We are now almost midway into what seems to be the most promising Game of Thrones season thus far, hence keeping in with HBO tradition, with serials progressing with time. Twists and turns combined with a scintillating tale being narrated is what best describes Game of Thrones, and HBO has done a splendid job in taking their standards a few notches up. However, what we believe is of utmost importance to be pointed out about this season is how show-runners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have chosen to tell this tale on their own, breaking away from how George R.R. Martin wishes to conclude his Song of Ice and Fire. This makes this season much more special and important for HBO in not disappointing their fans, and this episode now gives us a clearer view on what the season wishes to achieve.
We begin this episode at Castle Black where we are greeted with a disillusioned Jon Snow, having come back from the dead and seemingly taken a tough decision, that of leaving the Night’s Watch. However, his mind is seen later made up with Sansa Stark along with her now guardian, the exceptionally tall Brienne of Tarth who apparently isn’t over her earlier king Renly’s death. In hindsight, seeing Jon Snow now ready to take up arms against a house in Westeros while most obviously breaking his oath of the Night’s Watch citing his own brothers murdering him, this surely comes as a put-out to the otherwise honor-upholding and the warrior that Jon Snow was at Hardhome or in the episode ‘The Watchers at the Wall‘, but this is the direction most fans hoped his plot-line would take, post-resurrection.
It was Lady Sansa Stark who shined in the first half of the episode. Displaying great vigor and a surprising enthusiasm for going to war belied everything that we knew to be true of the Sansa Stark who wished to get married to Joffrey or have his children. Her story finally sparks interest, and more importantly sets up questions on the path she chooses moving forward, once she does achieve her goals of going back to ‘home’ and winning what is rightfully theirs, which would bring more attention towards her character in the upcoming episodes.
Moving forward, we are now at the great city of Meereen, where an unlikely trade is taking (or taken) place between the wise masters of Yunkai, who we can better recognize as the slave masters, and fan favourite Tyrion Lannister who apparently speaks on behalf of ‘Queen Daenerys’, whom we shall see more of later. It is no secret that the ‘imp’ and the ‘eunuch’ (Lord Varys) are but the kings of diplomacy who can arguably be second only to the enigmatic ‘Littlefinger’ (Lord Baelish). Hence, their offer of providing 7 years to the slave masters and slowly corroding slavery away and also receiving a compensation in behalf certainly raises eyebrows mostly due to the fact of how Daenerys Targaryen’s hardline approach towards slavery has been throughout the show’s history will most certainly clash with theirs. Whether this debate occurs in the foreseeable future or whether the chance of having such an argument in itself manifests or not is to be seen.
Before talking about the highlight of the episode, few notable occurrences and other happenings in the episode are worth mentioning. Petyr Baelish finally got screentime in season 6 and he managed to squeeze in a bit of everything we love about his enigmatic aura. Still nailing the tiny nuances of the Littlefinger’s shrewdness and cunning, Aiden Gillen owns the 5 minutes alloted, wherein he continues to garner increasing influence over the ‘Lord of the Vale’, and also confirms them into going to war. But as always, we have absolutely no idea what outcome he desires out of this madness, and what’s in it for him which.
David Benioff has decided that Ramsay Bolton’s character doesn’t have enough depth in it, and his abhorrent and disturbed nature and peace of mind hasn’t been displayed explicitly yet. The outcome? An unnecessary killing last episode and now in this one where we witness yet another disturbing killing on the hands of the Bolton bastard, this time the victim being Osha, our wildling serving the Starks. Ramsay Bolton’s character has been associated with the words ‘clinical psychopath’, ‘vicious’ and ‘sadistic’ long before he brought his dogs food in the form of his younger brother or his step-mother. Whether adding to this persona of wickedness is simply an investment of time now to later bring a few changes or shall all that screentime simply be about magnifying everything that we have already grown to hate about him is to be seen in this season.
Finally, writing about this absolutely epic last scene in itself gives me the shivers. Daenerys Targaryen, is now clearly ready to take power into her own hands, which might finally change viewer opinions about her. There are two key aspects to how I view this scene and what it tells me about the ‘Last Targaryen’. There is little doubt that the cinematography and the direction adds to portraying the grip that Daenerys extorts over the atmosphere, with every breath in the air under her command. Executed with perfection, Emilia Clarke deserves praise for handling it excellently. On the other hand, this could also be seen as the same characteristic problem that currently plagues Ramsay Bolton. We have grown to love Daenerys and whether her frequent need for an image make-over for people to join her is needed or whether it makes us feel, opposite to what it intends, a rather weak woman dependent on such acts of valour done by birth values but not at the merits of anything that she achieved in her lifetime indeed made me wonder whether she has my support. While everyone is left to their good sense of judgement, such a shortcoming in character development should not be seen in ‘Game of Thrones‘.
Overall in final words, this episode does bring a monumental surge for excitement to see what direction does Game of Thrones take in this season, and raises the expectations for power scenes in the form of the last one. Music and acting just as always has been on point, whether it be Kit Harington bringing in a welcome and understandable change into Jon Snow’s character from that what we saw in Hardhome to his current state of mind or Littlefinger getting onboard the same sparkle in his eyes filled with mischief in each frame, just as, well, always.