I’ve got that GoT hangover going – that long painful wait until next April. We’re all going to suffer with it, clinging to our collection of Blu Rays, trying to keep fresh.
I was VERY pleased that Time Magazine named my book on Sawney Bean as one of the essential history books you should read to see the historical references to Game of Thrones:
Getting named in conjunction with one of my favorite series in Time is four quarts of awesome sauce.
Finally free from the oppressive chains of George R. R. Martin’s books; Game of Thrones broke into open country at a full gallop this season. Let’s be honest, season five was good – but not great. Season six – well, it was spectacular. This season transitioned from the War of the Kings to the War of the Queens.
I prefer to look at things from a character arc perspective so hang on for a tongue-in-cheek ride through the season:
Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Professional Fire Walker, Stripper Name: “Hot Stuff,” started out as a prisoner of the Dothraki. She demonstrated a tremendous amount of viciousness when she burned the Khal’s alive to assume the leadership of the horsemen. Sure, those guys deserved it, but let’s face it, Dany (as she’s known to her pals) has become relatively comfortable with killing. Given where she wants to rule, that’s probably a good thing.
She is also learning temperament, compliments of Tyrion. He has become a control rod in her dragon-fire-fed-nuclear reactor.
Daenerys was at her best when with Tyrion. The “negotiations” with the slavers was incredible because she demonstrated control of her dragons and a willingness to look at the big picture – and not wage genocide. Her alliance with the Greyjoys was outstanding as well. Dany, you’ve come a long way baby! (Children of the 1970’s will get that reference.) She is ready to be a queen and is finally on ships to Westeros to make that happen.
Ayra Stark’s arc was less complicated. She applied for the job of Professional Revenge Seeker/Assassin and after the Faceless God’s rigorous new hire on-boarding program (sans PowerPoint decks) she got the job! Sure she had to kill one of her instructors, but every job requires a few sacrifices. Her best moments were when she watched a play about the affairs in Westeros and saw how her father and family were being remembered in the eyes of the public. Great acting without having to say a word. She took the redeye back to Westeros to drop in on her buddy, Walder Frey. She fed him his sons in a pie (harkening back to season two when there was a reference to the same thing for a man that broke the rite of hospitality – which Frey did some hundred times over) and slit his throat. I think I speak for everyone when I say he died too fast. That old sack of crap needed to bleed out and suffer a little bit more.
Jamie Lannister started the series as a bad guy (he pushed a kid out of a window while fornicating with his sister for God’s sake), then he became sympathetic (a good hand-chopping will do that) when he was part of the classic Brienne/Jamie On-The-Road films. Now he’s back to being a douche. The man threatened to catapult a baby into a wall just to get back to his sister. Even when Brienne and Pod showed up, the chemistry was gone. Perhaps the most telling about Jamie was in the finale when he sat with Walder Frey who uncomfortably pointed out they were both Kingslayers. Jamie looked at him with disgust and a bit of self-loathing – trying to distance himself from the reality of who he is.
Tyrion Lannister proved himself an adept ruler in Meereen – right up until the time the slavers laid siege to the city. He had some of the best lines of the season, “I drink – and I know things.” Tyrion is best when with Varys or Dany. On his own he struggles with having close friends. I think I speak for all of us when I say that there’s a showdown coming between him and his sister – which will be epic. He will have a similar (and more difficult) confrontation with his brother at some stage too. Now that Tyrion is the Hand of the Queen, he has almost come full circle as a character. He went from father-killer back to his rightful place.
One of his best scenes was when he tried to convince Daenerys that Meereen was a city on the rise – as enemy ships shelled it. That and when he spoke of owning his own vineyard when the war was over, where he could share his wine with his friends – and the realization that he had so few of them.
Sansa Stark – aw, who really cares? She whined about Jon not listening to her, but didn’t have anything to say. Why she didn’t tell him that Littlefinger was bringing fighters to the Battle of the Bastards, we will never know. Maybe it’s the actress or maybe it’s the character, but Sansa, despite all she has been through, doesn’t garner a lot of sympathy on my part.
Bran Stark is the ultimate tree-hugger (literally) this season. We learned that Bran is to be the three-eyed raven and no one really gets that. Thanks to him we did learn how the White Walkers came about which is interesting. Bran gave us the origins of Hodor and prompted the internet sales of Hodor Door Stops to record levels. Bran got touched by the Night King allowing them and their zombie hoard to invade the root-cellar of gloom where he and the Three-Eyed Raven where hiding out. Bran also gave us a view into Jon’s heritage (both Stark and Targarian – which is awesome.) Other than that, none of us really bonded with Bran and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We think Bran is on his way to the Wall, the number two tourist stop in Westeros.
