Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 1 – “The Red Woman”
It’s back! And let me tell you, last night I was prepared:
Danerys T-shirt? Check!
Ommegang Game of Thrones beers? Check!
Absolute giddiness and an incorrigible naïveté? Check!
Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t really fall into the “preparedness” category. This is Game of Thrones, after all–you know, “you win or you die” –and I, apparently, have yet to learn to steel myself for the “or you die” part of each episode.
So, we are officially ranging beyond The Wall now, as we enter our first season without the A Song of Ice and Fire books sending ravens to viewers to tip us off about possible storylines. All we can really do now is let go and let the old gods and the new, am I right? So, let’s take a look at what went down in the latest installment of powerful people playing the bloodiest version of King of the Hill ever.
As always: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
We start off at Castle Black, looking down on Jon Snow’s lifeless body while Ghost howls from a locked chamber. It’s Ghost’s howling that gets the attention of Ser Davos and the few Brothers, including Dolorous Edd, who remained loyal to Lord Commander Snow. After moving Jon’s body inside, Melisandre knocks on the door. Upon being allowed into the room, viewers can almost visibly see her faith in the Lord of Light crumble. “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell.”
The show cuts away to the great hall at Castle Black, where Ser Alliser Thorne is at the high table and declares to all the Brothers of the Night’s Watch that Lord Commander Snow is dead. Basically, Thorne is standing up there saying, “Well, yeah, we committed treason by killing him, BUT HE WAS TRYING TO KILL US DEADER.” And that little speech pretty well settles the Brothers down, because efficacious politics of fear is efficacious.
Back with the few souls mourning their friend and leader, Dolorous Edd is determined to pay blood with blood, knowing full well that they will perish in the process. Ser Davos insists that Jon would not want his friends to die for nothing, so they should recruit reinforcements; after all, the Free Folk resettled south of The Wall owe Jon Snow their lives, too.
In Winterfell, we find Ramsay mourning his lover, Myranda. Well, I guess you’d call it mourning; it’s definitely mourning with a decidedly Ramsay-esque sadistic flair. Then we’re treated to some good old fashioned Bolton emotional abuse: Roose Bolton rightly points out to his son that Sansa and Theon are lost because of the sadistic games Ramsay chose to play with both of them. He promptly follows it up with implicitly threatening Ramsay’s recently-gained status as heir.
Outside the walls of Winterfell, Theon and Sansa are running from the hounds Ramsay has sent out to thwart their great escape. Having run through ice and snow, they cross a frigid, half-frozen river in an attempt to throw the hounds off their scent. Thinking they had bought themselves some time, Theon finds a place for them to hide and rest, but those tenacious hounds are still hot on their trail. Theon steps out from their hiding place to sacrifice himself to save her. And, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice: Theon’s attempt doesn’t work at all.
But here comes Brienne in shining armor to take down Bolton’s men! After the fight is over, Brienne once again offers her services and, this time, Sansa accepts. And in what was arguably one of the most adorable things to happen on this show, Pod comes to Sansa’s rescue when she stumbles over the words as she and Brienne make their oaths to one another.
Once again, the show runners managed to make my heart hurt for Cersei: Her face crumbles as she puts the pieces together when the launch carrying Jaime and the body of their daughter approaches. While Cersei is wrought with despair, Jaime is just angry, and he is out to make anyone and everyone pay.
Meanwhile, in the dungeons of the Sept, Queen Margaery (and, presumably, Ser Loras) is still held captive. The High Sparrow visits the queen in her cell, hoping to induce to her confess, arguing that King Tommen misses her and that it is her sins which have taken her away from the sacred love between a husband and wife. Though she still claims she has no sins to which to confess, she admits that no one is without sin; the High Sparrow tells her that she is on the right path, but she has a long way to go.
What the what?! The Sand Snakes are officially off my Christmas card list this year. Seriously, I hope they all get lumps of coal. One minute, Ellaria and Prince Doran are joking and being friendly and, then, as Doran receives the news about Myrcella’s death, the Sand Snakes get all stabby! Areo Hotah, Prince Doran, and Prince Trystane are gone. Poof! I know the show runners have been playing merry hob with the whole Dorne storyline all last season, but this?! Not cool.
Yay! Tyrion and Varys are together and back in action! Though, they are decidedly less entertaining together this episode than they usually are; this scene is very much meant to establish the Mereen story arc for the season.
Meanwhile, Daario and Jorah are tracking Dani. At some point, Jorah’s unrequited love for Danerys comes up, because doesn’t it always. Daario claims that Jorah is a romantic and he admires him for it – which is just about where I had to stop myself from screaming at the television: No, Jorah’s not a romantic. He is a creep. She said no. She keeps saying no; but he keeps hoping to win a “yes.” That’s not how it works. That’s not love. That’s not romantic. That’s a dude with some issues. And also grayscale, in case you forgot.
The Dothraki horde still holds Dani captive; throughout the long journey to the Khalisar’s encampment, she does not let on that she speaks and understands Dothraki, listening to their plans for her. Upon meeting the Khal, she tells him to get his hands off her in Dothraki. She then admits that she is the widow of Khal Drogo; her bonds are cut and she is no longer a slave, but they are basically going to force her back to Vaes Dothrak.
While Arya, now blind, is begging on the streets of Braavos, the waif approaches and tosses a staff at her. The waif then proceeds to beat the snot out of Arya, promising to see her again tomorrow when she is done. Though we, as viewers, know that this is training, it was still pretty painful for me to watch.
The Wall – again
Back at Castle Black, Melisandre is in the midst of a breakdown and we watch as she strips herself bare in the most The Shining way possible. Apparently, the power of Lord of Light (or at least his adherents) ain’t no joke!