What follows is my immediate reaction called THE BEST AND WORST MOMENTS OF GAME OF THRONES, EPISODE 601, “THE RED WOMAN.” (I wrote it on Monday morning, but I’m a bit slow getting it up here). It looks like this will become a regular Monday-morning column on Winteriscoming.net, a Fansided site I contribute to regularly, beginning next week.
Okay, gang, here are some of my highly subjective, highly personal thoughts and feels after viewing last night’s premiere episode and getting a chance to sleep on it. I enjoyed the episode and it did a good job returning to everyone (except Bran) and setting up the new season: it had some superb moments, primarily character moments rather than any plot driving narratives, but I also felt it lacked just a little bit of the bang I was expecting. Overall I give the episode a solid Game of Thrones B+.
The impressions I list below are just my own musings, and over time I may even rethink how I feel about them. I think I can defend some of these points on an intellectual/logical level while others are just emotional/internal feelings which may be less defensible in the cold light of day . . . but they’re as immediate and honest as I can make them. I actually surprised myself with how many scenes/sequences made both lists, actually. Here they are:
BEST MOMENT NUMBER FIVE—TYRION AND VARYS GET BACK TOGETHER: I love the back-and-forth between these two damaged and calculating political animals who still have some decency in their hearts, and their relationship is one of my favorite ones on the show. They’re continuing their reunion in Meereen to assist Daenerys, which is great, but see my Worst Moments list on how this return to the imp/eunuch bro-ship also fell flat for me in this episode.
BEST MOMENT NUMBER FOUR—SEEING SER DAVOS AND JON’S BLACK BROTHERS TEAM UP: It’s always nice to see the good guys getting it together on this show, and I have to say it thrilled me to see Ser Davos and the boys gather around Jon Snow’s body instinctively, even though their outrage at his assassination pits them against terrible odds. They act, as good men do, by saving Ghost from a certain death in his pen by crossbow once the bad guys got around to it and send Dolorous Ed off to get Tormund and the Wildlings while they bolt the door against Alliser Thorne. That conversation through the door between Ser Davos and Alliser is well done, and Ser Davos knows that the Red Woman is near, and what she is capable of, should they be able to ally her to them. No matter what happens to Jon Snow’s corpse, the snuffing of this storyline’s excitement with Jon’s passing/temporary incapacitation/whatever I had feared did not happen, and that was awesome. And that is Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun the giant we see smashing through the Castle Black gate in the trailer, right? Winter may be coming and the dead are coming with it, but the pissed-off Wildlings Jon Snow saved at Hardhome are coming first. I hope they make it in time.
BEST MOMENT NUMBER THREE—SANSA AND THEON HUG: another great moment for me. Theon finally comes through, and when he hugs the brutalized Sansa to provide her warmth he has redeemed himself a bit after all the times he has failed her. This man was the Stark family Theon again, the ward who readily offered his sword alongside Robb after the death of Ned. The poor, violently-screwed up Theon gave it everything he had (readily attempting to sacrifice himself to the hunters to save her), and by getting Sansa out of Winterfell he gave her a chance to be rescued and survive to become the Stark woman we all know she is capable of becoming. Sansa can handle the mantle of the hero and finally, as a loyal company forms around her, I fully expect her to take the brutal world by the horns this season.
BEST MOMENT NUMBER TWO—MELISANDRE REVEALS THE CRONE: A brilliant moment. We have all seen the hints that Melisandre is something very old, and in the two seconds it took me to get over the pretty lady (see Worst Moment Number 4) turning into The Shining lady (as I see bloggers calling her now) I sensed the wonderful plunge into the character’s depths and I enjoyed the awesomeness of it. Melisandre became much more of the unknown ‘other’ in that scene, the ancient witch-creature without her artifact of illusion, looking at her own reflection, looking at what she really is. With Stannis and Jon Snow both apparently dead, she has failed to find the savior she has searched for apparently all of her life. Her competence with her own magics and prophesizing have been spotty at best, but I’m liking the idea of her presence at Castle Black even more, as she curls up in her bed with her old heart still beating (I presume it still functions), only a few yards away from Jon Snow’s heart, which has only recently stopped beating, and Ser Davos aware of what she can do.
