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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season six premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, “The Red Woman.”]
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) isn’t the only one who knows nothing. Book readers and show-only viewers alike were treated to countless shocks over the course of the first new hour of Game of Thrones since the season five finale, particularly where the Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and Dorne storylines were concerned.
But beyond the obvious twists, turns and book divergences, the premiere episode, called “The Red Woman,” featured subtle moments worth further exploration. For instance, there’s something fiery bubbling beneath the surface in Meereen — a simmering story that’s bound to burst out of the dark and into the Lord of Light as season six chugs along.
Here are the 10 biggest moments from the season premiere:
1. Jon Snow is really dead
The 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch did not blink. He did not breathe. He only continued to bleed, laid out on his back in the middle of Castle Black, dead as a doornail. Keep hope alive for Jon’s eventual resurrection (Davos, why so curious about Jon’s blood trail?), but fans hoping for the hero’s rebirth in the season premiere were in for a disappointment.
2. Melisandre is really old
“The poor guys who made love to her.” That’s Liam Cunningham speaking with THR about the episode’s jaw-dropping reveal that beneath her glamorous exterior, Melisandre is actually an old woman. Carice van Houten’s traditionally sensual sorceress took a hard left turn at the end of the episode, climbing into bed, exhausted and empty. Now that her true nature is known, is it only a matter of time before the full extent of her power comes out — perhaps to bring Jon back from the dead?
3. Ramsay goes to the dogs
The Bastard of Bolton’s first scene of season six is a surprisingly heartwarming story about meeting Myranda, as he mourns the death of his longtime lover. Then, barely blinking, he decides that her corpse — perfectly good meat, mind you — should be fed to the hounds. Leave it to Ramsay to completely mangle even the smallest amount of goodwill.
4. Sansa Stark rises
After seasons of torture and tragedy, Sansa (Sophie Turner) finally looks poised for a comeback. Just as House Bolton’s hounds close in, Sansa sees salvation in the form of Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman), rushing in to kill the attackers. Now, with Brienne at her side, Sansa has a new set of arms to carry her forward, as well as a new destination: Castle Black, home of her half-brother Jon Snow. On second thought, maybe the bad news isn’t quite over for the eldest Stark daughter …
5. Maggy’s prophecy returns
“Gold shall be their crowns, and gold their shrouds.” The woodland witch Maggy issued these dark words to Cersei (Lena Headey) long ago, predicting the deaths of her eventual children. Now, two are gone: Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), both killed with poison. How long until King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) suffers from a fatal snake bite of his own?
6. Dorne changes course
Speaking of snakes, never let it be said that Thrones doesn’t understand its audience. The Dorne story was an easily identifiable low mark for season five, due to the relatively defanged nature of its characters. The season six premiere reacts to that criticism by having Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and the Sand Snakes murder Prince Doran (Alexander Siddig), Trystane (Toby Sebastian), and Areo Hotah (DeObia Oparei) in cold blood — a complete and utter reversal from their current fate in the books. That’s one way to diverge from the source material.
7. Trystane’s Quentyn mark
In the books, Doran Martell’s son is named Quentyn, and his story involves proposing a marriage alliance to Daenerys Targaryen. In a moment of desperation, Quentyn attempts to liberate Dany’s dragons to save Meereen; instead, the epic act of bravery yields a fast, fiery, foolhardy fate, as the Dornishman is consumed in dragon fire. Even though Quentyn and his story didn’t quite translate to television, Trystane’s death serves as a spiritual successor to one of the great fatal punchlines in George R.R. Martin’s source material.
8. The Red Priests rise
As Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) stroll through Meereen, they see a Red Priest of R’hllor preaching to the masses. This is the second time these two have witnessed a disciple of the Lord of Light while traveling together in Essos, and previews of future episodes indicate it won’t be the last. Given Melisandre’s importance in the premiere, and the other red priest sightings, it seems safe to assume that this fiery faith will be hugely important in the episodes ahead.
9. Jorah goes grey
The exiled knight’s skin condition, contracted during his trip to Old Valyria, worsened between seasons five and six. Jorah’s forearm is almost entirely covered in greyscale, a ticking time bomb as he races to find and save Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) from the Dothraki. Smart money suggests Jorah won’t live long enough to see the Targaryen takeover of the world — but best to bet that same money on Jorah sacrificing himself this season in order to save his Khaleesi.
10. The wrath of Khal, or lack thereof
The Dothraki lack traditional manners, but they take tradition itself quite seriously. Khal Moro (Joseph Naufahu), leader of the horde that captured Daenerys, decides to grant her safety due to his loyalty to the late Khal Drogo. Of course, his command that Dany lives out her days in Vaes Dothrak with other widowed khaleesi won’t go over too well — but in one episode alone, Moro has proven himself a reasonable warrior, one who just might satisfy the promise of bringing Dothraki to Westeros on House Targaryen’s behalf.
What did you think of the premiere? Click here for our deep dive with Liam Cunningham and stay tuned to THR.com/GameOfThrones for full coverage all season long including interviews, video and analysis.
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