8:00am PT by Josh Wigler
Week in 'Game of Thrones': Melisandre and Jon Snow Rule
Melisandre (Carice van Houten) rocked the world of Westeros this past week in the season six premiere of Game of Thrones, revealing that one of the most mysterious characters on the show had an even greater secret than most fans imagined.
The end of the episode's stunning moment — featuring Melisandre discard both her clothes and her glamour to reveal her true elderly form beneath — caught viewers' attention for numerous reasons, from speculating on how her ancient age could pave the way toward Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) resurrection, to questioning the true power of her ruby amulet.
No matter the angle, Melisandre's dominant role in the Game of Thrones conversation this week was undeniable, and rightly so. As Davos Seaworth actor Liam Cunningham told THR: "Everything she does now is a lie. It's not the real Melisandre. We're always going to be watching to see when the reveal is going to take place — if it ever takes place. It's amazing. Great drama."
Looking past "The Red Woman" of it all, here's what else Game of Thrones viewers latched onto this week.
1. Jon Snow Is Dead
Ever since the season five finale last June, fans have been scrambling to come up with ways Lord Commander Snow could have survived his apparent assassination at the hands of the Night's Watch. The theorizing will have to continue into at least episode two, as Jon remained extremely dead at the end of the season six premiere — a depressing notion for everybody, including the show's cast and crew.
"My first scene ever professionally acting was with Kit," John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) told THR. "When we started out in season one, we really didn't know anything. Kit had done some plays and I came straight from drama school. The bonds you make when you're scared and you're unsure, they're the bonds that tend to last. It's sad to see him go."
2. Stark Success
Where Jon Snow fell, other members of his family soared. Look no further than Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), the eldest surviving child of the late Ned and Catelyn, routinely abused throughout the series by men in positions of power. Finally, Sansa scored a victory over her enemies, teaming with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) against House Bolton. According to Turner, this is just the beginning of Sansa's season-long upswing.
"This season is a really big change for her," she said. "Even if you're not Team Sansa yet, I think people will really rally behind her this year. I think people will hop on board. I've been telling everybody for years she's always had the potential."
3. Arya Partying
Meanwhile, in the real world, Sansa's onscreen sibling Maisie Williams celebrated a victory of her own. Arya Stark was in Los Angeles at the time of the season six premiere and decided to crash a UCLA student's viewing party, where she posed for pictures and sampled snacks like Grey Worm gummy worms.
"They were catching up on the last episode of season five when I went in, and we all giggled nervously as we took pictures during the famous 'shame' scene," she wrote on Instagram. "I had the most amazing time, everyone was so welcoming and excited."
4. Down With Dorne
The Stark stories aside, Game of Thrones raised a few eyebrows among the book-reading crowd with the premiere's plotline in Dorne. In the scenes, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and her allies betray and destroy Dorne's existing power structure, paving the way for their own regime in the southernmost lands of Westeros.
In a season expected to feature many deviations from the books, Ellaria's betrayal of Prince Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) stands out as a major early example. In George R.R. Martin's novels, Prince Doran remains not only alive, but actively scheming against House Lannister; on the show, however, he was assassinated for his passive stance against the Lannisters.
5. Glimpses of the Future
Pivoting away from the season premiere, attention turns toward Sunday night's new episode, called "Home." Already, wheels are spinning about the title's possible connection to season five's "Hardhome," which featured White Walkers obliterating a Wildling community in epic fashion.
The episode marks the first appearance of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) since the season four finale, "The Children," in which he finally reached the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) of his dreams. Hempstead Wright tells THR that Bran spent season five sharpening his magical abilities offscreen, and when he returns, he'll be more powerful than ever.
Outside of Bran's return, there's another major question mark surrounding "Home." Photos from the episode see Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) returning to Castle Black, suggesting his quest to recruit Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) against Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) came to an end, one way or another. The conflict between Night's Watch mutineers, Jon Snow loyalists and the Wildlings alike looks poised to boil over in "Home" … but one wonders if it will all come screeching to a halt with the resurrection of a certain deceased hero.
Keep checking THR's Game of Thrones coverage for more news, videos, analysis and interviews.