Show: Game of Thrones
Watched: Episode 51 – April 24, 2016
Title: The Red Woman
Summary: Lots of threads
NOTE: SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING. This review/discussion contains tons of spoilers about the episode and even ones crossing over from the books. It’s really my free-for-all musing given all the information at my disposal.
Plot threads are unraveled and discussed one by one.
Jon / Castle Black – As we closed with Jon’s body, so we open. Sigh. The camera pans across the wall and Castle Black to the scene of the crime. Ghost is howling plaintively in the background. Davos is the first to spot the corpse and rushes to the scene, followed by Dolorous Edd and all of Jon’s remaining friends — how it is that they were all waiting around the corner? They carry his body inside and Edd closes his eyes. Davos asks about ghost. Then a knock at the door, and the Red Lady Melisandre shows. Given the episode title and her presumed skillz at resurrection a big tease. But Mel is so depressed she almost looks like a different actress. First Stannis then Jon. Things haven’t gone well with her vision prophesied royal bloods. She mumbles something about having seen him (Jon) in the flames fighting at Winterfell.
Next, Alliser Thorne sits in the main hall and tries to spin his treachery. He takes full on credit and goes for a half-assed Julius Caesar style pitch mostly focused on Jon’s terrible direction of leadership and his helping the Wildlings. I think this could have been better. Brutus, Cassius and all had a better argument (even though I’m a huge Caesar fan). They made the reasonable (to Romans) pitch about Caesar having taken too much power (kingship) unto himself. In the political context of the Roman Republic which like America valued the balance of power, and with the historic founding story involving the overthrow of Tarquin as example, they had some decent spin. Alliser Thorne not so much. But he does sound like he believes what he says, and I’ve always thought the show (and the actor) has done a good job humanizing his role.
Back in the impromptu Jon Snow memorial chamber, Ghost licks his hand. The gang there talks about how they are going to get revenge, and out of this alive. Some want to just attack. Davos argues they need to appeal for help to the outside (presumably he’s talking about the Wildlings and/or the Red Lady).
Later in the episode Thorne comes to their door and demands their surrender by nightfall, but offers them free passage. Inside, they know he likely will kill them. Davos reiterates that the Red Woman is their only chance.
However, she is moping in her room in what is clearly a crisis of faith. She glances at the flame and her reflection in the (crappy) mirror. Then undresses. Again?!? I even commented out loud, because she’s always getting her clothes off. But then she takes off her necklace and is revealed to be an ancient crone. Interesting. Is this merely a glamour curtesy of the Lord of Light? Or does she feel young normally? Uh, and incidentally, the full body shot was kinda extreme.
Anyway, but ending the show on this note the writers drag out the question of Jon Snow and his resumed undeadly return. It was too much to hope they’d get right into it.
Ramsay / Winterfell – With Joffery dead, Ramsay is easily everyone’s favorite villain on the show. Really, he does a fabulous job. Here he is delivering the eulogy over Myranda’s body, or at least musing about her in the presence of Maester Wolkan. There is some depth to him and you can see who he liked the hot-but-evil bitch. Textbook touch when he orders her body fed to the dogs.
Next, he has to take some more abuse from his ice cold father (no wonder he’s a whack-job). Roose congratulates him for his battlefield victory but berates him about loosing Sansa, who we (the audience) are reminded (again) is the key to holding the north. We learn that Ramsay has hunting parties out looking for her. No duh! Why isn’t he on the trail himself?
Sansa / Theon – I guess because of what is about to happen. Sansa and Theon run through the forest — perhaps even the very same set (I mean forest) that we saw way way back in the Season 1 Episode 1 intro. Theon is pretty nimble too for someone without most of his toes because he’s doing the leading. He even forces Sansa across a freezing river to “loose the trail” (hounds are barking in the distance). They make it across, but are in serious danger of dying of hyperthermia and have to take a break under a tree to freeze to death.
