GAME OF THRONES: “The Red Woman”

Before you ask, Jon is still dead.

Everything they’ve taken from us, we’re going to take back and more.


PREVIOUSLY: Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up: Cersei walked. Sansa jumped. Daenerys flew. Stannis choked. Jon…died?

Yeah, Jon died. He’s definitely dead. We know this because Ghost is howling in the opening shot of the season, a long drifting crane shot over the ramparts of Castle Black, coming to rest on Jon’s cold, dead corpse exactly as we left it at the end of “Mother’s Mercy,” like the world’s saddest lawn art. But it isn’t long before he’s discovered by Davos, who must be thinking “Good gods, I JUST MET THIS GUY and he’s already soaking the ground with his blood,” or something like that. Point is, there’s a lot of blood, and he’s definitely dead, man. In the words of the villager in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, he is stone dead. Could not be deader.

You see, the end of Season Five left us in a bit of a weird place, and an awful lot of people were pretty unhappy about it. Earlier today our own Sean Knight made the excellent case that this will all be worth it if we can just hold on, and I’m inclined to agree with him. As it stands, “The Red Woman” was an episode of resetting the Game board, so to speak, as everyone comes home with a corpse and a lot of decisions to make. If things are going to get any better around here, it’d have to start with Jon, you know, not staying dead…but that’s not going to happen today, so let’s just press on.

The reaction to Jon’s definite death is about what you’d expect; Edd is seething, Ghost is snarling, and the few men still loyal to the very-much-a-corpse Jon are holed up in a room with Davos and said corpse while the rest of the Night’s Watch argues over whether they should even be mad about it. Thorne cops to the treason almost immediately, with a very punchable Olly hard-staring around the room: “The Watch means everything to me,” he argues, and Jon — Wildling-aiding Jon, who is dead without question — was going to destroy it with his Wildling-aiding ways. So yes, Thorne and his vigilante posse did a bad thing, but it was for a good reason. And it’s a credit to the show’s writing, as well as Owen Teale’s consistently consistent performance, that I believe that he believes that. And the other men seem to believe it, too.

Davos isn’t terribly worried, though. Not that he’s convinced Melisandre can bring him back to life, but there’s got to be SOMETHING she can do. She saw Jon in her flames, after all, fighting at Winterfell (uhhh…hold that thought?). Also, Davos tells Edd and the others, “You’re not the only ones who owe their lives to Jon Snow.” Wait, you mean…ahhhh. The lightbulb slowly flickers to life over Edd’s head. It will be a standoff, then, until he returns with help, or a better solution presents itself. They at least know better than to accept Thorne’s offer of amnesty.

On the other hand, Davos doesn’t seem to know yet about Shireen (or Stannis, for that matter), or he wouldn’t be so keen to solicit Melisandre’s aid. One gets the sense that however things turn out with Jon, that bit of information will be withheld until the worst possible moment. On the other other hand, no one knows that the reason Mel is keen to disrobe all the time is because that’s not actually her real body. Alone in the chambers she has evidently commandeered for herself, and in a fit of self-loathing, she removes the choker around her neck (the red stone within glows for a moment, then fades), revealing what’s been hiding underneath the glammer all along. It…isn’t pretty. She crawls into bed, now in her true, decrepit form, and probably wouldn’t mind if she didn’t wake up again.

Remember, kids: don’t hurry the miracle woman, or you’ll get rotten miracles.

Not exactly Anna and Kristoff

I don’t want you to have to dwell on that mental image any more than you have to, though it does raise some intriguing ideas about the how the show is responding to criticism: “Oh, you saw the ‘Rated MA for Nudity’ card at the opening and got excited? FEAST YOUR EYES!” But let’s move South, just a bit, to Sansa & Theon’s live-action remake of Frozen. Having survived the leap off of the Winterfell embrasure with no problem, now they’re on the run from Ramsey’s dogs, who aren’t thrown off the scent even after the fugitives dive into an icy river. In fact, this looks like it’s about to be the shortest rescue mission of all time. “I can’t wait to see what part Ramsey cuts off you this time,” taunts a Bolton soldier after Theon’s decoy operation fails spectacularly.

BUT WAIT: IS THAT BRIENNE’S MUSIC? Verily, yes! Late, as usual, but the Maid of Tarth finally, finally arrives on the scene, and she and Pod (Pod! Holding his own!) violently dispatch all the soldiers — even Theon gets another kill in. That’s two in one afternoon, which is a big deal for him. Brienne quickly offers her sword to a shivering Sansa for a second time, and this time Sansa, recalling the proper words to say from deep within her subconscious, is smart enough to accept it. THANK THE GODS. Seriously, that might have been the single-most narratively frustrating plotline last season, so this is a big relief. Now, somebody get Sophie Turner a hot towel because I don’t think she could look any paler.

Speaking of pale: yes! We’ve got another dead body over here! Ramsey’s comeuppance is nigh (we all pray to the Seven), as without an heir, his new fancy title isn’t worth diddly or squat. Papa Roose throws some more epic shade his son’s way, thoroughly unimpressed with Ramsey’s recent win over Stannis: “Do you feel like a victor?” he purrs, only missing a pair of eyeglasses to look down on him through. Setting some horses on fire and slaughtering an outmanned division of exhausted men is too lame a feat to unite the North, so quit crying over your dead girlfriend (who Ramsey does have fed to the dogs, so never call him the sentimental type) and go get your wife back.

