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Season Six of Geme of Thrones can pretty much be summed up in one sentence or phrase: Women rule, men drool. Actually, so can the US Presidential Election. Wonder if that was deliberate? Doubt it. But weirdly appropriate in any event.

Unlike the previous seasons, the female protagonists of this series kicked ass, big time. Every battle, conflict or skirmish, was pretty much won because of how the women manipulated, fought, and took charge. And it was well-earned. They also got justice or vengeance depending on your perspective on past crimes against them and their families, finally. Plus, they influenced the decisions of various men around them, the one's that they didn't or thought they could overpower them, got slaughtered mercilessly. And the women who catered to men or followed male dictates got slaughtered as well.

It was rather satisfying. Particularly after the excruciating and at times exploitive ill-treatment of women in previous seasons. If you'd spent the previous seasons wincing at how women were abused, this was your season to smile in triumph. Because the bad boys paid dearly for their crimes.

I think the only villain who came out ahead was Cersei Lannister, and you sort of wanted her to, because her opponents were so annoying, sexist and chauvinistic. She was female and should be a mother and sitting meekly by her son's side. Shamed. Forgotten. Don't worry she's doomed to failure but not for being a woman and not for being her brother's lover. Rather for her treatment of the Starks and inability to feel compassion for anyone outside her own family -- ie being a sociopath. But her temporary win was in its own way oddly satisfying. (I admit that I enjoyed watching the sanctimonious High Sparrow, Jonathan Pryce, going up in flames.) If a bit chilling. Considering it came at a great cost. She lost everything dear to order to achieve it. But she most likely would have lost it all anyhow.

How she accomplished it was rather clever and tracked. Also, the writers made sure to remind us of it -- in a prior scene with Tyrion and Daenerys, where Tyrion tells Dany that his brother killed her father because he was about to unleash the liquid fire on King's Landing and destroy everyone in the city. He only knew about it, because Jamie had told him. Cersei does the same thing -- killing all her enemies, and saving her son, or so she thinks. But she'd misread the boy, who loved Margaery, and everything he'd done was to protect her -- while everything Margery had done was to protect her brother and obtain power.

Those who sought power for their own ends, lost everything, in some cases their lives. I rather liked Ian McShane's cameo as a once violent man who converts to a religious calling as a Septon. He tells the Hound that he besmirches violence because all it teaches is more violence and all it unleashes is more pain. Of course, this being GoT, he is hung and his followers butchered. The Hound goes after those who did it with ax in hand and meets up again with the Brotherhood, who once again adopts him. They hang the men. He doesn't believe it's painful enough and far too quick. I beg to differ. Just a little less gory.

Ayra's sojourn with the followers of the Faceless God reaches a satisfying end. She does not opt to become a non-entity, devoting herself to an unknown God instead she holds on to her identity and takes out the devoted follower. Placing that follower's that girl with no name, no identity, but her desire to kill without compassion, and without thought for an unknown God, on the wall of faces. The faces represent all those who died for power, for a God with no name, no heart, no voice. Giving their lives, their faces, to a war that went on and on. Yet, it has another meaning as well - Arya lives for vengeance, but the Faceless God's followers tell her to let go of vengeance and to kill for money, for power, for faces. But mainly power, yet not power. She'd give up her power to them, becoming no more than their weapon, their tool, for their cause. And Arya is no tool. She tells her teacher that a girl is not No One, a Girl is Arya Stark and her place is Westeros. Arya goes home.

Jamie's arc swerves back towards the books for the sequence that I felt was needed and missing -- the Battle of Riverrun, where Jamie uses Edward Tully to snatch Riverrun back for the Frays, with little bloodshed on either side. Bronn at his side. He has a rather telling discussion with Edmund - where he tells him that he admired Catelynn, who reminds him of his beloved Cersei -- in her fierceness to protect her children and those she loves. "What we do for love..." he states in response to Edmunds admonitions. "How can you live with yourself, after all the things you've done?" And Jamie's response is simply, "I care for naught but Cersei. I don't care what happens to you or any of the people on the ground or in that tower." Edmund is chilled to the bone by his words and takes back his castle for the Lannisters. Meanwhile, the Frays, thinking they've won over those who have slighted them, celebrate. But Jamie tells them that no one fears them, people fear the Lannisters, and once we're are defenseless.

