Monday, April 25, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x01 Review: “The Red Woman” (The Most Depressing Edition of ‘Where Are They Now?’) [Contributor: Melanie]

“The Red Woman”
Original Airdate: April 24, 2016

It’s back, kids! Get ready for a vibrant next ten weeks because it is the most wonderful time of the year. Game of Thrones premiere day is second only to Halloween on my list of most important holidays. And in spite of the fact that my own little GoT-themed shindig wasn’t among the lucky ones out in L.A. who got a surprise visit from Maisie Williams, sitting on a couch shouting “WTF??” at my TV was still pretty enjoyable. And I get to do it all again next week, because this year we’ve finally reached that unprecedented moment where book readers and show watchers are on the same page as we venture into unknown territory together.


The episode opened with Davos and some loyal men of the Night’s Watch finding Jon Snow dead in the snow and hiding away his body with help from Melisandre (fresh off her crushing defeat at Winterfell). Theon and Sansa make their escape from the Boltons but don’t get far, as the search party corners them. But just in the nick of time, Brienne and Podrick arrive and Sansa finally accepts Brienne’s oath of loyalty as her sworn sword and they make their way towards Castle Black. At Winterfell, Ramsay mourns (in his own strange way) the murder of his lover Myranda (who had been pushed off the battlements by Theon last season), and becomes increasingly more worried about the son his stepmother is carrying. In Meereen, Tyrion and Varys discuss the situation of the city and the knowledge that whoever controls the Sons of the Harpy is still out there. Cersei learns the tragic fate of her daughter, and Jaime vows revenge.

Down in Dorne, Tyene and Ellaria murder Prince Doran and his loyal guards before assuming control of Sunspear while the remaining Sand Snakes aboard Trystane’s ship kill him to ensure no indecisive man would again rule in Dorne. Across the sea, Daario and Jorah find evidence that Dany has been taken by the Dothraki and begin following the tracks while the queen in question is brought before Khal Moro who, upon realizing she is Drogo’s widow, vows to take her to the Dosh Khaleen in Vaes Dothrak to live out her life with the other widows. In Braavos, Arya is adapting to her blindness as a beggar on the street while the Waif arrives to challenge her to a fight with wooden staffs. She is miserably defeated and the Waif says she’ll be back tomorrow. At the Wall, Thorne admits to killing Snow to mixed response from the rest of the Night’s Watch, but takes his loyal men to where they are keeping Jon Snow’s body and offers Davos and the other men amnesty if they stand aside. The final sequence shows a defeated Melisandra disrobing in her chamber and, upon the removal of her scarlet necklace, becomes an old woman as she lies down to bed.


The books, as we know them thus far, don’t play a huge part in this — all things considered. But there’s still the literary side to all this we need to consider. First of all, Dany’s journey to Vaes Dothrak can be considered the first Winds of Winter spoiler. Dance of Dragons ended with Dany captured by the Dothraki and many speculated where she might be headed. Her return to Vaes Dothrak was a popular theory and helped to fulfill the prophecy of the Red Priestess Quaithe (the woman who told Jorah where the missing dragons were in season two) that for Dany, “to go forward, you must go back.” What she’ll find in Vaes Dothrak is more unknown, but we also have the first mention of the “until the sun rises in the west...” prophecy in quite some time (which was fulfilled in the book just before she was captured, but I won’t go into the convoluted details of it).

It seems the Dornish storyline is a closed book for now, ready to be reopened when the need arises. Originally, it was Arianne Martell — Doran’s daughter — who organized the minor rebellion in Dorne and intended to put Myrcella on the Iron Throne, because she is older than Tommen, as a puppet monarch. In that same storyline Quentyn, Doran’s oldest son, is sent to meet Dany and broker an alliance, but he ultimately ends up dead when he gets to close to a dragon (hence the sun finally rising in the west and setting in the east). All this was scrapped, and Myrcella is now dead.

