'Game of Thrones' Season Premiere Recap: A Crone in the Dark

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Warning: This mini recap for “The Red Woman” episode of Game of Thrones contains spoilers.

Books are important. No civilized person can do without them. First of all, books are great home decor accessories that look great stacked on both shelves and coffee tables. Secondly you need only take a simple box cutter to their insides and suddenly you’ve got a secret storage place for your naked lady playing cards. A third important use for books is probably jamming them under the door to keep the rats out. There are most likely several more reasons why books are important, but I will have to get back to you on what they are because quite frankly it’s time to talk about Game of Thrones.

Related: ‘Game of Thrones’ Review: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

Game of Thrones is one of the best television shows ever produced. There is a longstanding rumor that it is based on “books” but it truly doesn’t matter. And I am being serious when I say that. It doesn’t matter! Who cares? They are different things, TV and books. At best there will be similar character names and similar storylines, but nobody can tell me that Lena Headey’s version of Cersei isn’t the best version of Cersei in existence. But whoops, what am I doing? Comparing these two different things? I gotta stop it, and so should you. Game of Thrones the TV show is a present tense legendary thing… What a totally foolish thing to compare it to one hundred thousand pages of lurid medieval fanfic. This show has always been its own thing and that’s even truer now than before. This is living!

“The Red Woman” marked the beginning of Season 6, and that means everyone spent a lot of time either wandering around in harsh landscapes or frowning at their loved ones’ corpses, and sometimes both. There’s a narrative value in bringing characters to their knees, because it’ll be so incredible when they all start standing up again. Yes this was a necessarily dark but terrific hour of television. Let’s talk about it!

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We began at an extremely cold yet unchill compound where even the handsomest men are occasionally murdered by their friends and left in the snow overnight like common yard trash. Castle Black!

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The corpse of Jon Snow sure looked handsome lying there in that frozen blood puddle, but that didn’t stop Ser Davos and the rest of Jon Snow’s friends and allies from frowning severely and carrying his corpse inside. There they groused about who could have done this, but the rest of us viewers were like, "Okay where’s Melisandre? Get in here, girl.“ And then guess who arrived?

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We’d spent all summer confidently predicting that Melisandre would, uh, ask the Lord of Light for a solid and somehow resurrect Jon Snow, but she didn’t do it! If we’re being honest, Melisandre actually looked very bummed and confused to see that he’d died considering she’d once had a vision of him personally fending off hordes of White Walkers. So between that, and also being wrong about Stannis Baratheon, she was having a rough time lately and maybe all she wanted was a nice glass of prune juice and a footrub and to just hit the hay early with a nice romance novel or something, who knows? Leave Melisandre alone!

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Ramsay Bolton was still an utter piece of sh*t, but in this episode he was an utter piece of sh*t who was bummed that his side-piece fell off a building and could no longer help him torment his new wife Sansa. Also Ramsay’s dad was super ticked at his son for letting Sansa escape, and if Ramsay didn’t get her back he’d be disowned probably. Somebody please throw these people into hell because I am done with them.

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Meanwhile Reek and Sansa were running around in the frozen woods and Reek had the brilliant idea to cross a semi-frozen river in order elude the hounds. Getting wet is always the best idea when you’re nearly freezing to death, so kudos on that one. Alas, the hounds were basically waiting for them on the other side, so Sansa and Reek were suddenly surrounded by Bolton’s men! That’s when a true hero with the voice of Captain Phasma arrived to save them both.

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Brienne! And Podrick! They helpfully slaughtered a half dozen soldiers (Reek helped a lil’ also) and in a truly emotional moment Brienne reunited with Sansa and once again swore allegiance to her out of loyalty to the late Catelyn Stark. Also it was very adorable when Sansa attempted to recite the oath that would bond them but really she just wanted dry socks and a hug. Oh well: Brienne and Sansa were now a team! This just got VERY good.

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Unfortunately things weren’t quite so good for Cersei. She definitely looked crisp and clean in her new Carol Brady wig, but the bad times boat was just about to row into bummer harbor.

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Yep, another one of her children — but the “good one” this time — had been killed by evil schemers. Poor Myrcella! All she’d wanted to do was teen off with a hot hunk in a foreign country, as most teens do. But next thing she knew she was bleeding out of her orifices and dropping dead beside her Uncle Father. And now Cersei was devastated all over again, which was not what she needed after her whole “shame” ordeal. But in a moving scene between Jaime and Cersei, he rejected the idea that the Lannisters are fated for bad times… They can make their own destinies now. (Which was a cute and meta statement about how the show isn’t based on books anymore, in my opinion.)

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Poor Margaery was still trapped in the King’s Landing dungeon jail place, and the mean nun was reading aloud very implausible stories and poems while Margaery just silently prayed for shampoo.

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But then the High Sparrow arrived and immediately started BFF-ing her. What was his agenda? Why did he want to get in good with the sitting queen all of the sudden? Did he want another piece of her grandmother’s sweet sass? Stay tuned, folks.

