Forget Jon Snow coming back from the dead – Game of Thrones Season 6 was all about the ladies! From Brienne finding and rescuing Sansa in the season premiere to Cersei finally taking her long-awaited seat on the Iron Throne in the finale, the women of Westeros are ready for power, and they’re determined to take it!
And it’s about time they took a stand. After five seasons of what seems like neverending physical and sexual abuse (and general mistreatment) of women and young girls across the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, it’s nice to see the female characters finally come out on top. So, whether you love or hate their methods and motivations, here are the 15 Greatest Moments For Women In Season 6 Of Game Of Thrones.
As Daenerys says: "All men must die... but we are not men."
15 Melisandre Bringing Jon Snow Back from the Dead
It was all anybody could talk about, Jon Snow coming back to life. But it couldn’t have happened without one person, and that’s Melisandre. Since losing her faith in the Lord of Light after Stannis turned out to not be the Prince Who Was Promised, Melisandre was feeling a bit down and out. She initially didn’t believe she had the power to bring the Lord Commander back from the dead, but thanks to a fun little pep talk from Davos, the Red Woman found the strength within her to work some blood magic.
Admittedly, it’s hard to feel sorry for Melisandre after what she did to Shireen Baratheon last season, but even in this twisted scenario, the message is clear: believe in yourself and great things can happen – you might even bring someone back from the dead.
14 Margaery Manipulating the High Sparrow
Margaery and Loras being tortured by the High Sparrow and Septa Unella was one of the hardest watches of season 6, in part because it is one of few areas of Game of Thrones that accurately reflects reality. Religious fanaticism is real and it’s scary, but at least in the fictional world of Westeros, Margaery found a way out.
The walk of shame was one of the worst punishments the High Sparrow could dole out – forcing captives to walk naked through the streets while Septa Unella rhythmically chants "shame!" and rings that annoying bell behind them – but Margaery used that magnificent brain of hers to make sure her walk didn’t happen convincing her husband to join the cult in exchange for her freedom.
Despite all her efforts, Cersei couldn’t find a way around her own walk of shame last season, so the fact that Margaery could is pretty impressive. Her victory over the Queen Mother was short-lived of course, but more on that later.
13 Olenna and the Sand Snakes Forming the Ultimate Revenge Dream Team
Five strong women coming together to right a few wrongs – what’s not to love? Although admittedly the Sand Snakes have done a few wrong things themselves (like murdering Prince Doran Martell and his heir, Trystane in the season premiere) but we'll get to that in a bit.
Anyway, the badass lady ruler of Dorne, Ellaria Sand, and her three daughters meeting with the matriarch of a respected house on the subject of revenge is a nice change of pace from the usual groups of men sitting around tables plotting vengeance. They’ve all lost people they love because of the Lannisters, and now, after having lost so much, it seems that they're finally going to make them pay.
Extra points in this scene go to Olenna for throwing some serious shade at the Sand Snakes whenever they opened their mouths. "Let the grown women speak", indeed.
12 Lyanna Mormont Slaying Everybody
The new breakout favorite of Thrones fans everywhere, Lyanna has been taking over the internet with her harsh words and absolutely killer one-liners. Despite being only 10 years old, the young Lady Mormont has been owning fellow heads of houses left, right and center, with only Davos Seaworth earning her respect and escaping her steely barbs.
Born into a long-line of warrior women, Lyanna took charge of Bear Island after her mother Maege Mormont died fighting for Robb Stark. Unlike other Northern houses that don’t allow women to rule, it was assumed from birth that Lyanna would one day rule Bear Island (after her father Jeor joined the Night's Watch and good ol' Jorah ran off to Essos), and damn, she’s good at it! She even shows up with Jon and his other allies to face Ramsay, which is pretty hardcore, and after the battle is won, she's the first to declare Jon the new King of the North. Smart girl!
11 Arya Rediscovering Her Identity
Was there a more memorable quote this whole season than "A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home"?
Arya has always had a strong and independent personality, and we knew she couldn’t deny her true self forever. After refusing to assassinate her new friend Lady Crane, Jaqen H'ghar gave the Waif permission to kill Arya. Cue an epic showdown with the Waif chasing Arya all over Braavos (which still doesn't quite add up).
Eventually, the Waif catches up to her, but Arya lures her into an underground chamber. For the past few seasons the Waif has consistently bullied and beaten the crap out of Arya, even when she couldn't see, and now she finally gets her own back on her tormentor. Blowing out a candle, the only light source in the room, Arya uses the skills he recently honed while blind to kill the Waif. Even better, she uses her trusty sword Needle to do the job, a symbol of the Stark girl she left behind.
After cutting off the Waif's face and hanging it up in the House of Black and White, Arya tells a clearly impressed Jaqen to shove his job where the sun don't shine and walked out the door. All hail Arya Stark!
