As The Seven Kingdoms prepare for a winter that may become another Long Night, the White Walkers brace their undead army for an assault against The Wall and subsequently the world of men. In the Capital, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has been publicly ridiculed by High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and his band of religious fanatics. As she awaits her trial, Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) has turned his cloak by calling her uncle Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder) to rule as Hand Of The King. He is here to try to control his niece and mend some of the damage inflicted by Cersei’s incompetent ruling skills. Despite all this, she strives to regain control with a newly concocted scheme that might get rid of her opponents, permanently.
Far to the North, House Bolton have defeated King Stannis. In the kafuffle, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) have escaped Winterfell by jumping off the walls. Brienne Of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) executed Stannis but now must deal with her moral dilemmas of putting revenge over the oath she made to Lady Catelyn (to protect Sansa). In the Riverlands, the remaining Tully forces (headed by The Blackfish) are at Riverrun where they are being besieged by House Frey (since The Red Wedding). Much alike the Eyrie, the Tully stronghold has formidable defences with enough supplies to last years.
In Dorne, the Sand Snakes slither: unpredictable and restless. Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) poisoning Princess Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) has forced Doran (Alexander Siddig) to enter a war with The Crown, a war that has been brewing for nearly twenty years. In Braavos, Arya Stark cut Meryn Trant’s throat (not part of her training). She’s been blinded because of the improper use of a faceless mask. Now the blind Arya Stark must learn to see with her nose and ears. She must learn to use her other senses to survive. In Meereen, The Mother Of Dragons (Emilia Clarke) tried to free Meereen which ended in a bloody fashion, with the previous slave masters hatching a plan to take the city.
At the end of last season, Dany flew Drogon out of the pit to escape and landed at the southern border of the Dothraki Sea where she was subsequently kidnapped by a Dothraki khalasar. Drogon took off and left her on her lonesome, now encircled by thousands of Dothraki men and their horses. Jorah The Andal (Iain Glenn) and Daario Naharis (Michael Huisman) have embarked on an Aragorn-Gimli-Legolas-esque quest to track her down and bring her back to the city. Meanwhile, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Varys (Conleth Hill) and others are united in trying to keep the city content until their queen returns.
Season six is the first season where we can say that it’s officially not tied to any of the books, except for The Kingsmoot in the Greyjoy’s storyarc. This season moved faster than every previous season combined. There’s plenty of story, action, payoffs and what’s more, karma. Lots of characters’ stories begin to make their way back together, which means there’s more wins than not. It felt more of a happier season, something that we’re not used to. We’re getting nearer to the end of the series with HBO saying eight seasons and done. Things are started to slot into place but this doesn’t necessarily mean the ending will like a dream of spring. It’s not going to be fun and games. There’ll be plenty more peril before it’s all said and done.
It has to be said, it was bloody good season. Jon Snow was revived (predicted), The Hound came back but not for Cleganebowl (yet). Benjen Stark (Coldhands confirmed) is also back…alive somehow…kind of. Jon (Kit Harington) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) gave us a heart-warming and very moving reunion at Castle Black. The R+L=J nonbelievers suddenly went quiet when Jon Snow’s true parentage was finally revealed (quiet in the realm). Dany has finally left Meereen with a massive a following at her back. Season six was massive and many bookies didn’t like the fact that we’re now ahead of the books, some even threatening to not watch the show until “The Winds Of Winter” is released…whenever that’ll be.
A lot of the reveals we saw coming. That doesn’t make it necessarily a bad thing. There’s only so many times that D&D can make us cry in very brutal and awful ways. Watching Jon gives us that first gasp of life at the hands of Melisandre (Carice van Houten) was satisfactory. Another shocker was Arya jumping from Braavos to The Twins to cut Old Frey’s throat, then we also had Ramsay killing his own father. Roose Bolton and Walder Frey have to be two of the most hated characters in the history of television. I sort of love to hate them. But then it makes me think. D&D are thinning out the acting heavy hitters. Michelle Fairley and Charles Dance went first. Then Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) at the hands of Ellaria Sand (Varma). Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) and Walder Frey (David Bradley) are the latest to get whacked. Let’s not forget Stannis by Brienne, and Iwan Rheon getting mauled by dogs at the end of “The Battle Of The Bastards.”
I’ve been following Sansa closely since she left King’s Landing and she’s becoming one of my favourite characters. I probably shouldn’t say that too loudly in case D&D here me. Her storyline had instances of empowerment and she’s becoming a strong female lead character in her own right. Watching a less victimized Lady Stark was a heartfelt joy for me. She’s been under the influence of Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and she goes all out shady and devious towards the season’s end. She’s lived with Ramsay and Littlefinger. I’d be surprised if their shadiness didn’t rub off somehow. How long will it take for Sansa to realize that now the Starks are back in Winterfell, Littlefinger is running out of tricks? The North is for the Starks, the Boltons are dead and the Vale is being run by the shadiest man in Westeros. She could lay a claim through her aunt Lysa (“fell through the moondoor), but not before taking out her cousin Robyn Arryn.
Female empowerment is in abundance this year, from Sansa in the North to Yara making a play for Queenship over the Iron Islands. But above them both, is Daenerys Targaryen taking a Dothraki army. Dany returns to Meereen, which is in a state of disarray. Tyrion, you had one job. Even above Dany is Cersei. For me she stole the season. She takes the idiom “killing two birds with one stone” to the max. She wipes out every important character in the Capital with a single stroke (wildfire) whilst drinking wine. This marked the end of an arc that had been unnecessarily extended. Cersei is truly the master of suspense. All her plans have either been thwarted by her uncle, her father or her brother. Now they are either dead or in hiding and she’s the Queen. This one plan succeeded and she made it count.
This season, we were witness to an event that was a long time coming. On The Iron Islands, Balon had been killed by his newly returned brother Euron Greyjoy, played by Danish talent Pilou Asbæk (Ben-Hur) who is a bit of a doppelganger of Theon. The Kingsmoot was superbly well-done and I loved the performance of Asbæk. I hated the character in the books and I hate the character in the show, but I loved the performance. He must be doing something right, and the whole Greyjoy arc was done justice. There was no Victarion but the season was very crowded. They worked with what they had and I’m happy with the outcome.
Oh aye, I have to admit that the show writers always deliver with the Ironborn scenes. Alfie Allen (Reek) should have an Emmy by now with three nominations to his name. I revel in those inspiring Ironborn speeches. They’re so motivating. Those speeches send chills down my spine and my armhairs stand to attention as that Greyjoy theme song runs rampant. All in all, season six is fantastic. From the Iron Islands to the North to Kings Landing; there’s never a dull moment. Yet again, the cast have delivered, and so have the crew. Lena Headey and Iwan Rheon give excellent performances but this is really Jon’s season and I couldn’t be happier.