IT’S BAAAACK! After an excruciatingly long wait, Game of Thrones is finally back on our screens. And it has brought together all our main players on the same stage again.
‘The Red Woman’, much like the other premieres, served as a sort of ‘check in’ with the all characters across the Westeros and Essos board, but that doesn’t mean there was no major development – namely Dorne and the female revolution.
Was Dorne just a symbolism for the female takeover that is happening on GoT? Because after five seasons of being suppressed, manipulated, and abused, it’s time for the women to take their rightful place – at the top.
The Women in ‘The Red Woman’
Let’s start with the woman in the title – Melisandre or the ‘Red Woman’: The Night’s Watch is more than a little divided after the coup that resulted in the murder of Jon Snow, with the Snow loyalists like Dolorous Edd and Davos Seaworth locked up in the room with Jon’s body (great acting dead there, Kit Harington). Melisandre is conflicted because she saw Jon in her flames fighting at Winterfell, and she cannot handle being wrong again (the first being with Stannis).
At the end of the episode, we see her stripping down, much as she has many times, but this time she removes the ruby at her throat as well, and we see her for what she truly is, an extremely old woman. This has been hinted at many times – in both the show and the books – but to see it so explicitly on screen is powerful, because we see a character that has been sexualized so many times in the show, truly bare. As she said to Selyse Baratheon, her outward beauty is a trick, it’s a tool, and now we can understand that.
Melisandre will bring Jon Snow back, but she needs to gain back her faith in the Lord of Light before she does it so we might have to wait an episode longer before we see our long-haired crush alive again. But right now, Melisandre is the only one who holds that power in her hand (unless someone charters in Thoros of Myr).
Staying in the North, we have Sansa and Brienne: Sansa and Theon are fleeing the Bolton soldiers (so that jump off the castle walls must have only left a scratch) but they aren’t fast enough, so Theon tells Sansa to run while he tells the Bolton soldiers that she died. But badass Brienne appeared like a ninja and cut down the Bolton soldiers, and declared her allegiance to Sansa again, and this time Sansa accepted. It was rather cute that Sansa stumbled when she said the words, because it makes sense that even if she was taught it she had probably never said it before.
There was a popular theory last season, when many thought Sansa would finally get some agency that she would be taking over the Lady Stoneheart role in the books who was the resurrected corpse of Catelyn Stark, who wanders the Riverlands and gets revenge on those who wronged the Starks. And this is extremely probable this season as we know that Brienne ends up going to the Riverlands, where Catelyn’s ancestral home is, as well as the Freys who killed Robb and Catelyn. So perhaps Sansa sends Brienne there to help to get revenge, or to help her uncle, the Blackfish with the siege of Riverrun? But hopefully both of them will get to play a more prominent role this season.
Moving South, in Dorne, there is Ellaria and the Sand Snakes: We get a sliver of a sweet moment as Ellaria and Doran are walking back from the dock, and Doran tells her about how he regretted not living as free as Oberyn. His men come and tell him that Myrcella was killed, and then the women rise up killing both Doran and his right hand man Areo Hotah, and we see two of the Sand Snakes killing Trystane as well with Ellaria’s commentary that ‘weak men will no longer rule Dorne.’ Sidebar: How did the Sand Snakes make it to the Martell ship in King’s Landing where Trystane was so quickly?
Who is going to rule Dorne now? Ellaria? Or the Sand Snakes? A small part of me is hoping that the show will reveal that the dynamic character of Arianne Martell from the books, the daughter of Doran, has been locked in a tower or something and she will come out to rule. This plot point seems to come out of nowhere. In the books, it is revealed that Doran had been playing a long game to bring the Targaryens (Daenerys or Viserys) back to Westeros to rule (he does an excellent speech about being the viper in the grass, and I’m forever heartbroken that we won’t get to hear Alexander Siddig say this).
However it does seem like the showrunners are priming Dorne up as the place that Daenerys will land in Westeros, with their pro-female and anti-Lannister alignment. So seeing that they are setting up Daenerys’ landing strip, it’s safe to assume that she will be landing in Westeros soon?
Speaking of Daenerys, she is with the new Dothraki riders, who keep insulting her and making sexual insinuations, and because we know she can speak Dothraki, we watch her expressions as she longs to chastise them for the way they are speaking to her. But once she is taken to the Khal she can’t keep silent any longer and she reveals her true identity, the Khal respects her when he learns she’s the widow of Khal Drogo but he reveals that she needs to go to Vaes Dothrak, which is where widows of Khal’s go to live out the rest of their days.
It’s easy to see this as another huge step back for the Khaleesi of our hearts, but Vanity Fair revealed that in George R.R. Martin’s original outline, after the death of Khal Drogo, Daenerys used her baby dragons to get her new khalasar which she took with her back to Westeros. In the first episode we did not see Drogon, but if he finds his mother, perhaps she could use him to convince the Dothraki that instead of taking her to Vaes Dothrak they should join her quest to get back her throne?
Game of Thrones has received a lot of criticism – especially last year – for its’ treatment of its’ female characters and it seems as if this year they are trying hard to correct this wrong, or at least to be seen as more empowering – the first episode was a prime example. Does this mean that Game of Thrones are overthrowing the patriarchy? Does this mean the sidelined female characters like Sansa Stark are finally getting their agency? God I hope so.
Catching up with the other characters:
- Jaime and Cersei – they are working together to plot revenge for their daughter’s death
- Tyrion and Varys – picking up the pieces of Meereen, who are growing increasingly unhappy with Daenerys’ rule, perhaps it’s time to fly over to Westeros?
- Jorah and Daario – still searching for Daenerys, discussing Jorah’s friendzone status, but Jorah does happen to find Daenerys’ ring that she left for them to find.
- Arya – still blind, but training with the Waif so she can fight with using her other senses, so basically Daredevil.
- Margaery – Marge is ready to confess so that she can see her brother again (in the non-incest way) I don’t see this working out in the Lannisters’ favor.
Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays at 9pm E.T