GAME OF THRONES S. 6, Ep. 1 Recap: “The Red Woman”

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The Red Woman contemplating life. Photo from HBO’s Game of Thrones

Valar Morghulis my friends and welcome to Season Six of Game of Thrones. Every week, I will recap Sunday’s episode and answer any questions readers may have in a midweek mailbag that I will update as questions come in until the new episode airs. Send all questions to @FawkesCulture, @Matwellsays, (awful email, I know), or post them in the comments section below.

The Season starts right where we left off, at Castle Black with Ser Davos Seaworth and the Night’s Watch Brothers that lack a mutinous streak realizing that the 998th Lord Commander, Lord Jon Snow has been murdered by a group of traitors. Upon seeing his dead body, Davos and the Brothers that remain loyal to Jon pick up his body and lay him on a concrete slab in the Lord Commander’s office and barricading the doors. Realizing they are greatly outnumbered by their Brothers less accepting of Wildlings, Davos suggests to Dolores Edd that there are others who owe their lives to Jon Snow that would fight for him, meaning the Wildlings that Jon allowed to come South of the Wall. Edd then departs to rally some reinforcements for their cause. Lost in the moment: what exactly is there cause? Why risk your lives for a clearly dead body? If Jon were alive, wouldn’t he immediately advise his Brothers to burn his body to ensure it doesn’t become a White Walker? Why did Ser Allister Thorne and his merry band of mutineers not think of this? But all questions for another time I suppose. Or maybe not. Without the meticulous George R.R. Martin’s canon to lead Benioff and Weiss maybe this is the first hole of more to come but for now they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Melisandre enters the room to announce that she saw Jon “in the flames, fighting at Winterfell,” keeping her streak of incorrect predictions intact, as far as we know. Remember, she once said that the visions R’hollor shows her in the flames are never incorrect, but sometimes she misinterprets them, lending new meaning to these words.

Meanwhile, Thorne has called a meeting of the other members of The Watch to proudly boast of his outstanding loyalty that just saw him lead in the butchering of his Brother and Lord Commander but I guess we can’t all bat 1.000, right? His stark honesty in admitting the reason for his treason wins over the non-mutinous brothers who were upset but not quite angry enough to barricade themselves in a room with a dead body and dire wolf. And just like that, Ser Allister becomes the 999th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

We then head South (relatively) to Winterfell, where Ramsay mourns, albeit briefly, Miranda whom you may remember, Theon threw from the battlements. However, he is not given a moment to mourn or celebrate his victory over the now deceased Stannis Baratheon with his always threatening father, Roose Bolton, offering an ultimatum: Find Lady Sansa or my soon-to-be-born child will take your place as the heir to Winterfell if it turns out to be a boy.

With hounds and men on their tails, Sansa and Theon (who, let me say, runs impressively well for a man missing several toes) continue their great escape, only to be caught by Ramsay’s search party. However, thanks to Brienne finally making a timely appearance, Sansa is able to escape the clutches of her second husband for the time being. Sansa and Brienne then trade oaths, bonding together two women, both powerful (in very different ways), both with something to prove to the world. The question this raises to me is what becomes of Littlefinger? In all of the trailers, he is pictured in the snow, signifying that he is in the North. Seeing those images led me to believe he would swoop in and rescue Sansa and Theon but now what? I can’t imagine Sansa would be pumped to reunite with Littlefinger after how disastrous the marriage he arranged for her turned out. This makes me worry that my favorite conniving Lord Protectorate of the Vale may be approaching his end but only time will tell.

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Photo taken from HBO’s Game of Thrones

At King’s Landing, what Cersei had hoped would be a happy reunion turns pretty sour when she realizes that although Jaime has returned with Myrcella, her daughter has not survived to step foot in King’s Landing once more. However, Jaime and Cersei (and the Franken-Mountain AKA Ser Robert Strong) seem resigned to have their day of vengeance to to take back all that was stolen from them after having two of their golden-locked children murdered.

