Welcome, friends, to our first Sunday without Game of Thrones, and can we first just say: WOW.
If the title of this post has done its job, then those reading are here for our collected thoughts on season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which ended with the LITERALLY EXPLOSIVE and amazing finale “The Winds of Winter” this past Sunday. If you haven’t finished watching yet, do not tread beyond this paragraph; thar be spoilers ahead. If you’re all caught up, then you know what that opening WOW was all about.
Now, we’re not here to talk about the finale. Events from it will come up a lot, of course, because it and its predecessor “Battle of the Bastards” were some of the greatest episodes to date. But we also want to touch on the season as a whole as well as hypothesize about what we’ll see in the 14 episodes that remain to us. (No, YOU’RE crying.) Basically, we have a lot of thoughts, and we want to lay them all on you!
Do you think you can handle it? For this post is long (very long) and full of ramblings.
Lady MWB: It feels right to refer to us as Lady and Lord MWB (as in Married with Bookshelves, dummies), so I’m doing that. Deal with it. Anyway, this lady is going to kick things off by saying that my lord husband and I both really enjoyed this season. Unfortunately, that’s an opinion we have to defend, which seems insane to me. But then again, a lot of people found Book Daenerys’s attempts to rule Meereen boring, and I loved it. So it seems to me that people are getting spoiled by fast-paced action and therefore becoming less and less capable of appreciating the low-paced action that precedes it. I mean, before you can throw a punch, you have to start raising your shoulder and ball up your first. As such, I consider the first eight episodes to be the wind-up and the final two episodes to be the major hit to the face. So all you naysayers can SUUUUUUCK IT.
Lord MWB: I agree! I mean, there were some definite questionable choices this season, but I think they were necessary evils in terms of consolidating the plotlines and positioning all the pieces for the endgame. I think by the time the final episode of the series rolls around, we’ll be saying much the same about the first six seasons. They’re the wind-up, and seven and eight will be the punch. I also just want to point out how shockingly close to the end of Dance with Dragons this season left us. Jon’s plot in the show seems to be what Stannis’s plot at the beginning of Winds of Winter will be; Dany only barely went beyond her book plot, and in a direction we all knew was coming anyway; Jaime is pretty much exactly where he is at the end of DwD—minus Lady Stoneheart (the North remembers, and SO DO I); and Arya finished her Faceless Men training and went back to Westeros, which is again something we all see coming for the books. Really, the only big change was Dorne and the Septsplosion, which I think will either not happen in the books or be wildly different—same with “Hold the door.” It’s clear to me that whatever worry we had about the show spoiling the books can be laid to rest because the books are going to be so different as for it to not matter. Also, the books are way better written, way better plotted, and just…better. Might as well be worried about Batman v Superman spoiling The Dark Knight Returns.
Anyway, GEEEEEEEEEEET DUNKED ON HATERS!
Lady MWB: He has such a way with words, doesn’t he? Anyway, for the main event, we’re gonna focus on one region at a time. Let’s take a trip around the world! FROM THE TOP!
The North/The Wall and Beyond
Lady MWB: Where to begin? It’s obvious: Jon Snow’s return. I came into this season fully prepared to believe that my beloved Kit Harington would only grace my screen as a corpse. I refused to believe it when people speculated that he would return because quote Jon’s inevitably going to matter to the end game end quote. To that, I said, we all consider Lady Stoneheart to be important to the books’ end game, and they just straight-up left her out of the show. I wasn’t about to get my hopes up. But then, they brought that beautiful naked bastard back to life at the end of the second episode. Say it with me, everyone: YAAAAAAASSSS. If only they’d let that little piece of modesty cloth fall to the floor in our line of sight . . . But I GUESS they made up for it by reuniting Jon with his “sister” Sansa two episodes later! Thank the old gods and the new! After so many long seasons with our Stark babies separated, a pair is finally together!
Lord MWB: I, for one, had no doubt that he was coming back. Not even accounting for the various set leaks and the fact that all year Kit was Lord Doth Protest Too Much, it would just make no sense for him to be dead forever. As for the reunion: MAN did it feel good. After a few near-misses between him and Bran, and Sansa and Arya, and Arya and the Red Wedding, it was awesome to finally see some Stark kids huggin’ it out. Even if they immediately started planting the seeds of discord between them. Bitch move, D&D. Let us just have a happy Stark reunion with no strings attached. We need it!
It was surprising how little Brienne and Jon interacted, especially since they’re descended from the two main characters/best bros from the Dunk and Egg prequel stories…buuuuut I guess that’ll come into play later since they didn’t reveal Jon’s parentage until the last episode. Of course, the real standout of Brienne’s journey to the Wall is her dealings with notorious bear fucker and holder of the title for Best Member: Tormund! But I’ll let m’lady get all frothy about that.