In King’s Landing — wait, what’s that? ANOTHER corpse? All of a pixie-cut Cersei’s worst nightmares have come true, as one look from Jamie as he sails to shore tells her all she needs to know. Weirdly, after a moment of anguish, Cersei kind of…smiles? Is that right? Thinking of all the sweet revenge she gets to enact now? “She was good,” Cersei says mournfully of their daughter. “I don’t know where she came from.” Us neither, quite frankly. Joffrey was a monster and Tommen is a doormat, but Myrcella was a surprisingly normal teenage girl for a product of sinful incest. Jamie doesn’t miss an opportunity to bring the focus back to themmmm: “We’re the only ones who matter in this world,” he argues. Dorne will pay in blood, for sure. Screw the Tyrells. Let Margaery rot, or don’t, we don’t care. All that matters is raining maximum devastation on that wayward kingdom to the south as quickly as possible.

Ah, Dorne. Did you groan when you saw it in the credits, too? But we must return, as word has quickly reached Prince Doran — who apparently ISN’T stuck in a wheelchair 24/7? I guess that mystery will go forever unexplained — of the princess’s death by poison. But this was all part of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes’ Grand Plan! They were patiently lying in wait until it was the right moment to strike, and other snake-y metaphors! A flick of the wrist, and both Areo and Doran are down, fatally wounded. “You don’t know your own people,” rants a bloodthirsty Ellaria. “You’re not our prince. Weak men will never rule Dorne again.” Well, now hold on there! I appreciate Dorne’s progressiveness as much as anyone else, but #NotAllMen, something something.

Well, it’s done now. Collect your participation trophy, beloved character actor Alexander Siddig! Your time on the show was totally not wasted and you can definitely be proud of it. You too, guy playing Trystane who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up, and who just took a spear explosively through the back of the face. It’s like Benioff & Weiss (who wrote this episode) recognized the Dornish Disaster of last season, and decided just to kill most of them off as a show of good faith. Fine by me, I guess. But now Ellaria’s in charge, and we’re setting up for a throwdown between our two queen bees, a continuing cycle of vengeance that will likely only end when there’s no one left to fight it. And even then, their bones will be reanimated, wight-style, to claw at each other in righteous motherly fury for all time, until the Arm of Dorne falls into the Narrow Sea. (And even then, they’ll just carry on at the bottom of it.)

But it doesn’t mean that Dorne is now suddenly not pointless– just even less populated than before, if that was possible.

Reunited, and it feels so good
Only a brief scene with Tyrion this week, as he and Varys fret over how Meereen is to be managed in Daenerys’s ongoing absence. The city has been paralyzed by fear, to the point where the two can seemingly walk freely without fear of assassins lurking around every corner. There’s even a new Red Priest setting up shop in a back alley, preaching about the locals needing to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps or some such tautology. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air, and Tyrion isn’t sure how Dany would be welcomed back, assuming she ever returns at all. In any case, they can’t leave, as their attention is soon drawn to an inferno raging at the harbor. Someone torched all the ships. “We won’t be sailing to Westeros anytime soon,” Tyrion muses. Greeeaaat.

And what of our missing queen? As Jorah and Daario soon realize, she has been taken by a much larger Dothraki horde than the show had budget for in Season 1. Jorah — whose greyscale is continuing to spread, so no high fives for him — picks up the ring/bread crumb/leaf of Lorien that Dany dropped, but it’s not like it’s hard to follow the tracks of like a thousand horses.

Indeed, Dany is being hustled forward, wrists bound, amidst a sea of mounted Dothraki. And once again, they’re doing that thing where they assume she can’t speak their language as they brag about all the rape-y things they want to do to her. But when she is finally brought to the tent of Khal Moro (really creative with names, the Dothraki), she reads him the riot act, and all 18 of her titles, and he and his bloodriders do they only sensible thing: laugh in her face. Obvious dragon collar aside, she is no one to them but “the millionth of her name, queen of nothing, and slave of Khal Moro.” The other wives in the tent want Dany beheaded, because only witches have hair like hers (it is known!), but she finally gets the Khal’s attention by dropping the late Drogo’s name. Why he believes this part of her story, but not the rest, is not known.

Good news! It is forbidden to sleep with a Khal’s widow, so Moro will protect her from any further violations. Bad news: all Khal widows are supposed to live out their twilight years together way over at Vaes Dothrak, the closest thing the Dothraki have to a holy city. So I hope Dany has a few more personal days saved up, because those babies don’t roll over.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Arya’s still blind. The Waif smacks her around with a bo staff. “See you tomorrow,” she calls as she exits. End scene. More to say on that…when there is something to say.

Enough pre-gaming. Let’s get this sad, grey-tinted party started.

Next week: HODOR. (And, I guess, Bren — Barn? Baron? Bart? Whoever.)

3 thoughts on “GAME OF THRONES: “The Red Woman””

  1. Amazing review, could you teach me how to write like this. please… contact me via my email
    thanks in advance. 🙂

  2. Great review. I don’t have HBO, nor do I plan on getting it. But I do like Game of Thrones, despite it’s many flaws. Thanks to your reviews, I could keep up with the series. Keep up the good work. ??

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