MAJOR SPOILER: HEED THE WARNINGS
It’s been a whole nine months (give or take) and after burning speculation and arduous anticipation, Game Of Thrones is back on our screens. And not a moment too soon; there’s only so long Kit Harington can pretend that his continued curly tangle is a lifestyle choice and not a contractual one, but thanks to an interview from back in March we know that Jon Snow will definitely return in Season 6… as a corpse.
But how long will he stay that way? Well, as it transpires, for the entirety of episode one at least. After what feels like an eternity (in the real world) he is finally found in his pool of cherry slush by Sir Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) – everyone’s favourite Onion Knight – and his dwindling harem of loyal Nights Watchmen. At this point, it is quite clear that the Jon Snow we know is now nothing but a frigid corpse, and it is in this manner he shall stay, for whilst Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) pops her head into his chamber, she offers no resolution other than that she foresaw him in her flames. It seems her confidence is shaken following Stannis’ abysmal defeat at the hands of the Bolton army and Brienne of Tarth’s mighty swing, but she had best gather her wits (and her tits) if she is to prevent Sir Alliser Throne (Owen Teale) and his cronies from slaughtering the remains of Jon Snow’s troupe.
Seeing Melisandre age before our eyes is certainly a suitable shock to end on, but this is Game Of Thrones, and as we all know by now, one shock per episode just will not do. Our brief flit to Dorne sees a double dose of treacherous murder in a matter of as many minutes when Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and her Sand Snakes impale both Prince Doran (Alexander Siddig) and his heir Trystane (Toby Sebastian). It’s hot on the heels of their murder of Myrcella – the bastard of incestual twins Cersei and Jamie Lannister – and as Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) pulls into the bay at Kingslanding, he leaves Cersei (Lena Headley) distraught at the plight of their only daughter. They vow to avenge anyone who has wronged them and their children, and knowing from experience that Lannister’s always pay their debts, we can all cringe at the thought of the reparations to come.
Elsewhere at Kingslanding, and Septa Unella is still badgering Queen Margery (Natalie Dormer) (formerly of House Tyrell) to “Confess!”, which surely we would have done, had that beast been forcefully brandishing a stick at us, and talking of sticks, Arya (Maisie Williams) is subject to a blind stick fight by her own vindictive tormentor. It’s all a bit Gladiator and more than a bit unfair, yet it seems Arya must pay the price for her disobedience at the House of Black and White.
Things are faring better for her sister, Sansa (Sophie Turner) and their former ward, Thoen (Alfie Allen) – now christened “Reek”; after their desperate jump from the parapets of Winterfell into the snowdrift below, their flee into the forest whilst being pursued by Bolton horsemen appears to be the end of their road, until Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod arrive just in the knick of time to save our unfortunate duo from being Bolton dog dinner. This time, Sansa has the sense to accept Brienne’s vow of protection, which will no doubt fare well, given Ramsay’s (Iwan Rheon) certain fury at the escape of his two favourite plaything’s.
Casting our gaze back to warmer climes, and Meereen burns. What is Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to do, as the city’s surrogate guardian in the absence of the Mother of Dragons? He is certainly trapped in between a rock and a hard place, where a masked group of renegades terrorises a city he knows next to nothing about and has little to no method of which to control. Should he attempt to act and risk their wrath, or cross his fingers and hope for their Queen’s return? Not that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) ever did really fare better, but we’d hasten a bet that her previous situation would be preferable to the one in which she finds herself now. Abandoned by a temperamental Drogon and captured by a Khalasar, she is dragged to their leader, Khal Moro, to do as he will. Presuming to gain their respect as the widow of Khal Drogo, she is instead informed that – as a widow – there is only one suitable place for her: Vaes Dothrak, the capital where bereaved Dothraki wives enter a pious life of servitude. Never fear, however; Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) – her vying pillars of love – are hot on her trail.
But will they reach her in time? What is in store for Dorne? Has Melisandre lost faith in the Lord of Light? And are we set for a world without Jon Snow?
Seven days and counting…