Lady MWB: BRIMUND TARTHBANE FOREVER! Is that the portmanteau of their names? I don’t spend a lot of time on GoT forums or whatever (because the Internet is terrible), so I can’t remember what we’re calling them. But yes. I love them forever. I’ve seen a lot of dumbness about how a Brienne/Tormund hookup would be bad for the show because Brienne “doesn’t need” a man to make her interesting. And I’m over here like “Who said she wasn’t interesting?” As someone invested in her happiness, and acknowledging the fact that she has a documented interest in men, I feel like she is owed this! As much as we should make sure women don’t tie their self-worth to what a man thinks of them, Brienne is never going to believe herself to be both beautiful and strong, and Tormund could help her see the light. They don’t have to get married, but if anyone deserves Brienne’s very obvious V-card, it’s Tormund effing Giantsbane.
Lord MWB: Hehehe yeeeeah. All that. But more importantly: Hodor. He’s dead. Super dead. And it was probably the hardest a death hit me since Sean Bean Sean Beaned in season 1. It was beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and just amazingly well done. Now, Bran’s story is the one I’ve been the most interested in since I finished the fifth book. I know a big part of the appeal of ASOIAF/GoT is that it’s a realistic and grounded fantasy that doesn’t rely on magic and stuff. But, at the same time, that makes the magic that does appear so much more interesting, and I like that Bran/the Three-Eyed Raven are the only characters that you could really call wizards. Sure, Pyat Pree and his blue-lipped cronies do magic, but I never got the impression that they were really good at it, and they definitely aren’t affecting things at the scale that the Three-Eyed Raven is. And poor old Bran went and used his new wizard powers to mentally cripple a sweet stable boy and eventually kill him. Way to present a meta-textual statement against feudalism and the cost of power, BRAN! You little shit. And then, after Hodor dies, you do the same ass thing with Benjen. Yeah you proooooobably didn’t cause Benjen to be made Coldhands, unless you did some crazy time-travel shit, but you still forced a dead man back to life to do nothing but fight for you and cart your broken ass legs around. So yeah, Bran, you suck. Of course, Benjen’s return is likely going to be much different in the books, and we know for a fact that Hold the Door will play out differently—D&D said as much in an Inside the Episode—so I look forward to seeing how differently awful you are there. But, no matter what, you’re awful. You stupid physical incarnation of “a wizard did it.”
Lady MWB: Now, on to a kid who doesn’t suck, although I feel like we can’t really blame Bran if it’s one of those “It is as it was meant to be,” which Bloodraven implied… Anyway. LYANNA MORMONT, ladies and gents. She is so amazing. It’s probably weird to describe her as precious since she’s legitimately a badass little 10-year-old, but I’m going to describe her as precious anyway. I want her to be my child. I want to show my kids her scenes and say “STRIVE TO BE THIS IN LIFE.” I do have one qualm with her, but it’s not her fault; it’s D&D’s fault, and I will get to it in a minute. Besides that, though, she is AMAZING, and I think she’s Arya’s spiritual twin. We need six of her . . . or . . . SIXTY-THREE?!
Lord MWB: I’m pretty sure she offered 62 Mormont soldiers. Maybe? Hell, I dunno. All I know is that if Lyanna had been leading the army during the Battle of the Bastards, Ramsay wouldn’t have had the chance to run to Winterfell ’cause she would have crushed him and his army like it ain’t no thang. But sadly, Jon was in charge, and Jon is literally the worst commander ever. Battle of the Bastards was a great episode with a horrible, harrowing battle scene and probably the closest the show has ever come to touching on the anti-war themes that is present in the book…but Jon is the worst, and he made things so much worse than they needed to be. A lot of people gave Sansa flak for not telling Jon about the Vale knights, but I don’t think it would have changed anything. Here’s what happened: Jon ran out into the middle of an active battlefield, thus allowing Ramsay to charge at him with his entire cavalry, which made Jon’s cavalry have to charge out early, which made his archers useless and therefore made them charge out into the battlefield, which allowed Ramsay to flank the shit out of Jon’s army and trap them in a literal wall of death. So, thanks Jon. Thanks for getting your entire army killed. Here’s a quick solution: give Wun-Wun a tree. Wun-Wun could use a tree to devastating effect against Ramsay’s army and easily break through the phalanx. But no. He had no weapon and could only punch. I loved watching Jon beat the shit out of Ramsey as much as the next guy, but I feel like the whole thing could have been avoided. So yeah, Sansa was probably smart for not telling him about the Vale knights because he would have just ruined that advantage. I loved the episode, really I did, and the KINGINDANORF really got to me, but Sansa was the winner of that battle.
