It’s been a while since we last got to see our favorite (and least favorite) characters in Westeros. The upcoming seventh season of “Game of Thrones” is probably the most anticipated season yet, due to its later-than-usual premiere date in July and the explosive season six finale preceding it.
With every season of “Game of Thrones,” the stakes get higher and higher as we inch closer to finding out the fate of the coveted Iron Throne. Among fans, a Rotten Tomatoes survey conducted for Business Insider said that season six is the fan favorite, but it’s also the least-loved season among critics.
The show got better when it wasn’t confined to being a strict adaptation of the lengthy book series. And while some storylines in season six were adapted from the books, the story had more focus — it brought characters together instead of drifting them apart, and it had some of the best action sequences that television has ever seen, rivaling even big action films.
Here’s why season six of “Game of Thrones” is the best season so far:
The story is more accelerated than other seasons
Things moved a bit slowly in early seasons, mostly for Daenerys and Bran and his friends — leaving Bran out of season five was one of the best moves the writers have made. Things also moved incredibly slow for the ever-impending Winter, which took six whole seasons to actually arrive.
Remember how Daenerys spent most of season two hanging out in Qarth? Remember how much time we spent watching Daenerys figure out what to do about Meereen? Three seasons. Of course, Daenerys needed her time in Slaver’s Bay to prepare for ruling Westeros, but her time there got a little dull and irrelevant to the series as a whole until Varys and Tyrion arrived to speed things up.
In the first few seasons of the series, there was a lot of traveling. We did get to know these characters along the way, and some characters got to know each other through their adventures on the road (Brienne and Jaime, Jorah and Tyrion, for example), but now we don’t need to see the journey — just the destination.
Season six also has a narrowed focus
This is only natural for a show in its final two seasons, and it’s the best time for it to happen. TV shows that add unnecessary story arcs and too many new characters in their final hours usually don’t end well.
As the characters in this world get closer to each other and the show nears its endgame, the story has more focus. No more side stories that ultimately lead nowhere, no more time for romance: Ygritte is dead, Shae is dead, and Daenerys said goodbye to Daario Naharis for political reasons, which also translate to story reasons.
To narrow the focus, the show has also done what it does best: kill people. With Ramsay Bolton gone, Cersei is the primary villain, and Euron Greyjoy a close second.
At this point in the show, the only side story that really exists is Sam and Gilly at the Citadel. But Sam has stuck around all this time for a reason, and his presence at the Citadel will definitely pay off in some way.
Thematically, season six works better as a larger, more cohesive story
Season five also follows a similar pattern. Though earlier seasons were well-written, episodes lacked an overall arc, which can cause them to feel more like a series of scenes stitched together. There was rarely a common thread, especially with Daenerys so far away from what was happening in Westeros.
In season six, the episodes (and season as a whole) are more thematic and bleed into each other more naturally.