Last week, we named our pics for the worst moment of Game of Thrones Season 6. Welcome to the flip-side. What’s your pic for the best moment of Season 6? What moments struck you as touching, rapturous, awe-inspiring or otherwise good TV? Vote in the poll and join the discussion!
DAN: There are plenty of candidates for Best Moment of Season 6, but honestly, my decision was pretty easy: I loved, loved, loved Cersei’s trial in “The Winds of Winter,” for two main reasons.
First, it was presented with an enormous amount of love and care. When it comes to the season’s technical accomplishments, the Battle of the Bastards deservedly got the lion’s share of praise from critics, but Cersei’s trial was put together no less carefully. From the moment Ramin Djawadi’s “Light of the Seven” started to play, we knew there was something different about this sequence—the piano-heavy track gave it a quiet kind of menace not usually seen on Game of Thrones. The song works in tandem with the editing, which weaves together scenes from several locations—Cersei’s balcony, Tommen’s room, Qyburn’s lab, the Sept, below the Sept—with a quickening rhythm that crescendos rapturously with the wildfire explosion. It’s joyous, gripping filmmaking.
The other big reason I loved it was that I honestly didn’t see it coming. Maybe I should have. I figured the trial wouldn’t proceed as planned, but I didn’t see the show killing off so many characters all at once. Margaery was a particularly hard death to take, but she did an admirable job providing the scene with dramatic tension—once we saw the barrels of wildfire, I had no doubt Cersei’s bomb would go off, but I kept hoping Margaery might make it out until the very end.
I also loved the grim, gothic, almost campy tone of the scene, with bells crushing peasants in the streets and Cersei sipping her wine as she looks on from above, dressed as a supervillain vamp. At the same time, the sequence represents the endpoints of plotlines that had been running for seasons, from the sparrow’s incursion in Season 5 to the Cersei-Margaery rivalry begun in Season 3. And buried in there is a snapshot of a woman who proved to her enemies, the audience, and maybe even herself what terrifying lengths she’ll to go to to get on top.
I raise a glass to everyone involved in this scene.
COREY: Season 6 was chock full of great moments, and narrowing it down to just one seems like a Herculean task. But if I had to choose, I’d say that I thoroughly disliked the moment when Sansa confronted Littlefinger in “The Door.”
That sounds like it’s my pick for Worst Moment of the Season, but let me explain.
In a show filled with death, betrayal, incest and all other manner of horrific acts visited upon our characters, Sansa’s righteous fury was as blistering as a July sun in Texas. It was hard to watch, and for that I praise it. With only a few lines of dialogue, Sophie Turner was able to suggest the full extent of her disgust for Ramsay Bolton and the horror of their marriage. More than one person told me they almost had to turn off their TVs. If you can manage to elicit that reaction from fans six seasons in, that’s effective storytelling. It’s also one of the few moments on the show where Littlefinger expresses genuine emotion, a huge feat.
Generally, Littlefinger is capable of running intellectual circles around anyone in an argument, but he’s totally overwhelmed in face of Sansa’s pure, unbridled rage. His logic and reasoning are blown apart like castle walls made of sand. Baelish serves as an effective mirror for the way I assume most of the audience was feeling.
What made the sequence even more powerful was that Sansa’s descriptions were not detailed or excessive. For the most part, they were left to our imaginations. It was one of Turner’s finest moments on the show, and makes you wish we’d seen more of this from her in previous seasons. The strong and capable woman that emerged in this scene was a sight to behold.
So for me, this was the best moment of Season 6. It wasn’t an Earth-shattering event, but a solid reminder of what makes this show so good: the relationships between characters. Boobs and dragons are great, but they mean nothing without scenes like this, scenes that remind us that actions have consequences, and that sometimes those consequences last.
SARAH: I want to start by saying that I loved Sansa’s no-holds-barred verbal smackdown on Petyr Baelish for the same reasons Corey disliked it. She struck a real blow for abuse victims everywhere, and as a woman—and a human being—I truly appreciated her for it.
My choice for best moment of the season was when we first saw my beloved Bran’s lovely little face on screen again, bless his heart. I’ve always wished that he was my kid.
I jest, but my actual pick did involve Bran. While it was certainly the most painful—nay, most unbearable moment of the season, the ending sequence of “The Door” was a masterpiece in filmmaking. Not only was it wonderfully shot, scored and edited—I love Ramin Djawadi’s scoring for the White Walkers in general—bit it was rich and full of intricacies from a storytelling perspective.
First, it gave us one of the most shocking and heartbreaking moments in the show’s history: the truth of Hodor’s origins. Second, it allowed Meera Reed to shine as she fought to protect Bran, taking down a White Walker in the process. Girl’s got moves, and my long-held love for Ellie Kendrick was justified. Third, the scope of Bran’s power has widened beyond what we expected, paving the way for all sorts of twists in the future.
If you’re hoping he’ll go back in time and save Ned, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. To quote the Three-Eyed Raven, the past is already written. Bran’s mentor manipulated him so he could learn the hard way that he must only be a silent observer of the past. It’s the future I’m interested in.
And at the heart of the flurry lay Hodor, whose death added a current of deep sadness to the terror and spectacle. Never have I seen a fandom so united in grief as I did in the days following the episode’s airing. Hodor, a man without agenda or prejudice, was a true innocent in a rotten world. He represented a goodness rarely found, and we delighted in it. I suppose that’s why he seemed untouchable. It hurt to lose him because there are people like him in the real world whom we, as human beings, feel compelled to protect.
