If you haven't finished Game of Thrones' near-perfect 6th season, hurry the f*ck up.
Or just go at your own pace. The binge takes its toll on you, especially once you get to the end. In either case, if you're not done, you probably don't want to read (even though, it being Tuesday, you've probably collided head on with spoilers) any further.
This season, simply put, was a banger.
We got death, resurrection, love, head explosions, White Walkers, epic battles, redemption, vindication, second chances, Wildfire, a Ned-Stark-You-Are-NOT-the-Father flashback moment, and a lot of questions.
Yeah, of course we have questions. But we also have a few definitive answers.
Westeros is unforgiving. You've got to scrape the joy out of it while you can because you never know how long before all of the nice things are burned, stabbed, betrayed, flayed, castrated, or what have you.
Almost more importantly than determining what's next, it's determining who won this season. There are a lot of winners, both in the realm of the show and the medium of the storytelling itself.
Of course, you've got to take the good with the bad. We've got two-day-old hot takes! Here are season 6 winners and losers.
Winner: Daenerys Targaryen
Gets captured by Dothraki, burns down Dothraki. Comes home to find Mereen burning, burns down the people burning it.
She didn't lose anything in the process (save for bidding adieu to Jorah "Strong Jawline for Days" Mormont and her lover, Daario), and now she's got a strategic alliance in Dorne, three giant ass dragons, an alliance with the Greyjoy siblings, a weird twinkle in her eye for Tyrion, and a shit ton of boats.
She's good. If you have to crown one singular person, it's her.
Winner: House Stark
RIP RICKON STARK. Poor kid. We literally never even knew you. But he who does not run in anything but a straight line deserves whatever comes straight at him.
From Arya discovering that a girl has a name, to Jon Snow's unofficial coronation as King in the North, the Stark family is killing it.
Even if we're still a little dubious about Sansa's alliance with Littlefinger, and a little sketched out by Bran's predilection for hittin' up flashbacks on heart trees like bums on LinkNYC wi-fi kiosks peepin' pornog, things are looking up for House Stark.
Winner: Women in general
Yaaaass queeeeen! Yes, Cersei's on the throne. Dany's about to conquer the world. Yara's dropping gems like, "I'mma go f*ck the tits off that one!" Arya's an assassin. Sansa literally towers over Jon Snow. Lady Olenna made a grown-ass-woman alliance with Dorne. Everything is awesome.
Oh, and Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island?! Yeah, everything is awesome.
Last season was real rapey. Sansa got raped, the princess Shireen got burned alive (driving her mother to suicide), gold-masked goons kept trying to murder Dany, and Cersei took the longest walk of shame we've ever seen. If this isn't vindication, I don't know what is.
Winner: The Hound
By virtue of being alive and sharing a few scenes with Ian McShane, he's a winner.
Yeah, CGI is expensive. We saw that from the decidedly rough silhouette of Drogon at the end of episode 8.
They made up for it with glorious boat-burning in "Battle of the Bastards," but most importantly, they reunited all three dragons without making the whole "Oh, sorry I chained you up in a cave for a couple of years," thing a thing.
Sure, Dany mounting the dragon really hasn't been figured out. It's always going to look awkward.
Winner: Book readers
This could be an L or W depending on whatever comes of boy George's still unpublished book, Winds of Winter. But for people who've been invested in this series for more than the duration of the show, the longstanding fan theory of R + L = J has all been all but completely confirmed.
Can you imagine starting these books 20 years ago and finally getting to see that flashback in the Tower of Joy where Lyanna says the words, "Promise me, Ned?!" I can't. Because I haven't read the books.
Even if you don't know where the books will end up taking you - and how far into a different direction than the show - you still got to see that moment.
Winner: Comic relief
Okay, so most of the jokes were bad. But you got everything! Fart jokes, dick jokes, you name it. None of it worked in the way that it needed to, but this is a win because they didn't reach on anything.
Remember that scene in season one at Littlefinger's brothel where he's teaching Roz how to hooker? Of course you do. Everyone does.
It was stupid, and it still haunts me for sheer awkwardness (sorry, mom). That's what you call reaching. These jokes, annoying though they were, were harmless. Good job, people.
How many shows can throw up an average budget of $10 million/episode and succeed the way they did, start to finish, especially when they're kind of on the rocks?
The beauty of Game of Thrones is that they can literally afford down episodes - hell, down seasons, even - and still take huge gambles on large set pieces, intricate battle scenes, and dragon dopeness without the fear of failing.
At the end of the day, this show is carrying a network that never really looked vulnerable until Netflix and Amazon started making good shows while HBO invested in the failures of Vinyl, Ballers, and even the second season of True Detective.
Loser: Book readers who really love Dorne
It's such a good thing that they got us out of there real quick at the beginning of the season. Everything about Dorne was mostly unwatchable. Apparently, that's a huge bummer for book readers who really loved all of the world building Dorne allowed.
Again, as a non-reader, I don't take the L, but I definitely feel for those who invested a large part of themselves in that particular region.
Loser: Direwolves & BFG's
If you're someone who thinks Michael Vick still deserves the death penalty, you're probably not a fan of this season. We saw two - not one, but two - Direwolves go down this season; Shaggy Dog and Summer.