And they are, for Arya comes back and pulls a Titus Andronicus on the Frays, making me think that maybe the writers read that play? Because it wasn't in the books. In the books, Catelynne aka Lady Stoneheart is picking the Frays off bit by bit. But here, she remains dead, not a vengeful zombie (which relieved me greatly, since I didn't think that plot arc worked in the books). She feeds him his sons in a meat pie. Then cuts Walder Fray's throat as he gags on the meat he'd just ate. He knew her naught, for she now has the skills of the Faceless Men, changing her face at will. A skilled assassin, striking each name off her list. There's only two remaining. One is a walking dead Frankenstein, the other sits the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile, Daenerys makes a deal with the Iron Islands Princess, Yarra, who in some respects is her soul mate. Sympatico. Theon parleys, but only for Yarra. A silent shadow at her shoulder. He is no longer the obnoxious cock of the run that Tyrion knew and despised. They bring the needed ships in return for independence. Banding together in a common cause. While to the far South or parallel to where they roam, in Dorn, Varys meets with the Sand Snakes and the Queen of Thorns. Offering Justice bathed in Fire and Blood in return for ships and men to aid Daenerys in her quest. And at Merrin, Daenerys defeats the Masters with her blood riders and her dragons. Ending slavery in her wake. She's the conqueror, and Tyrion is her council. She leaves her lover behind to rule Merron in her absence, for she cannot take him with her, she cannot afford the liability. Tyrion isn't one. But he and Jorah would have been.

And Tyrion becomes hand of the queen, after he tells her, if it's any consolation, that she's the only thing he's ever believed in or had faith in. And he agrees with her edicts.

Back in Winterfell, Jon Snow defeats the Bastard of Bolton, with the aid of Sansa and her errant knight, Baelish aka Littlefinger and his knights of the Vale. Who come out of left field in the final hour. Her brother Rickon brutally killed on the field as she predicted. Sansa in some respects is stronger and wiser than her brother -- but then she's been through a bit more. Suffered far worse. Unlike Jon, she knows that no one can protect her or anyone. You protect yourself. And she trusts few. When he asks if she trusts Littlefinger, she replies, "that only a fool would trust Little Finger." Whose dearest dream is to sit the Iron Throne with her by his side. Except he's underestimated Jon Snow, not to mention Tyrion and doesn't know about Daenerys Stormborn. And he doesn't know about the White Walkers and the Night King. He thinks the big guns are in King's Landing. Jon Snow knows better. [It should be noted that is Sansa who kills Ramsey Bolton not her brother, and she does it by unleashing his starving dogs on him. Much as he'd done to Lady Walder and her baby son, or as he'd have done to her own brothers. Jon merely beats him, but unfortunately for Ramsey, not to death. He tells her that his dogs would never harm him. Smiling, she states, but you said yourself that you starved them for days. As they eat him alive, she turns and smiles. Listening to his screams.]

Melisandre finally pays for burning Princess Shireen alive. Banished to the South. Perhaps she'll hook up with the Queen of Dragons? Or the Queens of Dorn?

Finally, Bran gets a look inside the tower -- where his father found his dying Aunt Lysana. Who in turn exacts a promise - to protect her son from Robert Baratheon. Jon Snow is Lysana and Rhaegar Tarragon's son. Daenerys's nephew. The dual heir to the Iron Throne.

It's neatly set up for the final season - Sam is in Old Town. Winter has arrived. Snow is at Winterfell. The Frays and Boltons and Tyrells are gone from the playing field. Along with the Sons of the Harpy and the Faceless Men. Leaving only the Lannisters, the White Walkers, The Starks, The Iron Islands, Dorn, and Daenerys Stormborn to fight the final battle. Ice and Fire are slowly marching to a meeting point dead center.

You gotta love the metaphors, or at least I do. And I pity the metaphor blind. Ice - is death, the cold, the dark, the night, winter...while fire is vengeance, passion, life, renewal and rebirth.
We have the Lord of Night or Night King vs. the Lord of Light or Queen of Dragons. With Direwolves from the North and Dragons from the South fighting the undead in their wake. The children of the forest created the walking dead to fight the men...from ages past. And the men created the dragons to fight the walking dead. And somehow lost sight of what life was about -- focusing too much on power, and not enough on its cost.

Power drives men and women mad. Or so it seems. Daenerys is a conqueror not a ruler born. While Tyrion is a ruler, who strategizes and struggles for compromise. As is Jon Snow, who worries more about what his men have to eat and less about winning battles. His sister Sansa is better at the battle strategizing, oddly enough.

Oh, I'm shipping Brienne and the redheaded Warg/Wildling friend of Jon Snow, whose name I've blanked on, but was giving Brienne the eye. I think that and Daenerys/Jon are the only ships I'm interested in on a romantic level. I like Jamie Lannister, but he is doomed in this story much as he is in the books, his love is misplaced and will result in his ruin. Jon Snow, however has grown on me, as has his sister Sansa. Although my favorites continue to be Tyrion, Daenerys and Arya.

Overall...this was a great season, the best by a long-shot. While bits and pieces honored or followed the books, for the most part, it diverged completely and I think Martin will be hard-pressed to follow much of its arc in his own story. Shame that, for I find myself preferring the story on screen more to the one in his novels. They are different stories, of course, told in different ways. Martin is telling a tale through the eyes of millions of characters from all walks of life, while the television writers due to time constraints have focused on a scant few.

