‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Premiere: Dorne to Be Wild

"Sansa...is Jon Snow alive or what?"

“Sansa…is Jon Snow alive or what?” Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

Vinnie: After months of anticipation, excitement, and following Kit Harrington into a Glasgow airport bathroom, Game of Thrones’ sixth season has finally arrived. HERE WE……..

[Commercials for new HBO shows that won’t last two seasons]

[Fourteen minute long “previously on Game of Thrones”]

[Five minute long opening credits]

[Seasons change, years pass by]

…GO!

Ben: Is it me or has that goddamn opener never felt longer in five years? Maybe I was too hungry for it but it felt like I was watching towers raise from the map brick by brick.

Vinnie: 10 whole minutes after 9PM, the episode begins! There’s a lot to talk about on the Jon Snow front, which is a little ironic because, in classic Game of Thrones season-opener fashion, pretty much nothing of any substance actually happened. Firstly, if you really expected for Jon Snow to come back from the dead in the very first episode…oh, you sweet summer child. You didn’t expect Game of Thrones to base their entire promotional train on the top of Jon’s dead, perfectly conditioned head just to have Melisandre walk in and be like “Oh this? Yeah I can fix this no probs,” did you?

It looks like we’re going to learn more about how Jon’s assassination affects the Night’s Watch itself before we move to any red magic razzle dazzle at all. I kind of love how not all members of the Watch were on board with killing Jon. Like some dudes were straight napping through the murder of their Lord Commander.  I really, really love how killing Jon Snow was such a stress reliever for Olly, he literally went through puberty overnight.

Ben: I’m so worried about Davos’ emotional health this season, you don’t even know. His son died back at the Blackwater, his surrogate daughter has been err, reduced, by his best bro and liege… Like, the man has major codependency.

Also, Direwolves? How useless are those things?! No, please sniff Jon Snow’s deceased arm. You’re roughly 400 lbs of killing machine, my absolute arse. The Direwolves’ incompetency is one of the worst parts of the adaptation.

Vinnie: But Ghost being sad about Jon’s death made ME sad! That’s effective audience manipulation. 

Reek and Sansa sure made it through that 100 foot plummet from a castle wall in relatively good shape, huh? That’s fine, though. Game of Thrones is hit or miss whenever it tries to go into “buddy team-up” mode (Hit: Jorah and Tyrion, Miss: Jaime and Bronn, somehow), but there are a lot of layers to Sansa relying on Theon to survive. She’s saying “I won’t survive without you” to the guy she still thinks turned her brothers into Kentucky Fried Rickon.

Throw Brienne and Pod into the mix, and now it’s a damn party. Like the saddest, coldest, missing-limbiest party you can think of, but a party all the same. Man, I love Brienne. I love how her sole purpose on this show has been to really, sincerely try and watch out for the Stark family, and it just so happens that they keep dying horribly. But hey, Brienne keeps on keeping on.

Ben: Can we talk about her stellar record of pure, ruthless, Valyrian steeled slaughter? The Hound, Stannis, countless stand-in soldiers. She may have spent last season standing on the lookout for the candle but Brienne of Tarth gets things done.

I love that Sansa mostly recalls the speech her mother first gave Brienne when she pledged her sword to her. Look at Brienne’s eyes. That is rescued labrador retriever devotion, right there. I feel like she and Davos Seaworth would have a lot to share about tea.

Vinnie: You know what Brienne is not great at doing? Reading the room. Shouldn’t they have waited until they were somewhere that wasn’t negative 46 degrees to do the knighting routine?

Do you think Game of Thrones’ writers were consciously aware that Cersei’s reaction to Myrcella’s death was almost word for word Archer’s “It’s just like the gypsy woman said,” or just unconsciously? Regardless, I felt actual, physical pain at just how damn hopeful Cersei looked over Myrcella’s return to King’s Landing. All hail Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, now and forever. Compare that to Margaery’s only scene this week, which seems to indicate “CONFESS” is going to be this season’s “SHAME.”