Lady MWB: Bleh. King in da Norf. This is where my one qualm with Lyanna comes in, and again, I’m blaming D&D. I was really hoping that they were setting up Sansa to become Queen in da Norf; my lord husband can back me up on this as he thought/hoped for it too. What better opportunity for Sansa to show everyone that Wu-Stark Clan ain’t nothing to eff with than by taking control of the North? People give Sansa crap because they don’t see how much she’s grown, and the reason it’s hard to see is because she’s been tied to a man for literally the entire show. She was a hopelessly romantic girl engaged to Joffrey. Then she was Joffrey’s victim. Then she was Tyrion’s wife, which could’ve worked if other people hadn’t had their own agendas. Then she was Littlefinger’s pretend daughter/very real Lolita obsession. She started to show up mentally in the wake of Lysa’s murder, but her “I’m Sansa Stark; Lysa killed herself” scene was overshadowed by Oberyn’s death. We don’t get any of the mental agility we start to see in her in the books because D&D decide to turn around and make her a game piece instead of a player again by giving her the Jeyne Poole story and marrying her to Ramsay. Bleh. Sansa is so much smarter than people give her credit for, but she’s never given the chance to show it off. Crowning her Queen in the North would’ve been such a treat because finally she’d have power and actually be grown-up enough to know what to do with it. But no. We see Jon basically tell her “I don’t want to rule Winterfell; it’s yours,” and she’s like “Nah, you’re the oldest, and I consider you a true Stark.” They could’ve continued the conversation, but the next thing we get is Littlefinger being all Lolita-obsessed and planting the seeds of dissent in her head, and then precious Lyanna Mormont is like “I ONLY KNOW ONE KING, AND HIS NAME IS STARK.” And we just let Jon become King, despite the fact that he obviously doesn’t want to rule (he never has, really), and we get that brief look between Sansa and Littlefinger and ughhhhhhhh. I share this frustration as someone who hated Sansa in the beginning, too. She has really grown on me, and I really don’t want to see her and Jon fight over Winterfell in the next season. I can’t handle it. We just got part of the family back together; don’t screw it up, D&D.
Lord MWB: So, we’re all pretty much in agreement that Meereen is kind of boring. It is. Mostly because, in the books, the Meereen story is very subtle. It’s all about politics and Dany’s inability to cope with living in an entirely foreign culture that does not follow any of the ideals to which she has been raised to believe. It’s all internal monologue and cultural taboos. The show can’t do that, so it’s forced to focus on Dany failing at everything she tries and being stubborn when everyone is advising her on what to do. I was hoping that injecting Tyrion into the scene would add some much-needed interest to the story. It…didn’t. The way this season was set up just really gave him nothing to do. Everything had to be rushed so that he makes a peace with the slavers and then they immediately betray him. There’s no buildup—just Tyrion trying to make Grey Worm drink and telling awkward jokes so that Grey Worm can scowl at him later. Then, Dany immediately shows up to get him out of trouble so that the slavers’ betrayal doesn’t go anywhere. It felt like such a waste to have him leading Meereen ’cause he didn’t really have a chance to do any actual leading. The best part was in the finale when Dany named him Hand of the Queen. That scene was legitimately touching. Other than that, I’m glad to have Meereen behind us and can’t wait to see how epic Cersei’s stinkface is going to be when she sees Tyrion leading Dany to take back the throne.
Lady MWB: But speaking of Dany. As disjointed as all her scenes felt, she still did some pretty epic shit this season. After being fodder for some awkwardly hilarious Dothraki jokes, she’s like “Yaaaaahhhhh…. BURN DAT BITCH” and just takes over. I know some people are like “Okay, that doesn’t make any sense; you can’t just murder an entire society’s leaders and think that’ll be okay.” And they’re right. But also, who the eff cares? This show does a lot of things that don’t always make sense, and while it can be annoying, I still appreciate when it sets a powerful scene. And calling back to season 1 with her emerging as an unburnt boss bitch was POWERFUL (again, we’re ignoring that it doesn’t make any sense because how is she still fireproof unless she’s for some reason the first Targaryen with that power). The burning of that Dosh Khaleen temple really set the tone for this season, which was that ladies are taking the world into their hands. And now Dany finally has the Dothraki fighters (literally all of them) that she was expecting to use to take over Westeros. Then, after she just straight destroys the slavers/the Sons of the Harpy and their puny rebellion, she is visited by Theon and Yara Greyjoy, who are like “So . . . you want some ships?” I loved the banter between Dany and Yara. I’m not into the idea of them becoming a couple like a lot of people are, but if we get a “best friends with some occasional benefits” situation, I wouldn’t shake a stick at that. When we FINALLY see Dany and the gang on the ships toward Westeros . . . That series of shots was like the life-giving breath of God. Dany’s face as they’re sailing is everything. Everything we feel about her going home is a fraction of how she must have felt, and it showed. She kept it cool because she’s mothereffin KWEEN, but the excitement, determination, and finality of it all radiated off her. It’s time for her to go home, and I am so ready.
