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The Good, The Bad, and The Dead: Game of Thrones, Season 6 Review

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Spoilers
(For a No Spoiler review of Season 6,
see Winter is Coming:
Game of Thrones 1-6)

I’m a huge fan or HBO’s Game of Thrones, created and (mostly) written by DB Weiss and David Benioff, and based on George RR Martin’s bestselling series A Song of Ice and Fire. When my guy and I originally attempted to watch the show in its premiere season, the fantasy element — along with all those characters — put us off. Though I eventually read all five books, I was still confused about all the characters, especially when the books kept introducing new, minor characters. In fact, I didn’t watch the show until it was announced that the magnificent Ian McShane would be in season 6 of the award-winning show.

Those of you who’ve read my Deadwood and Favorite Villains blogs know how much I adore and respect Ian McS, and I admit that it was only to watch his performance in Game of Thrones 6 — as whatever character he would play — that I looked up all the previous seasons of the show. I don’t regret it: I loved them. Despite not being a fan of the story’s fantasy elements — books or television series — I thought virtually everything else about the show was an improvement on the massive books, if only because the show provided actors’ faces to help me keep the vast number of characters straight.

I watched all 50 episodes of the first 5 seasons in about 10 days, just to be ready for the season 6 premiere. Though I knew Martin hadn’t’t finished the 6th book in the series — The Winds of Winter I’d read that show-runners Benioff and Weiss had been given a detailed outline of the events from the author himself. Since the show writers had done such a good job culling the story from the first five books, I assumed they’d be successful with the outline of the sixth.

Unfortunately, the freedom provided by an outline-only, no matter how detailed, hurt the show in its 6th season. While much of the season was powerful, moving, and unexpected, some of season 6 was the worst the series has had to offer, including becoming predictable and dragging. Some of the episodes were just downright bad, and it seems to have been a case of the writers not having been able to translate the outline into good drama. There were good and bad things in season 6, and there were, as usual, plenty of dead. Let’s start with the good, because when Game of Thrones 6 was good, it was very, very good.

THE GOOD

There was lots of The Good in season 6, from Kick-Ass women to Bran’s visions. These things were what kept the fans coming back for more because when Game of Thrones 6 was good, it was very, very good.

Kick-Ass Women

From Cersei (Lena Headey) to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), from Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) to 10-year-old Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and Lady Olenna Tyrrell (Diana Rigg, above), the women of Game of Thrones are some of the most seriously bad-ass female characters ever created (and it’s understood that the actors playing the roles contribute significantly to the characters’ development and success).

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) is one of my favorite women in the show, and not just because she’s succeeding in an arena primarily dominated by males. She doesn’t need a man to define her, though she initially needed a man to follow, serve, and revenge (King Renly), and then needed a man to escort and later defend (Jaime Lannister). Brienne came into her own indomitable self once she swore loyalty to Lady Catelyn Star and promised to find and protect the daughters of House Stark: Sansa and Arya. Though Brienne never found Arya, who is at the House of Black and White, learning to become one of the Faceless Men, Brienne did find Sansa. That’s when Brienne shone. Loyal, stalwart, and brave, she earned characters’ and viewers’ respect as she executed King Stannis for murdering his brother Renly; pledged to combat Jaime Lannister, despite caring about him, should they meet in battle; and rescued and defended Sansa once she had escaped Ramsay Bolton. As far as I’m concerned, Brienne is one of the best things about Game of Thrones, and I adore her.

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) may be one of the characters that plenty of fans despise, but I think she’s wonderful, and in season 6, after her humiliating (nude) Walk of Atonement at the end of the fifth season, she re-examined her life and found some things wanting. Always fiercely devoted to her children, she set about protecting the only one remaining to her — King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) — whether she was keeping him safe from The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) or from his own wife Queen Margery (Natalie Dormer). Cersei told Septa Una, who’d taunted Cersei during her imprisonment, that Cersei’s face “would be the last thing” the Septa ever saw. Cersei has always been a woman of her word, and with help from her devoted returned-from-the-dead-warrior The Mountain, Cersei took revenge on the Septa.

In season 6, Cersei recalled some prophecies that a Witch had made when Cersei was a child, relayed them to the love of her life — her twin brother Jaime — and eventually took revenge against the High Sparrow and Margery by locking them in the Sept and blowing it up with Wildfire. Though her relationship with Jaime has developed this season into something far beyond the sexual-incestuous one which began in season 1, Cersei neglected to inform him of her plans to take the Iron Throne herself, and I don’t think it was just because he was off fighting a War against the Starks in the form of Blackfish. Cersei is a woman of her word, and she has always intended to be Queen, though she allowed her children to take the Throne for a while and attempted to rule as the Queen Mother (or Queen Dowager).

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) has been one of the biggest damsels in distress ever created in literature. From season one, where she wanted nothing more than to marry and become a Queen, despite the fact that the King was the sadistic and nasty Joffrey, eldest son of Cersei and Jaime, to later seasons when Sansa kept depending on males to save her, Sansa has been one annoying little girl. And not even a fierce little girl like Lyanna Mormont. No, Sansa’s been a weepy, whiny little girl.

Season 6 saw her rapidly mature, however, especially after Littlefinger arranged her marriage to the brutish torturer Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) who raped her on their wedding night. She not only escaped Winterfell, where she was being held captive, albeit she escaped with Theon’s help (Alfie Allen), but she made it to the Wall to join her brother Jon (Kit Harrington) and became a stout ally in the battle for their home, although no one realized it until late in the “Battle of the Bastards.” I’m guessing that women, and rape victims, around the world cheered collectively when Sansa took revenge on Ramsay, letting his own starving dogs eat his face (and everything else, I suppose), then walked away with a slight, satisfied smile on her face.

Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) was the 10-year-old Lady of Bear Island, and though she only had about 3 scenes in the entire season, that didn’t stop her from becoming a fan favorite and lighting up the Internet. From her initial encounter with Jon, Sansa, and Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham), who wanted her to supply men for their army to fight Ramsay Bolton — she offered a grand total of 62 (and Bella revealed that she cracked up laughing every time she offered them only 62 men, and had to work hard to stop giggling) — to her infamous fan-favorite Death Stare on the battlefield just before the epic Battle of the Bastards, 12-year-old Bella rocked the viewers’ world with her confidence and memorable performance.

