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Recap / Game of Thrones S6E1: "The Red Woman"

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And HBO said "Let there be a sixth season." And there was a sixth season.

The sun slowly dawns on Castle Black, as the camera take a long and drawn-out zoom all the way down to the courtyard. Jon Snow still lies, motionless, in a pool of red slush, all while the howls of Ghost begin to fill the air, that darned useless wolf having finally woken up to smell his master's corpse! Ser Davos Seaworth, awake and pondering his lost cause, leaves his quarters at the noise and finds the body of the Lord Commander. He's soon joined by Dolorous Edd and a handful of other watchmen, who take Jon's body to his office but not before Davos takes a gander at the blood angel he left behind, the wings of some other mythical creature maybe?


Edd is desperate, sweeping Jon's papers away as they lay his body down on the desk but his blue pallor and blank staring eyes do not seem to indicate a successful resuscitation to be on the cards. Beyond grief, Edd touches Jon's fatal wounds then closes his eyes. He seethes that Thorne must be responsible for his friend's death and will take no chances; the men in this room are the only ones he can trust as they cared enough to come at Ghost's calls. Davos recommends getting the dire wolf within their protective circle and when Edd moves to fetch him, Melisandre knocks on the door and is admitted once swords are returned to scabbards. Mel's faith takes another hit as she sees the man she had prophesied to take part in the Battle of Winterfell laid out as an icy slab of still flesh.

That morning, in the mess hall, the traitorous scum with a receding-hairline called Ser Alliser Thorne makes his case for why he and the other officers stabbed their duly-elected superior in the belly; thankfully, most of the black brothers are a mite ticked off with the bastards committing the most disgusting act of treason (out of the two) in the living memory of their order. Ser Alliser uses some appeal to patriotism fallacies and a slippery slope argument and most of the low-born curs murmur and grumble in response, their moral compasses skewed in apathy and unwilling to raise their hands against the real traitors sitting at the high table.


Ghost nudges then settles down beside his master's corpse, adamantly refusing to accept he's gone. Edd is all for going down in a blaze of glory, as long as he can kill Thorne he will be satisfied. Davos however, urges caution. They may have to fight and oust Thorne but they don't have to die in the attempt and he successfully convinces Edd to ride for the Gift and bring them some fifteen-foot tall backup.

Over in Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton mourns Myranda's death in his own special manner. Maester Wolkan asks him if he wants the men to prepare a grave or a pyre but Ramsay incredulously commands him to feed her to the hounds she and he loved so much, of course!

Roose is not happy despite their crushing of Stannis Baratheon; without Sansa their position as Wardens will become untenable and the other Northern houses will withdraw their support. Ramsay assures his father that some of his best trackers are hunting down his wife and his manservant as they speak.


And Theon is indeed a man reborn once again, whatever bits he's missing, as he pulls Sansa through The Wolfswood, pursued by riders and baying hounds not far behind. They reach an ice-melt river and though Sansa is understandably scared that fording it will cause her to die of pneumonia; Theon cajoles her on with desperation. He's seen what Ramsay's bitches do to those who are helpless. After they cross, they take refuge amid the roots of an uprooted oak tree but with their pursuers closing, Theon makes the decision to die as an ironborn and confront them while Sansa makes for the Wall and Jon's, unknown to them non-existent, protection. Theon tries to bluff his captors that he disposed of "Lady Bolton" but the hounds smell that their quarry is near and the half dozen men-at-arms quickly uncover Sansa. Everything seems as if it's about to end in tears when Brienne and Podrick ride up the path and start dishing out a righteous swathe of steel. Though hard fought, Brienne dispatches three riders and even Pod and Theon manage a kill apiece while the remaining dog handler runs for the castle. Once the carnage is over, the Maid of Evenfall lays Oathkeeper at Sansa's feet, takes a knee, and once again offers her leal services to the daughter of Catelyn Stark. Somewhat haltingly, but gaining in confidence, Sansa observes her courtesies and accepts Brienne as her knight, welcoming her to rise; the two even manage a pair of tentative smiles among the barren wilderness.

A ship bearing Martell colours sails into Blackwater Bay in King's Landing. An event that Dowager queen Cersei Lannister is quickly informed of. As giddy as a schoolgirl, Cersei skips across the Red Keep and down to the harbour with her silent mountain of a Kingsguard standing vigil. Jaime is coming ashore with Myrcella in a large ornate row-boat similar to the one that carried Cersei's daughter away in Season Two. Only she returns lying in state, under a cloth-of-gold shroud.

Cersei is distraught and that evening she shares a bevy of morbid recollections with her twin on their mother Joanna, while Jaime is stuck being rather ineffective consolation. Once again, another monster mourns for a loved one, rather ironically, Cersei wonders how she could have created someone so pure and good. Not realising it was because she didn't fate her poisonous influence on her only daughter. After all, she only had eyes for Joff. Jaime tries to shoulder the recrimination and guilt on himself for his failure but Cersei in turn shares the wood witch's prophecy of how she would outlive all her children and how she pushed him away making things worse, that she is pre-ordained for self-destruction from within and plagued by their enemies from without.

Ser Jaime Lannister: Fuck - prophecy. Fuck fate, fuck everyone who isn't us. We're the only ones who matter, the only ones in this world! And everything they've taken from us - we're going to take back and more. (embraces her) We're going to take everything there is...

Yeah, keep telling yourself that. The next day, in The Great Sept of Baelor, poor Queen Margaery is still languishing in the church's underground cells getting a pious earful from Septa Unella; although it seems as if she's not treated quite as bad as Cersei was. Unella restricts it to just beatings instead of beatings and deprivation! About to clout her with the good book, Unella is interrupted by the High Sparrow who tries to play the good septon to Unella's bad septa. Margaery yearns for news of Loras but the High Sparrow wants a concession of any kind before he will allow King Tommen to visit her.