If you are waiting for Martin to finish his series to watch this season or the next, do not bother. It won't spoil you. Nor ruin forthcoming books. It's just not possible -- Martin is right about that.
And I think it is possible to enjoy both separately. Although I suspect many may just choose one or the other. Since I began reading the books long before the series came into fruition, I'll most likely do both. That is assuming Martin ever gets around to finishing them.

Date: 2016-09-11 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I followed your advice, which was good, and have now watched S6. I binge watched, so what I say below may reflect the fact that I missed something.

S6 was clearly much better than S5. I'm not sure I'd rank it above any of the other seasons, though. Here's what I saw as the good and the .... less good.

The good:

1. It moved the plot along, something desperately needed after S5 and after AFFC and ADWD.

2. Very much yes to the emphasis on strong females this year. Even better was that the stories focused on some of my favorites from the books: Arya, Danaerys, Asha/Yara, Meera. I wouldn't count Cersei in this group -- she's strong but she's fundamentally evil and IMO close to insane. I can't treat her as a powerful woman character any more than I could Glory. Nor do I think she knew she would lose anything dear to her from blowing up the Sept. She didn't care a bit about those in the Sept. She cares about Jamie and Tommen, but she didn't realize she'd lose Tommen.

3. In S5 they seemingly forgot to show great dramatic scenes (except for Hardhome). Martin does that very well and the show followed in the first 4 seasons. They managed to come up with quite a few this season.

The less good:

1. I wasn't happy with the way they sacrificed characters, established mythos, and sometimes even common sense. An example of each:

a. Both books and series have emphasized "the North remembers". But from what they showed, it very much forgot.

b. In showing that, they made both Jon and Sansa look weak and ineffectual. They made bad arguments, they acted like beggars.

c. In both show and books, the Freys hold the Twins and the Boltons hold the Neck. It would have been impossible for the Vale troops to get to Winterfell. They undercut that just in order to get the last minute rescue, something they already did with Stannis anyway.

d. The scene with Lancel in the catacombs makes no sense at all. First, it appeared as if he were lured there as part of the bomb plot. That would be foolish -- yes, the plotters intended to murder him, but it created a small chance that he would survive and snuff out the candles. Nobody would risk the whole plot like this. Second, it doesn't make much sense for Lancel either. He had a direct order from the Septon to fetch the Queen. It beggars belief that he'd take a detour and chase some street orphan into the catacombs. The whole scene was there for the viewers, not the plot or character.

2. I didn't see the point to re-enacting Dany's "walk through the fire" scene from S1. The "King in the North" scene made sense -- it reminded us of Robb and left a lingering uncertainty about Jon. While Dany's scene was well-executed, it seemed to me just a repeat (like the arrival of the cavalry from the Vale).

3. I've never been happy with the way the show downplays the metaphor and plot roles of the direwolves (nor the fact that all the Starks are wargs). Killing Summer seems like a clever way to show that "winter is here", but I think that misses the point of Summer's role. It's Bran who will help bring back summer, and his wolf symbolizes that. I saw it as short term clever but long term unfortunate, a criticism I've made every season with some choice or another.

I see the Ice and Fire metaphor a bit different. I see the extremes of both as bad. Both the dragons and the Others need to be banished from the world in order to restore the balance. The one who does that, in my view, is Jon. As the son of both Ice (Lyanna) and Fire (Rhaegar), it's his song we're hearing. Love her though I do, I don't see Dany as part of the endgame.

The red-headed guy is Tormund.

Date: 2016-09-12 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You certainly paid more attention to the details than I did. But I also have forgotten a good percentage of the books, and if they hadn't done the previously bit, I'd have been lost -- because I forgot most of the previous seasons as well. (No interest in re-watching or re-reading them.)

So, I'll go with your analysis. ;-)

In regards to Jon Snow -- I can't decide if it is the actor or how he is written -- but he does not inspire confidence as either a leader of men or a conqueror. You are correct, he did not win the Battle of the Bastards. Sansa did a better job of strategizing it than he did. She won that battle not him. And as evidenced by the betrayal of the Night's Watch -- he's not really that great at leading men. Actually, the character comes across as a bit of a wimp. I've never understood why people adored him -- he's such a doormat, people seem to kick him around every which way.

But that said, yes, I agree the metaphors do point to him being the titular hero of the story - even if he's less than heroic and a bit on the wimpy side. (Let's face it -- it's not a well-crafted story any way you cut it. I agree with most of your criticisms. There are plot holes here and there, and the writers did take a few interesting shortcuts to get some of the loose ends tied up. I can see why Martin is stuck -- he's afraid of taking the same shortcuts. Part of me hopes Martin will leave Snow dead or go the warg route...but I have a feeling he'll do what the television show did. Although the battle will go differently -- since a)Sansa isn't there, b)Brienne isn't there, and c) Stannis is still alive, and Yarra/Theon are still in it. They've actually joined with Stannis in the books not Danerys. (Or at least that's what I remember, I read the books over three years ago.))

