Episode 51 “The Red Woman”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
At long last, it is the premiere of Game of Thrones!
For those who have not seen the latest episode, turn back now, for this a reader’s spoiler nightmare. For those who don’t live under a rock and have been anxiously awaiting for this night, clutching your pillows at night whilst you come up with ways that Jon Snow could have possibly survived being stabbed fifteen times, worry no more. We know the truth, or do we?
Surprisingly, Game of Thrones did not jerk us around, as they have been known to do with cliffhangers. Instead we dive right into the cold night at The Wall, a lonely, mournful howl breaks the eerie silence. A form, cloaked in black, lays in a pool of blood, seeping into the foot packed ice. We bite our nails, willing the camera to angle in faster, to give us a glimpse of a breath, a rise of the chest, a twitch of an eye, anything to prove that Jon Snow is indeed alive. The howling grows louder, and Jon Snow lays dead, and blue, his blood still wet upon the snow.
Sir Davos (Liam Cunningham) is the first to hear the cries of Ghost, and the first to discover Jon’s body. With the help of some loyal Crows, they transport his body into Sir Davos’s room, along with Ghost. We know Jon’s dead, they know he’s dead, but still we hope that by some magic Jon Snow will rise again, whether it be as a White Walker, or by some miracle played by Melisandre (Carice van Houten). That’s what Game of Thrones is all about isn’t it? Magic? Overcoming death? Getting what you want, no matter the cost? At this time, Melisandre appears, somehow knowing what has already happened, the grief of Stannis’s death still fresh on her face.
We assume she’ll parade in, throw out some mumbo jumbo about Lord of the Light, and terrors of the night, roll up her sleeves, and bring him to life. We don’t care how, not even if it means she rides his rotting corpse like a stallion. I wouldn’t put it past GoT to do such a thing; after all, they’ve done worse. But alas, no such luck. Instead of being the strong, sure woman of God, she is a broken and doubting woman. None of this makes sense to her; she even exclaims, “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell.” You can see Davos struggle to give her a smug grin, as if to say, ‘I told you your beliefs were nonsense woman’, but the proof of it being the death of a good man he cannot, and instead resides to something along the lines of ‘I know not of flames, mistress, but he is gone.’ With that, our hopes of Jon’s revival perish as well.
Back at Castle Black, Thorne (Owen Teale), the murderous scumbag, convenes with the rest of the Night’s Watch, and boldfaced admits that he and the other officers killed Jon Snow. At first he is met with rage, but manages to turn the others to his favor, by admitting he has always been loyal, and never disobeyed an order. I’m sorry, but since when did murdering your Lord Commander make you loyal? Regardless, at least he had the balls to stand up for what he did, no matter how wrong he may have been.
Back in Davos’s room, the few men who are actually loyal to their Lord Commander talk of strategy. Davos sends one of the men away, with the words of. “You are not the only ones who owes your lives to Jon Snow.” What could he mean by that? He had to be talking about the Wildlings. This could be huge. For men of the Night’s Watch to not only band with Wildlings but fight against the rest of their brothers. The idea alone is unfathomable, but it could be their only hope.
We cut to Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) as he looks on the corpse of the kennel girl. He mutters to himself of how not even he could have done anything to her that the hounds hadn’t already done. Shudder. Seriously, someone needs to end this guy already. But we almost feel a little touched for the creepster, for maybe he isn’t completely devoid of love. I mean he does seem saddened by her loss — that is, until he refuses the offer to bury or burn her. Instead he orders her to be fed to her hounds. Maybe she would have wanted it that way? Or maybe Ramsay is just a sick twisted psychopath.
As if his day couldn’t get any worse from his wife running away with Reek, and his favorite play thing now dead, his father, Roose (Michael McElhatton), shows up, taunting him about being victorious over Stannis’s death, something that hasn’t exactly been fully revealed. Let’s not forget the fact that Roose also managed to get his wife pregnant, and yet Ramsay has failed in his endeavors and only managed to scare his wife away, essentially pissing on his father’s efforts to raise him in social status. Payback’s a bitch, Ramsay.
