FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD
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The long awaited premiere of season 6 of Game of Thrones has finally arrived, and somehow I have decided to watch it, even with all the rage and disappointment that I feel towards the show, it’s decisions to change storylines to the worse, remove others, and its treatment of female characters.
This review will contain spoilers, but I won’t go too much into details about too many things. My focus will be the women of the shows and some of the issues (or improvement) that within the show. If you have yet to watch Game of Thrones, or haven’t gotten around to watching season 5, I recommend you do, unless spoilers aren’t something that bothers you or limits your ability to enjoy the show.
Season 5’s final episode left us all with a lot of questions, worries, and anxiety, for fans of the books and fans of the TV show alike, considering that it marked the moment when the show caught up with the books. As a fan of the book for years now, and someone who has criticised the many decisions and changes from the book to the show, for a while I pondered whether to continue or not. Season 5 was the most difficult season for me to watch, largely for it seemed to contain some of the worst changes and new storylines I had seen yet, and the treatment of women was something that was leaving me bitter and dry at the end of every episode, especially Sansa Stark.
As I watched the episode, I started to notice how women seemed to have a larger role and presence. Part of the Nightwatch’s arc, and Jon Snow’s focused on Davos and Jon’s friends desire for revenge, and Alliser just not giving a single fuck. But I was drawn to Melisandre, her reaction to Jon’s death, and the sadness and confusion on her face as she questions the Lord of Light’s plan for her.
I am particularly anxious to see what the show has in store for Sansa, considering the treatment that her character has received. The removal of her book storyline, as the story of Sansa growing into a smart and capable woman, playing Littlefinger, and understanding the game of thrones just as well as the main players, many were incredibly upset at what was done to her character, rightfully so. At the end of season 5’s final episode, we were not sure whether Sansa would survive or not, if her story would continue to be about men abusing or and saving her, or if she would be given agency, episode 1 gave me a little bit of hope. Theon and Sansa’s escape doesn’t last very long as they are quickly found by Ramsay’s men & hounds, for a moment there I truly thought that she would be given back to him and that her story would continue to go absolutely nowhere. Until Brienne showed up, saved Sansa and pledged herself to protect her at the cost of her life. To be honest, I teared up a little bit. The emotions on both Sansa’s and Brienne’s faces were beautiful to see, this moment of relief of finally finding one another with a parcel of doubt, considering everything that has happened. There is a lot that I want to Sansa’s character, mainly, I want her to become the bad ass boss woman that she deserves to be, and avenge her friends, her family, and herself at the same time. Some really great things could be done with Sansa and Brienne now that they are together. Please, make this happen.
We move to Cersei and Jaime, and a cute/sad conversation about Myrcella, who died from a poisoned kiss from Ellaria, who didn’t forget about Oberyn’s death. To be fair, I’m still not over it either. It’s short and sweet, and parts of me wants to sympathize with Cersei, but I still struggle to forget about the rape scene between Jaime and Cersei that the writers gave us previously, the relationship between the two has been tainted for me ever since. I just can’t, won’t and do not care all that much. Book Jaime all the way.
The episode continues in its weird and new trend of focusing on women taking revenge by showing us Ellaria murdering Prince Doran Martell, claiming that he is a “weak man” for his lack of action after Elia Martell’s rape and murder, as well as Oberyn’s murder. The arc ends with the Sand Snakes killing Quentyn, for reasons.
I’m sure a lot of you were incredibly excited to see more of Tyrion and Varys, but I’ll be honest, that part of the episode bore me. The show has changed so much of Tyrion, making him into a good, honest, kind man that he isn’t at this point in the point, that I simply have lot a lot of interest in him. His long speeches and the back and forth of his talks with Varys, constant jabs at Vary’s lack of a penis (something I’m really tired of hearing about) that I was glad when it ended so that we could move to Daenarys’s arc.
Not before following Daarios and Jorah as they talked about their obsession and love for Daenarys. I truly miss book Daarios’s personality, his sass and spunk, I’m just so incredibly bored with everyone’s boner for Daenerys.
Daenarys’s arc made me anxious. From the trailer, it is clear that there will be some sort of attempted rape against Daenarys, and I am not looking forward to that. I am so very tired of the odd trend that the writers of the show have that when a woman obtains power, another one has to lose hers and be raped. It’s almost like women have to be punished, almost how you cannot find a way to advance a woman’s storyline, have her grow and/or learn, without rape. It’s deeply disturbing, and very bad writing. Her arc is filled with rape threats, as she walks, hands tied together, to meet the Khal, unsure of what will happen to her. Of course, the Khal threatens Dani with rape, and her strength only serves to turn him on even further, until she mentions being the widow of a Khal, which saves her from an almost immediate rape. I’m not sure what to feel.
Arya’s arc is short, a little too short for my taste, but it serves its purpose. To remind us of Arya’s current state, and how fucked she might be. I’m curious, that’s all I can say about it.
The episode ends where it started, at the wall. Alliser wants to kill Davos and Jon’s companion, they have to find a way around that whole dying thing. Sure, honestly, who cares about those guys when the episode ends with one of my favourite scene of the show so far. The revelation of Melisandre’s true appearance as she removes her necklace. It was a great scene, it sold me for the next episode, and it made Melisandre, right along with Sansa, one of the two characters that I will be on the lookout for this season.
In conclusion, this was an ok first episode. I’m sure that if season 5 hasn’t butchered the story so much, I would be a lot more interested by now, but I’m not, I’m still not expecting much. One of the worries that I have now, considering that the producers of the show have been a few statements that season 6 will be a lot more toned down in terms of its rape scenes and its treatment of women, I am afraid that the show will have female characters kill male characters just as an attempt to “give us what we want”, which, well, isn’t what we want. There are many ways to show us the horror of a harsh and patriarchal world where women have little to no rights, and no control over their lives, showing us violent and lengthy rape scenes just isn’t the way to do it and reduces female character’s lives as lives of abuse and rape, when those lives should be complex. There is so much more about women than how men treat them. Just as there is so much more about women than their sexuality. We will see whether the show has learned or not, or this is all a rude and crude attempt at baiting women back into watching the show.
7.5/10 – It’s alright, lots of women, no rape, I appreciated.