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TV Review: Game Of Thrones 6.1 “The Red Woman”
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Game of Thrones Season 6 Images #20

Game of Thrones
Episode 6.1 “The Red Woman”
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Carice van Houten, Alfie Allen, Natalie Dormer, Jonathan Pryce
HBO
Air date: April 24, 2016

WARNING: Spoilers for HBO’s Game Of Thrones….

The Season 6 premiere of Game Of Thrones was certainly an anticipated one, with the fate of so many characters left in question a year ago at the end of Season 5. Is Jon Snow really dead? Who exactly has taken Daenerys captive? Did Sansa and Theon survive their leap off the high walls of Winterfell? Will Arya remain blind? Where is Bran? What will Cersei and her twin brother/lover Jaime do now that yet another child of theirs has been murdered? And will Cersei have her revenge against the High Sparrow and his Sparrow minions who imprisoned and humiliated her? What will happen to Margaery and her brother Loras, both of whom are still prisoners of the High Sparrow. Will King Tommen ever leave his room? Where is Littlefinger and what’s his next move? What will happen in the War of Five Kings now that Stannis is dead? Will anyone call out the Red Woman now that her prophecies have been proven false? And will the Wildlings and the Night’s Watch men work together to defeat the invading White Walkers?

Titled “The Red Woman,” Episode 6.1, I’m sad to report, does not have anyone going off on Melisandre, the Red Woman, regarding her seriously faulty prophesies, but, it does thankfully touch base with all the aforementioned characters except Bran, Littlefinger, and the White Walkers.

The Season 6 premiere picks up exactly where the Season 5 finale left off, with Jon Snow, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, laying in a pool of his own blood after his fellow brothers in black ambushed and murdered him. With the help of the only brothers still loyal to their Lord Commander, Ser Davos, who’s without a King now that Stannis is dead, gets Jon’s body inside. It appears that Jon Snow is truly dead. The men, along with Jon’s direwolf companion Ghost, barricade themselves in the room while their comrade Dolorous Edd goes for help, presumably to the Wildlings whom Jon Snow had saved. Ser Alliser Thorne, leader of the conspirators who killed Lord Commander Snow, offers them a deal: The brothers can swear their allegiance to him, while Ser Davos can leave with Melisandre if he wants. But Davos knows that surrender means slaughter. He’s placing his beats on help from the Red Woman, who upon seeing Jon’s corpse, said, “I saw him in the flames fighting at Winterfell.” We know so far that her visions have not come to fruition, but she’s still a powerful force. More about her at the end of the recap…

Back at Winterfell, sadist Ramsay Bolton looks over the dead body of his lover and partner in crime Myranda, who was pushed to her death by Theon Greyjoy at the end of Season 5. Ramsay wants revenge for his lover’s death — no shock there — and even speaks a bit about when the two first met. Maybe crazy Ramsay does have a heart… but oh wait, he tells the Maester not to bury or burn Myranda, because she’s “good meat” that should be fed to the dogs. Oh, Ramsay, you never let us down. Ramsay’s father, though, is disappointed that his son has lost his wife Sansa Stark, the legitimate heir to Winterfell, who has made a run for it with Theon. But Ramsay has sent out the hounds to bring her back.

Even after crossing a freezing river, Sansa and Theon are found by the hounds, but just as Ramsay’s soldiers are about to capture them, here comes Brienne and Podric to the rescue in what is the best sequence in this episode. Brienne cuts down most of the men, while the newly trained Pod holds his own with a sword, but when he is disarmed, Theon comes to his rescue. After everything, Theon has finally redeemed himself, first by helping Sansa to escape Ramsay’s clutches and then doing everything he can to protect her. As if this melee wasn’t awesome enough, at the end, the victorious Brienne lays down her sword and swears by the old gods and the new to protect Sansa. But unlike the last time she made this offer, this time, it’s accepted. There’s a great moment where Sansa looks to Theon for approval, and he nods yes, she’s to take Brienne as her sworn sword — what a long way Sansa and Theon have come! Also, I loved the part where Sansa has to give a pledge in return, and Pod has to help the shaken young woman with the vows. Finally, an uplifting moment in the show.