Fans said she should be the one to sit on the Iron Throne, and after reading this confident young lady’s interviews about her role, I’d have to agree. She was magnificent. She was the show’s newest Bad Ass, for real, and I’m delighted that she’s a woman. Apparently, she stunned her fellow actors and the episodes’ directors as well, since they thought they’d have to “coax the young actor through her scenes.” Instead, she startled them with her professionalism, leading them to compliment her on everything from the Doc Martens she was wearing with her gown, to the Death Stare that she had to force on her face since she found Iwan, who played the villainous Ramsay, so delightful and fun to work with.

Lady Bella was outstanding as Lady Mormont, no doubt about it. She inspired delightful memes all over social media, like Bitches, please from @LordLyannaMormont.

She was one of the most Bad Ass women in Game of Thrones 6, and she was only a little girl.

The Battle Scenes

In every single season, the battle scenes in Game of Thrones have seriously rocked the Casbah — even the ones with the fantasy White Walkers and their cohorts, the Wights — and season 6 has to be the absolute best for battles, if only because of the realistic and frightening Battle of the Bastards, which pitted the smaller army of Jon Snow against the usurper of House Stark, Ramsay Bolton. After sadistically murdering Jon’s little brother Rickon (Art Parkinson), after telling him to run over to Jon (across the virtually endless No Man’s Land between the two armies), in order to get Jon to jump almost heedlessly into battle, Ramsay’s army and Jon’s engaged in one of the most realistic and terrifying fights ever.

When Jon became trapped under all the bodies of the wounded, dying, and dead men, I became claustrophobic, literally, and feared I wouldn’t be able to continue to watch the scene. It was one of the best battles I’ve ever seen filmed. It had all the confusion and despair of battles like those in big screen Platoon and The Revenant, but without being so frenzied that viewers couldn’t tell what was happening.

Bran’s Visions

Though most of Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead Wright) visions are about back-story, especially concerning his father Eddard Stark and the parentage of Bran’s “brother” Jon Snow, thye were presented as if they were happening at the moment, albeit with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) on the fringes of the scenes, watching the action. If these had been revealed in monologues by the Raven to Bran, they would have been deadly, so these, at least, were handled in the best dramatic fashion: by being shown to the viewers.

And yes, fans of the books were totally correct: Jon is not the illegitimate son of Ned Stark and some nameless woman after all. Instead, Jon is the true-born love-child of Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark and future king of the Iron Throne, Rhaegar Targaryen. He was already married, but apparently Rhaegar didn’t really kidnap Lyanna (who was the fiancée of Robert Baratheon, who rebelled after she disappeared, and usurped the throne), but whether Lyanna Stark was merely Rhaegar’s mistress or a second bride has not yet been revealed. That makes Jon Snow a legitimate heir to the Iron throne.

Bran’s visions also revealed some things about himself and Losing Hodor, as well as about the White Walkers, but the import of The White Walkers and their cohorts has yet to be explained completely.

Other good things about season 6, included these:

  • the maturing love relationship between Jaime and Cersei
  • Jaime’s acknowledging his parentage of Cersei’s children to his daughter Myrcella
  • the loyalty of characters, like Brienne (to Lady Catelyn and to Sansa), Jaime (to Cersei and to their children), Jorah (to Daenerys), Bronn (to Tyrion and, later, to Jamie), Hodor and Mira (to Bran), Olenna (to her family), and Qyburn and The Mounatin (to Cersei), among others
  • Bronn’s (Jerome Flynn) sense of humor and his singing
  • Tormund Giantsbane’s (Kristofer Hivju) attraction to the tall and powerful warrior-knight Brienne of Tarth
  • Davos’ (Liam Cunningham) development into a major character
  • the Giant, who is one of the few fantasy elements I liked, if only because he had such a feisty and courageous personality

THE BAD

Yes, there were plenty of good things in season 6, but there were also quite a few really bad things. Most of The Bad wasn’t in the story itself, but, instead, in its presentation. The poor dramatization of the story resulted in stuttering plot advancement (inconsistent pacing, according to CheatSheet), predictability (like knowing who’s going to die and who isn’t), and poor use of guest stars. When Game of Thrones 6 was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad, oh, my, it was absolutely horrid.

Why White Walkers?

I’m afraid I just don’t get what’s so scary about the White Walkers. I mean, didn’t the Wildlings used to offer them babies to pacify them? Yeah, there are a lot of them, and they’re often accompanied by their Wight buddies, who seem to be crazed skeletons, but the White Walkers, despite being led by the Night King, just haven’t really made much of an emotional impact on me. I don’t know if it’s because of their fantasy element, or because they just aren’t the monsters everyone acts like they are.

Every time White Walkers come into the series, which isn’t too often considering that’s how the book series and show started in the first place, I just lose interest. Oh, I can appreciate all the money HBO has spent on extras and on make-up, but in terms of the story, the White Walkers don’t work for me. They don’t work for other reviewers either, if only because they’re not villains yet.

The Talk-Walkers

Oy, vey, talk about bad drama. How many scenes did we have to sit through in season 6 where the characters just walked around talking (Tyrion and Varys), while waiting for Queen Daenerys to return? Or rode horses around, talking (Ser Jroah and Daario), while ostensibly searching for Daenerys)? Or sat around, drinking, and talking (Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm)? Or just sitting around talking (Tyrion, Varys, and the Traders of Slavers’ Bay)? Or just stand around talking (all the Iron Island residents)?

It was scary-sad to see the show degenerate to these talking head moments. The poor actors had to be bored silly, especially the actors whose characters had previously been such important members of the show. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage, above L) and Varys (Conleth Hill, R) spent so many scenes wandering around Mereen that it seemed about as big as all of the American West. Unfortunately, neither the scenery nor their discussions were interesting. And the that scene where Tyrion tried to get Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) to drink and tell jokes, ugh-ness to the max.