How wonderful is it that even in a television show full of gloom and despair, we can still find someone who reminds us of the goodness in humanity? Hodor gave us that, and in my opinion the story of his tragic history was perfectly executed. It allowed us to appreciate how strong he was, to be so kind and cheerful despite his suffering. He died as he lived: brave and selfless. And his legacy will live on through Bran, whose future decisions will be informed by the tragedy.
RICHARD: Wow, lots of superb choices from Season 6. I wholeheartedly agree with everyone above. For me, this is like picking the best strawberry in the middle of a ten-acre strawberry field packed with ripe and juicy strawberries.
I’m an action guy, but I tend to avoid that stuff on these lists in favor of the quieter emotional gut punches. I’m talking about stuff that made me tear up and paid off my emotional investment in the show. Game of Thrones Season 6 offered several of these moments, including the Sansa/Baelish scene described by several contributors above. For example, I was so happy I could have wept (and maybe I did) when Brienne saved Sansa from the Bolton men and then knelt, face angelic and glowing, as the Stark daughter accepted her oath of fealty in “The Red Woman.” Another hit: the look on Tyrion’s face in “The Winds of Winter” when Daenerys, the only leader his cynical little heart had ever allowed him to believe in, proclaims him Hand of The Queen.
Although it’s obvious, my pic for best moment is The Hug Heard Around the World. When Jon Snow and Sansa Stark rediscovered each other at Castle Black in “Book of the Stranger,” I was near bawling. This scene repaid my emotional investment in spades. So many feelings, so many years of watching the show…a lot of them were folded up in that moment. We had seen the Stark family ripped apart, but now two of the children, the little prissy and the surly bastard, reconnected and found that their ties, once strained and thin, were explosively powerful. Jon and Sansa are very different people now, battered and tough, and they know how precious family connections can be.
I’ll also add that the repeated mentions of Sansa in this Small Council speaks to the blossoming of her character after years of enduring uncertainty and victimization. Jon and Sansa are in a tough spot, for sure, but if their newfound affection can mature into trust, then they have a big advantage in a world full of lies and deception. And that hug just blew me away. I’m choking up right now, looking at that picture. It’s awesome.
KATIE: My girl Sansa is really tearing it up this week, and I’m thrilled. I loved Season 6 for bringing more people around to Team Sansa, which I’ve been on since S1, Ep2, “The Kingsroad.”
When looking back on all of the seasons, no one has come as far as the Starks. After their fall from grace with Ned’s beheading in Season 1, the Starks have been at war, imprisoned, or on the run. Robb, Catelyn and Rickon have followed the family patriarch into the grave death. This year, the survivors—Jon, Arya, Sansa and Bran—have begun their trek home, preparing to become part of a pack again after years as long wolves. For this reason, my vote is for the moment the Stark banners unfurl over the walls of Winterfell in “Battle of the Bastards.”
The shot itself is simple but poignant. The Bolton banners fall. Then, snapping on the winter wind, the Stark banners with their black-and-gray sigil replace them. It stands for the family’s victory and the reclamation of their home. The show had been building up to it since Season 3, when Robb and Catelyn were slaughtered at the Red Wedding and the Stark flags burned. The Boltons betrayed them, killed them, and took their home as a reward for their treachery. Further tragedy befell the Starks at the Boltons’ hand when Sansa became Ramsay’s wife and victim, and later when Ramsay shot Rickon down during the battle for Winterfell.
But Winterfell has always belonged to the Starks by right. It’s as Sansa tells Jon upon their reunion: “Winterfell is our home. It’s ours. And Arya’s, and Bran’s, and Rickon’s, wherever they are. It belongs to our family. We have to fight for it.” Now, with that fight won, Sansa and Jon have taken their rightful place at the head of that family, and Arya and Bran have a home to return to.
What those Stark banners tell us is that, even on Game of Thrones, heroes can triumph. There is justice to be had in this world, and those who have been wronged can gain it. The Starks fell only to rise again, and perhaps that fall was necessary so they could all learn that the world isn’t the black-and-white moral dilemma Ned had painted it to be. The “right thing” is seldom altruistic, and often the “wrong thing” is the only way to win, to survive. If the Starks can accept and abide by that mentality, we can reasonably hope that the promised bittersweet ending will have a silver lining.
RAZOR: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Game of Thrones Season 6 was one long season of wish fulfillment…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Obviously, I concur with Katie on her choice of the Stark banners once again flying over Winterfell. In fact, the Battle of the Bastards as a whole was an amazing piece of filmmaking. I’m still in awe when I rewatch it.
But in the interests of keeping things fresh around here, I will go with Dany flying Drogon alongside the newly freed Rhaegal and Viserion as they destroyed the Masters’ ships in Slavers Bay.
As an avid book reader, I was anxious about how this moment would unfold. In the novels, both Rhaegal and Viserion are loosed on Meereen while Daenerys is still in the Dothraki Sea. They set up shop in a couple of the great pyramids, driving Meereenese nobles from their homes. As you can see, the books and the show took varying paths to get to what I hope is the same conclusion.
Back to the point, to see Dany astride Drogon, with his siblings flying beside him, and to finally witness the full might of three grown dragons as they breathed hellfire down on Dany’s enemies was truly awesome. It makes me wonder how Dany’s enemies stand even the slightest of chances against her in Season 7. Nothing the depleted Lannisters can put together should be able to withstand the wrath of the Dragon Queen.