Game of Thrones Season Six Wrap-up

By Valerie Estelle Frankel

Well, everyone ended the series wearing black or darker colors. And Winter has come like Ned always promised. Apparently, everyone’s grown up now. And mostly in mourning.

Things we were expecting ALL Season that got strung along until EPISODE TEN at which point we kind of shrugged and said, “Yep, about time”:

  • The ladies of Dorne moving against Cersei
  • Lannister vs. Highgarden
  • Bran deciding to intervene in the war
  • The Tower of Joy
  • Arya gets off her butt, returns to Westeros, and starts assassinating people
  • Daenerys gets off her butt, beats the neighbors, and heads for Westeros
  • Walder Frey’s big comeuppance
  • Melisandre confesses what she did to Shireen
  • The Wildlings ally with the Northerners
  • Jon Snow is lord of Winterfell with the nobles’ support
  • Sam finally gets to the Maesters’ stronghold

Characters who probably didn’t live up to their full book potential before suddenly getting pruned so the writers have less to deal with:

  • House Dorne (almost the whole thing)
  • House Highgarden (almost the whole thing)
  • Rickon and Osha
  • Lady Stoneheart (okay, she never showed up, and now probably won’t)

Characters who admittedly probably didn’t have much plot left:

  • House Bolton
  • Three-Eyed Raven
  • Walder Frey
  • Tommen and Myrcella
  • Hodor
  • The rebels on the Wall
  • Stannis and family
  • Kevan Lannister and Lancel (the former died Book Five, anyway)
  • Grand Maester Pycelle (ditto)
  • Robin Arryn — I’m surprised he’s still alive.

And every time, it seems “The Rains of Castamere” plays, emphasizing that no one in Westeros knows any other songs. And let’s face it, this is about the only tune we’ll be hearing next season, too.

That said, there are a few moving pieces remaining. Loose ends:

  • Beric and the Brotherhood (some of us assumed he only existed to create Lady Stoneheart…)
  • The Hound
  • Benjen Stark
  • Daario (Hey, he could return)
  • Melisandre
  • Euron
  • Littlefinger and Robin Arryn
  • Lord Edmure — I don’t suppose Arya has the sense to release her broken uncle?

Daenerys is now all poised for an alliance with House Highgarden and House Dorne. The books could certainly go this way, though Dorne has a number of conflicting agendas. But the book version of the Lannister-Highgarden alliance will certainly fall apart, though perhaps not by destroying half the cast in a single burst of wildfire. (Though this has been foreshadowed since the tale of the Mad King. If it’s all sitting around, someone should use it.)

Tommen’s pruning just felt tacked on, to finish off his plot as well and unhinge Cersei even more. One presumes that, after giving his entire brain to the High Sparrow with a bit for Margaery, there was nothing left. And when his only loved one left is the mother he was willing to sacrifice…sometimes there’s nowhere to go but down.

Jon Snow has allied with the Wildlings and the Eyrie. Presumably those on the Wall would work with him, or even still consider him their lord commander. Meanwhile, Jon’s sending Melisandre away may be a very bad choice since she does have the link with the Lord of Light, possibly the only supernatural force that could destroy the White Walkers. Doing the proper thing often works badly in Westeros.

Just about everyone else is now Team Lannister (okay, almost no one), Team Daenerys (now including the women in charge of Highgarden and Dorne and Iron Islands and Varys’ connections and most of the Lord of Light’s priesthood) or Team Stark (about to fight the White Walkers). Bran and Meera and Sam and Gilly and Arya and Brienne are Team Stark, but also have their own paths and likely a bit more to do before they all join up. And Littlefinger is somewhat Team Stark but definitely out to serve his own ends (and admitted it, as he has been since season one). Team White Walker could get a mention too I suppose.

Lyanna Mormont is delightful –a successor to Arya now that Arya has grown up. As lady of her house and fully loyal to Jon, it’s not clear whether she’ll have much subplot. She, like Lady Olenna, appears to have been elevated to give the women a few parts in this massive struggle for male domination.

The books have more subplots with the Golden Company and House Dorne plotting massive invasions, and House Greyjoy raiding Westeros rather than focusing all their energy on Daenerys. It’s also surprising how much we HAVEN’T moved forward — most characters are where they are at the end of book five, or maybe a couple chapters beyond it. Still, by streamlining the show this much, we can reach about the same point, with Daenerys coming to destroy evil queen Cersei (a bit ironic, as Cersei wasn’t really one of the original usurpers) and save Westeros from the White Walkers with her literal firepower. I think everyone’s pretty clear that’s how it’s ending. There’s also the concept of a massive sacrifice needed to make her the chosen one — most likely the love of her life in that third fire she’ll have to light. I guess the scene with the Khals (probably book accurate) gave us her second one.

Her three Dragonriders have not been declared (my money’s on Jon and Bran) but she has given Tyrion a life position, and if Jaime and Cersei kill each other, House Lannister is his as well. Daenerys mentioned an alliance marriage. In the books, houses like Dorne and Highgarden still actually have sons left, to say nothing of the mysterious nephew Aegon. Current eligible young men on the show include Jon Snow (okay, likelier yet now that he’s a house head and has gotten over the celibacy oath), Robin Arryn, Littlefinger, and that’s about it (presumably Theon is ineligible, and Daenerys seems to think of Tyrion as counselor, not husband). That’s it — literally all the other men have been slaughtered. Unless Gendry rows back into town. So Daenerys will soon reach Westeros. And soon after that, we’ll be out of epic. Of course, there’s still two more books…

Valerie Estelle Frankel is the author of six books on Game of Thrones, including:

Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones

Mythology in Game of Thrones

and the humorous How Game of Thrones Will End: The History, Politics, and Pop Culture Driving the Show to its Finish.

They’re all available on Amazon.

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