Published on June 8th, 2016 | by Bean


Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 6 ‘Review’ “Blood of my Blood.”

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First off, my apologies for the delay in this episode’s post. My reasons will become clear forthwith, and for the purposes of clarity, let it be known that the format of this post will veer from my usual straightforward ‘review’ in a more personal direction. I crave your pardon, but hope you will stay with me through it. To explain, allow me to backtrack to the fallout of Game of Thrones’ 55th episode, “The Door”. It sometimes happens that narrative television can have such an impact on its audience that the process of viewing it can be practically therapeutic. I believe wholeheartedly in the validity of this phenomena, and appreciate the art form’s inherent power for this and numerous other reasons; it’s capacity to make a person think differently, open discourse on difficult subjects, change attitudes on a cultural level and generally bring about positive change. Were this an essay or a piece of genuine critical writing, I might give examples, make references, state my case from a more informed perspective. As it is I will simply call upon my own constant point of reference – the work of Joss Whedon.

Which brings me to the crux of why this post differs from the norm; in my writing for Need to Consume I am not writing an essay, a piece of academic critical analysis or even a proper review, if I’m honest. The word review is used to garner the attention of readers, but I am rarely critical. These posts are my rambling thoughts, primarily as a fan of the shows I discuss. This outlet is the equivalent to me of the experience I had in my student and young adult days of watching an amazing piece of television and then ranting about it with housemates for an hour afterward. Though Lost doesn’t quite hold up to the test of time as well as, say, Buffy, those shows were formative times for me as a fan and consumer of television. They weren’t the first or last times I would dive into a show with my friends or family, but they stand out to me as the thing I am trying to partially reclaim as I write about Game of Thrones, or True Blood, The Walking Dead, or any other show I’ve ‘reviewed’ on this excellent site.

Why the sarcastic inverted commas? To be blunt, a stark but not unfair comment made on the site after my post on ‘The Door’ two weeks ago. The comment basically asked whether my post was a review or just a blow by blow account of something we’ve already seen. Hoooooo. Which was not my immediate response. As uncool as I find such comments initially, I couldn’t disagree with the assessment. I am not a bonafide reviewer. I own up. I am simply a fan with a big gob and a desire to discuss the shows I love. I am not paid to write these pieces, but I have often worked myself to ridiculous 1am self-enforced deadlines to be able to publish the day after viewing for optimum consumption by readers. These are facts, not brought up to bitch n moan or poor-me the situation at all. It just is what it is. And as an avid lover of film and television, who as a girl counted down the days til the new issue of Empire magazine, I know whereof I speak regarding what I think being a good reviewer means (or critic, though I prefer the other term).

Why do I prefer the term reviewer over critic? Because I did a Film & Drama degree and if my lovingly made but ultimately flawed third-year film taught me nothing else it is how extraordinarily hard it is to make even a shit piece of art, let alone a great one. This leaves me with a distinct ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything’ kind of perspective, for better or worse. Therefore my ‘reviews’ or rants or rambles are comprised of all the best things I can say about an episode. Occasionally I air dissatisfaction, but most of my writing is glowing, florid prose. And yes, my format takes us all through the events of the show with my views on what happened, how I think the characters behaved or felt and what the ramifications of these events were. It is an in-world roundup, because I am an immersive viewer, swallowed whole by the universe the narrative springs from. Do I wish I could come up with some super-clever and insightful overview of events, see the broader strokes at work, a la The AV Club’s Newbies GoT reviews? Certainly, I have done, though I don’t tend to worry these days. I ravenously inhale the AV Club’s perspectives each week, but diligently and deliberately only after I have submitted my own thoughts to WordPress, lest I be infected by smarter writers. I’m honest that way.

So, as I watched “The Door” and the agonising end occurred, I found myself experiencing that rare and beautiful thing; catharsis. It was an emotionally harrowing scene to discover Hodor’s fate, past and present, and my response was a visceral release of a lot of old personal issues. Why did this happen? Who knows. Certainly, the resonances of ‘hold the door’ brought up themes of sacrifice and repression for me, and it felt revelatory that a piece of television happened to be the trigger for me to let a lot of old personal stuff go. It wasn’t my plan to reveal these things in my review, so I didn’t; at the time it wasn’t relevant. But, suffice to say, writing the review for “Hold The Door” was vastly more difficult than usual, as I felt wrung out and exhausted (but happy) from the experience. That somebody then immediately picked up on what was obviously not my best work felt rather like a kick in the gut, but I choose to view it as ultimately useful; an opportunity to set out my stall as a writer for Need To Consume.

Which brings me to “Blood of my Blood”. Once again, I am going to stray from my usual format in covering my thoughts on events by being enormously brief as, conveniently, I have a bunch of issues with proceedings. “The Door” was always going to be difficult to follow, riveting as it was. My feeling is that “Blood of my Blood” had a tricky task to fulfil, and didn’t particularly succeed. Some excellent progress was made in a number of areas. Arya makes an honourable decision and chooses to retain her identity rather than be no-one. Sam and Gilly take on the Tarly patriarch and nick his badass blade for their adventures. Daenerys rallies her khalasar and names them all her blood- riders. However, even some of the scenes with significant events feel oddly handled. Why do we have to wait the whole episode to ‘discover’ it’s Benjen who saved Bran and Meera when it was obvious the moment he rode into the wood? As interesting as it is to see the Lannister twins thwarted in their efforts to reclaim power, the dialogue felt forced and expositional. Even Arya’s journey is difficult to follow; what was the purpose of her long sojourn in Braavos, ultimately? Perhaps a balance of her honour and vengeance needed to be struck?

Anyway, the hour did not enthral and this might have been less noticeable had it not come on the heels of a most exceptional episode. Moving forward, for me as a writer on Need to Consume, a website I adore and wish to continue contributing to, I can guarantee two things; firstly, that people’s views are always welcome, but that I will not respond in this manner should another such comment arise. This is a one-off. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I thank the commenter for their honesty. And secondly, that the next episode’s review will be a return to form regardless of the narrative content, I shall vent and explain myself no more. The way I write is the way I write – I will continue to strive to be better, for my own self-development, and for your enjoyment. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the next one…

Rant by Nina Clark

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