Game of Thrones season six officially came to a close this week. Throughout this season, we’ve had good moments, bad moments, and well and truly awesome moments. Rather than rank or review episodes, I’ve decided to simply choose the best (and, soon after, the worst) moments of the show this season, as many an episode can be struck with a mix of bad and good plotlines.
Obviously it should go without saying that spoilers for the season are going to be here in abundance, and this is my own personal opinion, so feel free to disagree with certain points or believe others deserved a mention.
10. Brienne rescues the Bolton captives
Sansa’s storyline left on quite a cliffhanger last season. This season, we see it begin again with a tense scene of Sansa and Theon desperately trying to escape pursuing Bolton men. Just as it seems they’ve been captured, Brienne and Pod appear to save the day.
Not only is it rewarding to finally see Brienne complete her quest, (especially the almost tearful look of joy on her face after gaining Sansa’s acceptance), but I appreciate the fact that Brienne doesn’t just cut them all down in seconds. Even if her showing up at the right moment seemed unrealistic, the fact that she does struggle to fight against a group, and does need the help from Pod and Theon, makes it a little more realistic.
Special mention goes to Theon here. After all he’s suffered from the Boltons, being willing to give himself up in order to save Sansa is quite possibly the most admirable part of the scene.
9. Lyanna Mormont and the King in the North
There’s no talking about the highlights of season six without at some point bringing up Lyanna Mormont. After all the weak and naive child leaders (Tommen, Robin Arryn…) we’ve seen, a little girl with a spine made of steel comes along. While her introduction gained her plenty of fans, being the first to call out the other houses and pledge her allegiance to Jon as the King in the North. What we get next is highly reminiscent of the season one scene that featured Robb Stark. A whole load of Northmen, plus one hardened little girl, chanting for Jon’s victory.
Special mention goes to Lyanna’s actress, Bella Ramsey. Managing to show a little girl talking down a group of grown men exude such stern badassery is no small feat for a child actress.
8. Lock up your chickens and look who’s back
You know something’s up when the first scene of an episode is played before the credits, and it’s not even the finale. After a whole season and a half of absence, Sandor Clegane is finally back. While Jon Snow’s return may have been more desired, let’s face it, everyone saw that one coming. The Hound’s return, on the other hand, comes right out of nowhere and does not fail to satisfy.
7. Daenerys sets sail (finally)
For six seasons, we’ve been waiting for this moment. The day Daenerys finally decides to take her armies and return to Westeros as the rightful queen. Though who could have imagined she’d have the Greyjoys, Tyrells and Martells on her side?
This scene is not only satisfying to finally see, but shot beautifully. From the first shot of Theon looking up at the Greyjoy banner (cementing he has finally returned to his family, as Theon), to Drogon’s wings slicing through the ocean waves, and the glorious golden dragon heads of the ships.
6. The Siege of Mereen
“No One” seemed to suggest that the Siege of Mereen would mostly be glossed over. Then, the following episode, we see Daenerys and co dealing with the invading slave masters in terms of surrender, only to reveal they were negotiating the masters’ surrender.
Enter Drogon, who ferries Daenerys to the bay, soon joined by Viserion and Rhaegal, to show the slavemasters what happens when you piss off a woman with three dragons. And to show the audience where the special effects budget went this season.
And of course, let’s not forget Grey Worm cutting the throats of the two cowardly masters in a single strike, and Tyrion reminding the survivor, the lower born Yezzan, to tell the people back home exactly what happened.
5. The Green Trial
Throughout this season, Cersei has been a lot more quiet and subdued. Almost as though her rage has been slowly festering, and building up until it’s let lose on the world, in the form of caches of wildfire hidden beneath the Sept of Baelor.
The fantastic piece of music by Ramin Djawadi, “Light of the Seven”, builds the atmosphere throughout this scene. Tension arises as Margaery realises Cersei’s absence, while the High Sparrow’s flawless streak of beating Cersei has left him all too confident to believe her. A race between the Tyrells trying to get out of the building, wounded Lancel trying to reach the tealights placed in wildfire, and the flame coming ever closer, ends tragically with an impressive explosion the deaths of every known character in King’s Landing aside from Cersei, Qyburn, and Ser Gregor.
