Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 1 “The Red Woman”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

The Wall: Jon’s body lies abandoned on the snow of the keep courtyard at Castle Black as night begins to fall. Jon’s wolf Ghost recognises that something is wrong and begins to howl. Ser Davos investigates and sees Jon’s body. He calls for help from then handful of men who were loyal to Jon, and they take his body inside. Melisandre comes in, and is shocked to see Jon dead. I think maybe she’ll do some sort of ritual and heal him, and he’ll be right as rain.

But no, she says in a shocked manner that she saw Jon fighting at Winterfell in a vision in the flames. And now this has happened, which contradicts her prophetic vision. She’s clearly shaken, and leaves. Davos and the loyal men discuss what to do. They realise the mutineers led by Alliser will probably kill them, and realise they need help. But there’s nobody there to help them. Davos points out: Isn’t there anyone who owes Jon a favour? The others realise he means the Wildlings, and one of them goes to fetch them. It’s not clear to me why they can’t just all go at this point if one of them can manage to sneak out to get help.

Alliser appears and bangs on the door, but they don’t let him in. Alliser promises them that they are free to leave Castle Black if they surrender by nightfall. But if they don’t… well. The Wildlings better be back before then.

And then in a weird scene Melisandre stares at her reflection in a dull brass mirror. She undresses for bed, but as she does so her body changes from youth to an old crone. She climbs into bed. I guess this represents her failures – to guarantee Stannis victory, and her false prophecy of Jon living to return to Winterfell. She’s a beaten and wrecked woman. The Lord of Light has abandoned her – if indeed he ever supported her in the first place. What she does next is now completely unpredictable. She could wither away meekly, or she could lash out and become very dangerous. I guess we’ll see.

Winterfell: Ramsay is upset that the kennel-keeper’s daughter is dead. Roose is more upset that Sansa has escaped. He tells Ramsay that she was the key to holding the North, and Ramsay needed to produce an heir with her. If she can’t be recaptured, then hopefully his wife’s pregnancy will produce a boy, who can become a true heir. Thus threatened, Ramsay mobilises the hounds to track down Sansa and Theon.

Who surprisingly not only survived their jump from a 5-storey high castle wall, but neither broke any legs either. They are running away through the forest, when they hear the hounds on their trail. Theon leads Sansa to a river, which he says they must cross to throw off the hounds. Sansa fears it is too cold and she can’t do it, but Theon urges her on, and they get across. How they don’t freeze immediately after they emerge on the other side is a mystery to me. They find a hiding place under a fallen tree, but the hounds pick up their scent again and track them down.

Theon tells Sansa to stay put, and goes out to confront the hunting party. Ramsay’s men ask him where Sansa is. Theon lies, saying that she broke her leg in the fall (which is actually much more believable than her not doing so), and he left her buried in the snow. For a second I think this ruse is going to work, and Sansa will be left behind as the men return to Winterfell with Theon. But a dog detects Sansa and the jig is up. All seems lost… but then the cavalry arrives in the form of Brienne and Podrick! They dispatch Ramsay’s men, Podrick showing some skill with the sword for the first time. Brienne lays her sword at the feet of the stunned Sansa and offers her oath of loyalty a second time (after Sansa refused back near the Eyrie). This time Sansa recites the formal words of acceptance, with a bit of prompting from Podrick as to the exact words. Brienne stands, and she, Sansa, Theon, and Podrick look around to sum each other up.

Firstly, I don’t understand why Ramsay didn’t accompany his men and the hounds. He’s a hands-on sort of guy, and surely he’d want to be there to make sure his men do the job right. Obviously if he was there the encounter with Brienne would have been more complicated for the storytelling, but him staying behind doesn’t really make sense. Secondly, Yay! Sansa finally, after 4 and a bit seasons of being in dire peril at every turn, is finally with someone she can trust. That’s one held breath I can finally let out. The main issue here is what will Theon do now that he’s escaped the clutches of Ramsay? He was raised with the Starks, so had some loyalty to them, but that was overturned by his desire to please his dad, resulting in his sacking of Winterfell and pretending to murder Bran and Rickon (which Sansa now knows didn’t happen). He’s a conflicted little boy. He could return to being loyal to Sansa, as he seems to have done the past few episodes, or he could revert to being hostile to her. At least Brienne and Podrick will be there now to catch him (hopefully) if he does plot anything nasty.

