HBO’s Game of Thrones The Red Woman TV Show Review. Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 1: The Red Woman served as an appetizer for hungry Game of Thrones fans. After an excruciating ten month wait, the episode did a solid job of getting viewers back up to speed on the series’ numerous heroes and villains.
Game of Thrones is so packed with characters that it’s impossible to catch up with them all while doing each of their storylines justice. As a result, The Red Woman doesn’t make for the most entertaining hour of television. Fortunately, even an average hour of Game of Thrones is still better than 92% of other shows.
Since this episode doesn’t dive very deeply into any one plot thread, I’m going to quickly touch on some areas that stood out.
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) got to kick some ass and uphold an oath. We all know that The Lady of Tarth can take care of business with a sword — it’s taking care of the ones she’s sworn to protect that proves problematic. Arya (Maisie Williams) turned down Brienne’s help at the end of season four and then early last season, Sansa (Sophie Turner) also refused her offer for protection. Brienne spent the remainder of the season keeping an eye on Sansa from afar, and thankfully it paid off.
Good guys don’t win a lot on Game of Thrones, so it was great watching Brienne swoop in and save Sansa and Theon (Alfie Allen) from Ramsey’s (Iwan Rheon) hunting party. The scene lost points for once again placing Sansa in the role of damsel in distress but gained them back as we saw Podrick (Daniel Portman) come off like a proper bad-ass. The former wannabe squire didn’t look out of place as Brienne’s valiant sidekick.
Last Season, Game of Thrones’ Dorne storyline failed in every way. Dorne’s cast of characters was flat and underutilized while Dorne itself felt small, isolated, and inconsequential. During season five, the consensus amongst viewers was the sooner an episode cut away from Dorne, the better.
This year the show seems to be course correcting. The Red Lady didn’t waste time putting Ellaria (Indira Varma) and The Sandsnakes in a position to strike back at their enemies. After quickly doing away with their male opposition, Trystane (Toby Sebastian) and Doran (Alexander Siddig), it appears the Dornish ladies will become a thorn in the Lannister’s side sooner rather than later. Given how large a role Dorne and its inhabitants played in the novels, it’s a pretty sure bet the show will give them the push book readers anticipated last season.
Does anybody really want to watch Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) wade through another Dothraki caravan plotline? Daenerys’ arc has remained stagnant for too long. We were ready to watch her pack up and leave Meereen all the way back in season four. The anticipation of Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) arrival was the one element that made sitting through another season in the desert bearable.
Somehow Daenerys’ ended up in a position similar to where her journey began in season one. It’s obvious that the writers have to find ways to stall Dany’s plotline because when her army finally arrives in The Seven Kingdoms, $#!T’s going to get REAL. That doesn’t make watching Daenerys’ arc stall-out with another Dothraki horde any more fun to watch. Yawn!
Last season, Brienne dealt Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) killing blow off-screen, leaving room to wonder if she changed her mind at the last moment. During The Red Woman, Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) mentions that Stannis’ is dead, which verifies that Brienne did finish him off. Stannis may well be dead, but the way Game of Thrones handled the moment has left a sliver of doubt in my mind. This series isn’t afraid to depict graphic violence and brutality — after the red wedding, Rob Stark’s mutilated corpse was paraded around on a horse — so why allow Stannis off-screen death? It’s a bizarre and anticlimactic choice.
Lest we forget, “DAVOS (Liam Cunningham) DOES NOT LIKE MELISANDRE (Carice van Houten).” It speaks volumes that Davos is willing to team up with Melisandre in order to escape Castle Black. Davos is a pragmatic character, and he possesses a nobility that has endeared him to fans (Davos defied Stannis’ orders on more than one occasion).
Davos is unaware that Melisandre convinced Stannis to burn his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram) alive. Davos and Shireen shared some of the series’ most tender moments, and once he finds out the child’s fate, it’s difficult to imagine him not slaying Melisandre on the spot. It appears that Melisandre and Davos will escape Castle Black together, and if that’s the case, expect Shireen’s sacrifice to become a major source of tension in the upcoming episodes.
Most Shocking Moment
Melisandre took home last night’s award for most shocking moment. Perhaps going back and watching old episodes may reveal a clue, but it seems like the true nature of The Red Woman’s appearance came out of nowhere. While the reveal was unexpected, it makes perfect sense thematically.
On Game of Thrones, magic isn’t predictable like it is in the world of Harry Potter; most residents of Westeros don’t even believe it exists. As viewers, we’ve witnessed Melisandre’s abilities first hand (watching a smoke monster slither out of her whoo-ha is something we shall never unsee), however, her claims are often difficult to prove. Even though Melisandre asked the Lord of Light to kill Rob Stark, his death could easily be coincidental (men at war die all the time). Melisandre’s magical influence is more of a crapshoot than a sure bet.
Going into this season, Melisandre is on a losing streak. Even after burning Shireen alive, Melisandre didn’t deliver the victory she promised Stannis. On top of catching that “L”, Jon Snow’s death means another one of her visions can’t come true. Melisandre is at a point where she is dealing with failure, unsure of herself, and questioning the god she worships. It makes perfect sense that Melisandre’s true form is finally revealed (all naked and withered) as she is doubting herself and at her most vulnerable.
While The Red Woman didn’t serve up the big emotional payoff viewers have been waiting for, the episode provided more than enough smaller moments to keep the audience engaged. Game of Thrones remains one of television’s most emotionally gripping series because the writers aren’t afraid to hold back what the audience wants. Withholding Jon Snow’s resurrection as well as any clues about his return means the internet hype machine surrounding Game of Thrones will stay cranked up to maximum levels for another seven days.
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