We’ve waited a long goddamn time for it, but the sixth season of Game of Thrones is finally upon us. Who’s ready for weekly episode reviews? I know, I’m a week late, but it’s still a good idea. To catch up I’m reviewing the first two episodes together. Just so you know, these articles will be long, ponderous and filled to the brim with spoilers. Here goes.
So… We finally know.
We’ve been through hell together, you and I, forced to suffer for an entire year while the fate of one of our favorite characters remained shrouded in mystery. We obsessively followed the news, greedily absorbed every tiny clue that hinted at a definitive answer. Did they actually kill him? Is he truly dead, and if he is, will he stay that way? Well, we’ve finally been put out of our misery, because the truth has been revealed. The answer is yes – he really is dead. And he’s never coming back. Roose Bolton confirmed it himself by mentioning what a shame it is that they don’t know who killed him. After all, he would have liked to reward the man who took Stannis Baratheon’s life.
What? Jon Snow? Fuck that, like there was even a single dude in the universe who doubted he’d be coming back. Kit Harrington didn’t cut his hair, man. He didn’t cut his fucking hair. Case closed, no room for interpretation. But Stannis… The last moments of poor, defeated Stannis were deliberately kept off-screen, and I figured there must be a reason for that. Truth be told, it did feel like a natural point in the story for him to die, having risked and lost everything. But he deserved an explicit death, not because he was a horrible, irredeemable person (though he kind of was) but because he’s been a major character for four whole seasons of the show, and he was one of my favorites. Although never truly believing he would make it all the way, for a long time I was Team Stannis (until he burned his daughter at the stake, naturally), and I just couldn’t believe they’d let him go like this. Brienne must have decided to spare him at the last moment, I thought. Stannis is alive, and now he’s got nothing to lose and he’s coming to get revenge on Melisandre, the woman who took everything from him!
Yeah, no. He dead. Him and his grammar Nazi ways have been forever taken from us, and they will be sorely missed.
He’s not the only character/storyline being snuffed out either. Look at what happened in Dorne! Poor Alexander Siddig never did get the chance to do something meaningful as Doran Martell, which is a shame, but in the end it’s for the best. Last season’s events in Dorne are universally considered to be the worst thing the show has ever done, so it was wise to cut it short. I do wonder whether it was always the plan, or if it was decided after the response to season 5 had come in. You didn’t like Dorne? Neither did we, we’ll go ahead and kill the fuckers right now! It did seem almost comical how swiftly Doran and Areo Hota were disposed of, mere moments after being reintroduced. Plus, if showrunners Benioff and Weiss did always mean for this to happen, why didn’t they put it at the end of last season? It would’ve fit far better there and served as reassurance to viewers that these Sand Snakes weren’t completely useless after all. I still don’t have much faith in them, but hell, at least they’re finally doing something. And two of them are now loose in King’s Landing, I wonder how that will play out.
Might be they’ll end up causing some chaos, but not before Cersei and Jaime are done causing some of their own. After losing Myrcella they’re both not in a mood to be fucked with. For now Cersei is stuck sending out her freakish bodyguard to kill random people in town that dare to make jokes about her, but the rage is building. The only thing holding her back was that she didn’t want to go against her own son, but now that Tommen has decided to let Mommy make the decisions, well… I’m predicting it won’t be long before the streets of King’s Landing run red with the blood of Sparrows.
You want more death? We got more death, as Roose Bolton gets offed by his own son right after the announcement that he’s got a new baby brother. I think everyone was expecting this to happen, which makes it all the weirder that Roose himself apparently didn’t. Bit silly really. He was taunting Ramsay mercilessly every chance he got, threatening to replace him with a new heir whenever he so much as farted in the wrong direction, how did he expect him to react? At the very least this should have been a preconceived test to see if his son would dare move against him or whether he could be trusted after all. But no, turns out Roose Bolton is just a big doofus who doesn’t recognize a bad idea until it murders him in the face. Or, to be more accurate, in the heart. The poetic justice of that wasn’t lost on me, with Roose getting killed in the exact same way that he himself killed Robb Stark three seasons ago, but I still thought it was disappointing. I liked Roose, and I particularly liked the fucked up father/son psycho duo act he had going on with Ramsay. I fear that the little bastard on his own won’t be as much fun to watch; there’s not much dimension to him, he just does cruel shit. All day, every day, nothing but cruel shit. Like feeding a woman who has just given birth to his dogs, together with her newborn son. I honestly felt we didn’t need to be there for that, by the way. Just mentioning it later on in passing would’ve been enough. I like gruesome stuff as much as the next guy, but I don’t deal so well when it involves the babies – not since I became a dad a couple years back. Besides, Ramsay by now has done just SO MUCH evil shit, did we really need another scene like this to establish what a naughty lad he is? I’m just saying, he’d better die at the end of this season, and his death had better be all kinds of messed up. No quick stabbings, no off-screen beheadings. Even a slit throat would be way too clichéd and merciful. No, if Benioff and Weiss have any respect for the fans, they’ll make this one nasty.
