It’s a black day – the day in which Game of Thrones‘ sixth season concludes, and leaves our screens for another bleak year. Across the pond, our American friends are already Throne-less (the show airs on Sunday evening for them), having seen what is promised to be an explosive finale to an equally explosive season. There’s no doubt the game has stepped up a mark – we’ve seen resurrections, rebirths, and battles beyond our wildest dreams – but who are the winners and losers of the season? The Edge‘s writers have come together to give their thoughts…
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
How did Daenerys, the rightful Queen of Westeros – she of many names – win Season 6 of Game of Thrones you ask? She said it herself:
“You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am. So I will.” – Daenerys Targaryen, “Book of the Stranger”
Her toppling of the cruel, misogynistic patriarchy that ruled the Dothraki was a return to form; and the fact that she did it without her dragons, her armies, and in an environment that she never planned to be in is the real triumph. And she wasn’t done there. She united the Khalasar with her demonstration of power, and brought the slavers who tried to destroy her to their knees. When her fury threatened to turn her reign into tyranny, she demonstrated true wisdom by taking the advice of her allies, and making something new from it: she spared Jorah (Iain Glen), she heeded Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), and she united with Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Theon (Alfie Allen). Years of struggling for her rule in Slaver’s Bay has now been brought to a fitting conclusion, as she showed the resolve and understanding to conquer and unite. The Kings are dead. Long live the Queen.
words by George Seabrook
The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce)
Considering the plethora of talent that is sprinkled throughout Westeros, the decision to scoop Jonathan Pryce for his role as the High Sparrow has proven to be an absolute coup. Just on paper, the role is a delicious slice of the action, but in reality, it’s a role that could’ve been easily cocked up. However, with his effortless balance of cunning and subtle manipulation, Pryce has made watching the High Sparrow one of this season’s highlights. The resurgence of the Faith Militant would not have nearly as much intrigue and interest without the Sparrow at its head. All of his scenes crackle with tension and are loaded with beautifully subtle dialogue, delivered with an intimate understanding of the character by Pryce. Bearing in mind he’s gone from ‘beggar’ to having the King of the Seven Kingdoms in the palm of his hand, I’d say there’s more to come from someone who knows how to play the game.
words by Eddy Tesfay
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
For the past five seasons, the Lannisters have gotten off relatively lightly. With the exceptions of Tywin, Joffrey and Myrcella, the House is still very much alive and kicking – which is a testament in itself, given how many lives the Game of Thrones has mercilessly taken already. But, sadly (for Lannister lovers like myself), this show is also renowned for eventually offering retribution – usually in the form of savagely killing those who deserve it. And a Lannister always pays their debts.
If there’s one Lannister that everyone (except me) loves to hate, it’s Cersei. Now, poor old Cersei’s had a rough time of it of late – spending this season mourning for the loss of yet another child; agonising over the naive stupidity of her last surviving one (for god’s sake, grow some balls Tommen); and desperately plotting to vanquish the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and the hysterical plague that he has spread over King’s Landing. She is far from the character she once was – gone are the long, regal locks that were once as synonymous to her character as a glass of wine. In their place, a harsh pixie cut is worn with a hard, embittered grimace. Cersei finds herself alone, and in a position where she is almost entirely powerless. But if the trailer for tonight’s episode is anything to go by, Cersei’s wallowing looks set to come to an explosive end. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, but in her own words; “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die”; and I have a feeling that she’ll definitely suffer a fate akin to the latter.
words by Anneka Honeyball
Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)
Jaime Lannister embodies one of the aspects that separates A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones from the rest of the fantasy genre – that none of it is as black and white / good vs evil as first appears. Jaime’s development as a character, and the development of our perception of him, is tumultuous. He goes from the image of the perfect knight – golden-haired and golden-clad, a member of the Kingsguard – to something far removed from that. A bad guy. An incestuous, child-maiming, Sean Bean-injuring bad guy. And for most series that would be enough of a twist, but not for Game of Thrones. Instead, we go on to see Jaime as he sees himself. His self-loathing, his struggle to be good and honourable, and to navigate a labyrinth of rules, rights, promises, and morals. This development, which largely took place during his time with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) in Season 3, stalled over the next few years, as the show deviated from the books and stumbled somewhat in Season 5. But now Jaime seems to be back on track. Coster-Waldau has been handed some powerful scenes – challenging the High Sparrow, besieging Riverrun, reuniting with Brienne – and has seized them with aplomb, continuing to open Jaime up and exploring the incredibly nuanced, human character that GRRM created. Jaime Lannister is a good man, though a good man who made bad choices – a good man who still has the chance to show this to the world.
