Game of Thrones: Why season 6 was one of its best and thoughts on the future.

So just over a week and a half ago, season 6 of Game of Thrones drew to a close with the epic episode, The Winds of Winter. Where did those 10 weeks go? They seemed to go by faster than wildfire through the Sept of Baelor! This series marked the first time that both readers of the source material and non-readers were on the same page, with the show officially moving past the books. With speculation rife that George R.R. Martin has already completed the sixth book but with a release date still up in the air, the news this week that the seventh series may be delayed from its usual April debut, and with the withdrawal symptoms from season 6 starting to kick in, it’s fair to say Thrones fans have an arduous wait before they can dive back into the world of Westeros. So in the meantime, lets take stock on a great series and speculate on what the future may hold. Here’s some of the reasons why I loved this series, and think it stands as one of the show’s best so far:

Female Empowerment

It would be impossible to talk about this series and not mention the badassery of its female characters, who all had moments to shine. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) laid waste to all her enemies with a stash of wildfire. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) finally stopped being a victim and reclaimed her home and got her revenge on Ramsay Bolton. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) completed her training with the Faceless Men and returned to Westeros to continue working on her kill list. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) burned slave traders and warlords to claim both Slaver’s Bay and a vast Dothraki army before finally making her move on Westeros. Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) asserted herself in the battle for the Salt Throne and made a formidable alliance with Daenerys in the process. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) honoured her vow to Catelyn Stark and showed once again she is as formidable as any man. Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) showed her cunning nature and strength of will in battling the High Sparrow (if only she hadn’t dropped her guard where Cersei is concerned), while Lady Melisandre (Carice van Houten) showed just how powerful she is by being revealed as a centuries old crone and bringing Jon Snow back from the dead. Even Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) managed to be compelling when she murdered Prince Doran to claim power in Dorne, even though that storyline has been widely criticised. And of course, who could forget Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) and her withering put-downs, once again stealing every scene she is in. The TV and film industry has long been lambasted for its portrayal of women, so it’s refreshing to see the reigns of power move from the men to the women for a change.

Emotional Reunions

Season six brought something that fans had been hoping for years-a Stark reunion (I know one of them was later confirmed to be a Targaryen, but still. He’s half Stark at least). I’ll bet there isn’t a single viewer that escaped feeling some sort of emotion when Sansa and Jon (Kit Harrington) embraced after years apart and fearing they would never see each other again. While it certainly is the most memorable reunion this season, it wasn’t the only one. Theon (Alfie Allen) managed to free himself from the torture he endured from Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and return to his home on the Iron Islands. He is initially chastised by his sister Yara for not leaving with her when she had previously taken a great risk in order to save him, before her love for her brother out weighs her anger and she forgives him and agrees to help him rebuild himself, while he agrees to help her become Queen of the Iron Islands. In a show where the characters are subjected to many a horror, it is nice now and again to have these moments of good. But of course, this being Game of Thrones, not all reunions were as positive as those this season. Episode one saw Cersei waiting to be reunited with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)¬†and Myrcella, upon their return from Dorne. No matter how you feel about Cersei as a character, it has long been established that her love for her children was her only saving grace. So the scene in which she happily races to the dock to meet them, only to discover Myrcella has been murdered, is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Deaths of prominent characters

