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Game of Thrones: “The Red Woman” Review

'Game of Thrones' - The Red Woman

‘The Red Woman’ Starts Cleaning Up Season 5 Aftermath

SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES DOWN BELOW

We’re finally at a point in Game of Thrones where it’s an even playing field for avid book readers and show viewers alike. Remember back at the climax of Season 3 when your book friends were savoring were savoring your priceless reaction of The Red Wedding? Those days are long gone and we’re approaching the endgame together. The final few episodes of Season 5 started to get prep book readers for curve balls. And already one episode into Season 6 and we’re gotten a few shockers.

Season 5 left us with a massive mess on our hands for the past 10 months. Death, death, everywhere. Stannis the Mannis dead. His wife Selyse dead. Myrcella dead. Meryn Trant dead. Ramsay’s psycho girlfriend, Myranda dead. And the one that’s had everyone talking, debating and theorizing. Jon Snow dead, courtesy of the Nights Watch.

Season 6’s premiere, The Red Woman, immediately is forced to pick up the pieces one by one. The premiere doesn’t progress the plot to great lengths, nor does it have to. We have a whole season to start chipping away at the real meat of what’s to come.

From the first shot of the episode, we’re thrusted back to Castle Black. Jon Snow’s still lying on the snow after being gutted by a handful of his brothers. He isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As expected, there’s a power play at Castle Black. Jon’s long-time rival Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) isn’t hiding the fact that he orchestrated the assassination on Snow. Snow’s been a bit too chummy with the Wildlings over the past few seasons, favoring their safety over that of the Night’s Watch. Even though when it’s all said and done, when the White Walkers start their assault, the petty squabble between the Night’s Watch and the Wildings will mean absolutely nothing.

Those stlll loyal to Snow, including Stannis’ former right hand man Davos (Liam Cunningham) have the body locked up, unwilling to burn it. After all, with the Red Woman still lurking about Castle Black (or more so sulking now), they might as well have their ace in the hole. But on that red-headed witch a bit later.

Jon Snow - Game of Thrones: "The Red Woman"

A bit further south in Winterfell, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) mourns the loss of his psycho girlfriend, Myranda. And for once we might actually feel sorry for Joffrey 2.0. But that lasts a whole two minutes when he’d rather feed her corpse to the dogs rather than burn or bury her. Without his tormented bride Sansa (Sophie Turner) in his clutches, House Bolton and more so Ramsay is clearly at a disadvantage. The trailers for Season 6 make it appear like there won’t be a confrontation until later in the season.

Speaking of Sansa, she and Theon are still on the run. And after going through hell and back the past few seasons thanks to Joffrey and Ramsay, this is the season where she can finally strike back. The redemption of House Stark (or what’s left of it) is long, long overdue. With Theon (Alfie Allen) and now Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) by her side, this might be the first break she’s had in a while. The only problem is, she isn’t aware of the betrayal at Castle Black – her eventual stop this season.

Brienne tracking down Sansa has been dragged out for way too many seasons and The Red Woman finally allows that plotline to converge into a crucial one. Granted it did have to take a Brienne ex-machina rescue from Bolton troops to happen, but now it’s time to get the ball rolling with the Battle of the North.

Down in King’s Landing, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) finally returns home from that season-long mission to Dorne. Thankfully. The price paid, however, is his daughter Myrcella’s life. Her mother Cersei (Lena Headey) is crushed and after being paraded around in her body-double’s naked glory at the end of Season 5, humbled. Like with Ramsay earlier, Season 6 unveils a more fragile soul beneath that detestable surface. We still love to hate Cersei of course, but for once we can sincerely hope she gets revenge on Dorne.

It’s no secret that the Dorne subplot was the weakest out of Season 5. Unless the writers throw us a curve ball, there might not be much left to the storyline. In the episode’s first of two WTF moments, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and the Sand Snakes murder Prince Doran and his son Trystane. A bold deviation from the books, it only makes sense to wipe out House Martell. At least we’re spared a season of Dornish politics. But don’t expect it to be the last we hear of Ellaria still complain and moan about Doran’s shortcomings.

Over in Essos, Dany (Emilia Clarke) has been captured by the Dothraki. From queen from prisoner, she’s come full-circle to where she was in Season 1. It’s about time she gets knocked off her high horse for a bit. But don’t expect her on a one way trip to Meereen anytime soon. Being a Khal’s widow, she’s getting shipped off to sacred Dothraki village to spend out her days.

It probably won’t last long as Lord Friend Zone (Jorah Mormont) and Daario #2 are still hot on her trail to bring her home. The episode blatantly addresses how frustrated Jorah’s been in the Khaleesi’s friend zone for countless seasons.

Back in Meereen, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) wander the streets, still on the hunt for the leader of the Sons of the Harpy. Dinklage gets to shine in a humorous exchange with a beggar, who believes he’s going to eat her baby. Keep practicing that Valyrian, Tyrion.

In Braavos, Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to pay for her disobedience, living with being blind on the streets. The Waif from the House of Black and White continues to be a thorn in her side, attacking her with a wooden staff. She’s going to have to take a few pages out of Daredevil’s book to adapt.

The last WTF moment of The Red Woman goes back to Melisandre herself. Realizing that her visions have failed her, the red woman continues to mope around Castle Black, revealing that she’s not as young and beautiful as we all expected. Old and haggard, we finally see her true self after all these seasons. Put that enchanted necklace back on.

The episode basically does its job of revealing the aftermath of Season 5, but does little to further progress the overall storyline. With House Martell wiped from the picture, Season 6 is going back to focusing on more critical arcs like Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven heldover from Season 4. That picks up next week in Episode 2, Home.

Next Week’s Preview: 

8
Great
Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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