Whilst Roose chastises his bastard son, Reek (Alfie Allen) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) somehow managed to survive the jump out of the castle and are now on the run. Hounds can be heard baying farther behind them, and they have no choice but to cross the river in the freezing cold in order to cover their scent. I’m sorry, but you’re running in snow. Even if they do manage to lose the hounds, their tracks can easily be followed. Stupid stupid stupid. Should have kept dry and continued to run instead. They manage to find an old fallen down tree and bunker inside, the water freezing into their clothes. Now these two come from a cold environment, they know that in order to stay warm after getting wet, you have to strip down and share body heat. A perfect opportunity to form a possible romance between the two, but that would be ludicrous. Which is another surprise from Game of Thrones by not following their usual M.O. Seems like they are toning it down a bit. Not only are Sansa and Reek freezing themselves to death, but they didn’t lose the search party. Big surprise there! Reek attempts to sacrifice himself but it doesn’t matter, cause he’s only a few feet away from where Sansa hides and the hounds sniff her out. Just when we think all hope is lost, and Sansa will be back at the mercy of her rapey husband, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) ride in out of nowhere, somehow knowing where they would be at that exact moment, and save the day. Pod even manages to kill someone. Go Pod!
This is where we sort of hope that Brienne will look at Sansa, and say, ‘told you to come with me, but you didn’t listen and now look what happened’, instead she kneels and offers herself in service, which Sansa finally accepts. About time! So now the question is, where will they go? Reek had made mention of going to the Night’s Watch, since Jon is Lord Commander, but we all know that’s no longer the case. If they go, they are doomed to die. If they don’t go, they will die. No one is loyal to the Starks anymore. Besides, where is Rickon? We’ve seen the story unfold for everyone but him. Could he possibly be the saviour Stark for Winterfell? We know Bran isn’t going to do anything about it, he’s too busy becoming one with the Children. So it looks like they are up a creek without a paddle on this one. I’m thinking we shouldn’t get too attached to Sansa, or anyone near her at this point.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei (Lena Headey) sits in a simple gown, unlike her normal accouterments, with shorn hair, and even more shocking, without a glass of wine clutched in her grasp. Out of all the women who have faced hardships and changes, she seems to be the most transformed, one might even same, humble? Hell, I would be too if I was walked naked through town, being spit on, and covered in feces and piss. After all that, she sits there, with almost a smile on her face. Nothing else could possibly go wrong for her, until she gets word of a boat from Dorne, carrying her twin brother/lover, and her daughter’s corpse. Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) does his best to comfort her, but Cersei isn’t having any of it. She reveals the witch’s prophesy, that all three of her children would perish. They embrace, and we all hold our breath, remembering the last time one of their children died, and they did the old twin hanky panky right next to their son’s dead body. Instead, we get our third surprise from the writer’s of Game of Thrones, no such event happens. Could Cersei have learned her lesson? That swapping spit and bumping uglies with your brother is typically shameful? Or is she just waiting for things to calm down and the attention is off of her before resuming her sleeping habits? Regardless, she isn’t the same woman she used to be.
Now Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) on the other hand, stays true to herself and her brother’s acts. She still resides in church prison, listening to the musings of Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham). Margaery, being the strong and cunning woman she is, begs of her brother’s health, when begging does not work, she demands as the Queen. The Septa dashes her hopes, and goes to strike her, just as the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) walks in, and relinquishes Unella. Margeary asks again of her brother, but the High Sparrow waves it off, if not a bit more kind the Septa. He tells her to confess, but Margaery claims she has done nothing wrong, to which the High Sparrow challenges her as pure, perfect, holy without sin. Margeary admits that no one is and the High Sparrow seems pleased with this answer, but we aren’t! Does this mean they will lock up every single sinner, no matter how small the sin may be? That’s going to be one full church, and pretty soon there won’t be anyone to guard King’s Landing. Maybe that’s all the plan, maybe this will benefit Daenerys to ride in and take her rightful place upon the throne.
Back in Dorne, Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) walks with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and her daughter Tyene Sand (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers). They speak of Oberon, and his affinity for sleeping with all beautiful people. As they laugh and remember him, Doran receives a missive carrying news of Myrcella’s murder. Before he can properly react his guard is killed by Tyene, and Ellaria stabs Doran in the heart. None of the other guards move to stop them. Doran does not understand why. Ellaria claims that he does not know his people for he had never left the palace. That they are angry and want revenge for the deaths of Oberon and his sister Elia, and that a weak man will never again rule Dorne. Before he dies, he asks about the fate of his son Trystane. Ellaria claims that he, too, is weak.
Trystane (Toby Sebastian) is visited by the other two Sand Snakesm Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Nymeria (Jessica Henwick). Trystane refuses any food that they may have brought, for he mourns being away from Myrcella. They sneer, and tell him they are not there to feed him but kill him, and who would he prefer to be killed by? Trystane makes his choice, but before he can even raise his sword to strike, the second Sand Snake that stands behind him, spears him in the head. This is one thing on which Game of Thrones never seems to disappoint. We all love a good death scene, and the more bloody and out of the box, the better. At least now Trystane can be with his one true love. It’s almost like a Romeo and Juliet tale, except they get killed by badass women, which is better in my opinion. So at this point, is Ellaria going to be the ruler of Dorne? Will she siege an attack on King’s Landing? Either way, I predict that we don’t get attached to her either. Those who kill a king tend to die pretty quickly in this world.
Meanwhile in Meereen, the people are without a ruler, without a law to follow by. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) have taken it upon themselves to find the leader of the Sons of the Harpy. As they walk amongst the ruins they come upon a priest preaching the word of the Lord of the Light, calling the freed slaves to action to fight, as their Mother is no longer there to fight for them. Varys grows worrisome to the reactions of people, while Tyrion keeps to his calm assurance, even when cries can be heard, and people run past them, panicked. They follow the opposite path of those running. Smoke can be seen in the sky. Hope rises in our chest, maybe Daenarys found Drogon and they are flying above the town catching fire to the Masters of Meereen. The smoke parts, the hope in us dies out. All the ships in the harbour are set on fire. If and when Daenarys does show back up, it will be a long time before her, and her army can make it to King’s Landing.
Thankfully Jorah (Iain Glen) and Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) are in search for the love of their life. I’m sorry, but when your Queen goes missing, I doubt an exiled knight, and a sell sword is enough to save her. Where’s her army? Why aren’t they all looking for her? She is the reason they are where they are. While we expect Daario to mock and undermine Sir Jorah for his feelings of Daenarys, he doesn’t and instead he almost gives him respect for his loyalty to her, and they agree they want to live long enough to see her conquer the world. Sorry Jorah, but at the rate the greyscale is taking over your arm, you don’t have long. That brings me to another thing, why does he allow himself amongst other people knowing full well how contagious he is? That is just selfish! Nevermind his undying love for his Queen, he is going to wipe out her people by even being there. I believe it’s time for him to make his exit, post haste. We all are growing tired of his sappy-stalkery-not-leaving-the-friend-zone love for Daenarys. News flash! She hates you. As they discuss their love for her, they come upon the ring of hoof marks left by the Dothraki with her ring in the middle of it all. Congratulations boys, you know who has her, and you two will definitely defeat all hundred thousand of them single handed, and rescue the damsel. Right. So what’s the plan?
