Warning: This article contains plot spoilers.
The season is dark and full of cliffhangers.
Only three episodes in, season six of HBO’s popular show “Game of Thrones” has already overhauled much of its plot from previous seasons. Without any more source material to base the episodes on, the show is increasingly trying to distance itself from George R. R. Martin’s original books.
The separation from Martin’s source material and the show’s efforts at originality keep fans guessing and excited. However, it often seems like the writers are trying too hard to find ways for the show to be different.
Several major characters have died and plotlines from the book have been disregarded. In the season’s premiere episode, both Prince of Dorne Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) and his son Trystane (Toby Sebastian) were brutally murdered by the Sand Snakes, ending all potential for the books’ Dorne subplot from happening.
Other story elements are completely out of order from the books.
In the season’s second episode, “Home,” Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) finally meets his end, bringing in the Greyjoy’s conflict of succession in place of the Dornish storyline.
Meanwhile, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) regained her sight in the latest episode, “Oathbreaker,” although this happened long ago in the books. This isn’t to say the show’s team shouldn’t have creative freedom, but the writers’ choices to include and exclude major subplots is interesting. It’s a shame to see the exclusion of the Dornish plot because despite how boring Dorne is in the show, there is a lot of death, scheming and subterfuge that happens in the books, such as the Martells’ plan to overthrow the Lannisters.
While killing main characters is one of the show’s hallmarks, the current season executes its characters in a way that feels forced and done for pure shock value.
Doran Martell, Balon Greyjoy, and Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) are major players in Westeros, yet they are only on screen for a few minutes – or seconds in Martell’s case – before they are stabbed to death. These demises from sneaky knife stabs are bland and repetitive, as if the writers are running out of new ways to kill off characters.
However, the character plot of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who was absent all of season five, is one that the show has made particularly intriguing. Bran is currently huddled away in the North, learning how to use his magical warg powers. The most unique part of Bran’s story is his exploration of the Stark family history, especially the life of young Ned Stark. Bran’s most recent foray into the past ends on a tense cliffhanger – it stops just short of potentially confirming the fan theory that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is not really Ned’s bastard son, but a royal Targaryen, while also hinting that Bran can communicate with others through time.
But fans have been waiting for the fate of Jon Snow most.
Season five ended with Jon Snow’s murder and season six picked up with his body being found in the crimson, blood-stained snow. For more than a year, fans have speculated about his fate, while Harington and the rest of the cast have fiercely denied his return. However, the brutally stabbed Lord Commander was raised from the dead at the end of episode two by the red priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten), whose own secret left viewers cringing.
While there was never really any question that Snow would return, episode two feels a little too soon for his resurrection and the tension might have had a better payoff later in the season. Barring any influence on the plot, letting the fans suffer just a little longer would have been more characteristic of Martin’s work.
So far, season six has been sufficiently entertaining. Some of the character and plot developments feel like a forced departure from the source material. However, it keeps the series exciting. For the first time, fans of the book series can’t spoil it for the show’s aficionados.