Dorne: Doran Martell is walking around the gardens, with the aid of his evil sister-in-law. So he can walk after all, albeit clumsily and requiring some help. Not for long.

After Doran sits again in his wheelchair, a messenger brings hims a message. Doran reads it and gasps the name “Myrcella”. Obviously this is news from King’s Landing that Myrcella died on the voyage – poisoned by his sister-in-law. But he doesn’t get a chance to react further, as she immediately stabs him, and one of her daughters takes out the guard standing nearby. As Doran bleeds out on the floor, sister-in-law tells him how pathetic and weak he is, and that he’s out of touch with the people of Dorne, who want action against the Lannisters. She says Dorne will never be ruled by weak men like him again.

Okay, there’s another voice of sanity and reason gone. No doubt the evil sister-in-law will now take over and start preparing for war against the Lannisters. Actually, she starts pretty quickly, as we shall see…

King’s Landing: Cersei, with new short haircut, gets news that Jaime’s ship is arriving back from Dorne. She races out to see, but relises that Jaime is on the boat coming to shore with a dead body, covered in a golden cloth, and she knows instantly that it’s Myrcella. She discusses with Jaime and seems broken. She says a witch once prophesied to her that her children would all die, and now she knows it’s coming true. Jaime comforts her and they reaffirm that they have to stick together now that the world is turning against them.

The High Sparrow goes to visit Margaery in her cell, and ask her to confess to her sins (which amounts to giving false witness to defend her brother – I don’t think there are any other charges). She refuses and asks to see Loras, but Sparrow refuses.

In the harbour, Trystane is still on the ship, mourning Myrcella. In walk two of his evil cousins, the daughters of Doran’s sister-in-law, one armed with a spear, the other a whip. He says he doesn’t want to fight them, but they give him no choice. Or rather one choice: which one of them does he want to kill him? He considers and chooses the one with the whip, drawing his said to engage. But stupid boy, in doing so he turns his back on the other one, and her spear goes through the back of his head, killing him instantly. Whip lady looks disappointed.

Well, two things here. Firstly, Cersei has taken her release from prison much more resignedly and meekly than I expected. I fully expected to see the High Sparrow’s church in flames this episode. Maybe she doesn’t have enough power and men to attack it? Maybe she’s afraid of the reaction of the people to her destroying the church? Maybe both? It seems pretty boring though – Cersei can’t stay bottled up for long. Maybe now Jaime is back they can do something a bit more active.

Secondly, how did the two Dornish women get to King’s Landing so fast? Did they stow away on Jaime’s ship? if so, why not just murder Trystane and Jaime at sea and sail home? Or did they follow in another ship? In which case how did they not get spotted at sea, or entering the harbour? And now they’re in a hostile location, and have to get out, and people will be looking for them as soon as they find Trystane’s body. It seems like a poorly thought out plan.

Mereen: Varys and Tyrion walk the streets incognito, dressed as humble merchants, to gain some insight into how the city feels. But the place seems to be somewhat deserted. Fear stalks the streets. Tyrion asks who leads the Sons of the Harpy, Varys says nobody knows, but his spies will uncover the leader. Suddenly they see people fleeing in a panic. They go against the flow to investigate, and end up overlooking the harbour of Mereen, where all of the ships are burning.

This seems unlikely to have been an accident, which means someone set fire to the ships. Presumably the Sons of the Harpy. What it means is that Daenerys no longer has a fleet with which to sail an army to Westeros. Great, another setback, just when I thought she’d start getting up the motivation to move on from Mereen. It feels like Daenerys’s story is off on this weird tangent to everything else and it’s a lot of filler until the time when she’s ready to invade Westeros. Sigh.

