The sixth season of Game of Thrones is now upon us and I have just finished watching the first episode. I was a bit worried about the turn the show would take after last season, but I have to say that I am quite satisfied with the season six premier. To put it bluntly, it was good, perhaps a 4/5. It was especially good considering the usual problems season premiers tend to have and considering that seasons of this show tend to need some time to mature. I do have some reservations too, and overall quite a few things to say about the episode, so let’s get to it.
First, by order of decreasing quality, we have the scenes in the North. Allister and Davos prepare for a throw-down, Sansa hooks up with Brienne and we are all waiting to see if the carcass of the Lord Commander starts moving again. Most of the dialog here was very good. I’ll go so far as saying that the speech Allister gave was excellent and that conversation between father and son Dracu…Bolton made up for that bullshit about how Ramsey was suddenly capable of missing anyone. The idea of Ramsey having been in love is a bit ridiculous, but then this Ramsey is a bit different too book-Ramsey anyway.
I really liked the acting here, Sansa And Thorne were especially good. Brienne is perhaps being presented too much as an efficient killing machine, but the show has never been consistent when it comes to fighting prowess so why start complaining now? The events in the north left a couple of loose threads that I don’t quite know how the writers are going to tie up. Theon will perhaps go back to the iron islands, the next season is called Home, and it either has to do with his home-coming or Euron’s. But what about Sansa? We saw Walder Frey in the second trailer, I expect someone to kill him, maybe that can be Sansa and Brienne. We shall have to wait and see.
Onwards now to Daenerys, Tyrion and the far east. Before I start praising this part too I have a few small questions. Why is it that random people on the streets of Mereen speak Valyrian and not Ghiscari? It makes sense that Tyrion speaks Valyrian but not Ghiscari, since he is well-read. Varys then, who is even more knowledgeable could have spoken both. If the authors of the show had just trusted the audience to be able to keep in mind that there are two different eastern languages (three if counting Dothraki), there would have been no reason to mess with the source material. (…I’m not a book purist, I promise…)
Furthermore, how is it that the harpies managed to light up an entire fleet consisting of many ships before Tyrion and Varys saw the smoke? I assume they don’t have incendiary bombs with timers, so it looked really weird that all of a sudden all those ships were burning and then Tyrion saw the smoke. I would have prepared if they had burned just a couple and then Tyrion and Varys would in dialog have made clear that this had been happening every couple days and that they were running out of ships. Anyway, this bothered me, and I also wonder how in the flying spaghetti fucker Jorah found the ring out there while thousands of Dothrakii, known for looting stuff, missed it.
Putting these things aside, I liked most of what happened in the far east. The dialog between Jorah and Dario was almost perfect, when Dario said that he wanted to grow old enough to see what the world would look like when Daenerys conquered it I got the same feeling that I sometimes get when reading the books. The show doesn’t often manage to do that. I predicted, when watching the trailers, that there would be no scene of Daenerys getting raped by the Dothraki, despite the writers hinting at it, and for now it looks like I was right. Having the Khal stick to the traditions and send her to the other widows instead is better for many reason. I prefer stories where not all characters are cynically and chaotically brutal but where some follow a code to create contrast with those who do not. Also, doing stuff like that for shock value is getting old in this show. I still maintain, as I wrote earlier on this blog, that there is fire in that dude’s future, he will be speed-dating an actual dragon in a couple of episodes.
Finally, whether I want to talk about it or not, there are a few things that need to be said with regards to the freak-show in Dorne. I had hoped that that we would never again see Dorne, that Jamie would arrive in King’s Landing with Myrcella’s corpse and that there would be some howling and garment-rending and oaths of vengeance before the whole thing was forgotten.
Now of course, that wouldn’t have been optimal either, pretending a part of the story didn’t happen seldom is. But this has to be seen as a surgical operation, the infected limb has to be removed before the taint spreads. At the end of last season it was still contained to the area below the knee (yes in this analogy the story is a leg). It has now spread to above the knee. If we see more stuff like this in the season the rot can said to be approaching vital organs.
The reasons for me being this skeptical are many, but the ones most important for this episode have to do with either time or how the show portrays bastards. Apparently the sand-snakes can teleport to Kings Landing or the scenes are shown in reverse order. Also, this story makes very clear that the world in which it takes places is inhabited by people who dislike bastards, but now Oberyn’s bastard-born mistress is gonna assume rule over Dorne after assassinating the prince. Nope, not buying it. The way they killed Trystane was also bullshit, they were trying to be funny about it. Now in this episode they managed to be genuinely funny and not just goofy when that Dothraki talked about the five joys of Dothraki life, so maybe they thought they could pull it of twice. They couldn’t.
The TL,DR version of all this is that I liked the premier, it was the second best or perhaps third-best premier this show has ever had (the reforging of Ice in season four was simply beautiful, and S1E1 was in a class of it’s own, but after that I’d put this episode). I will keep reviewing the season here every week, so if you wanna know what I think about an episode you know where to find me. In the meantime, you can follow me on twitter at @PromethiumWings.