Game of Thrones 6.01: Season Premiere “The Red Woman”

That feeling you get watching the Sand Snakes.

Game of Thrones has officially ventured into uncharted waters (insert Gendry-still-rowing-his-boat joke here), and for the most part, I’m happy to be onboard, despite the glaring lack of source material. Last night’s “The Red Woman” performed like every season premiere has to date – it set the table in preparation for our ten week long feast. Unfortunately, not everyone will be alive to enjoy the food, but more on that in a bit.

Things kicked off at The Wall, where the now-cold corpse of Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) was discovered by Davos (Liam Cunningham). It didn’t take long for the rest of the Night’s Watch, excluding a few noble holdouts led by Dolorous Edd, to let Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) off the hook for murdering their Lord Commander. Here’s to hoping a similar fate soon befalls Thorne, preferably at the hands of Wun Wun.

Elsewhere, we watched  a grieving, yet disturbingly pragmatic, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) cope with the loss of Myranda, an exhausted Cersei (Lena Headey) welcoming to shore a boat filled with a tragedy predicted long ago, a bad nun/good priest routine sink its teeth into Margaery (Natalie Dormer), and a discouraged Arya (Maisie Williams) struggling to adapt to her now sightless lifestyle.

There’s inevitably a lot do discuss after last night’s episode, so let’s dive right into this week’s Riser of the Week!

Riser of the Week: Theon Greyjoy

Perhaps the greatest strength of Game of Thrones is that almost everyone is morally ambiguous. (Except Olly. Fuck you, Olly!) There's black and white hiding in each person, which makes the classic game of “Who is your favorite Game of Thrones character?” a truly unique experience. I bring all this up because if there was ever a character in dire need of a chance for redemption, it’s Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). Death is undoubtedly favorable to the things Theon’s had to endure. And yet, to borrow a line from House Mormont, here he stands. Sure, it took a conveniently plotted rescue courtesy of Brienne (Gwendoline Cristie) and Pod (Daniel Portman), but let’s cut the man a break. Now, it seems that our new foursome will venture further north to The Wall, where things might be a bit crazier than expected.

Honorable Mention: Davos, for being a man who needs his mutton. (I interpreted his demand for mutton as a test for Alliser Thorne, who seemed ill prepared to discuss demands, which leads me to believe Thorne was ready to kill Davos the moment he opened the door.)

Faller of the Week: House Martell

And just like that, House Martell is no more. Last season, we lost the Baratheons, and now, not even one episode into this season, we’ve lost another major house. I’m quite torn on these developments. On one hand, I wholeheartedly agree with Littlefinger’s Season 3 monologue of chaos not being a pit, but a ladder. And what’s just happened in Dorne certainly qualifies as chaotic. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that the Sand Snakes are just about as good at metaphorically climbing things as Prince Doran was at actually climbing things. If you read my reviews here last year, you’ll remember that I made it very clear that I despised everything that happened in Dorne. The writing was sloppy, the acting weak, and the “pussy bad.” I think the writer’s agreed, and last night’s Martellicide was the first step in erasing the sandy taste of Dorne from our mouths.

Honorable Mention: Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), for continuing to get further and further from doing anything interesting.

Backstory of the Week: Vaes Dothrak and the Dosh Khaleen

On a scale from Queen of Westeros to beheaded Dothraki slave, Daenerys’s status as the newest initiated member of the dosh khaleen falls somewhere in between. The dosh khaleen are a ruling group of crones who oversee the holy city of Vaes Dothrak and are entirely composed of widows of slain khals. We previously glimpsed the dosh khaleen in action in Season 1 when Daenerys was forced to eat a horse’s heart. It was the dosh khaleen who told Daenerys that her baby would be The Stallion that Mounts the World. Typically, the social status that comes with being part of the dosh khaleen would be an honor, but for Daenerys, it is but another chain binding her to faraway east. Let’s hope she’s capable of breaking a few more.

Item of Power: Melisandre’s Ruby Necklace

It had been a common theory since A Dance with Dragons that Melisandre (Carice van Houton) was hundreds of years old and kept alive with magic via her ruby necklace, and last night’s closing scene confirmed that as a hard fact. Melisandre’s faith has been completely shaken. Everything she thought she knew has been proven to be lies dancing in the flames. And now, with Jon Snow cold and dead, her latest vision – of him leading the battle at Winterfell – seems to be a lie as well. But there’s still hope. When Berric Dondarrion was resurrected by Thoros of Myr for the first time, it was when the red priest’s faith was at an all-time low. We’ve been taught repeatedly that only death can pay for life. Melisandre knows that, just as she now knows her true purpose: to bring Jon Snow back from the dead, for he is Azor Ahai, the prince who is promised, and the man who will lead humankind in the fight against the White Walkers.

Maester’s Musings:

  • Technically, the motto of House Lannister is “Hear Me Roar,” but has there ever been a more apt line to describe a house than Jamie’s “Fuck everyone who isn’t us” line? (Though, on second thought, it could also read “Fuck no one who isn’t us” and it would still apply perfectly to the Lannisters.)
  • I’m not sure if I could label it as my favorite part of the episode, but the ongoing banter between the Dothraki bloodriders was definitely in the top five.
  • Who was hiding behind that door and spying on Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill)?
  • I had high hopes for Trystane (Toby Sebastian), but the dude deserved to die. You can’t turn your back to the crazy girl with the spear who just announced was there to kill you. Come on, man.
  • Where are you, Bran? Please come back.
  • I’m sure I wasn’t alone in rolling my eyes after seeing that all of Daenerys’s ships were burned. It’s too bad there isn’t a seafaring noble family who has been hiding off in the shadows for the past few seasons with a  really pronounced distaste for sowing. Because that would be perfect.


Joe Brosnan works in St. Martin's Press and manages Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.

Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.