[For Game of Thrones “The Red Woman” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
The Red Woman. The fate of Jon Snow is revealed; Daenerys meets a strong man; Cersei sees her daughter again.
Season Six of the Emmy Award-winning juggernaut Game of Thrones begins right where most fans would have wanted… With the body of Jon Snow, lying in the snow. We approach from a very long shot to spy Jon’s still body next to a label “traitor”.
And then, howling.
Is it the wind?
No, it’s a ghost. The Ghost, rather. Sensing something amiss with his master, Ghost howls and howls until the Onion Knight is summoned to the courtyard. Ser Davos and some of Jon’s remaining loyal Brothers take his body.
“Thorne did this” is the quick (and correct) conclusion.
Edd and Davos confer. The circle of whom they can trust doesn’t go much further than the three or four already in the room. They might as well get the direwolf!
… and the eponymous Red Woman.
Melisandre is a woman in a completely different place than when we first saw her birthing a murderous shadow demon out of her — ahem — nethers. Stannis’s complete destruction on the battlefield (following her ritual sacrifice of the Baratheon princess), the suicide of the once-faithful Queen, and now the death of Jon, have seemingly poured doubt into her heart when before there was only magic and fire.
“I saw him in the flames,” she almost pleads. “.. Fighting at Winterfell.”
Meanwhile in the Castle Black mess hall… The Watch is a mess. Some of the Watch want to know what happened; many are pleading at the insanity of the situation. He was their Lord Commander.
Thorne gives what can only be considered a pretty good speech. He admits to committing treason (along with other senior members of the Watch). He had no love for Jon, but he also never disobeyed an order Jon gave. Thorne in fact acknowledges that Jon was only doing what he thought was best… It’s just that what he thought was best would have been (in the opinion of Thorne and company) would have been the end of their way of life.
“If you were planning to see tomorrow you picked the wrong room.” Back in the Onion Knight’s apartments, Edd wants to take the fight to their traitorous brothers. They after all have a dire wolf! They can’t expect to live, but maybe they can take down Thorne…
Davos reminds Edd that there are more people in the world who owe Jon Snow their lives than are in the one apartment. Plan in hand, Edd leaves for help.
We jump a little south to Winterfell.
Horrible villain Ramsay Snow moans over the loss of his mistress. In case you’ve forgotten, she stopped Sansa’s escape in the Season Five finale only to be thrown from the towers of Winterfell by a repentant Theon Greyjoy. It is only the distraction of fighting Stannis’s army that gave Sansa the cover she needed to get away.
And on that note…
Lord Bolton commends Ramsay on the defeat of Stannis; then asks him if he fancies himself a winner.
“I rebelled against the crown” says Bolton, to marry Ramsay to Sansa. Now that she’s out of pocket? The Northern lords are less likely to rally to the Boltons when the Lannisters inevitably come calling.
Trouble is implied for both Bolton lords… And the as-yet unborn child percolating in Walda Frey (now Bolton)’s belly.
Sansa and Theon survived their jump from the Winterfell wall and are next seen braving an icy river to thrown off Bolton hounds; freezing to death being preferable to being torn to bits by dogs, after all.
The young pair cling to each other for warmth… And then Bolton hunters and Ramsay’s vicions hounds arrive. Theon tries to take one for the team (or one Stark princess at least) but Brienne and Pod appear and kill all the Bolton soldiers before he has to. Theon himself has a further moment of heroism, saving Pod from a pretty unfair fair fight (this is Pod we’re talking about after all).
Brienne pledges herself into Sansa’s service, as she did Sansa’s mother back in Season Two.
Down in King’s Landing a now-short-haired Cersei greets Jaime’s return, presumably looking for her beloved Myrcella. Myrcella is of course dead by poison. She didn’t make it out of Dorne due to Oberyn Martell’s venomous women.
Cersei recounts the prophecy of the woods witch, who told her all her children would have golden shrouds. At which point we see the first real look at Jaime Lannister that we have in maybe four or five seasons.
“Fuck everyone who isn’t us.”
Yes, that is the Jaime who once threw an innocent little boy out of a window. Have we seen the last of the Jaime who granted Lannister-nee-Stark Valyrian steel into the hands of Brienne to keep safe Eddard’s daughters? The quester of the Riverlands and Dorne> A return to the man who hunted down the Hand of the King and his retinue like dogs in the street? It certainly seems that way. This Jaime wants to take everything and more, everything there is.
Across town (still in King’s Landing) an imprisoned Queen Margaery is getting an earful from an attending Septa.
The Septa has a ton of great lines, including “Confess”, “the Seven Hells are brimming with the souls of saintly men”, and “sinners don’t make demands, they make confessions.”
The High Sparrow appears and dismisses the Septa, and has a short heart-to-heart with the Queen, but it’s not like he lets her or her brother go free.