Jon Snow, the Official Pincushion for the Knight’s Watch at the end of last season came back to life. He couldn’t remember anything about being dead (you know nothing Jon Snow!) but came to the realization that his Watch had indeed ended. He left the eight or ten surviving brothers to guard the wall and set out to retake Winterfell with Sansa. Jon ignored Sansa’s whining, let’s face it, we all would have. He assembled an army and went off to fight Ramsay Bolton. The battle was fairly epic, though we all knew that Rickon was dead the moment we saw Ramsay with a rope in his hands. Jon emerged from the fighting to be acknowledged as the new King of the North by the lords that abandoned him in his time of need.
Jon’s story arc is coming to an interesting point. The last time he was a leader, his men killed him. He started the season on a slab dead and ended up being King of the North. His battle tactics in the Battle of the Bastards were not so hot – he went off his plan of attack in the first five minutes and, if not for the Men of the Vale, would have been killed. Jon emerged as the winner which is bound to cause some issues with his nagging sister Sansa. We also learned that Jon was not Ned Stark’s child but his sisters – and the Targaryn prince. Oddly, it makes us miss Ned Stark just a little bit more. Isn’t he more honorable now than when you thought he had cheated on his wife?
Ramsay Bolton, (Voted Most Likely to Get a Trophy for Torturing the Other Team’s Mascot slowly to death) got Rickon Stark as a gift from a rebellious northern lord and went out of his way to prod Jon Snow to fight him. Ramsay killed his father, his step-mother, and his baby brother – you know, a typical day in Bolton-Land. Ramsay killed Osha, when she tried to seduce him. In fairness, she was going to kill him but because he clearly planned on murdering her from the start, we have to give a call-out to Ramsay for being a dick.
In the Battle of the Bastards Bolton played Jon Snow like a cheap fiddle. He employed a phalanx (don’t get me started on how this was almost never done in a medieval battle and why) and surrounded Jon’s plucky band of wildlings and 62 warriors of House Mormount. Ramsay got routed, Jon beat the crap out of him (which I think he liked) and Sansa fed him to his hounds. As brutal as it was, him being devoured by his dogs was sickeningly enjoyable. The North Remembers…
This season we learned that Cersei Lannister is not exactly the forgiving type. Her journey down the slippery slope of madness was punctuated with clashes with her uncle, the Hand of the King. She armed The Faith only to have that be used against her. There was an epic scene with her and the Queen of Thorns where Cersei is painted as the person that was bringing about her own eventual demise. The matriarch of Highgarden even asked her if she planned on killing all her enemies. Apparently she was. She killed the Grand Maester and set off a WMD of wildfire under the Sept which, well, killed everyone. I had to admit, it was fun watching the High Sparrow disintegrate and the blast definitely topped the Red Wedding in terms of carnage. Cersei is torturing the nun that tormented her (“Shame…shame…”) and has been crowned Queen. Sure it cost her Tommen’s life, but we were all oddly comfortable with that. Okay, summary for Cersei – she’s a mass murderer who took the separation of Church and State WAY too far.
Sam set off with Gilly and the baby to his home only to find a loving mother and Attila the Hun for a father. He stole the family sword (Valarian Steel – good move Sam) and rode off to be a Maester. None of us give a flying fu*k at a rolling doughnut what Sam does but because the showrunners keep telling us, we can assume it’s important. There’s got to be some intel in those books on how to deal with the White Walkers.
This season saw us lose the most innocent of characters, Hodor. They symbolism of his death was pretty significant. The child he carried and cared for was the source of his mental problems. He died saving the very boy that caused his problem. It also opened up the reality that Bran not only could travel in time, but could influence things in the past…which is scary. One must wonder if the Mad King’s calls to “Burn them all!” is Bran somehow messing with his head like he did with Hodor.
The Hound and the Brothers Without Banners. The Hound is alive? Well I didn’t see that coming. Everyone keeps telling him he has a role to play, but the Hound is no longer a joiner. The Brothers are a mix of Robin Hood and a religious cult. I’m interested in seeing if this pairing amounts to anything.
The fact we got to see Pod and Bronn together was fun. I like how Jamie and Bronn have bonded just like Tyrion did with him.
Brienne of Tarth has become much more legitimate as a character, the last honorable knight in the Seven Kingdoms. Everyone likes sending her on difficult if not impossible missions. Her confrontation with the Blackfish was fun. She is a Knight Errant and her devotion to Sansa is admirable and makes her one of the more honorable characters.
The Red Witch moped around a lot this season. She brought us back Jon Snow rather half-heartedly (pun intended), which was anticipated and expected. What we didn’t anticipate is that she is an old shriveled up woman. Ew… The fact that at the end of the season she is marching south, I imagine her linking up again with the Brothers without Banners.
