Season six of Game of Thrones might as well be subtitled “Summer is Coming.” After five seasons of premium cable drama lighting up the every social network, coffee shop, and water cooler conversation, we have reached a pivotal moment: the uncharted future, or to keep it in the parlance of the show, beyond the Wall.
Each of the existing seasons of Game of Thrones has taken their cues from George R.R. Martin’s sprawling A Song of Ice and Fire– a to-date five novel series with roughly each season aligning with the major plot points of each book. As the long-awaited sixth novel in the series still waiting to be published, fans of both the television series and the books are finally in the same boat.
This is kind of fun, isn’t it? It’s been awhile since we had a culturally significant TV show or movie to dive into that isn’t based on an intellectual property that already exists. While there may be more Red Weddings in our future, they will be completely new to all of us. Let’s dive in and recap episode one: The Red Woman.
THIS POST IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS
As is customary with the first show of a new season, and virtually mandatory for Game of Thrones as we are now fully past all of the source material, the first episode has to set the table, and that’s exactly what The Red Woman did for us tonight.
Jon Snow is still dead, Dany is still captured, Tyrion is still over his head in Meereen, Sansa and Theon are still running for their lives, Margery is still in religious prison, and the Lannisters are still plotting revenge on the world. Normally in a show with this much hype, we just want as many answers as possible, and while this specific episode was short on answers, it did give us the next best thing: it firmed up the questions.
IS JON SNOW DEAD OR NOT: Technically, yes… but probably not for long. The show opened exactly where last season left off with our hero lying dead in the snow. After discovering his body, Ser Davos Seaworth and a handful of the Night’s Watch members still loyal to Jon smuggled his body to safety and barricade themselves in a cell at the Wall to plan their next move.
WILL SANSA ESCAPE THE BOLTONS: It’s looking good so far! After narrowly escaping in season five by diving off the walls of Winterfell into a huge snowdrift, Sansa and Theon Greyjoy are on the run and being hunted down by Bolton soldiers. Just when it looked like Sansa AGAIN was going to be dragged back into another circle of hell (seriously, what did this girl do to deserve this level of agony?), she was rescued by Lady Brienne and her loveable sidekick Podrick Payne.
WILL DANY ESCAPE HER DOTHRAKI CAPTORS AND WHERE ARE THE DRAGONS: After spending the better part of the last three seasons on a crusade to end slavery in Essos, the Mother of Dragons begins season six in chains herself. The last time Dany has riding with a horde of Dothraki soldiers, she was in charge. Khaleesi wasn’t just her nickname, it was her title. More than any other character on Game of Thrones, Dany has changed. She may have held the title of Khaleesi, but now she’s ready to take it back with fire and blood. I don’t think her former subjects/current captors have any idea what’s about to hit them.
We didn’t get any dragons in this episode… but they’re coming. OOOOH Man! They are coming. If you’re a pet owner– specifically a dog owner– think about how your dog acts when someone comes to your door, or if another dog comes up to you at a park. If your dog is anything like mine, they probably go nuts at the idea of their parent getting hurt. Now map that onto a pet the size of a school bus that breaths fire.
IS ARYA STILL BLIND AND WILL SHE BE OK: Yes and yes, although it’s not looking great at the moment. At the end of last season, Arya’s internship at the House of Black and White isn’t going so great. Overall her semester abroad in Bravos hasn’t been the experience she was hoping for. We find her blind and begging on the streets of Bravos when her Faceless Man 101 T.A. shows up and challenges her to a duel, which is about as unfair as it gets since Arya had her sight taken from her for breaking curfew at the House of Black and White last season.
While things look bleak for Arya now, she is going to be ok– it’s the surest bet going on this show. Even though she’s been expelled from Faceless Man University for the semester, she isn’t being shunned; she’s being tested. She’s Game of Thrones’ version of Daredevil. She’ll be back in action before you know it.
ARE THE LANNISTERS AND DORNE GOING TO WAR: 100% yes. The most manipulative storytelling in this show starts and ends with Jamie and Cersei Lannister. Are they the worst people on the show? Yes. But don’t we actually kind of like them the most? Yes.
For all of the terrible, nasty, and despicable things Jamie and Cersei have done in Game of Thrones, they are the characters that set in motion that action that moves the show along, and this season will be no different. I think it’s safe to say that they’re going to be at the center of a lot of action as war is looming around every corner. War with Dorne for killing their daughter Marcella, war with the Faith Militant for compromising the power of the throne, and war with each other because that’s the only way their tragic story can end.
WHAT IS UP WITH THE RED WOMAN: It’s been hinted at in passing throughout the show that Melisandre is not what she appears, and that wound up being the only mystery that was solved this week. Looks can be deceiving and consider all of us deceived. I figured that since the episode was entitled The Red Woman, we’d see Melisandre do something amazing like conjure up another shadow warrior to take out the Night’s Watch, or call upon the Lord of Light to resurrect Jon Snow… but nope. It was called The Red Woman because her transformation is all anyone is going to talk about until next week.
The sixth season premiere lived up to hype and re-established Game of Thrones as event television. It’s the best show going on TV right now because each episode feels important. While it was short on wrapping up storylines, it was plentiful in giving us new threads to tie together, the most interesting revolving around faith– faith in each other, faith each character has in themselves, and the testing of faith in a higher power.
We’ve reached the third act of Game of Thrones as a series. In the movies, the third act is when the hardest challenges are met, faith is tested the hardest, and conflict is resolved. Winter has been on the horizon for a long, long time and it looks like snowflakes are about to start falling.