After an agonisingly long wait, HBO’s flagship show finally returns for its eagerly-anticipated sixth season, making our Mondays just a little less blue.
Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are paving new avenues this year as for the very first time they are not supported by source material from A Song of Ice and Fire scribe George R.R. Martin.
However the departure is certainly unnoticeable during this introductory hour which within mere frames sends us right back into Westerns’ ferocious, captivating heart, and leaves us revelling in its mysterious brilliance once again. So without further ado, let’s break down the season opener…
The Title: “The Red Woman”
What Does It Mean?
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the title is referencing Melisandre whom at current is stationed at Castle Black among a greatly divided Night’s Watch.
We open on a slow and sombre frame which glides through the darkness and into the quilting snow when the body of the Lord Commander lays. Ser Davos is quickly altered to the body of Jon Snow by his pining Direwolf, and it isn’t long before The Red Woman herself is beside the resting body.
Throughout the show, various shades to Melisandre’s complex facade have been revealed, but during the harrowing climax of Season 5 (“Mother’s Mercy”), she lost the two men who rendered her whole – Stannis Baratheon and the aforementioned. Knowing her great power and prowess, it is almost a certainty that her witchcraft will spill through one of these two corpses, but this remains to be seen.
Her most impactful moment during tonight’s season opener however comes in the closing sequences. Peaceful in her chambers, she catches her reflection and soon begins to undress. The image shows the body of a supple, youthful woman; a seductress and femme fatale, but after she removes her choker, a very different figure is looking back at her.
She is in fact old, sagging and wasting away: an ageing, near-lifeless presence clearly made more fruitful by enchantment. Perhaps such sorcery can work on the dead as well as barely living…
Most Shocking Moment:
We leave the frost-filtered haze of The Wall and head to the sun-soaked shores of Dorne for tonight’s most shocking moment which involves the progressive vigilante tribe from Season 5; The Sand Snakes.
Ever-keen to avenge the beguilingly brutal deaths of Oberyn and Elia Martell, Elliara Sand and her Sand Snakes are hatching a plan which arrives in true surprise fashion. A leisurely stroll around the plush Dornish gardens with Prince Doran quickly turns sour after her receives some parchment from a Maester.
As quick as a flash, Elliara plunges a blade into Doran’s heart, forcing him from the support of his chair and into a pool of his own claret. Loyal guard Areo Hotah also feels the wrath as he finds a sword firmly wedged between his shoulders, and Doran’s beloved son Trystane has a meeting with his maker too after having something sharp inserted through his skull.
Game of Thrones brilliantly made it seem than Doran has been playing a tactical long-game from the comfort of his kingdom; plotting and scheming through whispers, but clearly this is not the case. Elliara is firmly in charge now, and more blood will be split. Though sadly no fire and blood…
The most potent theme throughout the previous season was that of power. The winds of change had firmly swept through the Seven Kingdoms, spinning everything into a most-tangled web. Those power shifts are set to move through the gears with ferocity during Season 6, and one of the key pieces in the game made a move in the opener.
Daenerys Stormborn – the First of her Name, the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons, Insert Title Here – has been taken from her kingdom of Meereen following the onslaught in the fighting pits curated by The Sons of the Harpy. Her flee might have bought her some time, but no additional safety as she becomes enslaved to the clutches of the Dothraki Bloodgangs and taken to the new Khal: Khal Moro.
Unaware that Khaleesi speaks perfect Valyrian, she is marched through the sandy dunes whilst listening to rebels speaking extremely candidly about their bedroom plans before facing the new leader who too expresses a desire to remove her dress and take her.
Dany remains as iron-willed as ever; a force to be reckoned with, but keeps her trump card firmly to her chest. The names, the acclaim, the army, none of it remotely impresses the commanding Moro, but the reveal that she is of course Khal Drogo’s widow changes a lingering atmosphere rapidly.
There is no doubt that all the while Khaleesi is away from her Unsullied and her dragons, she is in peril. Ser Jorah and Daario Naharis are on her trail, and Tyrion and Varys are overseeing her wavering community, but this is a Targaryen we are talking about. To the Dothraki, she is a expensive prisoner, but there’s always something up the Queen’s sleeve.
Best Overall Moment:
The North is an unforgiving place. The Winters last for an eternity, and the family wrongfully sat upon the empire are as chilling as the temperature.
After their heroic escape from Ramsay Bolton’s grasp during “Mother’s Mercy”, Sansa and Theon are braving the elements as they bid for freedom. Pursued by guards armed with steel and hungry hounds, they must wade through endless ice and survive where nothing ever should.
Pulling Lady Stark though a pool of bitterly-cold water, the Greyjoy hides her as they are infiltrated by Kingsmen. Theon fibs, proclaiming Sansa died after a devastating injury, but her scent is far too rich.
Captured, isolated and unarmed, the young twosome are frankly staring at their demise, but soon two rogue warriors storm in on horseback, waving their blades with ferocity and fearlessness. Breinne of Tarth and Podrick begin slaying the Bolton soldiers one-by-one, but soon Theon must do some saving as Pod stumbles and is faced with the Iron Price.
Following their roaringly entertaining victory, Brienne takes a knee and pledges her oath to Lady Sansa once again. She is more loyal to her word than a hound to its master. The young Stark accepts and honours the brave warrior, leaving us feeling all uplifted.
This scene was not only action-packed and adrenaline-fuelled, but also offered a rare glimmer of positivity in Game of Thrones. It is nice to see the good guys succeed every once in a while…
The world’s favourite show returns in astounding style. “The Red Women” continues a trend of dynamic, engrossing and thematically rich television that builds with inch-perfect precision.
Primary pieces are in complex situations, power plays are dictated by those most unlikely, and our most beloved characters are going to have to alter in many ways if they have a chance at surviving another year in Westeros. Particularly poor Arya who really is blind.