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Hey remember that frustratingly go-nowhere plotline last season when Jaime had to come rescue his daughter from a chill city full of scheming ladies and then Myrcella ended up getting murdered anyway? Well, that plotline continued to happen in this episode for some reason. But in this case the king of Dorne (or whoever this guy in the wheelchair was) got word that Myrcella had been poisoned ON HIS WATCH and he was about to get mad about it, but then Ellaria murdered him real good.

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It was a coup! She and all her daughters and step-daughters had decided to take over the government without using the proper channels. Which meant this king had to die, and also his hunky son had to die as well. The other two Sand Snakes were ON IT.

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I loved when they asked him to choose whom to duel, and when he chose the girl with the whip, Whale Rider ran up and speared him in the back of the head!

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Very cheap shot, Whale Rider. The whales would cry if they knew this had happened.

Related: ‘Game of Thrones’: 15 Gruesome Deaths

(Also, shout-out to Whip Girl for being in Star Wars, along with basically everyone else on this show. Feels like a big Star Wars fiesta this season!)

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Speaking of terrible cities, Meereen. It still sucks! But it felt even more pointless to be spending time here now that Dany and her dragons weren’t there anymore. Still, Tyrion and Varys were enjoying a stroll through the desolate streets of Meereen when they noticed a lot of screaming and crying. (More than usual, anyway.)

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The harbor was on fire! But who had done this and why? Did it have to do with the growing following of the Lord of Light? Or was it just that Meereen is only inhabited by sociopaths? Either way, a burning Meereen will always put a smile on my face, so credit where credit’s due.

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But where on earth (is this earth?) was Daenerys?! Her two main fellas had tracked her to a big open field where they found a tiny piece of jewelry she’d dropped, and they spotted the thing within MILLISECONDS. It was truly something. So yeah, they now knew that Dany had been picked up by a Dothraki “horde” which was an unexpected turn of events. But Ser Jorah was not doing well:

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Whoops, his Greyscale was looking kinda bad! I’m guessing it smells weird also, but that is one thing I am glad technology doesn’t offer yet. I don’t want to smell Game of Thrones, ever.

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So the Daenerys plotline felt like a riff on that earlier one from a few seasons ago when she went to that one slaving city and pretended not to speak the language as they openly disrespected her. Same thing here! But in this case the hot Dothraki dudes were using foul language and it made me think that the Dothraki could really use a sexual harassment seminar or two. This was not a safe environment at all.

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But then when Dany was confronted with the new Khal (nowhere near as awesome as Drogo) she finally revealed herself as former royalty and everyone apologized basically. That was the good news. The bad news was that as a Khaleesi Widow she was obligated to travel to some temple and hang out with all the other Khaleesi Widows. That honestly sounds like a nice time to me or you, but Dany frowned SO HARD when she heard this. You would too if you weren’t gonna get to see your boyfriend Dario ever again.

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Arya was now a blind street urchin, but that didn’t mean her life was easy. After about ten minutes of waving a wooden plate at passerby, guess who showed up to beat her ass with a stick? This intern lady from the House of Black and White! And seriously, this lady truly did beat the ever-living sh*t out of Arya.

It was honestly an unfair fight considering Arya was full blind now, but on the other hand, it showed that the House of Black and White were still more or less testing and training Arya. Even at the end of the brutal assault, the gal was like “Same time tomorrow?” So that was a silver lining to an otherwise uncool situation.

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We then concluded back at Castle Black, where all the mutineers were getting antsy about the faction of Jon Snow sympathizers gathered around his corpse.

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Even Ghost was getting in on the action! By this point Ser Davos and Jon’s friends realized that if they wanted to survive, they’d have to take out this Thorn dude and the rest of the Trash Crows, but in order to do that they’d probably have to get help from outsiders. (The Wildlings, for example.) But Ser Davos still had faith that Melisandre might have a trick up her sleeve. And boy did she!

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Still weary and tired from her less than successful adventures, she retired to her bedroom and disrobed. Now, we know that whenever Melisandre gets naked, something dark and weird is about to happen. This scene was no exception.

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Ladies and gentlemen, here is what Melisandre looks like when she removes her glowing choker. I don’t mean to sound ageist, but she suddenly didn’t look quite as young and attractive anymore. I related to that, but I also related to how badly she just wanted to go to bed. Which was why I considered this final scene to be a happy ending!

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Get those Z’s, girl!

But listen: I love this show for trolling us like this. Calling the episode “The Red Woman” and making us think Jon Snow would be resurrected, but then simply giving us a sad, naked lady covered in droopy prosthetic genitalia? That is hilarious! But as a final tease it’s not incompatible with our predictions. Think about it: That’s some MAGIC she’s using. More than that, Melisandre seems undeniably weathered and almost morose. Wouldn’t she be more likely to give up her own life for Jon’s if she believed him to be a savior? All I’m saying is, I still think Melisandre will come through, but it was a delightful (and disturbing) surprise to find out this new tidbit about her. You know? Melisandre is more than just a deus ex machina without a nudity clause. She’s a human, and her secrets make her even more amazing.

“The Red Woman” was a grief-laden reminder that Game of Thrones continues to be packed with riveting characters and it clearly has so much more story to tell. It’s anyone’s guess how many seasons this thing will run, but hopefully a dozen at least? Thanks in advance, HBO.

What did YOU think of “The Red Woman”?

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO