We all love Game of Thrones, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune from criticism. What moments from the show’s sixth season struck you as sub-par, and why? The Small Council is in session.
DAN: There were a couple of rocky stretches in Season 6, but no scene stuck in my craw so much as the one in Dorne from “The Red Woman,” the premiere.
I know, I know…picking a Dorne scene for a Worst Moment award isn’t particularly original, but this was pretty egregious even by the low bar the show set for itself in Season 5. To start, the logic of events doesn’t hold up under even light scrutiny, a Dornish trademark. That’s particularly true of the scene where Obara and Nymeria Sand kill Trystane Martell on the boat in Blackwater Bay. Just…how and when did they get on board that boat? They watched it leave the Dornish docks in “Mother’s Mercy,” so they couldn’t have stowed away from the start. Did they intercept the boat at some point during its journey? And where did Prince Doran (Alexander Siddig) think they were? These two were part of a conspiracy to undermine his rule not two episodes ago—surely he’d be concerned if they were M.I.A.
The most generous explanation is that Doran let them go to King’s Landing after the boat already left…for some reason. The writing of Doran is the worst part of this scene, particularly for someone who’s read the books. The Game of Thrones producers have no obligation to adapt every detail of George R.R. Martin’s novels, but if they were going to turn Doran from a master strategist to a simpleton who couldn’t see a betrayal coming from a mile away, I’d rather they not have included him at all. (Incidentally, I’d be interested in hearing what non-book readers thought of Doran’s death. Is this just book-reader rage?)
And in what universe do Ellaria and the Sand Snakes think they’re getting revenge for Oberyn’s death by killing his brother? Once again, this scene showed how uninterested the producers are with giving these women any texture.
The scene was a mess from top to bottom. So far as I’m concerned, the only time these characters are bearable is when Olenna’s insulting them.
RICHARD: Totally on board with Dan here regarding the gloppy story logic cesspool that is Dorne. Osha’s death was a terribly low point for me, and it was wrapped up in the meat-grinder Ramsay Bolton function I disliked so much. Ramsay was a great action nemesis, for sure (and Iwan Rheon played him magnificently), but the character was so unremittingly vile and one-dimensional it felt like he didn’t belong in the complex Game of Thrones landscape. I kept waiting for Ramsay to do something unexpected and he never did: he was psycho about everything, always dark, always the mustache-twirling bad guy who ties damsels to the train tracks.
Beyond his torture and destruction of Theon, Ramsay Bolton became the show’s reliable Grim Reaper (though the Reaper himself need not be so deplorably unhinged), his threshold the place where now-unnecessary characters went to die in violent, bloody ways. It was the scene of Osha’s murder that affected me the most negatively. Yes, I loved Osha and I was sad to see her die, but I’m also used to favorite characters getting offed on this show. But it was the way she died, along with Shaggydog and Rickon, as a sort of brief afterthought to the story, hurriedly disposed of in Ramsay’s abattoir, that really bothered me.
We invested a lot of time and emotional currency in the journey of Osha, Rickon and Shaggydog (alongside Bran) up until the end of Season 3. We learned nothing about their offscreen adventures in Seasons 4 and 5 except for that they were betrayed by the Umbers in the end. Then they’re butchered in front of us with a quick tossed head, cuddle-stab and non-serpentine death by arrow. Yeah, I understand time pressures of production and the need to finish/combine TV storylines. But Osha deserved better than that. As an audience we deserved better than that.
COREY: I’m with my fellow Council members regarding Dorne. That storyline becomes even more infuriating if it all boils down to Dorne going to war with the Lannisters in Season 7 only to be quickly wiped out. Not only has that story been terribly written, but it also feels like wasted time at this point. I’m also in agreement with Richard that Rickon and crew’s storyline ultimately ended up being pointless. I’m starting to get the feeling that there may be more than a few plot threads tied up in the two remaining seasons that end up being of little consequence to the overall story.
But for me, the worst moments involved offscreen deaths. Carrying on the awful tradition of Stannis meeting his doom offscreen in Season 5, we had both the Blackfish and the Waif perishing off screen. What. The. Hell. Granted, these weren’t main characters like Stannis, but I simply don’t understand what was served by having either die off screen.
