“Game of Thrones” is back. After a wait that felt as never-ending as The Long Night that Old Nan Used to Scare Bran Stark with back in season one, we’re finally going to get some answers to questions raised last year: Is Jon dead or alive? How did Sansa and Theon survive a sixty-foot leap off the castle wall? What will this Dothraki horde do with the Queen of Dragons? And we’re going to have it answered in one 52-minute episode, right? Find out after the break.
Season six kicks off pretty much where five left us, Jon Snow lying dead and bloodied, with the mournful howls of Ghost echoing off the walls. Quite a few great touches in this segment. The appearance of the few remaining Jon loyalists, led by Dolorous Ed. Davos’ quick assuming of command of those loyalists, proving again he’s one of the smartest characters in the series. Melisandre’s appearance, the look of sadness and disappointment and doubt upon seeing Jon’s dead body. You can imagine her thinking, I backed Stannis and was wrong. I thought Jon was the answer… and I was wrong.
Lot’s of tension in these scenes, and I’m really curious how it turns out with the Wildlings. I’ve little doubt they’ll back the Snow loyalists, but to what end? Will they wipe out the entire watch or just Thorne and his assassins? And if so, is that really the right thing? Perhaps the best part of this segment was listening to Thorne as fessed up to his actions. Is he truly an evil man? Or a misguided one? Like most men who do evil, he truly believes he did the right thing. I wonder what Jon will think when he comes back?
The best thing this show does is show sides of characters you don’t expect in ways that actually make sense; and you see this as we move to Winterfell and find Ramsay grieving for Miranda (who Theon gave flying lessons to in last year’s finale). That’s right, the psychopathic hobbit can feel grief, and perhaps even love as he reflects on being drawn to Miranda because she didn’t fear him.
Ramsay isn’t going completely soft, though, as he immediately turns to practical matters and orders Miranda fed to her own dogs. Also on the practical side, Roose reminds him without Sansa he can’t rule the North, and – by the way – if his new wife has a boy, it doesn’t really matter. It makes me wonder if (1) he’s too stupid to realize he’s setting Walda up for a horrible accident, and (2) whether we’ll get the Jeyne Pool storyline after all.
Unfortunately, Ramsay’s wife continues her devolution as a character. Sansa and Theon’s frantic dash across the snowscape, Theon’s nobility and offer of sacrifice, and their ultimate rescue by Brienne were wonderfully exciting and well-executed (the foley artists squished a lot of melons for this one), but it’s getting exceedingly frustrating to see Sansa be the weak link in any chain.
She’s the one that needs to be goaded into continuing their flight. She sits frozen beneath the trees as the fight thrashes around her. Hell, she even looks to Theon for approval before accepting Brienne’s renewed offer of service AND needs Pod’s help in finishing the oath. We don’t need her to grab a flaming sword and start Mary Sue-ing Bolton and Lannister ass, but she’s been broken down enough. We caught glimpses of her taking the reigns of her fate last season, it’s time for that to continue.
And speaking of character arcs, Cersei and Jaime Lannister’s appear to be moving along nicely. The look of unmitigated joy when Cersei is told the boat from Dorne approaches is heartbreaking, as is her confession to Jaime, that she thought having a daughter as good as Myrcella proved she wasn’t a monster. The self-awareness is slowly turning Cersei into the best, most well-rounded character in a show filled with great, well-rounded characters, because she is a monster in so many ways, but she has to be in order to survive the world she was born to. Her newfound fatalism is an interesting path for the writers to take, and I really look forward to seeing where it leads.
And after a horrible story arc in Dorne last year – one in which Jaime was incredibly annoying and passive – it was nice to see the Kingslayer show some passion again. His speech to Cersei, about getting everything that was taken from him was stirring, and a reminder that as bad as it’s been for the Starks on this show, the Lannisters have not had an especially easy road either.
Ah, Dorne… how much we didn’t miss thee. Last season was a huge disappointment, and frankly I didn’t care if we returned there in season six (excluding flashbacks of course!). Return we did, though. In time to see the royal family wiped out by Sand Snakes. I suppose civil war is next, further throwing the Seven Kingdoms into chaos. It doesn’t seem the ladies thought this one through. Who knows? Who cares?
Wow, Meereen really let herself go. It’s interesting that despite the Harpy plot line being the major part of season five, I never got the sense it was all-consuming. As Varys and Tyrion tour the city, it’s evident how wrong I was. Still, nice seeing that partnership at work. Can’t wait to see it actually working.
Jorah and Daario prove themselves to be trackers of almost supernatural abilities, somehow ending up at the same exact spot that Drogon ate lunch towards the end of season five. Probably for the best of we forgive that little plot contrivance, as the alternative is another buddy road show as the two tour the never-ending East. I will say, the interplay between the two was excellent. These two men don’t like each other, but they respect each other, and are bound together by the love of a woman neither can truly have.
And it looks like maybe no one will ever really have Dany, since she’s may be joining those merry widows on the Dosh Khaleen. Today’s episode was maybe stronger than any Dany storyline in season five, because we got to see Dany at her best: being smart, letting people underestimate her, and when it was needed showing the steel within her. Loved her confrontation with Khal Moro in this scene. Joe Naufahu did a fabulous job, moving from disdain to interest to fear and respect over their long conversation. I hope we’ll be seeing more of him this season.
Real quick interlude in Braavos with the blinded Arya begging for coin. So much of Arya’s story has been one of brashness and confidence, so it’s interesting seeing her undone and bereft of hope. Really want to know what the Waif’s story is. Is she just that mean, or is she perhaps training Arya how to fight Daredevil style?
Am I the only one that thought Trystane went to Kings Landing with Myrcella? Doran said, “you’ll take my son back to Kings Landing” right? I was really surprised to find him on the receiving end of the Sand Snake’s spear (which one? Don’t care). It’s a real shame because having him in Kings Landing, dealing with the fallout of Myrcella’s death, would have been a great plot point.
Was there any significance to the shape of the blood stains and the melted snow beneath Jon’s body? Does Melisandre’s words “I saw him in the flames” portend how the mopey, very dead bastard will be brought back?
So Melisandre is a 100 year old crone when she’s not wearing her necklace? Interesting reveal? Does this indicate maybe her part of the story is done?
Looks like we finally get back to Bran next week. What will his year of training show us? Can’t wait to find out when we all go “Homeward Bound.”