Unimpressed by the muddle of Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 1: The Red Lady – Review

Mike GristReviews, TV Leave a Comment

The opening shot of the Game of Thrones season 6 premiere was excellent. It showed the Wall and Castle Black from a perspective we’ve never seen before- looking back to the sun setting over a southern tree-lined horizon, to the exact promised land the ice zombies and White Walkers are so into.

And Jon Snow! He was there too, like another piece of the tatty furniture, lying pitifully, palely, lank as melted then refrozen butter, in a puddley goop of blood (and guts?). Defiantly dead. This is good, I thought- this is what I want. Is he coming back to life? Is he dead?


Aaaaand… we don’t find out. Infuriatingly, after a year of waiting, and not unlike The Walking Dead not showing us who Negan just killed, we don’t find out.

Well blast it to heck!

I found this really annoying, and that sensation only was exacerbated as the show kept slipping in and out of other plot lines, many of which are nowhere near a denouement. Rather- we’ve got loads of new plot lines starting up!

Do they not know they’re onto season 6 by now? Which means they’ve drawn out the Game of Thrones for all that time, and advanced the White Walkers about four steps south (one eight-sided die roll), without really advancing us any closer to collision at all.

Except for Jon Snow. He’s fought the ice zombies and the White Walkers. He was in the game! With him around shit was finally starting to happen.

And then, whoosh:

– Cersei is with Jaime again, hurrah, and another dead child in line with prophecy (Marcella), but who really cares about these two anymore? They’re so obviously not going to be end-game characters, so far removed from the war with the ice, so obviously going to get crushed by Daenerys whenever she pulls her finger out, that it’s hard to give a crap. King’s Landing is totally played out. Whatever the Sparrow does to them is fine by me. Oh, except for Margaery. She’s OK. But nothing’s happening with her, so yeah screw her too, in her fundamentalist cell.

– Maisie Williams (Arya) is blind in some city (Bravos?). OK, I don’t really remember that happening, but I guess it was punishment for breaking the rules of the House of Black and White? But then remind me again, why should I care? She’s surely end-game, and this whole looong stretch is just more XP-gathering power-up for her en route to getting her revenge and playing some role in the final war, but how long am I expected to defer wanting to see some of the actual growth/development happen? How many times has she got to f%$k up before she actually gets it?

– Theon and Sansa, this was OK, and the redemption of Theon is cool- but it was a)- a bit of a fail the way he said- “I’ll lead them away,” then just ran out in front of all the horses, and b)- they got magically rescued by big girl and Pod. Huh? Pod acquitted himself well through for a baker’s boy.

– Little guy and Fatman wander through rebel-filled city without guards, and pull a Batfleck of running toward the smoke despite the fact they can do nothing to help. Don’t care about Meereen anymore. Does it matter? Daenerys is not even there! She flew off on a dragon! It completely does not matter to me. Seems Tyrion is not really bothered either.

– Two dudes hunt for Dany. Don’t care. Stone skin? Dumbass. Everyone knows, you get bit by a vampire- you tell people!

– Bran Stark! We left him like a whole season ago, in some tree cave about to learn important stuff- and….? Come on!

– Dorne screwing around. Some guy we barely knew and who was not important at all (Julian Bashir! Give the good Dr. something useful to do! No chance now.) got killed, and his son who we’ve never seen before got killed too. I get that all this stuff might be going on in the wider world, but why am I supposed to care about it? Martin has been ‘setting the scene’ with all his toys for 6 seasons, when oh when are the pieces we’ve already got going to start smashing into each other? I groan when I think we still have to deal with the re-animated Mountain. He got beat once already, that story is done!

– Daenerys in the Dothraki wilderness, receiving pretty much the same treatment she got the first time round from her lizard-eating Dothraki pals. Why am I watching this again? When will she eat the cow’s heart? When will we see the crown of gold?

– And to cap it all off, ending with the grand finale of Melisandre the Red Lady being actually a skanky, droopy old crone. Shock, fade to black! Whaaat? That’s not like some amazing new idea. Witches are crones, and they have glamor to cover it up, everyone knows that.


My conclusion is that there are way too many balls up in the air. Tell a damn story. I worry with this first departure from George R.R. Martin’s source material that they are being too faithful to his plan. Why is any of this important? I get why Jon Snow and Dany are important, but everything else?

Why does it matter? And why are so many of the plotlines basically repeats of previous plotlines in previous seasons? We’ve subdued Meereen before. We’ve dealt with rude Dothraki before. We’ve run from Bolton before. We’ve had Cersei lose a child and vow revenge before. We’ve had Jon Snow on the brink of death (at Wildlings’ hands last time) before. We’ve had Arya leveling slowly up before, and Sansa slipping in and out of the hands of madmen (Joffrey last time) before, and bullshit in Dorne before. We’ve done it all!

The show starts to feel like World of Warcraft around level 30/40, when the interesting plot threads get really spread out, and you spend hours and hours doing endless repetitive grinding quests, killing animals, collecting trinkets, helping random douchebags.

Can we please move forward? Can we please follow one interesting story through an actual development in the overall plot, so that I can see why any of this crap is important?

Going forward most of the plot-lines above DO NOT interest me. Jon is interesting. Theon maybe. Dany is important but I have no desire to see her have to double down on Dothraki once more, like a rip-off of Rand-al-Thor in Wheel of Time doubly getting his wilderness people.

Stop hopping around so much and tell the story. I realize Game of Thrones often does this, setting the pieces in play, but I’m worried so many of these pieces, all in separate games, are too much of a big mushy muddle for me to care. What we really need is another Red Wedding to thin the ranks.

Kill them off! Bring back Snow! Roll on episode 2!

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