“The Red Woman” reintroduced us to the vast and complex world of Game of Thrones in the Season 6 premiere. The attacks, defeats, and failures experienced by many of the characters at the end of Season 5 are bound to shape Season 6. Those who hold on to the old ways may find temporary reprieve, but magic is coming back to the world of ice and fire.
Unexpected Humor and Hope
“The Red Woman” touched on each of the various storylines running through the series. Many characters are finding their way through the aftermath of shame, violence, and death. Though much of the episode was about loss and defeat, the episode had moments of lightness and joy.
Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy survive the jump from the walls of Winterfell only to be pursued by Bolton hounds. The moments between the two were touching and well acted. Just when all seems lost, the heroine Brienne of Tarth arrives.
The swearing of the oath was a wonderful moment for both Brienne and Sansa. Seeing Theon awaken from his Reek persona was gratifying. With each action, helping Sansa across the stream, taking up the sword, and everything in between, Theon finally began to emerge. There was a point in Season 5 where we couldn’t imagine he could be redeemed, but then it happened.
The return of the Dothraki brings a roughness amidst a world of civility, as well as an extra element of humor. Who knew Khal Moro’s rhetorical question about the best thing in the world would provide so much comic fodder? The Dothraki also present a threat that Daenarys Targaryen can’t easily intimidate, charm, or defeat—at least without Drogon.
Humor was to be found in other moments as well. Bringing Tyrion and Varys together again allowed for funny moments that we loved. Game of Thrones takes itself pretty seriously, so lightening things up is a nice change.
Prophecy in Game of Thrones
Prophecy has played an important role throughout Game of Thrones. “The Red Woman” reminds us that though some predictions come true, others fail to fulfill their promises—or threats. Prediction can be a messy business. Certain signs may be easy to read while the clues to some prophecies may be misleading.
Cersei Lannister bemoans the foretelling of her children’s deaths. She tells her brother Jaime:
“No, I knew this would happen. The witch told me years ago. She promised me three children and she promised me they’d die. ‘And gold their shrouds.’ Everything she said came true. You couldn’t have stopped it. It’s prophecy. It’s fate.”
With the loss of Joffrey and Myrcella, Cersei only has Tommen to hold onto now. Cersei wants nothing more than to keep her children safe, but the witch’s prediction is well on its way.
As we learned in the Season 5 premiere, some of the witch’s other predictions have already manifested. Cersei married a King (Robert Baratheon) instead of a Prince (Rhaegar Targaryen), and she had three children while the king had twenty (referencing his numerous bastards). The witch also predicted that Cersei would be replaced by a younger, more beautiful queen, whom she assumes to be Margaery Tyrell, but could be Daenerys Targaryen.
On the other hand, the prophecies of the Red Priestess Melisandre didn’t unfold quite as she predicted. She had told Stannis Baratheon the Lord of Light had shown him to be the Prince:
“You will betray the men serving you, you will betray your family, you will betray everything you once held dear … and it will all be worth it, because you are the Son of Fire; you are the Warrior of Light.”
Though Stannis certainly betrayed everyone he ever cared about, he is defeated first at Blackwater, then outside Winterfell. With the presumed death of Stannis at Brienne’s hand, it appears that Melissandre’s premonitions were amiss.
Melissandre becomes further withdrawn after learning that Jon Snow is dead. She’d seen Jon in the flames, fighting at Winterfell, yet finds him dead. In her room at Castle Black, Melissandre changes into her true form, that of an ancient woman, and stares into the mirror with a look of resolve. Will any of Melissandre’s visions come to pass?
Dreaming of Magic
Game of Thrones is full of dreams, visions, and omens, from Bran’s dreams of the three-eyed raven to the wildling Osha interpreting the red comet to mean that dragons have returned to the world. We expect Season 6 of Games of Thrones will provide more opportunities for visions, dreams, and prophecies to come to pass. Or not.