The Meereenese storyline has also been tightly condensed (no one is complaining there). It seems Tyrion and Varys will be focused on the political state of Meereen and the lurking danger of the Sons of the Harpy and the Harpy themselves. However, Euron Greyjoy will appear this season (portrayed by Pilou Asbæk). In the books, Euron is named King of the Iron Islands and the North during a Kingsmoot and sends his younger brother with the dragon horn to Meereen to claim Dany’s dragons for themselves. This show version of Euron seems to be a composite of those two characters. But, by the end of Dance, he’s among those getting ready to sack a queen-less Meereen along with the Yunkai army. We seem to be omitting this battle for Meereen, but Euron still has a part to play.

As for Jon Snow, everything’s generally where it should be, and the second major spoiler for the forthcoming book may come if Melisandre revives him, as people have theorized since 2011. Speaking of Melisandre, the nature of her age (which had been hinted at by actress Carice von Houten for some time) was finally revealed to be well over 100 (von Houten at one time said she could be as old as 400, but was only recently told exactly how old she is). Dance With Dragons is the only book to feature a point-of-view chapter for her. She notes that she practiced magic for “years beyond count,” and the show makes reference to her vision of Jon Snow fighting a battle (though in the show, it was at Winterfell and in the book, it was against the White Walkers). As if the demon baby from season two wasn’t enough, this sequence proves the magic of Asshai to be real, and further evidence that the Lord of the Light is also, in some fashion, real.


I can’t wait to come back to all these theories by the end of the season and just look at how dead wrong I am. But that’s the whole point of Game of Thrones, right? And this season finally gives everyone room to theorize. So, what’s cooking? Well the Battle of the Bastards is the biggest piece of gossip so far. Ramsay will likely chase Sansa up to Castle Black, where a somehow revived Jon Snow will face him in battle for control of the North. Evidence comes from not only next week’s preview of Ramsay suggesting they siege Castle Black to retrieve Sansa but filming snippets that showed Kit Harrington on set in a huge battle sequence, with Sophie Turner also present. Whether this will serve as the big battle sequence for the season is still up for debate.

Dany’s presence in Vaes Dothrak will likely lead to her amassing the Dothraki under her command. Many fans believe the Stallion Who Will Mount the World prophecy from the first book/season was actually referring to her — the prophecy of a person who will unite all the peoples of the world under one banner. Though getting her giant army and dragons across the Narrow Sea will be a tricky venture now that her ships have been burnt up in Meereen. But showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have mentioned several times the theme of this season is homecoming, and while that may refer to many characters, there is one in particular whose entire arc has been built upon the desire for that very thing. This season is very likely to be the one where Dany finally touches down in her home continent of Westeros.

I still think Melisandre, despite her clear disillusionment with herself, will likely revive Jon Snow since there are virtually no other feasible ways to bring him back (unless he comes back as the world’s nicest wight). The purpose of his revival will likely be because he is the only person proved capable of commanding both Night’s Watch and Wildlings, not to mention his status as a Targaryen bastard needs to finally be confirmed (Jon Snow’s true parents were in fact Ned’s sister Lyanna and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen). His status as a Targaryen — despite those heavily Starkish features — would give him command over one of our three dragons. With Dany taking flight on Drogon last season, she cemented their bond as dragon and dragonlord: one rider for one dragon and vice versa. So the other two need riders, and Jon is the most obvious choice.

As for the little theories so far: Arya will, no doubt, overcome her blindness and kick the Waif’s butt. Her sight will likely be restored to her, though it is doubtful she can truly become No One. Tommen’s going to get it, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. In the book, Jaime abandoned Cersei due to her imprisonment so it’s possible we’ll see that this season if those two truly meet an impasse (but right now it doesn’t seem likely). Sansa will hopefully be reunited with her very-much-alive brother, Jon. And Bran, north of the Wall and in the company of the Three Eyed Raven will be learning... things? Stuff? Maybe we’ll actually care about his storyline soon.

Check back here every week for recaps, references, and predictions as we move through the sixth season of Game of Thrones!


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