Things degenerate in Dorne at a rapid pace. When we get there, dead Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand is having a nice walk and talk with the reigning prince (and Oberyn’s brother) Doran. They laugh that Doran would have made a poor adventurer and Oberyn a poor leader, and Doran expresses regret that he hadn’t had the opportunity to lie with nearly as many beautiful women (or men, Ellaria points out) as his brother, as he was focused on keeping the people of Dorne fed. Ha ha LOLs.
A messenger approaches the Prince with news of Princess Myrcella, who was released, from Doran’s perspective, back to the Lannisters in last season’s “Mother’s Mercy“. Doran’s eyes bug out in horror and surprise… As Ellaria stabs him. A nearby Sand Snake kills Doran’s bodyguard Areo Hotah simultaneously (which is surprising as Areo Hotah is kind of a badass in the books).
Two more Sand Snakes go to visit their cousin Prince Tristane and kill him quick like, too. Ellaria says that Dorne will never again be governed by weak men like Doran and his son.
Across the sea Daario and Jorah find first the spoils of Drogon’s feeding (what else but dragon fire can melt a ram’s horn?), then the ring Dany left when she was taken by the Dothraki in the closing moments of “Mother’s Mercy”.
We cut to the Dothraki who have her. A beautiful white-haired woman to be presented to their Khal!
They clearly don’t know who she is, but there is a strong indication she hasn’t been abused (yet). The banter and speculation around Dany includes 1) whether the carpet matches the drapes [white-haired young women being uncommon on the Dothraki sea], 2) the number of things on par with seeing a beautiful woman naked the first time [the answer being four other things, led by killing another Khal], and of course 3) fucking yo’ grandma.
After some preamble Dany reveals herself to their Khal, who pledges that no one in his horde will abuse her, tonight or ever; but that as the widow of Khal Drogo she must live out her days in Vaes Dothrak.
Arya is still blind. She is briefly seen on the streets of Braavos begging… Until she gets beaten up in a staff fight by the Waif (her fellow initiate from the House of Black and White). The Waif is not interested in the fact that Arya is at a handicap, and says “see you tomorrow” while leaving her a cudgel. It seems Arya’s training did not end with the apparent betrayal after killing a Kingsguard.
We come full circle to the episode title, “The Red Woman”. Jon’s small group of loyal friends can’t beat forty opposing Night’s Watch, even with a dire wolf, but the Onion Knight tells them they have never seen what Melisandre can do. We then get to see a very different side of her.
Alone, with her faith ostensibly shaken, Melisandre removes her ruby necklace and goes to sleep. But when she removes the ruby she is no longer the beautiful woman who has been seducing would-be kings, princes, and royal bastards for the past several seasons, but a truly ancient thing; sagging and puffy with thin wisps of white hair. The silent scene speaks of exhaustion more than any other emotion and is completely exasperating. Packed with a million characters and locales as it was, “The Red Woman” ripped by with little conclusion. How can something so chock full as this Season Premiere be so simultaneously unsatisfying? What the heck is going to happen at the Wall? Is Melisandre going to kick butt or what?
Some questions and takeaways:
How many wars will the Lannisters be waging simultaneously? They have to stabilize King’s Landing with their Tyrell Queen trapped by the High Sparrow (and it’s not like Cersei is 100% in the clear yet, either). Lord Bolton thinks it’s only a matter of time before they come North for embracing Sansa. The death of Myrcella means they will go to war with Dorne, too. When Jaime said “fuck everybody who isn’t us” did he mean “everybody” and everywhere literally?
How freaking naive is Tyrion? Isn’t he supposed to be the smartest man on the planet, more or less? Considering an Unsullied escort is no longer guaranteed safety in the face of the Sons of the Harpy I can’t imagine walking the streets of Meereen can possibly be safe for him and Varys without any protection whatsoever seeing that whether he is dressed as a Western noble or not, Tyrion is still one of the most recognizable people on the planet and it wasn’t that long ago that there was a price on his head put there by Cersei.
The problem for Dany isn’t that she is going to be stuck in Vaes Dothrak forever. She is obviously going to get out of there whether with the help of Jorah and Daario or on a dragon’s back before season’s end… The problem is that breaking the Dothraki Khaleesi conventions might prove a long-term problem for her politically. She wanted to raise a Dothraki cavalry to take Westeros… What happens when the insulted Dothraki attack her liberated slave cities in retaliation for breaking custom?
Does Melisandre take off her magical ruby every night like you or I would a pair of contact lenses? Or is this a special occasion and a sign that she has made a lasting and terrible decision about the course of her life? Witch powers or not, have we seen the last of super hot Melisandre?
And for that matter when is she going to go full Beric Dondarrion on Jon already?