One, we saw valiantly (but strangely because no part of that situation looked good for you, Shaggy Dog. WTF were you thinking?) die trying to save the lives of Bran, Meera, and Hodor; the other, we only saw the severed head of.
We never want to mock the fierceness of wolves, but the show's first season kind of built them up to be these incredible, unstoppable creatures. That has not proven to be the case.
We also have to pour one or two out for our boys Hodor and Wun Wun. This was a good year for dreaming big, but not necessarily for being big. Hodor saved the day for Bran and Meera, and Wun Wun opened the door for Jon at the gates of Winterfell before losing an eye.
RIP giants. You will be missed.
Loser: Houses Bolton & Frey
Thank god the Boltons are dead. Ramsay was a pretty flat character, and after he unexpectedly murdered his surprisingly charismatic father Roose (which, why, again, would you announce to your bastard that you have a new, more legit son?!), it was time for the line to end. But the Freys...
OOF! The Fray family went from chillin' to villain to dead REAL FAST. Okay, so not real fast. We waited forever to see Walder Frey die. We knew it would happen, we just didn't know who would do it, or when.
Book readers knew, but as Benioff & Weiss opted to punt on Lady Stoneheart's revenge (zombie Catelyn Stark, apparently), nobody knew exactly how it would all pan out.
Honestly, though? Arya's revenge felt a little forced. It almost didn't feel earned. If they wanted to make it more worthwhile, they should have crammed Sam's librarygasm into episode 9 and given Walder Frey one last despicable thing to do or say before she knifed him. There's also the logistics...
The show never seemed good at maintaining any sense of timing. We have no real grasp of geography because of how short these trips take. It just never felt as noticeable until this season.
Theon and Yara got to Mereen real fast. Arya got to The Twins REAL FAST. Varys got to and from Dorne really, really REAL FAST. The only trip that made sense was Dany's from Vaes Dothrak to Mereen, but that's because she was on a dragon.
This season seemed to completely abandon all sense of time except when things needed to drag out as long (or longer) as they needed, like Sam's trip to Old Town.
Loser: Cersei's 'do
Cersei, you're a champ. Now, before you do anything really crazy, fix your hair. Seriously.
Loser: King's Landing
The Sept of Baelor is gone, the religious fanatics are gone, the king is dead, and Cersei, somehow, is not just a Queen Regent or Mother. She's bona fide. She's on the throne. Between that and the dragons headed their way, King's Landing is f*cked.
Now, if we look at the Bombing of Baelor as one of the greatest moments of the series (which, to be clear, I absolutely do), then it's hard to give the kingdom the L.
But this place has sucked for a while. Getting through every minute of Jonathon Pryce was surprisingly hard, something I didn't know was possible. On the surface level of the story, the citizens of King's Landing are definitely losers in their current situation.
In the grand scheme of things, that first half-hour of the season finale was absolutely incredible. It's kind of a wash, but it's always been too much of a loser not to still be one.
Melisandre: Banished. Ian McShane: Deceased. High Sparrow: Disintegrated. Lancel Lannister: So. Friggin. Close. But dead.
Even Kinvara, that Red Priestess who goes from Volantis to Mereen. Just judging from what Varys has done for Dany in Dorne, outlook's a little glum for bandwagon fanatics that want to advise royalty in any capacity, especially when they've been a little threatening.
To that point, she did mention something about how he better get his shit together if he's going to support the true queen. Then, all of a sudden, we now have a strategic alliance between Dorne and Dany (never explicitly said, but certainly implied). What's he playing at?
Suffice it to say, that even if we have to give credit (for now at least) to the Lord of Light for bringing back Jon Snow, religious fanaticism doesn't appear to be the right thing to gravitate towards.
Loser: Streaming services
Okay, so streaming services don't really lose, but it's important to emphasize how HBO has continuously won with this show. It has a lot to do with pacing. This show is so intense, that the week-to-week gratification is perfectly balanced with a healthy mix of low-key episodes.
It still works when you binge, but the very fact that that's not necessarily in your control when it comes to consuming new episodes works even better. Take Orange Is the New Black for example. We might talk about this show more in-depth someday, but for now let's just say this latest season was absurd.
It's not the best show on its own platform, let alone any other. Why? Tone and writing. It's not a bad show, it's just a show that doesn't know where it fits in. It plays too much with the mass-appeal "Oh, that's kind of cute, I guess" jokes and then jumps right into "Holy Shit Why Does My Heart Hurt" drama.
Taking in this whole new season on a binge is a bad idea. It dawdles around for a while, tells really bad jokes, gets into really campy dramatic sequences of character building, and then it yanks your heart out through your ass, squeezes it, and then feeds it to your neighbor's dog.
Sure, you can always say, "That's why you don't watch 5 episodes in a row," but when you're so fed up with Netflix asking, "Are you there?" it basically takes that decision out of your hands.
Game of Thrones can have that same effect on you, but you're at the whim of the network. You have to tune in next week. If anything, season 6 once again confirmed no, you don't have to put every episode you have out all at once.[Feature Image Courtesy Vox]