words by Matt Clarson
Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju)
Tormund is a character who has really stepped forward in a big way this season. Formerly second in command to Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds), the bearded, brutish leader of the Wildlings has emerged this season as a noble, hard as nails warrior, willing to fight for what is right and to sacrifice himself for the greater good. With a Samwell Tarly shaped hole at his side, Tormund, along with Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), has become a key ally for Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
Kristofer Hivju’s stellar performance has endeared Tormund to legions of fans. Let’s face it; we were all cheering him on as he ripped out Smalljon Umber’s (Dean Jagger) throat with his teeth, and then stabbed him to death. It was a definitive moment for the utterly badass Wildling. The respect he commands from the Wildlings is significant, and his respect for Jon Snow is evident. It’s a performance which has earned Hivju roles in upcoming blockbuster movies Fast 8 and Justice League; thoroughly deserved roles at that. And let’s not forget the simply hilarious interactions between Tormund and Brienne of Tarth – does Brienne, an equally noble and tough warrior in her own right, finally have a Prince Charming?
words by David Mitchell-Baker
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
Everyone’s been raving about the newly resurrected Jon Snow and his heroics in taking back the North. Jon Snow, I ask incredulously? Were you not playing attention? Jon had pathetically decided to give up on fighting, until his little sister Sansa arrived at the Wall. Next, he was blundering into battle against Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), with a depleted army, bad battle tactics, and a refusal to listen to Sansa’s advice about how to handle her former husband. Jon and his men were all but dead when Sansa turned up with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) and the forces of the Vale to save the day. Then I come to the scene where Sansa faces Ramsay for the first time since she fled Winterfell – and fed him to the dogs, quite literally. I could not have been cheering for her anymore in that moment, even if she showed hints of darkness reminiscent of Cersei Lannister, her former sparring partner. All inspiredly played by Sophie Turner, an actress with caliber beyond her years.
This episode hints at a showdown between Sansa and Littlefinger. He has become Sansa’s key weakness since he rescued her in Season 4, and it’ll be interesting to see how their relationship continues to play out. I, for one, am voting for Sansa to feed him to the dogs too, and then take the Iron Throne for herself.
words by James Barker
Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) – R.I.P.
I like Ramsay Bolton. There, I said it! As far as I’m concerned, he had an alluring and oddly charismatic presence, adding a sense of personality to the show, in the face of some of the more mopey heroes. I mean, I get why the majority of people prefer the moral Starks, or the complex Lannisters. But for me, Iwan Rheon brought an electrifying magnetism to proceedings that no one else could match. And sometimes, a thoroughly evil douchebag can be incredibly appealing and simply fun to watch. Cartoonishly amoral villains, such as the Joker, Hannibal Lecter, or Freddy Krueger, are all pretty reprehensible individuals (a torturing psychopath, a cannibal and a demonic paedophile, respectively), but they are all viewed fondly in culture. To me, Ramsay is no different.
That being said, there were definitely moments where Ramsay made it difficult to like him (one much talked about Season 5 moment in particular) – but for the most part his evil-doings were just deliciously vile in the best kind of way. This season in particular saw Ramsay go into overdrive, with him committing his most evil act yet, when he fed his baby brother to the hounds. Ramsay worked wonderfully as Season 6’s big bad, but don’t let anyone convince you that he’s simply a one-dimensional nutjob and nothing more – it’s reductive to ignore the blatant insecurity that fuelled his sadism. His violent behaviour was only a twisted response to his status as a bastard, repressed by his father. Coming to the forefront this season in his interactions with Jon Snow, his vitriolic use of the word ‘bastard’ was fascinating, hinting a kind of self-loathing and insecurity that makes Ramsay far more than just a ‘mad dog’.
Almost all of my Season 6 highlights were Ramsay related (I’m sane I promise) – from his threatening letter to Jon Snow, to that unbearably tense Rickon scene, Ramsay really stole the show for me. Now I guess I’ll just have to find a normal character to like. This must be how everyone else felt after the Red Wedding.
words by Harrison Abbott
Jon Snow (Kit Harington)
He’s alive! He’s reunited with Sansa! He’s taken back the North! Need I say more? And with a big reveal hinted to come tonight of the Azor Ahai variety, Jon has taken massive steps to become a serious contender for that Throne…
words by James Barker
So we’ve seen some dramatic rises and falls from the characters of Game of Thrones this season, and (well, apart from Ramsay) their accelerations look set to continue into Season 7 next year. Although, we must remember what show we’re talking about; who knows if any of them with survive the bloodbath that is the season finale?
Game of Thrones concludes tonight with ‘The Winds of Winter’ on Sky Atlantic, at 10pm. The episode will be available via Now TV afterwards, along with the rest of the season.