Well, that’s it for another year. Game Of Thrones Season 6 is over, and what a season it was.
The first real instance of fans not knowing (for the most part) what the hell was coming next, anyone who felt that Season 5 didn’t live up to the high standards of previous years wouldn’t have been disappointed by this one.
Here, we take a look back at the standout moments:
10) “The great victory I saw in the flames: all of it was a lie”
Having seen the first chink in the Red Priestess’s armour at the end of last season, this chink becomes a full-on crevasse when she realises the extent of her failure. We always knew that something wasn’t quite right with her, but we didn’t realise she was so… old. Yep, without that necklace Melisandre is an old, frail woman. It wasn’t the biggest shock of the season, but it was a nicely understated one to kick things off.
9) “And now it begins”
Teased in the promotional material, the battle at the Tower of Joy between a young Ned Stark, his not-so-merry northerners and legendary Kingsguard members Arthur Dayne and Gerold Hightower proved to be every bit as brutal as we’d imagined. Mentioned a lot more in the books than he has been in the series, Dayne was everything he hoped for, making short work of his foes even when outnumbered four to one and only put down by an attack from behind. Plus, how did they find an actor who looks simultaneously exactly and nothing at all like Sean Bean?
8) “You’re not going to serve. You’re going to die”
Things weren’t looking good for Daenerys by the end of Season 5. Surrounded by a Dothraki horde and facing a life with the other former Khals’ wives, she instead reminded us why she shouldn’t be underestimated. Despite Daario and Jorah turning up to rescue her, she instead chooses to take matters into her own hands – with fiery results for the unfortunate Khals who defy her. The result: another fiery rebirth, and control over the Dothraki.
7) “He’s gone”
Be honest: who here actually believed Jon Snow wasn’t coming back? In fairness, he never actually said he was returning; he just said he was dead, which he was. Luckily, Melisandre gets her mojo back in time to bring him back, and while the impact of it is slightly diminished by its sheer inevitability, it does its best to keep you guessing until the final frame, and that first intake of new breath.
6) “Remind them what happened when Daenerys Stormborn and her dragons came to Meereen”
Having established previously that cornering the Queen of Dragons was a terrible idea, the Yunkai for some reason decide that going back on the deal they made with Tyrion was actually a good idea. Idiots. Having given the Imp a good bollocking and plenty of stern glares, she sets off to do what she does best: again, take matters into her own hands. While seeing the dragons finally unleash their full, formidable power is terrifying, it’s only second to Tyrion getting his own back on the treacherous enemies, delivering some of his trademark wit for the first time in ages. When you awaken the dragon and incur the rains of Castamere, the result can only be something unforgettable.
5) “Promise me, Ned”
We’re still yet to determine what impact Bran Stark’s powers will have on what’s to come, but if nothing else it offered potential for some of the season’s best moments. While the effect of this big reveal was again slightly diminished by foreknowledge (it’s a pretty popular fan theory, after all), but the seer suddenness of the reveal and its world-spanning implications means it remains a massive scene.
4) “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well”
The obligatory ‘big battle episode’ turned out to be the most creative in a while. Miguel Sapochnik’s direction coupled with the high stakes and level of mystery (see? Things are so much better when you don’t know what’s coming) elevated this above your standard fight scene – it may even rival Season 2’s Battle of the Blackwater. Arrows pile up, and bodies pile up, choking even survivors in their mass. Game Of Thrones’ violence is never pretty, and it’s even more ugly here.
3) “They were loyal. Now they’re hungry”
Who says Game Of Thrones doesn’t do fan service? As great a villain as he’s been, he’s deserved death for a while, and even when Jon spares him at the end of the battle, we know he hasn’t got long left. Even then, right up until the last moment, he’s seems unfazed by his fate – only when he’s literally being eaten alive by his own hounds does he finally know fear. That it’s Sansa, the former target of his sadism, who delivers the final blow is poetic justice at its finest.
2) “This pains me. Whatever your faults, you don’t deserve to die in such a cold, dark place”
We knew Cersei had something up her sleeve, and we knew she was wreckless, but this… an absolute masterclass in misdirection and steadily elevating tension, we know from the beginning that something’s up; we just can’t quite put our finger on it. Then, bang: Pycelle’s dead. Bang: Lancel gets maimed. Bang: wildfire. With the Tyrells and the High Sparrow realising all too late that they have been fatally played, all that remains is a glorious green explosion to wipe them all out in one fell swoop. Cersei may have effectively doomed her own house and shattered the Seven Kingdoms, but she doesn’t care; she has both her revenge, and the throne. Rains of Castamere indeed.
1) “Hold the door!”
You’ve all heard it numerous times before: no one in Game Of Thrones is safe. But we still assumed that some characters were safer than others – gentle giant Hodor being prominent among them. How wrong we were. While his death is brutal and tragic, we at least get the consolation that he goes out like a hero. But it’s the reveal behind his life that is all the more affecting, solving a mystery that we didn’t even realise existed – that Bran Stark, inexperienced in his powers, was accidentally responsible for it all along is a triumph of storytelling. Of all the battles, deaths and fiery epilogues in the show, this is the moment that we will never forget
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