HOLD THE DOOR!! If ever there was a curl up in a ball and cry moment, it came with the death of Bran Stark’s (Isaac Hempstead Wright) most faithful servant Hodor (Kristian Nairn), who died valiantly to protect his charge against the White Walkers and Wights. We also lost two more Direwolves this series in Summer and ShaggyDog. The wolves are almost as important to fans as the Stark children themselves, so it’s always emotional to see them go. Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) also kicked the bucket after a brief reintroduction. While not necessarily a fan favourite, as he barely appeared, it was still harrowing to watch him get so close to Jon in the Battle of the Bastards, only to be brutally killed by an arrow through the heart from Ramsey. Likewise, we also saw the death of Tommen Baratheon (Dean Charles Chapman), who again wasn’t a truly beloved character in comparison to others, but he was a sweet child, weak as a king, but kind unlike his brother and predecessor. His suicide was heartbreaking to watch in that he was so devastated by his mothers actions, he didn’t even hesitate to throw himself out a window. But perhaps the most shocking death of the series came as a result of Cersei Lannister’s attack on the Faith Militant. Margaery Tyrell, went up in flames along with her family in the Sept of Baelor in the final episode of the series. My jaw hit the floor when this happened; Margaery has been a fan favourite since her first appearance, and Natalie Dormer has been consistently excellent in her portrayal of her. I think fans had been so busy trying to figure out how she was planning to best the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) that they never thought she would be among the list of casualties by the end of the series. But that’s why I love Game of Thrones, and the books that it’s adapted from. It’s never afraid to kill off characters to serve the story, and while we might be sad to see those characters go, it’s usually for the best. It’s something other shows should learn from.

Satisfying deaths of villains

On the flip side, the series also featured some satisfying deaths where it’s villainous characters are concerned. Who could forget the death of Ramsay Bolton following the Battle of the Bastards? Way back in the beginning of Game of Thrones, if you asked any fan if they thought there could be a character worthy of more hate than Joffrey, they wouldn’t have believed it possible, as Jack Gleeson did such a great job playing the little tyrant. Then along came Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton. He tortured and mutilated Theon, raped Sansa, fed the woman he supposedly cared for to his dogs rather than give her proper burial, murdered his own father, murdered is mother-in-law and new-born brother; again by feeding them to his dogs, and then murdered Rickon Stark just for the hell of it. One of the most satisfying moments in the shows history came when Sansa got her revenge by feeding Ramsay to his starving dogs. Karma is a bitch, as the saying goes. Episode ten also saw Robb, Catelyn and Talisa Stark (and her unborn baby) finally avenged for their horrific murder at the Red Wedding, when Arya returned from Braavos, now a fully fledged assassin, and slit the throats of every Frey she could find. The scene showed just how far the character has come; she was a young defenceless child that witnessed the aftermath of the Red Wedding and could do nothing about it. Now she’s avenging her family by killing their murderers. While those were the most high-profile deaths, there were some others. The Waif (Faye Marsay) met a sticky end, again at the hands of Arya. While she was a low-level villain, she was strangely annoying and just plain strange the rest of the time (what’s with the T1000 run?), so it was great to see Arya finally best her. Maybe I’m weird though, but I think my most satisfying death came when that candle hit the wildfire and blew Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) to oblivion. He started out in the series being very much in the background, and then when he came back a few seasons later, he was just a brain washed sparrow follower. I was just hoping the mountain would appear and rip his head off every time he was on-screen. So when he finally became fuel for the wildfire, I practically cheered.

Potential love interests

Amongst all the physical and psychological warfare this season, we also got some hints towards potential love interests which came as nice little surprises. I’m saying it now…If Brienne and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) don’t get together after all that foreshadowing, we RIOT! Prior to them meeting when Brienne arrives at Castle Black, I don’t think anyone would have put them together. But when Tormund threw her that first look, it was like it couldn’t be unseen and the fan shipping of the pair began. It’ll be exciting to see where this one goes, even if Brienne is having none of it-for now!

Of course, they weren’t the only potential love interest to pop up. There was another, but it was much more subtle. When Yara Greyjoy appeals to Daenerys¬†for help in securing the Salt Throne from her murderous uncle Euron (Pilou Asb√¶k), the pair seem to show great respect for each other. But was that all it was? To me, it looked like there was some flirting mingled with that respect. By that point we had already learned that Yara likes women and Daenerys has at¬†least experimented in the past. She has also dumped Daario (Michiel Huisman) back in Meereen while she heads for Westeros, so maybe there is potential for a Yara/Daenerys romance. If it was to develop, they would certainly make a formidable duo.