At The Water Gardens, a gouty Doran Martell is hobbling around the ponds helped by Ellaria Sand. They walk past a retinue of guards escorted by Areo Hotah and Tyene Sand to a pavilion overlooking the pool where Doran's wheelchair is rested. Doran reminisces about Oberyn, noting the he deeply envied the carefree life of his brother. Oberyn got to see the world, have adventures in many countries, seduce countless women (and men, adds Ellaria, with Doran correcting himself), while Doran was stuck in Sunspear ruling, making sure his people were taken care of, protected and fed. But then such is life. Ellaria says things worked out for the best as he takes a seat. Doran would have been a terrible adventurer and Oberyn would have been a poor ruler. Doran smiles and tells Tyene that her mother is "a brilliant woman", to which Tyene smiles one of her sweet smiles. A maester arrives and removes a thin scroll for the Prince's perusal. Ellaria and Tyene exchange a meaningful look as the maester hands it to the Prince. Doran unrolls the parchment and peruses the contents in quickly dawning horror. The letter bears a Lannister sigil and is authored by Jaime Lannister it reads:

The Princess Myrcella died by poison on our return journey. I suspect Ellaria Sand, not you, but my sister will demand war. I doubt Ellaria’s head will appease her, but it is a start, along with your neices [sic]. Your son cannot stay in King’s Landing. I am sending him back on the same ship.

Doran is aghast at the death of Myrcella but he has no time to react because at that very moment, he notices his bastard niece remove a dagger from a sheath on her calf and thrust it into Areo Hotah's spine. The Captain of the Guards looks like he has just soiled himself and crumbles dead to the floor. Doran doesn't even have to time to digest this before Ellaria removes a concealed blade from her wrist bracelet and plunges it into Doran's heart. Doran grabs her wrist, shocked and horrified at the look of pure hatred directed at him and he realizes too late that his own guards stand by without moving as the royal government of Dorne is remorselessly purged before their eyes. The maester tries to run for it but Tyene removes the dagger from Areo's corpse and flings it into the base of his skull. As Doran collapses from his chair bleeding out, Ellaria begins to gloat that he's been blind to affairs of state, that his own people have (apparently) always held him in contempt. Never mind that he ruled Dorne for twenty years without rebellion after Elia was murdered and commanded the now brain-dead Palace Guards without a whisper of dissent when the Sand Snakes pulled their rebellion last year. The people have long clamoured for vengeance for his royal sister and brother! They'll achieve it by... murdering — him? WTF?! He's not a Dornishman, Ellaria declares. "You're not our Prince." Doran's final words are of him begging to know the fate of his son Trystane, but Ellaria sneers at him. Trystane is as feeble as his father and "Weak men will never rule Dorne again." With this final failure confirmed, Doran Martell dies, his efforts to protect his family and people coming to nought despite his best intentions. Undone by a quartet of mad women.

We cut to Blackwater Bay where the ship Jaime, Bronn and Trystane made their journey is anchored on the coast. In his quarters, Prince Trystane Martell is at a desk painting and crafting funeral eye-stones for his beloved Myrcella. He's quite the craftsman, is Trystane. At that very moment, the door to his cabin opens. Trystane states that he left orders not to be disturbed but is taken aback when he sees his cousins, Obara and Nymeria enter his cabin! Before Trystane can comprehend how exactly they got all the way here from Dorne, the Sand Snakes announce that they are going to kill him but that they are offering him a choice of executioners. Trystane moves for his scabbard, telling them that he doesn't want to hurt family. But the undeniably insane Sand Snakes are long past the point of caring about such trivial matters as kinslaying. And they taunt him to put up a fight. Trystane removes his bravo's blade and proclaims that Nym will be his opponent, who is delighted at finally being taken seriously, even if Trystane probably thought she was the weaker of the two. But before the fight gets underway, Obara stabs him through the back of his face. Nym pouts at Obara for stealing her big moment in the limelight, while Obara gives a smug smile, completely indifferent to the gravity of murdering their own blood, the Prince of Dorne under the very noses of the Lannisters.

A world away from this madness, Tyrion and Varys take a stroll in Meereen. Dressed as common merchants they hope to gain some lay of the land and the city's mood after the debacle in Daznak's Pit. After another language flub from the Imp, the duo discover that some of the freedmen have been painting graffiti slogans and are less than happy with Daenerys, even proclaiming her to be a slave master in everything and name alone. Tyrion laments that they didn't even realise they were property until Dany had them freed. Her vision for a new world has made everyone unhappy. As they continue on their walk, they discover the first of Volantis's fiery disciples have reached Slaver's Bay. A Red Priest conducts a sermon on how the Mother of Dragons had fought for the slaves only to be driven away by the servants of darkness and that they must "take up her flames yourselves." Tyrion is intrigued and Varys wary. They discuss The Harpy as they continue, he, or she, is who is directing the terrorist movement and Varys's little birds will be vital in rooting out the clandestine group through his spy network. But Tyrion's first day in charge couldn't possibly go well, now could it? The pair hear shouts coming from the city's wharfs and against a tide of fleeing civilians, they soon witness columns of black smoke and the sight of the captured Meereenese fleet put to the torch.

In the hinterlands of The Dothraki Sea, Ser Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis ride in search of their queen of love and beauty. They soon uncover the scars of Drogon's passing amid the blackened bones of mountain rams he's consumed. They're on the right track. Daario jokes that Dany wanted to simply get away from ruling for a while and Jorah concurs that a smart monarch is one who doesn't necessarily like what they do and weighs their decisions carefully. The sellsword captain tries to ascertain just how much his rival wants the dragon queen and in what sense. Jorah dismisses the younger man's posturing; he's beyond it. Naharis is uncharacteristically touched and admits that he hopes to see Dany victorious and grow old alongside her. All Jorah can do in answer is surreptitiously check how much borrowed time he has left; considering his left forearm now looks like rhino hide and one of his fingernails is turning black; he will not even get that final reward. Soon enough, they reach a plain riddled with thousands of horse prints. Jorah recognises the passing of the horde and amid the centre of the maelstrom of tracks discovers Dany's fallen engagement ring. "They have her." Mormont confirms. Daario looks disheartened at this piece of unenviable news while Jorah grips the ring in a closed fist — holding onto a piece of his abducted khaleesi.

