Saturday, May 28, 2016

Game of Thrones 6.01: "The Red Woman:"

“I saw him in the flames. Fighting at Winterfell.”

As is pretty typical of HBO shows, the season premiere of “Game of Thrones” kept to a relatively slow pace. We checked in on all the characters to see how they’re doing in the aftermath of last season’s finale. The characters are still all very disbursed, so there were a number of plots to catch up on. Overall, it was nice to return to Westeros, even if the many plots touched upon made it a little difficult to get truly settled. While “Game of Thrones” (and the books upon which it’s based) has had this problem since its second season, it is always a bit more pronounced in the season premiere than in the typical episode. A typical episode will touch on many, but often not all, of the current plot threads, so while it does feel like we’re quickly bouncing between a bunch of stories, it’s not quite as frenetic. The season, premiere, however, has to catch us up on almost everything, and there’s a lot of catching up to do!

The biggest (and that’s not really saying much, since there are a lot of plots going on) plot that is touched on in this episode is the aftermath of the big Alliser Thorne-led attack on Jon Snow. Jon appears to be truly dead, and Davros finds his body under a sign that says “traitor.” Davros gathers the few loyal Brothers to carry Jon’s body inside, and he sends Dolorous Edd off in search of Ghost, who has been howling ever since the attack. Melisandre is shocked to see that Jon is dead, because she had a very clear vision of him fighting in a battle at Winterfell. Ser Alliser takes command of the Night’s Watch and tries to defend his mutany during a big dinner scene, emphasizing how terrible and against everything they stand for Jon’s decision to let the Wildlings through the Wall was. Ser Alliser offers amnesty to Jon’s loyalists if they just leave with no trouble, but the group is undecided about what to do. Davros thinks they can win others who owe much to Jon to their cause, and Edd leaves to try and recruit them. Davros also thinks Melisandre can help, but the rest of the group is a bit more skeptical about that. At the end of the episode, we see Melisandre examining herself in a mirror after having removed her magic necklace, where she actually seems to be much, much older than she appears.

We next journey to Winterfell, where Ramsay is mourning the death of Myranda, his (rather deadly, until she herself got killed) mistress. He most definitely wants to avenge her death, but when the Maester asks if he would like to bury or cremate her, Ramsay says her body should be fed to the dogs. Ramsay Bolton never was one for sentiment, I suppose! Roose, Ramsay’s father, doesn’t let either the celebration of the victory against Stannis or the mourning for Myranda go on for long, though. He reminds Ramsay that in order to secure his status as heir to Winterfell, he needs to get Sansa back pronto. Without Sansa, the people of the North won’t accept Ramsay as Lord of Winterfell.

Speaking of Sansa, she and Theon survived their jump from the Winterfell wall. They’re fleeing through the woods, because Ramsay has sent a hunting party after them. Theon says they need to cross the water so the hounds will lose their scent, but Sansa is reluctant because it is extremely cold, and she’s worried she will freeze. Eventually, she goes in the water, and the pair try to hide under a bridge when they hear the hunting party coming. Theon tries to draw the hunting party away from Sansa, but it’s no use. The hounds find her anyway, and they’re both surrounded by Ramsay’s men. They are not captured, however, thanks to a last minute save by Brienne and Podrick. Between the two of them, they defeat Ramsay’s hunting party. After the battle, Brienne once again offers her services to Sansa, and this time Sansa accepts, going through the official ritual and everything. It makes sense that Sansa, although she needed a little help, would basically remember the procedure for taking a knight into service. She was always invested in the proper goings on of nobility, and all she has been through hasn’t completely erased that.

Next we head to King’s Landing, where a still defeated-looking Cersei greets Jaime as he returns on a ship from Dorne. Cersei is devastated when she realizes that Myrcella won’t be greeting her too. As they mourn the loss of their daughter, Jaime swears to Cersei that they will get back everything that has been taken from them. Also in King’s Landing, Margaery is still being held in a cell by the High Sparrow. Septa Unella keeps trying to get her to confess to various sins, but Margaery’s not having it. She really wants to see her brother, Loras. The High Sparrow sends Septa Unella away and tries to talk to Margaery about King Tommen. I feel like the High Sparrow and Septa were kind of playing good cop/bad cop here, but they still don’t get much out of Margaery.

In Dorne, Ellaria helps Prince Doran to his chair. They are pleasant enough to each other until news comes of Myrcella’s death. Tyene takes out the Captain of the Guard, and none of the other guards make a move to intervene as Ellaria kills Prince Doran, swearing that Dorne will never be ruled by “weak men” again. Whom one person calls weak, I call wise. Regardless, I will be sad to not see Alexander Siddig on my TV again until his next project. I’ve been a fan since his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine days, and his acting has only improved over the years. We next see Doran’s son Trystane, who is approached by two other Sand Snakes. They boldly state that they are there to kill him, and Trystane will be allowed to choose which of them he is going to fight. Trystane chooses one, but the other kills him with a spear to the head as he is preparing to fight.

We next head across the Narrow Sea, where Tyrion and Varys are doing what they used to do in King’s Landing, just now in Meereen. They are discussing the latest happenings in the city. Daenerys has declined in popularity, but there’s a Red Priest urging the freed slaves to keep fighting for her. Varys also has his little birdies trying to find out more about the Sons of the Harpy. It may all be for naught, though. The men look out at the harbor and see that the Meereenese fleet is ablaze. Jorah and Daario are off looking for Dany, and they make some progress when, in the middle of a field, they find hoof prints and Dany’s ring. Dany herself is brought before the Dothraki Khal Morgo. The Khal threatens to rape her until Dany reveals that she is the widow of Khal Drogo. Morgo says Dany must be taken to Vaes Dothrak, where she is to live with the rest of the widowed Khaleesi, the Dosh Khaleen. To Dany, this seems to be an even worse fate.

Finally, we visit Arya, who is still in Braavos and is blind following the events of last season’s finale. She is begging in an alleyway when she is approached by the Waif, who we met last season. The Waif hands Arya a quarterstaff, and she gets Arya to fight her. Arya doesn’t do all that well, since she can’t see, but the Waif says she will be back the next day to fight with Arya again. Will Arya start channeling Matt Murdock and kick some serious ass? Only time will tell, but I’m guessing that will be the case.

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