I call this the season of breaking down. Breakdown of characters in different ways: the death of a major character, Daenerys reaching her breaking point, Sansa’s violation, and Cersei’s ruin.

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Arya Stark, last seen leaving The Hound for dead in season four, arrives in Braavos where she finds Jaqen H’ghar, the man who helped her escape Hardhome early on. At the House of Black and White, she learns how to lie and interject herself in situations to ultimately end someone’s life. She receives an assignment for her first kill, but instead, her vengeance scratches someone off her hit list. Her repercussions come into play at the beginning of season six.

This character, a young girl hustling for survival, is a person I don’t usually see portrayed. A huge reason I enjoy Arya Stark because I see her drive and determination for gaining skills that have nothing to do with a noble life, she never wanted. I cherish her character so much, and she gains her footing in this season, even though she is reprimanded.

Speaking of another Stark, Sansa is pawned off by the conniving Littlefinger to wed the wicked Ramsay Bolton. If we remember, he’s the sicko who tortured Theon and renamed him as “Reek.” The things Ramsay does to Sansa…this was the first time in the show that I was emotionally affected by the show. I know this is just a show, but I kept thinking, in the hands of a female writer or creator, would sexual assault be the only way to show such cruelty? I was concerned during the implied torture happening off screen and only seen through Theon’s facial reactions. I’m sure I’m not the first to criticize the show for such moments when women were treated like this. In this context, it’s supposed to be Sansa’s final straw, but again, I wonder, could this have been the only way? Scenes, characters, and plot points are changed continuously for the film and television adaptation all the time across the board. Could this have been an instance?

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Which brings me to Daenerys. I get it. She’s badass. She freed the slaves. She is the Mother of Dragons. From nothing, she has managed to gain an army, advisors, and people who respect (and fear) her. Since I know the endgame, maybe that’s why I’m annoyed by her but mostly, the way she’s written on the show. I’m interested in reading the source material in this instance. Maybe it’s the same? She is captured at the end of this season by a Dothraki horde, after being rescued by Drogon. During a stadium match, the Sons of Harpy, unhappy with Daenerys’ presence in Meereen, almost assassinate her. Jorah, after being exiled twice, saves her life again. I mean, he is loyal to a fault. At this point, I understood her actions, and it was excessive. I had conflicting emotions with her depiction but I alas, I’m here for the ride, so I persisted.

Tyrion and Varys have fled King’s Landing since we last saw them. He’s pretty much on the lam since all that madness went down with his father and his lover, Shae. I feel for Tyrion and also was happy for his escape. His father sentenced him to death, knowing he didn’t have anything to do with Joffrey’s death. A few things I enjoyed this season with Tyrion.

  1. His reaction to seeing Drogon. Later on, he recalls a time learning of dragons and when he’s up and close with Dany’s two other dragons, it’s cute. He’s fangirling in his own way.
  2. This guy really can talk his way in and out of every situation. From the first time I was introduced to his character to the last frame of this series, Peter Dinklage has some great dialogue and I love him every time he’s on screen. He’s one of my favorites, definitely.

After the hullabaloo in King’s Landing, Jaime suggests to Cersei the retrieval of their daughter Myrcella from Dorne. After Oberyn’s death, Cersei suspects his paramour Ellaria, will plot revenge against the Lannisters. She’s not wrong. Bronn and Jaime make the journey to Dorne. Bronn, even though he is just a sellsword, provides many a comic relief moment, even when he’s fighting. I appreciate his presence and glad he’s on the show.

At Dorne, we meet Oberyn’s three daughters, who we don’t spend much time with. They are mostly used as props in the show. It’s hard to provide much screen time with an ensemble cast like this but them having their show would have been fun.

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The High Sparrow, played wonderfully by Jonathan Pryce, has a huge role this season. He is the leader of a new faith community calling themselves the Sparrows, the same one Cersei’s cousin, Lancel, has joined. When their fanaticism works in Cersei’s favor, by imprisoning the Tyrell siblings for their sins, Cersei encourages them. Except when it doesn’t. Cersei admits her sins with her cousin and is sentenced to walking nude in the streets. I’m glad I learned that Lena Heady did not walk nude in the streets herself because again, although I knew this wasn’t real, I immediately felt empathy for Heady. This scene, I comprehended, was intentional in making the viewers have compassion for Cersei. She breaks here, and we see it, even though she’s acting like she’s okay. All the villagers spitting at her was hard to watch. Beautifully directed and such a powerful scene.

Finally, the Wildlings and the Night Watch join forces even though the Lord Commander, Aliser Thorne hates this. He represents the old, and Jon Snow represents the new. Ignorant versus open-minded – that’s how I saw it. This old way of thinking, unfortunately, does not end well for Jon Snow even though he succeeds in creating unity. This is a huge spoiler so if you don’t want to know, skip ahead. Our underdog is killed by his people at the end of this season. Gutted. “For the Night Watch,” they each say as they stab him. What a sight. I couldn’t believe it. But ya know, he comes back from the dead (spoiler alert!), we just need to know how that happens.

Again, this cliffhanger makes me so glad I didn’t watch in real time. While some fans and critics disliked this season, I liked it. I mean, I haven’t hated a season yet. The writers were doing something right.