The hunters draw close. Theon valiantly runs out and pretends she is dead, but the ruse lasts for all of 2 seconds before the hounds find Sansa, who isn’t doing much more than cowering and shivering. All looks grim until…
Brienne / Pod – ride in for the rescue. An oddball helter-skelter fight scene too as Brienne initially does well, then is knocked from her horse and barely — with the help of Theon and Pod — manages to do in all the Bolton soldiers. Sansa, again, cowers under the tree. After, Brienne kneels before Sansa and again offers her services. This time a grateful, less “innocent”, Sansa takes her up on the offer. The exchange of vows worked nicely, even more underscored by Sansa’s marginal memory of the oath.
Cersei / Jaime – Cersei chills in her room, still reeling from her “confession” as Jaime’s ship sails into the Dubrovnik — I mean King’s Landing — harbor. She rushes down all excited to catch sight of her brother on the launch with a gold draped corpse — uh oh. The actual bad news and Cersei’s reaction is skipped, cutting to the twins on a balcony talking about death, their dead mother, the witch’s prophecy and all that. Jaime doubles down as usual saying “Fuck everyone who isn’t us” and this time Cersei needs him again enough to hold him close.
Margarey – Is still cooped up barefoot and dirty in her cell. An annoying Septa reads scripture to her and demands confession. The High Septon swaps in to try good cop. Marg still isn’t ready to yield and asks after Loras, but we don’t learn anything.
Dorne – Price Doran is limping along with Ellaria Sand and they exchange what seems to be pleasantries about his and his brother’s personalities. But Tyene Sand (Bronn’s “girl”) stabs Hotah in the back and Ellaria takes out her pseudo-brother-in-law. It’s all too sad and still fairly cheesy.
Then back on the Dornish boat the young price, Doran’s son Trystane is ambushed by his cousins the Sand girls. They make short and gruesome work of him. I guess Dorne is in full revolt.
Tyrion and Varys – walk the streets of Meereen exchanging their usual jokes. There is a whole thing where Tyrion tries to give a beggar girl some money and she thinks he wants to eat her baby (his Valyrian being bad). It doesn’t really work too well. They wander past a Red Priest giving a sermon. Not clear what that’s about. Then they see a bunch of people running and follow the trouble upstream to find the ships burning in the harbor. I guess Dany won’t be sailing anytime soon when she returns.
Jorah and Daario – a exploring Northern Ireland in search of Dany and the show reminds us gratuitously of Jorah’s grayscale by having him take a peek. No surprise, it’s bigger. They find charred ram, clearly Drogon’s leavings and then Dany’s ring. Not totally sure how they manage to do that other than it being on the one untrodden spot where she was standing — and magically figures out that the horde has her.
Dany – Is being marched along with lots of other slaves in this new Khalasar. We find out Khal Moro is in charge and Dany listens to the Dothraki discuss the many ways in which they plan to “have” her (in Dothraki). Their arrival at the Khal is heralded by one of the most amusing bits of the episode, where the Khal and his bloodriders debate “the 5 best things in life,” in which, according to the Khal, “seeing a woman naked for the first time” outweighs “slaying another warrior.”
Dany pulls out her rusty Dothraki and lists her titles, but the Khal isn’t impressed until he learns she’s a Khal’s widow. Off she must go then to Vaes Dothrak to live with the crones. Maybe not the greatest, but buys her more time than “entertaining” the soldiers would have.
Arya – is not only still wearing uncomfortable white contact lenses, but is begging in the street. The Waif creeps up on her and beats her with a staff for a while. Clearly, in future episodes, Arya needs to listen to the Force and hone her blind-girl fighting skills!
Overall, it’s great to have the show back but this is one of those episodes that has so much scene setting, and so many story threads that no one really gets that much time to move the plot. That being said, it’s not all just establishing position because a whole lot of stuff happens. As usual in this show everyone’s position is shifting rapidly and isn’t always what it seems. GRRM (and D&B) love to each plot line to alternate highs and lows. Although frankly, there are plenty of lows right now.
I can’t believe we have to wait another week!