10 The Sand Snakes Taking Over Dorne
Viva la revolucion! One of the earliest examples of Westerosi women fighting for power this season happened in the South, with Ellaria and the Sand Snakes taking over Dorne. Tired of Prince Doran (the older brother of her dead lover Oberyn) letting the Lannisters dirty deeds against her family go unpunished, Ellaria stabs him in the chest, before the Sand Snakes murder his son Trystane, dooming the Martells to extinction. She also claimed the murder was for the people of Dorne, as teh wheelchair-bound prince was supposedly out of touch with the needs of his kingdom.
This particular storyline angered fans, as it seemed uncalled for to murder the only peace-seeking ruler in Westeros. Fans of the books were especially disappointed, as the Sand Snakes had a far more pro-woman agenda in the novels. Rather than killing Myrcella, they hoped to get her put on the Iron Throne in place of the useless Tommen, whereas in the TV adaption, they come across as arrogant with no real plan for the future. Until a certain Lord Varys gives them a future in the season finale, of course.
Still, it's another group of powerful ladies for Daenerys to align with when she gets to Westeros, and they had good intentions (well, sort of).
9 Yara and Daenerys Forming an Alliance
Another pair of tough ladies coming together to make a better world. They may be from completely different backgrounds -- Daenerys growing up in exile in Essos and Yara in the battle-hardened Iron Islands -- but they have an undeniable connection that we can't wait to see develop further in season 7.
Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, has admitted that there was a "mild flirtation" between the characters in Episode 9, and that a future romance is a possibility. However, their meeting was about far more than sexual tension.
Whether or not the pair become a couple (and we'd totally ship that), both ladies have formed a powerful alliance, one built on mutual respect. We need more of that in both Game of Thrones and the real world, and this was a definite win for the sisterhood.
8 Brienne Finding and Rescuing Sansa
Be honest, how happy did this moment make you?
After weeks of watching Sansa suffer at the hands of husband Ramsay Bolton, we finally got to see her escape his clutches in the season 5 finale, with a little help from adopted bro Theon (or what's left of him). But of course, Ramsay wasn’t going to let his wife and slave boy get away without a fight, and he sent his men after them.
Then in sweeps Brienne of Tarth and her impressive sword skills to save the day! Still, the best part of this whole scene wasn’t Brienne taking down Ramsay’s soldiers (although that was pretty great), but when she bent down on one knee and pledged her allegiance to Sansa, finally fulfilling her promise to another strong female character, Sansa’s mother Catelyn.
7 Daenerys Putting an End to the Slave Owners
Poor Tyrion. He's not had much luck this season. After ignoring the advice of Grey Worm and Missandei and trusting the masters, the slave owners turn around attack Meereen. But just when things look really bad, in struts Daenerys to fix things in the way she does best -- with fire. And as usual, it's pretty epic.
After Tyrion advises against her giving into her mad queen tendencies and burning down the masters' cities, Daenerys and co. meet with the masters to negotiate their surrender. But of course, the arrogant slave owners aren't going down without a fight, and threaten Khaleesi with a bunch of crap about killing her dragons and kicking her out of town. It's at this point that Dany has had enough of them running their mouths, and she hops on the back of Drogon and flies off to burn up the master's fleet with her other two dragon babies.
While all this is going down, Daario and the Dothraki are finishing up the Sons of the Harpy and Grey Worm is punishing the slave owners for their betrayal. This is one of the best things about Daenerys' storyline. Unlike many other characters who have obtained some semblance of power, she listens to the council of those around her and utilities their skills, rather than trying to do it all herself.
A win for women, a win for the lower classes, a win for everyone really -- unless you happen to be a slave owner.
6 Sansa Bringing the Knights of the Vale into the fold
Teaming up with Brienne wasn’t Sansa’s only good move this season. After she and her brother failed to scare up enough men to fight the Bolton army, she secretly penned a note to on/off bestie Petyr Baelish, asking for the Knights of the Vale to come to their aid in the fight for Winterfell. And they did of course, right at the last minute.
After showing up with his knights, Petyr and Sansa had a brief chat in which he tells her what he desires in return -- her hand in marriage. Thankfully, Sansa had the balls to tell Littlefinger it wasn't happening, although we're sure he isn't going to give up that easily. What's important is that she's no longer allowing him to manipulate her, and instead has gained some leverage over him by playing hard to get.
The Sansa we know now is a far cry from the naive teenager we were introduced to in season 1, and she really came into her own in season 6. The battle would have been lost without her, and she's just as responsible as Jon for returning Winterfell to the Stark family.
5 Arya Restarting Her Mission
The best part about Arya rediscovering her identity? She's back to ticking names off her list! We've all been waiting for Lady Stoneheart to make an appearance, and it looks as though she's finally arrived.
