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GAME OF THRONES Season 6 Review & Episode Scores

April 9, 2019

Game of Thrones Season 6 Review

Game of Thrones: Season Six

We are building toward a ranked list of every Game Of Thrones episode by combing through the series one season at a time. The episodes are broken down to a granular level. Each storyline within each episode received score from 1-5 in each of the following areas: Story, Worldbuilding, and Entertainment. The component scores were then combined and used as the basis for the Episode Scores. The series will continue all the way through the Season 7 Review, which can be expected sometime around the the Season 8 debut. As you rewatch the show in preparation for the final season and re-listen to Binge Mode, you can also follow along here.

Previous Entries:

Introduction & Rationale

Season 1 Review

Season 2 Review

Season 3 Review

Season 4 Review

Season 5 Review

Without further ado…


The sixth season casts the longest shadow. Jon Snow returns. Hodor holds the door. The bastards battle. Cersei chooses violence. Daenerys moves on from Meereen, finally. It could be recency bias, or it could be that Season Six ends with the marvelous double feature of Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Winter, but either way, this season clears the deck in a way that makes it arguably the most memorable batch of episodes to date. Not only does this season go out with an unprecedented bang, it’s also the first season to exist almost entirely without established source material. Benioff and Weiss proved that they could handle the reins without the officially published words of George R. R. Martin guiding them. Martin contributed, of course, but this was the season that the show established its storytelling primacy.

The Red Woman [6.01]

The Red Woman Episode

Episode Score: 67

The Red Woman is a fascinating episode, and yet it leaves a number of threads dangling in unsatisfying ways. Davos finds Jon’s body and then holes up behind a locked door with a few loyal Night’s Watch brothers. The episode’s title teases the large role Melisandre is expected to play, but other than a revelation regarding her age and powers, her role is merely hinted at in the premier. Arya merits a check-in scene that finds her blind on the streets of Braavos, and getting occasional smacks in the face from her nemesis, the Waif. In King’s Landing, the Tyrells are still imprisoned beneath the Sept, and Cersei’s plight continues when she receives the poisoned corpse of her dear daughter, Myrcella. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes take command in Dorne in a decisive and welcome course-correction for the Dornish plot from last season. The best parts, aside from the deepening characterization of Melisandre, involve Tyrion and Varys taking stock of Meereen’s political climate, and the cathartic reunion between Sansa and Brienne in Winterfell’s northern wilds. As with every Thrones episode, The Red Woman holds plenty to enjoy, though it does delay a few anticipated resolutions and their associated payoffs.

Home [6.02]

Home Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 78

While the sixth season premier felt more like a prologue, or even an epilogue to season five, Home is the season premier we were waiting for. In a thoroughly inevitable, nevertheless monumental turn of events, Jon is resurrected by Melisandre. Among the other riches in this second installment is a reintroduction to what Bran has been up to since the end of Season Four, that is, becoming the Three-Eyed Raven and developing his ability to read past events as if from a cosmic encyclopedia. We are treated to a Winterfell flashback involving a young Eddard, Lyanna, and Hodor (then known as Wylis), a scene Bran is prematurely wrenched from, warned by the Raven that he will “drown” if he swims too long in such memories. Meanwhile, Tyrion unshackles Viserion and Rhaegal underneath the Great Pyramid, in hopes of somehow maintaining Dany’s presence in Meereen until Daario and Jorah can rescue her from the clutches of the Dothraki. Theon leaves Sansa with Brienne and returns to the Iron Islands once again, where his father’s untimely death has triggered an impending kingsmoot by which a new ruler is chosen. Home feels like a more purposeful string of check-in scenes than the season premier, benefiting from the potent triptych of murder, resurrection, and dragons.

Oathbreaker [6.03]

Oathbreaker Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 80

Similar to the previous episode, Home, Bran’s continuing education and Jon’s resurrection continue to be the most rewarding story lines in Oathbreaker. Picking up at Castle Black, Jon declares his time with the Night’s Watch ended – technically, he did die – executing his mutineers in his final act as Lord Commander. Further north, Bran sees a tantalizing historical puzzle piece fall into place when he witnesses Ned’s fight at the Tower of Joy, and realizes one of his father’s defining myths is, in fact, apocryphal. At Winterfell, Ramsay’s new alliance with the Umbers yields him the unexpected gift of captives Rickon Stark and Osha. In Essos, Arya regains her sight, and Dany finds herself a captive guest of the Dosh Khaleen in Vaes Dothrak. In King’s Landing, Kevan Lannister and Maester Pycelle have taken up the mantle of the small council as the High Sparrow continues to stonewall the royal family. Oathbreaker continues the upward swing of season six, despite dividing its precious run time among a great number of locations. A couple of great scenes and no bad ones lands this chapter among good-to-great company.

