The return of Game of Thrones has become one of the biggest and most highly anticipated television events of the year. With series five ending on arguably the biggest cliff-hanger in the programme’s history, the possible death of Jon Snow, it’s no surprise that the premiere of series six has had some considerable hype. When it comes to the premiere of any Game of Thrones series, it’s fair to say there is a considerable amount of pressure placed upon the episode. Not only does it have to resolve or at least address the questions left at the end of the last series but also lay the ground-work for episodes to come. For this reason, the first episode often includes a lot of fliting between storylines without much development of individual characters and plots. They are not particularly the most significant or exciting episodes. However, as far as first episodes go, the opening to series six was one of the better premieres.
The episode starts exactly where we left off: Castle Black where the band of murderous and traitorous brothers have dispersed, leaving the bloodied body of Jon Snow in the dark. The body is quickly recovered by Davos and a few remaining loyal brothers, who confirm that Jon Snow is dead (well for now at least). Although Jon Snow is dead, the tension and atmosphere in Castle Black could not be more alive. Trapped inside one room those loyal to Jon, including Davos, are left in the fatal dilemma of either giving themselves up to murders and traitors, or fighting for revenge. What was particularly enjoyable about this opening was that it showed that despite the death of a central character, the storyline at Castle Black, surprisingly, wasn’t over. That satisfaction of vengeance and justice that the audience is always itching for after a shocking death seemed to be in full motion.
However, the episode is overall full of the sense of despair and hopelessness, which does make it feel a little bit dreary. It flits from one despairing character to another, with Cersei and Jamie mourning the death of their daughter, Tyrion left in the chaos of a rebellious city, Arya blinded and begging on the streets, and Daenerys further away from the Iron Throne than ever. All of this does culminate to the question of where are these storylines going? Who is there left to root for? And in the game of thrones is anyone even winning anymore? The pitfall in this episode is that in some cases it doesn’t create enough of a sense of drive or momentum as an opening to the series should. I don’t feel maybe as excited or eager to see what happens to some of these character as I use to, purely because I can’t even begin to predict where their storylines are going.
But, the episode is in no way completely lacklustre. What I enjoyed most, was that the exciting and dramatic scenes in the episode came from new and surprising characters. One of these being the bloodbath that occurred in Dorne, where the grieving lover and daughters of the murdered Prince Oberyn Martel go on a killing spree of the Royal Family ( much more like the Game of Thrones we know). In addition, there was finally a bit of good news for poor Sansa and Theon, who were saved from the sadistic Bolton’s by the wonderful Brienne (who totally kicked ass). The most powerful part of the episode was in fact the ending, which although it wasn’t particularly important for any sort of plot so far, was still the most memorable scene. In this scene we see the despondent figure of the Red Women watching herself in the mirror whilst she undresses for bed. After taking off her neckless she is transformed into a wretched, aged and decrepit old woman. There is something very haunting and shocking about this scene. It shows that no matter how well you think you know a character, Game of Thrones always has another surprise in store.
Although, the opening episode to series six probably won’t be the best or most dramatic episode of Game of Thrones you’ll see, it is far from the worst. What it lacks in momentum and depth it makes up for in laying the ground-work for a potentially outstanding series. Its focus on newer storylines and its shocking ending show that there still is a lot to be looking forward to in series six.