WARNINGS: This article contains spoilers for all published books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series and most of the Winds of Winter chapters that have been released, as well as all aired episodes of the HBO show Game of Thrones that is based on that series. Additionally, there is some speculation about what’s to come in the unaired episodes of Game of Thrones Season 6. Please note that you also click all links within this article at your own risk.
Here it is, folks – we are halfway through Game of Thrones Season 6.
Yes, that’s right, Game of Thrones Season 6 is a thing that is happening.
I mean, it’s taken me well over a week past this article’s “due date” to even finish it, because the only time I really care to THINK about the show is on Sunday nights while its airing. I’m lucky that I’m able to get together with several friends to watch each episode, because my attempts to prepare myself for Game of Thrones Season 6 nonsense failed miserably, and only watching it with others who have similar feelings about the show truly helps me enjoy it at all.
The thing is, I kept telling myself that there was a chance for Game of Thrones Season 6 to redeem some of the bad writing decisions/character ‘development’/etc. that plagued Seasons 4 and 5…but now that we’re past the half-way point and nothing has wowed me yet, it appears I may finally be settled into the role of bitter book reader. And I know I’m not alone; in fact, we watched the Season 6 premiere at Ice & Fire Con this year, and many of those viewing it weren’t happy with the lack of resolution regarding Jon Snow’s “death”, as well as the outright ridiculous portrayal of Dorne (which I’ll get into later in this article).
And is it me, or do they have a sudden penchant for drawing out scenes this season? The trend seemed to begin with the unnecessary length of the Melisandre reveal in the premiere and has only gotten worse these past several weeks.
Harkening back to all those teasers and trailers that I mentioned in round one, though, so much for Dany being “Queen of Nothing”, because right now she has a khalasar at her back. Meanwhile, however, the Stark and Lannister teasers are still on track – Ramsay holds Winterfell and Rickon (ugh) and Shaggydog is apparently dead (don’t even get me started on that), while in King’s Landing Marg and Tommen have joined forces with the High Sparrow. Unless Marg is really faking it (and one would assume she would tell Olenna ASAP if that was the case), there’s the Lannister/Tyrell “empire” overthrown.
But what does this mean in regards to the books? Well, Dany *did* run into a khalasar at the end of A Dance with Dragons, and so far as we know Ramsay is still entrenched at Winterfell (though whether or not he actually beat Stannis as his letter to Jon Snow claimed is highly questionable). Of course there is no more Stannis in the show (way to ruin a great character, GoT), and I think a lot of book readers are shuddering over the Rickon/Shaggydog situation. Who knows how the North will fare from now on; however, I will be shocked if we don’t get some sort of wildings versus Bolton forces battle before the season ends. But as for what’s going on in King’s Landing, well, it isn’t a huge surprise. Last we knew from ADWD, Margaery was being held under “house arrest”, essentially, while awaiting her trial. So it’s not unfeasible (or even necessarily a bad move on the show’s part) for her to give in to the High Sparrow. I just hope that it’s not legit, because wow, that’s not the Marg I know and love.
As for that teaser that mostly featured Bran, the one that I thought felt like “something of a jab at book readers”? Well, at first I was excited to see the flashbacks, even if the Tower of Joy one wasn’t exactly fulfilling, in my opinion. But then “The Door” ruined all of that. Unless GoT pulls off some ridiculous Walking-Dead-style comeback(s), we must assume that Bloodraven, Summer, and Hodor are all dead. And don’t even get me started on Hodor. Yes, Martin has confirmed that what was portrayed is essentially how Hodor came to be Hodor, but he also said that in the books the reveal will be different. I have my fingers crossed on that, because that entire scene was extremely difficult for me to watch, and I know that Martin can spin the tale better. (As he always has…)
On top of that, despite lengthy (mostly additional) scenes, Bran’s plot seemed to be rushed – and it wasn’t the only one. At first I thought they were using that awful play in Braavos to drag out Arya’s time there, but in the end that wasn’t the case – she’s already got Needle back and will presumably be moving on soon. While I understand that the show has to condense things, we still don’t know exactly how many seasons it will last. The original talked-about number was seven, to go along with the novels; since then, there have been rumors it will stretch to eight. Last year EW quoted HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo as saying, “Would I love the show to go 10 years as both a fan and a network executive? Absolutely.” Forbes then wrote a lengthy article that mentioned Benioff and Weiss were still planning on seven seasons, but that while ten sounded like too many, it seemed likely we would see more than seven.
All that said, it seems strange to me that the writers would add those aforementioned lengthy and unnecessary scenes (come on now, there was a lot of sitcom-like-banter in those first few episodes especially) and then rush certain characters’ story lines. (Not to mention how fast everyone seems to be traveling nowadays. Seriously, where is Petyr Baelish hiding his TARDIS?)
Without further ado, however, I must delve into one very important situation: the one in the Iron Islands. Other than Theon, we haven’t seen much of the Ironborn in recent seasons, but now they are exploding back onto the scene led by Euron
Greyjoy Trump. Unfortunately for him, he can win a kingsmoot but can’t move fast enough to stop Asha Yara from steeling his fleet. But don’t worry, he’s gonna build 1,000 ships! He’s gonna build ’em fast! They’re gonna be the best ships! (Seriously, I tweeted about this as soon as I saw it because really. REALLY.)
But even though Euron is not at all what book readers expected, I have to admit that I’m actually kind of happy with
Asha Yara and Theon right now. They’ve got the Iron Fleet and by the old gods and the new, I hope they take it to Daenerys in Meereen. I sincerely believe that’s the only development that could redeem all the Euron Grejoy Trump nonsense.
From the increasing presence of the Iron Islands, I move on to the almost complete lack of Dornish presence. At the moment all we know is what was portrayed in the season premiere – Doran, his heir Trystane, and of course Oberyn have all joined the vast ranks of characters that Game of Thrones has killed off. But Ellaria was Oberyn’s paramour, not his wife, and her children were never legitimized…so I’m not sure where they can go from here. All the same, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes…and that is, in my opinion, very, very unfortunate. In fact, George R.R. Martin recently released a Winds of Winter Arianne chapter on his website, one that had previously only been read aloud at a convention – and that chapter only served to highlight Dorne’s importance in his novels, which makes it even more difficult to understand the show’s treatment of the Martells.
And yet despite my vast love for Martin’s version of Dorne and the Martells, nothing compares to how I feel about Sansa. One, we did not need to relive the abuse she suffered at Ramsay’s hands through her own words. Two, yes, she has made some major moves lately, but while part of me wants to say “that’s great” the other part of me is pulling back, because I’m concerned that the show is shoehorning her into that “girls can only be cool if they’re badass” position. And yes, I still think there’s a good chance she will be a living version of Lady Stoneheart. No, I’m still not sure how I feel about that. (Other than #NotMySansa )
With only four episodes left to go, as always I’m interested in seeing how the show pulls all of this together. Being spoiled about certain things that were previously “book secrets” sucks a bit, but most of the time I’m left wondering just how spoiled we really are.
After all, we all knew that Jon Snow wasn’t DEAD dead.
Keep an eye out for Game of Thrones Season 6 vs. A Song of Ice & Fire: Round Three…which I’ll hopefully have written in a much more timely manner than this round!
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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