The Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere, entitled “The Red Woman” was shown in LA last night, and while those lucky enough to attend were ordered not to reveal anything, impressions are still coming out. Let’s see what we can glean from them. Beware (vague) SPOILERS.
The Hollywood Reporter was one of the more sedate outlets out there, and described the episode in general terms: “Suffice it to say, numerous moments throughout the episode elicited gasps of shock, unexpected (and uncomfortable) laughter, and long moments of stunned silence.” The LA Times also held back, but “noted two instances of full-out cheering, one gasp-worthy moment and about three occasions that incited laughter.” Showrunner David Benioff was reportedly pleased with the reactions. “People freaked out when they were supposed to freak out,” he said.
Outlets agree that the episode made an impact. That may be a function of the pace, which Entertainment Weekly points out was faster than most premieres. Wrote EW’s James Hibbard: “Unlike some years, when Thrones started with a somewhat slower-paced episode that re-established all the various storylines, “The Red Woman” hits the ground at full sprint.”“Full sprint.” Geddit?
Last year’s season finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” set up a lot of action, what with Sansa and Theon fleeing, Daenerys being captured, Cersei returning to the Red Keep, and so on. As in last year’s premiere, some characters are left out of the premiere, but Hibbard says that we spend a lot of time at Castle Black.
According to The Telegraph, that’s where the episode starts, on “the exact same snowy spot where the last tragic, bloody episode ended.” According to criticMelisandre from the Season 6 trailer, removing her robe. EW notes that “a surprising amount” of footage from the trailer was included in the first episode, or from scenes that will seemingly appear in the second. Is this one of them? Is this part of the “luridly surprising twist?
Over at EW, Hibbard agrees that twists are on their way. “There are some scenes that are genuinely shocking. As in: Even hardcore fans full of speculation about the new season won’t see some twists coming.”
Meanwhile, Mulkerrins gave us a rundown of who appears in the episode, although the list likely isn’t exclusive. Brienne makes a “dramatic appearance” that elicited cheers (we have a pretty good idea of what that will involve) and Sansa gets on her way to becoming someone who takes command of situations. As for Arya, Mulkerrins says the episode was “not an easy watch,” which lines up with comments from Maisie Williams about how we’ll see Arya at “her lowest point.”
Overall, Mulkerrins thought that the prominence of the female characters gave the episode a “pleasingly feminist flavour.” The producers have said that the women on Westeros will play a large role this year, and if the first episode is any indication, it appears they weren’t lying.
Finally, the outlets agree that there’s no resolution on the Jon Snow question. Surely we didn’t think HBO would give that away to a premiere audience. I’ll leave you with Mulkerrins’ overall assessment of the episode:
Heavy on violence and brutality, but lighter than many episodes on sex and nudity, the opener is the expected epic scenes of armies on the march, along with defiant declarations to avenge the dead.
Thirteen days until the premiere.