Game of Thrones: The Red Woman

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There Be Spoilers Here

Game of Thrones is back and it’s pulling no punches so far. Here are a few of my thoughts and guesses as to the future of the show.

Overall, this episode is the weakest that I can recall. A lot happened but at the end of the hour I felt “meh.” I’ll go in a rough worst to best order.

– Arya’s story is interesting only because of the Faceless Man or Jaqen Hagar (or however that is accented/apostrophed). The character feels like she escaped from a Joss Whedon story: Super special teenage girl with super interesting stuff. Seeing her get her ass beat was amusing. Through the show she’s been interesting only because of her company: The Dancing Master, The Hound, The Faceless Man. Until she traveled across the ocean she made consistently poor decisions, carrying on the legacy of her mother.

– For a while now it has felt like Dany’s story has been spinning its wheels, waiting on the other characters to get ready for her to advance. The bit with her dragon flying her away and then abandoning his “mother” is a furtherance of that. She has to have something to do in order to let everyone else get into place. It also represented a lot of informed hotness, with everyone telling us in Dothraki how beautiful she is. And also some very panderific “look how sexist these men are” statements. Also, why in the hell would two supposedly smart men in Tyrion and Varys wander around talking about secret plans openly in public? They were also alone, it appeared, which is extremely stupid.

– Ellaria Sand and the Teenage Mutant Sand Snakes (seriously they’re interchangeable at this point) killing Doran and his son was shocking, though some of it felt shocking just for the sake of it. I was yelling at Prince Idiot to not turn his back on the one with a spear right up until it happened. I’m sad to see Siddiq leave the show, but this was really the only possible option. He’d laid down the ultimatum: if you cross me again, I’ll kill you. Poisoning his son’s betrothed is clearly crossing Doran. I hope they use this to make the characters less of a palette-and-weapon swapped NES trio.

– While I get the fairy tale idea behind showing us how old the red woman is, perhaps it could have been done without unneeded nudity? That is starting to feel like a crutch on the show, rather than anything necessary for the telling of the story. To get *me* to think nudity is overdone takes quite a lot — I rather enjoy 80s Slasher flicks and they’re the queen mother of ridiculous, unnecessary nudity. Still, she remains one of the more promising characters — she’s lost a ton and has to come back from losing her king and her faith. That could be very compelling.

– The only thing I didn’t like about the scenes with Jaime and Cersei was that they didn’t have enough time. Seriously, the acting, the chemistry, and the storyline there is the most captivating part of the show for me right now. And the two of them started out as extremely awful, unlikable characters. Cersei has steadily improved without having to clean up after Joffrey, and Jaime has done nothing but improve since losing a hand. Even with all the misery coming from the actions of these two, that scene with Jaime riding up on the boat while Cersei watches. As you see her face falling. You see Jaime standing on the boat, and a body draped in gold — that wordless moment was one of the most heart-wrenching moments of the series so far.

– It was brief, but the reminder of Margery’s situation was well placed. That awful, self-righteous woman tormenting her is extremely good at making anyone she’s tasked with “caring” for instantly sympathetic. I’m fairly certain before the season is out either Jaime or the High Sparrow will be dead.

– Davos has also become a favorite character. He’s smarter than anyone gives him credit for, and he’s got an innate sense of what’s right and wrong that is often lacking on the show. I worry that they will bring Jon back, but in a stupid way. Other than that, it was nice seeing some loyalty amongst Jon’s friends. This was one of my favorite scenes. Thorne is the worst sort of bastard, too. Surprised he’s not somehow a Bolton.

– Also in the north… while I’m sure they’ll take it away from Theon and Sansa, that escape and rescue by Brienne and Pod was easily the highlight of the show. Ramsay Bolton is easily the truest villain on the show — sadistic and cruel for his own amusement at every opportunity — and seeing the two of them escape him was excellent. Then seeing them nearly get nabbed by his men before Brienne showed up… I was thinking maybe Theon or Sansa might prefer death to being taken again. The threat of snatching away his inheritance by Roose, and the mourning of his dead Mean Girl, may well push Ramsay into a truly insane mindset. He could be the Joker of Winterfell.

Now, a few thoughts going forward:

– IF Jon is to be revived, it needs to be in the next two or so episodes. Otherwise, they’d need to explain very well why he didn’t rot or turn into a wight. Usually people in the north have turned somewhat quickly. Unless I missed something this is still a threat. I’m not quite sure why Thorne didn’t burn the body to start with. I think he likely will come back because otherwise he’s the ultimate maguffin.

– I’m not really sure where Brienne intends to take Sansa. Nowhere is truly safe, anymore. The Wall will bring her nothing but sorrow and almost everyone else will want her dead or captive: Bolton, Littlefinger, Cersei… maybe House Mormont. They’re no friends of the Boltons after the Red Wedding.

– As to the whole Ice and Fire theory, with Jon Snow and Dany being Ice and Fire, there are other alternatives: Sansa’s hair is very red, Dany’s is white — that could be the twist. They couldn’t be an item (and it wouldn’t make sense to try to force it), but they could have a confrontation of sorts — there’s no guarantee that the Ice and Fire end up on the same side. Also, Tyrion and Sansa could be Fire and Ice (respectively):

– Tyrion is a Targaryen. He is no son of Tywin.

– Assuming Ellaria can keep control and rally the people to her side, King’s Landing is in for a rough season. They have Ellaria to deal with in the south — and they cannot afford to allow her to remain in power. They may end up with the Wildlings and a confederation of unhappy northern families threatening from the north. They could well end up with dragons on their shores. They have the Sparrows to deal with. Littlefinger is still conspiring to burn the world down.

– Varys may well be behind the Sons of the Harpy, in one way or another.

– The Night’s Watch may not have a 1000th Lord Commander. I would not be surprised to see them disbanded in some way between now and the end of the show — possibly by a person sitting on the Iron Throne. There aren’t that many of them left, their defenses suck, and a large swath of characters have reason to mistrust or dislike them.

Finally, the last man (or woman) standing in the Game may well be the first one that figures out how to grow eyes out the back of their head. A great deal of players have been eliminated from the field by turning their back on vipers and other dangerous creatures. Roose Bolton regularly turns his back on a true monster in Ramsay. Thorne has to sleep somewhere. Varys and Tyrion are running around seemingly unarmed targets. The Red Wedding couldn’t have been seen coming given the guest right but the Starks put themselves at a disadvantage with someone they gravely offended. Ellaria has the loyalty of the Sand Snakes, but that’s not enough. Often, characters are killed by traps they’ve set themselves — Ned confronting Cersei and then behaving as though everyone else was as noble as he. Cersei giving power to the High Sparrow to spite Margery. Tywin let Tyrion live just a bit too long — and pushed him too hard. Pushing too hard often ends poorly in this universe, and a lot of characters still on it are doing just that. He may not have set the trap for himself, but that idiot Stannis pushed the limits at every turn and got burned. Littlefinger, unseen last night, has trapped or helped trap a great deal of characters — if he does not survive the game, his end will be glorious.

A great possible ending, I think, would be for Davos to end up on the Iron Throne. Nobody would see it coming (least of all Davos) and it would mean a great deal of people died between now and that moment. Someone like that, far out of left field, would be perfect — and there are a lot of them. Or Pod. Pod would be a hilarious twist. Everyone expects Dany, or Jon Snow somehow, or Littlefinger even. Throw Rickon Stark on the throne (the throne, Jaime, not “from a tower.”)