“Game of Thrones” returned with a literal vengeance in its season premiere episode “The Red Woman.”
Not only did we see cliffhangers from the fifth season’s finale tied up, but we saw the slow, methodical setup of the plot lines at work this year. However, this slow setup didn’t deter from the engaging scenes that made up this exciting hour of television.
The female characters particularly shined – as did some of the supporting characters we rarely see – and redemption and heartbreak happened in spades, as well as what might be considered one of the craziest twists I’ve ever seen in this show. Tread carefully, because these next paragraphs are dark, and full of spoilers.
Sansa (Sophie Turner), Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) really shined in this episode. They showed the individual strengths that define their characters and were able to save themselves from sticky situations. Especially Melisandre, who seems to be evolving to a fully realized character as the audience observes things from her perspective, she constantly seems to question her faith and her role after the death of Stannis Baratheon last season. We see this questioning in the final scene of the episode as Melisandre takes a real good look at her true self.
Beyond just the female characters, several smaller characters also got to shine, including Davos (Liam Cunningham) who becomes a true hero when he protects Jon Snow’s body from the rest of the Night’s Watch and Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), but also gets off a few funny lines during an exchange with Thorne. Podrick (Daniel Portman) also got to shine as he holds his own in a fight to protect Sansa with his liege Brienne of Tarth. Edd Tollett (Ben Crompton), a Night’s Watch brother, and one of Jon’s remaining friends, was visibly horrified and devastated to see his friend slain, and announced that he plans to devise a way to enact revenge on the members of the Night’s Watch who wronged Jon.
It was exciting to see his character change from the wise-cracking know-it-all that we are familiar with to a revenge-hungry fighter. Darrio (Michiel Huisman) and Jorah (Iain Glen) also have a fantastic interchange as they search the Dothraki Sea for Daenerys.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) begins to regain some of his lost sanity as he protects Sansa from Bolton soldiers. Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair said it best when she tweeted “I’m really into a version of this show where Brienne, Pod, Edd, and Davos could be the heroes we deserve.”
As for the other characters in the show, their scenes simply felt like setup. The scene in Dorne felt as though it was attempting to erase any faults the Dornish plot line had in the fifth season. In the process it removed one of the most interesting, fascinating and devious characters in the books, deciding to instead keep a character whose arc is copied from a separate, more interesting, book character.
Still, the episode was riveting to watch, filled with twists, great introduction to main storylines, a direction for the main characters and gave new life to characters who have had yet to shine. Overall, this first episode starts off with a bang and promises to deliver in every way.