Margery’s Bible Study

We never got to learn if Queen Margery’s (Natalie Dormer) “conversion” to the Faith of the Seven was authentic or if she was merely attempting to escape imprisonment. The scene where she visited her brother Loras in prison and cautioned him not to say anything aloud that would jeopardize himself — or her — made it seem as if Margery was playing the High Sparrow. Later scenes with her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg), when Margery urged her to leave the Capitol, reinforced that view. Despite the fact that Margery also convinced her husband King Tommen to convert and become devout, Margery’s faith still seemed false. Because she died, trapped in the Sept with the High Sparrow and everyone else whom Cersei killed in the finale, we never got to learn if Margery’s Bible Studies were all show without substance. Because Tommen killed himself by jumping out of a window after Margery was killed, we’ll never know if the conversion routine was real or an act.

Death Means Nothing

I’m not talking about the deaths of characters like Ned and Catelyn Stark, because those characters appear to be dead, and they don’t seem to be coming back, no matter the Lady Stoneheart teasers before season 6.

I’m not talking about the resurrected Ser Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain, who doesn’t ever say anything or seem to do anything independently from Cersei’s command. I’m talking about Jon Snow, most specifically, who not only seems none the worse for death, but who acts like he’s never been dead or resurrected in the first place. And I’m not talking about the teasers with him in it either, where he looked like he might come back but be another Lady Stoneheart or even a White Walker.

I’m talking about Jon’s character, most specifically in the Battle of the Bastards, when the dead and dying and wounded were piling up on and around him, threatening to suffocate him or bury him alive. Though the scene itself was powerful, I did find myself wondering why no one seemed to remember that Jon was already dead. I mean, he did get killed by the Members of the Night’s Watch at the finale of season 5. The Red Woman resurrected him this season, but he still was dead. Doesn’t that mean he should be different? Is he still mortal if he already died?

Even if author George R R Martin hadn’t claimed that Jon would be different after having been dead, I still would have expected Jon Snow to be vastly if not completely different, if only because he now knows that the Brothers killed him.

On Jon’s death and possible resurrection, author Martin  insisted that Jon would be different.

I do think that if you’re bringing a character back, that a character has gone through death, that’s a transformative experience. My characters who come back from death are worse for wear. In some ways, they’re not even the same characters anymore. The body may be moving, but some aspect of the spirit is changed or transformed, and they’ve lost something.

Martin may be talking about his book characters, but he’s certainly not talking about the Jon Snow in the series. I would never have known that Jon Snow died if I hadn’t seen it myself, and I forgot about it many times during the sixth season because, apparently, death doesn’t mean anything in this Game of Thrones universe if you’re a fan favorite, as Kit Harrington is. That takes away all the dramatic tension, and it’s disappointingly bad writing.

Arya Can’t Die

I realized when I first read the books that the character Arya Stark (Maisie Williams, above, foreground) was one of the author’s favorite characters. In the show, however, this favoritism has gone to extremes. Arya has not only completely replaced her mother, revived in the books as Lady Stoneheart, in seeking revenge for the deaths of her family members, including Walder Frey, but no matter what happens to Arya, she can’t die. I mean, Arya has had the most horrific things happen to her, including being blinded for failing to give up her personal plans of revenge, yet no matter how viciously the Waif attacks and wounds Arya, she escapes and survives.

Is it something in the Stark bloodline? I think it’s more the fan-fave-thing operating here. That makes me take Arya’s storyline less intensely. If she can’t die, I don’t need to worry about what happens to her.

The Play’s The Thing

And while we’re on the subject of bad dramatization… Those plays that Arya watched, where the characters in the play performed scenes from the Capitol, scenes with which Arya was already familiar, like the death of her father, and the marriage of her sister Sansa to King Joffrey, and the marriage of Sansa to Tyrion Lannister. If the viewers had not also seen all these things, in detail, in the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones, then having Arya watch them again in plays might have been interesting.

Emphasize might have been.

Since everyone in the show and watching it already knew these stories, however, the play’s were tedious in the extreme. It doesn’t matter that Arya was supposed to kill one of the actors, that she grew somewhat attached to her (for some unknown reason) and couldn’t kill her, or that Arya eventually returned to the actor and then unintentionally caused her death. It was the plays being performed that were bad writing because all the viewers, and the character of Arya herself, already knew all the stories behind them. I mean, talk about bad writing, HBO-guys. If a viewer can get up and go get a snack in the kitchen and not miss anything important that happens while he’s away, that’s really bad writing.

Emilia Clark (Daenerys )
Still Has To Do Nude Scenes

Enough said.

THE DEAD

There was lots more of The Good than The Bad in season 6 of Game of Thrones, and I’m eternally grateful, but there was another aspect of good and bad in the show, and that involved the deaths of the characters. I’ve categorized them as follows:

  • The Good, as in, viewers were most likely glad that the character died;
  • The Bad, as in, viewers were pretty upset;
  • The Meh, as in viewers didn’t know enough about the characters to really care about their deaths: and
  • The Ugly, as in, viewers were totally and completely devastated by the character’s death, and the Internet lit up like a Christmas tree after the episode.

The Good
(viewers collectively cheered)

  • Walder Frey
  • Roose Bolton
  • Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon, above)
  • High Sparrow
  • Jon Snow’s murderers (yes, even Ollie)
  • The Dothroki (from this season, the ones who were constantly threatening to rape Dany)

The Bad
(viewers didn’t expect it or were pretty upset)

  • The Giant (the only fantasy element I liked)
  • Roose’s Wife (Ramsay’s Stepmother) and her Newborn Infant Son
  • Margery
  • Tommen
  • Osha
  • Rickon (Art Parkinson, above)
  • The Three-Eyed Raven
  • Ian McShane’s Sept character, whose name I don’t even recall because he was only in about 10 minutes of the entire season.

The Meh
(mostly because viewers didn’t get to know them
well enough to care about their deaths):

  • Myrcella (above)
  • Doran Martell
  • Blackfish
  • The Wildling who put her children in the boat to be saved and then got killed by White Walkers

The Ugly
(because his death literally traumatized fans and viewers
and because there’s no possible way for George R R Martin
to do a better job in his books that HBO did with the show)

Hodor.

