+ “You have no cock.” Yeah, we know, Tyrion. Varys is a eunuch. After YEARS of knowing each other, is this still worth mocking him about? Also, why is Tyrion’s Valyrian terrible? Fairly sure he was fluent … in the books … and you knew I was going to say that.
“You haven’t seen her do what I’ve seen her do.”
Here we are! One year after we all watched Jon Snow die, season six of Game of Thrones returns with the premiere episode “The Red Woman,” and I’m back to recapping for you all. As you know if you’ve read these recaps before, I’ve read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and in general, I feel like most changes that GoT showrunners David Benoiff and Dan Weiss have made are NOT GREAT, BOB!
In typical Benioff and Weiss fashion, we start out this sixth season with some great stuff – all of the show’s women in various positions of power – and some awful stuff. Let me quote myself from last night when, after the Dorne/Martell storyline reached its disappointing and infuriating rock-bottom low, I basically yelled “For real, fuck Game of Thrones!” in my apartment. Because how Benioff and Weiss have ignored/bungled/ruined the Dorne storyline is symptomatic of all the mistakes they’ve made when adapting GRRM’s books, and I have FEELINGS.
Anyway, let’s get into this! Let’s break it down. Feel free to complain about my complaints in the comments or tweet me @roxana_hadadi.
+ “You are nobody … Queen of Nothing.” Say hello to the new Khal who is making an impact on Dany’s life, Khal Moro, who takes her as a slave when the Dothraki horde finds her. He is basically the Dave Navarro of the Dothraki horde, but he drops his casual sexism and entitled power real quick when Dany mentions that she’s the widow of Khal Drogo. Moro gives zero fucks about Dany being Queen of Meereen, Stormborn, and heir to the Targaryen dynasty, but she used to be married to Jason Momoa’s fine ass? Oh shit, hands off!
Anyway, the conclusion here is that Khal Moro is going to, as a sign of respect, take Dany back to Vaes Dothrak, the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen, where widows of the other Khals live the rest of their lives in mourning. But that’s not the life that Dany wants, so how does she get out of this? The easy answer is for Drogon to come and burn everyone to a crisp to save his mother, Queen of Dragons, but we all know HBO’s budget limitations won’t allow that. So we’ll follow Dany to Vaes Dothrak, where she’ll probably be stripped (Right? That has to happen), and perhaps where Jorah and Daario will catch up to her. If Jorah’s Greyscale doesn’t claim him first, at least.
+ “Where is Lady Bolton?” There is no Lady Bolton, only Sansa Stark, and Sansa gains her first loyal subject this episode when Brienne of Tarth pledges her sword and herself to Sansa. Not only is it miraculous that Sansa and Theon didn’t die during their jump, but that they somehow manage to mostly outrun the Bolton hounds and get found by Brienne and Pod, and that Theon is strong enough to get involved in the fight and save Pod’s life.
But what’s interesting, too, are the other things that happen between Theon and Sansa: That he hugs her, perhaps the first affectionate physical contact she’s had in weeks, and that he mentions Jon to her, offering to sacrifice himself so that she can “Go north. Only north. Jon is Lord Commander at Castle Black. He’ll help you.” Theon, as someone who desperately wanted to be a Stark child, is urging the Stark children back together – a role he never could have pursued as Reek.
So there’s growth for both Theon and Sansa here, although it’s pretty annoying that Sansa doesn’t know how to respond to Brienne’s vow, but Theon and Pod do? Sansa spent years growing up in the Stark household and spent months being trained by Littlefinger in manipulation, scheming, and empire-building. She wouldn’t know this simple bit of etiquette? Sigh.
+ “Fuck prophecy.” Who is Cersei Lannister right now? Free from the Faith Militant and the High Septon, with two of her three children dead but with her brother/lover Jaime back at her side, what is Cersei’s endgame?
A couple of interesting things here: that Cersei, normally so forward-focused, is thinking of the past, remembering the prophecy given to her by Maggy the Frog during her childhood. “Gold shall be their crowns, and gold shall be their shrouds,” Maggy the Frog told her, and so far that’s come true for both Joffrey and Myrcella. And also of note is Jaime’s behavior here, shaped by Myrcella acknowledging him and accepting him as her father before her poisoning death at the hands of Ellaria Sand. Jaime seems energized, ready to pledge himself again to Cersei and protecting their final living child Tommen, and it will be interesting to see him face off against the High Septon – which we see teased in the preview for next week’s episode.
But, I must say that as a book reader, the continued relationship between Jaime and Cersei annoys the hell out of me. His storyline in the books, in which he ends things with her after it’s revealed that Cersei has been cheating on him and scheming without him, takes Jaime to the Riverlands, where he tries to treat with the Tullys and end the war on that front. The isolation from Cersei, Tyrion, and practically everyone else makes Jaime insular and reflective, thinking about his youth and the better men he used to know, and that Jaime – insightful but still powerful – is the one I want from this show. Blech!
