed. My honest opinion is that they should have kept it highly political with council scenes going beyond the first couple of episodes, so we can see the frustrations of being a ruler and have to deal with more than one or two important issues. Barristan dying instead of helping her return to Westeros is terrible both emotionally and thematically. But if it had to happen, it should have been in the last episode of the season to go along with her meeting Tyrion, and leaving the fighting pits and her marriage an open dilemma for season 6.
- Tyrion is back to where we saw him at the beginning of season 1, only this time in an unknown city without any pesky relatives to ruin his life. It is the easy path to follow when compared to a Tyrion in the books who is hurtling down the road of becoming the monster people think him to be. That being said, I am deliriously happy that Missandei and Grey Worm, who were criminally underused this season, are going to rule alongside him.
- Jorah’s greyscale is going to become a big problem next season, isn’t it?
- And when did Daario become such a reasonable and efficient coordinator of group activities?
- The Boltons are annoyingly invincible at this point in a way not even the Lannisters felt like back in earlier seasons. The only person who could stop them was Stannis so now, unless Sansa gathers support around her and tries to take them down, the Boltons are pretty much sitting happy in the North forever.
- Sansa’s traumatic experiences this season seemed to have amounted to nothing beyond fabricated “grittiness” since her character is at the same place she was last season: with a strong sense of self and eager to escape more trauma.
- Brienne being the one to kill Stannis was poetic, but not well timed. A promise made to keep a young girl safe trumps any promise made to a dead crush in all the chivalric tales I’ve read.
- Maisie kills, both literally and figuratively, and I think she admirably holds together one of the only parts of the show that is given enough time.
- The Faceless Men are still quite a mystery (Who do they take orders from? Where does their magic come from? Is Arya going to be alright and still retain a piece of herself? Why if Jaqen looks better in the girl’s clothes did we only see him in those tatters he’s been wearing all season?) and I’m interested to see what is going to happen with them in later seasons.
- We didn’t get enough of Cersei’s wild ride into paranoia and bad decisions but her Walk was beyond powerful. For a show that has a serious problem objectifying women, this was well done and made the point that even though Cersei has done some terrible things, no one deserves what happened to her. A big round of applause for Lena Headey.
- The Tyrells are an as-of-yet-unresolved plot point dangling over our heads like sour grapes.
- Qyburn is almost cute on the show, which I know is a weird thing to say, but I’ve developed a soft spot for him.
- In perhaps one of the most controversial scenes of the season (if not the show), Shireen was burnt alive. Beyond this being disturbing and depressing, the scene had no build-up and little relevance, it turns out, to the plot.
- Davos’ close relationship to Shireen doesn’t change anything. He didn’t save her and now he has to mourn yet another person he felt was like a child to him.
- Selyse is dispatched after her character does an abrupt 180° turn, which leaves me wondering why they even made her so cruel to Shireen in the first place.
- The entire season, Stannis was set up as a good father who would never harm his daughter. Due to many errors in pacing, his choice to sacrifice his daughter seemed out of place since the stakes were never that high and there was no time for desperation to sink in. We didn’t really see him struggle with his choice; Melisandre wasn’t even particularly insistent.
- Furthermore, Shireen being sacrificed did nothing to change the tides of war for Stannis. The little angel suffered for nothing, since an episode later her father still loses everything. We don’t see him struggle with this, either. The narrative has no room to breath. Episode 10 is just a fast-forward of Stannis paying for all the terrible things he did dating back to assassinating Renly.
- At least he died in-character. Telling someone to do their duty is a very Stannis thing to do.
And my closing (probably spoilery) words to everyone sad about Jon:
When A Dance With Dragons came out, everybody dived in to whet their appetite after years of waiting for a new book. At the end, just as you think things can’t get more bleak and frustrating, Jon gets stabbed half a million times. After everyone got over their shock and sadness, they started to come up with theories of how Jon was going to survive. Last night’s episode proves there was some validity to people’s theories and we weren’t just all in a state of denial. People have been saying that Melisandre is going to resurrect Jon for years now, we have seen other Red Priests do so. In the books she was at Castle Black all along, so the writers pretty much confirmed this theory by having her conveniently return from the middle of nowhere, just in time to save Jon. Now stop crying, children. It will be all right.
This post is brought to you with help from the lovely Nikki who saved us all from the typos.