Autumn has come on the steppes of The Painted Mountains as the massive khalasar of riders and slaves troop north to the centre of the now withering grass lands. Daenerys Targaryen is regarded as an alien novelty among her captors, but not one worthy of a saddle as she is bound and forced to walk alongside a pair of ko, lieutenants of their warlord who has gifted them with a sub-division of the nomadic swarm. When Dany has the misfortune to stumble, the kinky bastard guarding her sees fit to give her a taste of the lash. Dany glowers at the now chuckling pair who begin to discuss the pretty little quirk that fell into their path in the hills. As a fair-skinned girl she should be scared of the sun, yet she's stayed out so long her hair has been bleached white, right? Dany rolls her eyes at their less-than-gallant behaviour, especially when the conversation steers towards whether the carpet matches the drapes and which one of them will get Khal Moro's favour and be honoured with the gift of sharing their prize that night. Dany does not care that they think her simple, having remained silent all the while and biding her time until she can use her only weapon; her words. This does not stop her from scanning the skies for a hopeful glimpse of Drogon...

Towards sundown, the khalasar stops at the nameless river leading to the Womb of the World. Dany is only allowed a few moments respite after the forced march before she's hauled up and dragged along to be presented to the khal. Moro's bloodriders are immediately appreciative of Dany's bedraggled beauty, Moro's wives... less so. The elder wife gives Dany one look and claims that all blue-eyed women are witches. Note  Since her unique features get her pegged as a maegi, the jealous wife tells her husband to cut off Dany's lovely head in perfect Dissonant Serenity. But Moro is intrigued by this white-haired witch and mocks their insecurities; he compliments Dany in one breath then promises to make her naked for all present to see the next as he circles her admiringly. Just before he can make do on exposing a pair of pert breasts, Daenerys commands him to unhand her in Dothraki with all the authority she can muster. Surprised and even a smidgen intimidated, Moro releases his grip on her tunic and hears her out. The silver queen recites her titles with far more fire and nobility than Missandei does at court but covered in the dust of the road and clothed in ash-stained tatters, without an army or her dragons at her back, all Khal Moro can do is laugh at her audacity. He cups her neck and quietly proclaims that whoever she was, she is now his slave and concubine and that she will bear him a son. Dany remembers her first son all too well though and rebuffs him just as softly; reciting Mirri Maz Duur's prophecy. This rankles the wives some more but Moro is taken with Dany's courage, she then plays her ace; that she is the widow of Khal Drogo. Evidently Moro has not come across any Lyseni in his travels and is inclined to believe her. That, or he doesn't think anyone would make such a statement lightly. Unfortunately for Dany, though this means she is off the rape menu for tonight, she will instead be taken back to Vaes Dothrak to join in the hallowed ranks of the Dosh Khaleen; the wise women of the Dothraki. Which for some reason wasn't made clear to viewers at the end of Season One when Drogo died. *Sigh* Better late than never.

Over in the Free City of Braavos, Arya is in different but no less dire straits. Cast out of the House of Black and White and left to live on the streets, the now-blind second daughter of Eddard Stark only has the rags on her back and a begging bowl to her name. She hears the citizens discuss "that kingsguard's" grisly death and how the brothel isn't being frequented as much. Cosmic vicissitude comes again for Arya as immediately after being given a square coin, the Waif makes her presence known, causing Arya's pulse to race as her unseen nemesis makes mock of her misfortunes. She throws her a quarter-stave, making Arya lose her meagre earnings and begins to beat her black and blue with a matching staff. All the she-wolf can do is flail about, helpless without her sight and the Waif promises to come by tomorrow and give her another "lesson".

Back at Castle Black, Ser Alliser has positioned both crossbow-men on the ramparts and archers in the courtyard as he and his fellow conspirators make their way to the Lord Commander's now barred office and rap loudly on the door. Jon's loyalists draw steel and Ghost snarls in fury, catching a scent of his master's killers. Davos rises from his seat and nears the door as Thorne addresses him.

Ser Alliser Thorne: Ser Davos. We have no cause to fight. We are both anointed knights.
Thorne: I will grant amnesty to all brothers who throw down their arms before nightfall. And you, Ser Davos, I will allow you to travel south, a free man, with a fresh horse.
Davos: ... And some mutton. I'd like some mutton.
Thorne: Wha - ?
Davos: I'm not much of a hunter. (moustache twitches, trying not to laugh) I'll need some food if I'm gonna make it south without starving.
Thorne: We'll give you food. You can bring the red woman with you if you like. Or you can leave her here with us, whichever you choose. But surrender by nightfall. Or this ends with blood.
Davos: (brightly) Thank you, Ser Alliser. We'll discuss amongst ourselves and come back to you with an answer.

Davos was too busy pwning Stannis Baratheon in duty to ever be deceived by the miserable master-at-arms; and Alliser and his lickspittles grumble silently that their trap has failed. Davos and his boys won't be dying the easy way. The onion knight relates how he's run from tyrannical men like Thorne all his life but now they have to throw down. They've got five swords, Ghost, Edd and the slim hope of reinforcements plus a red-headed sorcerer in their corner. Thorne has forty armed men. It doesn't look good but Davos hints that Melisandre might be able to turn their fortunes around with a bit of help from her Lord.

