[all images courtesy of HBO]
Last nights season premiere of Game Of Thrones Season 6 did not leave me disappointed. From the very start of the episode to the last moment, the plot moved at a successfully swift pace. Game Of Thrones has been criticised in the past for slow developing plot-lines so to have so much movement in the first episode was a welcomed relief.
I thanked the heavens when we were taken back to the raw and whimsical setting of the wall, right back to where we left off with Jon Snow lay DYING in the snow. Not even dead! We had to watch his presumed last choked breaths as he struggled to live, his stabbed body pooling in his blood. The opening shot of the wall panning down to where he lay was an inclination towards the kind of visionaries we can expect this season. The money behind this show is ludicrous right now. The showrunners have been given 10 million dollars an episode meaning that in total season six will cost 100 million dollars to produce. D&D have said that most of this budget has funded epic battle scenes.
Enter Melisandre cloaked, and saddened to see Jons immobile body. The way Carice Van Houten wears her face almost instantly pops the Lord Of The Light resurrection dream (for now…) She appears to look – for once – moved and even vulnerable. It is unknown whether her dismay is down to the sight of Jon Snow, or because she is beginning to doubt the visions in her fires. She is a character who has never lost any confidence on screen or evoked anything less than certainty, but this episode is a real critical moment for Melisandre.
Alliser Thornes face makes me sick to my core, the little pig. His brash boldness and delusions of grandeur are increasingly frustrating and I can’t even begin to discuss Olly. So allegedly he’s going to grant Ser Davos, and the faithful members of the nightswatch some time to decide whether to surrender or not. Meanwhile Dolorous Edd is off trying to persuade another group of people to defend them because they also owe Jon this justice. Who are those people? Well they could only be the Wildings! A battle between the watch and the wildings is something that wouldn’t have happened again had Alliser Thorne kept his sword to himself but he’s creating the thing that they always tried to protest so badly. I really hope the wildings come at full force towards the cowards left in the watch and mess them up big time. This would effectively eliminate the remainder of the nights watch and with winter coming, this could be untimely. I’m hoping they give Olly a really horrific death towards the end because he has now killed both Ygritte AND Jon. Fair enough it is sad that his parents were killed blah blah blah but he should be man enough to understand Jons decisions from a logical perspective and learn to seem, as HBO’s Tony Soprano would say “think: the big fuckin’ picture.”
11 minutes after the show begins and I’m already wishing for the light summer airs of Dorne, instead, we are taken further into darkness. Ramsey Bolton stands over the corpse of the kennel girl. His father Roose sternly warns him whilst subtly threatening his position as Rooses heir. As explained, if Lady Walder has a boy, he will be the true heir to the Bolton entireity (and at present, The North.) I want Ramsey dead and the sooner the better but something about his manic presentation and psychotic stillness make him the perfect candidate to become a kinslayer himself. Is Roose’s time ticking? Or will his threat have unsettled Ramsey into straighter thinking. The latter is unlikely.
The inevitable escape through the wilderness ensues, beginging with an icy trudge through frozen waters. The snow is seemingly bleak, harsh and unforgiving. Winter is coming. The lighting used is a perfect example of the genius cinemtography used within the show. It’s groundbreaking television and the reason why HBO advertises its programming as “bold..groundbreaking…provocotive”. Suddenly, when we think all hope is lost for a Stark reunion, Brienne and Pod storm through (Stannisless) and save the day. Notice how the visuals lighten as the snow gives a warmer, more romanticised touch as the mood lifts. The moment was swiftly lightened by @WICNET on twitter providing lolz throughout the premiere.
Cersei twiddles with her new pixie cut as she hears news of Jaimes return. The acting conveyed by Lena Headey in this scene is stunning as her face breaks its usual mould and the realisation strikes down on Cersei. I love that in some scenes we can totally feel for Cersei and be lured into her vulnerability, yet in other scenes you want to smack her round the face and red wedding her right back. That is the complexity of the character, we see Jaime loathe then love, loathe then love. That’s effectively what happens when we are also manipulated by her circumstance. The fact that Lena Headey can create this effect is why she is one of the best actresses on screen right now. Its really interesting that the show is playing into the prophecy that Cersei received as young girl, because it implies that the rest of the prophecy will also come true. For those who haven’t read the book this is the full prophecy that she was told;
“Queen you shall be…until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.” Anger flashed across the childs face. “If she tries I will have my brother kill her.” …”Will the King and I have children?” she asked. “Oh, aye. Six – and – ten for him, and three for you.” That made no sense to Cersei. Her thumb was throbbing where she’d cut it, and her blood was dripping on the carpet. How could that be? she wanted to ask, but she was done with her questions. The woman was not done with her, however.
“Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds,” she said. “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
We later find out that Valonqar is the old valaryian word for ‘little brother.’ With all of the witches prediction coming true thus far, both Cersei and Tommen are in danger. Will we see Cersei try to fight the prophecy with her new and improved mountain? Or will she have a Lady Macbeth style unravel into a sorrowful passion filled death. The things she was saying were emotional because even though we have already seen her grieve numerous family members (Father, Son, Husband,) this time, the things she was actually saying were true. Myrcella was a nice kid, so it makes Cersei seem all that bit more likeable.