Hodor deserves an entire blog on his death, and I’ve already written one about Losing Hodor, as did most of the other critics and reviewers for “The Door.”

There you have it, my Lovelies, The Good, The Bad, and The Dead of HBO’s sixth season of Game of Thrones. And, please, if I left out any of the Dead, do let me know.

Related Posts
(No Spoiler Reviews, Seasons 1-6)

Love and Betrayal amidst Swordplay,
Dragons, and White Walkers:
Game of Thrones, Season 1

The Summer of Our Discontent:
Game of Thrones, Season 2

What Crawls Out of Nightmares:
Game of Thrones, Season 3

The Dead Can’t Hear Us:
Game of Thrones, Season 4

The Last Thing You See Before You Die:
Game of Thrones, Season 5

Winter is Coming:
Game of Thrones seasons 1-6,
No Spoiler Reviews

Season 6 Episode Reviews
Spoilers

The Red Woman and the Crone:
Game of Thrones season 6:1 Premiere,
Review & Recap

Don’t Eat The Help:
Game of Thrones 6:2-3 Review & Recap

A Man Must Have A Name:
Game of Thrones 6:4 Review & Recap

Losing Hodor:
Game of Thrones 6:5 “Hold the Door” Review

Miss Game of Thrones?
Can’t wait for next season?
Let Game of Drones put you to sleep
with all the previous seasons’ episodes,
by @DearestScooter & Drew Ackerman
of Sleep With Me Podcast

Game of Drones:
Game of Thrones, Bore-i-fied

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Winter is Coming: HBO’s Game of Thrones, seasons 1-6

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No Spoilers
in these overviews

No Spoilers
in extended season reviews
(links below each brief overview)

images-6

HBO’s award-winning show Game of Thrones, created and (mostly) written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, is based on the best-selling series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. Though the show diverges from the books’ content and order in some places, as do all dramatic adaptations, Game of Thrones follows the major Houses presented in the book series — Lannister, Stark, Targaryen, Tyrell, Baratheon, etc — as its members war and scheme for power. At the center of their struggle is the ancient Iron Throne, to which virtually every player claims to have the right. Other themes explore family loyalty and obligations, love, spirituality, religious beliefs and intolerance, hubris, sexuality, morality, and the purpose of violence to achieve one’s goals.

Season 1

Unknown

Based on the fantasy novel  A Game of Thrones, Book 1 of the best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones is set in the fictional land of Westeros, composed mainly of The 7 Kingdoms, where royal claimants and usurpers fight for the right to sit on the Iron Throne. Season One concentrates on three major families: the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Targaryens. Their stories become interwoven with their claims to the throne, and their loyalty to their ruler.

Love and Betrayal amidst Swordplay,
Dragons, and White Walkers:
Game of Thrones,
Season 1

Game of Thrones Season 1 is available for purchase for $19.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes (go into iTunes to purchase). (Pricing differences seem to be for SD versus HD videos.) The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers.

Season 2

Based roughly on A Clash of Kings, Book 2 in George R. R. Martin’s best-selling series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO’s critically acclaimed and award-winning Game of Thrones continues its exploration of power, politics, family obligations, love, and betrayal, in the second season. As the battle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of the civilized world erupts once more, everyone now knows that “Winter is coming. The surviving members of the three major families — Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen — continue the quest for survival and power, this time amidst rebellions, uprisings, and war. They are joined and betrayed by members of various other Houses.

The Summer of Our Discontent:
Game of Thrones, Season 2

Game of Thrones Season 2 is available for purchase for $19.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes. The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers.

Season 3

Based in part on the first half of A Storm of Swords, Book 3 of George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, created and written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the stories of the inhabitants of Westeros and the Lands beyond continue. Love, power, and betrayal are its major themes as the War of the Five Kings intensifies. The third season of Game of Thrones gets viewers more intimately involved with the peripheral characters, bringing them to the forefront. Though there are multiple, ultimately converging storylines, the excellent writing and powerful acting keep the viewers engaged without confusing them. Even the scene transitions flawlessly guide viewers from one character — or group of characters — to another, and back again. The acting is riveting, with some previously minor characters taking center stage, and some previously “evil” characters gaining the sympathy of the audience.

What Crawls Out of Nightmares:
Game of Thrones, Season 3

Game of Thrones Season 3 is available for purchase for $19.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes. The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers.

Season 4

Unknown

Season 4 of HBO’s award-winning series Game of Thrones is based principally on the second half of A Storm of Swords, Book 3 in George R. R. Martin’s acclaimed fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Season 4 also includes material from Book 4, A Feast for Crows, and Book 5, A Dance with DragonsIn Season 4, the writers of Game of Thrones continues to explore its themes of love, betrayal, and power, on the familial and national level. The storyline is expanded to explore themes of loyalty, hubris,  spirituality, religious beliefs, religious intolerance, as well as the morality of violence. The principal families — Lannister, Stark, Targaryen, and Tyrell — remain, and their stories are deftly interwoven with those of new characters.

The Dead Can’t Hear Us:
Game of Thrones, Season 4

Game of Thrones Season 4 is available for purchase for $19.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes.  The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers.

Season 5 

Game_of_Thrones_Season_5

Season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, is adapted primarily Books 4 and 5 in George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Along with Books 4 and 5 — A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons — the writers returned to Book 3, A Storm of Swords, for additional content. They also had access to material from Martin’s as-yet unpublished Book 6, The Winds of Winter. Season 5 of the dramatic adaptation won a record number of Emmy Awards for a series in a single year: 12 awards out of 24 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. Created and (mostly) written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the show’s writing, acting, and design are all brilliant, and Game of Thrones deserves every award it’s won.

Game of Thrones Season 5 unites many of the storylines that have been converging during the previous 4 seasons. The major families who started the drama — the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Targaryens — are joined with the Tyrells, the Martells, and the Boltons. The only remaining Baratheon, Stannis, is still waging war against the King of the Seven Kingdoms. Season 5 also takes one of Season 4’s major themes — religious intolerance — and puts it in the forefront of the drama. Although family loyalty still determines most of the characters’ actions, the quest for power is intimately intertwined with any family obligations.