But Mel's magic has weakened, as she seems to feel the chill, huddling close to the crackling hearth at the end of the world. Only a tarnished looking glass and five elixirs left to the now displaced royal adviser. Drawn to its surface, Mel takes a long hard look at herself; drowning in her flaws and failures. She slowly unlaces her red satin gown and beholds her seemingly flawless figure, before making to remove her ruby amulet choker. As she does, a light burns within the jewel as a spell takes affect...

Or ceases. A gnarled hand places the necklace down on the dresser and the shadowbinder from Asshai by the Shadow is revealed to be a decrepit hag with sagging teats and a few shocks of parched snowy hair remaining amid her bald scalp. She could be centuries old and both the glamour and the essence of eternal youth, gifted to her by R'hllor's power, seems to have deserted her along with her faith. A broken woman, she inches feebly to her bed and tucks herself in amid the furs.

And here endeth the Season Premiere.

This episode contains the following tropes:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Ellaria claims the Dornish people demand vengeance against the Lannisters to such an extent that they are ready to turn on Doran as she enacts her coup. And if the guards who stand idly by as she stabs him are any indication, she's right.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • Thorne's Motive Rant confirms that news of Stannis' defeat had nothing to do with the mutineers' decision to kill Jon for letting wildlings through the Wall after Thorne himself agreed to open the gates for them. The "Previously On…" even replays the scene to remind everyone that this is indeed how it played out. See "Insane Troll Logic" below.
    • The drastic changes in the Dorne storyline don't exactly flow logically—again, see "Insane Troll Logic" below.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Ellaria and the Sand Snakes killing Myrcella in the previous season was already several steps up from their plans in the books, but they take it Up to Eleven in this episode when they commit treason and kinslaying by massacring the remainder of House Martell in a bloody coup. For reference, in the books, the notion that even Cersei might try to kill Trystane is enough to shock and appall them.
    • The rest of Dorne, as well. In the books, the Dornish populace is much more personally attached to their lords than elsewhere (hence Oberyn's popularity) and the worst they do is pelt Doran's litter in their restlessness for revenge. The palace guards in particular are explicitly described as good, loyal Dornishmen who follow Hotah's command, while in the show they stand by impassively as Hotah and Doran are murdered.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Areo Hotah is quickly and easily killed by a back-stab from Tyene without ever getting a chance to use his impressive glaive. In the novels, he not only defeats a Kingsguard knight with ease but is characterized by a constant Sherlock Scan for threats (including Tyene) that makes turning his back on her and her practically unconcealed dagger look utterly amateurish.
    • Interestingly, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are this despite their bloody coup. In the books, Ellaria is praised for being strong enough to Turn the Other Cheek and the Sand Snakes are legitimate warriors and femme fatales, but in the show Ellaria is a myopic revenge-obsessed nutcase and the Sand Snakes are insufferable Faux Action Girl bullies whose skills still amount to stabbing unsuspecting relatives In the Back. Well, okay, Ellaria does manage to stab the wheelchair-using Doran in the chest.
    • Ironically, Prince Doran is murdered specifically for failing to be The Chessmaster he is in the books, both in how his killers are offended by the very "weaknesses" he actually subverts in the novels and in how the brilliant schemer of the books would never fall victim to 0% Approval Rating, Bodyguard Betrayal, or The Farmer and the Viper.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: And your only son too, Doran.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • The light armor that the Bolton men-at-arms pursuing Sansa and Theon use proves to be ineffectual against Valyrian steel, as Brienne hacks one down outright with Oathkeeper when she charges in.
    • Averted not too soon after in the fight when Brienne takes a very similar hit to the same area of the body from a Bolton soldier and gets dismounted. She's wearing fairly heavy plate armor, so she's still in the fight.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Breaking in a wild horse is fairly tame compared to Khal killing, slave raping, and city conquering.
  • Ascended Extra: So far, Khal Moro's sole appearance in the books is as a name in the crowd when Daenerys is first presented to Drogo in A Game of Thrones. See "Composite Character" below.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Downplayed Trope. After two full seasons of Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, Brienne finally gets to serve one of the Starks again with their permission: Sansa, with a bit of help on wording of the agreement from Podrick.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Aside from a big gash on one cheek, Myranda's face and head look surprisingly intact following her fatal face-plant into Winterfell's courtyard.
    • Arya gets a beating from the Waif that would easily justify a broken wrist, broken jaw, broken nose, missing teeth, and a concussion, but walks away with just a bloody lip.
  • Being Good Sucks: Once again a rare Lord (Doran) who showed compassion and actually ruled justly is rewarded with betrayal and murder at the hands of the people he forgave, and dies knowing his loved ones will be slaughtered as well. Which makes House Martell the third family (alongside the Starks and Tullys) to get virtually wiped out for trying to be the good guy in Westeros. It does hammer in how much the odds are stacked against kind, decent rulers sticking around.
  • Better Than Sex: According to Moro's bloodriders, killing another Khal, sacking a city, and taming a wild horse all supersede a beautiful naked woman as some of the best things in life.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Sansa worries about dying of exposure from crossing the brook, but Theon insists that it's a better way than getting ripped to shreds by hounds (or worse, being taken to Winterfell alive).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Brienne and Podrick arrive in the nick of time to save Sansa and Theon from being recaptured by Ramsay's men.
  • Bilingual Backfire: The two riders leading Daenerys look quite embarrassed when they realize she could understand their Dothraki "bro talk" perfectly.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Areo Hotah is the first to go down during The Coup.
