We open on the Wall and descend into Castle Black, where Ghost is howling up a storm. And there’s Jon Deady-McDead-Dead Snow, right where we left him at the end of season 5. We linger on his deadness a moment to fully absorb the waxy finality in Kit Harington’s (DEAD) doe eyes; I’m half expecting some sort of neon ClipArt arrow graphic to appear onscreen along with a blinking SEE??! beside it.
Yay, Sir Davos! He discovers Jon Snow and quickly has his (DEAD! REEEEEALLLLY DEAD!) body moved to a private cell so that it can be safely preserved for Beric Dondarrion to revive him in several episodes’ time placed in a locked room for no apparent reason. While Davos stares at the blood-soaked snow like he suddenly has a craving for a slushee, Dolorous Edd and friends move their Lord Commander’s body to a dark room, where Sir Davos tells Edd to spring Ghost from his kennel. Woooot, Ghost! EAT OLLIE, BOY!
The Red Woman arrives and appears upset and confused by Jon Snow’s death; she saw him in her fires, fighting at Winterfell. Meanwhile I’m struggling with an internal battle; I was gutted when Melisandre burned Princess Shireen, but now I’m all TEAM R’HLLOR! because I want her to save Jon Snow. The night is dark and full of moral ambiguity.
Now we head South to Winterfell, where the dreaded Ramsay is lamenting over Myranda’s broken body. No moral ambiguity with this one; I played and replayed the moment Myranda hit the ground and shattered like a dropped Crunchie bar last season and cheered every time. Just as Ramsay’s shred of humanity is starting to make me uncomfortable, he tells his maester to feed her to her father’s dogs. Phew.
Next, Roose and Ramsay are having a post-battle huddle, and Roose is digging his finger into Ramsay’s one true fear; losing his place as heir to Winterfell. He chastises Ramsay for having played games with Sansa and Theon that ultimately led to their escape. I love the way Roose is the only one who manages to mess with Ramsay’s head the way Ramsay does with everyone else. This scene feels like it’s foreshadowing something though. Ramsay murdering his father? Or killing his father’s Frey wife and their unborn child? Some heinous plan is surely brewing beneath Ramsay’s resentment, but for now he reassures his father that his hounds are full of fresh Myranda-meat and chomping at the bit to track down Sansa and Theon.
And now we come to the best part of the entire episode; a scene I felt marked the death of Reek, the restoration of Theon Greyjoy and the start of Sansa-Motherfucking-Stark, Princess of Power.
Sansa and Theon are running through the snow, pursued by Bolton soldiers and Ramsay’s hounds. They find refuge beneath a dead tree. There’s a really lovely moment when Theon hugs Sansa, and for the first time in six goddamned seasons we see her finally able to take comfort in another person.
Well, for a second or two. Then we hear the hounds. Theon urges Sansa to head North to the Wall where Jon is Lord Commander (Um…yeah. About that…) before handing himself over in an attempt to save her. He tells the Bolton soldiers that Sansa’s dead, but the hounds know the truth and lead Bolton’s men to her. Admittedly she was only three feet away.
Then, just as you think Sansa’s storyline is headed right back to sadistic shitsville, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne arrive to save the day. The Bolton soldiers attack but Brienne’s all, bitch please, I killed THE HOUND.
In the midst of all the Brienne-carving-up-Bolton-arse, Theon also manages to relocate his figurative nads and stick a sword through one of the soldiers, saving Pod in the process.
I really, really enjoyed this entire scene. I’m trying to think back to the last time something good happened to a character I like on this show. Erm…Hodor dispelling with Noah The-Year-My-Voice-Broke Taylor’s vindictive character Locke back in season 4 was nice. But really, this feels like the first time one of the show’s most brutalized characters has caught a break. I’m hoping we get more moments like this in season 6, and if they’re taking requests I’d like to see Sansa borrow Longclaw from Jon and personally cut Ramsay’s head off. Fingers crossed.
Anyhow, Brienne swears fealty to Sansa, Sansa does the vice-versa bit with a little help from Pod, and there’s a collective global sigh of thank-fuck-for-that from GOT fans everywhere.
Now we’re off to King’s Landing, where Cersei is catching the breeze on her newly-shorn neck. She receives word that a ship from Dorne has entered the harbor, and races off to meet Jaime and Myrcella with a genuine, not-the-result-of-taking-terrible-vengeance-on-someone smile on her face. Awwww. That actually does make the inevitable all the more heartbreaking.
As the boat rows ashore we see Jaime standing in front, and behind him is the body of Myrcella, shrouded in gold as the witch prophesied. The happiness falls from Cersei’s face like a curtain, replaced by grief and resignation. I have to say, Lena Headey gives Cersei a depth of character that the books never quite reach. Especially in the next scene, when she acknowledges that her daughter was good and pure, without jealousy or meanness – and thus completely unlike her in every way. You get the sense that part of Cersei understands her own monstrosity and longs for redemption.
Buuuuuut she wants vengeance more, and Jaime is on board: ‘Fuck everyone who isn’t us!’. I wonder if he’ll be singing the same tune if/when he finds out about Cersei’s former play-dates with recently-born-again-psychopath cousin Lancel?
