This review contains spoilers.
We are only three episodes in to the sixth season of Game of Thrones, but already it’s fair to say that we are potentially witnessing the greatest season to date.
This was another expertly crafted episode, managing to fit in so many different storylines while also keeping the rhythm and pacing just right. This is testament to the writers and editing staff, who deserve so much credit for the las three episodes. There has been little to complain about (other than Dorne) and with so much promise yet to come, the show should only continue to get better and better.
In terms of the episode itself, it carried on from the previous two, by having multiple storylines within the episode, bookended by Jon Snow’s story arc at Castle Black. They seem to be very keen on this formula, as they have so many stories to tell this season, with such a large cast. In seasons gone by, some of the story progression was slow and dragged on far too long, this sometimes made the show a chore to watch. You just had to get to the end of the episode for the stinger.
There seems to be no problems this season, as each episode has such sublime pacing that you sometimes forget that you are only on the third episode. So much has happened already, so many characters have started their season six journeys, and we haven’t even seen the White Walkers yet!
The show opened with a continuation from last week’s episode, and the return of Jon Snow.
It was a tense and emotional opening that was beautifully executed. But it was taken to a whole different level with the comedic relief of Tormund Giantsbane. His line about Snow’s ‘manhood’ was the much needed laugh to lift the scene. The real highlight from this opening act was the embrace between Eddison Tollett and Jon Snow. This would of course come in to play at the end of the episode. More on that later.
We got to see Bran continue his training under the watchful eye of the Three-Eyed Raven. Last week we saw Ned, Benjen and Lyanna Stark as children. This week we found ourselves in a location, that every book reader has been longing to see, the Tower of Joy.
First of all, the casting of the young Ned Stark was near-perfect. The accent was very convincing, but most of all it was the eyes and the way he held himself on screen.
This scene also introduced a book favourite, Ser Arthur Dayne, the legendary knight in Aerys Targaryen’s Kingsguard.
While he didn’t have his famous sword from the books, he did wield duel weapons, and when confronted by Ned and his men, we would get to see them in action.
What followed was a stunning piece of fight choreography, which was some of the finest swordplay ever seen on TV.
When you have multiple fighters attacking one person, you always look to the ones who are not attacking. What are they doing? Are they just standing there swinging their swords? Killing time until it’s their turn to strike? This doesn’t make the fight believable, as you would want to make your numerical advantage count. In this scene there was no standing around or twirling of the swords to look cool. The choreography was so on point that it was fast and it was believable, with Dayne having to fend off a constant barrage of attacks from Ned and his men.
It’s safe to say we will get more Tower of Joy in the next episode, and fans of the R+L=J Theory will be very excited to see what happens next. For non-book readers, whose scream was it that caught Ned’s attention? We will find out soon enough.
Last week, Arya was taken off the streets and once again began her training, albeit without her eyesight. So far this season she has taken a lot of punishment, and a lot of sticks to the face. She has been battered and bruised, pushed to breaking point, but she did not break.
While she is still seen as a child character, she has consistently been one of the strongest female characters on the show. And that is without her new ‘Daredevilesque’ training. Her character is only going to continue to grow, and now that she has her sight back we can expect her training to intensify even more.
Back in King’s Landing, the Lannisters continue to re-build and strike back at those who have wronged them. From children spies to Tommen continuing to plead with the High Sparrow, it’s clear that there are many roadblocks for the Lannisters to get through. But with their un-dead champion at their side, and a renewed sense of purpose, it won’t be long until those roadblocks are sidestepped and they finally start to dish out their vengeance.
And so, we end the episode by returning to Castle Black. The traitors of the Knight’s Watch, including Alliser Thorne and Olly, are hanged and killed.
This final scene was a massive fan service, and social media irrupted in glee with these deaths, with Olly especially.
While it’s understandable to an extent, some of the celebration was a little over the top. In the end, Thorne bowed out of the show with dignity, accepting his fate, but steadfast in his conviction that he did the right thing.
As for Olly, people seem to forget the reasons why he despises the Wildlings so much. It is a totally understandable reaction given what happened to his parents. Yet ultimately his character his hated because of his actions towards ‘fan favourites’ Ygritte and Jon. Some people seem forget that Ygritte was going to kill Jon, and he actually saved him.
The show closed with Jon Snow giving his cloak to Eddison Tollett, proclaiming that his ‘watch has ended’. So where does that leave him?
It’s a safe assumption that he will be meeting up with Sansa in the near future, and he may be the deciding factor in the rumoured, impending battle for Winterfell. But Ramsay won’t give it up so easily, especially now Ramsay has some special guests.
Osha and Rickon, who haven’t been seen since season three, have returned to the show. Smalljon Umber, son of Robb Stark supporter Greatjon Umber, has handed them over to Ramsay in exchange for Bolton soldiers to help fight off the Wildings impending move south. He also hands over the severed head of Rickon’s direwolf Shaggydog, meaning there are only 3 Stark direwolves left.
With Rickon now in the hands of Ramsay, he has an important bargaining chip to use against Sansa and Jon, should they chose to try and re-take Winterfell.
Overall, this was another strong episode. We had flashbacks, returning characters and more story continuation. The show feels like it is really starting to pick up speed, and we cannot wait to see what happens next week.
What was your favourite scene in last night’s episode? Leave us your questions and best bits in the comments below.