Meanwhile, Daenarys (Emilia Clarke) walks, bound to a Dothraki. She listens on as the men near her talk about their plans for her that night. They are not wise to her knowledge of the language, and it makes you wonder why she doesn’t reveal this trait of hers, but she is a woman who always has a plan. They come to their encampment and she is presented before Khal Moro (Joseph Naufahu). He remarks upon her beauty and goes to strip her clothing off when finally she orders him not to touch her in Dothraki. He is surprised but humored, and laughs at her as she lists off her name. It isn’t until she mentions Khal Drogo that a look of shock and horror crosses his face, for it is forbidden to touch another Khal’s wife, no matter if he lives or not. She asks for his help to return her to Meereen in exchange for a thousand horses. This is a hefty price and one that a Dothraki would not hesitate to accept. Khal Moro looks at her forlornly and tells her that her place is at Vaes Dothrak, the only place a widow of a Khal may live. Daenarys’s face sinks, and all hope that she may get back to Meereen soon, vanish. Her only rescue at this point are the two love stricken men searching for her, and we all know what great amount of help they will be.
All the way in Braavos, Arya (Maisie Williams) sits in the street, blind and begging for coin. She listens to the passing feet, and voices. It has not been long since she was made blind, so we can assume she is not very well at differentiating the sounds around her. Waif (Faye Marsay) walks up to her, and only refers to her as blind girl. She carries two staves and tosses one at Arya, who clumsily fumbles for it, gripping it awkwardly, trying to follow the other girl’s voice. Waif strikes her, Arya swings and misses. She begs her to stop as she is blind, but Waif continues to strike her over and over, and we grimace as each connection hits harder. Arya fails to make any hit on Waif, and finally after being hit enough to keep her down, Waif stops her onslaught and tells her she will be back tomorrow. Arya is about to get some very important training, for what purpose we are unsure. She is the one who has no ties to the throne, or of anything in Westeros. What will her final purpose be? What is she to become in the grand scheme of things? Hers is a story to keep following.
Back at the Wall, Thorne approaches Sir Davos and the others, offering them amnesty if they surrender by nightfall, and Davos will be free to go south, unharmed. Davos humorously requests mutton for his travel South, practically spitting at Thornes offer. Thorne reminds him to make his decision before nightfall and leaves. The men know that the second they open the door they will die, their only hope is that Melisandre can do something against forty men. It’s been quite a while since Jon Snow has died, so why hasn’t he turned yet? They know what happens, they know the White Walkers exist. So why haven’t they burned his body yet?
Melisandre, on the other hand, is back in her room, staring into the flames of her fireplace. She does not speak an incantation, she does not call upon her lord of the light, she does not look for the future in her flames. Instead, she appears broken, as if she can longer trust the fire before her. Her attention is diverted to that of a tarnished mirror resting upon a table. Standing before it, she undresses herself, her eyes never leaving the reflection. Maybe she is about to perform some magic to bring help, maybe the assumption that she has to sleep with the corpse of Jon Snow was correct. Then she does the unexpected, she takes off the amulet at her throat. The amulet that has never left her. Her eyes go back to her reflection but this time revealing an old and bent woman. Her breasts sagging down to her stomach, her back bent, her nose long and crooked, her hair white and long falling to her bottom. She stares at herself, defeat etched in her face. Without a word she crawls into bed and sleeps. Out of all the women we believed to have real power from a god, she was the one, but now her King is dead, and so too is the saviour of the North. The flames have betrayed her. Her Lord of Light is nowhere to be found.
So what is to become of our daring females? For it seems as if their lives were the most affected this time around. For Sansa and Brienne, I see them traversing to the Wall, and perhaps Jon Snow will help them? Daenarys will continue traveling with the Dothraki, and somehow convince them to join her army. As for Arya, she has a long journey ahead of her that won’t quite be revealed yet; the paths before her go in many directions. Now, Melisandre. She may be broken but I don’t believe she has given up. She has one more trick up her sleeve that will surprise us all. Perhaps the flames will show her the way after all.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on HBO.