  • Blatant Lies: Thorne promises he won't harm Davos or Jon's loyal mourners as half a dozen men ready crossbows behind him. Naturally, Davos doesn't buy this for a second.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: The Martell guardsmen, save for Areo Hotah, allow Ellaria to carry out her coup against Doran.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Apparently in a progressive city like Braavos it's nothing unusual to see obnoxious Faceless Men beating blind beggars with a stick (in an earlier episode people ran at the mere sight of one, so it's safe to say they probably steer clear).
  • Call-Back:
    • Theon saves Pod with a Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind reminiscent of Pod's own rescue of Tyrion in "Blackwater".
    • Brienne swears her loyalty to Sansa with the same oath she gave Catelyn in Season 2 and tried to give to Sansa in season 5 (when she refused her)
    • Jaime channels the Kingslayer of Season 1 when he restrains Cersei and tells her he'll kill everyone until they're "the only ones left in this world" if that's what it takes.
    • Daenerys invoking the name of her deceased husband Drogo to gain some traction and respect against her Khal captor.
    • Many aspects of the Dothraki return with them, including several props like the skinning rack used in "The Kingsroad" and the Catchphrase, "It is known."
    • This isn't the first time a Martell dies by a gory and unusual head mutilation, not to mention its similarity to the deaths of Mandon Moore and Karl Tanner.
    • Jaime arriving back in King's Landing with the dead Myrcella recalls what Tyrion said to her about her "joy turn[ing] into ashes in [her] mouth." Cersei goes from being as giddy as a schoolgirl to understandably distraught upon seeing her only daughter under a cloth-of-gold shroud.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Barely twenty minutes into the new season, and all of the reasonable Dornish figures are killed.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The backstory of Ramsay and Myranda is elaborated into this. Apparently, she was the only person in the Dreadfort who wasn't afraid of him.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Brienne kills the first soldier before he can even draw his weapon and cuts another's throat while he's pleading and trapped beneath a fallen horse.
    • Subverted by Nym and Obara. Even though their motive was nothing short of asinine, offering an honest fight and a clearly inferior opponent to encourage Trystane to turn his back on the other could be called clever, except then Nym starts bitching about the Kill Steal, proving it wasn't planned at all and she really did intend to go head-to-head against a Royal Rapier in extremely tight quarters with just a whip.
  • Composite Character: Khal Moro is no more than a name in Dany's very first chapter, but in the show he takes up Khal Jhaqo's role as head of the khalasar that discovers her after Meereen. GRRM has also mentioned that Jhaqo's bloodrider Mago (who was killed by Drogo in the show) will figure in Dany's new storyline, so he too is likely too be merged with Khal Moro now.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: A Bolton soldier is about to kill Pod when Theon's sword suddenly sprouts from his throat.
  • The Coup:
    • The Sand Snakes pull this off in Dorne, murdering their liege lord, his heir, his bodyguard, and his maester.
    • Alliser Thorne and his small coterie of mutineers follow up their murder of the duly-elected Lord Commander by hijacking command of the entire Night's Watch.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Trystane gets a huge spear right through his face. At least it was quick.
  • Dead Guy on Display: This appears to be the purpose of stabbing Jon Snow beneath the "TRAITOR" sign. Davos looks disgusted and has other loyalists bring him inside.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Khal Moro is quite free with the sarcasm, specially when directed at his wives.
  • Dirty Coward: Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. The only kill in their entire coup that wasn't literally In the Back came from blindsiding an unarmed man in his wheelchair.
  • Does Not Like Men: Every male character except Oberyn who's run into Ellaria and the Sand Snakes has at some point had to either deal with their mockery and scorn or protect himself from being killed, and Ellaria's vow that "Dorne will never be ruled by weak men again" clearly implies Women Are Wiser since she just killed off every last male character in Dorne.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: After being built up since Season 4, House Martell gets unceremoniously purged in a single montage. Areo Hotah in particular was set up as an impressive warrior with a cool weapon, but gets stabbed In the Back without a fight.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • In an evil subversion, Ramsay extols his fondness for Myranda in a monologue that's obviously meant to make you expect this trope, but caps it off by having her fed to the hounds instead.
    • Played straight with Jon Snow's friends, who bring his body out of the cold and stand vigil over it.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: It is shown that Ramsay actually really did care for Myranda, mourning her death in his own way. And then he orders to have her corpse fed to the hounds instead of giving her a proper funeral.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
  • Everyone Has Standards: Many within the Night's Watch who were adamantly opposed to Jon's reforms are nonetheless horrified and disgusted by Thorne's rebellion. Somewhat subverted, however, when a brief Motive Rant is all Thorne needs to seemingly be Easily Forgiven by everyone who will listen - though whether all of the Nights Watch will stay loyal to him and forget what he did is still to be seen.
  • Evil Gloating: Ellaria Sand taunts Doran as he lies dying by mocking his frailty and forgiveness and rubbing it in that his son Trystane will not be spared.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Everyone but Davos fails to factor Tormund and the thousands of wildlings who owe Jon their lives into their plans. Even Edd and the other loyalists are set on merely Taking You with Me until Davos reminds them. This is doubly true of the assassins, whose only motive was the wildlings' presence. The best explanation fans can offer is that none of them see the wildlings as human enough to be capable of basic loyalty or gratitude.
  • Fan Disservice: So this is what Melisandre looks like without her R'hllor-powered youth glamour. Thanks, but a shot of her face would have sufficed... Instead we get full frontal nudity.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Ellaria and the Sand Snakes were, all things considered, Easily Forgiven by Doran for attempting to kidnap Myrcella in the previous season, yet they immediately abuse this mercy by murdering not just Myrcella but Doran and his son as well.
  • Faux Action Girl: The Sand Snakes once again fail to live up to their alleged Action Girl status since all three of their kills are In the Back murders of unsuspecting (or in the maester's case unarmed) victims. Even Trystane and Nymeria's impending duel is cut off by Obara's treacherous Kill Steal.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Just before his death, Trystane is sitting at a desk painting funeral eye-stones for his beloved Myrcella.
