GAME OF THRONES
Winter’s here! Is that why everyone’s in a rush?
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.