Lord MWB: Headin’ down south now to King’s Landing, we have simultaneously a lot and…not a lot to cover. Which seems to be the general feel of the season. As I said before, if you really think about it, the story didn’t move forward a lot. Seems D&D were stalling for the next book—which, yay for us book-readers—but the show story kind of suffered. For instance: Margaery. I really like Margaery, more so on the show than in the books even because Natalie Dormer is just amazing, but she didn’t have much to do this season. Her turn to the Faith was so obviously staged that I wouldn’t be surprised if the High Sparrow saw through it immediately and used it to his advantage. Whatever she was planning when she sent Olenna away was never brought up, if she even had a plan. Then, she convinced Tommen to turn to the Faith, which worked out about as well as anyone could have imagined. Then, she finally drops the facade and goes back to bein’ badass Margaery two seconds before getting blowed up. Good. Exactly how I wanted Margaery to go out. Thanks a bunch, Tommen; you were useless.
Lady MWB: Beyond useless. Was he even aware of how much he was being played when he followed Margaery into the Land of Religious Fervor? Was he just thinking about Lil’ Tommen when he dismissed his uncle-dad from his position as commander of the Kingsguard? Yeah. Can we talk about that for a second? The King’s Landing Lannisters just don’t care about customs anymore, do they? Joffrey, at the behest of Cersei, dismissed Barristan because he was “old” (but in reality because he was arguably one of Robert’s men); Tommen dismissed Jaime because he is too sinful in the face of this newfound monarch-led theocracy. If only they really knew. (Which, SERIOUSLY. What was the High Septon’s plan? How could he join with the Crown if half of Cersei’s trial was to determine whether or not she boned her brother, thus begetting incestuous offspring, one such being the very king who ostensibly gave him power?!?!) But hey, at least it got Jaime out of King’s Landing, semi-on track with his story plot, and away from Cersei.
Lord MWB: Ha! Quasi-on track at best. This whole damn season continued Jaime’s endless love and devotion to Lady Stinkface. I hate it so much. And I get that it’s because I’m a book reader, I do, and I tried to look beyond that, but I can’t. Jaime should have started breaking from Cersei three seasons ago, but, just like Balon, the show swept it under the rug. I did like the payoff though. That look he gives Cersei after he returns to King’s Landing and finds that she’s killed a bunch of people with wildfire was wonderful and, in the context of the show, very satisfying. Buuuuut… I don’t know if show-only folks would feel the same. I felt vindicated because, in the books, Cersei is completely unhinged and doesn’t care about Jaime beyond the fact that he’s basically her, and her love for her children is filtered heavily through that same lens. Cersei loves herself and things that remind her of herself. Show Cersei, though, isn’t crazy. I’ve seen countless people online championing her as an anti-hero or, worse, an actual hero which she isn’t supposed to be. She’s set up in the books to be one of the final bosses, a powder keg who isn’t going down without taking countless innocents with her. Show Cersei sneers a lot and makes a few snide comments. She hasn’t been set up right, so now the show is going to have to swing her way into Crazy Town in the last two seasons to justify her inevitable death (probably at Jaime’s hands). Her story, like just about everyone else’s this season, will have to be incredibly rushed in order to make her the villain she’s supposed to be. And no matter what, it won’t be as good because Book Cersei, though batshit insane, is also compelling. Her insanity grows throughout every book; every slight, every attack real or imagined, every insult stokes the fire inside of her brain until it all explodes inside of her. She burns the Tower of the Hand with wildfire, relishing the flames in a way that reminds Jaime of the Mad King, and that’s what starts his break from her. Then, he’s sent away to the Riverlands not as a show of force, like in the show, but literally so that Cersei doesn’t have to look at him anymore, and all the seeds of doubt sewn by Tyrion start to bloom in Jaime’s brain, and he rejects her. It’s an amazing web of betrayal and insecurity that makes both of their stories better. In the show, it’s just… she blows some folks up, and Jaime maybe doesn’t like that. There’s no way the show can bring it back to what it’s supposed to be.
At least the zombie Mountain was cool. Not much to say about him other than he was imposing and scary. That poor Septa. I don’t think he was raping her, like I hear a lot of people saying—there’s literally no evidence to support that—but whatever he’s doing, we can be certain it’s awful.
