It's nice to have Game Of Thrones
back. "The Red Woman,"
which opened season six, didn't have a tremendous amount of action, but it allowed us to see how most of our characters--just about all of whom were brought low last season--are faring.
It starts with a long, traveling shot that brings us to Castle Black, where we see Jon Snow lying in the snow and (his own) blood. Yep, he's dead. Got it everyone? Dead, dead, dead. Here's the thing though--killing the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch has ramifications. Things aren't going back to normal right away.
Davos (he's still back in Castle Black--I had to think to remember where everyone was) discovers the body and with the help of some faithful friends, Snow's soon laid out on a table in a room behind a bolted door. Then in comes Melisandre (Davos figures she's someone they might be able to trust--is he coming around?). She saw a lot of potential in Snow, so why is nothing working out lately? After she leaves, the guys discuss what to do--they know they'll have to fight, but Davos knows they don't have the numbers to win. Davos sends Dolorous Edd out to get some Wildlings and even the playing field.
Meanwhile, the traitors who killed Snow, headed by Alliser Thorne (Game Of Thornes
), are in the big hall explaining why they did what they did--it's wrong to assassinate the LC, but he was about to destroy the NW, so what else could they do?
At Winterfell, Ramsay is mourning Myranda, the one girl who truly got him. He promises revenge a thousand times over--and he's just the man to do it. Then he has her body sent out to feed the hounds. Next comes slick dad Roose, who explains that Ramsay won the war (against Stannis) but lost the battle (losing his big prize, Sansa, along with Reek). This won't do. He needs Sansa, with a baby boy in her, to secure the North. If he can't do it, Fat Walda's child--if it's a son--can run Winterfell. Ramsay gulps and promises he's sent out the (well-fed) hounds to capture the escapees.
Sure enough, there's Theon and Sansa fleeing barking dogs and crossing an icy river like it's a 19th century melodrama. Theon has become a man again, it would seem. And not a moment too soon. He's been pretty awful, sure, but I think he's suffered enough--is it okay to root for him now? (Does Sansa still believe he killed Bran and Rickon? I can't remember. That would be hard to forgive, but we know better.)
Ramsay's men catch up, and Theon is willing to give up his life to divert them, but no go. Then Brienne, the woman (Roose thought it was a man) who killed Stannis--probably not that far away from this spot--and Pod, ride to the rescue. (Not sure how they knew where to be, but Brienne was keeping an eye our for Sansa half of last season, so I'll give it to her.) After everyone has been dispatched, Brienne lays down her sword and offers to serve. This is what she does--she's offered her service to Renly (died), Catelyn (died), Arya (didn't want it) and Sansa (didn't want it). This time Sansa, ceremoniously, accepts. The four make a motley crew, but beggars can't be choosers. Where do they go next? I'd suggest some place warm, though Theon thinks Jon at Castle Black could help out. I wouldn't count on that, Reek.
A boat from Dorne is docking at King's Landing. Cersei, who needs some good news, rushes out to meet her sweet daughter Myrcella. When she only sees Jaime, she knows there's trouble. She's heartbroken--Myrcella was her greatest creation (though she never had to see her as a whiny teenager). Jaime promises (not unlike Ramsway) that everyone will pay, and no one else matters but them. Okay, but shouldn't Cersei be thinking I better go protect Tommen right now?
Over at the church (or whatever they call it) we see Margaery is still locked up, and that tough Septa Unella still trying to make her to confess. The High Sparrow comes in and tries a softer approach (good sparrow, bad sparrow?), but Margaery won't admit she didn't anything wrong. Is she hoping Loras can help her? Or Olenna? She certainly can't be expecting any help from the Lannisters.
Over in Dorne, we get more action in five minutes than we got all last season. The Sand Snakes are tired of weak men running the country. Before you know it, they've murdered King Doran, his guard and Trystane. Good--if we've got to have Dorne figure in the story at all, let's wipe the slate clean and start over. Are the Snakes (still can't tell them apart) going to sail against King's Landing? Others have tried and it hasn't gone well.
Now we cut to Meereen and the one thing that makes no sense in the hour. We see Varys and Tyrion walking through the city, amongst the people, in common garb. Tryion says they can't learn to rule 800 feet up in a pyramid. But this is the city where the Sons Of The Harpy ambushed the Queen out in public---if Drogon hadn't smoked a bunch of them and flown her away, they'd have succeeded. The best strategy right now would be for Varys and Tyrion to hide in the pyramid, occasionally ordering the Unsullied to get some takeout, and praying that Dany gets back soon.
Don't tell me they can walk through the street unnoticed. Kings dressed as commoners is a popular fairy tale trope, but this is the Imp and Uncle Fester. Easy to spot. Anyway, one thing they discover is the Lord of Light is getting bigger and bigger among those who speak Valyrian. And these religious nuts (who, like zombies, are everywhere in Westeros and Essos) are awaiting Dany's return. Meanwhile, the terrorists decide to burn all the ships in the harbor. I don't get it. It may be Dany's fleet, but she's gone--are they unhappy with Meereen's trade policy?
Speaking of Dany, Jorah and Daario are on the trail. Jorah's greyscale is spreading, so he better find her soon. He picks up some clues. We cut to Dany, who's being led along as a prisoner by two Dothraki soldiers. They make crude comments in Dothraki which she pretends not to understand--we've seen her pull this trick before.
As a beautiful woman with light skin, blue eyes and platinum hair, she's presented to grand poo-bah Khal Moro. Everyone makes jokes about killing her or raping her until Dany, imperiously, lists all her titles (in Dothraki). Feisty, just the way Moro likes 'em. Then she mentions she was married to Khal Drogo--this seems to be all the proof they need, they take her at her word. So she's safe, but they won't escort her back to Meereen--she'll be required to hang out with all the other Khaleesi widows for the rest of her life. Do these women get a pension of something?
Then we cut to a guy walking down a street and we're thinking where is this? King's Landing? Meereen? Oh, of course, it's Braavos, we haven't been there yet. And there's a blind beggar girl collecting coins, otherwise unnoticed, hearing stray conversation. Is this what Arya is reduced to after being kicked out of the House of Black and White, or is this her new assignment? Whatever, she soon has to face the Waif, who kicks the crap out of her in a street fight. But Arya's a quick study and soon she'll be kicking the Waif's ass--or at least we hope.
Back to the Wall, where we started. Davos and the guys are still locked in, and Alliser is getting impatient. He promises amnesty (and mutton) if they'll come out, though they know what a promise from Thorne is worth. They're just going to have to wait until Edd gets back. Or maybe the Red Woman can birth another shadow baby.
Speaking of Melisandre, she's getting ready for bed. She takes off her clothes, looks in the mirror, and then removes her necklace. Now she looks like an old crone. The necklace apparently casts a spell (or a glamour, as my friend Virginia Postrel would say
) making her appear young and beautiful. Just how old is she? Where does she come from? What does she know? All we know right now is the show is over.
All in all, pretty good. As I said, not a lot of action (only in GOT
could a bunch of people die in gruesome ways and it still not be thought of as much action), but smart dialogue and a chance to catch up with many of our favorites. Not all of them, though. No Gilly and Samwell, no Littlefinger, no Bronn or Bran (Bran is supposed to be back this season), no Qyburn or revived Mountain, no Missandei or Grey Worm, No Jaqen, no Olenna, no Pycelle, no Tormund, no Hodor, no Hound (if there's a Hound to be found), but hey, the show is only an hour.