Game of Thrones is back, and after a whole year of arguing at the CairoScene office about the fates of our favourite characters, we all gathered around the office projector to bask in the glory that is the best frigging show on American premium cable. Since things work a bit differently here in Egypt, insofar as the timing of episodes being aired back in the States and when our uTorrent dings, there is plenty of chances for spoilers to ruin our entire lives. Thankfully, we avoided this by gathering at like 4 AM and smashing all of our devices. As our managing editor was carried into the room in a spoiler-proof litter, carried by a bunch of hunky Egyptian dudes who were dressed like hunky Dothraki dudes, we all fell silent as that familiar white noise whoosh washed over us.
We pick up right where season five left us; the man with the most beautiful locks in all of Westeros lying in the snow as his direwolf howls mournfully. All the wild speculation as to whether Lord Commander Snow survived being turned into a human pincushion by Oli and the officers of the Night’s Watch finally has its answer. Dude’s dead. Like for real. Yea, maybe he can be brought back by the Red Woman’s magic or her breasts or something, maybe he can pull a Bran and send his consciousness into his wolf or a shrub of some sort, but as of the end of this episode, Jon Snow is probably starting to smell. Ser Davos, Dolorous Edd, and a few other buddies of Jon’s take his body and hold up in a tiny room. Lord Jerkface Aleistar Thorne and his traitorous cohorts aren’t cool with that and give Davos an ultimatum: turn over the body by nightfall or else. It’s not really clear why these two groups are making such a big deal over a dead guy. I don’t think anybody else knows about the Red religion’s ability to bring back the dead (remember Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion from waaay back in season three?). So, presumably they both would want to burn him before he becomes a White Walker. Hopefully the next episode will answer why they are sitting on a cold zombie time bomb, though he would look even dreamier with glowing blue eyes.
Elsewhere in the North, Sansa Stark and Theon “Reek” Greyjoy survived their leap of faith and are on the run from the very yucky Ramsay Bolton. After crossing an icy river in a vain attempt to lose Ramsay’s hounds (apparently hypothermia isn’t a thing in the GoT
universe), the two are cornered and about to be taken back to Rape and Dismemberment Castle, until Brienne of Tarth comes to the rescue like a knight in not-so-shiny armour. After being super bummed by her appearance in The Force Awakens
, I had an overwhelming sense of “FUCK YEA!” watching her kick the Bolton guards' asses. Then watching Sansa stumble through her acceptance of Brienne’s oath of fealty was totally adorable and gave me some hope that, sometime soon, she’ll be something more than a basic foil for all the raging patriarchal shenanigans of the Seven Kingdoms. And hopefully she’ll blast Ramsay in the junk with a burning crossbow bolt.
In King’s Landing, Cersei has cleaned up after her massively terrible stroll of shame and is eager for the return of her daughter, Myrcella, and boyfriend/brother from Dorne. As Jaimie sails into the harbour, it’s hard not to feel bad for Cersei as she excitedly runs to meet them not know that her daughter has died. Then you remember she’s a really gross and bitchy queen who was wicked mean to Tyrion. It's also hard not to feel bad for Jaimie (he’s not really bad, he’s just got a weird thing for his twin sister) who last we saw was having a heart-to-heart with his daughter/niece about how she knew Jaime was her father/uncle and is totally cool with it, just before she dies. The scene between the twin lovers is suitably tense, morbid, and just a little bit sad. Now that the only good thing they’ve ever made is gone, it will be interesting to see where their relationship goes from here. We also get some info on the state of the Tyrells and the ongoing political struggle between the degenerate lords and ladies of King’s Landing and the holier-than-thou High Sparrow.
Way down south in Dorne, the most boring, and snooze-inducing of the Seven Kingdoms, the royal family members of the much-beloved badass Oberyn are being stabbed a bunch by his lover, Ellaria, and his daughters, the Sand Snakes. After sticking the wheelchair-bound prince of Dorne, the Sand Snakes move to take out his son. The way Tristan’s death is portrayed demonstrates the issues the show had in making Dorne and its people something viewers would give a crap about last season. What should have been another dramatic and poignant death was relegated to what amounts to comic relief. I didn’t care about any of the characters being killed in Dorne, except the criminally underutilised Areo Hotah and his sweet axe spear thing. Hopefully as season six goes on, we can get more of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes.
Then we catch up with my personal favourite recently reunited duo, Varys and Tyrion. After Daenerys totally ghosted on the back of her dragon, it's fallen to these two to rule her troubled city of Mereen while all the other, taller, characters are off to rescue her. We get an idea of how the Red Priests will play a larger role in the show this season even in the far east. Meanwhile, Daenerys, Queen of Mereen, The Unburnt, blah, blah, etc., is being treated to the finest Dothraki hospitality. It’s nice to see Dany not have to be gratuitously stripped naked in a scene for once. The scene where she’s brought to the Khal by a guy with a very fake-looking beard plays host to some weirdly out of place Mel Brooks -tyle humour before Dany finds out that, as the widow of Khal Drogo, she’s going to be brought back to the Dothraki city of Vaes Dothrak to spent the rest of her life with the other widows of Khals. Hey, at least she isn't going to get raped! I’ve kind of had enough on-screen sexual violence for a while.
Even for us snobs that read the books, the big reveal for the episode was totally unexpected. Since this season the TV show has actually overtaken the books, I have no way to gloat or any satisfaction in watching a roomful of reactions to something I already knew was going to happen. Melisandre is more than a little bummed about Jon’s death, and it really shows in Carice Van Houten’s performance. When she starts taking off her clothes, we were all kind of ‘WTF?’ but when she takes off her magic necklace for the first time ever, to reveal her true form, we all started running around screaming in excitement, panic, and the terror that comes with unexpectedly seeing old people naked.
Like most GoT first episodes of the season, some characters are left out. Most notably, Bran Stark, who was completely absent last season but was featured prominently in promotional materials for this season, is nowhere to be seen. I’m almost giddy with the promised return of the Warg and the appearance of the awesome Max Von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven. See you next week, folks, when we totally geek out again, with episode two of the sixth season of the only show with knights and dragons that you can still watch and be cool in the mainstream.