BEST MOMENT NUMBER ONE—BRIENNE KNEELS BEFORE SANSA: oh, that look on Brienne of Tarth’s face when Sansa accepts her oath of fealty. The tall girl, finally, after losing and failing and losing, finally achieves a quest (she is all sacrifice, all Hero’s Journey). And Brienne did it with style, riding in with shiny armor and flashing Valyrian steel and saving the day in brutal battle when all was lost for Sansa and Theon, and wow, that look on her face when she was rewarded. Huge kudos to Gwendoline Christie’s acting talent for that moment: raw, angelic, pure, tears-in-the-eyes-simmering. A good girl gets a win. A rare moment in Game of Thrones. I loved, loved, loved it.
And now my Worst moments, some oddly embedded in the same sequence my Best Moments:
WORST MOMENT NUMBER FIVE—BRIENNE AND POD COME OUT OF NOWHERE: I understand that all storytelling requires coincidences, I do. But Brienne and Pod stumbling across Sansa and Theon at the exact right moment does chafe my collar a bit. I mean, Brienne hasn’t been watching Sansa since she abandoned her Broken Tower vigil, right? Brienne was Stannis-chopping when Sansa and Theon jumped off of Winterfell so did she come back and see the candle still burning or hear the hounds or what? I LOVED the sword fighting, the rescue of Sansa and Theon and Brianne’s immensely satisfying success (see Best Moment Number One), but couldn’t we have had even a three second shot of Brianne and Pod tracking them? Maybe I’m nitpicking too much here. I probably am.
WORST MOMENT NUMBER FOUR—MELISANDRE REVEALS THE CRONE: First of all, let me remind you that I am male, and, along with her superb acting talents, Clarice Van Houten does possess, as Seinfeld put it best, “other qualities prized by the superficial man.” (The Switch) Though I suspected, as we all did, that Melisandre is extremely old, I was still somewhat put off by her reveal as the ancient crone. Yeah, it was an embarrassingly shallow male reaction, but one of her most powerful weapons has been her illusion of intense sexual attractiveness, so at least give me points for admitting it. But this dropping of the sexy trick was of course was a great storytelling device and the depth it brings to both the character and the story also lands it on my Best Moments list as well.
WORST MOMENT NUMBER THREE—WHY HASN’T JAIME BUTCHERED A SPARROW YET: A bit silly here, and I hope this point shifts into my Best Moments in the next episode. The producers gave some time for Jaime’s return with Myrcella’s body and Cersei’s reaction, which was a great choice and resulted in a great scene between two awfully bereaved people who have much brutality in their natures but who are also parents as well. But I want so want to see Jaime’s sword-swinging revenge on the Faith Militant. I know it’s coming, but I’m making this a Worst point because I don’t want to wait.
WORST MOMENT NUMBER TWO—TYRION AND VARYS BACK TOGETHER: another Best Moment with a built-in Worst Moment. I am a HUGE fan of the Tyrion-Varys buddy duo and their repartee, but their little scene in this first episode felt dialogue-flat and frankly disappointed me. Yes, Dany’s fleet burned, but give the boys their witty dialogue, please.
WORST MOMENT NUMBER ONE—THE ASSASSINATION OF DORAN MARTELL/AREO HOTAH: I’m sorry, but the Sand Snake story line is thick and lumpy cough syrup and it just got thicker and lumpier for me. I’ve had few good moments in Dorne—the entire show plows down to a crawl for me every time I see those gorgeous gardens, and I was really hoping S6 would change that. I won’t mention now the Dorne thing is becoming different from the books, but despite the new gobs of hurtling blood I still don’t get excited to be there. Doran Martell, despite how much he brags about being a political animal, was an idiot for trusting Ellaria and her Sand Snakes so implicitly after everything Ellaria has said and done (she is angry because she feels he hasn’t avenged the murder of their family members, so she’s correcting that by murdering more family members?) And now she was able to turn Doran’s personal guards against both the Prince and their commander, Areo Hotah? And what’s with the coincidence with the raven message—how could Ellaria be sure that she and Tyene would be in the presence of Doran when he got the note so they could kill him before he could act? Do raven messages come on a regularly scheduled timetable? Or did the Sand Snakes stand beside Doran all day long until the message arrived? I guess they expected the message to come quickly, but did it come from the boat or King’s Landing? Maybe I missed something.
So, there they are. Some quick personal thoughts and reactions.