Game of Thrones Recap: S6E1 - "The Red Woman"
So we’re back! This past Sunday, we entered the world of sword-fighting and blood magic, knights and ladies, winter and desert, politics and ice zombies. Game of Thrones came back this episode with the job of concluding all of the cliffhangers it left us with in the finale of last season, and most of our questions get answered (except, of course, for the most important one). So, for this recap I’m going to break my thoughts down into parts.
When we last left the Wall, part of the Night’s Watch led by the eternal hater Ser Aliser murdered Jon Snow. While the end of last season left us with the heartbreaking image of Jon bleeding out, we jump right back in this season with Ser Davos and a few other members of the Watch finding Jon’s body and then locking him in a room to protect him. While Ser Aliser has called a meeting to tell the rest of the Watch what has happened and to take control, Ser Davos and Edd free Ghost and decide that the best way to help Jon is to get the wildlings to help. Obviously, they think something can be done to help Jon AND I AGREE. However, the only person who seems like they would be able to do something is Melisandre, and she seems to have lost confidence. She’s spent most of the show helping Stannis, believing that he was the one who would save Westeros from the Long Night, but ever since meeting Jon it seemed that she was beginning to see him as the true savior. After abandoning Stannis, she clearly came back to the Wall to convince Jon that he was Azor Ahai, but now that he’s “dead,” it seems her faith (whether in the Lord of Light or just herself) is shaken and we don’t know how that will affect her. Also, SHE’S ACTUALLY OLD. That was an interesting reveal, and almost seemed obvious to me once it was made; I noticed during my rewatch that she never takes the necklace off. The fact that she is actually much older than she seems fits right along with her character, and the reveal definitely drove home the idea that she is feeling vulnerable and weak right now, her fire dim.
South of the Wall, we got our question answered about Sansa and Theon. They seemed to have made the drop from Winterfell’s walls and are running alone in the biting cold. It was cool to see more of Theon come back, namely through his care for Sansa, though it’s obvious that there are parts of Reek still there. His killing of one of the Boltons’ men solidified this reawakening in himself. Speaking of the Boltons, everyone stay out of Ramsay’s way PLEASE. The fact that they were able to create someone more horrible than Joffrey is still mind-boggling, though I suppose that comes from the fact that Ramsay is Joffrey but with military experience and the ability to fight/carry out his sadistic fantasies. I was afraid Sansa and Theon were going to get caught by the Boltons, and was disappointed because the last thing I want to see this season is Sansa being tortured even more than she already has been in this show. So I was happy when Brienne and Pod came to the rescue, and I’m glad that Sansa now has protection from people who have no ulterior motives for power (where tf is Littlefinger?).
We didn’t get much at King’s Landing other than a reminder that there were things going on there. We were reminded that Myrcella was killed by the Sand Snakes, and saw Cersei’s grief and her reunite with Jamie as a result. We were reminded that Margaery and Loras are still in the Sept of Baelor, held captive by the High Septon/Sparrow, who is irritating in that he is such a kind man but allows mean people to do his work for him, exhibit A being Septa Unella, who needs to be kept out the paint. It’s interesting to see the ways the faith has been able to gain power, but that’s really just a continuation from last season, so I hope we actually get more storyline from this next episode.
The Sand Snakes don’t play! In Dorne we see Ellaria Sand and Oberyn Martell’s daughter Tyene murder Prince Doran and his bodyguard, while at the same time his other daughters Obara and Nymeria murder Trystane in King’s Landing. Ellaria scolds Doran for being weak as he bleeds out, for not going to war for either of his siblings, and so the Sand Snakes basically stage a coup. We know that they want to go to war with the Lannisters, so it seems that Ellaria will become ruler of Dorne and lead them to war, though I’m not really sure how this storyline will go seeing as the Lannisters already (rightfully) have hella enemies. I feel like it may be difficult to write them being focused on the faith, the Sand Snakes, the River lords, AND the North in one season. I hope the Sand Snakes aren’t forgotten in this season, either by being killed off quickly or biding their time in Dorne. I feel like their storyline is interesting, but it needs to be given the same amount of care as the other storylines and right now it feels a bit sloppy to be honest.
