The world’s most popular (or at least most pirated) TV show is back.
Season 5 alienated quite a few people (TV fans and Book Readers alike) but wasn’t as bad as some people thought. I’d give all the episodes from that season 4/5 or more, and episode 8 Hardhome was a knockout hit (and possibly the best episode so far?). But overall it wasn’t as good as seasons 3 or 4 had been. Then again, season 5 was based off two of the weakest books in the series, A Feast for Crows and Dance of Dragons Part 1 (though neither were bad – just not as good than the others), so it was unsurprising. Regardless, season 6 had some questions to answer, and now the TV show has overtaken the books, we had no idea what the answers would be.
For some of them at least, we do now.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!
Game of Thrones Premieres are normally among the weakest episodes in the season. This one was no different, but was nevertheless better than most of the other premiere episodes. It was mainly focused with tying up the cliffhangers from last season’s finale, and while it moved through these at a breathless pace, it felt like a lot of setup as well as payoff. The direction and music were as good as ever, so I’ll focus on the plot.
Much of the episode was devoted to Sansa and Theon’s escape from Winterfell and Brienne’s rescue of them (finally!) and events at Castle Black. Jon Snow IS dead. And we still don’t know if he’ll stay that way. Edd, Davos, Melisandre and a few loyal men of the watch all took Jon’s death badly, while Alliser Thorne and the other mutineers set about winning over the others. After freeing Ghost, Davos sends Edd to get help from Tormund and the Wildlings who owe Jon their lives and everything looks to be set for a major showdown between the two sides in the next episode.
The person most affected by Jon’s death was surprisingly Melisandre, as after her visions of Stannis’ victory and Jon at Winterfell both appear to have been false, she’s finally lost faith. This leads to the episode’s big revelation that Melisandre is actually CENTURIES old, keeping young in appearance thanks to that magical torque she always wears round her neck. (Anyone else find Melisandre’s true form REALLY unsettling? – aren’t we all glad Jon didn’t sleep with her now!!)
The highlight was probably Daenerys’ scenes as she faced off with a new Khal and his Dothraki, with the Dothraki banter and Daenerys’ putdowns earning a few smiles.
The first non-book shock came as events in Dorne finally kicked up a gear with the Sand Snakes and Ellaria making their move and assassinating Prince Doran, Areo Hotah and Trystane Martell (who hilariously got a spear through the back of his head – funniest death on the show since Arya killing Rorge in season 4?).
Everything else was just setup, whether Jaime and Cersei mourning Myrcella, Arya training with that bitch in Braavos, Tyrion talking with Varys, Margaery conversing with the High Sparrow or Jorah and Daario tracking Daenerys. None of it was bad – but hopefully the next episode will have a little less setup and a few more highlights.
Overall, it was a good episode but not a great episode, with an intriguing ending twist.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Next Time: Bran’s back, the Greyjoys are back, Jaime comes face to face with the High Sparrow and Ser Alliser and Ser Davos tense standoff continues…