In the books of course, Lady Stoneheart is Arya's mother Catelyn Stark, who is brought back from the dead three days after the Red Wedding by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr and begins exterminating all those who helped to engineer the massacre (the Lannisters, the Boltons, and the Freys). Until now, we all assumed she'd been cut from the TV adaption, but it looks as though Arya may be taking on the role -- or at least the kills that would have come with it.
In the season 6 finale, she finally got revenge on Walder Frey, cooking his sons into a pie and feeding it to him before uttering the words: "The last thing you're ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die," and slitting his throat. The idea of replacing zombie Catelyn with Arya is a great way to move her story forward, and we can't wait to see if she manages to complete her list and find her way home.
4 Discovering Yara is Gay
Hurray! There’s finally a female LGBT character in Game of Thrones!
Although Yara Greyjoy never officially 'came out,’ the second we all realized she had no problems showing her affection for other women in public was not only a great moment for ladies everywhere, but also for the LGBT community at large. Unapologetically sexual, it was wonderful to see the show treat her flirtatious nature in the same casual way as, say, the womanizing sellsword Bronn.
Until now, taking a woman to bed has been a male only privilege in Game of Thrones, but Yara is subverting that standard. And she’s not only doing so in the bedroom, she’s also fighting against the odds and her Uncle Euron to become the first queen of the Iron Islands (she’s got our vote).
We imagine Dany will save her hand in marriage for the head of a slightly more influential Westerosi house (say, one of those two grown Stark kids in Winterfell), but with ex-lover Daario Naharis being left behind in Essos, perhaps Yara will be warming the bed of the Mother of Dragons sooner rather than later?
3 Cersei Becoming Queen of Westeros
Admittedly, this one is a double-edged sword. After getting rid of the High Sparrow, Margaery Tyrell, and (unintentionally) her son Tommen in one fell swoop by blowing up the Great Sept with wildfire, Cersei is now the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
Westeros has never had a queen before -- so Cersei sitting on the Iron Throne is no mean feat -- but she's also really evil, and for that reason, she probably shouldn’t be ruling anywhere, ever. And now, without any of her children left to shine a shred of light in her world, we can't even begin to imagine the horrors the newly crowned queen has in store for her country. That's why it's hard to see it as a win for women, or a win for anyone, for that matter.
Still, you’ve got to love her determination and neverending ability to make the best of a bad situation. She may have three dead kids, but the crown is probably a pretty decent comfort.
2 Daenerys Refusing to Become One of the Dosh Khaleen
After being kidnapped by the Dothraki, under the orders of a new Khal, Daenerys’ fate appeared to be sealed. It looked as though she was doomed to become another one of the Dosh Khaleen, the wives of deceased Khals who are forced to spend the reminder of their lives as wise women in the holy city of Vaes Dothrak.
But that was never going to happen, of course. As fans know, Dany doesn’t serve anyone, and it wasn’t long before she had come up with a way out. Using her supernatural resistance to fire, the Mother of Dragons set the Dothraki temple alight, killing the group of Khals who'd imprisoned her. She then walked out of the flames unburnt, in a scene reminiscent of her dragon-egg rebirth in the season 1 finale. The entire Dothraki horde (a group possibly numbering over 100,000) bowed down to their Khaleesi as quickly as we did watching at home.
But this isn’t just another example of Ms. Stormborn kicking ass. This storyline is symbolic of a woman overcoming the gender norms of her culture to be exactly who she wants to be (even though Daenerys had already been doing that for years, and her imprisonment was just a short-term blip on her awesomeness radar). It was also great how other members of the Dosh Khaleen helped her to escape, showing that when women stick together, they can overcome any odds.
1 Sansa Finally Defeating Ramsay
We didn’t think things could get much more satisfying than when Jon Snow got his hands on Ramsay after the Battle of the Bastards and beat him to a bloody pulp, but we were dead wrong. After all the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse he’d dealt her since their wedding night, Sansa finally got revenge on her evil husband -- and it was glorious!
The night before the battle, Sansa, Jon and their band of rag-tag house leaders met with Ramsay Bolton to discuss the upcoming fight. Ramsay taunts Jon and Sansa, saying his hounds will enjoy feasting on them, to which a stony-faced Sansa simply utters the soon-to-be iconic line: "You're going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well."
Once the battle is over, Jon hands Ramsay over to Sansa, who informs him that his house and name will disappear forever -- before feeding him to his dogs. Ramsay attempts to get to Sansa once last time, telling her "I'm part of you now," but Sansa brutally walks away, leaving him to die a deservingly miserable death. She's free from his clutches for good, but the emotional wounds will no doubt take longer to heal.
Ramsay’s brutally ironic end aside, the Starks are once again residing over Winterfell, which means all is well in the North (for now). However, with her newfound sense of power, will Sansa settle for sitting on the side lines as her
brother cousin Jon runs the show? Or will she join with Littlefinger and make a bid to become Queen of the North?
Only time will tell…
Did we leave out any of your favorite lady-led moments from season 6? Let us know in the comments!