This is one show that has always had one aspect going for it that very few other shows have: there is a manic sense of fandom in wanting to know what happens next. I have recently been reminded on how addictive this show is when my cousin started watching. The first few episodes I had to push her on, but once the ball got rolling, it was binging time. The show has the ability to leave us wanting more from it’s very diverse plots and storylines. Now, in “The Red Woman,” they actually did not do a flashy or even crazy start, but instead touched based on all but two of this seasons storylines.
The entire season opens with answering the question regarding the fate of Jon Snow. With Ghost howling in the background, the show begins with the discovery of Jon’s body, and Sir Davos taking charge in protecting it. I found it a little funny that the blame goes out to Throne right away, and the conversation spans out into who can be trusted: a handful of men, Melisandre, and Ghost. Melisandre has a moment when another of her “prophecies” is seemingly undone, as she had seen Jon fighting at Winterfell and now he is dead. Melisandre seems a little put back by two of her champions falling. In the mesh hall at Castle Black, the officers of the Watch confess to their treason, but try to turn it around that it was the right thing to do. He is angry about the wildlings being allowed past the wall, and it almost feels like he doesn’t believe all the accounts about the White Walkers coming down to kill them. Back with Jon’s body, Davos and Ebb are now trying to plan either revenge or a way out with the body. Davos points out the wildlings might be willing to help out, and Ebb makes his way out to get them.
In its second scene, we find the good guys in a siege, with Throne promising them their lives and safe passing. Davos is particularly funny here, and delays the siege until nightfall. This particular comment makes it seem like this particular event will take place in the next episode. Davos and the brothers in the room, are under the clear impression that Throne will kill them once they open the door. Davos then proposes the help of Melisandre. This particular moment was a little surprising as we all know Davos is not fond of her, but is willing to use her as a weapon. He clearly does not know what happened to Shireen because of her.
Winterfell – The Boltons
Ramsay is seen mourning over the death of the kennel master’s daughter. He seems to have actually cared about her. Then we see what the problem for the Boltons really is now: Without Sansa, the North will not be long in trying to get them out. Roose Bolton points out to Ramsay that he has torn away from the Lannisters to get him married to Sansa, and if King’s Landing attacks, they will not be able to beat them without the North. Roose is clear that Ramsay needs to find Sansa and Theon, and mentions one is the heir to the North, and the other the heir to the Iron Islands (not quite but still valuable). He then threatens Ramsay with the fact that if he fails and Wanda gives birth to a boy, then Ramsay is of no value.
The North – Sansa
As Sansa and Reek try to escape from the Boltons hunting party after them, they are forced to cross the very cold waters of a river. They get away momentarily but soon are tracked down. Theon tells Sansa that Jon is Lord Commander (it is unlikely Throne has sent out news about Jon’s death at all), and that he will protect her; Theon’s distraction does not work, and they are soon under the mercy of the hunters, but then Brienne and Podrick arrive to save them. Theon even manages to save Podrick in the same way Podrick saved Tyrion at Blackwater. Once the violence is done, Brienne once again vows to be Sansa’s sword, and Sansa accepts. You can see it clearly in Brienne’s face how relieved she is that she has at least kept one daughter of Catelyn Stark safe. The question is where will this little group go to next?
Cersei rushes to the docks to greet the return of her daughter, the one good thing she feels she has ever created. You have to give props to Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, as the acting in the scene is beautifully done; and incredibly different from them: Cersei feeling the weight of the past folding onto itself on her, and Jaime being the one clamoring for the revenge to come. Just Cersei’s expression as she notices it is only Jaime standing on the boat. It has always been hard to feel sympathy for Cersei, but this is one of those moments you truly feel for her. Then you have Jamie, whose own daughter told him she was happy he was her father, only to die in his arms; no wonder he wants revenge.
On the other half of King’s Landing, we finally see Marjorie in her cell, and her only concern is for her brother, refusing to confess to anything. The High Sparrow visits in the hope of gaining a confession out of Marjorie, he uses Tommen, and fails, and basically says she will be stuck there for a while. One has to wonder what the Faith’s plan is: they cannot hold back armies, nor can the people who would defend them stay once an army is sent. It is also a bad idea to attack the Faith, as you will certainly lose the people, and from the previews we know Jamie and the Tyrells show up to attack at one point, or to make demands, so I wonder how that will go.
