The wait is finally over as Game of Thrones Season Six returns to our screens. It has been nearly a year since we waved goodbye to Westeros and Season Five's mixed bag of episodes. Some saw last season as the best and some saw it as the worst, but what questions lead us into Season Six? Will Reek still reek this season? How does Varys stop his head getting sunburnt in the Meereen sun? Will Jorah Mormont ever get past first base with Daenerys Targaryen? Whilst we ponder the return of Jon Snow/Stark it is time to rank the episodes of Season Five and have a binge on yesteryear.
Going into this, I would like to say that no episode of Game of Thrones is particularly bad, but just like the many houses of Westeros, someone always has to come out on top! Valar Morghulis
10. The House Of Black And White - Episode 2
Boooo politics, ruining life for us all again. It was Trump vs. Clinton in the yawn-fest voting for the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Even someone like Hodor could spot that Jon Snow and his long hair would be the next Lord Commander, but that this short-lived rise to power probably wouldn't end well.
We also had more *yawn* political strife in Meereen as Daenerys executes a former slave in front of the population...we didn't even get to see any blood. All in all, a slow and talky episode of Thrones that got too bogged down in its own election hype. For an episode titled "The House Of Black And White", said house featured very little. This was the start of the season and also a sluggish start to Arya Stark's intriguing journey in Bravos. Sure, we got to see Drogon for a bit, but even he got bored and flew away!
9. The Gift - Episode 7
Reach for the tissues here as we finally said goodbye to Maester Aemon, probably the only man to die in the history of the show from natural causes. Even the sadness of saying goodbye to one of the show's most likeable characters couldn't make up for the episode which includes one of the most awkward sex scenes ever. The Sam and Gilly (Silly) storyline is one I just can't get on board with.
Couple with the far too quick resolution of Bronn's poisoning in Dorne (seriously, they let that one slide) and Daenerys' boring marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq and you are onto a duff. Many rank "The Gift" much higher for Season Five, but the trips to The Wall and Dorne take a lot away from Cersei's dramatic fall from grace. Admittedly the episode does include some well deserved Dame Diana Rigg time and her pairing with Petyr Baelish, but it is sorely let down by Sam's awkward sex face and pillow-talk:
Oh, oh my!
8. The High Sparrow - Episode 3
Of course we get to see more of a rather surly teenage Lancel Lannister, as well as the casting gem of Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow, but again, episode three suffers from 'all talk and no trousers' (literally). Margaery and Tommen consumate their marriage and the new queen consort uses her womanly ways to try and ship Cersei back to Casterly Rock.
A nude High Septon is paraded through the streets of King's Landing and we meet a pantless Daenerys Targaryen lookalike in a Volantis brothel. The flaws in "The High Sparrow" are made up for by the kidnapping of Tyrion in said brothel, it nicely sets up his and Jorah's highly amusing voyage:
I'm taking you to the queen.
7. The Sons Of The Harpy - Episode 4
Controversial to see an episode with a longstanding character death so low down? Sorry fanboys, it's true. By the time Ser Barristan Selmy was killed off in Thrones, he'd reached his natural end anyway. You can't plod around Queen Daenerys' side and not expect some collateral damage. Ian McElhinney was obviously critical of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' choice to kill him off, knowing the character was still alive in the books.
Hmmmmm, and we're sure the loss of that fat paycheque had nothing to do with it either. Secondly, the Sons of the Harpy are certainly a menace in Meereen, but with their faceless gold masks and lack of dramatic speeches, it is easy to forget that this group of villains actually pose anyone a threat. The Meereen storyline was a bit meh, only out meh-ed by Jamie and Bronn's holiday in Dorne!
6. Kill The Boy - Episode 5
Season Five was chugging along by the time it came to the midseason, but as we all know, you can't just coast by on looks! With a title like "Kill The Boy" we were hoping for the demise of the thoroughly unlikeable cock-chopper, Ramsay Bolton...however, no such luck! "Kill The Boy" was only a metaphor used by blind O.A.P. Maester Aemon (R.I.P.).
There was a silver lining though, Tyrion and Jorah the Explorer's trip through Valyria certainly offered some finale drama and a genuinely tense horror-romp. Otherwise, what really happened this episode? Something to do with useless candles in high windows?
5. Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
As far as Game of Thrones weddings go, this was a snoozer. The controversial rape of Sansa Stark sure got the internet flapping, but a headline grabbing scene to close the episode certainly stole away from an otherwise bland excursion.