Ben: Before “Shame”, “Confess” was her only word last season for three episodes. Yeah, I’m that dick pointing it out.

Vinnie: You gotta love those Silent Sisters, though. I enjoyed the one reading to Margaery in her cell, just casually dropping lines from whatever the Sparrow’s version of Instagram is.

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Ben: Ha! At least nurse Ratchet Septa has a name now. Septa Unella. I agree that she’s in a bad position, but at least Margaery is getting the “Good Cop / Bad Cop” treatment. Cersei got “Bad Cop / Laddle”  her entire imprisonment. Her cell even looks way roomier. As far as I’m concerned, this is basically a puritanical spa.

Vinnie: Wow, so…Dorne, huh? That certainly took a turn from the “bad pussy” Sand Snakes we know and were pretty disappointed in and took to Reddit to complain about. Doran Martell is dead, Areo Hotah is dead, Ellaria Sand is a straight badass, and the Sand Snakes are spouting off one-liners that sound like they were written by a person who has actually been around other human beings. Progress!

Ben: Two women in sundresses just basically committed regicide of the highest order in chiffon sundresses. Last year, a lot of people complained that the failed kidnapping of Myrcella taking place in broad daylight strained credulity but that just seems to be the Sand Snakes’ way.

And where was Trystane, exactly? Did Jaime really just put him on a boat back to Dorne that the Sand Snakes just climbed on board to commit the regicide? My God, he’s an incompetent strategic thinker. Tywin is spinning in his grave.

Vinnie: Actually, everything Dorne-related felt like it was in direct response to the backlash last season, didn’t it? Like, “Oh all that lame shit with Trystan and whatever? Yeah, we’re going to stab that storyline right through its stupid face.”

Ben: Yeah, we didn’t see a single glimpse of Dorne in any of the trailers and we thought it was the show’s way of gently sweeping all that underwhelming under the rug, but it looks like shit is hitting the tastefully-adorned fan. They chopped down those family branches like nobody’s business. It’s also nice to see that Dorne is more than just, y’know, three Martells and their favorite bodyguard and that Doran was completely out of touch his with his fucking & fighting-loving people. RIP, Doran. God, I loved your robes, bro.

Ellaria’s assumed motive was grief for her paramour, but this season they seem to be aligning that towards her just wanting a democracy, with strong women at the helm? I want more Dorne right now… Is that how those words go? It’s the right order grammatically, but it just feels so wrong to type.

Vinnie: What are we to make of Meereen’s entire fleet going up in flames? I mean, I’m sure it could just be normal Meereenese rebellion, or the Sons of the Harpy, those scamps.

But, in the interest of full disclosure, both Ben and I have #ReadTheBooks, so we’re A) Insufferable assholes pretty much all of the time and B) Privy to some story stuff not yet explored on HBO. Like, for one, the fact that in Dance With Dragons there’s an entire Greyjoy pirate fleet headed toward Meereen. We already know Euron Greyjoy, who is the most Pirates of the Caribbean 2-5  member of the Greyjoy family, will be introduced this season. SO, is this business with Meereen’s ships Greyjoy-related, dragon-related, or something-else-entirely-related?

Ben: About B: Speak for yourself, pal! I provide delightful insight at viewing parties, the shushing and profanities are minimal.

But yeah, this seems like the perfect opener for the Greyjoys to come back into play beyond Theon’s peen. I was hoping for a Dorne & Dani alliance but it looks like the Greyjoys are going to be combo that sails west at the end of the season. It’s interesting that these logistics are starting to come back into play. The lack of ship was originally what stopped Dani from heading west with her Unsullied before she decided to chill in Meereen for a while. I’m calling it now, this season will end on Dani heading west. Bet me money, so I can take it away from you!

Vinnie: I will bet you four half-groats and a bottle of my finest Arbor Gold (a.k.a roughly 36 cents and a box of Franzia Blush).

