Game of Thrones is one of my favourite shows. Even when it’s been so ridiculously brutal I’ve had to watch it from behind a pillow, I’ve cared about the characters. Even when they burned a child at the stake, I came back, albeit tentatively, for more. The drama has hooked me, and its reams of viewers, because it’s full of jeopardy, passion and human struggle. What’s not to like?
In season six, unfortunately, there’s quite a lot.
It wasn’t until Jon and Sansa were reunited in episode four, almost halfway through the series, that I found myself really interested in what was going on. Only then did I stop feeling, well, slightly bored.
It’s not uncommon for Game of Thrones to begin a little slowly. Season four, for example, started with a bland first episode Two Swords, which was really just about preparations for the royal wedding, setting up what was going on and catching up with the characters. But by the second episode, Westeros was an enthralling place again and made for one of the best seasons so far.
“But we’ve had a resurrection, bloodshed, dragons AND nudity already in series six,” I hear you cry. It’s true, we definitely haven’t been lacking in action – but despite all that plot, it’s felt empty and unsurprising.
We were supposed to be shocked and amazed by Melisandre’s ability to resurrect Jon, but unless you’d been living under the Narrow Sea, you’d have known what would happen.
And actually, over the years, some of the show’s best episodes have been the quieter, cleverer ones rather than the zombie-filled instalments: scenes like Varys and Tyrion’s dark, witty exchanges, or Littlefinger’s subtle power-play.
So far this series has dealt in broad brushstrokes: a quick sweep around the Game of Thrones world with no quality time with our Westeros families. At the moment I feel about the characters the way I do about distant relatives – I’d be sad if they died, but I only vaguely mind about them in general.
I’m sure season six will have moments that floor us, shocking scenes that we genuinely didn’t see coming (again, sorry Jon Snow). When it’s over we will probably forget that it was ever boring. But it’s certainly not been gripping, clever storytelling so far – and why not? With only 10 episodes, it should have hooked a fan like me far earlier.
Is Game of Thrones perhaps in danger of resting on its laurels simply because its got such a committed legion of fans? That would be a shame. Moments like Jon and Sansa’s reunion are what Game of Thrones is about – jeopardy, passion and human struggle. I just hope the showrunners remember that, because the show will die quicker than Ned Stark if it begins to believe its own hype.