Hannah Pederson, Reporter
For those who haven’t seen season six of Game of Thrones, don’t be a masochist and stop reading. For those who have and want to torture themselves with another analysis, welcome.
For the past five seasons, viewers of one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time have been guided through episode after episode of epic drama by George R.R. Martin and his excessively huge tomes.
But the end of season five shoved everything readers knew over the precipice and into the void. How can they squabble over discrepancies between the series and the novels if the sixth book hasn’t even been written. They just have to sit back and let it happen, and happen it did.
The episode opens by picking up the frayed threads of Jon Snow’s plotline, which places him dead on a slab surrounded by his best friend Scraggly Hair McCreepyashell, Ser Davos (someone he barely knows) and Melisandre (honestly she’s not even a real priestess to the lord of light canonically but whatever, let’s just address why the hell she’s even there).
There aren’t a lot of directions a writer can take with a character that’s been stabbed seven times and left to bleed out into the snow overnight in subzero temperatures. OK, not a lot of directions that’ll maintain the integrity of the plot that’s been so impeccable up until now.
They’re going to resurrect Jon Snow, it’s just an accepted fact at this point. They need Jon to stick around until Daenerys shows up to kick ass because R+L=J, and tradition is tradition. The fact that Kit Harrington has a butt that’s good for ratings doesn’t hurt, either.
But just because it’s what they need to do, doesn’t mean it’s what they should do. In order for the plot to move forward naturally, Jon has to get lit up on a funeral pyre and the wildlings have to fight off the horrors beyond the wall without the Night’s Watch (which by now is pretty much 100 scraggly, poorly trained and armed old men and young boys who would hinder more than help anyway).
But Jon’s fate wasn’t determined in this episode. Instead, they turn to Winterfell where surprise surprise, Sansa and Theon/Reek successfully escaped from the biggest gaping asshole of all time, Ramsey might be the next Lord Bolton.
Apparently they survived jumping off a stories high outer wall into a huge snowbank, weren’t immediately spotted by the guards and were able to walk all that off and go run through the woods and a freezing river.
All the complexities of Theon’s psyche post abuse are hurriedly shoved aside by his devotion to protect Sansa and prevent her from experiencing the full extent of Ramsey’s wrath.
Their conflict was artificially resolved because the writers needed to get Sansa out of Winterfell somehow, and they thought it was either Theon or maybe some dragons, who knows.
Then, Brienne comes charging out of the woodwork to save the daughter of the woman who saved her from being killed by the other knights that served her lord at that time. Her undying loyalty is really great for the series and for Sansa, who seemed to have outgrown the need for a large misunderstood protector, but oh well.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Cersei tries to put her life back together, which is about as easy as glueing her hair back on her sad, narcissistic and underappreciated head.
Everyone knows the Lannister’s time as benchwarmers on the Iron Throne for Daenerys is nearing its end, it’s just a matter of who’s accepted it yet.
One of three Lannisters has, and it’s definitely not Cersei, ex-queen of Westeros and current queen of denial.
She’s losing it, and she was the only one left in King’s Landing with any political smarts whatsoever, so Westeros is a bigger mess than Jeb Bush ever was.
Cersei 2.0, Maid Margaery, is still being imprisoned by the High Sparrow, a man that looks kind of like the current pope, but without all the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.
His role in the future of King’s Landing is bigger than anyone living in the Red Keep, because everyone outside the Keep loves him more than they fear the Lannisters. Viewers can look forward to seeing totally not the Mountain risen from the dead to take on a bunch of holy rollers sometime before mid-season.
Keeping to the theme of totally clueless wannabe leaders, why the hell did the Sand Snakes kill Doran Martell. What do they have to gain from taking out the only person keeping their province from falling into the fray besides exacting some form of petty misguided vengeance. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it was just uncomfortable to watch.
Finally the episode turns to the only story people really care about, Daenerys.
Everyone’s two favorite political geniuses, whose only downfall is speaking pretty much entirely in metaphor, team up to bring Meereen back from the brink of disaster, which satisfied those viewers who had just closed their eyes all the way through the Westeros scenes because they’re all just so painful.
They’re unrestrained by the cunning and overly just Mother of Dragons, etc. etc. because she was abducted by some B level Khal, oops.
All widows of fallen Khals end up in Vaes Dothrak, it is known. But not all widows of fallen Khals are blonde white women born into power, so anything could happen.
No one really cares about Arya anymore because they’re put off by the death-is-the-only-power-in-this-world-nothing-matters vibe, but it’s worth noting that she’s the only Stark who’s made it out of Westeros alive and mostly on her own. But whatever, that’s fine.
The writers decided to end the season premiere by showing everyone what Melisandre’s actually about, and suddenly her character is more than just perky boobs and the witchy aesthetic, she’s a complex entity with multiple layers that can be peeled off one by one all the way up until the finale. Mad props to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the people who wrote this episode without any book to rely on while trying to satisfy a huge fan base ready to riot.
Episode one didn’t really satisfy anyone, and it didn’t have to. A season premiere addresses all the plot lines left hanging from the last season’s finale and then everyone starts dying again. Or living again, if your butt is cute enough.
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