GAME OF THRONES: DID SEASON SIX MISS THE MARK?

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Game of Thrones Season Six The latest season of Game of Thrones has come in for some criticism. Whilst viewership has been excellent, and there were some genuinely defining moments, there is also a feeling that the quality has not been on par with earlier seasons, and to prove this point, on average the reviews on Metacritic were lower than usual.


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So what is behind this? The truth is, season six lacked much of the magic that made earlier episodes so enjoyable. The story-lines lacked coherence or brevity, and some seemed completely redundant. To add to this, few of the characters were really developed effectively.

That is not to say that the season was a complete washout. The Battle of the Bastards episode was genuinely enthralling, as was the justice served to Ramsey Bolton. We also got the shocking insight into Hodor, and the ‘Hold the door’ meme was born. But these moments were the exception to the rule, as on the whole too much of the season was either filler or rehashed tropes from past episodes.


Cersei
Loss of George R.R. Martin’s influence

With a few tweaks the previous seasons have been fairly faithful to the original books, and this gave the show a purpose and a guideline to follow. However, the shows overtook the books from season six, and on top of this, George R.R. Martin did not write any of the episodes in this season, but rather, concentrated on writing the new book. As a result, the show writers were largely on their own, and unfortunately it seems they ran out of ideas. The story-lines just lacked the same punch and clarity of previous efforts.


Predictable

I’ve mentioned that there were some high points in the season, such as the Battle of the Bastards. The thing is, these were few and far between, and many attempts to add action simply fell flat. This is seen in the episode where Cersei blows up the Great Sept, along with the Sparrow and Margaery. The twist was telegraphed from a mile away, and few viewers would have been taken by surprise. It was executed clumsily and uncharacteristically for the series. It was no Red Wedding.


Game of Thrones Season Six
Irrelevant story-lines

This will be remembered by some as: 'The season of filler'. Many of the story-lines were utterly uninteresting and bloated; you just have to look no further than Arya to see that. Her adventure with Waif and Jaqen in Braavos meandered along, with no apparent conclusion in sight. The repeated beatings soon lost their shock value, and it came as a massive respite when she finally made her way back to Westeros towards the end of the season. I can’t help but feel that her character, one of the more intriguing of the earlier episodes, has been wasted for the last year. Hopefully, she can at least put her newfound assassin skills to effective use in Westeros.

The biggest drag of the series, though, was Dorne. Dorne took a central part in the plot of the original books, yet in the show, the writers have side-lined it. They killed off prince Doran Martell with a coup led by Ellaria Sand, then after this odd turn, very little was done to develop the story arc further. This is not to mention the over the top dialogue and acting we have seen from the Southern kingdom. As a result, much of the Dorne scenes have been near unwatchable.


One-dimensional characters

Season six has lacked the complex character development of its predecessors. Jon Snow, for example, was the big talking point before the series aired, and speculation was rife about whether he would return or not.

Jon SnowHis resurrection turned out to be a massive disappointment. We did not see a vengeful hero spurred by the hurt of betrayal. This Jon Snow was weak, timid, and unassuming. Worse still, he came across as bland. Now some blame must go to the writing team, who were unable to bring Jon Snow to life (no pun intended).

The biggest offender though was Daenerys. She has been accused of being a ‘Mary Sue’ – an annoyingly perfect character who can do no wrong. Daenerys is portrayed as the compassionate, charismatic, and moral leader that the Seven Kingdoms needs. She frees the slaves, takes on the slave owners, she is the Mother of Dragons, and on and on. Her constant moralizing and self-righteous attitude is now a massive turn off. In short, she has become an annoying goody-two-shoes. This is in contrast to other major characters on the show, who are generally depicted as complicated personalities.

The writers are also at fault for making Daenerys near invincible. In episode four Daenerys conquers the Dothraki, shocking them with her immunity to fire (something that is not mentioned in the books) and burning down Vaes Dothrak’s holy temple. This seemed like another forced ‘kick-ass’ scene designed to replicate Daenerys’ takeover of Astapor in season three. However, we have seen this done to death with Daenerys, and this time it came across as tired and repetitive.


Can Game of Thrones recover?

The one redeeming factor is that this season has finally started to string together the disparate story-lines in the direction of Westeros. It looks like all the main characters will now descend to fight over the Iron Throne, and this is when it should really get interesting.

With any luck season six will turn out to be a transitionary one. So there is hope that season seven and eight will regain the intensity and intrigue that made the show so loved in the first place.



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