Lady MWB: It COULD be rape. You don’t need a functioning penis for that. But whatever; that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m finishing off our King’s Landing musings by circling back to Tommen and the fact that, even though he kind of sucked, his life sucked way, way worse. Was there any point in his life when he wasn’t being horribly manipulated by people who were supposed to love him? I guess as a baby, right? And he and Myrcella were tight, but then she got shipped off to Dorne (and murdered…), and he was left alone with a brother who, at the very least, skinned his pet cats—and may or may not have physically abused him—and a mother who was preoccupied with said crazy brother and almost poisoned Tommen when she thought they had lost the Battle of the Blackwater in season 2. Then, when he is crowned King, he becomes the rope in an epic tug-of-war between his grandfather, his mother, and his new fiance/queen/bedroom friend. Is there any point when Tommen is allowed to figure out who he is as a person without someone’s hand up his ass, puppeteering his every move? Is there ever a time when he’s not just hearing someone else’s voice in his head as he tries to make a kingly decision? So, it was not a surprise when, in the face of his mother murdering his wife and great-uncle and the High Septon and a whole bunch of other randos, he just says “I’m done” and commits suicide. I didn’t see it coming until I saw it coming, but I saw the sense of it in the end. We all knew Tommen wasn’t going to make it out of this show (this season) alive. He was too soft in a world full of hardened, power-hungry manipulators. He had to go.
So. With no children left to temper her insanity, we are now in the reign of the Mad Queen, and I’m terrified. I’ve seen a lot of people applauding Cersei for just tossing up a middle finger and obliterating her opposition, and I’m wondering if we’re watching the same show. How can you applaud her? She gives absolutely no thought to the consequences of her actions. If Littlefinger and Varys are always several steps ahead of the game through their machinations, Cersei is either just blindly walking through a minefield or so intent on where she’s placing her feet that she can’t even see where anyone else is in relation to her. She is rash, cruel, and jealous, and instead of truly celebrating her womanhood and forcing people to acknowledge her worth, she is petty and childish and complains because she wasn’t born the male twin. Ugh. I can’t with her. So I won’t celebrate her getting rid of her enemies because she obviously gave no thought to what would come of it. She didn’t anticipate how this would impact her only remaining child, even though she knew that he was torn up over her and Margaery’s bad blood. No, Cersei thought only of herself, even though she sent Franken-Mount to keep Tommen from meeting a wildfire-y end, so I blame her for his death. She was never a great mother, despite the fact that being a mom was her only redeeming quality, and now that that’s gone, she is a wildcard (made of wildfire) who is absolutely going to bring King’s Landing all the way to the ground. Her coronation was chilling, and my lord husband had the right of it when he brought up how Show Jaime is now hopefully going to get a taste of Book Jaime’s life as he realizes Cersei’s growing obsession with wildfire. After all, it was the very reason why he murdered the Mad King. It’s clear that he’s going to be faced with the same dilemma he met all those years ago, only it will be even greater now because the wildfire-lusty ruler is not only his own blood but his lover, the mother of his dead children, the person with whom he entered this world. Let’s hope he does the right thing again.
The Iron Islands
Lord MWB: All right, so it’s no secret that the Ironborn are my least favorite part of both the books and the show. I just find them incredibly uninteresting, probably because I’ve never cared about pirates. I get it: they’re awful people who do awful things and believe this makes them better than everyone else because they’re “harder.” You know who else thinks like that? Donald Trump, and nobody likes him. #relevantjoke like/comment/subscribe. I just don’t like the Ironborn; least of all Euron. Now, my feelings on Euron have changed due to a recently released sample chapter from Winds of Winter that was incredibly horrifying, but that has no bearing here because this season we only saw stage 1 Euron…and a poor representation of it. See, in the books, Euron has swagger. Think Jack Sparrow but gleefully insane, high on wizard juice, and instilled with a firm belief that he is God. In the show, we have a cool introduction where he chucks Balon off a bridge after declaring himself the Drowned God…but then nothing. I can’t say much for him because he didn’t do much of anything. Except apparently think that he can build 1,000 ships fast enough to catch Theon and Yara. That ain’t how ship building works, man; sorry. The actor was fine, and he at least brought a crazy glint in his eye to the role, but other than that, he just seemed like a normal dude who looks amazingly like Theon’s actor. He hasn’t done anything impressive, certainly not impressive enough to win the kingsmoot after LITERALLY CONFESSING TO KILLING THE KING. Seriously. Nobody comments on it. He just straight up says “Yeah, I killed Balon. What of it?” and nobody cares. Whatever. I can’t say much more because fuck the Ironborn. At least Theon’s getting better…kind of.
