Everyone’s favorite brother-sister loving, skin flaying, backstabbing, dragon flying, dead walking, high adventure is back for season six! Come here every Monday morning for Pressure Life’s review and recap of HBO’s Game Of Thrones season six! Make sure to let us know your favorite scenes in the comments section below!
(Spoilers in full effect)
We open where we last left off, with Ser Daavos discovering the body of Jon Snow bleeding out on the snow within Castle Black. Daavos is the surprising star of the episode. Without a king to counsel or throne to works towards, Daavos is forced to rely on his wits and fall back to a preternatural shrewdness. It is a strange alliance forming with Dolorous Ed, Ghost, Daavos, the Red Woman, and the Wildlings. I look forward to see where that leads. Considering they will have to fight off the rest of the Night’s Watch if they want to escape with their lives, they’ll be on the move as free agents in the overarching plot.
But to the episode’s titular lead, (some pun intended). Carice Van Houten, who plays the Red Priestess, Melisandre, has never shied from nude scenes but what I thought was an obligatory tit shot was a well-rewarded reveal. No longer tethered the book’s plot, the Red Woman’s true visage, that of an ancient, tired crone, has no set the precedent with her character’s mythos. With both Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow dead, she has lost her faith in the Lord of Light. She has to wonder if she was merely a tool used to ends she no longer has control over. The question is, does the collar make her look young, or does the collar physically suppress her age?
Not far from the Wall, Lady Sansa and Reek continues their escape from the twisted Boltons. Reek’s commitment is incredibly brave considering what he has been victim to already. The moment Reek hugged Sansa under the pretense of keeping her warm was the exact moment Reek became Theon Greyjoy, ward of the Starks, once more. Alfie Allen’s transformation from Theon to Reek and back to Theon is encompassing to a cellular level.
What seemed like a doomed return to Ramsey’s clutches was interrupted by a wild attack by a stampeding Brienne of Tarth. She wastes no time in dispatching the Bolton men that fall upon Sansa and Theon. Brienne has a tendency to just appear out of nowhere to further the plot, and while this can stretch the limits of belief, her ability to bring a dangling plot to a rewarding end is worth it. When Brienne bends the knee and swears fealty to the Stark she vowed to protect so long ago, you could see the legacy of North rise again in Sansa Stark. Paired with Theon Greyjoy, Brienne of Tarth, and Poderick Payne, the true Wardeness of the North is part of an intriguing power set.
One of the most glaring diversions from George R. R. Martin’s books is whatever is happening in Dorne. The biggest letdown of the series has been the failure to make the coolest place in Westeros cool at all. Jamie Lannister’s bungling trip to retrieve his daughter last season was a series of poorly acted missteps. With Elyria Sand and the Sand Snakes (garage bands, that one’s a freebie) unceremoniously killing off all of the characters of note within Dorne in a bloody coup this episode, one has to wonder if this is an abbreviated full stop to a storyline that was going nowhere last season or the beginning to an entirely new plot that the series intends on creating of its own volition. The scene ends with the camera slowly panning away from Elyria Sand as she stands over the dying body of Doran Martell. This framing was intentionally held on- a captivating, an epic oil painting brought to life.
Across the Narrow Sea, Arya Stark is living rough on the streets of Braavos. Blinded as punishment for killing a man and going against the vague edicts of the Faceless Men last season, Arya is now begging for coins on the street when her frenemy from the House of The Undying returns with a pair of staffs for some impromptu stick fighting. Daredevil, Arya is not, and she catches a beating that is hard to watch. The waif, which is all she is known by, leaves a beaten Arya behind with a staff; hinting that this is only the beginning of more intensive training sessions. I can’t wait to see the culmination of her bad-assery once Arya ascends to whatever ninja assassin she is to become.
Elsewhere on Essos, Meereen is having a tough go since Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Targaryen, pulled a Never-Ending Story and flew off on the back Drogon last season. Traveling buddies, Tyrion and Varys hit the streets to gauge the temperature of the commoners, which sees Tyrion inadvertently try to buy a baby to eat. Like many opportunistic faiths, The Red Religion has crept in Meereen now that the people are beginning to lose hope in their absentee Mhysa. Tyrion’s remark after seeing the Red Priest’s impassioned crowd, “…That’s a problem.” was a pitch-perfect understated assessment.
And in regards to that AWOL Queen, she’s gone full circle, back to being Dothraki property. There’s a real rapey “Bro culture” frat-boy jock vibe to these Dothraki. It was good to see Daenerys show some agency, refusing the latest Khal to try and bed her, but she is still a long way from the Iron Throne. Here’s hoping she can pick up some bloodriders before she inevitably burns the whole shithouse down around them.
“The Red Woman” was one of the stronger season openers for the series. Given that the show has surpassed the pace of the novels, one has to wonder if the dramatic denouement to several long running storylines seen in the opener were done to lay new roots in storylines more independent from its source material. Many plotlines for last season were not so much resumed here, as they were cleaved from the script entirely. It was as if there was a conscious decision between seasons to shift the course of several characters and the results have opened up a season that offers some fascinating and uncharted avenues to close out a series unique of its own vision.