R + L = J

What can I say? It finally happened. Jon Snow’s parents have been revealed and it has finally confirmed one of the oldest and biggest Game of Thrones theories of them all. It now means, that all this time, Jon has been the rightful heir to Iron Throne all along. The big questions are: When will he¬†find out who he really is? And how will Daenerys react when she finds out she’s not the last Targaryen? Season 7 can’t come quick enough. It was the biggest reveal of course in terms on lon standing theories, but not the only one. Benjen Stark was long rumoured to be alive, after not being seen since early in the first series, and the series confirmed he’s alive (or somewhere between alive and dead may be a better discription) when he encounters Bran and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) beyond the wall. Another theory also came to fruition in the form of Cersei and the Wildfire. It had been long speculated that Cersei would assume the role of the Mad Queen, and it appears that’s where it’s going. We also got a hint at another long-held thought among fans; is Tyrion really a Targaryen? Well the dragons didn’t kill him when he went to set them free from their chains, but what does that really mean?

Lyanna Mormont

How could I do a post on Season 6 and not mention this huge star of the future. Bella Ramsay played the part of Lyanna Mormont, the Head of House Mormont in the later episodes of the season. In a series that has featured weak children like Robin, who is detestable at best and lacks any sort of gumption, Lyanna Mormont was a breath of fresh air. Strong, stoic and fierce, and not afraid to give her fellow lords and ladies a dressing down, she definitely made an impression and I hope she appears in the next series in a bigger capacity. Bella Ramsey is only 12 years old and to be able to hold her own amongst the older actors is exceptional. ¬†She’s also been cast in a remake of The Worst Witch as Mildred Hubble, so she’s sure to be on TV for a while to come. Definitely one to watch.

 

So where do we go from here?

It’s been a great season, and it only makes the wait for season 7 all the harder. But we can at least speculate as to what may be coming our way next year. Here is a few thoughts I’ve had:

Cersei’s Prophesy¬†

Fans of the show will remember the opening episode of season 5, when we saw a flashback to a particular time in Cersei Lannister’s childhood. It saw her visiting Maggy the Frog, a fortune-teller who informs Cersei:

“Queen you shall be . . . until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”

When she asked if her and the king would have children, Maggy gave her an answer that referred to Robert’s bastard children and the 3 she would have with Jaime, and alludes to their deaths by referring to “their shrouds” :

“Oh, aye. Twenty for him, and three for you. Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds”

What fans of the show who have not read the books may not realise is that the show omitted part of the prophesy. Maggy goes on to say:

“And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”

As of the end of season 6, part of this prophesy has come true; Cersei’s children are all dead and she is indeed queen. But if the prophesy is destined to happen as Maggy says, another will come, more beautiful and strike Cersei down and take everything from her. The one more beautiful has long been speculated to mean a younger more beautiful queen, with many thinking it refers to either Margaery, Sansa or Daenerys. One of them does seem to be the most logical answer (although with Margaery now dead in the show, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s definitely not her). But what many people seem to forget is, the prophesy never mentions a queen, just one more beautiful. Could it be referring to somebody else in disguise? I have two theories as to who this could be referring to:

  1. Brienne: In the books (but not the show) Brienne is mocked by several characters who call her “Brienne the Beauty”, implying she is anything but. What if the prophesy is referring to her? After all, she has a relationship with Jaime that could be seen as more than platonic, and as we know the only other person after her children Cersei truly loves is Jaime. If Brienne and Jaime get together, it could full fill the prophesy in that the only dear thing left to Cersei is taken from her.
  2. Jon: Bare with me on this one. While beautiful is usually reserved for describing a female, in this instance it could refer to Jon, who has been referred to as pretty (another word from beautiful as we all know) more than once. Now that we know Jon is in fact the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen and therefore the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, could the prophesy be referring to him as the one who comes to take everything from Cersei by killing Jaime and taking her Queenship? 