The Last Thing You See Before You Die:
Game of Thrones, Season 5

Game of Thrones Season 5 is available for purchase for $38.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes. The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers. Many of the retailers have special bargains for purchasing seasons 1-5, including Amazon, GooglePlay, and iTunes.

Season Six

Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones is based on the as yet uncompleted Book 6 in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, and includes a “significant amount of material” from the Books 4 and 5 — A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. The author provided a detailed outline to show creators Benioff and Weiss. The sixth season proved to have more weaknesses than the previous ones, and it may have been due to the fact that the show-runners were working from an outline, no matter how detailed, rather than culling the story from completed books. Still, this season had some of the most powerful moments of the entire series, some of which Martin will be hard-pressed to reproduce on the printed page.

The battle for the Iron Throne gets vicious as the major families  — the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Targaryens — are joined by other families — the Tyrells, the Martells, and the Boltons — the latter of whom either want to rule the Seven Kingdoms themselves or who want revenge for wrongs inflicted by the three primary families.

(The Good, The Bad, and The Dead:
Game of Thrones, season 6
detailed overview coming next week)

Game of Thrones Season 6 is available for purchase for $24.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes. The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers. Seasons 1-3 and 4-6 can be purchased from iTunes for a slightly reduced price. The entire 6 seasons are available on Amazon for $170.99.

Rated Very Mature for Graphic Violence, Explicit Sexual Situations, Nudity, Adult Content, and Adult Language.

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Losing Hodor: Game of Thrones, 6:5 Review “Hold the Door”

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Spoilers,
Tear-Jerkingly Sad

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Last night, HBO’s Game of Thrones’ episode 5, “Hold the Door,” was much of the same talkity-talk-talk amongst characters that has thus far comprised season Six. In the unrealistic, deadly kind of dialogue that neophyte fiction writers err in, characters not only discussed — catalogued, more like — events that viewers already knew, but reiterated events that the other characters themselves were already familiar with.

Considering the crisp and snappy dialogue in the first five seasons of Game of Thrones, I been taken aback with the duller-than-dull dialogue that’s littering season 6 episodes, delaying any important action and completely devoid of character development. Last night, yawning through another Tyrion-Varys recounting of past events, this time with some new Red Witch, I decided that the show’s creator-writers, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, must have gotten much more of their dialogue directly from George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire than I originally realized.

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While that’s certainly a compliment to best-selling author George Martin, it’s rather a shame for Game of Thrones. Martin failed to complete the highly anticipated sixth novel in the series, providing HBO show-runners with a detailed outline instead. I’ve said repeatedly in these posts and on the Twitter that Martin’s outline seems to have overwhelmed the show’s writers. It also seems to have denied them of the fine dialogue — which must reveal the characters’ natures, relationship, history, and conflict to be effective — that has been a hallmark of the show.

In each of the episodes this season, any really important action has been delayed until the final scene. From Melisandre’s removing her “magical” necklace and revealing that she is a withered crone rather than the sex-pot beauty who’s been seducing men all over Westeros,

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to Jon Snow’s coming back to life after he was betrayed and murdered by his comrades of the Night’s Watch;

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from Daenerys’ burning and killing all the Khals and emerging, once again, unburnt from the conflagration;

to Rickon’s being captured and turned over as a hostage to the sadistic Ramsay Bolton;

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Game of Thrones has been ending each show with a Bang! of monumental proportions.

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“Hold the Door” was no exception: its stunning final sequence with Bran, Meera, Hodor, and the White Walkers, gave viewers the shocks and the emotional devastation that the show is known for.

(If you didn’t yet see “Hold the Door,” do not continue to read this post, which is nothing but one big Spoiler, Very Horrific and Tear-Jerkingly Sad.)

Having finally found the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow, above L) in the Far North beyond the Wall, the youngest son of the House of Stark, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright, above, center) has been having visions of events prior to the present, leading viewers to speculate that we were going to be given new information about some of the series’ characters. Last night’s final scene fulfilled those predictions. To viewers’ dismay, horror, and grief, we learned that Bran’s continual selfishness led to the demise of one of the most loved and lovable characters in the series: Bran’s bodyguard Hodor (Kristian Nairn).

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Ever since young Bran spied the royal Lannister Twins, Jaime and Cersei, having incestuous sexual relations and was thrown from the tower window by Jaime, the crippled Bran has been accompanied by his faithful companion Hodor. A big, affable, somewhat dim-witted fellow, Hodor, for reasons unknown to characters in the show and to viewers, was never capable of saying anything other than “Hodor,” though he was able to follow instructions. Hodor also seemed very fond of Bran, his brother Rickon, and their guide Meera (Ellie Kendrick).

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Many of Bran’s visions since he found the Three-eyed Raven have involved himself and his brothers when they were younger, as well as the young Hodor, who was called Wylis (Sam Coleman).

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To Bran’s surprise, the young Hodor-Wylis is capable of speaking, of training with swords with the young Stark brothers, and is a belovèd son to his mother. Nothing has been revealed about why Hodor became simple-minded, able to say nothing other than “Hodor.”

After Bran had a vision in which he saw an army of White Walkers approach the underground caves where he, Meera, and Hodor have been hiding, the Three-eyed Raved told Bran he must leave.

Like, yesterday, Bran-Boy.

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Apparently, because the White Walker (above) grabbed — and permanently marked — Bran’s wrist, the White Walker would now have the ability to enter their hiding place and kill its inhabitants.

And that is exactly what he did.

Once inside the underground or mountain labyrinth, the White Walkers proceeded to attack the Children of the Forest, the Three-eyed Raven, Bran, and his companions.

(In a surprise Reveal, the Children of the Forest admitted to having “created” the White Walkers by killing the men who first invaded and destroyed their land.) Despite having made the White Walkers by killing men, the Children of the Forest defended Bran from the Blue-eyed Zombies.

Meera screamed repeatedly at the unconscious Bran — who was having yet another vision of his childhood — that they “needed Hodor” to help them fight the White Walkers. Bran then sent his spirit into Hodor’s body, as he has done in the past, so that Hodor could fight for them.

