This article could contain spoilers.

Shame on you Game of Thrones. You ain’t making this easy.

Seriously, what an episode. The show has not only vastly improved since its 2015 outing, it’s taken literally everything it did wrong last year, turned it on its head, and gone into full acceleration mode. Every single character and every single story arc moved forward significantly here. Hell, we’re even revisiting stuff we’ve not seen for seasons. Game of Thrones may sing a ‘Song of Ice and Fire’, but it’s definitely on fire at the moment.

I’m just going to put this out there right now: that fight between a young Eddard Stark (Robert Aramayo) and Ser Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts) has got to be one of the most well shot and choreographed fight scenes I’ve ever seen in any TV show or movie. Usually, when it’s four men on one, the other three tend to patiently wait off to one side, rather than doing the sensible thing and attacking all at once. Here, they all rush Ser Arthur, and he fights them all off. Truly spectacular direction. I think this means I can forgive the show for that atrocious Dorne fight last year.  Just about.

Anyway, let’s get on with this…

 

Shame on you (i)

The show may be great at the moment, but it won’t stop breaking our hearts. Another of the Stark dire wolves has bitten the dust, this time Rickon’s (Art Parkinson) – you know, the other Stark son. Not seen since season three, it was nice to learn that both Rickon and Osha (Natalie Tena) have been doing well since they left Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and co at the Wall. Well, at least they’re still alive. But, alas, a Stark can never be lucky when there’s a Bolton about. Because now Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) has had another Stark hand-delivered to him. Talk about an unlucky family.

Unlike Sansa (Sophie Turner), Rickon doesn’t have a Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) camped out nearby. I seriously hope we’re not going to have to watch him being tortured horribly for the next few weeks. By the show’s chronology, he’s about twelve years old now. I know this show kind of likes killing kids – more on that later – but there is a line guys!

 

Shame on you (ii)

Vaes Dothrak. The Dosh Khaleen. Khal Moro (Joe Naufahu). The sodding Dothraki in general.

Sorry, I was just listing off things I really don’t care about.

If there’s a slight downside this year, it’s the knowledge that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is going to waste yet another season pissing about in some desert doing nothing exciting, only this time miles from Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Meereen and the army that she could take back to Westeros with her. Let’s face it guys, Dany’s story stopped being, urm, interesting midway through season four. Everything that happens to her is just another obstacle preventing her from going home.

Why are we back with the Dothraki again? What, exactly, is there left to explore with them? Are we really going to have to watch our beloved Khaleesi be continuously humiliated by those creepy widows all season, when she should be plotting with Tyrion and Varys (Conleth Hill) to take back the Iron Throne? I say again, show: if Meereen, Astapor and Volantis were wiped off the map by dragon-fire in a quick 15-minute segment in an episode, I really wouldn’t be that bothered.

It’s season six. It’s time Dany came home.

 

Shame on you (iii)

Awww, bless. Look at little Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) trying to be a brave little king.

Say what you will about Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), but if the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) had attempted his antics during his reign, he’d have had the lot of them flayed alive on the spot. If Tywin (Charles Dance) was still around, he’d have burned the Sept of Baelor down with them still inside it. Alas, Tommen is not Joffrey. He’s not even strong the way that Robb Stark (Richard Madden) was. Tommen is a gentle child, thrust into a world that is going to swallow him whole and not even notice.

I mean, wow. The poor kid looked like he was about to cry, even when he was trying to be brave. The High Sparrow, always in control of any situation that arises, lectured him as though he was his teacher, and Tommen sat there and listened to all of it. Remember, these guys humiliated his mother. They still hold his wife captive. And he hasn’t got the faintest idea what to do about it.

At this rate, I won’t be surprised if Tommen politely offers Daenerys the Iron Throne. When she eventually gets to Westeros of course.

Special shame here also to Grand Master Pycelle (Julian Glover), who really needs to be aware of who’s in the room before he slags someone off. They might end up being stood right behind him. And he might end up shitting his breeches.

 

Shame on you (iv) 

He’s back! And he means business!

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is feeling a little under the weather following the bad dose of death he came down with at the end of last year. Cheerful as always, Jon is now questioning everything he has ever believed in. After all, the brothers he trusted, including little Olly (Brenock O’Connor), murdered him in cold blood. Technically speaking, he did die while undertaking his duty as a man of the Night’s Watch. Now, he is free from his oath. Free to become Jon Stark and raise holy hell against Ramsay Bolton. Or free to become Jon Targaryen and help his long lost aunt take back her kingdom. Either or.

This shame, however, goes to Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), who’s bullying nature and short-sighted attitude has led to his execution. And still he won’t admit he was wrong. Commendable in some ways, but the guy really was a hateful idiot. It’s good to finally see him swing for what he did. And props to Brenock O’Connor for Olly’s look of pure hatred towards Jon. Olly’s tale was a tragic one, and it’s yet another reason why Jon is done with the Watch.

Very, very good episode, in a string of good episodes. Forget the disappointment that was last year. This is the Game of Thrones we know and love.

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