Suddenly Dorne, where Ellaria Sand is sucking up to Doran Martell as they take yet another leisurely stroll through the gardens. Is it just me, or is Dorne basically a retirement village with really expensive tiles?
Wait, there’s been a raven! As the messenger approaches, Ellaria is all sheeeiiiiiit. Doran barely finishes reading the note before Tyene stabs Areo Hotah. Then Ellaria stabs Doran. Then Tyene skewers the messenger before he can run off and dob. Then Ellaria stabs Tyene. Then a guard cuts off Ellaria’s head. Then another guard stabs him. And the cycle continues until everyone in Dorne is dead, not Jon-Snow-dead but for-realsies-dead, because NO ONE FUCKING CARES ABOUT DORNE. No One. Dorne is the Albion Park of Westeros; you drive through it because you have to but you don’t get out of the car, for fuck’s sake.
Fine. Ellaria stabs Doran, Doran dies, and it becomes apparent that this season we’ll be forsaking yet more focus on much better storylines and character arcs in order to watch the ever-irritating Sand Snakes play smacky-hands or whatever.
Ugh, speaking of which…we cut to see the other two enter Prince Trystane’s cabin aboard his ride home. The Prince is painting an eyeball on a rock. Either this is some sort of abstract fan shout-out that I don’t understand, or Prince Trystane peaked in Dornish kindergarten. Either way it doesn’t matter; Surly Whale Rider Snake spears him through the head, and we’re all out of Martells.
Now to Bravos, where Arya Stark has become Blind Girl, begging on the streets. The Waif shows up and beats the shit out of her. I turn to my husband and express frustration that Arya has been training with the Faceless men in Bravos for about three years now. He tells me she’s only been there since the beginning of Season 5. Seriously, The House of Black and White plotline is like when you bump into your super-chatty neighbour and they keep talking and talking and you’re trying to wind the conversation up whenever there’s a pause but it spirals out of your control and before you know it they’re on a tangent about how their second cousin worked in banking but now they breed show poodles and sell party decorations out of their guest room. My point being: it’s been too fucking long. Hurry up and let Arya start on that kill list.
Woooot! Tyrion! Walking with Varys quite openly through the deserted and dangerous streets of Meereen. But according to Tyrion it’s fine, because they’re dressed differently. Varys tells Tyrion he walks like a rich man regardless and he would have robbed him once upon a time. Then there’s banter about Varys having no penis. Then Tyrion awkwardly offers money to a peasant woman to help her feed her baby, but Varys has to step in because Tyrion’s Valyrian is so bad. I love these two characters, but this scene is weirdly sitcom-esque and wooden. It gets better when Tyrion and Varys discover the Mother of Dragons’ entire fleet burning in the harbour. Either a dragon sneezed without covering its mouth, or the Sons of the Harpy are gearing up for war.
Cut to Jorah Mormont and Daario picking through Drogon’s leftovers. They then discover Daenerys’ ring and deduce that she’s been taken by a Dothraki horde. There’s also chatter about Jorah’s unrequited love for her and how Daario wants to live long enough to see what the world looks like once she’s finished conquering it. Jorah’s all ‘yeah, me too! Totes!’ before sneaking a peek at the progress of the deadly greyscale creeping up his arm. His destiny as the first-ever statue commemorating the friend zone draws ever closer.
Speaking of Khaleesi, she’s back in the Dothraki ‘hood. Unfortunately as a captive, but surely not for long – I have a feeling Drogon is going to swing by for a horsie happy meal sometime soon. But for now Daenerys is stumbling along with the rest of the slaves the Dothraki have taken hostage. Two Dothraki keep a close eye on her whilst behaving like teenage jerks, unaware that she can understand every word. They present her to Khal Moro, and there’s more humorous Dothraki banter about how seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time is one of the top 5 greatest pleasures in life. It’s fun dialogue, but do you remember when the Dothraki were fearsome and vicious? Me too. Now they’re like shirtless Shakespearean fools.
Back to Castle Black. Dolorous Edd is off enlisting the help of the wildlings. Alliser Thorne is trying to convince Sir Davos and the other Jon Snow loyalists to open up: ‘I promise I haven’t got every man in the Night’s Watch pointing a crossbow at you right now, wink wink!.’ Sir Davos asks for some mutton first. I could listen to Liam Cunningham say the word ‘mutton’ for hours. Anyway, it’s a diversionary tactic; he knows Thorne is bullshitting. The men wonder what to do next, and Davos suggests bringing in the Red Woman, cos she’s a child-burning badass.
We cut to Melisandre herself to find her having a Bridget Jones All-By-Myself moment in her room. Her King is gone, her faith has been rocked, and the veracity of her visions is in doubt. What’s a girl to do? Undress and stare at her unbelievably perfect rack in the mirror, of course. But then Melisandre takes off her necklace, and we see the Red Woman’s true form. And holy shit, she looks exactly how I felt after giving birth; like a 1000-year-old deflated balloon. Chin up, Red Woman! All will be forgiven once you restore the Bastard of Winterfell to life.