A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece wondering what was in store for the folks on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which began its sixth season — and first without corresponding source material from George R.R. Martin’s books — April 24.
As of this writing, we are three episodes in. How is everyone doing? (The following contains all of the spoilers. All of them.)
Jon Snow is a living, breathing, not-dead guy
So, yeah, Jon Snow is totally back from the dead, thanks to some dark magic from Melisandre, the lady in red (not this one), after Davos begs her to do something.
She looked as surprised as he did that her spell worked. So what did Jon Snow do with his newfound restoration to health? He hung the folks who killed him (including the little kid, which was awful but seemed very “Game of Thrones”) and promptly quit the Night’s Watch. I didn’t know you could even do that, but I guess one’s watch ends after one dies, so here we are.
Snow’s apparent good health keeps alive my single favorite fan theory about “Thrones”: That its larger title, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” refers to the potential endgame: Jon Snow (Ice) and Daenerys Targaryen (fire) ruling Westeros together.
Sansa and Theon fall in with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick
In this season’s first episode, Sansa and Theon are rescued in spectacular fashion by Brienne (who is shaping up to be the least morally compromised human in all of Westeros) and her loyal squire Pod. It was the most fist-pumping moment the show has delivered in years. Brienne is, by a wide margin, the most heroic character in the piece, and that is fantastic. Sansa finally catches a break!
Ramsay Bolton has not yet been torn apart by direwolves, but he did kill his father and feed his stepmother and infant half-brother to dogs so … oops.
My hope for Ramsay was reversed in a spectacularly cruel way. He consolidated power in his house by stabbing his father, Roose (whose amazing voice we will miss), and trapping his stepmother Walda Frey and her newborn son in a pen of attack dogs. Even off-screen, the screams were pretty rough. And in episode three, Lord Umber delivered Rickon Stark and his pal Osha (both of whom many of us forgot were alive) unto Ramsay, who now has an A-1 bargaining chip. I did love how yeah-you-don’t-scare-me Lord Umber was to Ramsay. He genuinely doesn’t seem scared of him, which is nice to see.
Arya Stark got her sight back, still being awesome
Finally, Arya got her sight back, thanks to Faceless Man Jaqen H’ghar. She is still training to be an ego-free assassin. In fact, we would like to see her start to kill people, please.
Cersei Lannister’s new guard, same as the old guard?
Post-humiliation and after burying their daughter, Cersei and Jaime seem to be on the same side again. She seems to be getting her mojo back and in episode three delivers a nice variant on the Godfather’s “If he should be struck by a bolt of lightning” speech, wherein she swears Lannister-style vengeance on anyone talking smack about her in King’s Landing. And her new Kingsguard sure looks like the reanimated corpse of good ol’ Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane.
Bran Stark suddenly gets a little more interesting
So Bran, vision-questing all over the place with the three-eyed raven (played with calm authority by 87-year-old Max von Sydow), has become part Ebenezer Scrooge, part Doctor Who, able to look at various moments in the past but unable to interfere. In episode three, he sees his father, a young Ned Stark, fighting the double-sword-wielding Targaryen Ser Arthur Dayne. But who or what is in the Tower of Joy? Bran’s story has become one of the show’s more unexpectedly intriguing, as his visions are giving fans a bit of Westeros’ past, which pushes all the right geek buttons. (Though I did kind of miss Ice.)
Also, it is slightly jarring to see a gent routinely short-listed as the greatest actor alive on “Thrones,” but hey, the man likes to work.
Tyrion and Varys seem to have taken Bran’s place in the boring plotline sweepstakes
This is a shame, as Tyrion and Varys are great characters, but they don’t seem to be doing much in Meereen. Governing is far less interesting than trying to become the guy who governs, after all. (Tyrion did get a genuinely lovely speech in episode one, when he visits one of the Daenerys’ trapped dragons and talks about wanting one as a child, just a little one, “like me.”)
Daenerys doesn’t seem to be going anywhere
Welp, so much for riding dragons. Not only is Daenerys stuck with Dothraki, she has been shoved into the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen, where widowed khaleesi live. My smart pal Alex made a “Desperate Housewives: Khaleesi Version” joke on Facebook, and I am not going to do better than that.
Three episodes and no sexual violence! Is this a new record?
We are three episodes in and they have been blissfully rape-free. Well, everything isn’t blissful: Walda and her infant were eaten by dogs, but my point stands. There has been no sexual assault so far, and it is a welcome development.
The writing in general seems to have taken a turn, too. Perhaps feeling liberated from Martin’s tone or the purpleness of his dialogue, the writing in TV’s “Thrones” seems more direct, perhaps a bit less obscure and more expository, and witty in a new way, a tone they have struggled with in the past. The Conan the Barbarian tribute in episode one was kind of brilliant, wherein a few Dothraki sit around and debate what is best in life. It is pretty great.
Which is to say, could this show be getting … funny?