Game of Thrones: The Red Woman

“We have all given our lives to the Night’s Watch.”

Game of Thrones is about people dying. That’s undeniable. Some of its biggest twists and most shocking moments have revolved around the concept of valar morghulis: all men must die. But rarely has Game of Thrones really considered what happens after death—not to the living, but to the dead. This is an episode about death.

Cersei and Jaime, in particular: once again reunited, once again over the body of one of their dead children. They discussed the first dead body they saw (do we ever forget that moment?) and what will happen to Myrcella now that she is dead. Her body will putrefy. And Cersei will accept it, at least for now, as the whimsy of cruel fate.

While Myrcella’s death is mostly important for how it affects Cersei, Jon Snow’s death is important in that it affects the entire future of Westeros. (Well, if you, like me, suspected he’d swoop in to save the day at some point.) Whatever doubts we may have had about his death are now erased: that kid is dead. Deader than a doornail dead.

Will he stay dead? Melissandre used to think Jon had a bright future ahead of him, but in this episode she seemed worn down with grief and confusion. If what she saw in the flames was a lie, what does that mean for her faith? What does it mean for her purpose? Those questions are even more poignant in light of the revelation that she is an old, old woman who has been using a glamour to appear young. Can she not die? Was the battle for Westeros supposed to be the culminating event of her life?

Many of those questions remain unanswered this week. Not surprising, since season premieres of Game of Thrones tend to be less about big moments or thematic unity than reminding us of where we’ve been and where we might be going. But I do hope Jon Snow comes back, and we can use the Spoiler Thread to talk about some of the ways that might happen (nudge nudge).

This episode wasn’t all death and despair, of course. As always, the Boltons provided some much-needed comic relief…oh, who am I kidding? Their plot was about death, too, although they were focused less on past tragedy (the death of Ramsey’s paramour Myranda) and more on facing a “well-provisioned Lannister army”—a valid concern. Roose’s callous pragmatism may be effective, but it can also make him blind: his wife’s pregnancy puts Roose, Walda, and the babiest Bolton in Theon’s crosshairs. Does Roose know that? Is he daring Ramsey to try something?

Let them try! That’s what I say, since I can now safely commit my superdelegate votes to Sansa, whose PAC has tripled its fund with the addition of Brienne. (Those of you who are not Americans: that’s all electioneering lingo.) The perilous journey of Sansa and Theon seemed doomed to failure until Brienne came riding in. I basically loved this with 100% of my heart: they needed a knight in shining armor, and they got the best of all possible knights (Brienne) and the best of all possible squires (Pod). Not only does this mean that Sansa might truly be safe, at least for a while, but Brienne gets to serve a noblewoman now that she’s tidied up the last of Renly’s affairs by killing Stannis.

As Sansa’s star is rising, though, others are falling. Margaery is trapped in a cell. Jorah “Friend Zone” Mormont is getting grayer and scalier. Arya is still blind, and not in a superpowered Daredevil way. Dany has been sentenced by Khal Protocol to a cushy retirement in Vaes Dothraki, where the widows of former khals live, raising cats and knitting innumerable booties for their grandhordies while basking in the Florida sun. I don’t think she’ll stand for that, do you?

Grumpkins and Snarks:

• Ramsey’s eulogy for his former lover: “She smelled of dog.”

• Sansa forgetting the words of the lord’s promise to the knight when she was accepting Brienne’s fealty—and Pod reminding her—may have made someone tear up a little. Someone on my couch. Not me, of course, because I’m a stone-cold bastard. It was Sam T. Cat. I swear by the old gods and the new.

• Cersei’s pixie cut is very cute.

• Random Dothraki: “I like to talk when we’re finished. Otherwise we’re little more than dogs.” Aww.

• What’s better than seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time? Well, it depends on how you’re counting and how much you like fighting.

• From my notes: “Dorne has been overtaken by a bunch of women.” That pretty much covers it.

• Also from my notes: “Tyrion and Varys in Mereen. Exposition and lots of walking.” Will this plot become relevant or interesting soon?

Three out of four dogs.

Reminder: The comments on these episode reviews are appropriate for newbies. If you haven't read the books, you're safe! If you have read the books and would like to talk about upcoming events, please do so here, in our Season Six book spoiler thread.

Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

13 comments:

Docnaz said...

