By Dia Ascenzi
The Season Six finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones was perhaps one of the most surprising episodes yet. As a book reader, I love finally not having to hear (or think) “That’s not how it happened in the books,” or some such snooty remark. The show risked fan outrage when they surpassed the books, and many (including myself) weren’t sure if the show would begin a downward spiral this season. However, I was not disappointed in the least, as Season Six was amazing.
So, how did the show measure up to the books, and the fans’ expectations?
Jon Snow and Sansa
He’s back bitches. We all knew it was coming, but it was a mystery whether he would come back as himself, or a wight, or warg into ghost, or maybe not come back at all. Nope. He just came back, as brooding as ever. But another theory was proven with this event. Jon Snow’s “watch has ended” because he “lived and died at his post.”
Sansa shows up at the Wall (she’s still in the Eyrie in the books), after being intercepted by Brienne. The Maid of Tarth fulfilled her duty. With Sansa in his company, after hearing that Rickon was in the custody of the Boltons (yeah, he wasn’t forgotten), Jon and his Night’s Watch/wildling army goes to battle with the Bastard of Bolton. In perhaps the most epic battle scene of the whole show, Rickon, Wun Wun, and countless other wildlings and crows die. But thanks to Sansa, Littlefinger, and the Knights of the Vale, Jon is victorious, and Ramsay suffers the fate he deserved.
In the finale, Jon is pronounced the King in the North, or “#Dakingindanorf,” and somewhere in there I heard the nickname “The White Wolf,” which gave me goosebumps.
Tower of Joy and R+L=J
The Tower of Joy also happened this season. We got to see young Ned be a straight up badass and hold his own against the Sword of the Morning, Arthur Dayne. Although, Dayne didn’t dual-wield in the books. He just had the one sword: Dawn. But I digress. Seeing Howland Reed for the first time on-screen, he lands the killing blow to Arthur Dayne (even though Ned could clearly take him).
In the season finale, we see what all of us book-readers knew was coming. The reveal of the biggest fan theory, “R+L=J,” took place near the end of the finale. Ned ascends the steps of the Tower of Joy to find his sister, Lyanna. The theory that Lyanna had twins was crushed, but baby Jon Snow is definitely half Targ, half Stark. Is he the song of ice and fire?
Daenerys is homeward bound
The Mother of Dragons has had some pretty boring plot lines, but this season was actually quite action-packed for Daenerys. Staying true to the books, Season Five ended with Dany flying away on Drogon, and eventually stumbling upon a Khalasar. The rest was all new to book and show fans alike.
The show left out Victarion Greyjoy (which is basically a crime), but the main idea was still there. In the books, Victarion was sent by Euron Greyjoy to basically seek out Daenerys, and bring her back to him to be his wife. However, Victarion decided that he would win Daenerys to his side on his own. Even with the absence of an entire character, the plot is still very similar. Theon and Asha (I mean Yara…) sail to Daenerys and pledge themselves to her cause. Dany names Tyrion her Hand of the Queen, and the season finale ended with a truly epic scene of a Targaryen fleet sailing from Meereen with Greyjoys and dragons in tow. YAS QUEEN!
Arya and Frey pies
Arya’s story arc had very few fan theories surrounding it. However, I think every theory involved her fully becoming a faceless woman. I was a little disappointed to see her turn down a position at the House of Black and White. Until the finale.
Arya lived up to the hype, and became an assassin in her own right. In the season finale, wearing someone else’s face, Arya assassinated one of the most hated characters in the show: Walder Frey. The show also nods to a plot in the books involving “Frey pies.” Arya serves the late Lord Frey a pie made from the flesh of his dead sons, very similar to subtle hints in the books that suggest almost the same thing. This was also foreshadowed in Season Three, when Bran tells the tale of the Rat King.
Hodor, and Coldhands=Benjen
Ok, so Hodor. That shit was devastating. It left a worse taste in my mouth that Ned or the Viper. D&D got all timey-wimey on us when explaining how Hodor became Hodor. Let me try to get this straight. Bran warged into past-Hodor back when Hodor was Wyllis (changed from Walder in the books), and this allowed him to control him in the present. While fleeing from the Night’s King (you just can’t do anything right, can you Bran!?), Hodor was told to “hold the door.” This stress on top of being warged into in two different time periods caused him some serious brain damage, and “hold the door” became “Hodor,” and that’s all he can say now. I think I got it.
Those who haven’t read the books may not have seen this next part as as big of a deal as book-readers did. The exclusion of Coldhands was devastating to all of us. A non-evil wight riding a giant elk? Too badass not to include. But enough time had gone by that we had all but gave up hope to see it.
David and Dan didn’t let us down. After fleeing from the home of the three-eyed crow, Bran and Meera were rescued by none other than Benjen Stark, undead, turned into a wight by the Children of the Forest. He wasn’t on a giant elk, but hey, I was just pleased to know the Benjen wasn’t forgotten, and neither was Coldhands. He drops the young warg off at the Wall, and they part ways.
Sam finally made it to Hogwarts!
Admit it. You had the exact same thought. Our beloved Sam, after being shunned from his home (again), steals Heartsbane and makes his way to the Citadel. Don your tinfoil hats, because I have a theory. Sam stole Heartsbane to learn how to forge Valyrian Steel at the Citadel. Maybe it was obvious.
Another popular theory was that the Hound wasn’t really dead. Seriously, if they don’t show the death on-screen, they likely aren’t dead (lookin’ at you, Syrio). Similar enough to the Gravedigger theory, Sandor attempted to live out his days simply, living with some peasant pacifists and none other than Ian McShane as their leader. They all are murdered, however, and Sandor is an inch closer to being “the gravedigger.”
He then meets up with the Brotherhood Without Banners, and we get to see Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr once more (didn’t forget about them either, did you D&D?), but no sign of Lady Stoneheart. This set-up is too good to not have the Cleganebowl in Season Seven. GET HYPE.
Cersei and King’s Landing
Cersei is more evil, cold-blooded, and reckless than any of us could have possibly imagined. First, she straight up uses unGregor as her personal weapon. She does whatever she wants. When the Faith Militant tries to take her in, and she refuses, they were about to take her by force. But The Mountain That Rides literally just rips the head off one of the sparrows, and that was that. I was kind of hoping for a big action scene, but that was probably more frightening.
And the finale… When Margaery, Loras, Mace Tyrell, and the entire Faith Militant are in the Great Sept of Baelor, Cersei is conveniently not there. What happened next was, I guarantee, the most unexpected event to happen in the entire show. If anyone tries to say they knew it was coming is a lying bastard. Cersei went all Mad King on us and lit a ton of wildfire underneath the Sept. Naturally, the whole thing blew the hell up. Margaery, Loras, Mace, and the Sparrows are done.
Maester Qyburn, Cersei’s shady maester, takes the scene that belonged to Varys in the books. Instead of Varys’ little birds killing Kevan Lannister, it is Qyburn’s little birds killing Maester Pycelle. In one fell stroke, Cersei took out all of her enemies in King’s Landing. Bravo, you evil bitch. Bravo.
The show definitely went in some wild directions from where we thought the books would go, but who’s to say that’s not how it happens in the coming books? I for one am not disappointed in the least bit. And based on the stuff that we thought was left out, but wasn’t, it gives me hope that other plot lines will come back (Lady Stoneheart, mostly). Although, the showrunners just confirmed that there are only 13 episodes left in the entire show, so maybe not. All I have to say is this: write faster, George.