  • Ghost Town: The streets of Meereen are almost completely deserted following the slaughter at the fighting pits.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Davos decides the best way to avenge Jon Snow and remain alive is to send Edd to bring Tormund, Wun Wun, and the wildlings to Castle Black.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The Faith tries to get Margaery to confess this way. After Septa Unella badgers her with non-stop reciting from The Seven-Pointed Star, the High Sparrow comes in to offer reassurance in a more conciliatory manner, but Margaery doesn't fall for it.
  • Guile Hero: When Ser Davos negotiates with Alliser Thorne, he throws in a request for mutton as a concession. When Alliser Thorne replies with confusion, Davos realizes that the Night's Watch has no real plans to let them go alive.
  • He's Dead, Jim: As if to drive home that yes, Jon really is dead, the episode opens with Davos finding Jon's corpse, surveying the stab wounds, and shutting his eyes.
  • Hope Spot: The Dothraki immediately change their tune with Dany when she says she's the widow of Khal Drogo, cutting her ropes and saying that no one will touch her. However, when she asks to be returned to Meereen, she learns what is done with widows of Khals.
  • A House Divided: The Night's Watch. Dolorous Edd is only sure of a small number of Jon Snow loyalists, but as we see when Thorne announces his actions, a good portion of the Watch are appalled at the assassination of their Lord Commander, and Thorne has only a few people supporting him.
  • Human Resources: Despite genuinely caring for Myranda, Ramsay orders her body to be fed to his dogs so as not to waste her flesh.
  • Hypocrite: Ellaria plots to "avenge" Oberyn (who died avenging his sister, niece, and nephew) by murdering his brother, nephew, and niece-in-law. And for all her posturing that forgiveness makes Doran weak, she and the Sand Snakes would be dead already if not for that forgiveness.
    • Alliser Thorne claims to have been loyal to the Night's Watch for as long as he's been part of it. He doesn't exactly show loyalty by murdering his Lord Commander who had let the wildlings in. Alliser was the one to order the gates open for them to begin with.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Alliser Thorne doesn't hide his mutiny against Jon Snow and uses this trope to justify his actions.
    Alliser: He thrust a terrible choice upon us, and we made it.
  • Informed Attribute: Khal Moro's wives describe Daenerys as a blue-eyed witch in this episode, yet Emilia Clarke's eyes are generally more green than blue, particularly in the shade of that awning.
  • Informed Flaw: No one but Davos seems very confident in Edd's abilities, even bemoaning putting their lives in his hands, despite him surviving two previous battles with mutineers, two battles with White Walkers, and competently commanding the Wall during the Battle of Castle Black.
  • In Name Only: Barring some kind of posthumous reveal, this episode confirms that the show's Prince Doran is the polar opposite of his literary counterpart: feeble, forgiving, and oblivious.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, again.
      • Somehow they plan to avenge Oberyn's death and the atrocities committed against House Martell... by massacring every living Martell for being too "weak" to rule because they wouldn't countenance a murder Oberyn himself expressly denounced in Ellaria's presence!
      • Her Evil Gloating: "You don't know your own people; their disgust for you. Elia Martell raped and murdered and you did nothing! Oberyn Martell butchered and you did nothing!" ...Doran and Trystane Martell slaughtered and they do nothing?
      • Motives aside, one must ask how they intend to actually rule Dorne? Even assuming Doran and Trystane had no friends at all, Ellaria's bastardy kept her from even marrying Oberyn, let alone legally claiming Martell property, and the Sand Snakes are no better. That just leaves Might Makes Right, which can only create A House Divided as every powerful lord seeks to aggrandize himself in a civil war, as happened in the War of the Five Kings.
    • Alliser Thorne claims he killed Jon because letting wildlings through the Wall was a danger but didn't refuse to open the gates when he himself stood atop the Wall because he always loyally obeyed orders. Apparently, since Jon never explicitly ordered "Do not murder me and mutiny," Thorne doesn't view that as disloyal.
    • Thorne also claims Jon's actions would have destroyed the Watch, yet apparently can't see the damage a precedent of murdering a duly-elected Lord Commander might do to the Watch as an institution or their elections as a process.
  • In the Back: Several.
    • Theon saves Podrick from a Bolton soldier by finishing him off with a Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind.
    • Areo Hotah gets offed by Tyene this way, and she immediately doubles down by then throwing her dagger into the back of the unarmed maester who had no part in any of this.
    • Prince Trystane gets Obara's spear through the back of his head.
  • Irony: Bolton says he'd give a reward to the man who killed King Stannis.
  • Kill Steal: Obara slays Prince Trystane before he and Nymeria get a chance to duel.
  • Lady and Knight: Oaths were exchanged, and now Sansa and Brienne are this.
  • Last Stand: Davos and the other Jon loyalists know that they will be killed when Thorne's men storm their rooms. Their only hope is to stall long enough for Edd to get back with the wildings.
  • Made a Slave: Dany starts off as a captive to be presented to Khal Moro as a gift. She's freed from her bonds and assured that she won't be harmed, but she's still being taken to Vaes Dothrak, whether she wants it or not.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Ramsay seems genuinely upset by Myranda's death, even promising revenge. Then he casually orders her corpse be fed to his hounds since there's no sense wasting good meat.
    • Khal Moro is detailing his desire to strip Daenerys naked... until a rhetorical question prompts his bloodriders to break into a Monty Python routine that completely throws him off his groove.
    • In the same way, Daenerys revealing that she is the widow of a khal changes Moro's entire attitude, as it is forbidden to rape a khal's widow. He goes from dismissive to extremely respectful.
    • On hearing of Myrcella's return, Cersei is shown not smirking or gloating but genuinely happy for the first time in the entire series. Moments later, her joy turns to ashes when she realizes Jaime is bearing Myrcella's corpse.
  • Mook Chivalry: The Bolton soldiers fight Brienne and Podrick one-on-one and wait for the first soldier to be killed before the next one steps up to fight.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Tyrion tries to offer a woman on the street money to feed her baby, but butchers the grammar so badly that he comes off as wanting to buy her baby so he can eat it. Varys has to step in and clear it up.