What I think is going to happen - to clarify what I posted above - is that Danerys will "conqueror" the seven kingdoms with her dragons (Snow won't, he can't win a battle to save his life, he keeps getting rescued by other people, while she rescues herself and others. Also his Direwolf is fairly useless.). But she won't rule them. Snow will rule them. She may end up marrying Snow, actually -- they've sort of set that up already. That's the reason she isn't taking her lover with her. And the reminder that Tarragens married Tarragens, which would allow Snow to become the legitimate ruler without revealing his origin. Keep in mind he's still a Bastard. the last several episodes, Tyrion and others tell Danerys repeatedly that she is a conqueror, and will conquer the seven kingdoms. But she's not a good ruler any more than Snow is a good fighter. Nice gender reversal there. Note that Tyrion managed to accomplish peace in Merron while she was gone. She's too "black and white" in her thinking to be a good ruler, and also doesn't have the patience for it. But when it comes to the battlefield - she's brilliant.

They had to do the walks through fire thing again. For two reasons -- one, it looked like she could be burned in Merron.
And she seemed weak. And they needed to get the army behind her. Also it jived well with the whole Jon being brought back by Lord of Light (Fire).

I'm hoping Jon dies heroically by the end. Dany and Tyrion rule, with Ayra and Sansa and Bran by their sides. And the dragons patrol the wall. But alas, I think they'll go with your take over mine.

Edited Date: 2016-09-12 10:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-09-12 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd be satisfied with any of several endings. That includes Dany on the throne, though I think she'd be a poor ruler. I don't expect that, though. I can also see Tyrion or Sansa on the throne at the end, though neither is in my top group of favorites. My true favorite character is Arya, but alas I don't expect her to survive.

Date: 2016-09-13 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, there's a difference between favorite characters and good rulers. ;-) You can't make an assassin a ruler, well you could, but...

Dany isn't a ruler - as already proven in Merron. And I think underlined by both Jorah and Tyrion. She's a conqueror, which isn't the same thing as a ruler. She's a bit like Tywin and Jamie Lannister and her brother, Rhaegar, very good at conquering nations, but horrible at the day to day ruling. Mainly because she has no training in it. All she knows is fighting and warfare.

Ayra likewise is no ruler. She's an assassin and fighter like Dany. All she knows is killing. She'd make a great assassin or King's Guard. (You do like the blood-thirsty characters. Although I have to admit she's my favorite too, by far the best written and acted, next to Tyrion.)

Tyrion, on the other hand is a great ruler and advisor, he knows how to compromise and negotiate, he's had the training and that's what he knows. He's horrible in a fight -- but he is quite good at strategizing. Davvos and Baelish are similar to Tyrion in that way.

Sansa also could rule, she's been taught some of it. And could do it with Tyrion.

Jon Snow ...I don't know. I guess you could say he's like Sansa and could be a good ruler. He's grown on me, but is my least favorite of the lead or main surviving characters. (Okay not the least favorite - that would be Cersei, who I've never liked.)

I have to say as much as I disliked Cersei, and you're right she's crazy but also powerful and pro-active, I enjoyed seeing her win. Because I disliked everyone else in Kings Landing including her somewhat ineffectual son, more.
Edited Date: 2016-09-13 02:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-09-13 02:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS: You really should check out The 100, if you haven't already. I think you'd like Clarke a great deal. She's sort of a combination of Ayra, Buffy, and Katniss Everdeen.

Date: 2016-09-13 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I pretty much agree with all of that, though I'm definitely more sympathetic to Jon Snow than you are. That's based significantly on the books; he doesn't come across that well on the show. I'd hate to see Littlefinger on the throne because he's such a creep, even if he's competent at ruling. I do like Davos.

I also agree that I won't mourn for anyone Cersei killed, though you could talk me into Margery, and I felt bad for Loras because he was so broken.

Heh on liking bloodthirsty characters. I prefer to say I like bad-ass female characters. After all, Dany's pretty bloodthirsty and Asha/Yara is too.

Given what Arya's been through, I'm behind her entirely on her vengeance crusade. I once read a review of an S3 episode in which the author said that if the show ended with Arya standing all alone in a vast field of dead bodies, he'd find that oddly satisfying. That's kind of where I am.

I think Arya is better suited to rule than you give her credit for, though part of my view is based on the books. I say that because she knows and sympathizes with the "small folk". Also, she named her wolf Nymeria after a ruling queen, and I do think the direwolf names are meaningful.

That said, I don't expect her to survive until the end, and I can't imagine she'll sit the Iron Throne.


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