Game of Thrones “The Red Woman”

Game of Thrones S6E1 “The Red Woman”

As we all know by now, season premieres of Game of Thrones are never the most exciting hour of television. Other than season four’s “Two Swords”, (season four was adapting the same book as season three so it’s hardly a season premiere) each season’s premiere turned out to be a strong contender for worst episode in their respective seasons. Season six’s “The Red Woman” is also presented with a problem that the other season premieres didn’t have to face. The climax in each of the first four seasons occurred in the ninth episode. Season five broke the trend and saved its most climactic moments for the finale. We are now presented with a premiere that has to set the table for the rest of the season, as well as provide aftermath of the season five finale. So with all of this working against it, how does “The Red Woman” fare? All things considered, I’d say it did pretty alright for itself. In “The Red Woman”, Dany loses control of her situation, Arya lives the blind beggar life, Tyrion and Varys assess the situation in Meereen, Cersei meets with bad news, even more Dornish nonsense takes place, Brienne is given purpose, and Jon is still dead, as loyalists and mutineers split into two separate factions at Castle Black. With all of that happening, let’s not delay any further.

We’ll start off in the Dothraki Sea where it is confirmed that Dany was taken prisoner by a Dothraki khalasar. This particular khalasar belongs to Khal Moro and it is to him, where the tied up Dany is taken to. While Dany was talked to rather disrespectfully the entire way there, she waited on revealing her identity until later, saving it for an opportune moment. When Moro announces his intent to rape her, Dany sees this as her opportune moment. She announces herself as Daenerys Targaryen and all of the titles (I’ve honestly lost count of them) that come along with her name. None of those do the trick so she pulls out her last useful piece of information, that she was married to Khal Drogo. Khal Moro immediately apologizes to Dany for his behavior, adopts a more respectful tone, and even cuts Dany free. Dany asks to be escorted back to Meereen in exchange for plenty of new horses for Moro’s khalasar but he declines this. It is tradition for the widows of khals to live out the rest of their lives in the Dothraki city of Vaes Dothrak and this is where Moro intends to take Dany. That’s certainly not how Dany envisioned that going. She’s probably not a lost cause though, because Jorah and Daario stumbled upon Dany’s ring that she dropped in “Mother’s Mercy” and deduced that she was taken by a khalasar. The save Dany rescue team is on the right track.

Back in Meereen, Tyrion and Varys walk through the mostly empty streets, wondering what they have to deal with. Dany’s enemies are growing larger by the second, as some of the ex slaves have abandoned her, thinking that Dany flying away was an abandonment of them. And then there’s obviously the terrorist group from last season, the sons of the harpy. They pulled off a massive attack in the stadium of Meereen and the two acknowledge that the sons of the harpy must be a highly organized group to be able to pull off an attack of that scale. Varys assures Tyrion that his little birds are making the rounds and will provide him with information on the terrorist group. Their walk leads them to the docks, which a whole lot of people are running away from. As it turns out, someone has set all of the ships in the docks on fire. Tyrion laments that they won’t be sailing to Westeros anytime soon. As a betting man, I would say that’s a safe bet.

Across the continent we find Arya, who is now a blind beggar in the streets. The Waif arrives one day and gives Arya a staff, challenging her to a fight. Arya complains, obviously citing her blindness, but the Waif says that isn’t her problem and starts the fight. It’s as one sided as you expected, and the Waif leaves a defeated and bloodied up Arya, telling her she’ll be back for more tomorrow. Things aren’t looking good for Arya, they don’t actually look like anything to Arya. Pardon the blind joke and let’s continue.

In King’s Landing, we find Cersei alone in her chambers when one of her servants informs her of a Dornish ship sailing into the harbor. Cersei realizes her daughter has returned and happily (you heard that right) races to the coast, to wait for Myrcella’s arrival. The joy on her face is very quickly turned to one of agony and despair, when she spots a despondent Jaime and a body covered in shrouds. She knows her daughter is dead before Jaime ever lets her know. As she mourns the loss of Myrcella, Jaime reminds Cersei of the importance of sticking together, as they have a lot of enemies.

