With only 13 episodes left for the show, Game of Thrones needed to wrap a lot of subplots in order to have enough time to deal with the impending White Walker invasion. “The Winds of Winter” did that, and then some. The episode killed off most supporting characters in a few dramatic scenes. As I’ve argued elsewhere, this downsizing was absolutely necessary. Game of Thrones had gotten too unwieldy; Season 5 seemed so intent on tracking the various subplots that it forgot to tell a story. “The Winds of Winter” violently confirmed that, at its core, Game of Thrones is, has been, and always will be about the three primary factions we met back in Season 1: the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens. Continue reading “Game of Thrones, “The Winds of Winter” (Season 6, Episode 10)”
Game of Thrones has become infamous for its unpredictability. Beheading Ned Stark in Season 1 shocked viewers because it defied everything we thought we knew about fantasy stories (namely, that the hero always wins). Over the past season, the plot of Game of Thrones has become increasingly predictable; the show is no longer willing or able to subvert audience expectations (Hodor’s death in “The Door” being a major exception). Instead, how the characters respond to predictable plot developments has become less predictable. This is what makes “Battle of the Bastards” so effective. The plot is about as straightforward as Game of Thrones gets, yet the episode contains moments that subvert what we knew – or thought we knew – about these characters. Continue reading “Game of Thrones, “Battle of the Bastards” (Season 6, Episode 9)”
Season 6 of Game of Thrones has been an improvement over the previous season in all ways but one: Meereen. To be fair, Meereen is far from becoming the new Dorne, but the plot thread isn’t quite working as effectively as I’d hoped. Tyrion’s time in Meereen had the potential to be a fascinating story about political compromise, but the writers seem unsure how to adapt such a story to the show’s format.
At the end of Season 5, the Sons of the Harpy forced Daenerys to flee Meereen. It seemed like a firm rejection of Daenerys’ heavy-handed reliance on military force to impose a social and political revolution. Daenerys abolished slavery overnight and left many dispossessed elites bitter and angry. She proved unable to govern effectively without the support – or at least acquiescence – of those elites. Continue reading “Game of Thrones, “No One” (Season 6, Episode 8)”
Before Season 6 aired, I talked with friends about my predictions for the story. As Game of Thrones fans are wont to do, I focused on who would die and which characters might return after a long hiatus. I thought my friend’s prediction that Sandor Clegane (a.k.a., “The Hound”) would return was absolutely inane. As much as I’d enjoyed the Hound-Arya buddy comedy in Season 4, I wasn’t sad to see the character go because I thought he’d already had a satisfying arc. Moreover, Arya left him at the bottom of a cliff after he’d suffered fatal wounds in a battle against Brienne. Surely, he was dead. Continue reading “Game of Thrones, “The Broken Man” (Season 6, Episode 7)”
For fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels, the biggest revelation in “Blood of My Blood” concerns the identity of a certain “Coldhands.” In the books, the mysterious Coldhands helps Bran and Meera reach the cave of the thee-eyed raven. His identity was never revealed, but fans had long speculated that it was Bran’s uncle Benjen, who in the first book (Season 1 of the show) had disappeared north of the Wall.
SPOILER WARNING for Season 6, Episode 6: “Blood of My Blood”