Each week, twins Adam and David Shimer analyze the latest episode of Game of Thrones from the perspective of a non-book reader. This week they discuss “The Red Woman,” but first they would like to assign some weekly awards:
Tywin Lannister Memorial Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Ellaria and the Sand Snakes dethroning Prince Doran
Honorable Mention: Alliser Thorne — the Night’s Watch is his at last!
Eddard Stark Memorial Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: Sansa refusing to cross the river, hiding under a tree and somehow forgetting a two-sentence oath
Honorable Mention: Margaery hasn’t learned that “I am the Queen” isn’t a winning argument
Brandon Stark Award for Most Boring Storyline: Daario and Jorah’s travel banter could not be more cringeworthy
Honorable Mention: Roose threatening yet again to disown Ramsay, who always seems to fall for it
Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: Brienne yet again killing several men on horses
Honorable Mention: Creepy girl beating up blind, homeless Arya
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DS: Given how much each character has suffered since the series began, I thought the Season Six premiere did an excellent job of showing viewers which players have grown resigned and which still breathe fire. Daenerys failed as a ruler in Meereen, having been driven out by her own people. For someone who aspires to rule Westeros, the expulsion could have been crushing — instead, it rejuvenated her. The moment the Khal touched Dany, she entered full “dramatic monologue form” and demonstrated how far she has come since Drogo raped her in Season One. The same can be said for the few watchmen standing by “dead” Jon, as well as for Brienne — who responded to Renly and Catelyn’s death first by hunting down Stannis and then by saving Sansa. But not everyone is so resilient. I’m looking at you, Cersei. When Joffrey died, her anger toward Jaime and Tyrion was fierce. Yet when Myrcella, a far lovelier child, arrived at King’s Landing in a casket, she responded with resignation — calling neither for war nor for Jaime to get out of her sight. And Melisandre, who has spent seasons faithfully moving from one religious plot to the next, finally revealed herself to be exhausted both physically and spiritually. Perhaps the flames have lied one too many times.
AS: Cersei was certainly resigned in this episode. Only she could turn reminiscing about her dead mother into something gruesome and perverted — the only surprise was the absence of a glass of wine for her to gulp down. Far from endearing, the Cersei and Jaime reunion instead felt morbid. And, for the first time, Cersei proved that she remembered her encounter with the witch, which we first saw during last season’s premiere. As you said, she has resigned herself to the fact that her three children will die, as the prophecy stated. The fact that she and Jaime never once speak about Tommen reaffirms that perhaps on some subconscious level, they have already written him off. Jaime doesn’t tell Cersei to remain optimistic because she still has a son, but instead says, “We’re the only ones who matter.” Is Tommen, King of the Andals and the First Man, implicitly included in that statement, or have his parents forgotten him in their moment of grief? Honestly, it seems the showrunners have forgotten about Tommen too. I don’t think a king has ever received so little screen time, and there have been a lot of kings. Anyways, I actually felt bad for Cersei when her eyes lit up and she whispered “Myrcella,” before skipping down to the pier with as much excitement as Tywin used to get when he scribbled away on a scroll (RIP Tywin). But Cersei’s face slowly morphed from happiness into despair, and at this point it is hard not to root for Cersei and Jaime to reclaim King’s Landing from the High Sparrow and the evil-Nun (who has moved on to torturing a different Queen).
DS: Seeing Jaime once again back in King’s Landing standing by Cersei, rather than wandering around Dorne, made him feel relevant again. His ridiculous “sensitive diplomatic mission” to Dorne, worsened by the most amateur actors on the show (<3 Sand Snakes), made his plotline one of the worst of Season Five. Now I can’t wait to see what he does next (I’m thinking wage a civil war against the High Sparrow). And, with Jaime gone, I surprisingly found Dorne interesting for the first time. I certainly did not expect a coup to occur, perhaps because I assumed the Dornish plotline would remain predictable and superficial. I am not yet convinced that Prince Doran’s assassination will be the start of an exciting series of events rather than the lone climax of an otherwise boring storyline. But now that Jaime and Dorne are apart, it is safe to say that both have momentum. Props to the showrunners for revitalizing two of the most unbearable threads of the previous season.
AS: Daenerys is back where she belongs — not a Fighting Pit or an eerily empty Meereenese Throne Room — but rather in the midst of a Dothraki horde. Her storyline has come full circle back to Season One, and she now finds herself in a position of weakness for the first time since she burned Astapor to the ground. Her best moments have always come when she had to defy the odds, so it will be exciting to see how she manipulates this situation to her advantage. Something tells me that the dynamic duo of Daario and Jorah are not going to be much help. They are way down on the list of all-time GoT duos (somewhere below Arya and the Hound, but still way above Sam and Gilly). Anyways, Daenerys officially used her patented one-two punch of pretending-like-she-doesn’t-speak-a-language, followed by her dramatically-revealing-that-she-does. She only gets to play that card once, and I think she used it a bit early. It seems as if she may have miscalculated in revealing her Khaleesi heritage, because Khal Drogo apparently forgot to tell her back in the day that if he were ever to die, she would have no choice but to live out her days in a depressing temple. So while it seems the new Khal is going to treat Dany well, a timer is officially ticking, and with each step the Horde takes toward this mysterious temple, Dany takes one step closer to her prison.
DS: At least we know Dany’s fate will be a result of her own maneuvering, her own choices and her own initiative. I am still waiting to say the same for Sansa, who has been manipulated by half of Westeros — Littlefinger, Cersei, Ramsay, Joffrey, Olenna and Dontos (the fat fool who Littlefinger took for a ride), to name a few. Even Theon has more courage than she does. He led her across the river, attempted to sacrifice himself and fought to protect her. Meanwhile, Sansa complained that the river would kill her, dutifully nodded as Theon bid her farewell and crossed her fingers that Brienne would win. The only time Sansa takes action is when she is forced to do so — when doing nothing is worse than death. But few choices are so black and white. When faced with actual decisions, Sansa has remained a bird in a cage carried by others. Here is to hoping this season finally delivers a more empowered “key to the North.”
AS: Random Thoughts —
- Roose said he would reward “the man” who slayed Stannis, but viewers know it was actually a woman who killed him, and that the same woman just helped his prized Stark escape from his grasp. Meanwhile, was Ramsay’s grief for Myranda supposed to be character development?
- It was cool how reminiscent Sansa accepting Brienne as her sworn sword was of Catelyn doing the same back in Season Two.
- That glimmer in Brienne’s eyes as Sansa accepted her sword basically said, “After two seasons of my wandering aimlessly and sitting for endless hours in a clock tower, a Stark is finally saying yes to me!”
- Varys and Tyrion defenselessly wandering around a city on the brink of civil war — what could possibly go wrong?
- I’m pissed that we never actually got to see Prince Doran’s gigantic bodyguard fight with that huge axe. So disappointing.
- We want Olenna! We want Olenna!
- Did anyone else think at first that the reflection in Melisandre’s mirror was Daenerys? The light hair was misleading. Instead, we learned that Melisandre isn’t just a Red Priestess, but a decrepit Red Priestess. Is the necklace that she took off her fountain of youth?
- I hope that Arya doesn’t stay blind for the whole damn season.
- Davos and his bands of misfits are ready to make a heroic last stand! Too bad that the one watchman with him that we sort of recognized left to find the Freefolk.
- Alliser is so slimey, but it is hard not to admire him. Jon fought for his set of principles, and Alliser is doing the same.
M.I.A. this episode: Bran, Littlefinger, Tommen, Bronn, Qyburn, Olenna and Rickon (the forgotten Stark)