Lady MWB: I second my lord on the complete lack of interest that the Ironborn hold, but I did find the kingsmoot mildly interesting, which makes it the best Ironborn scene I’ve ever witnessed. Of course it was better in the books—most things about this show are, and if you’re not a book reader, you just have to accept that you’re getting a lesser version of the story—but I still found myself kind of enjoying it here. It was super weird that they implied that the kingsmoot was how the Ironborn ALWAYS pick their rulers, 1) because in the books the last one was like over four thousand years ago and 2) because if this WAS how it always happened in the show universe, why did Balon raise Yara to believe that she would succeed him if she was going to have to go through an election? I guess he may have just assumed that no one would think to oppose her, but damn, dude. Know your own culture. And yeah, Euron just admitting he killed Balon and no one reacting? Super weird. Even so, I did like that, at least in the show, no one took serious issue with Yara being queen. If Euron hadn’t been there to do whatever it was that convinced them, she would have won hands down. But whatever. The show needed someone who would attempt to steal Dany away from Euron (who is so arrogant that he thinks Dany is just waiting for him, this man she’s never met or heard of), and since Victarion doesn’t exist in the show, it may as well be Yara and Theon. So Euron had to win the kingsmoot just to set the next part of the story in motion. The Ironborn remain totally annoying and uninteresting—and I’m sure we’ll get some drama in the future over Dany’s whole “You guys don’t get to rape/pillage/etc. anymore”—but you have to admit that whoever is riding with the Mother of Dragons is the coolest Iron Islander to ever live. So congrats on that, Yara and Theon. Try not to screw it up.
Lord MWB: Yes, definitely the coolest. Unless Show Dany decides that Euron’s supposedly huge member is better than all of Yara and Theon’s ships. She has shown staggeringly bad taste in men before.
Lord MWB: Now, coming back for a bit to Jaime’s delayed book story, we have his journey to Riverrun to end the siege against Brynden Tully. In the books, he brings with him Ilyn Payne so that they can spar and Ilyn won’t be able to tell anyone that Jaime sucks at fighting now. They make a few stops on the way and run into Lancel Lannister at Darry. Lancel in the books has also turned to the Faith, but not in the way he does in the show. He’s not a simmering zealot, ready to throw down at the drop of hat, but a broken penitent who just wants to be left alone. And it’s here that Jaime learns that Cersei fucked Lancel, and his break from her truly begins in earnest. We’ve mentioned this before, but in the books, Tyrion leaving King’s Landing is much different. He and Jaime have a fight, Tyrion tells Jaime that Cersei’s been fucking other people and doesn’t really love him the way he loves her, and it starts to grate on Jaime’s mind. He wants to believe that Tyrion was lying, but as Cersei’s mental state degrades, and she starts favoring him less and less, he can’t let Tyrion’s words go. When he meets Lancel in Darry and finds out that Tyrion wasn’t lying, he decides to stop caring so much about Cersei, which is more or less what informs his decision to end the siege without killing anyone. In the show, he jokes around with Bronn for a bit, threatens Edmure Tully, and then the siege ends. Sure, the very basic story outline is still there, but all of the nuance is missing. At least Bronn is always funny. Seriously, the only part of the whole Riverlands arc that I cared about was Bronn and only because he made me laugh. I actually love what the show has done with Bronn, keeping him connected to Tyrion through his relationship with Jaime, and I can’t help but believe that will be used later when Tyrion arrives back in Westeros. But that’s all that can be said for this entire story. Bronn was funny, and some other stuff happened. The End.
Lady MWB: Except not the end because you have failed to mention the other great friendship that was a part of the Riverlands arc. Jaime and Brienne! Their reunion was the most bitter sweetness because now they are firmly on opposite sides, as opposed to the semi-ambiguity of their travels together in the previous seasons, but I was still happy to see them come back together and rejoice in the fact that their promise to Catelyn Stark has been mostly fulfilled. But that promise was also the strongest connection they had to each other. Now that it’s gone, they have no higher purpose to shield them from the truth of their lives: they must play enemies. And considering the whole “Fake it till you make it” philosophy that exists, is it possible that having to play enemies will make them true enemies once again? The wave they shared as Brienne and Pod began making their way back to the North (are they going to run into Gendry?!) said so much about the care they truly have for each other, it was heartbreaking to watch and heartbreaking to think that the next time they see each other, it may be in battle. Because of my Brimund ship, I can’t get behind the idea of a coupling between Jaime and Brienne, but I do want them to survive the end of this series so that they can become besties who are next-door neighbors or something.
Lord MWB: Oh, sweet summer child. At least one of them is dying before the end of the series.
Now, no talk about the Riverlands can be complete without touching on the Hound and that scene. The Hound made his glorious return in a, once more, heavily truncated adaptation of his book story. Er… maybe not truncated since he’s only implied to be alive in the books whereas here he’s shown and does stuff. I liked the peace group he was in, and it sucked to see them die, but it was nice to see the Hound go on a classic Hound-style rampage against the Brotherhood…even if he killed those guys based on the idea that the Brotherhood were all killers and not about to execute the killers themselves. Ah well; he had some funny dialogue with Beric Dondarrion, Ser Still-Alive himself, and wound up joining the Brotherhood. Which I actually really like. The Hound has spent so long without a purpose, it was good to see him get one and feel worthwhile. I love the damn Hound, and I look forward to him meeting up with his Little Bird Sansa again. What can I say? I’m a SanSan fan!
