I am as big a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire as any. I know the lore, I’ve read the books back-to-front and I consider it one of the greatest fantasy masterpieces of all time – because it is. I fell in love with Game of Thrones originally which led me to the books, but now I’m firmly on the books side of things. Because of this (and simply appreciating good TV), I thought the latest season was bloody terrible.
Incoherent writing, forgotten plotlines, leaps in character logic, rushed plotting – I and many other fans were so disappointed. This means that general excitement for Season 6 has been dampened in the fan community. Why watch an inferior show when there is so much else that’s good out there? It’s a shame considering just how good the earlier seasons were; Game of Thrones is now a show that relies on shock factor to chug along.
Okay, I take that back a little. Just a smidge. So that there’s no stain on my honour.
Entertainment Weekly has come out with the list of directors for Season 6, and it’s not all bad.
- Episodes 1 and 2: Jeremy Podwesa – Podwesa helmed episodes 5 and 6 from this year, Kill the Boy and Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. Brian Cogman wrote the pair and his episodes are typically well-received, however the latter in particular was ripped apart in fan circles and by critics due to the poorly-choreographed Sand Snakes fight and Sansa’s rape at the hands of Ramsay. Seriously, WTF was that? Apart from these two occurences, his episodes were visually quite beautiful – especially Sansa’s marriage. Hopefully he does a good job this time around.
- Episodes 3 and 4: Daniel Sackheim – the first newbie to Thrones this year, he’s a Fox regular, having helmed several episodes of The X Files, House and such things. He also recently directed some episodes of The Americans. I haven’t actually seen any of his work so I can’t comment, but hopefully his style meshes well with this fantasy world.
- Episodes 5 and 6: Jack Bender – this is the Lost vet I was talking about. Who doesn’t love that show?! Sure, it got a little crazy in the last season or two but that added to the fun of it. Say what you will but it was a show that was willing to take huge risks in storytelling and is one of the greatest network shows of all time, in my opinion. A lot of that is down to Bender who helmed 38 (wow) episodes of the show, a lot of them being the most famous and critically acclaimed. This guy is good. Hopefully it translates to his episodes.
- Episodes 7 and 8: Mark Mylod – the director of High Sparrow and Sons of the Harpy from Season 5, Mylod was able to get some good performances out of the actors involved. Unfortunately, the episodes were largely forgettable; similar to Podwesa, both directors had bad second episodes that contained a terrible Sand Snakes scene. We’ll wait and see how he does.
- Episodes 9 and 10: Miguel Sapochnik – now this is a name that I’m VERY glad to read. Sapochnik directed episodes 7 and 8 from this year, The Gift and Hardhome. Both were easily the best of the season. The writing really stepped up (and then fell dramatically down again) and the episodes were very well directed, the latter especially. Everybody was hoping for an incredibly visceral battle between the White Walkers, the Night’s Watch and the wildlings and our expectations were exceeded. Truly phenomenal work. As EW pointed out, with these being the last episodes of the season and the acclaim he received for the half-hour battle, could he be directing another large-scale epic fight? One can only hope.
By-and-large the names this year aren’t that bad, with a few standouts. What’s most disappointing is the wealth of talent which Thrones has employed in the past; the directors from the first season are particularly excellent and we haven’t seen any of them in a while. The show seems to have lost the original look and feel it had that made it such a good adaptation (however Sapochnik seems to replicate that quite well), so it would be great to see names like Daniel Minahan back. Alan Taylor is off making Terminator movies now but if HBO did ever get the chance then it would be nice to see him back, as his work on the show is arguably much better than his work on the big screen.
Hey, why don’t they get Michelle MacLaren (Oathkeeper) back too?! It’s not like she’s busy anymore…