Game Of Thrones Season 6, Episode 1 Recap: ‘The Red Woman’

Spoilers for the season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones are below.

It’s back! It’s back! Game of Thrones is back!

After a long summer, fall and winter, everyone’s favourite violent epic adventure series is back and just as good as always. Sadly, the arrival of the season premiere also serves as a reminder that 10 weeks from now, the long wait will commence again, but for now, let us rejoice for Game of Thrones is back!

Castle Black

The opening shot of the season was a glorious entry into Castle Black, where Jon Snow lay dead in the snow, right where those traitorous bastards left him at the end of last season. Ser Davos and the few remaining good men in the Night’s Watch find him and bring him into an ancillary room, where Melisandre eventually rolls in and gets all freaked out because she “saw him in the flames” and now he’s – you know – dead.

In the mess hall, Ser Aliser gets grilled about how and why Jon Snow died and he basically says, “It was a tough choice, but he screwed us by bringing the Wildlings in here,” as if saving people from impending doom was such a bad thing.

Winterfell

Crazy man Ramsey Bolton laments Myranda’s death, promises revenge and then says, “Well don’t waste her body; feed it to the dogs” because of course he does – he’s Ramsey Bolton.

Strolling down the hall with Dear Old Dad, Roose congratulates his non-bastard son for defeating Stannis Baratheon, but informs him that marrying him to Sansa Stark would rile up the Lannisters, who will be coming for revenge and are harder to turn back than Stannis’ tired army. Without Sansa in the fold, getting the Northerners to join their fight will be much harder, so you know, go find Sansa.

Out in the Woods

Having survived their jump off the wall at Winterfell, Theon and Sansa are on the run from Ramsey’s men, but they’re quickly found and cornered. Before being captured, however, Brienne and Podrick rush in to save the day, with Theon even getting in on the “killing Ramsey’s men” action. Following the battle, Brienne once again offers her sword to Sansa, only this time – finally – she accepts and they pledge themselves to one another.

King’s Landing

Everyone’s favourite short-haired, shame-walked Queen Mother is excited by the news of a ship from Dorne and rushes to the water’s edge to meet it, only to discover that Myrcella has died. Rather than freak out, Cersei weeps, blaming herself, telling her brother-lover that everything that has happened to them was prophesized and questioning how such a genuinely good person as her deceased daughter could have come from her. It’s a touching, real moment for the normally callous Cersei and prompts Jaime to go on an awesome “Us vs. Them, ****’em all!” rant.

Off in Her Dingy Cell

Queen Margaery is still locked up and getting scolded by Septa Unella, whose answer to Margaery’s every request is, “Confess.” The High Sparrow steps in and has a conversation with Margaery about sin and the need for confession. He’s the Good Cop in this Good Sparrow/Bad Septa duo and wants Margaery to feel comfortable with him.

Dorne

You didn’t think Ellaria Sand was going to settle for just killing Myrcella did you? Silly you…

Just as Prince Doran gets a note revealing Myrcella’s death, Ellaria stabs him in the chest and Tyene takes care of his hulking body guard and the messenger that brought him the bad news. When Doran inquires about his son, Trystane, who made the trip to King’s Landing with Myrcella, he’s informed that two remaining Sand Snakes are dealing with him presently and then we see him get a spear through the face from behind.

Meereen

The fill-in politicos Tyrion and Varys are out strolling around the run-down town, talking about how it’s on edge, with Tyrion cracking the odd joke at his companion’s expense and Varys saying the usual things Varys says about “little birds” before noticing that the fleet of ships in the harbor is in flames.

Braavos

Blind Arya is panhandling in the street, listening to conversations when the Waif shows up, hands her a staff and smacks her around with one of her own. She’s still on an “Arya’s not ready” mission and tells Jaqen H’ghar’s protégé “see you tomorrow” as Arya picks herself up off the cobblestone street.

Grasslands

Jorah and Daario discover the circular pattern trampled in the grass where the Dothraki horde snatched up Dany, which made the trailers “Jorah finds a ring” reveal a little easier to stomach. The boys have a chat about Jorah’s love of Dany and how it must suck being stuck in The Friend Zone, to which Jorah basically answers, “Yep – it sucks alright” before checking on the progress of his greyscale, which continues to spread.

Far enough away, Dany is being marched as a prisoner by the Dothraki that captured her, listening as two of them talk about her appearance and what they’re going to do to her. When they finally arrive in the Dothraki village and Dany is presented to the Khal Moro, we get a funny “what’s better than seeing a woman naked for the first time?” bit and more “Guess what I’m going to do to you in bed tonight?” talk before Dany breaks her silence, stating her numerous titles, but Khal Moro doesn’t buy it.

He does, however, listen when Dany says she is Khal Drogo’s widow. A Khal’s wife is not to be touched by anyone, but she’s also supposed to go live with the rest of the widow in Dosh Khaleen, which sounds really, really boring.

Castle Black

Jon Snow update: still dead.

The men in the room with Dead Jon and Ser Davos believe they’re screwed and that Aliser Thorne, who offered them mercy if they just dropped their weapons, is going to kill them no matter what. They’re outnumbered, but Ser Davos believes he’s got an ace up his sleeve in Melisandre, even if the men in the room aren’t sure one Red Woman is going to do much in a battle against the Night’s Watch.

In her chambers, Melisandre does what Melisandre does best – she disrobes, only this time, she takes off her necklace, which reveals her true self: an old, withered naked woman, with thinning hair and grey skin, who slowly crawls into bed.

Roll credits!

Takeaways & Talking Points

This was a terrific first episode, both from a visual perspective (it looked great) and because it provided efficient updates on most of the storylines without feeling too bogged down.

Melisandre’s reveal was the biggest moment that begs the most questions. Is the fact that she’s 328-years-old good or bad? And how much of her power comes from her jewelry? She’s going to be involved in whatever happens with Jon and Ser Davos’ band of Jon Snow Loyalists, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out what.

Having Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes get medieval on Princes Doran and Trystane makes them instantly interesting and hopefully means more Sand Snake violence throughout the season.

Jaime seems pissed off and ready to kick some ass, which is nice to see, and the softer side of Cersei is bound to disappear quickly.

Dany’s got some issues to deal with, obviously, but something tells me putting her in a widow’s home with a bunch of woman once loved by Khals could lead to a “Who runs the world? GIRLS!” moment later in the season.

See you next week.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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