See below for a recap of the ‘The Red Woman’ (Game Of Thrones season 6, episode 1). SPOILERS.
1) Before the episode started, the excitement of seeing Kit Harrington’s name in the credits!
Did anybody else scare their cat with how loud you screamed “Jon Snow!” when you saw Kit Harrington in the credits? Game Of Thrones is back and it looks like they’re giving us Jon Snow in the first episode!
2) … followed by the devastating realization, “Oh, he’s just in the credits because he’s playing a corpse.”
Ghost’s sad wailing as the camera craned down on Jon Snow’s frozen corpse is the exact sound my heart has been making since season 5 ended.
Castle Black starts off season 6 in a stand off with “Team Avenge Jon Snow” being led by Ser Davos Seaworth versus “Team We Killed Jon Snow” led by Ser Alliser Thorne.
Who will the brothers of the Night’s Watch side with?
While Ser Davos is joined by a handful of Jon’s old homeys, Jon’s direwolf Ghost, and maybe some Wildlings if Edd can recruit them, it looks like most of the other brothers are convinced to side with Alliser after he admits that he assassinated Jon Snow to save the Watch.
“He thrust a terrible choice upon us. And we made it,” says Thorne to the initially upset but quickly quelled crows. Turns out, most of the men of the Night’s Watch really didn’t like it when Jon let those Wildlings through the gate. Especially Olly. Speaking of Olly…
3) Olly sure did age quite a bit over night
I guess betraying your Lord Commander by tricking him into following you outside and then gang-stabbing him can make a kid age quite a bit!
The good news for actor Brenock O'Connor is that the puberty that struck between shooting these two seasons seems to be giving him a firm jawline. The bad news is that he is still playing the currently most hated character on the show.
4) The Red Lady, Melisandre, is old. Like, really old. Like, centuries and centuries old.
This scene comes at the end of the episode, but we’re going to discuss all of our Castle Black storylines together.
So, Melisandre is a witch and one of her witch powers is that she can make people look different than they really are, including herself. In the books, she uses this power in a storyline about hiding Mance Rayder, the King Beyond The Wall, after his army was in the custody of the Night’s Watch.
But in the series, this is the first time we’ve seen the full scope of this power of hers. Her shapeshifting powers are revealed to show that her own true appearance is a lie, causing us to wonder what else she has been lying about.
Melisandre doesn’t speak as she removes her ruby-of-power / choker-necklace, instantly revealing her true form (a feeble and ancient woman) and crawls into bed. We’re left to wonder what she’s thinking, probably a great deal of self-doubt based on this exchange from earlier in the episode as she stares in disbelief at the dead body of Jon Snow:
Melisandre: “I saw him in the flames. Fighting at Winterfell.”
Davos: “I can’t speak for the flames. But he’s gone.”
For the first time, we see Melisandre as vulnerable, both physically and intellectually. She has always comported herself as if she knew more information than anyone else around her, and was just letting people in on part of the Lord Of Light’s greater plan. But now, we see she feels as if she misunderstood the message in the flames, and thus her purpose in everything she’s done. Staring at her aged body in a dirty mirror, her eyes seem to say, “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Speaking of Arrested Development catch phrases, did anyone else think that when Davos said “There’s always the Red Woman” as an idea for who might help their cause, it sounded a lot like “There’s always money in the banana stand”? I’m hoping this becomes an oft repeated catch phrase in season six.
5) Ramsay “Sadist” Bolton is ready to make his enemies feel the pain of dead Myranda multiplied by 1000
Just as the first scene opens with Jon Snow’s corpse in Castle Black, the second scene opens with a corpse in Winterfell.
The corpse belongs to Myranda, and Ramsay gives an almost touching eulogy of sorts, which he soon Ramsay-ifies when his answer to the question of if she should be buried or cremated is “She’s good meat. Feed her to the hounds.”
— Ramsay Bolton, Season 6 Episode 1
“Your pain will be paid for a thousand times over. I wish you could be here to watch.”
That quote gives me shivers. I hate Ramsay, but he sometimes gives me a tingle down my spine that I enjoy, too. Sort of the same feeling I get when I go on a roller coaster or eat shellfish (I’m mildly allergic).
As if he needed more motivation, Ramsay’s mean old daddy Roose Bolton reminds him that since he is a bastard, if he doesn’t find the escaped Sansa and get an heir out of her, then if his fat wife (his words, not mine) gives birth to a son, Ramsay will be S.O.L.
Sansa isn’t in Winterfell, though.
6) Sansa, Theon, Brienne and good ol’ Podrick Payne join forces for a good ol’ sword fight in the woods!
It was a fairly run of the mill fight scene, but it was the first victory we’ve had so far in season six, so I’ll take it.