I love how Braavos is the kind of city where a teenager can whack the shit out of a blind homeless girl with a stick and every bystander’s reaction is like “Oh, is it Tuesday already?” Combine that with what I assume is the overwhelming stench of horses and ball sweat in Vaes Dothrak, and you pretty much have New York City.

Ben: Nah, it’s clearly Myrtle Beach of Essos.

I call bullshit on the whole being-a-neutral-unidentifiable-force-in-a-chaotic-world shtick; The Waif loves her job. It fulfills her in ways no other job could. She’s like the Shame septa. “11:15 – 11:30 A.M.: Go beat the crap out of Arya. Smilie face.”

Vinnie: Speaking of Vaes Dothrak, Dany is in quite the pickle. It’s not easy being the widow of Aquaman, because Khaleesis without Khals spend the rest of their lives in the Temple of Dosh Khaleen, apparently. Luckily the duo of Ser Jorah Friendzone and Daario “Cooler-in-the-Books” Naharis are hot on the case. And by hot on the case, I mean spending more time throwing high-school levels of shade at each other than they do actually trying to find Dany.

Ben: Emilia Clarke really knows how to portray the regal taking of a whiplash. Straight back, chin up like it’s barely an inconvenience. She’s been a pyramid queen for the past two seasons and it shows.

Did you miss the Dothraki? I feel like the biggest worry here is that the whole thing will feel like a retread of early seasons… Men with ponytailed facial hair being chauvinist pigs, Dani rising above it all, and then dragons. Does it feel different for you so far?

Vinnie: I’m with you there. I’m not sure the best way to reintroduce us to Dothraki culture is to make absolute sure we know they aren’t above a good “carpet matches the drapes” joke. As if Arya’s storyline didn’t feel enough like an awful fraternity hazing.

So, shocker, Melisandre has secretly been the scary old lady from The Shining this WHOLE TIME. Or…something. I actually have a lot of questions. For one thing, does anyone realize this is basically 3/4 the plot of The Witch?

Ben: I knew a Game of Thrones premiere wouldn’t be complete without Melisandre disrobing at an inappropriate venue — it’s basically the sundial wheel thingy at the start of the credits by now — But man, that was a hell of a twist. I did not see it coming. I love it. I love it so much! It’s always been hinted in the books that Melisandre was much older then she lets on, but revealing it in this way feels like the proper middle finger to any coyness the show might have had regarding book content. Screw your Winds of Winter and your Dream of Springs; we’re telling this entire story now.

Vinnie: But why is Davos so confident Melisandre can help? Besides the shadow baby from season one, he’s pretty much only watched her be the shittiest, most unhelpful witch since Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus.

Ben: Davos’ confidence and choosing to align himself behind Melisandre now did feel a bit strange; he has already inferred that Stannis, Shireen, Elyse and all the Baratheons perished under her watch, but they have no other option. He knows that they’re utterly screwed unless a miracle was delivered and who better than the woman he saw deliver a literal Killer Shadow.

Vinnie: I don’t know, man. Maybe it was the Wun Wun-sized build-up leading into this premiere, but everything felt a little…anticlimactic? I guess, as they say, Valyria wasn’t built in a day. It was just utterly and completely destroyed in one fiery death-storm of horribleness. Something like that.

So, to recap where we are: Jon Snow is definitely still dead, everyone else is definitely still miserable, and Ghost howling for his dead master is the saddest thing since the Red Wedding.

Ben: You jaded recapper, you. Honestly, I loved it. Everything felt like the progression of what had come before and nothing was overly rushed. In another world, it might have simply been episode 11 of Season 5 and that’s fine by me. I think we were all expecting the Jon Snow story to be the biggest payoff and it was unquestionably… Dorne. Behold dogs and cats lying together in sin! Don’t you dare say this show can’t surprise you anymore.

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Premiere: Dorne to Be Wild