A few months ago, I was filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Up until Game of Thrones season six, I, and many other book readers, went into the previous seasons with eager not only to see George R.R. Martin’s words brought to life, but revel in the shock and horror of those who exclusively watch the show. Sure, the show has diverged in many ways even before this most recent season, but most of the big scenes and deaths were preserved. Then 2016 came and there was no book to grab onto, nothing to prepare us ahead of time, and so we were forced into the same position of unknowing dread as everyone else. Now I sit here nearly three months later still thinking about what a hell of a season it was. I’ve listed here my top moments from the latter half of season six (episodes 6-10). If you missed my list for the first half (episodes 1-5) you can read that one here.
SPOILERS N’ SHIT
There Must Always Be a Stark In Winterfell
Television title sequences usually range from some cool visual effects to being a simple formality. For many people it can get annoying when you’ve been waiting a week to find out what happens next or if you’ve binge watching and Netflix doesn’t automatically skip ahead of it. But I’ve always loved the titles for Game of Thrones not just for its visuals, but because it serves as a geographical guide for where the episode will take us and gives a refresher for people who may not remember what is where. But the titles for the season finale gave us a small reason to cheer when we see the Stark direwolf sigil restored to Winterfell for the first time since season 2 (it was depicted as burning in 3 and replaced by the Bolton’s in 4).
Coldhands/Benjin Stark Finally Appears
For the sake of streamlining, more than a few characters and side plots have been cut from the show. For a while, many thought one of those cut characters was a mysterious rider in black known as Coldhands, who rescues Bran and his companions and leads them to the Three-Eyed Raven. Instead of appearing in season four, Coldhands not only made his debut, but revealed his identity to be Benjin Stark, thus confirming one of many theories from the books.
The Top Six:
Samwell Finds Paradise
After sticking it to Lord Tarly by taking his ancestral sword, we find Samwell, Gilly, and Little Sam headed to the Citadel. And after learning the maesters view women and children in a light only slightly more positive than the Republican Party, Samwell gets to have one of the few genuinely happy, wondrous moments in the whole series when he steps into the library. It’s a small moment and quiet compared to the more, um, explosive moments in the finale, but the simple joy on Samwell’s face provides a thankful break from the usual gloom.
Arya’s Titus Andronicus Style Revenge
Arya’s storyline this season was rife with mystery and speculation, and when the many fan theories ended up amounting to little, some were a bit unsatisfied. But the show made up for it when she paid a visit to one Walder Frey in a moment most genuinely didn’t see coming. More shocking than Lord Frey’s demise was Arya offering him up some pie containing his sons and topped with a toe. It’s a stomach turning moment, but there’s still reason to celebrate after Arya gives Lord Frey a red smile to match the one he gave her mother.
The Return of the Hound
This season was rife with returns and reveals that book readers have been waiting for years to see. A big one was the cold open revealing that Sandor Clegane a.k.a. The Hound, last seen in not so great shape in season four, is alive, well, and a changed man. Of course, that lasts about as long as a baby around Ramsay Bolton, and by the end of the episode Sandor is out for blood once again. Good to have you back Sandor, even if Cleganebowl seems like a distant hope.
It’s a Dog Eat Dog World For Ramsay Bolton
The death of Joffrey “Shitty Little Bastard” Baratheon was one of the most celebrated deaths on television. After all, he spent three full seasons making the audience strangle their couch cushions in rage before he got what was coming to him. But the joy was short-lived when fans realized that Ramsay Snow (later Bolton) was actually worse somehow. This guy single-handedly delivered some of the most despicable acts in Westeros, ranging from Theon’s overlong torture to raping Sansa to killing Rickon and Wun Wun the giant at the battle for Winterfell. So what could be better than seeing Jon Snow beat the living shit out of Ramsay’s face? Easy: Sansa feeding Ramsay to his own starving dogs. It’s almost like poetry, only full of more snarling and biting. Also, give it up for Iwan Rheon for being excellent at making you hate him.
Cersei Lannister, First of Her Name
Unlike other moments on this list, Cersei being crowned queen is less of a triumphant moment and more of a “Oh, shit” moment. Everyone knew she had something up her sleeve to deal with her trial with the High Sparrow and the Tyrells, but even those of us who predicted her plot were shocked at the sudden death of the Sparrows, the Tyrells, and destruction of the Sept of Balor. Worse still, her only surviving son died as well, by his own hand no less, so there’s nothing left to ground Cersei as she ascends the throne. It was a moment long coming and she’s as dangerous now as she ever was. So keep replaying Ramsay’s death scene all you want, but remember that one of the most powerful and dangerous characters in the Seven Kingdoms just got stronger. We’re not out of the woods yet.
L+R=J: A Theory Brought To Life
The only thing as enjoyable as actually watching Game of Thrones or reading the books is discussing theories with other fans. Sure, some of them are ridiculous (like the idea that Tyrion is the son of Dany and Drogo) but others hold enough water than fans still cling to them. But no theory is as universally accepted as canon as Jon Snow being the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The key scene that supports this theory, the Tower of Joy, was in the first book of the series, but wasn’t depicted in the show until this season. And while the scene doesn’t explicitly state the name of the baby or the father in question, it’s still the most conformation we’ve gotten for this long-standing theory. Plus, it immediately cuts from the baby to Jon Snow. I mean, come on.