One of those enemies is the Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, whose antics hit a new low. Ellaria helps Doran as the two take a walk through the Water Gardens, as it seems the two have really made up and are friends once more. This is just a false image though, because as soon as a letter arrives informing Doran of Myrcella’s death, Tyene kills Doran’s guard, Areo Hotah, while Ellaria does the same to Prince Doran. With his final words Doran asks that they spare his son Trystane, which Ellaria scoffs at. Poor Trystane hasn’t been allowed to debark in King’s Landing on account of a grieving Cersei so he’s still in the boat, preparing for Myrcella’s funeral. Out of nowhere, Nymeria and Obara come into his room and tell him he’s going to die. Trystane doesn’t want to hurt either of them, as they’re his family, but the sand snakes hold no such concern. Having no choice but to pick, Trystane chooses to fight Nymeria, but it was never going to end well for him and Obara takes the kill for herself, sending her spear through Trystane’s head. I’ve got so many complaints about what just went down in Dorne and on that docked ship that I’m just going to save them for other thoughts. Let’s move on.

To Winterfell we go, where we further confirm that Roose and Ramsay is the coldest father son relationship around. Roose lets Ramsay enjoy his victory against Stannis for all of two seconds before telling him that the Lannisters are going to fight them next. They’re mad that Roose had Ramsay wed to Sansa in secret and this will prove a much tougher fight, as the Lannisters will have a much larger and well rested army than Stannis had. Roose laments that this future conflict may turn out to be for nothing, since Ramsay let Sansa escape and he didn’t get any heirs from her before she did. Roose threatens Ramsay, saying if Sansa isn’t found, he’ll make his soon to be born son his heir instead of him. Not wanting that to happen, Ramsay assures his father that their best hounds are out there looking for Sansa.

Speaking of Sansa, she and Reek managed to not only survive the fall from the top of Winterfell, they seemed to not suffer any injuries as well. The two trek through the perilously cold landscape of the nearby forests and Reek realizes that Ramsay’s best men and hounds are probably on to them. Hoping to buy some time, Reek urges Sansa to cut across an ice cold river which she reluctantly agrees to but the plan backfires because the water is so cold, they have to stop and try to warm up immediately afterward. It didn’t even seem to throw off their scent as the hounds barking grows much louder. Realizing they’re caught, Reek tells Sansa that he’ll confront Ramsay’s men to buy her time. He tells her to go to Castle Black, informing her Jon is Lord Commander (not anymore) and that he’ll take care of her (good luck with that). Reek walks up to the Bolton men and lies to them by saying that Sansa died from the jump. They don’t buy it for a second and follow the hounds, who know they’ve got the scent. Sansa was still too cold to go anywhere with the thirty seconds of time Reek bought her so she’s as good as captured.

Hold that thought though. Brienne and Podrick arrive just in time and take on the Bolton soldiers, as the hounds run away. Brienne disposes of most of them easily and even Pod has improved, as he kills a Bolton man himself. Another Bolton man comes at Pod though, and he has him as good as dead. Before he can deliver a blow though, Reek comes from behind and impales the Bolton man, saving Pod. With the Bolton men and the hounds gone, Brienne turns her attention to Sansa, and once again offers Sansa her services. This time Sansa accepts and for now, we have a heartwarming moment. Where to next? I do imagine Castle Black would be a good guess as they are don’t know and are unlikely to find out until they get there that Jon is dead. In any case, this is a question that doesn’t get answered here but probably will be the next time we check in with this group.

Our last location of the day is Castle Black and it features the very first and very last scenes of the episode. An upset Ghost has sensed what has happened and howls loudly and tries to break out of his cage. These noises catch the attention of Davos, Dolorous Edd, and a few other brothers who all run in shock to Jon when they see his dead body on the ground. Davos takes command of the situation and tells the night’s watch brothers to help him carry Jon to his room. A furious Edd realizes that Thorne was behind this and closes Jon’s eyes to give him final peace. Davos asks Edd to get Ghost in here as they’re going to need all the help they can get. Edd returns with the direwolf, and Melisandre makes an appearance as well. An already depressed Mel becomes even more so when she sees Jon dead as she apparently saw Jon fighting in Winterfell in her visions, citing it as yet another false vision, leaving the room afterward. Edd and the loyalists swear vengeance against Thorne while Davos tells them most of the night’s watch is going to side with Thorne, and they don’t have enough men to take them on. Davos reminds Edd that the wildlings owe Jon their lives for bringing them south of the wall and implies that they could prove helpful in the situation. Edd heads south to fetch them, telling Davos and the loyalist brothers to bolt the door.

