by Matthew Thompson
I was disappointed with Season 5 of Game of Thrones. It wasn’t bad, but it did not live up to my lofty expectations for the series. My anticipation of this newest season was somewhat muted as a result, but I’m happy to say it has served as a nice rebound for the show. At times things felt rushed this year as various players in the game were given a quick demise or sent hurtling at high speeds to their destinations, but ultimately I just love where all the pieces fell into place. I really like where everything is at heading into the final stretch.
Daenerys became my favorite character early on because of her impressive story arc and growth throughout the first season. I have stuck with her through thick and thin as her plots have featured both spectacular moments and much lesser ones in the years since. But finally she is headed to Westeros and I am thrilled! I can’t say I expected her army to be so stacked. As if a group of soldiers groomed since birth, a horde of savage horse-riders, some pirates and you know… three dragons weren’t enough, she added the Martells and Tyrells to the mix in the finale. The Martells were somewhat expected given their Houses’ ties in the past (though after the early season stabfest, I wasn’t sure if the writers had intended to just forget Dorne ever existed). The Tyrells caught me by surprise. By all accounts, Dany and company should run roughshod over the Lannisters and take Westeros with ease. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but on paper it looks lopsided.
Along with Dany finally joining the party, two other key players were put into power in Westeros as the season came to a close. While I had suspicions that Cersei might use the wildfire stored under King’s Landing to take out the Faith, I wasn’t prepared for so many characters to be wiped out in the process (like Margaery and Tommen) or for her to so quickly step in as Queen. This move may also be the catalyst to get Jaime’s story headed in an interesting direction again after several seasons of meandering. The final look he shares with Cersei in the finale said a lot and I look forward to seeing where their relationship heads next.
And then, of course, there is Jon. The Northern storyline was the strongest of the season in my opinion. It was largely predictable. We knew Jon would be resurrected. We knew he would beat Ramsay. We knew he’d become King in the North. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t satisfying to see it all play out. So many of the season’s best moments took place here. Seeing two of the Stark children reunite was special. The fact that it was so touching despite being Jon and Sansa – who weren’t exactly chummy in their youth – made it all the more wonderful. Episode 9’s battle delivered the kind of spectacle that only Game of Thrones can bring to our television screens. We were introduced to everyone’s new favorite character, Lyanna Mormont. And we finally saw Jon’s true parentage revealed. I have always loved this part of the lore. Now that the audience knows, I am wondering how Jon will find out and how he will react. This is clearly going to factor into Jon and Dany’s future interactions, but I personally can’t envision how all this will play out.
While these look to be the three major cogs in the machine going into next season, there is a lot more happening in the world of Game of Thrones. After having arguably the most consistently high-quality storylines over the course of the first four seasons, Arya’s time in Braavos ended up being a bit of a slog. It hit its low-point during that chase sequence with The Waif (this is one of the goofiest looking things I have seen on the show to date). With Arya back in Westeros, I hope they can make her character shine once again. Her revenge against the Freys, while a bit ludicrous, was enjoyable to watch. I can only imagine Sam will find something in that library that helps everyone best the White Walkers in the future. I always dig seeing new locations in the visual format for the first time, so just seeing the Citadel was neat for me. On the more villainous side, you have the aforementioned White Walkers who loom over everything. That conflict seems more destined for the final season. For next year, I’m more curious how someone like Littlefinger or Euron might be a stick in the spokes of the show’s evolving power dynamics.
While I don’t think this sixth season matched its best ones, it definitely bounced back in a big way from a somewhat tepid and problematic season last year. Season 6 as a whole was enjoyable, but the last two episodes in particular delivered the kind of “Wow!” moments Game of Thrones is known for. The finale episode, “The Winds of Winter,” ranks among my favorites from the series. It, and this season in its entirety, also succeeded greatly in the way they have set up for the series’ final stretch. The wait for the next season should be excruciating as a result, but I could not be more excited to see what happens going forward.
What did you think of this season of Game of Thrones? What are you hoping to see from the show next season? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!