In the Blackfish’s case, we are told over and over what a notable warrior he is, and then boom: he’s dead. The Lannister guard almost looked like he was about to forget to tell Jaime that the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON in Riverrun was killed fighting some guards. It came off as lazy and anti-climatic. “As long as I’m still standing, the war is not over,” says the Blackfish. Why give him such excellent lines, only to have him killed off screen? Give that warrior a proper onscreen death, charging down a dozen Lannisters and taking out half of them. Lame to one hundredth power.
Arya’s off-screen execution of the Waif made more sense, as Arya tricked the Waif into fighting in the darkness, but it was no less annoying. They had teased a showdown between the two women for two seasons, and then out go the lights and fight over. It felt like a UFC grudge match that ends 10 seconds into the first round while your cable goes out. Cable comes back, and the fight is over. We wanted to see those two ninjas go at it, we wanted to see Needle fly in Arya’s hands, but instead we got nothing. I felt cheated.
If this trend continues into Season 7, color me irritated. This is Game of Thrones—we aren’t squeamish. We’ve seen some of our favorite characters die in gruesome ways, and we’re still here. Don’t cheat us, Game of Thrones.
RAZOR: The worst part of Game of Thrones Season 6 was the fact that Lady Stoneheart wasn’t in it. (I’m only halfway kidding.) For a season chock full of fan wish fulfillment, it’s hard to find much fault. Yes, I could go the easy route and choose the murder of all the interesting people in Dorne. And yes, I could choose Arya basically becoming Wolverine from the X-Men in that one episode where she gets chased by the Terminator. But I think I’ll go off the beaten path and choose Jon Snow’s idiotic decision to charge the Bolton army by his lonesome.
“But Razor,” you say, “he was only trying to save his brother, and when he saw him dead he was filled with rage that he couldn’t overcome. LEAVE JON SNOW ALONE!” Let me stop you right there. Sansa warned Jon the night before that Ramsay would use Rickon to taunt him into making a tactical blunder, and yet Jon refused to listen. Were it me, I still would have ridden as fast as I could to try and save my brother, but once he died, I would have turned that horse right around and headed back to the loving embrace of Wun Wun.
Look, I’m a huge fan of Jon Snow, but I absolutely hated that he ignored everything he learned about leadership and battle tactics, both growing up in Winterfell and as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, during this fight. And let’s remember that kept his head during the fight at Hardhome, where he battled thousands of wights led by the Night King and his White Walker lieutenants. By deciding that he had zero f**ks to give and charging at the Bolton army all by himself, Jon forced his army into a trap that saw them nearly decimated. If not for Sansa’s intervention with Littlefinger, Jon and his army would be dead, and Ramsay Bolton would be the King in the North, and you all know it.
Having said all that, it still made for some goddam compelling television…so I guess my answer is nothing. Nothing was wrong with Season 6.
KATIE: It’s probably safe to say that we all thought Tyene Sand’s “bad pussy” line was the worst thing to come out of Season 5, and perhaps Game of Thrones in general. But Daario Naharis’ “I don’t think you could ride the dragon” is a strong contender for the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, and it plays into my pick for Worst Season 6 Moment. Any scene in which Daario and Jorah continued their pissing contest seemed near pointless to me. Sure, the pair had to engage in some dialogue while scouring the Great Grass Sea for the captured Daenerys, but did it have to be so teen angsty? Then again, perhaps that says more about the characters than it does the writing.
After all, while Daario and Jorah alike have proven their usefulness, the bulk of their arcs revolves around their shared feelings for Daenerys. In their time spent together on the Save Daenerys mission, you could have swapped Daario and Jorah for Edward Cullen and Jacob Black and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. As much as I don’t want to give props to Twilight, at least Bella Swan ended up picking one of them. Daario and Jorah’s conversations amounted to a romantic rivalry over a girl who isn’t terribly interested in either of them. It becomes completely moot when Yara shows up at the end of Season 6, because she proves she’s got more game in one interaction than Daario and Jorah combined. #Yanarys2k17
Not only is the whole Daario-vs-Jorah showdown a bad YA subplot, but it provides a forum for them to discuss what a super-special snowflake Daenerys is. I’m not much of a Daenerys fan, but she’s certainly more than that. These two don’t debate her role. They put her on a pedestal and in doing so prove that neither of them are fit to advise her. They would rather worship the ground their queen walks on than give her actual constructive criticism. Jorah certainly plays an essential role in Daenerys’ arc, regardless of romantic intent, but at this point Daario seems naught but an agitator between them. It was a relief to see Daenerys ditch him at season’s end, but we still had to sit through Daario’s dudebro show to get there.
