The premiere of any season of Games of Thrones has always had the onerous task of setting up the rest of the season while establishing the fate of each (or most) of its principal characters in the aftermath of the season gone by. And the opening episode (titled The Red Woman) of the most-awaited sixth season was no different. The only exception being that it was able to actually focus on all the main characters as there are so few left.
The episode opens, as expected, in the immediate aftermath of Jon Snow’s apparent assassination. Turns out there are still a few in Castle Black that are loyal to Jon, and, acting on the instructions of Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunning-ham), they carry the body inside a strong room.
Then, in short order, we get reacquainted with the fate of the rest of the main characters. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) finally escape the clutches of Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) with assistance from Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie); Tyrion Lanni-ster (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) are trying to keep Mereen from descending into chaos at the hands of the rebel Sons of the Harpy; Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has been taken captive by a horde of Dothraki warriors led by Khal Moro and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), rendered blind, is left to fend for herself on the streets of Braavos.
As always, burdened with reintroducing old storylines means the episode had no real momentum of its own. But that was always expected. The episode also lives up to the tradition of the opening episode ending on a cliff-hanger when Melisandre, the red priestess and the titular Red Woman, reveals an unexpected secret. How this plays out over the remaining nine episodes will be exciting to watch.
Now that the show has shaken off the demons of the seasons past, it can really become its own beast from the second episode. Much more screen time will be devoted to all the principal characters as they forge their own storylines. Bookended by the Jon Snow storyline, this show is a solid offering in the series.