Let’s just get it out of the way – Season Six of Game of Thrones was the most epic season of the series yet despite kicking off with what was probably the worst kept secret in television history in the resurrection of Jon Snow (Kit Harington). That’s right, oops, spoiler alert, Jon Snow is very much alive and kicking in season six after being brought back to life by the Red Witch (Carice van Houten), who producers, by the way, revealed a shocker about quite early in the season. Other parts of the season six found Cersei (Lena Headey) being kept under house arrest by her own pathetic son, the lame duck King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) who’s being held under the sway of the religious fanatic High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), so much so that he’s allowed him to lockup his own beloved wife, the conniving Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer).
The season continued bore us to tears with the growing experience of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and her half revenge quest/ half religious awakening with the Many Faced cult, but eventually she wakes from her fever dream and gets back on her real quest to avenge her kin. Meanwhile, Tyrion Lanister (Peter Dinklage) and Lord Varys have become the greatest of allies as the bond to help the faltering Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Mereen as she not only begins to lose her grip on the people there, but goes off on yet another journey (well, more like gets taken) into the heart of the Dothraki civilization to learn of her ultimate fate. The machinations at King’s Landing and Castle Black are always devilishly good to watch, but season six gives its biggest payoffs in the massive “Battle of the Bastards” showdown between a headstrong Jon Snow who lets the despicable Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) bait him into ill-advised battle strategy that nearly gets him killed, and Cersei’s unexpected turnabout on the religious nuts ruling King’s Landing in the season finale.
There were many other twists and revelations in this sixth season which was really flying blind for the first time without any book from George R. R. Martin to act as a guide, for instance, viewers will finally find out background on one of the most beloved tertiary characters, Hodor.
Game of Thrones is shot digitally on the Arri Alexa with some on the Red Epic Dragon and it comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 framed AVC 1080p encodement from HBO. In keeping with previous seasons, Season Six is somewhat gritty and its palette also varies from the pallid, grey, almost monotone look of the North, to the rich, warm earth tones of King’s Landing and Dorne. In the dark, indoor scenes one sees a lot of the low light noise, but nuance in the shadows remains strong as does detail in backgrounds and close-ups. The brighter scenes and outdoors are almost completely free from the video noise and show amazing amount of contrast and depth of field.
This is another of the Game of Thrones releases to come with an original English Dolby Atmos audio mix. HBO has been reissuing the previous seasons, originally released with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, in limited edition SteelBooks with new Atmos mixes. I have always thought this series had some of the best audio mixing on television and the Blu-ray releases sounded great even in the lossless 5.1 versions. Now, with the added benefit of the object-oriented lossless audio, there’s an extra dimension. While it is impossible to compare seasons five and six to any previous versions, such as with seasons 1-4, which were reissued, this mix is really engaging and tightly woven. It’s not always aggressive, such as in episode 9 “Battle of the Bastards, which is one episode that really brings the Atmos channels out the most, but the subtleties of, say, the crackling of a hearth or birds flying overhead, or the score gently mixed into the action or below the dialogue is brilliant.
The series comes with its usual abundance of extras including ten audio commentaries, a slate of brand new HD “making of” featurettes, and the now familiar In-Episode Guide and Histories and Lore interactive features.
- Digital HD UltraViolet + iTunes Digital HD Digital Copy
- In-Episode Guide – Activate this interactive in-episode feature to learn about the characters, locations, and relevant histories.
- Audio Commentaries – Cat & Crew commentaries for episodes 1-10
- Recreating the Dothraki World – Learn how the production resurrected the world of the Dothraki from Season 1. From costumes and dialect coaches to creating the world’s biggest bonfire, this show explores all aspects of the steps it took to bring this world back to life.
- The Battle of the Bastards – Find out what went into creating the largest battle in Game of Thrones From crafting the story to the extensive stunts involved, to the complete visual effects breakdown. It’s the battle that the show’s creators have been waiting to make since the very first season.
- 18 Hours at the Paint Hall – Experience a truly unfiltered “day in the life” behind-the-scenes event. Told through the eyes of the cast & crew – from the first person on set at 3 A.M. to the very last at 9 P.M.
- Histories & Lore – Learn about the mythology of Westeros as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves.
- Deleted Scenes
The Final Assessment
If you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones series, you had to love this sixth season. We get the usual amount of unexpected deaths, epic battle sequences, revenge, and, yeah, winter is finally here. For those readers of Martin’s books, well, you’ll just have to join the rest of the world in not knowing what comes next, relax, and enjoy the ride. Martin is obviously in no hurry to finish the text over the visual. That said, the HBO saga is ramping up and winding down, with only two shortened seasons left to go. Season Six looks and sounds fantastic and is binge-worthy to boot.
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