Win­ter’s here! Is that why ev­ery­one’s in a rush?

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Our verdict on sea­son six.

UK Broad­cast Sky At­lantic, fin­ished US Broad­cast HBO, fin­ished Episodes Re­viewed 6.01-6.10

And so the epic quest to steer clear of spoil­ers on so­cial me­dia is over for an­other year, as the show that’s re­de­fined wa­ter­cooler chat wraps up its lat­est sea­son. With Ge­orge RR Martin fa­mously still busy on his sixth novel, this was the year the adap­ta­tion over­took the source ma­te­rial, mean­ing that even those who’d read the books were un­able to tell peo­ple they knew what was com­ing next.

It’s the best thing to hap­pen to the show since Ned Stark’s be­head­ing proved that ev­ery­one is at the mercy of the gods. Not only is this a jour­ney into en­tirely vir­gin ter­ri­tory – this is where the writ­ing team stopped try­ing to adapt a se­ries of nov­els, and con­cen­trated on mak­ing an amaz­ing, grip­ping TV show.

Be­cause for all its shock­ing, com­pelling bril­liance, there’s no deny­ing that Game Of Thrones has oc­ca­sion­ally suc­cumbed to in­er­tia, that ten­dency to tread wa­ter with char­ac­ters hang­ing around in one place too long, do­ing not very much.

How­ever, that’s not been the case this year, as sea­son six has ac­cel­er­ated whole­heart­edly to­wards what­ever Wes­teros’s endgame may be – and that de­noue­ment may not be all that far away, as showrun­ners David Be­nioff and DB Weiss have strongly in­ti­mated that there are just 13 hours of the show left.

As soon as the slightly te­dious busi­ness of bring­ing Jon Snow back from the dead is out of the way – Worst. Kept. Se­cret. Ever – sea­son six rev­els in or­ches­trat­ing meet­ings be­tween key char­ac­ters. Whether it’s re­unions for Jon and Sansa, Bran and Un­cle Ben­jen, and Jaime and Bri­enne, or a first meet­ing be­tween the Greyjoys and Daen­erys, there’s a sense that the

show’s vast num­ber of story threads are fi­nally be­ing pulled to­gether into one co­her­ent story. Af­ter years of feel­ing like lots of dif­fer­ent, barely re­lated plot­lines spread across a vast map, it now feels like ev­ery­one ex­ists in the same world – and your pa­tience for sol­dier­ing on through the slow bits (and many mo­ments of mis­ery) is be­ing re­warded with some of the most ex­cit­ing, break­neck TV the show has ever pro­duced.

Vis­ually GoT is big­ger than ever be­fore, so it’s re­mark­able the char­ac­ters aren’t crushed un­der the weight of spec­ta­cle. Sure, the bru­tal Bat­tle of the Bas­tards and Cer­sei’s clin­i­cal wild­fire as­sault on King’s Land­ing are the bits that’ll be talked about (and rightly so), but the bits that linger in the me­mory are rather qui­eter, more in­ti­mate: Jaime and Bri­enne rekin­dling their friend­ship, while both know­ing they’ll kill the other if they need to; play­ful, flirty glances be­tween Yara Greyjoy and Daen­erys; even the tac­i­turn Hound is hu­man­ised by his friend­ship with Ian McShane’s sadly short-lived Sep­ton Ray.

It’s also re­fresh­ing that the show isn’t sav­ing all its big re­veals un­til the end – we now know the ori­gins of the White Walk­ers, the tragic rea­son for Hodor’s lim­ited vo­cab­u­lary and even Jon Snow’s parent­age (so he’s part Stark, part Tar­garyen – that’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing...). So with Snow in Win­ter­fell, Cer­sei in King’s Land­ing, Daen­erys on her way from Es­sos and the Night King crush­ing all be­fore him up north, we make that at least four mon­archs in play. Who will win? We can’t wait to find out – though our fin­gers are crossed that sea­son six hasn’t upped the pace so much that there’s not enough story left to tell. Richard Ed­wards

Some of the most ex­cit­ing TV the show has pro­duced

“Just prom­ise me you’ll ask Bri­enne on a date.”

Daen­erys and her dragons: fi­nally head­ing across the sea…

Not look­ing so smug by the end of the episode. Tee hee.

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