  • No True Scotsman: Ellaria tells Doran, "You're not a Dornishman; you're not our Prince," because he's calm, rational, and willing to Turn the Other Cheek.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Varys rolls his eyes in exasperation as Tyrion makes a snarky comment about him being a eunuch.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Tyrion and Varys' reaction to discovering the entire Meereenese navy has been burned in the harbor.
      Tyrion: Well, we won't be sailing to Westeros any time soon.
    • Dany's reaction to being told she is to be brought to Vaes Dothrak to live out her life with the other widows of khals.
  • Older Than They Look: Melisandre’s youth and beauty are all a glamour projected by her necklace. In reality, she is a withered old crone.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Once again, Davos displays the level head that made Stannis trust him so much. Within minutes of finding Jon's body, he realizes the danger Jon's friends and allies are in (despite not obviously being one himself), and takes steps to protect them. Then he shoots down their idea of a Suicide Mission in favor of summoning the wildlings and sees right through Alliser's blatant False Reassurance.
    • Also Doran, whose desire for peace and amity gets him killed.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Tyrion does the King Incognito trick to gauge the mood on the streets of Meereen. Varys however points out that he's still strutting about like a wealthy man, and from the looks they keep getting, Varys is right.
  • The Purge:
    • The Sand Snakes apparently take over Dorne by killing Prince Doran, his son, and his bodyguard, thereby wiping out House Martell. Together with the Baratheons in the previous episode, that makes two Great Houses (excluding bastards) eradicated in as many episodes.
    • Ser Alliser Thorne intends to complete his purge of wildling sympathizers and Jon loyalists after killing the Lord Commander. Dolorous Edd and his friends, as well as Ser Davos, barely regroup in time to organize and protect themselves from Thorne.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: This episode makes it clear that the Boltons may have decisively defeated Stannis, but Sansa's escape has done far more damage.
  • Reality Ensues: In true Game of Thrones fashion, several people are smacked with reality here.
    • Theon and Sansa are about as successful at evading bloodhounds as you can expect of them, and Theon's attempt to lead them away is utterly useless.
    • Trystane expects a duel with the person he picked out, but the person he didn't pick takes advantage of his distraction.
    • Podrick's skill with a sword is where a person with his level of training and experience would be. He barely wins the fight on horseback and is nearly killed by an actual soldier when on foot.
    • Brienne is a hell of a fighter but she's not a One-Woman Army so taking on three trained soldiers in succession quickly wears her down. The second one unhorses and nearly kills her and she barely has the strength to finish off the third. If the other two hadn't been occupied with Podrick and Theon, she'd almost certainly have been killed.
    • The Boltons' problems aren't over just because they've beaten Stannis, since they are once again in rebellion against the Iron Throne and a proper Lannister invasion will be all but impossible to defeat without the support of the rest of the North.
    • Daenerys trying to get the Dothraki to free her by listing her many titles goes nowhere since they've never heard of her and they do not respect names and bloodlines, only strength.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Melisandre's ever-present necklace is actually powering a glamour that hides an ancient, hunch-backed crone with wispy, bone-white hair.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Roose gives one to Ramsay for his actions of driving Sansa and Theon to escape. Without Sansa they won't have the support from the North once the Lannister army arrives.
    Roose: Do you feel like a victor? I rebelled against the Crown to arrange your marriage to Sansa Stark. Do you think that burning wagons in the night and mowing down tired, outnumbered Baratheons is the same as facing a prepared and provisioned Lannister army?
    Ramsay: ... No.
    Roose: A reckoning will come. We need the North to face it. The entire North. They won't back us without Sansa Stark. We no longer have Sansa Stark. You played your games with her. You played your games with the heir to the Iron Islands and now they're both gone.
    Ramsay: I have a team of men after them with some of my best hounds. They won't get far.
    Roose: I'm glad to hear it. Without Sansa, you won't be able to produce an heir. And without an heir, well... let's hope the maesters are right and Lady Walda's carrying a boy.
  • Retcon:
    • A rather glaring example with the location of Obara and Nymeria. At the end of "Mother's Mercy", they were prominent on the shore alongside Ellaria and Tyene as the ship carrying Jaime and Trystane sailed away. In this episode, they are now on board the ship to assassinate Trystane in King's Landing. Since this is implied to happen very shortly after Ellaria's coup in Dorne, they either a) conveniently found a ship capable of catching up and sneaked aboard Trystane's ship unnoticed, or b) mastered Offscreen Teleportation. Obviously the former seems more probable, and it's likely they were planning to kill Trystane and Doran shortly after Myrcella already.
    • It's heavily implied that Melisandre's youthful appearance is tied to wearing her necklace, yet in "Mockingbird" she bathes and strides around her room in her youthful form with no necklace in sight. Of course, since its magic and the rules aren't explicit, all manner of A Wizard Did It from potions to extended range can be thrown at this one. It could be she just removed the magic while taking off the necklace.
  • The Reveal: Melisandre has been using magic all this time to appear young and beautiful rather than her true age.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Khal Moro asks if there is anything better than seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time, only for his bloodriders to start reciting a laundry list of things that force him to concede it's only in the Top 5.
  • Royal Rapier: Trystane has one befitting a future Wise Prince ready when Obara and Nymeria come for him—shame he dies before we can see him use it.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Jorah probably wins the prize for the whole series by tracking a dragon across the sky to a particular ridge over endless tracks of grassland purely by stumbling upon one of his kills, where he's then able to find Dany's ring and deduce she was taken by a Dothraki horde because of the sinuous circle of horse tracks.