My theories are probably wide of the mark, but it’s certainly worth thinking about. Either way, that’s only two sections of the prophesy covered. The third section as mentioned has been left out of the show, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come up down the line. It states that the “Valonqar” will kill Cersei by choking the life from her. In the books, Valonqar is a High Valyrian ¬†word meaning “little brother”. It has long been thought amongst fans that this is referring to Tyrion, what with the fraught relationship between him and Cersei playing out in both the books and on TV. Like above, perhaps it’s to easy to just assume it’s Tyrion. Here’s some other things to consider:

  1. Jaime and Cersei are twins, but it has also been stated that he is the younger of the two. By the end of season six, Cersei has destroyed part of King’s Landing with wildfire and assumed position as Queen. Jaime has long been referred to as “Kingslayer” after he murdered the man he was sworn to protect, the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. The reason he did this, and lost his honour as a knight in the process, is because Aerys had planned to detonate casks of wildfire below the city when Robert Baratheon invaded. Jaime killed him to protect King’s Landing. But now that Cersei has done the very thing that he gave up his honour for, it is bound to set in motion a change in the dynamic between the two. Maybe it will lead to him killing her with his prosthetic hand around her neck?
  2. What if “little brother” refers to just A¬†little brother, not necessarily one of Cersei’s own? What if it refers to Bran Stark? After all, Cersei is partly responsible for Bran losing his legs, so perhaps he will kill her out of revenge. If Sansa or Jon are the one the prophesy refers to that will take everything from her, maybe Bran is the “little brother” that will choke the life from her.
  3. Cersei is on Arya’s kill list. Arya is capable of taking other faces to disguise her identity. What if she takes Tyrion’s or Jamie’s face as a disguise in order to get close to Cersei and kills her then?

Of course, we could speculate all day but won’t know for sure until it all happens, but I’m exited to see how it goes down. Cersei is also a part of my next thought…

Will the Night’s King take a Queen?

According to legend, the Night’s King fell for a woman¬†“with skin as white as the moon and cold as ice and eyes like blue stars”. When they slept together, she took his soul. There is no mention of a Night’s Queen in the show, but perhaps that is because he hasn’t taken a queen yet. What if Cersei Lannister, becomes that queen following her death at the hands of the valonqar, and being raised up again by the Night’s King? It’s a bit out there, I admit, but you never know.

Will Bran be the cause of the Wall coming down? 

As we saw in series 6, when the Nights’ King touched Bran in his vision, he was then able to enter the Three-Eyed Raven’s (Max Von Sydow) tree cave. This power is known as Marking. If the Night’s King touches someone, he marks them so that he always knows where they are, and no boundary or magic can stop him from reaching that person. Bran and Meera are on their way back south beyond the wall. Once they pass through, does that mean the White Walkers will be able to follow, or even bring down the wall altogether?

Will Arya become Lady Stoneheart?

As we know, the reanimated spirit of Catelyn Stark, christened Lady Stoneheart, hasn’t appeared on the show, much to the disappointment of fans. But is that maybe because the show runners are planning to merge her story with Arya’s? As we know, Arya has her kill list and has begun to strike people off it, starting with the Frey’s. She’s pretty much Lady Stoneheart already. In the series finale, we saw Jon banish Melisandre to the south upon finding out she burned Shireen at the stake. In season 3, when Melisandre took Gendry away, she told Arya that she sensed a darkness in her and that they would meet again. Melisandre is also on Arya’s list. With Arya back in Westeros and Melisandre heading south, they are on a collision course to meet again. And as we know, the Hound and the Brotherhood without Banners lead by Beric Dondarrion are roaming about. What if something occurs that results in Arya’s death and either Melisandre or Beric Dondarrion resurrecting her?

 

Well guys, those are some of my thoughts on the series just gone and some speculation for the future. So I’ll just go back to patiently waiting for the next book to drop or the new series to come around. Do you have any theories floating around in your heads? If so, let me know in the comments. ūüôā

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