Before we close the book on Game of Thrones for 2016, we’re looking back at a few of the best things to have happened over series 6.
BEST PERFORMER (Mark Curran)
Iwan Rheon’s portrayal of Ramsay Bolton was a cut above the rest throughout this season as he brought to life his psychotic and power thirsty nature.
Ramsay’s sadistic capacity was evident in his torturous nature. This was no surprise to us given his treatment of Theon Greyjoy in season’s three and four. However, what made his performance this season more gripping was his use of these chilling methods in an attempt to gain power. On his way to becoming Lord of Winterfell Ramsay murders his father Roose as well as his father’s new wife Fat Walda and their new born son. The murder of Walda and her son is the result of what becomes Ramsay’s trademark, his hounds. Ramsay psychotic nature is clear through the delight he takes in watching the hounds devour Walda and her son.
Power is everything to Ramsay. Even his long-time lover Myranda is fed to the dogs after being killed by the escaping Sansa and Theon. His selfishness and power quest is clear when he dismisses Myranda simply as “good meat” that shouldn’t be wasted. Ramsay enjoys others to feel like they have a chance at freedom. His release of Rickon Stark on the battlefield displays this. After telling Rickon to run to Jon Snow, Ramsay proceeds to bombard him with arrows. In what turns into a game of cat and mouse Ramsay purposefully misses Rickon three times before striking him with the fourth, just metres from the oncoming Snow. In this event in particular you feel the enjoyment radiating from Ramsay that he achieved in raising Rickon and Jon’s hopes, before ending them in a dramatic and agonising fashion. Even in death Ramsay’s arrogance is remarkable; boldly claiming that his hounds were loyal and therefore would not kill him.
Ramsay epitomised what a good fictional villain should be: sadistic, powerful and hateable. Yet, whilst it was easy to hate him I often found myself loving him. This affection was the result of characterisation which made the stories come alive. In much the same way that season four was enthralling as a result of Joffrey’s vileness, Ramsay had the same affect this season.
BEST STORYLINE (Laura Hancock)
This season of Game of Thrones has seen storylines be rebirthed and become entwined on a scale which no other previous season can rival. By the time the credits rolled on episode 10, a fitting conclusion to a whole host of episodes that have placed emphasis on individual characters and the looming bigger picture, audiences were aware that the endgame is in sight. Daenerys’s ship has finally sailed: the person she is now is profoundly different to her past persona. Despite all the pitfalls and stalling in Meereen that many fans have treated apathetically, we can now see the benefit of her experience and her departure for Westeros feels more right than ever. In a season where we have seen Daenerys’s strength building, Jon Snow resurrected and claimed King of the North, Arya reclaiming her Stark identity and enacting her vengeance, Cersei triumphant upon the Iron Throne and much more besides; there is no doubt that singling out one storyline is difficult.
But, for me it’s the storylines of the women of Game of Thrones that have taken centre stage. Sansa, in particular. Sansa has transformed from a naïve, fairy-tale fixated young girl into an intelligent and strong-minded woman who is beginning to understand the ruthless world around her for what it is rather than idealising it. Sansa’s storyline took a famously controversial turn in season 5, culminating in a rape scene that was heavily-criticised. A scene which not only saw the horrific violation of Sansa, but denied her a voice or perspective. This season saw Sansa reclaim her voice. Not simply by escaping her monstrous captor Ramsey Bolton or salvaging and channelling her Stark identity, but by confronting Littlefinger. Sansa has been made stronger by her experience, yes, we can see this with her quick quip to Ramsey before the Battle of the Bastards, or the scene in which calls Jon out for not even conceiving that she could be the one person around the war table to have real insight. More importantly, however, is that Sansa has been given a voice as a victim. Through this, we have observed Sansa transform: we see a glimpse of the formidable Stark we always knew she could become.
BEST MOMENT OF THE SERIES (Laura Hancock, Charlie Thacker)
Golden moments of TV are not hard to come by in Game of Thrones, and this season the show delivered in more epic and heart-breaking ways than could be imagined – and that is saying something for the world of Thrones. Predictably, it’s tough to differentiate enough between the devastating hold-the-door-moments and fist-pumping moments such as Daenerys taking control of her dragons. But, this is Game of Thrones after all, and one moment must win that coveted seat. Battle of the Bastards was a jaw-dropping stand-out moment for TV and cinema in general, combing beautiful in the midst visuals with a chaotic and horrific perspective that worked a treat in making audiences horrified and in awe in equal measure. One shot stands out from the sequence: Jon Snow facing off against hundreds of charging cavalry before the merciless battle begins. Ramin Djawadi has done a phenomenal job this season as ever; his piece ‘Light of the Seven’ is astounding and deserves a mention here.
Series 6 has given us many great moments, from John Snow’s Jeremy Kyle style parenthood reveal to Hodor’s heroic final deed, a performance that will bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened thrones fan. None of these moments however are as deeply satisfying as when Ramsey Bolton met his gruesome end. Series 6 saw the psychopathic bastard consolidate his power in Westeros by killing his father, stepmother and half-brother (to name a few), only to be defeated and humiliated at the hands of John Snow. To add insult to quite severe facial injury, Sansa gets a final word. Before he is fed to the very beasts which he used to act out his sadistic fantasy, we bear witness to one of the most feared men in the known world exhibiting fear himself for the first time, squirming and pleading like so many of his victims did.