Surprisingly, Bran, in the vision, also occupied Hodor-Wylis in the past. (Please don’t ask me how: I’ve never been able to figure out any of the time-traveling stories, like Twelve Monkeys or Terminator, where a character is himself, his father, his son, etc.) Though, technically, when he was younger, Bran had not mastered the ability to put himself into another animal’s or person’s body, Hodor-Wylis’ eyes turned white as Bran also went into the younger Hodor’s body.

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In a typically self-centered move, Bran stood there and watched — listening to Meera, in the future-present, scream instructions to simple-minded Hodor as she attempted to save Bran from the White Walkers. To Hodor-Wylis’ mother’s horror and consternation, young Hodor collapsed and seemed to be having a seizure.

Bran looked on, rather disinterestedly, I thought, but then, that’s Bran’s nature: he’s interested in himself and his own survival; he appears to regard everyone else as existing only to ensure his survival, improve his own life, and even alleviate his boredom. (He’s also often filled with self-pity concerning his crippled state, but that wasn’t in last night’s episode.)

In fact, it was while the Three-eyed Raven was off in a vision of his own in “Hold the Door” that Bran awoke, and, in what seemed to be a fit of boredom, grabbed some bones lying in the cave, and proceeded to have the fatal vision of the White Walkers that enabled them to grab Bran’s wrist which allowed them to enter the hideout.

In the past, in the courtyard of the House Stark, Bran could hear Meera screaming to Hodor-in-the-present “Hold the door” — and that’s when, with a sudden catch in my throat, I realized what was going to happen — while young Hodor-Wylis convulsed on the ground, shouting, in return, “Hold the door.”

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Bran just stood there, listening to Meera in his present, while vision-observin and listening to Hodor-Wylis in his past. Bran’s selfishness was extremely apparent in that scene, and I’m guessing that most viewers’ sympathy and affection poured out toward Hodor, in both time periods, not toward Bran.

 Meera pushed or pulled Bran in the sled, away from the rampaging White Walkers, repeatedly shouting “Hold the Door” to the faithful Hodor.

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Meera shouted over and over in the present, while Hodor-Wylis, in his seizure, shouted over and over in the past. (And then, I admit, Bran seemed to feel something like empathy or sadness for the young Hodor as he shouted “Hold the Door” in the past.)

In the most powerful and heart-wrenching scene of the entire sixth season, “Hold the Door, Hold the Door, Hold Door, Hold Door” eventually, and tragically, became “Hodor, Hodor, Hodor.”

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Until the loving, faithful, innocent Hodor was killed by the White Walkers.

And viewers wept.

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A Man Must Have A Name: Game of Thrones, s6 e4, Review & Recap

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Spoilers,
Spoiled & Rotten

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After weeks of catching viewers up on all the characters by having them talk a lot without doing much, creator-writers David Benioff and D. B Weiss took off in “Book of the Stranger,” the fourth episode of HBO’s sixth season of its hugely popular Game of Thrones. Based on the best-selling fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, season 6 was not written from the highly anticipated 6th novel in the series. Instead, author Martin provided Benioff and Weiss with a detailed outline. That outline seemed to overwhelm the writers initially, as they attempted to set up the storylines of every single character in the show, while introducing new ones (or younger versions of existing characters). But last night’s episode had the writing — and the action — back in stride.

Jon, Sansa, and the
War for Winterfell

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Sansa (Sophie Turner), accompanied by her protector Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Brienne’s squire Podrick (Daniel Portman), finally arrived at Castle Black, where Sansa was re-united with her brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington).

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Though Jon had stepped down as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, naming Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) as his replacement,

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Jon had not yet left Castle Black. Sansa convinced him to return to Winterfell and, with an army of Wildlings, to take back their ancestral home from Ramsay Bolton, whose father Roose took the castle and lands after he betrayed and killed Robb Stark.

Accompanied by Brienne, who has proved herself a superior swordsman and a stout defender of the Stark family, Jon and his Wilding army managed to quickly overpower the dissatisfied army of the Boltons.

The hostage, Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson), youngest brother of the Stark family, who no longer looks like this,

but like a taller, thinner, older version of his chubby-cheeked self, was feeling violated by his imprisonment; the beheading of his Dire-Wolf, Shaggy-Dog; and the killing of his Wildling companion and protector, Osha (whom Ramsay had killed in an earlier scene). In a scene that mirrored the one with Osha, where she failed to grab a nearby knife, Rickon managed to snatch a knife from Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) and kill him just as brother Jon and his Wildling army swarmed the castle grounds.

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At the death of the notoriously sadistic Ramsay, viewers around the globe cheered, no doubt.

After the monumental battle for Winterfell, which, though shorter due to the episode’s time constraints, was more stunning than the season 5 battle involving the Wildlings, the White Walkers, and the Wights, Jon Snow declared himself, as the oldest surviving son of Ned Stark, the True Warden of the North.

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With her brothers’ approval, Sansa declared herself the True (and First of Her Name) Wardeness of the North: she has finally matured enough to be the strong female character viewers have longed for and is no longer looking to men to make her life decisions.

Say, Hallelujah, Brothers and Sisters.

With Sansa’s urging, Jon made plans to lay siege to King’s Landing. Though he didn’t openly declare himself the King of the Iron Throne, Sansa and the others do plan for Jon to become King, especially since Melisandre (Carice van Houten, below) now sees Snow, not Stannis, as the King of her visions.

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Melisandre, who re-animated Jon Snow after the Men of the Night’s Watch betrayed and murdered him, once again proved herself a competent Witch and practitioner of That Ol’ Black Magic. After Theon (Alfie Allen), former ward of the House Stark, was roundly castigated for “not being a man” by his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan, below L),

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Theon left the Iron Islands and made his way north to the only real home he has ever known: Winterfell.

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There, Melisandre restored Theon’s mental acuity if not his missing manhood (I guess there are limits to her powers, after all).images-27
This may be an extremely bittersweet restoration for Theon, who, in one of the more poignant moments of the series, realized that he has loved Sansa ever since he helped her escape from her rapist-husband (and his torturer), Ramsay Bolton.

Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), who was a smuggler and who is more comfortable on the deck of a ship than on dry land, accepted Theon as his equal — considering Theon’s lack of physical manhood — and, even though they do not need ships to storm King’s Landing, the two became companions and warrior-pals.

That Davos, he’s always had a soft spot for the unfortunate.

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Lady Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is, of course, accompanying Jon Snow to King’s Landing, having her own personal reasons for revenge against the Lannisters, though I cannot, at the moment, recall exactly what they are. Still, she’s too wonderful a character to drop her from the storyline now, so whatever her reasons for continuing to be a Knight and to do battle, I cheer her on.

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To Brienne’s consternation, she has become the love object of the Wildling Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), affectionately known by fans, reviewers, and bloggers, as the Ginger Wildling.

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I, for one, encourage the writers to explore this fascinating love story. As tall, as powerful, as fierce a warrior, and equally devoted to the Starks (in the form of Jon Snow), the Ginger Wildling is just the man for Brienne: he’ll respect her as a warrior and as a woman.

Brother Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), who is also a taller, thinner, older version of his younger, chubby-cheeked self, did not appear in episode 4, but he is, no doubt, still in the Far North, with the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow, below L),

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having visions about the various characters viewers have come to know and love, including Ned Stark, only in younger versions of themselves.

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Vox reviewer Matthew Yglesias has speculated that these visions will have something to do with the parentage of Jon Snow: long known as the bastard of Ned Stark, Jon Snow may, instead, his nephew.

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According to Yglesias, Jon may be the son of Ned Stark’s sister, Lynna (never in the series), who was ostensibly kidnapped and raped by the Mad King’s son, Rhaegar Targaryen (also not in the series).

But none of that was in Sunday’s episode, so enough about that.

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Youngest female Stark, Arya (Maisie Williams, above, center) was also missing from episode 4, but she is, in all likelihood, still in the House of Black and White, with Jaqen H’gar (Tom Wlaschiha, above L), learning to be one of the Faceless Men.

Because, after all, though he be faceless, “a man must have a name.”

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The only other Jon Snow compatriot who was not in Sunday’s episode was Sam Tarwell (John Bradley), last seen heading to the Citadel with his Wildling love, Gilly (Hannah Murray), and her baby, Little Sam. No doubt, once Sam discovers that Jon has left the Wall and is heading to King’s Landing, Sam will also go there, if only because he does not really want to be separated from Gilly and Little Sam, and because he wants to become a Grand Maester.

Fans who are attached to Dolorous Edd are probably hoping that he will defect from the Night’s Watch to join Jon, Sam, and the Ginger Wildling.

Led by Jon Snow and Sansa, the Starks have become the pre-eminent family in Westeros, and not just because the House Stark has more living family members than anyone else.

Cersei, Jaime, and
the Battle for King’s Landing

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At the end of season 5, after her humiliating Walk of Atonement, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) was greeted by Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser, below, center), who presented her with the “newest member of King’s Landing,” none other than the dead-now-reincarnated Ser Gregor Clagane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), also affectionately known as The Mountain, and brother of the now deceased Knight, Ser Sandor Clegane, who was affectionately known as The Hound.

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The Mountain has become Cersei’s protector. Unbeknownst to everyone, including Cersei herself and her twin brother and lover Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, below L), Ser Gregor retains the power to act independently.

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Revealing his long-standing — and secret — love for Cersei to the viewers (in a rare, un-armored moment), but not to the Queen herself,

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Ser Gregor made it his mission to eliminate the man who shamed and humiliated Gregor’s Queen and LadyLove: the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce).

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The High Sparrow, meanwhile, was busy hounding Cersei’s daughter-in-law, Queen Margery (Natalie Dormer, below R), and, in an attempt to trip her up and implicate her in a moral crime. To further that nefarious aim, the High Sparrow allowed Margery to see her imprisoned brother Loras (Finn Jones, below L), who is most definitely cracking under the strain of the prolonged imprisonment, and not just because he hasn’t been allowed to bathe, do his hair, or wear pretty clothes with flowers embroidered on them. In fact, Loras might have damned the entire Tyrell family with his jail-house “confession” to Margery, who remained strong and determined to get herself and her brother out of jail.

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Later, as the High Sparrow was once again regaling his captive audience, Queen Margery, with tales of his rambunctious and rowdy childhood adventures — and as Margery was attempting not to fall asleep out of sheer boredom, astutely recognizing that his rambling monologue was a highly sophisticated and clever method of torture —

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Ser Gregor, back in full armor, broke in, roaring most frightfully, revealing that he still retains the power to scream, as well as to fight.

With no preamble whatsoever, The Mountain ripped off the head of the High Sparrow. He killed any other Sparrows who came running to the High Sparrow’s defense. Ser Gregor, magnificently bellowing, even decapitated Cersei’s cousin-lover Lancel, who had turned Sparrow after being betrayed by Cersei.

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Viewers were probably disappointed that The Mountain missed killing Septa Unella (Hannah Waldingham), but there was only so much he could do in any one day. Ser Gregor then escorted Queen Margery safely back to the Red Keep, where her husband and family welcomed her.

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After Queen Margery was freed and returned to King Tommen’s (Dean-Charles Chapman) side, her grandmother Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) decided not to further agitate Cersei and Jaime, if only because she feared retribution from The Mountain, unpredictable bad-ass that he has now proven he still is, even after death and re-incarnation.

Olenna also, wisely, forged an armed alliance with the Lannister twins after it was learned that Jon Snow and his army of Wildlings were marching on King’s Landing.

As the inhabitants of King’s Landing prepare for battle with the approaching army, they have set aside their individual grievances in the longing to retain power and to retain the Iron Throne.

Oh, and to have The Mountain on their side in any battles.

Littlefinger and
the Battle for the Vale

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In a surprise moment for viewers, Lord Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen) — once a villain, always a villain, as they say — returned to Game of Thrones and to The Vale, where he confronted his stepson Robyn Arryn (Lino Facioli), also a taller, thinner, older version of his younger, chubbier-cheeked self, about the loyalty of them men around him.