Unlike what happened in Dorne. You see, Prince Doran was just too good of a person; a Ned Stark type if you will, so you know what that means: he’d dead. Yep, murdered by Ellaria, the paramour to his late brother Oberyn. Oh, and his son Trystane gets killed too, and by his own cousins, the Sand Snakes. You see, these women want revenge for Oberyn’s death and they want to make the Lannisters pay, but they think Doran and Trystane are too weak, and, according to Ellaria’s proclamation, “Weak men will never rule in Dorne again.” Cold.

Sailing home from Dorne is Jaime Lannister with the corpse of his daughter-niece Myrcella, who was murdered by Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. Once again, Jaime and Cersei have lost a child to murder, but this time around, Cersei thinks they had it coming. She recalls the prophecy made by the witch when she was younger – that she’d be a queen with three children, but they would died. Jaime says “Fuck prophecy,” because all that matters is the two of them. But what does the future hold for the incestuous Lannister twins? Even with the Starks gone and Stannis dead, they still have a lot of enemies out there, like…

… their own brother, Tyrion Lannister. After killing his father, the imp is now in Meereen with the eunuch Varys. They’re roaming the streets in disguise to try to get a sense of what’s happening now that Daenerys has been abducted. Not only are there some followers of the Lord of Light (that’s the Red Woman’s god of choice) being very vocal about their beliefs, but it looks like someone has burned down the ships in the harbor, which means they won’t be storming back to conquer Westeros any time soon. But, they need Daenerys for that, anyhow. Where she is, Jorah and Daarios are on the trail. They come upon the area where their Queen had landed with her dragon Drogon, where she dropped her ring. They’re getting close.

Meanwhile, Daenerys has been abducted by a horde of Dothraki. The bloodriders speak lewdly in their native language about what they plan to do to their white-haired captive, who, unbeknownst to them, is the former wife of Dothraki ruler Khal Drogo and she understands everything they’re saying. She eventually comes before this tribe’s Khal, who, like the other men, goes on and on in his native tongue about his grand plans for Daenerys. To him, she does finally reveal herself as the wife of the late Khal Drago (and gives the list of her other titles, Mother Of Dragons, etc.), so the Khal humbly backs off — it is forbidden to lie with the wife of a Khal. Now that Daenerys is safe, she asks that they escort her back to Meereen. Too bad the Dothraki feel very strongly that she needs to go to the Widow Khaleesi Retirement Home in Vaes Dothrak. Crap.

Ok, so who’s left? Oh, another Queen: Margaery Tyrell, wife of the young King Tommen, who’s too emo to come out of his room. Even the High Sparrow wants Margaery to just confess already so she can get back to her sulking boy hubby. But, she maintains that she’s innocent of the crimes she’s accused of. When the High Sparrow asks the Queen whether she is without sin, she relents, “No, none of us are.” So, as of now, she and her brother are still imprisoned with no sign of imminent release. Where is her powerful family, the Tyrells?

Then there’s young Arya in Braavos, ejected from the House of Black and White, the temple of the Many-Faced God where the Stark girl had hoped to become one of the Faceless Men. At the end of last season, she crossed a line and ended up blind. Now, she’s a beggar on the streets. It seems that things are looking really bad for Arya, but then the the Waif girl from the House of Black and White who gave her so much trouble shows up — not to help her, but rather to fight her. But, Arya is blind and can’t fight, but that doesn’t stop the Waif from hitting her. When the girl is done with her attack, she says “See you tomorrow.” While that means she’s returning to give another beating the next day, it also infers that she’s coming back to teach Arya how to fight without sight. There’s definitely more than meets the eye with the Waif and with Arya’s future.

And now speaking of something that is more than meets the eye: The Red Woman. This season six premiere ends back with a sullen Melisandre, distraught now that none of her faith-fueled visions have came true. All those people burned in sacrifice to her god R’hllor for nothing. Stannis, the man she saw as King, dead. Jon Snow, who was supposed to retake his family’s home Winterfell from the Boltons, murdered. What does the future hold for her and for Westeros? She doesn’t need prophecy or faith to know that Winter is coming, because Winter is basically here. The White Walkers are at their doorstep and all of their victims become part of their undead army. All in all, the living are fucked. How will they be saved? The last scene of this episode is a huge reveal. The Red Woman disrobes — not uncommon — and then removes her large ruby necklace, which reveals her true form, that of an old crone.

The night is dark and definitely full of terrors for the people of Westeros.

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