Season 6 of Game of Thrones brought more awesome to television than most shows do in their entire run. I’m not just saying that as a fan of the series: I’m saying this as a reader of George R.R. Martin’s novels, the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The TV show caught up to and surpassed the plot line of the novels, so I couldn’t predict each betrayal, each killing blow. My jaw dropped so many times, I’m surprised it didn’t shatter.
Here’s a look at some of the “Holy #$%! What the hell?!” moments from season 6…as we brace ourselves for ten freakin’ months of waiting for season 7.
For a few even more remarkable moments, check out our finale recap.
HOLD THE DOOR
When Bran, Meera, and the Three-Eyed Raven are attacked by the White Walkers, the “greenseeing” Bran is stuck in a vision of the past. As Meera drags his unconscious body away from the fighting, she shouts at Hodor to “Hold the door” against the undead.
But in the past, Bran is watching young, relatively intelligent “Wylis” while hearing Meera’s screams. And her voice echoes into young Wylis’ mind until he collapses, shouting, “Hold the door.”
In the present, Hodor is torn apart by the White Walkers. In the past, Wylis repeats the words until they merge into one: “Hodor.”
Bran might not have seen Hodor die, but he did watch as Wylis died and became Hodor.
[Someone, pass me a tissue.]
JON SNOW RETURNS FROM THE DEAD
When we left our brooding hero at the end of season 5, he was the late Jon Snow. Thanks to Melisandre’s witchery, Jon is very much current.
As the Night’s Watch says when a brother has died, “And now his watch has ended.” Upon revival, Jon takes those words to heart and leaves the Wall.
[His boots are made for walking.]
BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS
Jon Snow vs. Ramsay Bolton, formerly Ramsay Snow. As we saw in a previous article, the battle was as historically accurate as it was thrilling. Ramsay had the stronger numbers, but Jon had heart…which Ramsay tore in half when he killed young Rickon Stark in front of Jon.
Jon lost his clear mind. The Stark forces ultimately won, but only because
Robert Arryn Petyr Baelish’s army saved them.
[Two bastards enter, one bastard leaves.]
MELISANDRE ISN’T WHAT SHE SEEMS
The books had hinted that the priestess of R’hllor was older than she appeared. And in season 6, we saw it with our own eyes. Our own astonished eyes.
[When 100 years old you reach, look as good you will not.]
BENJEN STARK IS ALIVE. SORT OF
Meera had been protecting the unconscious Bran, but when she’s set upon by White Walkers, it looked as if all was lost for our heroes. Suddenly, a man in black appears and saves them.
The man reveals himself to be Bran’s uncle Benjen. He had been killed north of the Wall, but he had managed to halt the process that almost converted him from corpse to walking corpsicle.
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? SANSA STARK
Ramsay raped and tormented his wife Sansa. Ultimately, Sansa escapes and gets her revenge by feeding Ramsay to his dogs.
[You mess with the bull, you get the horns. You mess with the wolves, you get Sansa.]
DANY BURNS THE KHALS
In the beginning of season 6, Daenerys was captured by the Dothraki and hauled off to Dosh Khaleen, where she should have gone back in season 2. The Dothraki khals judge her for her insolence—and find her guilty.
As they threaten all sorts of nastiness, Dany only smiles, then puts her hand on a burning brazier. What the khals don’t know: Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, has an awesome super-power, an immunity to fire. She burns all the khals to death, then emerges from the flaming ruins of a building. She claims the leadership of the Dothraki people.
[Now she has another army. How many does that make? I’m losing count.]
For her second act, she returns to Meereen and sets her dragons on an invading fleet of ships. Because what good are her armies without a navy?
Does it get better? It does. She tells Yara and Theon Greyjoy she plans on leaving the world a better place than her crazy, crazy father did.
ARYA BECOMES NO ONE…AND THEN BECOMES ARYA AGAIN
Arya is blinded at the end of season 5, part of her training as one of the Faceless Men, a.k.a. assassins. But in season 6, we learn that you can’t keep a good Stark down. After taking a lot of stick (literally) from the Waif, she eventually learns to fight without her eyes.
[Note: This is important.]
After much training, Arya finally earns the respect of her mentor Jaqen H’ghar and joins their ranks, becoming “No One.”