And Cersei watches, drinking her wine, showing how being beaten, outwitted, and having her children taken from her for so long has well and truly made her into the mad queen.
4. Daenerys, the Unburnt
So, obviously Daenerys needs to get out of Vaes Dothrak and back to Mereen, right? Presumably either via Drogon’s return or Jorah and Daario’s rescue right?
Instead, we see Daenerys return to her Targaryen roots of Fire and Blood. With Jorah and Daario’s assistance, Daenerys burns down the temple of the Dosh Khaleen, unharmed by the fire surrounding her, looking down on everyone like a true conqueror.
After Jon’s icy resurrection, we have Daenerys’s fiery rebirth. She’s naked as a baby, and she’s worshipped like a god.
3. Young Ned Stark versus Ser Arthur Dayne
To the surprise of many, season six finally showed us a famous historic event that occurred before the show, but contributed to a great portion of its events: the fight for the Tower of Joy. And what a fight that was.
Arthur Dayne manages to shine in the five minutes of screen time he has, wielding two swords and proving to be one of the best fighters ever seen on the show. Shockingly, this fight completely averts your typical “fight one and one when we could all just pile on him together” trope, by actually having everyone fight him at once, and yet Dayne is still an inch away from winning the whole thing.
Of course, in mentioning this scene I should probably mention the aftermath we see in the finale, where a very northern-accented Lyanna Stark gives her baby to Ned, revealing what people have speculated for years now. But not revealing what Jon’s birth name supposedly is.
2. The Battle of the Bastards
One of the largest and most brutal battles in the history of the show. Jon Snow’s army of wildings and loyal northerners, versus Ramsay Bolton’s army of Boltons, Umbers and Karstarks.
In spite of epic shots like the one pictured, this sequence well and truly puts forward the horrors of battle. Jon sees his men get killed right in front of him, one just seconds after saving him. He and many others are almost crushed to death while surrounded by Boltons. And corpses begin to pile up like hills.
Jon and his men suffer so much in this fight, you can’t help but feel a wave of relief once the Knights of the Vale finally make their appearence. Ramsay’s loss, death by hounds, and of course repeated punching by Jon, may be the most cathartic thing since the Purple Wedding.
And, while Rickon Stark’s death was tragic, and a key example of Ramsay’s skill at psychological warfare, truly the greatest casualty of this battle was Wun Wun, who valiantly died breaking down the doors of Winterfell, only to be shot to death, possibly bringing an end to the giant race altogether.
Though his death was not the saddest of the season….
1. “Hold the Door”
Game of Thrones has had many truly tragic moments. From Ned Stark’s execution, to the Red Wedding, to Shireen’s horrifying death. But season six has given us one of the biggest contenders for the saddest moment in the show’s history: Hold the Door.
Not since “The Rains of Castamere” have we seen an episode end in such an action packed, gruesome, and heartbreaking manner. To summarise: the Night King and his army attack the Three Eyed Raven’s Cave, kill the Three Eyed Raven, kill Summer, possibly wipe out the Children of the Forest, and pursue Bran, Meera and Hodor. Bran, still warged into the past, connects to Hodor through his past self, and unknowingly gives him what appears to be permanent brain damage. As young Wyllis collapses, he echoes Meera’s words, “Hold the door”, as we see future Hodor doing just that, and succumbing to the attacking wights. All this time, Hodor’s signature phrase was a shortened version of the words that led to his death.
This entire sequence is terrifying and tragic. The sheer helplessness of our heroes is conveyed perfectly through Meera’s sheer horror at the situation, the childrens’ desperation to fight off the wights, and the entire army descending onto the cave (with some wights crawling in through the ceiling). And then we see Hodor’s death. An innocent, brain damaged man desperately tries to save his friends from a wave of zombies attacking him, all the while his younger self is permanently scarred for life.
To see all of this, and feel such emotion in such a short space of time, in my opinion, earned it the award for the best scene of the whole season.
Jon’s resurrection, Benjen’s return, Arya killing Walder Frey, Cersei’s discovery of Myrcella’s death, Jon and Sansa’s reunion, Daenerys allying with Yara, Tyrion meeting the dragons, Olenna Tyrell shutting up the Sand Snakes.
Keep reading these posts to see the top 10 worst moments next time!