The season six premiere of “Game of Thrones” didn’t provide many answers. Or all that much excitement. Some good throat-slitting and face-stabbing, yes. So we’ve got that going for us. Here’s what went down in the season’s first episode. (As always, read Alyssa Rosenberg’s review over at Act Four for further enlightenment.)
So what is the deal with Melisandre?
The lasting image from this episode — one we definitely can’t show on this website — is surely our first look at the “real” Melisandre, all saggy and wrinkly and old as … we don’t quite know. There have been hints that she’s much older than she appears, and once she removed that ruby necklace in her private quarters of Castle Black, her true self emerged. And then meekly shuffled off to bed, to get under the covers. Even if we don’t know exactly how Melisandre’s magic works, this is one of the clearest signs yet of her supernatural abilities.
The assumption for the last 10 months — ever since Jon Snow got shanked to death — was that those supernatural abilities of hers would somehow help resurrect Jon. That hasn’t happened yet, but we seem to be heading in that direction, based on Davos’s late-episode hint. The noble Onion Knight is in possession of Lord Commander Snow’s body, having whisked it away to a bolted-shut room in Castle Black, where those loyal to the late Snow are plotting their next moves. Upon seeing his body, Melisandre tells the group that she saw him in the flames, fighting in Winterfell. “I can’t speak for the flames, but he’s gone,” Davos says.
Elsewhere in the Castle, Alliser Thorne admits he is the one who killed Jon. And he admits this was a treasonous act, but that everyone there is responsible for this as well. He defends his actions by saying that Jon was going to destroy the Knight’s Watch thanks to his working in coordination with the Wildlings. “Lord Commander Snow did what he thought was right, I’ve no doubt about that. … What he thought was right would be the end of us,” Thorne tells the assembled. Somehow this seems to win over the easily-swayed masses, who rabble-rabble themselves into agreement with Thorne’s assessment.
The loyal-to-Jon faction, led by Davos, Eddison, Ghost and a handful of others, know they are up against it. Eddison is willing to fight to his death. “If you were planning to see tomorrow, you picked the wrong room,” Eddison says. When Thorne comes banging at the door later, he tries to cut a deal with Davos. Davos runs a hard bargain, though — he demands some mutton. (Hopefully better than the kind Holly makes.) As they discuss their options, Davos puts The Melisandre Option on the table. Eddison wants to know what one redhead can do against 40 armed men. “You haven’t seen her do what I’ve seen her do,” he says. So let’s see it. Next week, ideally.
Brienne to the rescue
As the death toll mounts, we are running out of heroes on this show. So it’s good to see one of them step up. Brienne of Tarth fulfills her long-awaited mission to rescue Sansa and pledge loyalty to her. She’s able to do this because Theon/Reek helped Sansa escape from her comically cruel husband, Ramsay Bolton, who is going through a tough time right now due to the escape of his wife (who he needs to produce offspring that would give him legitimate rule of the North) and the death of his partner in deranged depravity, Myranda. Ramsay briefly eulogizes Myranda (“there was nothing she wouldn’t do,” he says with a wicked smile, over her dead body) and promises to repay her pain a thousand times over. Coming from him that’s … frightening. But it’s not like Ramsay’s a very sentimental fellow — he passes on burial or cremation and goes with option C for dealing with her remains: feeding her to the hounds. “This is good meat,” he says. Fair point.
Sansa and Theon are running through the snowy forest, being tracked by Bolton men (and their hounds). After briefly finding shelter and catching their breath, they hear the trackers getting close. Theon urges Sansa to “go north, only north” towards Castle Black, where Jon will help her. About that…
As the trackers get closer, Theon promises to distract them and give her enough time to get away. This plan works for approximately 17 seconds, and just when it looks like the pair will be dragged back to the Boltons (“I can’t wait to see what part Ramsay cuts off you this time,” one of the trackers sneers at Theon), Brienne and Podrick swoop in to the rescue. She kills a bunch of guys, Podrick gets some good stabbing in himself, and Brienne takes a knee to offer her services to Sansa. Sansa needs a little help reciting her acceptance of said offer, but these two are now, officially, a team.