While many people will tell you that the whole Dorne segment came out of nowhere, you have to understand. The first thing that happens is that Doran gets a message with news about Myrcella’s death, and then crazy daughter kills his super scary bodyguard, and Ellaria stabs him. This seemingly sets up the Sand Snakes as the current rulers of Dorne, as Trystane is being taken care of as well. While rushed, it would make sense to do this: they have taken the plot from Book 4, and basically joined up a lot of things together: Ariana Martell is gone, and Ellaria is the one who wants to attack King’s Landing. By getting rid of Doran and the bodyguard, they basically have done away with having to maneuver a war around them. The question is: who and how will they attack? Let us also note the guards who do not even help Doran, seemingly pointing out that the Snakes will have no opposition.
Obara and Nymeria are in the next scene, entering Trystane’s room in the boat, and demanding he fight. When he looks to facing Nym, Obara shoves the spear on his back. This clears up the issue of Trystane being a ruler of Dorne.
As Varys and Tyrion take a walk around Mereen, they discuss the city and how to fix it. Tyrion and Varys come across a propaganda from the Sons of the Harpy, and discuss the reason the master are angry, is that she took their property, and made it so it no longer was property. Tyrion is basically saying people don’t really like her anymore. They come across a Red Priest trying to tell former slaves that they have to rise for themselves, as the slaves feel they have been abandoned by her. Varys tells Tyrion his network of spies is trying to find the leader of the Harpies, they are interrupted by a commotion, as in the port, the Sons of the Harpy have torched all the ships, preventing anyone from leaving for the time being. This leaves Tyrion and Varys playing the game of Hand of the King, in a kingdom they do not know. This is probably one of my favorite story arks presented so far.
Somewhere in Essos – The Rescue Party
Jorah and Dario Naharis find the remains of a goat, and keep trailing after Drogon. They discuss why Daenerys has gone away, or where. Dario Naharis questions Jorah on is feelings for Daenerys. They talk about wishing to see the world once she conquers it, and we cut to Jorah’s greyscale infected arm. We know he is a man on a time bomb, but people keep saying it’s about when will he die: they seem to remember stone people go mad. The question should be: when will the greyscale begin turning Jorah Sir Friendzone mad?
On slightly good, but equally bad news, they find the tracks of a Dothrakhi horde, and in the middle Jorah finds Daenerys’ ring. They know exactly where she is.
Somewhere in Essos – The Dothraki Horde
Daenerys is apparently lucky she is so different and attractive, as the men are leading her to the Khal, as opposed to having raped her already. She is quiet, regardless of understanding what they are saying, and seems to want to end up with the Khal, to better bargain her position. What I find curious is that no one in that Khalassar knows her? While I do not believe that they should know who she is immediately, her physical characteristics should be enough to recall that Drogo had been married to a Westerosi woman with white hair. It’s not a complaint, but I feel that they just overlooked it, and made it so no on recognized her.
Once she does make it to the Khal, the other wives want her dead. The Khal is more interested in taking her than killing her. Daenerys finally speaks, only to give out her titles, and to be laughed at: until she mentions Khal Drogo, and the current Khal assures her that she will not be touched, and that she has to move into Vaes Dothrak to live in the Temple with the other widows. Either way, she is not leaving.
Arya’s life has recently knocked her down way low. She begs for money in Braavos, while the Waif shows up every day to beat her up with a stick. We shouldn’t worry too much about her since soon enough she is likely to turn into Daredevil on us. My only prediction for Arya, is that she will never be a Faceless man; there is no way she lets go of her revenge. What I did like, was seeing Arya be afraid again, since it is a nice change of pace of the almost unfeeling girl we saw before she left Westeros, and once she arrived in Braavos.
The Cliffhanger Scene:
As Melisandre undresses in her room, and analyzes herself in the mirror, it almost feels like she is leaving her religion completely. It is then that they reveal her true form: of an old woman, a crone.
The scene makes little sense as we don’t know why it happened, or to what it relates to.
OVERALL: 8.5 A GREAT START TO THE SEASON. It was an episode with little action, but it was set up beautifully to show us just where everyone starts off. With the exclusion of Bran and Littlefinger, we now have a set up for all the characters of the season. The only downside was how rushed (but still acceptable) the Dorne parts feel, as they came out of nowhere, and there are literally no clues on to where they are headed to.