Benjamin Stark returned. Half-White Walker, all bad-ass. He saved Bran’s life only to drop him off at a tree and ride off. Still, it’s awesome to see things from the first season come back.
The House Mormont was actually incredibly important this season. First was Jorah, who tracked down Daenerys then was sent away to find a cure for his affliction, greyscale. He professed his love of Dany and went off and it was touching and sad and cool.
Lyanna Mormont became, in two episodes, one of my favorite characters. First, she stood by Jon Snow and committed the 62 warriors of her house to fight with him – and was on the field of battle. Then this child shamed all of the lords of the north into supporting Jon Snow as King of the North. I want her to run for President. Lyanna proved herself tougher than Jon Snow himself.
Littlefinger is still a dick, still stirring the pot where he can. His best moment was when Brienne almost killed him. It is rare that Littlefinger confronts situations that he cannot control. He DID finally admit out loud that he wants the Iron Throne. Welcome to the club fu*ktard.
I’ve been wrong and right in my predictions thus far (I’m batting around 70% ish) – so let’s give this as shot for the remaining 15 episodes. Dany will arrive and wreak havoc in Westeros. I think she will need to cower the Iron Islands first, get a foothold then on the mainland. Despite her allies and the fact that everyone wants Cersei dead, things won’t be entirely easy for her…they can’t be. In her hour of greatest and most dire need, when it looks like she is losing, Jorah Mormount will return to save the day. We will have forgotten about him by then – but he will ride in to save his beloved Khalissi.
The Sand Snakes of Dorne are going to be problematic for our Targarian Queen. This is the nature of allies that are bent on revenge rather than conquest. It’s not going to be all shits and giggles taking Westeros. Daenerys has not had to work with complex alliances before.
I think things in the North will move slowly with the undead – I think the emphasis needs to start with the south and the White Walkers of the Night King need to be dealt with at the very end of the series. The wall has magical spells protecting it – but there are references to a horn lost somewhere in the North – a horn capable of bringing the wall down. I went back and found the damn horn – back when Sam found the Dragonglass knives at the First of the First Men. You can find it too. That’s the play for the Night King. He will have to shatter the wall because of the magical spells there that prohibit his crossing the barrier. How he gets the horn, or gets someone to blow that horn, will be a big deal. One toot and the Wall will come down and the dead will head south.
I am one of those people that believe that Jon should end up marrying Daenerys. It’s hard to picture Jamie marrying her. There’s not a lot of younger men out there in positions of power still alive in the series.
Cersei will continue her spiral into madness. Jamie, ever her supporter, is put in an awkward position…support the woman/sister he loves knowing that she is a homicidal maniac – or kill her. Cersei has also said that she doesn’t care who knows about her relationship with her brother – so she may want their love to be more “open” and public. Ultimately when she falls, it needs to be in the presence of Tyrion. Tyrion will find his return to Westeros dangerous – his sister does kill her enemies with startling brutality. In the end he will be there for his sister’s demise…he has to be. One must wonder though if Jamie will have to end his sister’s life just like he did the Mad King.
Tyrion and Jamie left on good terms (Jamie did free him, only to have Tyrion kill their father), but Jamie will lead the Lannisters in the field against Daenerys. That is going to set the stage for a wonderful and awkward family reunion. More importantly, I want a reunion of Bronn and Tyrion, if only for a few minutes.
Sansa’s weird tension with Jon is something that Littlefinger will exploit. Has Sansa learned her lessons? A part of me is doubtful. Try as she might, Sansa is not Caitlin Stark.
I am not sure how Ayra Stark’s return will be received. She is not the same character as when they all last saw her. She’s dangerous. Somehow I picture her with the Hound again. Don’t ask why. Out of all of the buddy combos, hers was most interesting. The Red Witch predicted they would meet again back in season three, so these two are going to connect again and I don’t see it ending well for the Red Witch.
Podrick needs to become a knight. Bronn needs to survive them all and marry one of the Sand Snakes in Dorne.
I believe matters in the south have to be settled before Danerys turns her attentions northward to save Jon’s butt. The final victim of this saga needs to be the man that put it all in motion – Littlefinger. That’s right, Littlefinger. He was the one that framed Tyrion for the Stark assassination attempt, plotted and executed the assassination of Joffery (which wa the nicest thing he did) framing Tyrion for a second time, he pimped off Sansa to the Boltons, he killed his wife of ten hours. Littlefinger is cunning, devious, and the most dangerous of the lords still alive in Westeros. I will never forget Varys’s summery of him, “He would burn the world to the ground to rule over the ashes.” In the end, the person that drives a sword through Littlefinger needs to be Sansa or Brienne.