Book Of The Stranger [6.04]

 

Book of the Stranger Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 83

Book Of The Stranger is an excellent Thrones episode, highlighted by Dany burning the Dosh Khaleen to the ground and adding the entire population of Vaes Dothrak to her army in the process. That showstopper is bolstered by the reunion of Jon and Sansa at Castle Black, as well as a tricky negotiation in Meereen between Tyrion and the masters of Slaver’s Bay. Cersei and Olenna discuss the destruction of the Sparrows, while Margaery attempts to remain strong despite increased pressure from the High Sparrow. A few all-too-brief scenes notwithstanding (Pyke and Winterfell come to mind), Book Of The Stranger delivers on everything Game Of Thrones does best. It’s not quite an all-timer, but still qualifies as an upper-tier installment.

The Door [6.05]

The Door Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 84

The upward trajectory of season six continues for a fifth consecutive episode with The Door, a truly groundbreaking chapter. Shocking character deaths have come and gone, but few have been so unexpectedly devastating as Hodor’s. His backstory was the one we never knew we needed. A gentle giant, loyal to the last, Hodor (or Wylis, as he was once known) hauled Bran all the way up north to fulfill his destiny and then held the door just long enough for him and Meera to escape when the army of the dead came. A lot of things happen in The Door—great things, like the kingsmoot on Pyke, and Arya’s new mission to kill an actress who happens to be portraying Cersei in a play based on Westeros’s War of the Five Kings—but this is unambiguously the “Hodor episode.” Hodor’s sacrifice caps one of the more tragic character arcs of the entire series, all the more so because there were precious few hints that it was coming. Even Shireen’s death felt inevitable a few episodes out, but Hodor, man of few words that he was, just kept doing his job, right under our noses, for six seasons. It’s a big loss for Bran, and for the show, but at least Wylis got to save the day in his final appearance.

Blood Of My Blood [6.06]

Blood of My Blood Episode Game of ThronesEpisode Score: 72

Blood Of My Blood represents the first real downshift of the sixth season. As usual, there are a number of fine moments, only this time mixed with a similar number of perfunctory ones. Among the high points are Arya abdicating her second chance with the Faceless Men when she takes a liking to her target, Dany giving a rousing sermon on the dragon-mount to rally her grand new Khalasar, and Samwell Tarley stealing his ill-tempered father’s Valyrian steel sword. In King’s Landing, the Tyrells and Lannisters gear up for fight at the Sept on the day of Margaery’s walk of atonement, only to be surprised that Tommen and the High Sparrow have already reached a pact; the Faith and Crown are now officially aligned. It’s a clever bit of maneuvering (typical Margaery), but not the inevitable confrontation we were expecting. In the northern wilderness, Bran’s uncle Benjen saves him and Meera and reinforces that Bran must become the new Three-Eyed Raven to defeat the Night King. This is a chessboard episode, with many characters on the move and not currently in position to do what they are meant to do. There’s plenty of goodness to go around, but it’s not as well-rounded as the best that Thrones has to offer.

The Broken Man [6.07]

The Broken Man Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 75

The Broken Man is an interesting episode for how it continues hacking away at a few long-running story lines while also pushing a few forgotten characters back into the fold. Arya is nearly on the boat back to Westeros when she is stabbed repeatedly and left for dead by the Waif. Jon, Sansa, and Davos visit potential allies who might help them to retake Winterfell, including Lyanna Mormont, the saucy 10-year-old matriarch of Bear Island, who becomes an instant fan-favorite. Jaime parleys with the Blackfish at Riverrun. Theon and Yara arrive in Volantis, on the run from Pyke, and on their way to visit Dany in Meereen. Old is new again, as the Hound, presumed dead since Season Four, is helping construct a sept somewhere in the Riverlands with born-again Brother Ray. Poor ol’ Sandor Clegane… he just can’t seem to escape the violence, as his new community quickly comes to grief at the hands of bandits. Another solid middle-of-the-pack installment with no obvious weak links.

No One [6.08]

No One Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 82

Season six begins its exhilarating sprint to the finish with No One, its excellent eighth episode. Arya seeks refuge in the home of the actress she had sworn to kill, managing to hide long enough to recover for another showdown with the Waif. Brienne breaks Jaime’s siege in her unsuccessful attempt to convince the Blackfish to fight for Sansa. Cersei is dismayed to learn that Tommen and the High Sparrow have discontinued the practice of trial by combat, removing her trump card – the Moutain as her champion – from the equation. Finally, the Hound gets a bit of revenge, and Dany and Drogon finally return to Meereen in the middle of a bombardment by the masters of Slaver’s Bay. No One does not cleanly tie off any major story lines, and it might even have a cul-de-sac or two, but even under those circumstances, this is still adjacent to top-notch Thrones.