Much as Davos expected, Thorne is able to get most of the watch to agree with him. It isn’t very easy though, as half of the room is irate when he calls a meeting in order to defend himself. Thorne is eventually able to bring everyone around, not denying his treason but saying that if they didn’t do anything, Jon was going to destroy the Night’s Watch. With much of Castle Black on his side, Thorne arrives at Jon’s door and offers amnesty to the loyalists and a fresh horse for Davos to leave, if they accept before sundown. Davos respectfully tells Thorne they’ll use their allotted time to make a decision but once he leaves, he tells the loyalists that Thorne’s offer is completely insincere and he’s going to attack them, regardless of what they do. The brothers lament that hope looks lost but Davos reminds them that they could convince Melisandre to help them.

While Davos is right that Mel is capable of doing amazing things, now doesn’t look like the time she’s going to do that. We end the episode in Mel’s room, where Mel looks completely defeated. Preparing for bed, Melisandre disrobes and takes off her necklace. In a very surprising twist, Mel’s beautiful body turns out to be only an illusion, as she takes her true form, an extremely old woman. Looking even more defeated than her younger form, Mel crawls into bed and the episode closes. To have lived this long, you need to have some passion in your later years to keep you going. Mel had that in Stannis and apparently Jon in this episode, and seeing both of these things tragically fail is mortifying for Melisandre. I doubt she’s just going to walk around in her true form, but it does reflect a completely defeated version of Melisandre that has already and probably will continue to seep into her younger form. Melisandre is an amazing woman that can do amazing things, but right now, she feels very much not like that.

Other Thoughts

Let’s just get the Dorne stuff out of the way. If Ellaria anticipated she was going to kill Doran, why wait until he finds out about Myrcella and risk Doran punishing her before she could kill him? Why did Doran’s guards just stand there and watch? Why make Areo look so badass and have him die from a dagger? How did Nymeria and Obara get to King’s Landing so quickly? Why are they joking about kinslaying, one of the most taboo crimes in Westeros? Why didn’t Jaime just turn the ship around back to Dorne when they were still close to Dorne when Myrcella died? If you want to try and answer any of these questions, be my guest, I’m just going to hope Ellaria and the Sand Snakes lay low and stay entirely off the screen for a good long while.

Something I nearly missed. The High Sparrow visits Margaery in her cell. Margaery is apparently on the road to forgiveness, but she’s got a long way to go.

Was eager to see Bran after he took season five off to do off screen training, but he wasn’t in the season premiere. Don’t imagine the wait will be much longer though. This three eyed raven stuff seems pretty cool.

I do acknowledge that Sansa is not the red woman in question for the episode so the review picture is a bit misleading. In my defense, Mel’s most powerful scene is where I probably would have picked a picture, and as we know Mel was very unsightly in that scene.

If you needed any reminder of how cold blooded Ramsay is, check out his “mourning” scene for Myranda. He seems genuinely sad that she’s dead, but when the Maester asks if he’d prefer Myranda be buried or burnt, Ramsay scoffs at such a waste of “good meat” and tells the Maester to feed it to the hounds. That’s Ramsay for ya.

It was pretty funny when Khal Moro said that seeing a beautiful girl naked for the first time is the best thing in life, and his bloodriders proceeded to list things that are better. Khal Moro then conceding that seeing a beautiful girl naked for the first time is among the top five best things in life comes across as a bit of modern speech, but it works here and gets a chuckle.

I hope Edd bring back Wun Wun. What the hell are the Thorne and friends going to do against a giant? I’d like to see that.

“The Red Woman” is weighed down by providing aftermath for season five and setting the table for season six, but does well for itself considering the challenges it faces.

Grade B

 

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