All in all, Daario and Jorah’s battle of wits (or lack thereof) subjected the audience to something of an unsuccessful dating show pilot. Not to mention, didn’t they have anything better to do than snipe at each other over who Daenerys swiped left or right on? Way to prioritize the rescue mission, guys.
SARAH: I can think of a few dud moments from Season 6. There’s Osha the Afterthought and Doran’s death, for a start. Any time I had to listen to Petyr Baelish speak with an accent that is an insult to my country is also a prime contender. I’d talk about Arya’s miraculous recovery from her stab wounds but her survival makes me so happy that I don’t actually care. That makes me a dirty hypocrite, and I’m fine with it. If I have to pick one bad moment above all others, nothing disappointed me more than the kingsmoot on the Iron Islands, and Euron Greyjoy’s coronation.
I am by no means a book purist. I recognize that the show is a different beast and that it can’t possibly fit all of Martin’s content into 10 episodes a year. But the kingsmoot was one of my favorite parts of any of the novels in ASOIAF, and it piqued my interest in the Iron Islands in a way that nothing I had read before had achieved. I was really excited to see how the show would interpret one of the most unique traditions in Westeros. Euron Greyjoy had also enticed me in the second episode of the season, played with an eerie magnetism by former Eurovision host (seriously) Pilou Asbæk. Then it all just… fell flat.
First of all, Euron’s second appearance made him look like a blustering, posturing imbecile. As much as I hate to hark back to the source material, at least his victory makes sense in the books. He arrived at the kingsmoot with a band of loyal supporters to back him up, heaped treasure on the people and gave us a reason to believe he could control Daenerys’ dragons. In the show, all Euron had to offer Daenerys—the woman who overthrew three slave cities and brought dragons back to the world—were some ships and a copulatory organ. Is that meant to impress her? It was the Westerosi equivalent of a drunken frat boy ambling into a student council election and promising to abolish exams. Right on, dude. He’s lucky that every man on the Iron Islands is so easily impressed by penises and empty promises.
Secondly, where was everyone? I know that the Iron Islands are small, but Yara and Theon seemed to have more men running away with them during the coronation than were actually present to choose the new king. Also, how did they get away so easily? Considering Euron’s determination to kill them both, you would think that he would have locked them up, or at least stationed someone to guard them. He had failed at his job before he even started, and in one fell swoop divested himself of any pretense of competence. I no longer found him frightening or interesting. Now he’s just another reason for the mainland to make a joke of the Iron Islanders. None of this was Asbæk’s fault. It was the fault of the writers, and it’s a real shame.
GINA: Sometimes, when we love something so dearly, it’s easy to forget that not everything about it is shiny and perfect. My fellow council members gave some great critiques of Season 6, and I agree with a lot of them. However, I’m going to talk about a different kind of worth moment: the one that devastated me the most. It was Sandor Clegane coming face-to-face with the hanged Brother Ray, after he and his people were brutally slaughtered by the rogue members of the Brotherhood without Banners.
The Hound is one of my favorite characters. Sure, he’s a big, brutish killing machine, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a heart buried underneath. I was so happy to see him back from the dead at the beginning of Episode 7, and I just wanted good things for him. I should know better than to root for that kind of thing on this show, but the cautious optimist in me couldn’t help but hope things would work out.
When I see The Hound connect with someone, even on a seemingly superficial level, it warms my heart. This is a guy who has been through a lot in his life, from being burned by his brother to serving the Mad King Joffrey and everything in between. I thought the small, peaceful commune could be a good fit for a man on a constant search for his place in the world. Instead, three jerkfaces who tried to apologize only when the nooses were around their necks went ahead and ruined it. Hopefully the Hound will make a killing with the actual BWB Boys.
As for other moments that deserved a turned-up nose from me? Shout out to Baby King Tommen, whose malleability allowed the Faith Militant to run and ultimately help destroy King’s Landing from the inside-out. Bravo.
A note on the poll: Choosing “bad” moments of a TV show is a tricky business—one person’s pic for worst moment of the season may be another’s favorite scene, but we hope we’ve given you guys a range here. Was your least favorite moment not included on the poll? Tell us about it below!
And now, to flush out some of the bad feelings engendered by this discussion, please enjoy this video of happy babies and cute dogs interacting.