Things are funny the way they work out. It seems like months ago I was sitting here questioning whether or not I would even be watching the sixth season of Game of Thrones. The book purest in me didn’t want to have any part of it. How dare you put out a season before the new book? The audacity of such an action almost seemed to openly give the middle finger to readers more than the Red Wedding did. So, I sat there on my fence trying to figure out just what I was going to do. Then the first trailer was released and I knew where my alliances really stood. Even when I was debating whether or not to watch I knew that this debate held no stock what so ever. I was going to watch the sixth season for the same reason I was going to read the book. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and I refused to have the interwebs ruin it for me. I couldn’t let that happen. I wanted to be in control of how this story progressed and my only action was to continue watching. It seems so noble now but completely foolish and fool hardy. Duh, it’s Game of Thrones, arguably the most talked about show on television, I was watching it. Things like that are in my geeky DNA.
And man am I so glad that I did. Last year Game of Thrones won the Emmy for Best Drama in what I thought was one of it’s weakest seasons. I was not a lover of season five, it had it’s moments but on the whole it didn’t jive well with me. Season six though, nothing but straight fire. It seemed that being free of the source material allowed the show to kind of shake off it’s shackles and to be what it was destined to be. A television show that was telling a story and not something to be dissected because it strayed from the source material. No book? No problem. Game of Thrones relished in this new territory and produced a season worthy of an Emmy (which it won).
I think what helped make season six so great was the fact that it now feels like there’s an end in sight. Think back to when watching shows like LOST or The Shield or Breaking Bad. Once you knew that there was an ending coming the story became tighter and the stakes became higher. That’s great story telling. Any time you read a novel and get to the climax try and gauge how fast that goes. It’s usually the fastest part of the novel because there has been so much build toward it. Television is the same way. At least all the great ones are. We know that Game of Thrones will be ending with season eight (arrrrgggghhhh) and that finish line has started to draw some of these loose threads together. We are building towards an massive end game where all story lines meet and shit gets real. It’s Westeros, how could it not?
I would argue that the sixth season of Game of Thrones gave us two of the best hours (or hour and a half) in television this year. “The Battle of the Bastards” is the most epic television episode I have ever seen. Like ever. Ever ever. The sheer scope of the episode (being able to pack all of that into one hour) is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Picture the scale of Braveheart but on a small screen. Yeah, that’s some heavy hitting stuff right there. And since there’s no book to support the show anymore it seemed like no one was safe. I remember screaming at my TV when Jon Snow was fighting the White Walkers last season, and I knew that he was going to survive, so you can imagine what was happening in the Fortress of Nerditude during “The Battle of the Bastards”. Lots of hyperventilating and talking to the screen.
As for the finale, “The Winds of Winter”, daaaaaaamn that was something. Those opening twenty minutes were flawless (especially with that score). There was a sense of impending doom hanging over this episode and it did not disappoint. I couldn’t believe the scale in which the plot was progressed here. Tons of pieces were moved on the board all but confirming the end is near. There were some tremendously rewarding character moments as well as some truly heart breaking ones all mixed into and hour and a half of television that left me giddy. When this episode ended I was just excited about the prospect of story telling. This was why I had fallen in love with this universe. This was everything I loved about it in one episode. Just magnificent story telling. Like, when this episode was over I went out with my friend to the bar and I asked if I could bring a sword because I wanted to battle. I needed to battle. That’s the impact this episode had on me.
Which was such a turn of events from season five. Like I said a handful of those episodes were pretty fantastic but on a whole five fell flat for me. Six knocked it out of the park. I won’t say that it made me forget about the books because that would be a lie. I’m still yearning for that novel like you wouldn’t believe, and I hope it’s different enough where the twists and turns haven’t been spoiled by the show. But if they are they are and I’ll have to deal with that. Season six of Game of Thrones needed to be watched and I’d be kicking myself right now had I learned about any of this on the interwebs. Only two seasons left and it seems like Game of Thrones is pulling a Breaking Bad. Going out while at the peak of it’s story telling. That’s a treat for us viewers. Always is. It’s not too late to get on board. We’ve got some time before season seven. If you move quickly I’ll hold the door for you…