*favourite piece of dialogue alert from Jaime Lannister*
We briefly spend some time with Margery Tyrell who looks like Cinderella at the bottom of a dungeon. She looks timid and frightful yet is strong to her word. She keeps her poise as she asks for royal demands. After a visit from The High Sparrow, he decides that she is beginning to change. Who is this good for? Hopefully next week she has a bigger development because her story could be pretty boring against the other more dominant subplots which are interesting because they contribute to the bigger picture and the war between the living and the dead.
Another amazing set and landscape in the Dornish gardens of Dorian Martell. The garishly intricate costume design lured me into distraction, and I was overtaken by surprise when Dorian was slain. In the books, the plot for the Sandsnake rebellion is a lot more detailed and wholly different, but I liked the fast paced action this scene brought to the show. I didn’t expect Tristan to be killed as well as it would have been interesting to see his character develop into a more prominent male Martell but just like that, all the men are killed. Naturally i’m thrilled at the progression of the Sandsnakes, being successfully strong women in a HBO show, that doesn’t mean I don’t think they aren’t ALL greedy bitches though.
Peter Dinklage’s acting is ludicrously precise. Another one of the shows top actors, never fails us to be at hand to lighten the ominous tones. The way he uses his face to act is so impressive and now it’s also covered in the history of his past battles which only strengthens his presence. Nothing much developmental happened between Tyrion and Varys yet there seemed to be a mysterious somebody watching them from the shadows. I’m sure their plot will finally introduce us to Tyrion leading and just how good he is at it.
Now I don’t want to be a buzz kill but I think Daario is so wrongly cast that it hurts me to even look at his pretty little face. It’s not like most of the other book to screen adaptation changes because they have stripped down his whole culture which was the main attraction with him. Take away his purple hair and yellow moustache and he’s just another dark haired man with stubble looking to take Daenerys heart. I think I’m still bitter from the actor change which is my number one pet peeve in the world. Last season I had a strong feeling that Daario was going to be somehow linked to the sons of the harpy because I don’t believe his love for Daenerys is with good intention. I am refraining from posting a photo of Ser Jorah because looking at the greyscale makes me feel very sick like please get some E45 on there good ser.
I loved the shot of him clenching his hand around her ring, forcing a rock hard or “concrete” protection around her.
Daenerys is spoken to in the most derogotive of ways as she is herded amongst the biggest Khalasar we have seen yet. As she always does, she plays dumb and refuses to let them know she can understand every word they are speaking. Once camp is set up, she introduces herself. It was one of those cringe moments to watch where you feel completely sorry for the character as all of their usual authority is diminished and instead we see Daenerys be laughed at. I did actually enjoy the banter that was had around the Dothraki fire between the riders themselves, even if their words were vulgar. It was just refreshing to see a human side to the Dothraki perhaps in contrast with the unsullied. I KNEW that they would try and take her to Vaes Dothrak. In the books, it is the place where all widowed Khaleesi’s must go to live out their days after their Khals die. Obviously this is the last thing on Daenerys to do list, but has she just dug herself into a bigger hole? Let the fight for Daenerys freedom commence once more.
From the first rolling shot seen pictured above, it was instantly obvious we were back in Braavos (kudos to the set design.) The scene was brutal and made very hard to watch television as only Game Of Thrones can do best. I do not like seeing Arya in this way at all, its one of the most poignant physical transformations we’ve seen – and we’ve seen Jaime Lannister lose half an arm! I’m keen to see what will develop for Arya from here. It’s official that we’ve said goodbye to the books from here in the show and anything could happen. I hope to see Arya back in Westeros by the end of the season. My guess is the waif will come and beat her everyday until she is able to defend herself, dependant on the senses that her “dancing teacher” Syrio Forel once taught her in so intricately. Could the waif be Syrio? Could Jaqhen H’ghar be Syrio? Anyone can be anyone under the Many Faced God, but only at a price.
All at once, we are taken back to Melisandre who is basking in the candlelight. The light she loves so much, shines through onto an aged mirror. Remember when she gave birth to a shadow and everyone was like what the fuck did she seriously just give birth to a shadow? Well this was another what the fuck Melisandre moment. We know NOTHING about this character, especially in comparison to the lengthy context available about most of the other main characters. It all dawns in on this moment that there is so much information we still have to learn. Apparently Carice had found her role extremely difficult to play throughout the years because she never knew the mystery behind the character. So little is known about her that Carice found it challenging to embody her as an actor naturally would. Now however, she looks forward to exploring her in ways that haven’t been told before. I literally don’t know where to go from here, there are a million questions to be had about this. Melisandre is clearly like a thousand years old and the burning Ruby she usually keeps round her throat is somehow the key to this anti-aging process. What else can the Ruby and those mysterious vials do? I think the notes I made whilst slightly delirious at 3am watching the premiere sum it up perfectly. I don’t remember writing this but I feel it all the same…
President Obama was the first person to see this episode, before most of the media, cast and crew! He asked for a copy and was given it way before April 10th, the official premiere date.
Jon Snows blood pooling was shaped like a dragon which is a potential nod towards R+L=J
Actress Carice Van Houten revealed that she spent six hours in the makeup chair to achieve that look, however they did get in an 85 year old body double who was a “sweet little lady from Ireland.”