As Theon and Sansa run away in the freezing woods (wait - how did they survive that jump from the 60 foot tall ramparts again? Did they land in a snow bank or a trampoline or what?), Theon tries to flex his atrophied hero-muscle by luring their pursuers off their tracks, so that Sansa can escape. A noble thought, but he fails pitifully.
Thankfully, Brienne rushes in like Han Solo with the Millennium Falcon (I guess in this analogy, Podrick Payne is Chewbacca?) and helps to save the day. For a moment, it looked like Sansa was going to help too, but she didn’t. Sansa is currently in Damaged Cargo mode from the messed up stuff Ramsay did to her, but hopefully she’ll recover and start kicking some ass like a Stark soon.
Also of note: Brienne appearing WITHOUT Stannis in tow seems to put to rest the popular fan theory that Brienne didn’t actually kill Stannis, but just chopped into the tree instead (the theory was largely based on the fact that they didn’t show the moment of death, and it’s not like Game Of Thrones as a show is afraid to do that).
The scene ends as Brienne swears her loyalty to Sansa, which is one of her favorite things to do.
7) The scene between Jaime and Cersei grieving over Myrcella’s death wins this episode’s award for best acting
Lena Headey’s portrayal of Cersei Lannister is consistently some of the most incredible acting in a show full of amazing performances and actors. Her confronting her grief over Myrcella’s death at the hands (or actually lips, to be more precise) of Ellaria Sand is superb.
Cersei confesses her fear to Jaime that the prophecy of a witch she was rude to as a child is coming true (she would have three children and she would live to see all of them taken from her). All she has left is Tommen, but for now her focus is on grieving for Myrcella.
— Cersei Lannister, Season 6 Episode 1
“She was good. She was nothing like me. No meanness, no jealousy, just good.”
Strange, I don’t remember Cersei saying anything like that about Joffrey after he died. And even stranger is to hear Cersei so self aware, admitting that she might be … not good.
Jaime responds with these comforting words:
— Jaime Lannister, Season 6 Episode 1
“Fuck prophecy. Fuck fate. Fuck everyone who isn’t us … We’re going to take everything there is.”
This scene also helps to solidify the theme of this episode: the death of the body.
Location 1: Castle Black, corpse of Jon Snow.
Location 2: Winterfell, corpse of Myranda.
Location 3: King’s Landing, corpse of Myrcella.
More than a helpful recap of who died in the season 5 finale, this also helps to set the theme of the death of a person’s corporeal self and the various meanings that can have.
Arya and Dany each battle with a different type of death of self (more on this below). Arya still hasn’t learned to be “no one” because she can’t allow her ego self to die; Daenerys tells the Khal that her name is “Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen, the First Of Her Name” to which he replies “You are nobody, millionth of your name.”
Finally, the show ends with Melisandre wordlessly studying the toll that hundreds of years have taken on her physical body, a body that should have died by natural causes long ago, but only through the magic of the R'hllor is she kept alive. But at what cost? If we are to believe Jaqen H'ghar, only life can pay for life. If that’s true, whose life (or lives) have been paid to keep Melisandre alive?
8) Queen Marg is still in jail and she misses her brother Loras, and King Tommen still misses her, and the High Sparrow is still being a dick
Cersei was released, but the High Sparrow is still all up on his “Only confession purges sin” kick and hasn’t released Queen Margaery Tyrell or her brother Loras.
Our time with Marg is short in this episode. We get the impression that one of the Septa’s has been quite “over zealous” with her punishment as Marg cowers in the corner.
Is Marg’s spirit broken? I don’t think so. Take a look at this exchange:
Marg: “I have nothing to confess.”
Sparrow: “So you are perfect? Wholly without sin?”
Marg: “None of us are.”
I think she is still on top of her shit and we’re going to see some sort of Tyrell power brokering soon to set her free, rather than the “many miles to go” that the High Sparrow predicts.
King Tommen does miss her, after all, and we know from the “Next Episode” preview that Jaime and the High Sparrow are going to have a confrontation. Even though Cersei hates Marg, maybe she’ll realize that for the sake of her Tommen, she needs to have her Mountain Monster and Jaime take on the Faith Militant to see her freed.
— High Sparrow, Season 6 Episode 1
“You have started down the path. But you have many miles to go.”
9) Unlike Cersei and Margaery, Ellaria Sand does not like her brother
In a continuation of her plan from the season 5 finale, Ellaria Sand murders her own brother-in-law Prince Doran because she thinks his reticence to go to war is a sign of weakness as a ruler.
As he bleeds out on the floor in front of her, as Dornish guards stand by and do nothing, the Prince is able to ask what will happen to his son Trystane. Ellaria scoffs and promises him, “Your son is weak. Weak men will never rule Dorne again.”
