Game of Thrones, Season 6 (2016)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Television has no more provocative show than Game of Thrones. Book fans skewer its writing for butchering major plot lines, inventing different twists for favorite characters, and adding additional gore, rape, and violence to the fictional narrative. Now that the series has run out of book content, it races toward a conclusion... which is both good and bad for the viewer.
Daenarys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is missing, captured by the Dothraki. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinkladge) tries to rule in her absence, but the former slave owners are conspiring to take back what is theirs. He faces rebellion, revolution, and invasion. King's Landing doesn't fair much better. Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady) atoned for her sins in a walk of shame but still faces a trial. Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) is still imprisoned for lying about her brother's homosexuality to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). Young King Tommen is helpless to save either of them. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) must depart to handle an uprising in the north.
Stannis is dead, his armies defeated. Shocked, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) retreats to the Knight's Watch, where she finds a recently murdered Jon Snow (Kit Harrington). Davos (Liam Cunningham), reeling with the injustice of it, begs her to resurrect the young warrior. Miles away, in a frosty wonderland (winter is here!), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Theon (Alfie Allen) escape Ramsay Bolton's (Iwan Rheon) evil clutches, when Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) saves their lives. Threats thrive beyond the northern walls. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright)'s visions reveal truths about the past. And, hopeful of conducting revenge against her family's enemies, Arya (Maisie Williams) tries to become Faceless and Nameless, and no one knows who Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) will side with...
The good thing about running out of book is that the writers are barreling toward a conclusion. These plotlines move fast. Secondary characters are dwindling as we head toward next season's epic war between three separate powerful factions. The bad thing is that the show runners lack George R.R. Martin's complex understanding of the characters and truncate plot lines to do it. This happened a lot last season, toward the end, and is even more apparent this season, as characters either face endings unworthy of them or act in ways contrary to their true selves. Numerous characters fall because of "stupid" decisions unlike them. Instead of layered exploration of good and evil, the dialogue resorts to cheap insults, lots more profanity, and trite exchanges. It's obvious the show runners hold a grudge, too; Stannis was demoralized last season, and characters who have no reason to bash him continue to do so throughout the season.
Some of the episodes here are very good, particularly the last three. The finale is powerful. Forces align. Factions take shape. "Good" is even obtaining an upper hand, as for once, the bad guys get their dues. Up to a point. This is still Game of Thrones. There's less sex, more plot this season but book fans may be disappointed in the "shortcuts." It feels like the writers are rushing to a conclusion. After six seasons, that's not surprising. Winter is here. Dragons are coming. Secrets are revealed. Heroes reborn. Half the cast dies this season. Literally. Despite the content, it's still the most engaging thing on television.
Less graphic sex than usual but plenty of nudity, including male penis (twice, once in extreme closeup); a woman cavorts with and licks another woman's naked body; men threaten to rape a woman in graphic terms; plenty of bare backsides and naked breasts.
Hundreds of f-words, c-words (c*nt), and references to parts of the anatomy; sexual terms and suggestive remarks. Uses of s**t, whore, etc.
Graphic and frequent. People are stabbed, sliced in half, tortured, blown apart, and skewered with arrows. "The Battle of the Bastards" has a twenty-minute battle scene in which corpses, literally, form piles. Horses and men are sliced apart, speared, spiked, beheaded, and trampled to death. Major characters are stabbed, blown up, and commit suicide.
References to pagan gods. Religious fanatics form the villains this season. A "religious" character claims virtue one minute, spews filth the next.