After six seasons, winter is finally here and it arrived with glorious results. 2016 saw Game of Thrones going through its most pivotal year, having already conquered the globe, becoming a worldwide smash and being HBO’s biggest television series ever. However, coming into Season 6, this show faced its most significant challenge yet: going beyond The Wall and into uncharted territory with the story now going forward in leaps and bounds ahead of George RR Martin’s unfinished book series. The past five seasons remained pretty faithful to Martin’s source material and all the better for it, but stepping into unknown waters was always going to be a gamble, especially since it involved appeasing to and doing right by the experts of Martin’s writing and work, and it paid off.
This time, the stakes were higher than ever before and it resulted in some of the most compelling television this year. The previous series saw the characters at their lowest point and at a moment of crisis in their lives, which made that season somewhat joyless as a result, but it was clear that the night was always darkest before the dawn. If season 5 was all about death, depression, decay, and the absence of hope, then season 6 is very much about rebirth, redemption, and the regaining of hope in a brave new world, despite the bloodshed we see this time round.
If the series can be summed up in two words, they are simply: change and revelation. A lot of the characters that have been around for most of the show’s run has evolved, matured or been completely changed due to game-changing events that happen in this series. Jon Snow has died and come back to life (unsurprisingly of course) to become a better leader, Sansa is no longer the scared, immature girl, Arya has become a trained killer, Bran becomes the Three-Eyed Raven, Cersei chooses violence and finally gains the power she wanted, and Daenerys properly becomes the Queen of Dragons/Breaker of Chains and has her army ready for battle. What’s even more surprising is that now after six years, we no longer have anyone to get behind or to support because how much the characters have been changed or damaged over the course of the previous seasons, as opposed to the very beginning when you might have had a good idea of who to root for.
Revelations were uncovered and they certainly help land the impact they deserved, which also lends to the fact that there is some finality here as we approach the final run with the last two upcoming seasons. We learnt about the tragic origin of Hodor as he meets his unfortunate demise, the truth about Jon Snow’s parents, the survival of the Hound, and the origin of the White Walkers. This series is also memorable for containing many brilliant and iconic moments that will stay with you long after the season has finished, including Dany emerging from the burning Dosh Khaleen Dothraki temple, Cersei wiping out nearly every namable character in King’s Landing with the use of Wildfire, Arya murdering Walder Frey and, of course, the titular “Battle of the Bastards” in episode 9 which resulted in Ramsay Bolton’s death.
That’s not to say everything’s perfect as this series does sort of suffer from dragged out subplots or anticlimactic sequences or setups. Both the High Sparrow’s rise to power in King’s Landing and Arya’s time in Braavos felt like they were especially dragged out much longer than they needed to. A lot of intriguing and exciting sequences happen off screen, which makes the results anticlimactic, including Blackfish’s death or Arya takedown of the Waif. Sure, with it being in complete darkness, the latter would’ve been tricky to shoot, but surely something more creative could’ve been thought up on the day.
Even though it wasn’t without its hiccups, the sixth season of Game of Thrones delivered some tremendously iconic moments and spectacular sequences that were jaw-dropping and stood as some of the show’s best seen yet. With winter finally arriving, it’s evident that the show is nearing its ultimate end, which is a shame considering that what a journey it had been thus far and this is no exception.
Dir: Jeremy Podeswa, Daniel Sackheim, Jack Bender, Mark Mylod, Michael Sapochnik
Scr: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Natalie Dormer, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Jonathan Pryce
Music: Ramin Djawadi
Number of Episodes: 10
Episode Run time: 60mins
Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season is out on DVD and Blu-Ray 14th November.