Quite excited that Game of Thrones is back on the telly this week (or last week, if you are States-wise – we get our ep on the Monday); and ever so slightly more excited than last year, because last year I was really Quite Bitter that there was no more Charles Dance. Alas, there is still no Charles Dance this year, but I’m at least used to it. And there was some bloody marvellous stuff in the season opener, including what is very much one of my favourite scenes of the series so far.
Most of The Red Woman is spent reminding viewers what happened last time, who’s still alive, and nudging everyone in the directions they’re at least going to be trying to head in for the rest of the season. Amongst the catch-ups are two wonderful scenes. The first, and my favourite moment of the episode, and one of the series’s high points so far, is the pay-off for a plot thread that began all the way back in season two: Brienne swears fealty to Sansa. My feelings as Brienne rode in to the rescue were pretty epic, but they seem hollow compared to how overwhelming it was to see them exchange the same oath than Brienne had given to Sansa’s mother, but here, Brienne has been through hell to try and keep her promise to Catelyn Stark, and Sansa has just been through hell. I remember, when I first read the books, thinking “oh, Sansa’s perfect gentle knight *does* exist, and it’s Brienne! Why are they not teaming up??” And now they are, and the sense of joy, of satisfaction, of delight, that after all they have suffered, they have found each other. Will it last? Oh, I hope so; but I’m not optimisitic. I hope, at least, Brienne and Sansa, and Podrick, will get to have a little time together, and a little happiness.
The other big yay for me came with Indira Varma’s coup in Dorne. I’ve been a fan of Varma for years, and I love her performance in GoT, and it’s exciting to see that she’s going to (hopefully; it’s GoT, I shouldn’t assume) become a bigger player this year. I was, natually, appalled at the sudden death of Doran Martell, for he is played by the wonderful Alexander Siddig (could he PLEASE get a nice fantasy show where he doesn’t die a horrid death? Thank ye), but so cool to see, once again, the trust and understanding between the Sand Snakes and their mother, and their vicious, efficient grab for control of Dorne.
Also very much enjoyed Ser Davos and Jon’s allies in the Night Watch teaming up, and Davos just being so damned practical and straightforward. And the way the situation pushes him and Melisandre together. I hope we’ve some scenes with just the two of them coming up, as I’m terribly interested in how their relationship’s going to develop. And if Sansa and Brienne head for the Wall, and they all join up, I will be ridiculously happy, since one of the main problems with the books, and parts of the series for me, is that the characters and plot threads become more and more disparate, and never come back together in a satisfying way. So now we’re getting proper pay-offs with new combos of characters on the telly? I am SO HAPPY.
Lena Headey was amazing as the ship carrying her daughter came sailing to shore. Bloody hell. Heartbreaking watching as she crumbles with grief and desperate resignation. Tyrion and Varys are always awesome together. I’m not a huge Arya fan, but I do love Maisie Wiliams, even more so after her performance in last year’s Doctor Who, and it seems that’s lifted my enjoyment of her character in GoT. Dany’s bit was mostly meh, but I think a good demonstration of the kind of double-edge there was to so much female power in medieval societies – they way that women could often gain power, and wield it for themselves, and their goals, but it was derived from their status in relation to men. (Part of why I think the Dorne stuff has the potential to be fascinating is that it has absolute primogeniture; the means used by Ellaria Dorne and her bastard daughters are rather different to how Cersei, Margaery, and Dany all wield their political power.)
The last scene, once I stopped pointing accusingly at it because it’s the same thing they did in Act I of the Inqusitor storyline in Star Wars The Old Republic, and remembered actually, that’s a pretty common fairytale motif and GRRM and/or GoT writers probably weren’t cribbing plot ideas from MMORPGs…anyway, the last scene, oh, I so want to see next week’s just to see where it’s going with Melisandre: is her faith truly shattered? Can she go on? Will she find meaning elsewhere, or will there be something in the embers that lets her faith reignite? QUESTIONS. Questions I care about the answers to, yay!
All in all, an excellent start to the new season. And I am still V OPTIMISTIC that somehow Sansa, Margaery, and Dany will all come out of this ALL RIGHT. Yes. Ahem.