Game of Thrones is famous for its death scenes, and Season 6 had plenty. Which ones made us recoil, sob, cheer, or otherwise react? What was, in short, the best death scene we saw this past year? Read our takes below, let us know yours in the comments, and vote in the poll!
DAN: I’ve gotta go with the obvious one here: Cersei’s destruction of the Sept of Baelor was one hell of a death scene. That sequence ranks right up there with the Red Wedding in terms of impact and resonance.
I was a big fan of how the sequence used Margaery to draw out the tension. Once Lancel found that candle burning in the pool of wildfire, there was no doubt in my mind that the Sept was history. And let’s face it: most fans wouldn’t care if we lost the majority of characters inside. The High Sparrow was a baddie whose number was up, and despite being on the show since Season 1, neither Lancel nor Loras were well-developed enough for us to have much of an attachment (with apologies to Lancel and Loras-lovers). Much the same could be said of Kevan Lannister and Mace Tyrell, although I will miss Mace’s gift for comic relief.
Margaery was a different story. We’d been following her canny climb up the royal ladder since Season 2, and while there was little doubt that the sequence was going to climax in an explosion, I held out hope that Margaery might escape. She didn’t, and in true Game of Thrones fashion, I was crushed.
Many have praised how the scene was edited and constructed. The opening shots of the various players getting dressed provided a wonderful base note. It let us know that something special was afoot. And then there was Ramin Djawadi’s score, which took an already intense scene and ratcheted it up another couple of levels.
But none of that would have mattered if we weren’t invested in the people on the ground. Margaery gave us that investment. So here’s to you, Margaery Tyrell: you were the greatest of players, but how was anybody to know that Cersei was planning to light the whole board on fire?
RAZOR: I would love to say that the death of Ramsay Bolton was the best of Season 6, but the showrunners took that joy from me, as they had to cut to Sansa’s face to show the hint of a smirk, as if she’s really gone over to the dark side now.
There were several satisfying deaths during this season—Thorne and Olly getting their comeuppance at the end of a noose, for instance—but none were more satisfying than Walder Frey’s death at the hands of Arya Stark.
After the events of the Red Wedding, it seemed like House Stark would never get back on its feet, but in Season 6, the children (and nephew) of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn rose up from the ashes and began to rebuild their House’s great legacy. While it started by defeating Ramsay Bolton and once again flying Stark banners from the walls of Winterfell, Arya delivered the coup de grâce.
Old Walder Frey was probably the most reviled villain on the show. He defiled the ancient law of guest right by slaughtering the man he had sworn fealty to as king. He had his sons murder King Robb’s pregnant wife to ensure there would be no heir, had Lady Catelyn’s throat sliced, and had the Stark forces slaughtered like lambs during a feast at the Twins.
It was time for a reckoning, and Arya Stark was the assassin to bring it. Her time in Braavos had prepared her to take her vengeance in Westeros, vengeance against those who had done House Stark wrong. All I know is that I was grinning from ear to ear as I saw the serving girl bring old Walder that piece of Frey pie. And when she removed her mask and revealed her name, my heart danced with joy, because I knew that her face would be the last face he saw, as he bled out on the same table from which he orchestrated and watched the Red Wedding. Good riddance, Walder Frey.
KATIE: Without a doubt, Ramsay’s death scene was my favorite from Season 6, and perhaps from the show as a whole. We’ve been rooting for him to bite the big one for years, and it was worth that wait.
Ramsay was perhaps the most evil character on Game of Thrones. Unlike Roose, Tywin, Cersei, and even Joffrey, Ramsay wasn’t necessarily working for his own self-interests, nor did he throw temper tantrums that could be tamed (see Tywin’s handling of Joffrey in Season 3). Ramsay was cruel for the fun of it. He found pure, unadulterated joy in torturing and killing. While he sometimes had his own morphed reasoning for it—e.g. torturing Theon into total submission—his enjoyment was terrifying to watch. But on the whole, there was never any end that could justify his means, and nor did he feel the need to justify it. As such, he couldn’t be handled, manipulated, or reasoned with.
