There are SPOILERS below, but I tried to be as vague as possible…
I’m a bit late with my Game of Thrones premiere review, but I had to watch it again today to make sure I still agree with my initial impressions. I do. I should begin by saying I’m a fan of the show, so have been excited about the new season. The end of season 5, as the world knows, was quite upsetting to those of us who loved a certain character, and the months between then and now have been filled with speculation and theories about a possible resurrection. Couple that with a surprise dragon ride, and we had an eventful finale. To me, the show has kept a consistent level of quality in the writing, acting and production value. While some episodes (and seasons) are better than others, I have always enjoyed the show, its unabashed grittiness, and it’s lush layers of drama. So. Season 6…..where to begin…..
I’ll begin with the theme song. It made me happy to hear it again and it made me smile like an old friend was home for a visit. That is all. My feelings about the episode, however, are a bit more complicated.
It begins where we left off, in the cold of the courtyard of Castle Black. Sad business, that whole affair. Now, however, we have a standoff in progress, and it should be quite interesting to see how it ends, especially since one side has a red woman and a dire wolf.
Meanwhile we have Sansa and Reek. It’s an exciting scene and here, I particularly noticed the musical score, which is as good as ever and a prominent part of the Game of Thrones experience in general. The way the scene plays out is predictable, though, and this is where I got worried. One reason I like this show so much is because it’s not, in general, a predictable story. The Red Wedding will go down in television history. It was an epic event. People didn’t see it coming. Tywin Lannister’s manner of death…brilliant storytelling. It was so quick and undignified for such a powerful character, and effectively bucked the dramatic-fight-to-the death cliche. Are there moments we can see coming? Yes. But the show has given us so many shocking plot twists, it has in the least, never been boring.
Some highlights from the show were tainted with this same predictability. Bree is one of my favorite characters, not only because she is a powerful bad-ass, but because the actress does not look like a model. Bree is just Bree. She doesn’t tout her gender or sexuality, but despite this (and her somewhat masculine appearance) she just screams “woman.” Her role in this episode, while an exciting and then poignant scene, was trite. I knew it was going to happen and it did. I will say, I hope we can all breathe a sigh of relief for Sansa, possibly the most traumatized, abused and beleaguered character on the show, because no one’s getting close enough to see the whites of her eyes again.
On to Cersei…okay I actually felt for her, pretty hard. The look on her face as Jaime rode to shore…yeah. Then the monologue about her mother and about Myrcella…yeah. It almost irritated me to see her so vulnerable because she so rarely is, but it was a good scene, and with her and Jaime reunited and pissed off, there is promise for some major happenings in the future. So, thumbs up there.
That leaves Daenerys Targaryen, who seems to have gotten out of one boiling pot and into another, and Arya Stark, whose entire life has changed since last season. Neither of the plot lines were developed much in this episode, but I’ll reserve judgment as it’s a season premiere, and sometimes a necessary evil that exposition groundwork must be laid.
By the end of the show I was thinking “…please end on a good note, Game of Thrones… remember when you used to shock and awe…yeah..like that…” Well. It ended with a surprise, alright. Not a grand death or fierce battle, but oh wow, okay… I shall say no more.
Overall, and I can’t put my finger on it, this just didn’t feel like Game of Thrones. It was missing something. Even the scenery and costumes seemed less extravagant to me (almost cheap), but I may just be stuck in the lacklusterness of the episode as a whole. Let me be clear, it wasn’t awful and I am hopeful it will revive itself, but I have that icky feeling you get when a franchise is about to screw itself. I want to be wrong. Maybe next week will tip the scales.