We got a bit of time this episode to check in on Arya in Braavos. She is still blind, and seemingly homeless. It seems like she’s been kicked out of the House of Black and White, but then the girl from there comes to bully her. It seems like the girl is maybe trying to teach Arya how to use her other senses, while still punishing her for killing Ser Meryn Trant, but it mostly just comes off as petty. I wouldn’t be surprised if the girl ended up on Arya’s list after all this, because she hasn’t seemed happy with Arya being around for a while now, and while Arya may learn a lesson from this, the girl mostly seems to get joy from beating her. I hope Arya is able to learn everything she needs in Braavos, so that she can go back to Westeros and become a faceless assassin.
In Meereen, Tyrion is still dealing with the fallout from the incident in the fighting pits. With the help of Varys, he is trying to find out who the leader of the Sons of the Harpy is as well as keep the people of Meereen happy and safe while Daenerys is gone. It doesn’t seem as if this is going very well, especially towards the end where the Sons of the Harpy have burned all of the ships, prompting Tyrion to realize that they are “not going to Westeros any time soon.” While I’m interested in seeing what happens to Meereen, like in the books I’m getting a bit impatient with Dany’s storyline and her being delayed in going back to Westeros. I feel like at this point she either needs to go, or to just stay in Meereen, but the two are so far apart, she can’t rule both at the same time. There’s also the little issue of the red man preaching to the people in Meereen, though at this point he seems to be on Dany’s side, we’ve seen countless times how the faith can cause a people to turn on their rulers. While I like seeing Tyrion rule, I hope that we’ll soon get everyone back in Westeros where they belong.
This brings me to Daenerys. While we’re not totally sure where exactly Dany is, we do know that she has been caught by a khalasar led by Khal Moro. Initially, the Khal, his wives, and his bloodriders think she is just a regular woman. Even when Dany tells them all of her titles she is told that she is their slave, “Queen of Nothing.” Only when she tells them she is the widow of Khal Drogo do they address her with respect, though it didn’t get her what she wanted, as all widows of khals are supposed to live in Vaes Dothrak. While she will now be treated with respect by her captors, she is going backwards, farther away from Meereen and farther away from Westeros.
Jorah and Daario are out searching for her, and seem to be on her trail. I’m sure Jorah will guess that the khalasar will be heading back from Vaes Dothrak and they’ll meet her there, so I’m not really worried about that situation. With this team, I’m less worried about how they’re going to save Dany (who I doubt will actually need saving—Drogon is still around and may come burn all of Vaes Dothrak to the ground before they arrive), and more concerned with Jorah being a creep. It’s always bothered me that he is in love with her because he’s much older than her and has known her since she was a child. While I doubt they will get together, I also feel like he needs to check his emotions a bit. Also, he still hasn’t told anyone he has greyscale, which would be fine if it wasn’t contagious. All I know is, he’d better not infect anyone else with his illness or there will be problems.
The other problem I have with this particular section of the show is the depiction of the Dothraki. We haven’t seen them in a while but their reappearance in season 6 reinforces the idea that they’re savage people. In a group they’re called a “Dothraki horde” rather than an army. In season 1 they’re called “screamers” and “savages.” While there could be an interesting commentary on the way the Dothraki are thought of by the rest of the world, the writers seem to reinforce these thoughts constantly when showing how the Dothraki talk and act. The fact that they are mostly portrayed by people of color is frustrating, though Game of Thrones has never been at the helm of positive representation for people of color.
I am excited to see what else this season has in store for us. We didn’t get Bran or Sam in this episode, so it’ll be exciting to see what they’ve been up to. I’m still hoping Sansa hooks up with Rickon and he isn’t just forgotten for the rest of the show. Honestly, I just need two Starks to be together again and I’ll be happy. We haven’t moved much further in the narrative from the end of season 5, this episode feeling much more like a tying up of loose ends than real progression. However, it has set us up for the rest of the season and I’m intrigued to see where that goes. It’s so different from where the books seem like they’re going, so I’m glad I don’t feel like I’m being spoiled, which was something I was worried about.
There also seems to be a standing theme for this season – that all these women in the show are going to get back at their enemies. We’ve had five seasons of the women in the show being pushed around, tortured, raped, and used as pawns in larger schemes, but it seems like now they are all taking control and it will be glorious. I think I’m most excited to see Sansa and Arya finally come into their own, though of course Cersei’s wrath on the Sparrows will be something to behold and I can’t wait for Dany to flame all her enemies. The Sand Snakes seem interesting, so I’m really hoping their storyline progresses in some real way. And I’m still not counting Melisandre out; I feel like she just needs a water break before coming back stronger.
All I know is, Jon Snow better be coming back to life.