The number of characters in Game of Thrones that we desperately want to see the back of is rapidly diminishing. Old Mate Euron Greyjoy has been hyped as the next Big Bad, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can match Ramsay Bolton for brutish psychopathy.
The downside of this is if there are fewer bad people to kill, our dear friends at HBO might start killing off…. gulp...our favourites. In some cases, we can sort-of-maybe-kind-of understand how death may be necessary: Can Ser Jorah survive his greyscale? Might Beric Dondarrion finally run out of lives? Might Jaime die at the hands of his girlfriend/blood relative?
But there are some characters who CANNOT, nay, MUST NOT be harmed. Every hair on their head is a blessing from the gods old and new, and I honestly will lose my shit if anything happens to them. Help me, HBO, you’re my only hope (of retaining some shred of dignity and not bawling like a recalcitrant toddler).
You got him once. You're not getting him again. I mean it.
The world's most reluctant lady is now a fearsome, not-to-be-messed with assassin. I'm honestly not sure how her story will play out this season - will she head straight for winterfell to reunite with Jon and Sansa, or will she head south from the Twins and try to take on cersei and finish off her infamous hit list? Will she at least get word to Winterfell to let them know she's alive?
Could she find a new travelling partner and create another one of the show's brilliant dynamic duos? Think Tyrion and Bronn, Jaime and Bronn, Jaime and Brienne, Brienne and Pod, and of course the Hound and Arya? Or will she make hundreds of fanboy theorists' dreams come true and reunite with her direwolf Nymeria? Whatever happens, we have all been onboard with Arya's revenge fantasy since she first starting reciting her to-kill list. Nothing must interfere.
Has there been a character who captured hearts and minds so immediately as Tyrion Lannister? From the moment we first saw him - fittingly, in a brothel - we have adored his wit, honesty, intelligence and occasionally even bravery.
He’s been disrespected, mistreated, put down, put upon, beaten up, backstabbed, front stabbed and threatened with cock removal - but here he is, newly minted Hand of the Queen and champion of House Targaryen.
There is conflict to come with his sister Cersei, now sitting pretty on the Iron Throne, and the current biggest obstacle for his new boss achieving her own career goals. There are of course those persistent rumours that Tyrion himself is more Targaryen than Lannister, but however that pans out, there will still be a reckoning.
Whatever happens, Tyrion defined the Game of Thrones, and so must prevail. I mean, he must… right? Despite everything that’s come before in this damn series, they surely, SURELY, cannot kill the dwarf… right?
It's possible Sansa has grown the most of any GoT character. Daenarys was a manipulated sister and wife early on, but quickly grew into her regal genetics. Jon was always noble, honorable and concerned with the bigger picture, and his brush with Death (oh to be Death just to brush him once) only intensified those drives. But Sansa has been through the wringer. From spoiled entitled princess brat, to prisoner plaything to a sadistic fiancé at King's Landing, to reluctant bride to Tyrion, prize chess piece for Littlefinger's desire, to survivor of brutal abuse at the hands of a psychotic monster - Sansa weathered all that and emerged one of the most fully rounded characters on the show.
Still a sensitive person, she has developed emotional armour by reconnecting hard with her Stark ancestry. It was she that forced Jon into action to retake Winterfell. It was Sansa who told Jon Rickon was lost the night before he was taken down by Ramsay's arrows. It was Sansa who overcame her revulsion at Littlefinger to cut a deal with him and get the Knights of the Vale to save the day at the Battle of the Bastards. I don't believe she will resent Jon for his elevation to King in the North, but I will understand if tension develops. Jon may have been stabbed six times and died, but Sansa suffered a death of a thousand cuts, and her rebirth has been epic. Long may she reign.
Ned Stark was the moral heart of this world until it was stopped abruptly by the loss of another organ. Lucky then we had Ser Davos Seaworth able to pick up the beat from Season 2 onwards. The Onion Knight, one time smuggler turned surprise war hero and valued counsellor to Stannis Baratheon, is a truly good man when that is an undesirable and even dangerous quality to have. Indeed, it is one of Stannis' few redeeming features that despite his leap into Lord of Light crazy town, he retained Davos as an adviser. It's also one of Melisandre's redeeming features that she let him.