Ok, this episode made me cry, too. It started when Brienne appeared and continued through the formal vows. I am not ashamed to admit it.
I do not like Cersi's short hair. I am not a short hair fan, but I really do not like her's.
I was thinking Daredevil, too. Just a matter of time.
Tyrion doesn't look like a merchant. He looks like a baby doll in that outfit. I would like him to be back in season 1-4 garb.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

I did not very much like this one. The pacing was bad and the episode was too fractured. There were way too many plots going on - note to writers, NO, you do NOT need to show every damn character in the game in the pilot episode. We had Jorah doing nothing, we had Tyrion and Varys doing nothing, we had the Dorne plot (which was absolutely terrible and opts to get rid of the only potentially interesting characters in favor of cartoon cut-outs,) we have Daenarys, we have Blind Arya, we have Theon and Sansa, we have Jamie and Cercei, and we have Dead Jon meets Sad Melisandre. Like, seriously... stop.

Other than that, I had no problem with the actual plot of the episode, except for the Dorne story.

Also, am I the only one who rooted for Arya to simply crush that girl's skull?

Mark Greig said...

Not the most exciting episode, but as you said, that is typical of GoT season openers. I'm so happy that Sansa is free of the Boltons and has her own knight in shinning armour. Now her journey towards being Queen in he North can really begin. I swear by the old gods and the new if this season doesn't end with Sansa retaking Winterfell I will not scream because it hurts my delicate singing voice but I will shake my fist at the TV with a flaming passion.

J.D. Balthazar said...

I kind of have to agree with Thomas, it was not the best paced episode. I will say I am kind of interested in the Dorne stuff, and none of the episode was bad. I wish there was a bit more fun, and not as much dour exposition.

Great review though, and I too almost teared up when Brienne came charging to the rescue, but in that moment I kept thinking; Jean Grey is about to knight Captain Phasma!

I want the Boltons to die soon, especially Ramsey. I hope Melisandre gets her game back and resurrects Jon. I need Dany to turn that Dothraki horde into her new legion. But mostly I just want more, where's the rest of the season already?

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

The more I think about it the more I shift to the theory that Melisandre will not revive Jon, but he will be revived by the flames of his funeral pyre.

Melisandre resurrecting Jon would not work very well because 1, it's such an obvious cop-out, 2, Jon was assassinated by his own men, 3, Melisandre resurrecting him would make him beholden to her, and "lesser" in a sense, which is the opposite of what they'd want to go for if they plan to have him return.

TheShadowKnows said...

Melisandre resurrecting Jon would at least rely on a previously established fact, namely that the Red Priests are capable of restoring life to the dead (or at least one of them is). In that sense it would be less of a cop-out than most instances of the dead returning to life in TV shows, which are typically just pulled out of someone's lower torso. I don't believe Jon being beholden to Melisandre is going to be an issue, because I don't expect her to survive the process - especially now that we've seen her real age. My guess is Melisandre will probably have to give Jon her necklace to return him to life, and she won't live very long after that.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

After all people have been speculating about, it would be kinda fun for Jon just to Stay Dead.

Anonymous said...

I was also a little bit underwhelmed by this episode, probably because the expectations are just so crazy high. I really hope the writers manage to work in some completely unexpected storylines, hopefully not that Jon Snow to stays dead though, although that would probably be the most unexpected thing that could happen now :)
Julia

TheShadowKnows said...

"After all people have been speculating about, it would be kinda fun for Jon just to Stay Dead."

I think that's entirely possible.

Another possibility is that Jon will indeed come back as "Azor Ahai"... and end up being the "big bad" of the series.

Logan Cox said...

Great review, glad to be back in the game.

A starter episode for sure. I enjoyed the stuff in the North and Meereen, for the most part. Props to Ben Crompton as Dolorous Edd. His performance sold me on Jon's death. Owen Teale is also great as Alliser Thorne. Not sure what Olly was doing acting like some kind of stone-cold badass? Ease up, kid, the only people you've killed has been a girl with her back turned and a guy who was just gutted by a bunch of older men. I'm hoping a giant steps on him next episode.

Jaime's "Were taking everything back and more" speech leads me to believe the Lannisters are going down this season, judging by the way things usually turn out for the people with big ambitions, plans or destinies at the beginning of each season; same could be said for the Boltons. And yeah, Roose might as well just ask Ramsay to kill him and Walda and their bouncing baby Bolton in their sleep.

I am not a fan of what they're doing with the Dornish; what a waste of Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell. Hopefully they wrap this up quickly so we can all forget about it and more on to bigger, better things; that seems to be what the showrunners clearly want.

Poor Arya is poor. Now so is my mood.

Going by this episode alone, I don't think I'd mind if Edd and Davos suddenly became the heroes up north. Still, Jon must return. He's got work to do.

Paul Kelly said...

"Jorah “Friend Zone” Mormont."

Brilliant!

Josie Kafka said...

Sadly, I can't take credit for that, Paul. It's from the Honest Trailer from a few years ago.

Heather said...

Josie,
This is a great review, thank you. I like seeing your notes from your viewing.