Almost immediately, No One decides not to fulfill an assassination contract, which puts her in the Waif’s crosshairs. After much stabbing and running, Arya leads the Waif to a room where she keeps her precious sword Needle and only one candle for light. With one dramatic sweep, she slashes the candle…and wins the advantage.
When next we see Arya, she’s at the House of Black and White, reclaiming her name and her purpose. “My name is Arya Stark of Winterfell. And I’m going home.”
BRIENNE TO THE RESCUE
Brienne swoops in to rescue Sansa and Reek/Theon as the Bolton army is about to capture them. She pledges her sword to Sansa Stark.
She also manages to uphold her word to the late Catelyn Stark by trying to recruit the Tully forces to the Stark side. It doesn’t go quite as planned. But Brienne does see Jaime Lannister for the first time in two seasons…where she lets him know that she still keeps faith with Catelyn.
[That’s the sound of a thousand fan fiction writers inserting a farewell sex scene.]
THE HOUND RETURNS
The Hound, a.k.a. Sandor Clegane, was a killer and proud of it. After slicing his way through the first four seasons, Arya had left the him for dead after Brienne ran him through.
Fast forward to the present, and the Hound’s natural anger is tempered with remorse for his former murderous ways. But not, as we see, for long.
[He looks so happy. That’s not going to last long.]
Ellaria Sand and the Sandsnakes take over
As readers of the books know, Doran Martell has been playing the long game in the game of thrones. But that’s not good enough for Ellaria Sand and the daughters of her late paramour, Oberyn Martell. They kill Doran, his son Trystane, and now they rule Dorne.
We don’t know their trade policies or their human rights record. But we do know their about their plans for national security.
[It looks a bit like this.]
REST IN PEACE, OSHA AND RICKON
Osha and Rickon Stark are captured by Ramsay’s forces. Ramsay quickly dispatches the loyal Osha. Rickon, he saves to goad Jon into battle.
[The above gif is more dialog than Rickon got in all of season 6.]
REST IN PIECES, ROOSE AND RAMSAY
Ramsay’s step-mother gave birth to a son, and Ramsay ain’t having inheritance confusion. Ramsay kills his father, his step-mother, his baby half-brother, and feeds them to his dogs.
[This later comes back to bite him.]
CERSEI CHOOSES VIOLENCE
The Faith of the Seven has gotten a hold of young King Tommen and his seemingly brainwashed wife Margaery. Not Cersei. Her Walk of Shame may have brought her low, but you can’t keep a good villain down.
When the Faith, led by her cousin Lancel, tries to take her back to their lair, she refuses—and unleashes the power of her fully operational battle Frankenstein, Ser Robert Strong. And he only takes orders from Cersei.
[This later comes back to bite King Tommen.]
THE ARRIVAL OF EURON GREYJOY
Euron Greyjoy is Aeron’s younger brother. His first act upon returning to the Iron Islands? Killing Aeron. His second act? Winning the throne of the Iron Islands, the Seastone Chair, from his niece Yara. Third? Hunting down Yara and the newly redeemed Theon, who managed to escape his kraken tentacles.
Yara and Theon make their way to Meereen, where they make a pact with Dany. But as book readers know, that might not be enough to stop the ferocious Euron.
[In the books, someone says, “All of Euron’s gifts are poisoned.” Please remember this. It will become important.]
BRAN SEES THE FIGHT AT THE TOWER OF JOY
Readers of the series A Song of Ice and Fire have been anticipating this moment since we first learned of it in the novel A Game of Thrones; thanks to clues scattered throughout the series, we think this event ties in to theory that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen.
The finale clinched it. After twenty years, our tin-foil hat theories have been replaced by a mortarboard and tassel.
[Ned Stark wasn’t lying when he told Jon, “You may not have my name, but you have my blood.”]
AND THE ONE UNAWESOME PART OF SEASON 6: TYRION DOES NOTHING
Tyrion tries to rule Meereen without Dany, and he does an adequate job. But considering this is the man who planned the Battle of the Blackwater, he did precious little to shore up Meereen’s defenses–particularly when it was obvious that the other slaver cities wouldn’t hold to his treaty.
Tyrion proved himself to be a strategic thinker in Westeros. Why, oh why, did lose his wits in Essos?
[It’s not like he was occupied.]
Featured Image Credit: HBO.