It’s been a long year, but the day finally came and went: Game of Thrones debuted its Season 6 premiere, and all of our burning questions were answered …. sort of. We learned the fate of a few choice characters, we got another look at Jon Snow’s “dead” body, and the episode wrapped up with one of the crazier reveals the show has ever given us. All in all, it made for what many are calling the best premiere in the show’s history, something we have a hard time disagreeing with ourselves.
So instead of giving you a few paragraphs summarizing a few key elements, we’re going to do you one better and list of everything significant. It was an ambitious episodes in its scope, checking in on virtually every loose end the show has (Bran and Hodor excepted). Still though, it’s worth diving in deeper to figure out what it all means, as well as what’s on the horizon for Season 6. Let’s jump in the deep end, shall we?
1. Jon Snow is dead (for now)
The premiere picked up right where Season 5 left off, showing us the dead body of Jon Snow. Davos stumbles upon the corpse himself, and with the aid of what’s left of Jon’s friends, hides him safely away in a room with his direwolf. Meanwhile, Ser Alliser Thorne and his co-conspirators attempt to justify their mutiny to the rest of the Night’s Watch, later demanding Davos turn over the body. Davos stalls for time, giving Edd time to ride south to rally the Wildlings to his cause.
This carries with it a whole lot of large-scale implications. The Wildlings going toe-to-toe with the Night’s Watch over Jon’s death would change things forever. It would mean the wall is being manned by Wildlings for the first time in its long history, leading to another inevitable question of who the new Lord Commander would be. The obvious answer is a resurrected Jon Snow, but for now Game of Thrones seems determined to leave his status up in the air.
2. Sansa finally catches a break
If there’s one character on Game of Thrones who’s constantly been miserable and abused, it’s Sansa Stark. She was engaged to Joffrey in the early part of the series, forced to marry Tyrion after Joffrey was poisoned, was terrorized by her Aunt Lysa shortly after that, and then finally, found herself re-married off to the psychotic Ramsay Snow, who took to beating and raping her nightly. Suffice it to say, few (if any) characters have suffered quite as much as the eldest surviving Stark.
It took almost six years, but Sansa Stark has finally caught a break. After escaping from Winterfell at the end of Season 5, her and Theon are on the run, with Ramsay’s men hot on their trail. The Boltons catch up with them quickly, only to be thwarted by Brienne and Podrick swooping in to save the day. Brienne then swears her life to Sansa, vowing to honor the final wishes of Catelyn Stark to protect her children. It’s a moving moment to say the least, and one that finally gives Sansa a modicum of happiness she hasn’t seen since … well, ever.
3. Tyrion and Varys are running the show in Meereen
While Daenerys is gone, Tyrion Lannister is left to preside over Meereen, and his job will be far from easy. The city he’s ruling is in the throes of a full-on civil war. This conflict is largely a result of mismanagement on the part of Daenerys, who ran Meereen right into the ground in the wake of conquering it. Tyrion will have his work cut out for him in her absence, and things are off to a rocky start when the Sons of the Harpy set fire to the city’s harbor.
Tyrion Lannister is at his best when he’s put in charge. His mind is one of the sharpest is all of Westeros, and we’ve seen him successfully play politics before (most notably when he was Hand of the King in Season 2). Instead of competing with known quantities like his sister though, he’ll be tasked with running a foreign population whose language he barely speaks himself. With Varys and his vast network of spies on board to help, he at least has a friend to guide him through what’s sure to be a treacherous season.
4. Speaking of Daenerys…
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Daenerys on her own. Season 6 puts in just that situation though, as she’s captured by a Dothraki horde. While Jorah and Daario lead an expedition to track her down, she’s forced to deal with being ogled by Khal Moro. Moro soon learns she’s the widow of Khal herself. According to the laws of the Dothraki, that means she’ll have to live out her days with the rest of widows in their capital city. Her rescue party isn’t likely to be far behind (and neither is her dragon if trailers are to be believed), so here’s hoping she can get away soon.
5. Dorne continues to be the worst
In the books, Dorne is where good stories go to die. Despite altering various characters and events, that seems to be just as true for the show as well. When we last left off in Dorne, Myrcella was poisoned and killed by Ellaria Sand, dying in Jaime’s arms right after he confessed her true parentage. Things only get worse in Season 6: Prince Doran Martell is murdered by Ellaria shortly after finding out about Myrcella, while Doran’s son Trystane is stabbed through the head by the Sand Snakes (who somehow made it aboard his ship bound for Kings Landing despite being left behind in Dorne in Season 5). As it stands now, there are no longer any true-born Martell’s left, joining the Baratheons as the newest extinct family in Westeros.
6. Arya is now the most miserable Stark
With Sansa finally catching a break, Arya has officially taken the title of “Most Miserable Stark.” We pick up her story on the streets of Braavos, where’s left to beg for money in the wake of being blinded last season. She’s then beaten with a stick by one of her former Faceless Men (or women?). She’s left bleeding on the street, with the promise of being forced to go through the exact same thing again soon. Blind, beaten, and penniless, Arya Stark is having the worst time of anyone in her family.
7. The big reveal: Melisandre’s true form
For an episode entitled “The Red Woman,” it sure seems unclear as to why throughout the hour. In the final moments though, it earns its name, as Melisandre removes her charmed necklace, revealing her to be at least hundreds of years old. Many theorize she’s sacrificing her own life to save Jon’s, but we won’t know for sure until the story at the Wall picks up again. All we know for now is that she’s far from the self-assured, dominant presence we first saw in Season 2. Not for nothing, we’ve already seen a Red Priest’s ability to raise the dead once before, and we know that only death can pay for life. Perhaps that’s exactly the trade she’s making here in the final moments of the premiere.
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