GAME OF THRONES S6E1: “The Red Woman” Discussion

Game of Thrones

This year, to celebrate, follow, and discuss season 6 of Game of Thrones Matt, James Gentry, and I will be exchanging e-mails about our thoughts, predictions, concerns and feelings on each episode. We decided to let you in on this process, so you can see how ridiculous and nerdy our staff conversations can get over here.  Check back each Monday afternoon for the latest episode recap and discussion.  Also, spoilers and stuff…

Scott: Another year, another Game of Thrones premier! This show, normally applauded for its excellent writing and unexpected events actually tends to follow a pretty standard structure for it’s season opener each year. Unfortunately, season six is no exception. We spend the episode globetrotting around Westeros catching up with all of our favorite characters and setting in motion all the plot events that the season will focus on. The most exciting thing about watching Thrones this year is that none of us know what’s going to happen. For the first time, we’re all in uncharted territory together, which is why this premier might feel like a bit of a let down. Not much happens here, mostly because of the aforementioned ‘setup’ structure. It’s a testament to the quality of the show that “not much happens” still means I’m riveted the entire time.

Of course it’s also not entirely true, we get some exciting new developments involving some naked old ladies and dead princes!

The biggest surprise here is the unceremonious regicide of Prince Martell and his stupid, annoying son. For those of us familiar with the books, this is a much bigger deal than the show indicates as Doran Martell had all kinds of plans and schemes involving a certain Mother of Dragons. But the TV show has made it pretty clear that it either doesn’t know how to handle Dorne or it doesn’t much care, so I’m pretty ok with this turn of events.  Matt, what did you think?

Matt: As usual, the Sand Snakes prove to be the low point of the episode, and I was sad to see Doran go. Other than that, I thought it was a great episode. I feel like the production values have taken another step up – either that, or the directory was just really skilled. This was the first time that a Dothraki Khalasar actually felt like a civilization on the move rather than twelve or so guys on horses. There are plenty of lovely shots, such as blind Arya kneeling with the Titan of Braavos in the background, Cersei waiting in the harbor of the Red Keep for her daughter’s body, and the slow movement into the yard of Castle Black landing on Jon’s body. I also couldn’t take my eyes of Alfie Allen for the whole Theon-Sansa scene, and I thought the look on Brienne’s face when Sansa accepts her service was a highly emotional and well-earned character moment that caught me off-guard in a pleasant way. My favorite flourish in this episode was the artistry with which the Red Woman reveal was carried out. Maybe this was hinted at in the books, but I never picked up on it, and I found it to be a great moment.

As you say, we didn’t learn a whole lot about where things are going this season, aside from confirmation that Jon is really dead (for now), Dany is actually being taken to the Dosh Kaleen, and Tyrion is probably going to get up to some political intrigues.

Gentry, have I missed anything?

Gentry: I think both of you mirrored my exact thoughts rather well after last night’s episode. The Dornish plot twist or “purge” as I called it last night, was more tedious and annoying, rather than tragic or moving or even slightly thought-provoking, and for me it took away that sense of mysterious secret plot driven dread for what’s to come in the South. Well, the dread is still there, but in a very cheap and unsatisfying way with characters I care zero about. When you kill off all remaining Martell family (except for their mother Mellario, Arianne, and Quentyn, all whom were kept out of the show) members and focus on a lunatic nag of a widowed paramour as the primary schemer or story mover, it kind of raises some eyebrows as to which direction Dorne is going. To me this episode re-emphasized the poor decision to replace Arianne with a combination of Sand Snakes and crazy Ellaria Sand.

The rest of the show I found a bit boring, but as Scott mentioned, they do make the first episode of every season a “what are they up to?” default intro, probably to help show watchers get a refresher by not pulling them into a completely new story line or setting too quickly. I agree with Matt in that the most moving and well executed scenes hit with a short, but sweet bang. Cersei’s numb and defeated reaction to another of her children’s murder, Davos and Jon’s companions’ reaction to what just occurred at the Wall, and the wonderfully reinvigorating exchanges between Sansa, Theon, and Brienne as they run into more Bolton trouble all remind me why I will cherish this show no matter what happens with the content.

Scott:  Cherish away, Gentry! It’s not that I didn’t like this episode. I was just really excited to enter into the GoT unknown for the first time. Instead, “The Red Woman” brought us right up to the edge but hesitated before completely making that leap. Hopefully episode 2 will start to kick things into high gear and we don’t have to wait for the inevitable Jon Snow resurrection before the plots start moving again. Regardless, there’ were still plenty of moments last night that reminded me why Game of Thrones remains one of the best written shows on television.

Completely agree regarding the Brienne and Sansa moments. They were definitely the highpoint of the episode for me. Although, I don’t buy it that Sansa “I memorized every single house name and banner in Westeros” Stark would have ever forgotten the words needed to accept a knight’s service, Pod’s input into the scene was absolutely adorable and made me excited to see the four characters interact more in the future. Of course this is Game of Thrones, so next episode I’m sure one will die and they’ll be separated forever. A guy can dream though.

Matt, I completely agree with the fun of the Melisande reveal. The moment itself didn’t feel overly dramatic to me. We already knew she was a creepy, lying witch woman so the fact that she’s actually a super old, ugly creepy lying witch woman doesn’t really change anything to me. But I do love how that scene was shot, using an intentionally blurry mirror to slowly dole out the reveal to us. Follow that up with a stationary wide of her doing something as normal and routine as slowly climbing into bed for the night just caps on a great moment that just works.

I read a lot of internet chatter from last night that stated they were surprised that the episode chose to immediately confirm that Jon Snow was dead in the first moments of the episode. I honestly always figured that they were going to do this and it as well as the additional Melisandre focus all but confirms that a) he’s coming back and b) she’ll be involved some how. Did you pick up on any of this vibe, Matt, or am I standing alone here?

Matt: Couldn’t agree more that Mel’s slow, defeated climb into bed conveyed more than any flashy action ever could have. I do think the show has more in store for her character. It’s been easy to dismiss her as a villain, a cut-and-dried evil witch, but it’s important to remember that Melisandre thought that she had discovered the Savior, and was doing everything in her power to assist him in saving humanity against extinction. Her disillusionment at realizing that Stannis wasn’t the prophesied one highlights that she wants to do good, and may now feel a need to redeem herself.

I wonder if this season is going to give us a buddy comedy plot with Daario and Jorah, or whether they end up finding Dany soon. Or maybe Drogon just eats them in Episode 2. 

Gentry: Haha, I am loving the feedback on Melisandre from you dudes. I have to admit, for a few seconds I was a little thrown off when I realized, one moment I am starting to digest the episode and the next I’m staring at a naked old woman, but that’s more of a compliment to the seamless transition displayed using the mirror. And yes! Watching her get into bed from that angle was the most normal thing we have ever witnessed this character do (aside from undressing). I have to agree with Matt in that they are setting her up for some sort or change or redemption to attach to Jon’s eventual comeback, especially after how Stannis’ sudden departure has basically ruined her.

If they gave us a buddy comedy, it wouldn’t be the first time! (see Season 5 – Episode Sand: Jaime and Bronn Do Dorne) That’s a good question, I honestly can see Daario getting knocked off relatively soon. Why they would choose to have him killed off? 1) Dany can only have so many show interests, and Jorah has more history with Dany as a character in the series, as well as more invested in Westeros. 2) Show Daario to me has always just been kind of…there. No weight to his character in the show compared to the book Daario, where we get to know the man a bit more from his actions and words to Dany, and 3) It’s time for Mereen to start packing it up and getting it’s A-team together for the long journey ahead. Realistically I see this buddy comedy lasting one more episode. I can see them helping Dany escape while Drogon wreaks havoc on the Dothraki horse lords (or maybe just the Khal and his bloodriders, ha!). Sadly, I see Daario going down saving one of Dany and Jorah before the Dotharki sub-plot is concluded. I really won’t be too sad though. Wasn’t a big fan of this Daario. Season 3 Daario was the way to go. What happened to that guy?

In the end I was really just looking for some Tyrion and Lord Varys “shooting the shit” time. Ya know…a couple of long time homies (kinda), sipping on wine while basking in the sun on Mereen’s great pyramid’s garden terrace, figuring out what side of the Targaryen coin Dany landed on. No?? Aw well, guess my dream team Dany/Varys/Dany small council will have to wait a bit longer.

Scott: Hopefully not too much longer. Thanks for the conversation guys. We’ll see you both back here for Episode 2! Same Bat-time, same Bat-place.

 

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