Daenerys is (sort of) back where she started
The Khaleesi’s journey has almost brought her full circle. Once again, she finds herself with a Dothraki horde, only this time she’s truly a prisoner. She’s handcuffed, whipped and sexually harassed on the way to see Khal Moro, the new leader of the horse lords (one who does not look like the founding guitarist of Jane’s Addiction). Upon being presented to Khal Moro, his wives (slaves? Companions? Some combination of the three?) suggest Dany is a witch and her head must be cut off. Khal Moro would rather just see her naked. (This all felt like a bit if a meta moment, considering all of Emilia Clarke’s recent public complaining about the gratuitous and unequal nudity on the show.)
Dany shows off her Dothraki language chops and proclaims that she is Khaleesi, but it does little to impress Khal Moro, who tells her that tonight she’ll be with him. Dany remains defiant, saying that she was wife to Khal Drogo and suddenly Moro has a change of heart. “Oh, that Khaleesi.” Sleeping with a Khal’s widow is forbidden, so Dany is in the clear there. The Dothraki are a people of laws. Unfortunately for her, one of those laws is that widows of Khals must go live with all the other widows in Vaes Dothrak for the rest of their days. That seems like a significant detour on the road to becoming Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
The Lannisters have some debts to pay
Cersei is recovering from her public humiliation — she surely has not gotten over this — and is delighted to hear that a ship from Dorne is sailing into the harbor. But that delight soon turns to heartbreak when she sees her brother, Jaime, but not their daughter, Myrcella. She, of course, was poisoned by the revenge-minded Ellaria and the Sand Snakes on her journey home and Jaime is left to break the news to Cersei. She takes it about as expected and it’s pretty heartbreaking. “I don’t know where she came from,” she tells Jaime of their daughter. “She was nothing like me. No meanness, no jealousy. Just good. If I could make something so good, so pure, maybe I’m not such a monster.” That might be taking things a bit far, but the woman is grieving so we’ll allow it.
Cersei says she knew this would happen, that the witch (from last season’s first scene) foretold everything. That all three of children would die. Well Myrcella is gone, we know what happened to Joffrey… so, uh, maybe hold off on buying that Tommen Baratheon “King of the Andals” jersey for a few more weeks. Jaime has one thing on his mind, and that is revenge: “F— prophecy, f— fate, f— everyone who isn’t us,” he says. (Maybe starting a nihilistic punk band is the second thing on his mind.) “We’re going to take everything there is,” he promises his sister. Revenge-oriented Lannisters is a promising development for this season.
The Sand Snakes go on a rampage
After dispensing with Myrcella at the end of last season, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes continue their killing ways. Prince Doran (and his protector, Areo Hotah) get offed by Ellaria, whose rage comes from the fact that the prince did nothing to get revenge for the rape and murder of Elia Martell and the murder of (Ellaria’s lover) Oberyn. “Weak men will never rule Dorne again,” she says while standing over his dead body.
Like father, like son. Trystane Martell is on a boat … somewhere, when he gets a visit from Obara and Nymeria Sand. They are very straightforward, with Trystane, telling him they are there to kill him but being polite enough to let him choose which one does the honors. He chooses Nymeria, but Obara gets impatient and sticks a spear through the back of his head. “You’re a greedy b—-, you know that?” Nymeria asks Obara.
— Margaery is still prisoner in the Red Keep. She wants to see her brother. She is the queen and demands to see her brother. Septa Unella cares for none of this and wants only one thing from her — a confession. It’s a bit of a good septon, bad septon game with her and the High Sparrow, who visits and does his grandfatherly thing with her, trying to set her on the righteous path.
— Arya is still blind and still in Braavos. She’s left to begging but gets a visit from Waif, her tormentor from the House of Black and White. She starts beating Arya with a stick, seemingly trying to get her to join her in some hand-to-hand combat. After getting a good thwacking in, Wait walks away, leaving Arya to her blind misery.
— Tyrion and Varys are in Meereen, which is going through a post-Daenerys state of transition. We learn Tyrion’s Valyrian is a bit rusty and we also learn than Lord of the Light evangelists seem to be finding an audience there. Varys says the Sons of the Harpy seem to be a well-coordinated machine and he’s got his birds out there to find answers as to who is calling the shots. Whoever that may be, they could be the ones behind the giant fire at the bay, where dozens of ships were set aflame.