And speaking of incoming reunions, Arya makes her return to Westeros and dishes out some hardcore justice against her family’s dankest foe, Walder Frey! Now, in the books, Arya’s turn to murder isn’t presented quite so triumphantly; we are made to think about how horrible it is for a little girl to be doing this. But, even in the books, we DO feel vindicated when she crosses names off her list. The show, I think, isn’t focusing on this so much, despite having her cook humans into a pie. It’s dark shit, and similar to how I felt about Sansa feeding Ramsay to his dogs, I am horrified that these poor children have been forced to turn into remorseless killers…but goddamn did it feel good to see her kill that dirty old bitch! Now, we just need her and Sansa to hug it out. Even though that scene was amazing and triumphant…not everything was all sunshine and good writing for Arya this season.
Lady MWB: Before Arya could triumphantly return to her country of origin, before she could declare herself once and for all Arya Stark of Winterfell, she had to come to the firm realization that a life as No One just wasn’t in the cards for her. It’s kind of a weird lesson to learn for the viewers because why did we just spend two seasons in Braavos, but whatever. Part of this lesson was taught to her by the Waif, which I will let Lord MWB dissect, but truly the biggest part was Arya interacting with Lady Crane. Much like Dany, Arya suffered from a lot of disjointed scenes at the beginning of the season, but every time she was around Lady Crane, her arc stirred with a sudden cohesion by way of emotion. It was clear that, after thoroughly enjoying Stage Joffrey’s death a few times, Arya gravitated toward the actress playing Stage Cersei. Because it is important in a lot of instances for the Faceless Men to know their marks, it was very likely that Arya would have to speak with Lady Crane. But I think we were all a little surprised at how real their conversation felt. For the first time in a long time, Arya had a true exchange with someone, and it made it impossible for her to kill this woman for what she deemed to be no real reason at all. Of course, Arya’s never been one to murder someone for no reason. I think the only person she’s killed outside of her Revenge List or without good reason was the random guy after the Red Wedding, if I’m not mistaken. But we can chalk that up to murdered family rampage. She almost came through on her first Faceless test with that “insurance” guy or whatever he was, but Meryn Trant became a thing to show us viewers that, as much as Arya wants to be Faceless, she wants to cross every name off her list even more. Because we don’t have the benefit of seeing what a character is thinking in the show, as we do in the books, we don’t get to see how Arya processes the events that happen once she is blinded at the end of season five. All we know is that she eventually gets her sight back, and her redemption assignment turns into confirmation that she is still Arya of Winterfell, not a killer without conscience. This is disappointing because I’m sure that inner dialogue would’ve been worth knowing, but I’m glad her lackluster time in Braavos came to a close regardless. I had really hoped that we’d get to see Arya leave with Lady Crane and the rest of the mummers because they would’ve inevitably gone to Westeros, and she could have learned some additional lessons about becoming someone else convincingly, but no. It gets ruined by T-1000…
Lord MWB: I don’t get the Waif. I just don’t. She obviously hates Arya for reasons that are never made clear, and she’s the only other Faceless Man we ever interact with. What’s her deal? In the books, she’s just a stunted woman who may or may not be a Child of the Forest, and she has no ill feelings toward Arya. Where did D&D get this take on her? Why does she hate Arya? How did she not kill Arya by stabbing her directly in the gut? The chase scene was fun, sure, and I liked how Arya led her into a trap where she used all her Daredevil skills to kill her, but their rivalry and fight to the death just made no sense. I really just don’t have much to say about this other than I think it should have happened much earlier. Like, episode 2 or 3. The only thing that made all of this worthwhile was that awesome play we saw. Other than that, I think Arya should have saved Lady Crane in episode 2 and had her showdown with the Waif the episode after. Her weird jaunt around Braavos and ambush by the Waif should have led directly into the chase scene and the trap she set. Then, Arya could have been absent from the show until the last episode when she shows up to kill Walder. I think it would have been better that way; in fact, they could have cut to black and then have Arya missing for over half the season so that her return at the end would have so much more impact. That’s all I have to say, Braavos made me sad this season.
Lady MWB: I like my Arya traveling with the mummer troupe idea, but this one works too. And either of them works better than the worst part of any GoT season ever . . .