  • Screw Destiny: Invoked; Jaime doesn't believe the woods witch's prophecy that Cersei will outlive all her children is infallible. His exact words are: "Fuck fate!" Cersei disagrees.
  • Shout-Out: Two for one. The bloodriders' undercutting of Khal Moro's rhetorical question about what's better than your first look at a beautiful naked woman is essentially Conan the Barbarian (1982)'s "What is best in life?" recited like Monty Python's Life of Brian's "What have the Romans ever done for us?"
  • Smug Smiler: Despite not being named by Thorne as one of Jon's killers, Olly can't keep a self-satisfied smirk off his face.
  • The Starscream: Ellaria stages a coup against Doran and Trystane with the aid of the Sand Snakes and the compliance of the Martell household guards.
  • The So-Called Coward: Reek/Theon has spent the majority of the past two seasons bowing and scraping to Ramsay, with the prospect of displeasing his master reducing him to a quaking and sobbing mess. However, during their escape from Winterfell, Theon makes a point of slowing down his own pace to urge Sansa on, unhesitatingly fords a freezing river, and finally attempts to lure their pursuers away from Sansa using himself as bait. These efforts ultimately don’t succeed, but Theon should at least be commended for his Brass Balls in this scene (if he had any, that is).
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: After three seasons of having his every attempt to do good blow up in his face, costing him his honor, his family, and his right hand, Jaime Lannister finally throws in his lot with Cersei and declares he's going to take back everything they've lost... and more.
  • They Have the Scent!: Bolton's bloodhounds, and the usual TV tricks of crossing rivers or leading them off don't work.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Tyrion and Varys discuss this being a problem. Previously they assumed the deposed nobility of Meereen were behind the Sons of the Harpy attacks, but now the insurgents are so numerous that they can't discount the possibility of disgruntled freedmen being among them.
  • Thicker Than Water: Trystane invokes this when he picks up a sword, saying he doesn't want to hurt his cousins. Obara and Nym are remorseless.
  • This Cannot Be!: "A bloody woman!" becomes the Famous Last Words of a Bolton soldier when Brienne turns up.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Martells play their very bad hands terribly:
    • Doran reads the most salient words of a letter incriminating Ellaria aloud right in front of her without even trying to pretend it was something else, especially since she was apparently waiting for the letter before she struck.
    • Trystane's choice to position himself with his back to Obara is so obviously bad it's easy to imagine him just throwing out his arms to the sides like a martyr.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Though he clearly has some way to go, Podrick is almost able to hold his own in combat, a significant improvement over his last sword fight, implying Brienne has indeed been training him as promised.
    • Theon's abilities and speech patterns have also significantly improved since last season. He can now speak in complete sentences, and is able to put up a fight against the Bolton soldiers.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Daenerys's desperate move to drop her ring so that, by some miracle, her people would find it? Works like a charm, since Jorah and Daario easily track Drogon across the sky to that exact spot using only his charred leavings and quickly find the ring in the untrampled patch created by the circling horde.
  • Training from Hell: The Waif beating up a newly-blind Arya with a staff, unless of course she's just taking sadistic pleasure out of it.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Dany's ever-growing list of titles, and this time in Dothraki too. However, Khal Moro is unimpressed with her claims and only listens when she mentions she's Khal Drogo's widow.
  • Undying Loyalty: Edd and a small group of Jon's followers stay loyal to him even after he's killed, tending and guarding his body and even contemplating a Suicide Mission to kill Thorne. Of course, the alternatives are desertion or hoping Thorne just ignores them.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Martells' maester. In all likelihood, Doran would have survived and killed Ellaria if the maester had not delivered the message from Jaime while she and Tyene were right next to him.
  • We Need a Distraction: Deconstructed. Theon tries to buy Sansa some time by acting as a diversion for the hunters, but is discovered immediately, and Sansa is found shortly afterwards.
  • Wham Shot: Melisandre removing her necklace to transform into her true ancient form.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Six Bolton soldiers catch Theon and Sansa using hounds, but only five take part in the ensuing fight while the dogs and their handler simply vanish without so much as a Screw This, I'm Out of Here!.
    • Forget the mouse, what happened to the enormous dragon? Drogon was just over the rise when Dany was captured, so you might expect him to react to the threat like in Daznak's Pit or at least be discovered by the horde's outriders, but he's never even mentioned, nor does he appear to be present when Jorah and Daario arrive in the area.
    • Despite the death happening on his only ship in his party, Jaime makes no mention of the fact that not only Myrcella died, but also Trystane (not to mention Obara and Nymeria themselves), which would make him perhaps think twice about inciting a likely war with Dorne. While it makes sense for him to concentrate on Myrcella in front of Cersei, he does not even bring up the possibility of there being a political situation slightly more complicated than an assassination of their own family.
    • Speaking of that ship, where's Bronn? He boarded the ship with Jaime at the end of last season, but he's not with Jaime when he comes ashore and there's no hint of him on the ship where he might have proved an imposition for the Sand Snakes.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: When fighting the Bolton mooks to rescue Sansa and Theon, Brienne tackles the last rider and his horse to the ground.
  • You Are the Translated Foreign Word: Curiously, the old "Kill the masters" graffiti can be chalked up to Translation Convention, but the new counter-message is written as "Mhysa is a master," prompting Varys to re-explain what "mhysa" means to Tyrion, who already knows.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Invoked; after the death of her second child, Cersei has resigned herself to the belief that all three of her children will die before her as foretold by a woods witch in her youth. Jaime disagrees.
  • You Got Spunk: Khal Moro re: Dany, before he finds out she's a former khaleesi.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Roose implies that if Ramsay can't get Sansa back and produce heirs, then he'll disown Ramsay and hope that his next son will.


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