So we’re just two episodes in and already characters are dropping like flies. The dudes in Dorne, Roose Bolton, Balon Greyjoy. Speaking of that last one, I like that they decided to bring in Euron after all, even if it happens at a later time on the show than it does in the books. The one short scene on the bridge wasn’t enough to get a proper feel for the way the character is being portrayed, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of him. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of Victarion though, so I guess they’re setting up Yara versus Euron at the coming Kingsmoot instead of involving other parties. Keep things economic. I like that.
Oh, hey. Know who didn’t die? A certain buff dude with sexy long hair and a dozen stab wounds in his chest. Talking about Jon Snow of course, and yeah, I know he did die for real, but there was never a chance of losing him completely. Like the demise of Roose Bolton, the resurrection of Jon Snow was simply a matter of time, the organic and inevitable way for the story to move forward. And even though the show’s tendency to shock and surprise is one of its greatest strengths, I don’t mind that it decided to be totally predictable for once. After all, Jon dying and coming back offers so many possibilities. Having died, he’s no longer sworn to the Night’s Watch, so he can get out of there now and kick some ass, maybe finally meet some of the other characters on the show. Melisandre said she saw him fighting at Winterfell and I have no doubt we’ll see him there too before the season is over, facing off against the Boltons with an army of Wildlings. It’s going to be epic. Also, back in season three we learned from Beric Dondarrion just how big of a toll it takes to be brought back from the dead, which raises the question: what’s Jon going to be like now? Is he going to be grumpy? Will he have lost his sense of humor? Will his hair still have that sexy male model smell? All I’m saying is, there’s some opportunity here to change the character up a bit, add some more dimension. That would be swell.
Overall, the events at the Wall have been my favorite parts of this season so far. I like the stand-off they’re having with Ser Alliser Thorne, Davos taking charge, Melisandre being more vulnerable than she’s ever been. When she reveals her true self at the end of the first episode, for a moment I truly thought that what we were seeing was her killing herself. That the magic necklace was the source of her power, and her taking it off and getting into bed without it meant that she was letting herself die, that she would not wake up again. Obviously I was mistaken, because who else could resurrect Jon? They’ve been setting this up since season three, when Mel learned about this power from Thoros of Myr – it was never going to happen any other way. Though now that she has served her ultimate story purpose, I do wonder how long Carice will still be exposing herself on this show. Surely Davos will soon find out about Shireen (does he even know about Stannis? It’s not very clear) and take some drastic action. He’s not really a killer, but I bet he’d kill for this.
Let’s talk about Meereen. It’s good that I saw two episodes before writing this, because Tyrion getting close to Dany’s dragons is just what I needed to convince me this storyline is still going somewhere. After all, who cares about fucking Meereen? It’s just a random city Daenerys decided to stick around in to practice ruling for a while, and now that she’s gone, what are Tyrion and Varys even still doing there? The city is a powder keg about to explode, but we don’t care about the place, it doesn’t mean anything to any of our main characters. For a moment I was afraid that the show would be wasting two fantastic characters for episodes on end in a storyline that would amount to nothing, just like they did with Jaime and Bronn last year. Luckily though, they changed things up quickly. Tyrion becoming friends with the dragons was cool, funny and immediately planted images in my mind of Dinklage riding a giant lizard into battle, which, if it ever comes true, will be more exciting than another fullblown, explicit Emilia Clarke nude scene.
Speaking of Emilia, there’s not a lot happening with her yet. It’s refreshing to see her in a position of weakness again, but right now she’s on her way to some holy Dothraki nunnery and we’ll just have to see how that plays out. I’m guessing we’ll get a failed rescue attempt by Daario and Ser Jorah before it’s all over, probably one of them dies, then Tyrion comes along with the dragons and the Dothraki are so in awe that they decide to follow Daenerys on the spot, with everyone finally getting their ass to Westeros by the end of the season. That’s what I’d put money on, in any case. Fingers crossed.
What else is left to talk about? There’s Arya training, Bran as well, though a different type of training. He’s doing the flasback thing, which I assume is there to give us the necessary background information for the eventual R + L = J reveal. In any case, not the most exciting stuff these episodes had to offer. And lastly there’s Brienne, who finally found a Stark girl to protect and love and cherish and all that. It was touching to see her reaction to being sworn in by Sansa, no matter how clumsily, knowing she finally found a purpose again. Sansa of course will be continuing on her path to becoming a badass as the season goes on. After five seasons of taking shit from everyone, she’ll finally be taking charge and, I assume, end up as ruler of the North by the time this whole thing is done. No more rape scenes for this feisty little lady, no sir!
And I think that’s it. It’s a promising start to the new season with things moving properly right out of the gates. Lots of elements in play, lots of promising storylines, so much incredibly cool shit, just around the corner. This is as fast-paced as Game of Thrones has ever been, especially when you compare it to season 5 (which ended up being pretty good but only really got going around episode 5 or so). And the best thing about it? From now on you’ve got these weekly episode reviews to look forward to! Join me here next week for a thorough look at episode three. We’ll have a good time, I promise.