Dothraki steppes: Jorah and Daario ride across the land seeking Daenerys. I have no idea how they know which direction to ride in, let alone how they manage to find the exact spot where she was surrounded by Dothraki horsemen in the last episode, but they do so. It’s not like they’re tracking someone riding across the land – they’re tracking a dragon flying through the air. On the way Daario quizzes Jorah on his infatuation with Daenerys. He even sneaks in a question about how it feels to love someone and not be able to share her bed, which is a bit rich as we know Daario has been sharing Daenerys’s bed for some time now. I wonder of Jorah has picked up on that yet? He doesn’t seem the type to act on jealousy though – but it might be a wedge that could drive these two allies apart.

Anyway, they magically arrive at the right spot and they see the swirl of trampled grass around the spot where she stood, and investigate. Jorah finds the ring that Daenerys dropped, proving she was there. Is that why she dropped it? So she could be tracked?

Daenerys is brought before a Dothraki Khal, Khal Moro. There are a lot of lewd comments and suggestions by Khal Moro, the two men who captured Daenerys, and two women who are Moro’s wives. But Daenerys surprises them by suddenly speaking Dothraki, and then she says that she is Khal Drogo’s wife. Moro is shocked, saying Drogo is dead. Daenerys says yes, she lit his pyre. Moro’s tune changes, stating that it is forbidden to touch the widow of a Khal. Daenerys is relieved. Until Moro says that Daenerys will have to live out the rest of her days confined to some place where all the widows of Khals must go.

So it seems Daenerys will be imprisoned, effectively. Daario and Jorah will have to break her free, which will be no mean task, guarded by hordes of Dothraki.

Braavos: Arya is begging on the street, now blind. A passerby drops a coin in her begging bowl. Suddenly, the girl from the House of Black and White appears. She tosses a wooden staff at Arya, who fumbles and then picks it up. The older girl then attacks, and Arya defends herself clumsily, getting hit a few times. When Arya falls, the other girl says “See you tomorrow” and leaves.

Hmm. It looks like Arya’s blindness is at least going to hang around for a while, if not permanently. The other girl is now doing the Mister Miyagi thing and training Arya how to fight even though she’s blind. So maybe the idea of her becoming a super blind fighting expert will eventuate. But there are a few questions here. Jaqen was disappointed in Arya for killing Meryn Trant, and Arya seems to be being punished by the blindness and being ejected from the House to beg on the streets. But now the older girl – who initially seemed very hostile to Arya – has taken the mantle of training her? Does Jaqen know and approve, or is she doing it behind his back? And if so, why? Why woud she suddenly take a positive interest in Arya after she didn’t like Arya and Arya did something wrong? There’s no obvious reason for this other girl to want to help her.

Administrative note: This may be the last episode review for a while. I’ve been watching episodes on Foxtel Go, but I’ve cancelled my subscription, so I need to find another means of watching episodes before I can watch the next one.

2 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 1 “The Red Woman””

  1. Glen says:

    You may have missed a detail with Melisandre’s undressing that makes what’s going on in this scene clearer. I won’t spoil it; you may well rewatch as some later point and spot what is going on.

    I hadn’t noticed the scene with Trystane was in King’s Landing. Travel times definitely start to get more and more wonky from here on.

    “they’re tracking a dragon flying through the air” — … That might not be so hard, surely a fair fraction of the populace will have noticed and the rest would have heard the tale. “Have you heard tell of a really big dragon flying around here a couple of days ago? Oh, you saw it? Which way was it going?”

    “Is that why she dropped it? So she could be tracked?” That was eventually the conclusion I came to a little while after I saw the previous episode. In particular, I was struck by the parallel to the bit from The Lord of the Rings with the clasps on the Lorien-cloaks (‘not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall’). So to me the fact that they then found it the next episode seems to confirm that it was done for them to find.

  2. Lauri T. says:

    Hope you find a solution that works for you, for watching the show I mean. It’s been fun reading these alongside rewatching it myself during the run-up to the final season.

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