Lady MWB: Bleh. We were hoping that the silence from this part of the world after the hope-shattering deaths of Doran and Areo Hotah meant that we were finally done with the disappointing shitshow that was the Dorne arc. But no. The finale brought us back. With absolutely no idea of what’s been happening since the Martell throne was usurped by a bunch of female bastards (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just something that makes no sense when compared to Dorne of the books), we are just thrown back in. It’s so frustrating! I was so excited to meet the Sand Snakes in the show because while they didn’t do much in the books other than follow the command of Arianne Martell, Doran’s daughter, her absence from the show implied that they were going to take over her role and be on the receiving end of an awesome Fire and Blood speech given by Doran. But no. Because instead of Ellaria Sand attempting to be the voice of reason in her grief, she becomes vengeful and power-hungry, and all the speeches we hear are feeble and kind of bland. I do appreciate how attached the Sand Snakes are to Oberyn—it is mostly love for the father they lost that makes them go through with all this—but they seemed to just be repeating his mistake of brash, flamboyant revenge. It didn’t work out for him in the end, and it’s upsetting to me that they’re kind of being rewarded for it. Would Oberyn REALLY have wanted his brother to die in his honor? I highly doubt it.
Lord MWB: UUUUUUUGHH!! No. Just no. No to all of Dorne. It has the dubious distinction of being a major disappointment not only for book fans but also show fans. Nobody likes the Dorne arc, and they shouldn’t. Everything is bland. Everything is rushed. Nothing makes any sense. It was nice to have Olenna there so that she could say what everyone was thinking and tell all the Sand Snakes to shut the fuck up. You saw Dornish ships in Dany’s fleet at the end of the episode, along with some Tyrell ships, so there’s hope that next season they’ll be able to leech off the awesomeness of other characters and not suck so much. But nothing will make up for the complete failure of the Dorne storyline so far. And for anyone saying that Varys made it to Dorne and back too quickly…just shut up. Seriously. D&D have explained several times that lots of time—up to several months—can pass between episodes because otherwise we’d just see hours of people traveling. So yeah. Dorne. It sucked.
Lord MWB: We finally met Sam’s dad, and he was a scary douchebag just like he was supposed to be. And Sam stole his sword. I loved it. Of all the little triumphs the show has given us over the years, Sam saying “He can bloody well try” was one of my favorites. Also, Sam’s mom is adorable. I’m very interested in seeing the fallout in the next few seasons and how exactly his dad is going to try and get that sword back. Hopefully, Randall Tarly realizes soon that the White Walkers are a legitimate threat and that Heartsbane has better uses than sitting above a hearth. Also, what the hell is Sam gon’ do with Gilly now since the maesters are a no-girls allowed club? She can’t just stand outside the library till the White Walkers show up.
Lady MWB: It’s a great library, though, huh? I like how all of us in the GoT community had the same thought when Sam looks around that room, which is that he became Belle from Beauty and the Beast. That look of joy is one that all book nerds can recognize, and seeing it on Sam after the crapstorm that was being in his father’s presence was such a treat. Yeah, Gilly can’t just hang around the Citadel, but what do we really know of Oldtown? Would it be safe for her there on her own, waiting around until Sam can take some time from his chain-forging studies to see her and Little Sam? I don’t know. But I’m glad that Sam was at least admitted into the Citadel. Those 30 seconds where it seemed like the welcome desk attendant/maester wasn’t going to let him in was kind of nerve-wracking. After all that has happened, Sam was going to be denied the one thing he had wanted in his life: to become a maester?! But no. He gets a temporary happy ending, and that makes me temporarily happy. You might say, “Well, what bad thing could happen to Sam?” And I say to you, “Do you remember what show we’re talking about?”
Conclusion (for now)
Lady MWB: Wow. That was a lot of words, am I right? I hope you guys had fun reading all the crazy things we had to say, and if you don’t leave this post feeling like you’ve learned something, I hope that at the very least you’re entertained. I know that we missed a few things (like really getting into Jon’s lineage reveal, Jorah’s greyscale quest, Davos and Melisandre), and I know that we promised speculation that ended up not happening, but don’t fret. We just ran out of steam. All of that will be addressed in a follow-up post. In the meantime, feel free to sound off in the comments about all the missing material, or anything else that tickles your fancy, and we’ll be happy to argue with you about it! Unless you want to praise us and our genius, in which case, we can’t argue against the truth.
As I said before, I enjoyed this season, despite its flaws (as I enjoy all the seasons despite their flaws), and I look forward to the 1-2 punch that will be the final two seasons in this fantasy juggernaut. (If only we had Winds of Winter to soothe us . . . )
Lord MWB: Seriously guys, if you managed to make it this far, thanks for reading just over 8000 words about a show that you already watched and have probably talked about for hours. That’s what I love about GoT. Even when people don’t like it, they still won’t shut up about it. It’s great! I liked this season a lot more than season 5, even if not a lot happened. Like we said in the beginning, it felt like the first 8 episodes were just set up for the final two, and I’m thinking that after we see the final two seasons, we’ll feel much the same about the rest of the show. The first six seasons were the build up, and the final two are going to be insanity. Particularly because the final two seasons are going to be shorter, which means less time for nonsense getting in the way of plot. So, join us next time when we try to guess what’s going to happen next! I have ideas. So many ideas!
May your TBR piles tower but never topple,
Lord and Lady MWB