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Viewers all know Little Robyn’s penchant for throwing people out the MoonDoor to their deaths. When Lord Petyr, also known as “Littlefinger,” attempted to toss Little Lord Robyn out the MoonDoor, right after the extremely confused and frightened subordinate had been tossed, Robyn grabbed Littlefinger by the clothes and took him along for the ride.

It didn’t have too much to do with the other storylines in the episode, so I can only assume that the writers were just tying up loose ends.

Or tossing them out the MoonDoor, as the case may be.

Tyrion, Varys, and
the Battle for the Unsullied

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Oh, that Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).

Talk about a man who must have his names.

In “Book of the Stranger,” Tyrion finally returned to form after weeks of attempting to play drinking games with parties who don’t drink, aimlessly strolling the streets of Mereen with Lord Varys, and amiably but ramblingly talking to just about anyone who was also in the scene with him. Over the past few weeks, viewers have probably wondered what in the name of the gods had happened to the man who killed his own father by shooting him with a cross-bow as he sat on his chamber-pot.

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With a smile and a pithy remark, Tyrion finally dispatched Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Gray Worm (Jacob Anderson), both of whom have been pretty unhappy with his socio-political platform, especially since he was trying to please the Masters by re-instituting slavery, albeit only for a seven-year period.

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Tyrion then went after his so-called friend, Varys (Conleth Hill, above R, in background), who, given his own history of betrayal, should have been prepared for Tyrion’s treachery, but wasn’t. Because Varys has often delivered droll badinage with other characters in his scenes on Game of Thrones, viewers may miss him.

Then again, they may be so happy to see Tyrion back in the saddle, metaphorically speaking, that they’re willing to sacrifice one to spare the many.

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In any event, Tyrion simply ordered the Sons of the Harpy (represented above) and The Unsullied to obey his orders.

And they did!

I guess once-a-brainwashed-automaton-always-one.

After Tyrion had Daenerys’ army under his command, he dropped the Free the Slaves Movement and headed to King’s Landing, where he plans to stop being just the little brother of the Lannisters and to claim power in his own right.

Daenerys and the Battle
for Whatever She Wants

at the Moment

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Confined to the abode of the Dosh Khaleen with other widowed wives, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finally decided that enough is enough. After listening to the High Priestess and other widows heckle and berate her, she slipped outside “to make water” because, you know, the crones who preside of the city of Vaes Dothrak would not have the ability to meet their body functions inside the structure.

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Accompanied by a slave, who expressed feelings similar to her own, Daenerys learned that Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen, below R) and Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman, below L) had come to secure her release by any means necessary. She already knows that both of them are in love with her, so they didn’t have to tell her again: their being there on a rescue-mission proved it.

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In a super-coolio coup d’état, Daenerys got all the male leaders together in one wooden structure, at night, so there were lots and lots of braziers burning all around. While the men strutted and preened and threatened Dany with rape and other forms of violation and bodily harm, she casually positioned herself near the braziers.

Then, Bammo!

She knocked the braziers over with her bare hands, spilling the flammable lighter fluid that was apparently in with the charcoal, spreading fire throughout.

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 As the remaining Dothroki gathered outside the burning building, Daenerys, in a scene that resembled that in the finale of season 1, stepped out of the conflagration.

Naked, but otherwise unharmed.

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In awe, everyone feel to his knees before her. Including Ser Jorah and Daario Naharis. While Daenerys accepted their tribute, she seemed restless without her dragons.

In a surprising volte-face, Dany ordered the male Dothroki to execute Ser Jorah and Naharis, no doubt because she’d grown tired of listening to men bickering around her.

This left the Mother of Dragons free to reclaim her dragons — if she can find them — convince the remaining Dothroki to cross the Salt Sea, and take back the Iron Throne of her father.

It’s about time, says I.

The White Walkers
and their Gang

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As Jon Snow and his army headed for King’s Landing, they were surprised by the appearance of a lone figure on the horizon. Jon sent someone to discover who it was. Upon reaching the unknown figure, the rider and horse toppled to the ground. Disconcerted and discombobulated, Jon decided to investigate himself. Accompanied by Brienne, Davos, Theon, and the Ginger Wildling, Jon approached the mysterious figure.

No doubt viewers were expecting one of the White Walkers,

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or, at the very least, one of the Wights.

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Imagine, then, the shock of seeing this character, whom everyone assumed was dead.

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Yes, it was Lady Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley).

Last seen with her eldest son Robb at a wedding where he and his preggers wife were both murdered by Roose Bolton (father of Ramsay), and where her own throat was cut, Lady Cat seems to have been re-animated.

And she brought an entire army of White Walkers — sans Wights — with her.

Including this super-omnipotent and spooky guy, who can raise the dead simply by lifting his arms.

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Jon clutched his chest, his eyes wide with abject terror or innate recognition or the super-creepy-creeps and terrifying-terrors that he was about to stop looking like this,

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or even like this,

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and start looking like this…

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Then, just when you thought nothing more exciting could possibly happen in a single episode…

Enough, enough already, I can hear you saying. None of this was in Game of Thrones’ latest episode.

To which I respond, Yes, indeed, some of it did, in fact, happen:

  • Jon and Sansa were reunited at Castle Black
  • Sansa convinced Jon to return to Winterfell
  • The High Sparrow regaled Margery with his outré childhood exploits
  • Margery met brother Loras in his cell, where he appeared unhinged
  • Littlefinger returned to the Vale
  • Ramsay killed the Wildling Osha
  • Theon went home, where he was berated by his sister
  • Tyrion re-instituted slavery to please the Masters, albeit with a 7-year limitation
  • Daenerys burned up the Dothroki male leaders
  • Daenerys emerged, unburnt and nude, from the flames
  • Everybody bowed to Daenerys as the music — and the flames — swelled

But, oh, how I wish all those exciting things in my blog post had happened in “Book of the Stranger.”

Instead, my once belovèd Game of Thrones has become deadly dull with endless scenes of characters talk-talk-talking, relating pointless childhood memoirs or events with which viewers are already familiar.

Sigh.

If only…

p.s. Apologies to fans, to Peter Dinklage, and to Charles Dance for accidentally calling Tyrion, “Tywin” earlier. And thanks to Mat Cooke for catching it for me!

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