Back in Dorne, the Sand Snakes continue their murderous streak by assassinating Prince Doran and his son Trystane Martell. The Dornish storyline is the most radically different (read: truncated) storyline from the books. This caused me a great deal of frustration last Season but at this point if Benioff and Weiss are going to butcher it this badly they may as well just light it afire and turn it into pure chaos. Who knows what differences the Sand Snakes ruling the Seven Kingdom’s premier wine country will bring for the rest of the Realm but I think it is safe to say a major face off is coming with the Lannisters.

Across the Narrow Sea, Arya is still begging and still blind. This is causing many fans of the Faceless (Wo)man-in-training some major consternation. Rest assured readers: I do not believe Arya will be permanently blind. As Jaqen H’ghar trained her to see last season through her time as a street merchant, her temporary loss of eyesight will serve to train her hearing. The worst Arya will have to endure are several beatings by way-of-staff from the Waif.

Photo from HBO’s Game of Thrones

In-and-around Mereen, Daario Naharis and Jorah continue their search for Daenerys with some awkward chatter about love, while Tyrion walks the streets of the city he has been put in charge of with the ever-present Varys and his ever-present “little birds.” Not only is Mereen in open rebellion, but there seems to be an arson problem as well – turns out someone has burnt Dany’s entire fleet of ships. Now, how will they make it across the Sea to Westeros? If only there were a family in the Seven Kingdom known for their naval prowess… My guess is a certain Iron Suitor emerges next week. Stay tuned.

When we first find Daenerys once again traveling across the Dothraki Sea, she is the prisoner of an incredibly bro-ey Khalasar. However, after some pretty hilarious banter between Khal Moro and his Blood Riders, it is revealed that Dany is the widow of Khal Drogo, she is freed with just one hitch. Her requests for a ride back to Mereen go unanswered and Khal Moro informs Dany that she will be taken back to Vaes Dothrak so that she may sit on the Council of Dosh Khaleen (a council of widows of former Khals)  for the rest of her days, as I predicted in my Q&A leading up to the premier. I can’t see Dany being content to sit at a glorified retirement community for very long. Hopefully, Drogon will help be nice enough to give her a lyft home in the near future.

Finally, we end right where we began at Castle Black with Allister Thorne handing an ultimatum to Davos and his band of holdouts – exit the room before nightfall peacefully or there will be violence. Davos doesn’t seem to take Ser Allister. Reflecting on their options, Davos surprisingly suggests that perhaps Lady Melisandre can aid. But, where did she run off to?

This led to the only true (sort of) shock of the night. Melisandre is shown in the Lod Commander’s chambers disrobing. Upon removing her bejeweled necklace, the Red Priestess instantly becomes old and wrinkled. I have heard and seen many theories for this and also am aware that in a previous episode she was shown in a tub without the necklace on but still just as beautiful. The thing is, it is not a new idea that Melisandre is much older than she appears. She has told Stannis she has been fighting wars longer than him, and this is not the only suggestion that there is more to her appearance than meets the eye. She also told Jon Snow that her Lord’s power has the ability to keep her warm, even in frigid temperatures, so why can’t R’hollor’s magic keep her looking beautiful even in her old age? My guess is that Melisandre has lost her faith in the Lord of Light, which is why she suddenly lost her beauty. But save for her explicitly saying this, it would be hard to show so Weiss and Benioff used her removal of the necklace as a symbol for this loss of faith. Now, will Davos get her to believe again? That would be pretty ironic considering he has been the most outspoken of her opponents since Day 1.
The Season Six premier set the table for the rest of the Season just as Davos and Edd set Jon’s lifeless corpse on a slab in his old office. Is Jon really dead afterall? I am all but certain he is not. However, when he returns is a far more difficult question. I originally predicted that he’d be back by the first half of Episode Two but now I’m not so sure. Do not forget, we haven’t even seen Littlefinger, Bran, Sam, or the Iron Islanders. If Benioff and Weiss really wanted to troll us, they don’t even have to show us Castle Black next week. I doubt this happens, but who knows? There is so much happening across the map that there are more questions to answer than just what is to become of Jon Snow’s fate.

By Matt Atwell

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