We had a tame fight scene with the Sand Snakes in Dorne, which had us gagging for the Brienne/Jamie bridge fight from S3. Sadly, it appears the rumours are true, Jamie Lannister is only half the fighter he used to be with his new Goldmember hand.
4. The Wars To Come - Episode 1
Oh, so even as a child Cersei was a bitch! We finally got a Game of Thrones flashback (YEY!), which sets for more to come in Season Six (YEY!). The ominous prophecy that Cersei would lose her three children as well as her power to a younger model also sets the tone for what is to come in the current Margaery/Cersei bitch wars. Sorry King Tommen, looks like Season Six could be your time. It was all very Friends Reunited and apparently Tyrion Lannister spent a rather unpleasant time locked in a box...at least he has Varys for company now!
Lancel's shock return, the introduction of the Sons of the Harpy, plus the conclusion of Mance Rayder's storyline. Jon Snow's loyalty as a Wildling lover is put to the test as he fires that final arrow into his former friend's heart...it harks back to the loss of Ygritte *weep*. Mance's burning at the stake also clues us up to the eventual demise of poor Shireen *double weep*. As opening episodes go, "The Wars To Come" certainly promised a break-neck season.
3. The Dance Of Dragons - Episode 9
It is no surprise to see that the final three episodes of the season are the top three ranked, however, what may surprise us is that the usual penultimate episode was more of a 'sizzle' than a burn. In Game of Thrones lore it is always episode nine which packs the big punch and episode ten that ties up the ends. With the epic Hardhome battle in episode eight and the WTF-fest of episode ten, "The Dance of Dragons" was left a little lost in the middle. We were all shouting at the screen, "No, they won't kill Shireen", which was the final straw for Stannis the Mannis and marks the beginning of the end for the Baratheon dynasty.
Even in Meereen things heated up - Jorah used his best Hulk smash in the fighting pits, before Lord Friend-zone saved his beloved queen. How does Daenerys thank those closet to her? She royally leaves them in the s**t and flies away on her dragon...gratitude eh!
2. Mother's Mercy - Episode 10
More T&A than you can shake a stick at - we all get to see a lot more of Cersei Lannister than we expected and it looks like the carpet doesn't match the drapes. Arya Stark takes another name off her kill list by exacting revenge of prolific paedophile, Meryn Trant, whilst Sansa Stark finally escapes the clutches of Ramsay Botlon AND with Theon/Reek in toe. Alfie Allen's turn from Theon-Reek-Theon has been a real rollercoaster and everyone fist-pumped the air when Theon threw Myranda off the Winterfell battlements. Also not a great episode for Stannis Baratheon - you can see the moment in his face well he literally thinks... "Well I'm f****d", only to then get chopped down by Captain Phasma, sorry, Brienne of Tarth.
That was only half the episode! There are sooo many other stories from the episode too - Cersei's walk of shame is a huge talking point , but we also get Myrcella's death and the reanimation of Gregor Clegane. However, breasts aside, it is the (ongoing) Jon Snow saga for which "Mother's Mercy' will be remembered. A year later and we are still no closer to finding out the true fate of 'The Bastard of Winterfell'. Good job boys, good job!
AND THE WINNER IS...
1. Hardhome - Episode 8
A landslide winner for Season Five, if not the entire show, "Hardhome" is the epic battle beyond the wall that could have warranted a whole episode on its own. What makes "Hardhome" the jewel of Season Five's crown was the two part element to it. For the first half we have a whole lot of Westerosi drama including the long awaited meeting of Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister, before a quick hop over the wall for some ice-ice-baby.
As Jon Snow tries to bravely recruit the Wildling armies for his battle in the North, their pow wow is interrupted by a swarm of White Walkers and the return of The Night's King - the show's biggest bad since Joffrey popped his clogs. The show runners blew the budget for an expected $10 episode for a purpose built set at Magheramorne Quarry in Northern Ireland - featuring 400 extras, 50 stuntmen and taking 15 days to film "Hardhome" rightly deserves its place as the No.1 episode of Game of Thrones Season Five!
So there we have it - whilst some sunned it in Dorne and some froze their butts off in the North, Season Five certainly got us talking. Game of Thrones has always been great about deviating from its source material, but now with Season Six we are completely off piste and anything goes. Get ready, its going to be bumpier than a ride on the back of a dragon!