To make this explicitly clear, the show then presents us with this scene:
10) The award for most brutal death this episode goes to Trystane Martell
Ellaria’s Murder Nymphs carried out her plan, killing Trystane in the ship he was waiting in inside the harbor at King’s Landing, removing Prince Doran’s heir and giving her claim to the throne in Dorne, basically ensuring that Dorne is going to declare war on the Lannisters very very soon.
11) In Buddy Comedy Storyline #1, Tyrion and Varys are cracking jokes in Meeren as the harbor burns to the ground
In what’s shaping up to be a real fun Buddy Comedy storyline, Tyrion and Varys start out season six in Meereen in order to give Dany counsel, but Daenerys is currently on Dragon Leave.
Varys and Tyrion take a stroll as “common merchants” to get in touch with how life is going in the streets of Meereen. Turns out, not so great.
Before they see the burning port, however, our two favorite verbal combatants have a stroll around.
Varys makes fun of Tyrion for walking like a rich person, then Tyrion makes fun of Varys for not having a cock, then Tyrion tries to prove he is not so rich as to be out of touch with the poor by offering money to a beggar woman, but then inadvertently proposes to buy her baby.
Also, some mysterious stranger is watching them from the shadows.
Also also, the harbor is burning to the ground, so there are no ships. So, looks like ol’ Tyrion is going to have to figure out how to unite Meereen, the citizens of which are increasingly mad at Dany for not being around.
Daario is riding around looking for Dany with Jorah “I’ve Got Greyscale And In Case You Forgot That Don’t Worry I’ll Pull My Sleeve Up To Clandestinely Look At It Shortly” Mormont.
These two BFFs in the making are bonding over how they’re both hopelessly in love with Dany, when they come upon the spot where the Dothraki kidnapped her, as made clear by the giant horse stampede circle they left in the mud.
Just as Dany planned, Jorah finds the ring that she dropped and correctly infers, “Oh shit, she done got captured.”
12) Daenerys waiting for the PERFECT moment to drop the fact that she speaks Dothraki to her asshole captors
When taken before their leader Khal Moro to see what is to be done with their “white haired, pink skinned” prisoner, Khaleesi finally lets drop who she really is: Queen Targaryen.
Turns out Khal’s don’t care much for the kingdoms of Westeros and he laughs in her face.
— Khal Moro to Daenerys, Season 6 Episode 1
“You are nobody, millionth of your name.”
But then when she lets drop she is the widow of Khal Drogo, this creates a record scratch moment and changes everything.
Only problem is they’re not going to bring her home to Meereen; they’re going to send her to live out her days in Vaes Dothrak with the other widows of Khals.
13) This amazing comedy sketch interlude between Khal Moro and two of his lackeys
Before we leave the central plains of Essos, please enjoy what is certainly the funniest piece of Dothraki sketch comedy ever written:
Dothraki warriors taking rhetorical questions literally is my new favorite genre of comedy.
For those keep tracking, the five best things in life to a Dothraki:
1) Killing another Khal
2) Conquering a city and taking slaves
3) Breaking a wild horse
5) Seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time
What’s the other thing?? They only listed four! If this isn’t revealed by the end of season six, I’m going to be so sad.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Facebook users suggested that “conquering a city” and/or “taking slaves” and/or “carrying their broken Gods back to Vaes Dothrak” could be separate tasks rather than just one task as I interpreted it. That could explain it, but I don’t agree. One thing we can all agree on though: figuring this list of five things out is the most important thing that show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wanted us to focus on and take away from this episode.
14) Arya begins her Bloodsport-style training to be able to fight with a staff even though she’s blind
We don’t get much new info about Arya. When we last saw her, she was newly blind. She is still newly blind and now begging in the streets of Braavos. One of her former House Of Black And White mates, The Waif, confronts her with a staff and begins to beat her.
The scene ends with Arya being told “See you tomorrow,” which is probably supposed to just mean that their training will continue, but is also sort of rubbing it in her face that she will see Arya but Arya won’t see her.
Her new weapon training is a throwback to Arya’s first sword training with Syrio in season 1. Arya avenging the death of Syrio by killing Meryn Trant in a brothel is what brought on her blind punishment in the first place.
That’s all for now! Check back next week for a recap of Season 6 Episode 2, and in the meantime review what you’re forgetting from Season 5 here.
* This article previously incorrectly referred to Prince Doran as Ellaria’s brother rather than brother-in-law. She was the paramour of Oberyn Martell, Doran’s brother.
* At this point, Roose Bolton has already impregnated his wife; he is just hoping it is a son.
* Thanks to Facebook users for pointing this out!