Wooden Horses, Ahoy! (Pt. 1)

[Contains hastily spilt rum and SPOILERS!!!]

The sixth season of Game of Thrones ended with a bumper-length finale, which went some way to making up for the disappointingly-short premiere… and coincidentally (?), both of these bookending episodes contained meh-worthy scenes set in the courtyard kingdom of Dorne, which wasted the potentially-awesome-but-desperately-underserved “Sand Snakes”, so boo to that! I wish the writers would either give them something properly badass to do, or just cut them from the series completely… because the way they were (mis)treated this year was just embarrassing, frankly. As for my other fave female characters:

Gwendoline Christie as 'Brienne of Tarth' in "Game of Thrones " (S6)After ‘Brienne’ (Gwendoline Christie) had sworn her oath of loyalty to ‘Sansa’ (Sophie Turner), the two of them made their way up to Castle Black for a touching reunion with the resurrected ‘Jon Snow’ (Kit Harington), and some unrequited flirtation from ‘Tormund’ (Kristofer Hivju). It was very gratifying to see Brienne giving ‘Melisandre’ (Carice van Houten) grief over her shadow-monster shenanigans… though sadly our heroine was AWOL when ‘Ser Davos’ (Liam Cunningham) discovered the tragic truth about Shireen’s sacrifice, and didn’t get to argue in favour of dishing out a little summary justice there-and-then… though now the “Red Woman” has been banished to the south, it’s always possible the two of them will cross paths again in the next season…? Brienne’s ill-fated quest to recruit the famed ‘Ser Brynden’ (aka “Blackfish”) (Clive Russell) and his banner-men to the Stark cause was a bit of a busted flush, but still worth it for the scene where she successfully parlays with ‘Ser Jaime’ (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and then reluctantly departs after a pregnant pause, looking like she desperately wants to shove her tongue down his golden throat. Sadly, their unspoken attraction is unlikely to bear fruit, and the best they can hope for these days is a friendly wave across opposing battlements. Sigh…

Gemma Whelan as 'Yara Greyjoy' in "Game of Thrones " (S6)Meanwhile, a more promising romance was budding between ‘Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) and ‘Yara’ (Gemma Whelan)… or is that just pervy/wishful thinking on my part? After losing the Iron Islands to their kinslaying uncle ‘Euron Greyjoy’ (Pilou Asbæk), the newly united Yara and ‘Theon’ (Alfie Allen) stole the bestest ships they could find, and set sail for Mereen, hoping to broker an alliance with our blessed “Mother of Dragons”… who seemed suitably impressed with the younger Greyjoys’ affirmative agenda, sibling solidarity, and plain-speaking ways… even if she wasn’t quite so keen on their homeland’s traditional attachment to raidin’, reavin’, and rapin’. Thankfully the two women were able to come to terms, after bonding over their terrible families (along with ‘Tyrion’ (Peter Dinklage)), mutual hatred of throne-hogging pigs, and burning desire to leave the world in a better state than it was when they came into it. Hurrah! Besides being a great gang-getting-together moment, I really loved seeing Whelan sharing a set with (and arguably stealing a scene from) two of the show’s biggest stars, so snaps to her for that! Fun fact: Apparently in the books Yara (aka “Asha”) is rampantly heterosexual, while Dany is a little more bi-curious… whereas Yara’s interest in the “fairer sex” was firmly established here via her lusty groping/motorboating of a naked prostitute-lady during her fleet’s pit-stop in Volantis. Nice to see her loosening up a little… though there might not be time for much fun and frivolity, now that the invasion is underway…

As for Dany’s Dothraki detour… well, seeing her torch the Great Khals’ council hut (with all of them still in it), and emerge from the flames to declare herself supreme ruler was kinda cool, but it did feel like a slight retread of the season one finale, and couldn’t hold a candle to the later scenes of her flying her dragons out over Slaver’s Bay to confront the enemy navy. I could’ve happily watched them set fire to ships in the harbour all day… but then she wouldn’t have had any left for her own supporters to sail in, would she? Shame.

Maisie Williams as 'Arya Stark' in "Game of Thrones " (S6)Not quite as epic, but equally engaging, was the highly anticipated showdown between erstwhile assassin-in-training ‘Arya’ (Maisie Williams) and her sadistic sparring-partner ‘The Waif’ (Faye Marsay). After several savage beat-downs with bo-staffs and bare-fists, Arya was finally forgiven, and her sight restored, only for her to go and botch yet another “hit” by knocking a poisoned glass out of her intended target’s hand, while warning the unsuspecting victim that someone wanted her dead! Which was probably the “right” thing to do, morally speaking, but it was still a rather frustrating choice on her part, since it inevitably brought the wrath of The Many-Faced God down on her once again, via our anti-heroine’s eager nemesis. To The Waif’s credit, she did follow her orders and attempt to make Arya’s death as quick and painless as possible, without any mocking words or evil cackles… at least on the first attempt… but Arya simply refused to lie down and die, leading to a protracted brawl/chase through the city’s marketplace, and lots of painful leaping/falling from high places, until Arya was able to lure her pursuer into a pitch-black nook and bust out her fancy new blind-fighting skills, to cut the belligerent bully down to size. Yay?*

Faye Marsay as 'The Waif ' in "Game of Thrones " (S6)After adding The Waif’s freshly culled visage to the big scary chamber of face-masks, Arya held ‘Jaqen’ (Tom Wlaschiha) at Needle-point and defiantly re-affirmed her identity as a Stark of Winterfell, before announcing that she was “going home”. Hurrah! I assumed she’d get waylaid a couple times along the way (as characters in this show often do), but apparently she made it back to Westeros in time for the finale, to serve up some grisly pies to ‘Walder Frey’ (David Bradley), along with his just deserts… which was quite satisfying in its way, but also suggested that Arya now possesses the ability to fashion her own magickal identity-shifting masks…? Or was the servant-girl disguise simply a parting gift from her enigmatic mentor? Hmmm…


* Of course I’m glad that Arya survived her misadventures in Braavos, but I can’t help mourning Marsay’s exit from the series, and wishing that Love, Nina had started airing a couple weeks later (rather than running concurrently), so I could keep enjoying her slightly off-kilter screen-presence for a little while longer. Ah well…


About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action.
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