+ “You all know why you’re here. Jon Snow is dead.” HBO continues trolling us with this continued “Jon Snow is dead” storyline, which we know cannot stand, but whatever, let’s play along. Ser Davos, Dolorous Edd, and some of Jon Snow’s other friends claim his body and barricade themselves inside a chamber with him, refusing to open up for Alliser Thorne and the other men of the Night’s Watch, who acknowledge their murder of the “traitor.” And although Alliser explains his actions to the Night’s Watch who were initially shocked by Jon’s death, Davos and Co. have their own plans, which seem to involve a wildling uprising to avenge Jon’s death. Oh, and when Alliser demands that they give back Jon’s body and quell their actions?” “We will discuss among ourselves and come back to you with an answer,” says Davos very properly, and it might be the most hilarious thing the Onion Knight has ever done.
But of course, Jon Snow isn’t the only big hap at the Wall – there’s also Melisandre, shaken by Jon’s death and once again questioning her faith in the Red God: “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell,” she says when she sees Jon’s body. And things get even more honest for her when she disrobes and removes her choker – the source of her power – and reveals that the image we know of Melisandre has been a glamour or enchantment all along.
In reality, she’s an ancient crone, withered and old, practically the exact opposite of the beautiful, enchanting, sensual, scary Melisandre that we know. And getting into bed – have we ever seen Melisandre resting? Have we ever seen her show any kind of weakness? This is as memorable as it is unusual.
+ “You’re not a Dornishman. You’re not our prince. Weak men will never rule Dorne again.” WELCOME TO MY RAGE. Jeez, how much worse could Benioff and Weiss have fucked up Dorne and the Martells? From the beginning, how the show has treated this storyline has been disrespectful and idiotic, from the show chopping out the storyline’s most fascinating character, Doran Martell’s strong-willed and Myrcella-supporting daughter Arianne, to reconfiguring the Sand Snakes from adult, ambitious, and intelligent dissenters to bratty, stupid, sniping teenagers. And sure, it’s nice that Ellaria Sand is a female character who has taken her future, and the future of her daughters, and the future of Dorne into her own hands. But this rapidly and anticlimactically, written this superficially? Ugh.
So let me pour one out for Doran Martell, an intriguing, multilayered character from GRRM’s books who quite possibly could have been one of the best players the Game of Thrones had ever seen, and who was utterly ruined by Benioff and Weiss. Why even cast someone as great as Alexander Siddig in this role? I’m sorry you’re gone from my life, Dr. Julian Bashir.
Also, how did the Sand Snakes get on the boat with Trystane Martell after we saw them on the dock with Ellaria? Did Trystane not have any reaction to Myrcella’s death, even though they were supposedly in love? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS STUPID STORYLINE, AND THEY ARE ALL ANGRY.
And some odds and ends:
+ That “previously on” segment was SEVEN MINUTES LONG! Needed more Night’s King.
+ No new areas in the credits this episode. Maybe Vaes Dothrak will get added next episode, when the Dothraki horde takes Dany there?
+ “I’ve been all over the world. There’s no escaping men like us.” I would watch a spinoff chronicling Jorah’s travels, not even joking.
+ Anyone else think that the Dothraki’s sexist talk about Dany felt too modern? “You ever been with a girl with white pussy hair?” and “She doesn’t have to be smart to get fucked in the ass” felt very present-day bro-y to me.
+ “I can’t wait to see what part Ramsay cuts off you this time.” I’m happy you’re dead, you random Bolton enthusiast! Get out of here! Theon lives!
+ Ramsay is despicable (“She’s good meat. Feed her to the hounds”), but he’s all cruelty, no game. Notice how father Roose implicitly threatens Ramsay by noting that his wife, Lady Walda (once a Frey, and a reminder of the Bolton/Frey alliance that resulted in the Red Wedding, don’t you forget), is pregnant, and if Roose’s son is born before Ramsay is able to find and impregnate Sansa, then Roose’s legitimately born heir gets the North – not Ramsay. Politics!
+ So that huge fire in the harbor that ruins all of Meereen’s ships – whose fault was that, the Sons of the Harpy? To what end? To keep people in Meereen or to keep ships from going out and finding Dany?
+ “Stand and fight, blind girl.” Arya continues to be blind. She also continues to be trained by the Waif. That is all.
+ “Our other guests need you.” Margaery and Loras are still being held by the High Septon, still being urged to confess, still dirty. That is all.
+ “You’re a greedy bitch, you know that?” Jesus, WHO is writing the dialogue of the Sand Snakes? It is TRULY some of the worst writing this goddamn show has ever done.
+ And here is what was teased for next week’s episode two, “Home”: We check in with Bran, Cersei tries to see Tommen, Sansa and Brienne discuss finding Arya, Ramsay and Roose want to storm Castle Black to find Sansa, Jaime takes on the High Septon, and Tyrion goes to see Drogon’s siblings Viserion and Rhaegal.