Samuel Brace on what we need to from the rest of Game of Thrones season 6…
Game of Thrones is back, and after two episodes of its sixth season, the show has fully hit its stride once more, proving again that it’s still the best show on television — holding off the likes of The Leftovers and Better Call Saul. At this point in time we are so thoroughly invested in what’s going on, invested in the characters and the series’ sprawling narrative, that the ride we are on is elevated to places so few shows manage to reach. What is also working in its favour is that we know the end is now in sight. What do we have? Two seasons left at the most? That’s what it certainly feels like. And the two episodes we have been given so far have effectively set up what looks to be another fascinating and dynamic season of television. But part of the fun of is trying to figure out what is going to happen next, where all these story threads might lead, how they might intertwine. With the show now past the point of the books, most of this is now entirely guess-work, even if you wanted to spoil things for yourself (full disclosure, I’ve only read the first three novels). I play this game every year, to varying levels of success (miserable failure when it came to season five), but this season, I’m going to play it with you. So what is going to happen moving forward? What should happen in season 6? What are the most pertinent story arcs we need to see occur?
I can’t think of a better place to start than with the incident that everyone is talking about: The resurrection of Jon Snow. Whatever you may feel about his return — I kind of wished he stayed dead, but I’m a morose son of a bitch and enjoy seeing all these folks suffer — but the reality is that he’s back, he’s back and he will be affecting proceedings in an impactful manner going forward. So with those feelings put aside, we’ve got to think about what needs to happen with his character going forward. Does he stay at The Wall? Does he go further north? Does he take this rather unique second chance and go back south to finally find his family? Something else unexpected? Whatever his direction geographically, the most important thing that happens with regards to Jon and his new lease of life, is that there are repercussions for bringing him back. Repercussions not just for those around him, but for himself.
Jon isn’t the only man to have been brought back from death via a priest of R’hllor. Beric Dondarrion — you may remember him from years ago when he fought The Hound in that cave, wielding a flaming sword — was dragged back to the land of the living by the priest, Thoros of Myr. When Beric was brought back however, everytime that he was saved from death, he lost a piece of himself, his memories, the connection to his family, and retained the injuries of his previous battles. This must happen to Jon as well. If the show has to bring him back, this needs to be a new Jon. We have to see him fall again, brought back again, and his memories have to start abandoning him, his fond memories of Sansa, Arya and Bran slowly fading away. How heartbreaking it would be if Sansa finally made it back to him, only to find her brother a ghost of his former self, perhaps not remembering her at all or just indifferent to her arrival. Jon has always been a bit of a wet blanket, but if this changes Jon’s personality, adds a new dynamic to his scenes and impacts the story in a way that might even be negative, his resurrection will suddenly feel quite different — not the rosy, “let’s bring back our last classical hero”, type deal. Oh, and if we can get Jon a sick flaming sword, that would be cool too.
Speaking of Sansa, her storyline is one I believe to be crucial going forward. Not just to the narrative but ultimately the show’s success. For so long, for so many episodes, seasons and years, Sansa has been a perpetual victim, pushed and bullied around by the vicious and the cruel, trapped in a litany of dour circumstances. She has been beaten physically and mentally, a toy for the powerful to abuse as they wish. This was fine up and to a point. The dire situations that this poor girl found herself in time and time again, was what helped us grow to love her, to root for her, but now we need change. Change is what we thought we were going to get last season when she fell into the hands of Littlefinger, who seemed to want to mould her into a strong, powerful woman, allowing her to enact revenge on those that have ruined her life. Everything was set up for this, she was placed to become Wardeness of the North, but alas none of this came to fruition.
When Littlefinger left for Kings Landing, she couldn’t stand up to the Bolton’s (no shame there), she fell back into victimhood and ultimately had to rely on Theon to save her (a huge mistake of the show, she needed to be the one to liberate herself for once). But it’s not too late to rectify the mistakes of episodes past. Right now she is with Brienne and Pod, but we know that Uncle Petyr is surely lurking nearby, ready to reclaim his prize. If he returns to her, ready to offer her revenge once more, she needs to take it. Yes, ultimately, she would be making herself a victim of Littlefinger, but if she can wreak bloody vengeance on all those that have harmed her (and Baelish at the end) she will have grown from that poor little girl into that mighty woman of strength. By staying with Brienne and running back to Jon, she will remain the same. She will be the scared fragile creature that always needs protecting, a burden to those around her. She will not grow as a person. To walk away from her new protectors and back into Littlefinger’s arms will be tough, but I think it is right, for the story and for her character. The long game must be played.
Now, I could write another lengthy section on my dreams and aspirations for my favourite character Littlefinger, aka the only person who has his shit together, but as he plays so deeply into the Sansa arc, I will only say before moving on that he needs to progress a little bit further with his plan for domination, perhaps by taking Winterfell and becoming Warden of the North — make these gullible chumps bow down to his majesty. As for the final thing that needs to happen this season above all others… well, I think it is something we all will revel in. The end of the Sparrows. Yes, those religious, fanatical, equal sharing of misery, assholes. There is no villain so needing of obliteration than these despicable zealots. They are so gross that I wouldn’t mind if their demise took place during one single episode, but I suppose we should enjoy their end through a well planned and executed storyline.
How they are to be defeated, I don’t really care, as long as it happens this season I will be fulfilled. I have never understood how they climbed to their position of ultimate power in the first place. Why on earth Tommen didn’t just obliterate them at the start for imprisoning his wife and mother, I will never know. Or why the armies of Kings Landing didn’t just massacre them for their crimes is truly beyond me. What power do these freaks have? I know this is a religious place with religious people, but come on! It can’t be that hard to wipe them out, but it will get harder all the time, the longer they leave it, and if the Sparrows are allowed to recruit the entire city to their cause. It seems at least that Tommen is finally going to grow a pair (with the help of his mother) and sort this shit out, so hope is there to be found, but oh god do I hope this happens soon. I want the old Kings Landing back, ruled by god kings and schemers, not dirty, revolutionary, hard left extremists. Come on Cersei, murder them all, and then take out what’s left of Dorne, because the less we see of that going forward, the better we will all be.
There is no question that Game of Thrones is off to an expert start. They always do such an immaculate job of setting up these seasons, laying the ground work for the utter misery that is to come. Oh how I love it. Will any of the above actually manifest itself into the shows reality? I don’t know. I got last season so wrong but whatever choices they make, they have earned our trust at this point. The hiccups are so few, suffocated so vigorously by the shows overwhelming quality, that the thought of this show jumping off the deep end like other series (TWD) seems incredibly unlikely. And I vehemently disagree that Jon’s return is anything like The Walking Dead‘s hideous character fake-outs. Trying to predict this show is fun but there is nothing like being told a story by masters of their craft. So I’ll let them tell their story, even if I not so secretly think my ideas would have been better.