For a season premiere largely about arranging the chess pieces on the board, The Red Woman had a lot more going on than a normal table setting episode.
Right away we get a payoff to last season’s finale. Jon Snow is …
Hold that thought.
Roose reminds Ramsey he needs Sansa to fully gain the loyalty of the North, which will be essential for his ultimate goal of conquering King’s Landing. Roose doesn’t think small, I’ll give him that.
Sansa’s going to prove a lot harder to capture now in what proved the night’s most enjoyable subplot. With Theon’s help, Sansa evaded Ramsey’s men and hounds temporarily, but Brienne and Pod made the well-times save. This time when Brienne offers her sword, Sansa accepts. There was even some humor added in as Pod had to feed Sansa lines in accepting Brienne’s service.
Of the various subplots, Sansa and her fledgling council seems to have the most potential. With Brienne’s battle prowess, Theon’s history with the Boltons and Pod’s extensive knowledge of the realm and politics, Sansa now actually seems equipped to revolt ute the North.
Jamie returns to Cersei with their dead daughter. Cersei reveals she was given a prophecy that her three children would die, but Jamie vows they’ll get everything that was taken from them. This was such a very well acted scene that if you could ignore their actions early on in the series, Cersei and Jamie came off incredibly sympathetic.
Meanwhile in Dorne, Ellaria stages a coup with her daughters and assassinates Prince Doran. The Sand Snakes also kill their cousin Trystane, who made the clueless decision to put himself between two people coming to kill him.
If only the Dorne subplot had been developed better this would have had more impact. Ellaria’s claims the Dorne populace was frustrated with Doran’s weak leadership seemed out of the blue. This was a pretty shocking moment not so much for the deaths, but the potential storylines left on the table.
With Daenerys captured, Mereen was in disarray. Tyrion and Varas surveyed the land and the general tone of uneasiness, which culminated in Daenerys’ fleet being burned.
Daenerys was in the custody of a pack of Dothraki. It wasn’t until she mentioned that she was married to Khal Drago that the leader Khal Moro abandoned his plans to ‘lie with her.’ Daenerys’ fortune didn’t completely turn as Moro said she’d be seen to a home for Khal widows, which sounds terrible.
Arya is now blinded and forced to beg on corner steps. Arya’s constant tormentor, The Waif, returns to beat her down in a stick fight. The Waif is committed to tough love. Maybe she’s a distant cousin of Stick’s?
Betraying one’s people was a common theme tonight as at Castle Black, Lord Alliser explained his mutiny was really cause Jon was going to destroy The Knight’s Watch. While a laughably weak argument, the Knight’s Watch buys it because independent thinking never really was a strong suit for them.
Only a handful of Jon’s loyal men, including Eddison Tollett, refuse to go along with the new leader and seek advice from Ser Davos. Definitely no stranger to lost causes, Davos sends Eddison to recruit those who owe Jon and would fight for his honor. Could this mean the Wildlings might become the future inhabitants of The Wall?
Davos has another ace he’s reluctant to pull — the dark magic of Melissandra. But how powerful that is now is uncertain since Melissandra had a vision of Jon fighting in Westeros and that seems pretty unlikely now…
But the night’s biggest reveal was Melissandra’s true self. She’s not the mysterious hot ginger we’d seen all this time. In actuality she’s a wrinkled, very old witch whose form is hidden thanks to her necklace. How that affects her power is up in the air, but one thing is certain — Stannis was getting it on with an old fossil!
Next week’s teaser looks very intriguing…
Rating: 8 out of 10
As a premiere, there was a lot of subplots to cover. The show is typically at its best with less balls in the air. Once the subplots start coming together things will get more interesting, but the season is definitely starting on a strong note.