And at the end of his homicidal spree, Ramsay is taken down by one of the series’ innocents: Sansa Stark. Ramsay had already laid the groundwork to turn his hounds against him, and all Sansa had to do was set them loose. That doesn’t taint Sansa’s character; she’s not a villain, she’s not “dark”—she avenged the wrongs that had been done her. She took control of her abuser and won. She told him he was going to die and she made sure to follow through on that threat, because no one wanted Ramsay dead like she did, and no one had more right than her to settle the terms of his demise.
With Ramsay dead, Sansa doesn’t have to be afraid of him anymore. She doesn’t have to look over her shoulder to see if he’s sent his men after her. She’s not his wife anymore, nor his prisoner; she’s free of him, regardless of his sorry attempt to convince her otherwise with his last words. She can deal with the pain of what he did to her because he can’t inflict any more upon her. She’s not completely safe—no one is, not with the White Walkers on the march—but she can move on. It was the most satisfying possible end to Ramsay, and a gratifying close to Sansa’s arc as a pawn. She took control of Ramsay’s death, and now she’ll take control of her own life from here on out.
COREY: I have to agree with Dan, especially if you include Tommen’s death in the aftermath of the Sept’s destruction. For me, there wasn’t anyone in the Sept of Baelor, including Margaery, that I cared one lick about. Cersei destroying the Sept of Baelor was the best death scene for its sheer audacity. The Red Wedding was the climax to a conflict that played out over three seasons, but Cersei’s trial was a judicial matter she simply did not want to deal with. If she could use it to eliminate all of her political rivals at once, that’s a strong plus.
It’s important to note that Cersei wanted to kill everyone in the Sept—she didn’t need to. She wasn’t at war with anyone there. Yes, she was on trial, but it’s highly unlikely Tommen would have allowed Cersei to be executed, whatever his loyalty to the High Sparrow. Cersei did not want to be on trial, and she was tired of being harried by her rivals. So hey, let’s just solve all these problems with a large dose of wildfire. This was the best death scene of the year. Considering the number of characters, both named and unnamed, who died in the explosion, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion.
The body count also includes Tommen’s death immediately following the explosion. The Sept was still smoking when Tommen went out that window. Pundits were shocked, even those who, like myself, were fairly certain Tommen would not survive the season. The suddenness was completely unexpected. From start to finish, the sequence was just a long series of shocks. For that reason, it ranks as the best death scene of Season 6.
ANI: Seriously, I’m this late to the post and all of the deaths in the Cave Battle scene are still available? How even did this happen?
I mean, yes, the Sept of Baelor’s destruction was spectacular, the 9/11 of Westeros, one that will have a lasting impact on King’s Landing and reverberations across Westeros. But while the visuals were spectacular, I didn’t cry when all those characters died died. I didn’t fist pump like people did when Sansa fed Ramsay to his hounds.
No, I cried for those who died in the the Cave. Even now, having watched that episode several times over the course of the last two months, it twists my heart. It’s always at a different point, too. Sometimes mt heart screams when the Three Eyed Raven dies, and Bran realizes in a panic that he’s losing everything around him. Sometimes it’s when Summer dies. (A lot of times it’s when Summer dies.) Sometimes it’s that last moment of peace on the face of Leaf, just before she explodes that magical grenade.
And don’t even get me started on Hodor. That’s some outright catharsis-level sobbing right there. Sometimes the most powerful deaths are the ones of the powerless, the everymen. Those who Cersei would never think twice about, the “little people.” Except back in that cave, those people were following their destinies and giving their lives to change the world. History will record the names of Margaery Tyrell, the High Sparrow, and King Tommen Baratheon, First of His Name. But what did they die for? Nothing—they were the victim of one woman’s revenge scheme. The histories will never record the names Hodor, Leaf, Summer, or the Three-Eyed Raven. But they died changing history.
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