GAME OF THRONES: S06E01

THE RED WOMAN – 8.5/10.

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Depending on your outlook, now is either a very exciting or deeply frustrating time to be a fan of Game of Thrones. The season 6 premiere marks that long feared moment where the TV show has finally overtaken the books, leaving George RR Martin loyalists with a tough choice; do you watch on or abstain while you wait for Winds of Winter to be released? If you do head forward with the show then can you ever be sure how closely the producers are following Martin’s outline? Similarly, if the new book fails to appear before the end of the season, will fans ever truly know if the events of the show have influenced Martin’s plans for the book? Only one thing is certain, fans of the show are now living in a spoiler free world; be gone spiteful book readers, your power is no more!

Regardless of where you may sit in the above argument you will still have undoubtedly been awaiting an answer to the big question; is Jon Snow really dead? The season premiere kicks off almost immediately after Jon’s brutal murder. After discovering his body, Sir Davos and Jon’s remaining friends move his corpse to a secure location to plan their next move. It still seems unlikely that Jon has gone for good, he just has too many loose threads, but how will he be brought back? Many of us predicted that Melisandre would use the power of the Lord of Light to revive him, but the Red Lady is broken following Stannis’ defeat and offers little help. While Thorne makes a power grab in the halls of Castle Black, Davos dispatches Eddie with a message for the wildling troops.

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Jon is not the only heir of Eddard Stark to have suffered a grim fate last season, having betrayed the Faceless God in order to seek vengeance Arya now finds herself blinded in punishment. Now she wanders the streets of Braavos begging for alms, that is until the young girl from the House of Black and White pays her a visit. Ever the charmer, the girl proceeds to beat Arya with a stick but this is simply the start of her training. If we have learnt anything from Daredevil it’s that blind child + crotchety teacher = total badass. At least one Stark is finally having some good luck; while the suffering is shared out pretty liberally in GOT, no one could argue that Sansa hasn’t received more than her fair share.  This is why it was good to see her finally escape the clutches of Ramsay Bolton.

Roose Bolton makes it clear to Ramsay that his decision to torture the heirs to both Winterfell and the Iron Islands may have cost them everything. With Reek at her side, Sansa dashes through the frozen forest pursued by Bolton’s men who soon catch up with them. Theon tries to unsuccessfully sacrifice himself so that Sansa can escape, but this turns out to be an unnecessary gesture as Brienne and Pod soon charge in to the rescue. This was a hugely rewarding scene as almost every character was offered redemption of some kind, particularly Brienne who was finally able to uphold her vow to Catelyn by pledging her allegiance to Sansa. I very much like this motley gang of outcasts and it will be interesting to see if they can raise a force to overthrow the villainous Boltons.

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Meanwhile, Jamie Lannister returns to King’s Landing with the body of princess Myrcella after her murder at the hands of Ellaria Sand. While Cersei and Jamie plot their vengeance, Ellaria and her Sand Snakes stage a coup in Dorne, killing Prince Doran and his heir. It seems like the stage is being set for war with Dorne which would only serve to further stretch the Lannister’s dwindling resources. This is bad news for Team Incest as it seems unlikely that the Tyrells will be willing to help with Margaery and Loras still being kept captive by the Sparrows. Tyrion found himself in a similar state of political peril in Meereen as he and Varys attempt to maintain order in Daenerys’ absence. This is no easy task as tensions are still running dangerously high between the Sons of the Harpy and the freed slaves.

When we last saw Daenerys she had been dumped unceremoniously in the middle of nowhere by Drogon and taken captive by a roaming clan of Dothraki. It’s easy to forget how far Daenerys has come and seeing her once again treated like property was quite jarring. She bides her time until she is brought before the Khal where she finally reveals herself to be the widow of Khal Drago. The Khal releases her from her bonds, but rather than setting her free she discovers that she is to be taken to a temple where she will live out the rest of her days with the other widowed khaleesies. With Jonah and Daario following her trail it is unlikely that Daenerys will spend very long away from her subjects but how will her experiences at the temple change her?

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The episode ends as it began; with Davos, Ghost and Jon’s friends standing guard over his body. Thorne offers them all safe passage in exchange for their surrender but Davos is wise enough to know that it is an empty promise. With the mutineers at the door Davos suggests that the Red Lady could prove to be a useful ally to them, however Melisandre is completely lost. She envisioned Stannis and Jon as great warrior kings but now both have fallen, the Lord of Light has clearly abandoned her and this has taken its toll on her mind. As Davos prepares for a siege we see Melisandre’s true form for the first time; that of a frightened and frail old crone. If help is coming for Jon’s friends then it isn’t coming from her.

This really was a fantastic return for the show, last season it felt as if GOT was treading water in the hope that the books would catch up, but now there is no point in playing it safe. While the events in Braavos and Meereen still feel far removed from everything else, a path is beginning to emerge that will at very least bring Dorne and King’s Landing together. Despite Melisandre turning into Dobby the House Elf I still believe she will play a part in Jon’s return, she has embraced the darkness for too long, using blood magic and human sacrifice, taking this simpler form is her first step towards truly accepting the Lord of Light. Hopefully GOT can maintain this level of momentum beyond the premiere as we embark on the most unpredictable season to date.

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POINTS OF INTEREST

  • Brienne may actually be the truest hero on GOT, she is fearless and noble and these are all qualities that will ensure that she probably won’t make it to the end of the season.
  • It was good to see Theon redeemed, he’s another character who’s suffered immensely. While he may have done plenty to deserve it he has proven himself loyal to Sansa.
  • Of course the line of the night goes to Tyrion for this beauty: “Good thing you’re not a boy anymore because you have no cock.”
  • I wonder how long it will be before we catch up with the Night’s King. Sooner or later everyone will have to stop fighting each other so that they can fight him and I still believe that Daenerys and Jon will lead that charge.
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