Battle Of The Bastards [6.09]

Battle of the Bastards Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 94

Jon and Ramsay. Two bastards (kinda…), one battle. The vast North has been packaged, parceled, and contested since season two. No more. The “Battle of the Bastards” was a long time coming, and with the added gravity of the many characters we’ve seen fighting over it for several seasons now. Jon wins the battle, though not unscathed, and for all intents and purposes, consolidates power in the North at long last. This has to be one of the ugliest battles ever filmed. The bodies literally pile up in the middle of the battlefield, threatening to physically crush anyone who gets caught up in the mound. Ever the schemer, Ramsay maintains the upper hand until Sansa’s contingency plan arrives: Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale. In the immense history of filmed combat, this battle feels like one of a kind. It ends with maximum satisfaction too, as Jon finally re-enters Winterfell and puts in some quality face time with Ramsay before handing him over to the aggrieved Sansa. In Meereen, the episode’s only other location, Dany ends the slave masters’ uprising with dragon fire and Dothraki screamers, then gets hit on by new ally Yara Greyjoy. With an epic battle, political maneuvering, dragons, and sweet, sweet revenge, Battle Of The Bastards makes its case for making Game Of Thrones’ Mt. Rushmore.

The Winds Of Winter [6.10]

The Winds of Winter Episode Game of Thrones

Episode Score: 96

It’s hard to come up with a good argument for The Winds Of Winter not being the finest episode of the series. Other installments may scratch certain itches in ways that the sixth season finale does not, but it is absolutely Thrones in peak form; shocking, inspiring, explosive, and with a near-feature-length run time. Cersei’s decision to wipe the board clean, Margaery’s expression as she realizes what’s coming, and composer Ramin Djawadi’s magnificent “Light of the Seven” score, make this trial in King’s Landing one of the series’ defining sequences. Elsewhere, Sam and Gilly arrive at the Citadel; and Arya, now back in Westeros, crosses a key name off her list. Cersei’s trial was merely one of three game-changers in this episode that also delivered a 99.99%-certain confirmation of Jon’s parentage, and saw Dany finally set sail for Westeros with her dragons and massive army. Among the series’ very best episodes, The Winds Of Winter succeeds with the arguably highest degree of difficulty, juggling a rather large number of story lines. Not letting any of them drop is impressive in itself, but what makes the episode so great is that everything in it feels essential. We shall never see its like again… probably.

Analysis

In terms of episode scores, this season contains both one of the highest and lowest scores we’ve seen so far. The premier, The Red Woman, trudged to the second lowest episode score on record, while the finale, The Winds of Winter soared to the second highest. The season’s up-and-down scores may be attributable to dealing with the aftermath of the previous season which dwelled on several unsavory story lines. One way or another, each problematic arc was course-corrected by the end of the sixth season, though it may have taken a small toll on moment-to-moment quality. For its unevenness, the show arguably emerged better than ever.

Let’s talk about Winds. The Season Six finale scored about one point lower than Blackwater, the series’ high-water mark thus far. Though it didn’t nab the top score, Winds had the distinct disadvantage of juggling numerous story threads compared with singular focus of BlackwaterWinds is undeniable, and within the context of our rubric, its score is still most impressive.

Season Six is the first season to deliver two episodes with scores of 90-plus (Battle of the Bastards & Winds), which makes for another feather in the cap of the highest-scoring season overall. The general consensus is that this season is among the series’ best. There aren’t many out there who wouldn’t include this one among their top two or three seasons. The overall season score, coupled with owning two elite episode scores is enough to cement Season Six as the best season of the first six (the first seven, really… who are we kidding?).

Minutiae

Season 6 Episode Averages:

— Episode Score= 80.69

— Story= 80

— Worldbuilding= 75.5

—Entertainment= 87

The Winds of Winter emerges with the highest episode score of the season, with an 96.

Battle of the Bastards piles up the points for the season’s highest Story and Entertainment scores, with a perfect 100 in each category.

The Winds of Winter explodes with the season’s highest Worldbuilding score, 97.

Season 6 Episodes Ranked By Episode Score

  1. [6.10] The Winds of Winter (95.56)
  2. [6.09] Battle of the Bastards (93.33)
  3. [6.05] The Door (84)
  4. [6.04] Book of the Stranger (82.42)
  5. [8.08] No One (81.33)
  6. [6.03] Oathbreaker (80)
  7. [6.02] Home (77.14)
  8. [6.07] The Broken Man (74.44)
  9. [6.06] Blood of My Blood (72)
  10. [6.01] The Red Woman (66.67)

Season Scores Ranked (1-6)

  1. Season 6 (80.69)
  2. Season 4 (79.30)
  3. Season 3 (78.56)
  4. Season 1 (78.29)
  5. Season 2 (76.11)
  6. Season 5 (76.09)

Stay tuned for our review of Season 7, more episode rankings, and more Game Of Thrones stuff in general as we wait out the long winter that must pass before Season 8.

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