Davos' relationship with Shireen - she taught him to read, he made her feel special and valued when her parents couldn't be bothered - was one of the most tender we've seen on the show. His rage upon discovering how she died was tempered by true heartbreak over the loss of a good child, the real bright spark Stannis should have valued.
With Stannis gone, Davos offered his services to Jon Snow, recognising in him at once the sort of leadership and determination that Stannis had once had, but which had been twisted. It is Davos we have to thank for bringing Jon back in the first place - despite his eminent practicality and religious scepticism, it is he who asks Kate Bush "Hey, know any magic...?"
I cannot imagine him anywhere now but by Jon's side, the barometer of bullshit, a practical pragmatic with a rough charm that works a treat on brave but cautious people (case in point: Lyanna Mormont). Kill him off, and there will be tears - no onions necessary.
By all rights Sam Tarly should not have made it out of Season 1 alive. If Ser Alliser Thorne had had his way, he would have been a real-life punching (and stabbing) bag for trainee Black Brothers. But where’s Ser Alliser now? Food for worms after his treasonous attack on our most precious. And where’s Sam? Doing his best Disney princess frolic in the world’s biggest library.
Along the way, he has used his clever noggin to rescue Gilly and her bub, and work out that obsidian glass could be used to kill White Walkers (although admittedly that was an accident. But he kept calm in a crisis, and that counts).
When Jon sent him off at the end of Season 5 to become the new Maester of the Night’s Watch, he knew only Sam would have the smarts to figure out what other skills/equipment might be handy in helping stave off the end of the world. And he was smart enough to nick off with Heartsbane (or more suitably as we’ve dubbed it, “Heartsbae”) during a side trip with Gilly to the Tarly ancestral home Horn Hill.
While we may wish we were a Jon or a Dany, we are actually all Sam. We’re the ones who aren’t physically perfect, we’re not natural warriors or leaders, but damnit we a half-decent brain and a sense of curiosity and we get things done. Occasionally we have our own little hero moment, such as when Sam left Gilly at Horn Hill for approximately 13 seconds, before changing his mind and declaring they stick together, no matter what.
That’s why Sam’s entrance into the Oldtown library spoke volumes (look at that pun!). It was an achievable goal, something we could recognise in our own lives. Sam was a smart guy; his Xanadu was that library. Maybe ours is something different - a new job, a fitness goal, a pay rise, a positive Tinder date. It’s something grand when it happens, and because it’s not out of the realm of possibility, we keep on truckin’ ‘til we get it.
Tormund Giantsbane and Brienne of Tarth
Clearly these two are incredibly important in their own right but it’s the tantalising possibility of something sexy happening between them that makes it vitally important both of them stay very much alive.
Tormund is the ferocious ginger warrior wildling; Brienne is the ferocious blonde warrior woman. Brienne was once forced to fight a bear; Tormund claims to have f***ed a bear. Both support a Stark (R + L = J be damned, that Snow is Stark, not Targaryen), which shows good judgement. Both enjoying carving the crap out of bad guys, which makes them eminently deserving of all the screen time.
By all rights we should have seen the attraction coming, but when Brienne rode through the gates of Castle Black causing Tormund to drop his jaw in awe, the whole internet roared with collective thirsty YES! THIS! BY THE GODS, THIS! This was a hole we didn’t know we needed filling. I won’t joke that Brienne is the same - sure, we want her to go there, but we want her to be into it.
Of course the spanner in the works of Tormienne is Jaime Lannister, Brienne’s one time prisoner/travel companion. He retains a grudging affection for the straight-laced Tarth fighter, as evidenced by their most recent, almost tender, farewell at Riverrun. But Jaime’s back in King’s Landing now with his twincester, the new Mad (as Hell) Queen. Brienne will head for Winterfell and Sansa, where Tormund awaits, hoping she’ll throw him a bone… of meat, which he will devour lasciviously in front of her.
I’ll even be fine if Tormienne continues as one-sided sexual tension. I just want to see it, all of it, every last drop of it, and so they must both live. We Game of Thrones fans are nothing if not romantic.
DON’T. YOU. F***ING. DARE.
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