We’re in uncharted territory on Game of Thrones. There are no books to work from; even George R.R. Martin might be surprised with what’s happening on the HBO series. Things might get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, our Thrones experts will answer your six most pressing questions.
1. Who exactly is Edd bringing back to the Wall to save Jon Snow?
Ryan: Wildlings. The answer is obviously wildlings, and maybe a couple of giants to boot. Specifically, I’d guess that Edd will be dealing with Tormund Giantsbane and his more jovial, less cannibalistic brand of wildling friends. That being said, it’s not so much who’s coming back as what. Ser Davos isn’t wrong when he says they need to even out the numbers in order to survive their situation, but that means potentially kicking off another major battle between the Night’s Watch and the newly immigrated free folk.
Then again, it seems like Ser Alliser didn’t murder Jon Snow because he planned on continuing his brother’s wildling amnesty policy. So why not bring a whole bunch of angry wildlings with weapons into the mix? Game of Thrones isn’t the kind of show that shies away from battles and death, which is good because we’re probably going to get some of that when Edd returns with allies.
Josh: Ser Alliser really should have thought this one through. The Free Folk might not take too kindly to the man who fought beside them being slain. I get underestimating Melisandre — after all, he’s never seen her give birth to a smoke-demon that assassinated a would-be king — but Melisandre, Davos, the wildlings, and a direwolf? That’s a recipe for disaster. And I have an appetite for seeing Olly get what’s coming to him. Let’s say we get the battle we both think is coming. What does the Night’s Watch look like then?
Ryan: It looks like nothing much at all, but don’t be too bummed out about that. The Night’s Watch has been on its last legs since season one. Maybe replacing the celibate force of conscripted rapists and criminals with a more flexible group of Free Folk and Northmen isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen… unless there’s some magic junk regarding the Wall’s ability to keep the Others away that’s tied into the Night’s Watch brand. But hey, after “Hardhome,” I’m kinda #TeamWhiteWalker at this point. Let’s get those things south of the Wall so everyone sees who the real enemy is.
2. What crazy mission are the Sand Snakes about to drag Dorne into?
Josh: The mission: Keep the Lannisters in the show. A Dornishman was arguably the best thing about season four, but Dorne itself was a colossal failure in season five. The Sand Snakes failed to leave a positive impression, and no one spent the months between “Mother’s Mercy” and “The Red Woman” demanding vengeance for Myrcella. “That character we haven’t seen in forever is dead? Oh well, that’s Game of Thrones for you.” But Ellaria Sand, who quickly disposed of Prince Doran, matters, because she’s out for Lannister blood, and honestly, what are other purpose do Cersei and Jaime have right now? Their father’s dead, their horrible son’s… also dead, their other son’s the king, but barely acts like it, and Tyrion’s walking around like a rich man in a foreign land. Game of Thrones is more interested in the future, and Cersei, Tommen, and the other Lannisters/Baratheons are the past.
Ryan: With Tywin Lannister dead, it seems like every episode brings more Lannister enemies out of the woodwork. Everyone expecting the Sand Snakes to taste the sharp edge of Areo Hotah’s axe for what they did to Myrcella got a rude awakening here: They aren’t going anywhere, and are looking like they may play a bigger role this season than last. Considering everyone in King’s Landing seems preoccupied with the Sparrows, the Dornish could really catch Cersei and Tommen with their pants down sometime in the near future.
Josh: Cersei already has her pants down around one family member, and now you’re bringing Tommen into this? Too soon. I like the idea of what the show is doing with Dorne — the women outsmart the men at every turn, especially when they don’t turn around, like poor dumb Trystane (we hardly knew thee) — but until there are some entertaining results, I’m hesitant to call any of it a success. Maybe then the ends justify the Clegane means.
3. Is Khal Moro the key to Daenerys wheeling and dealing her way out of Vaes Dothrak?
Ryan: The average Dothraki outrider seems way more interested in what’s going on under Daenerys’ clothes than who she is. Khal Moro’s bloodriders are barely any better, spouting Conan-worthy philosophy on what’s better in life than seeing her naked. But Khal Moro seems to use his head more than your typical Khal. The moment Dany namedrops Khal Drogo, Khal Moro takes rape off the table (what a gentleman) and unbinds her.
He’s still planning on dragging her against her will to Vaes Dothrak, though. The same law that says he’s not allowed to sleep with a Khal’s widow also states that’s where widows go, no matter how many horses they offer. So it seems like Daenerys is in need of a Samwell-type to dig into the particulars of Dothraki law if she wants to extricate herself from this khalasar herself.
Josh: To give a little background: Vaes Dothrak is the Dothraki homebase. The last time we saw the city — where using a sword is forbidden, although other weapons are fair game — was in season one; it’s where Dany developed a taste for horse heart. That was her first “badass bitch” moment. She’s turned into an independent woman since then, and it’ll be interesting to see how the other Dothrakis handle the Beyonce’s Lemonade of widowed khaleesis.
4. Are Tyrion and Varys stuck in Meereen, and will it ever matter?
Josh: Daenerys left Meereen a mess. There are riots in the streets, the Sons of the Harpy are tagging walls, and oh yeah, boats are on fire. To quote Tyrion, “We won’t be sailing to Westeros anytime soon.” (It’s like that GIF of Troy, pizza boxes in hands, walking into his and Abed’s apartment in “Remedial Chaos Theory.”) That being said, Meereen’s in a better place now than it was last season, because Tyrion and Varys are looking after the city like they own the place (which I guess they do, in a sense). I could watch an entire season of those two on a stroll, talking about everything and nothing and eating babies.
There’s your spinoff, GRRM.
Ryan: Varys and Tyrion spend this episode like appraisers on one of those real estate shows on HGTV, walking through a bomb of a home pointing out all the obvious flaws with the place. Unfortunately for them, Dany broke the wheel so she kinda bought the wheel, and now it’s their problem to figure out how a post-wheel Meereen is going to work. Hint: it won’t. So we might as well settle in and enjoy some honeyed locusts while the gang Dany left behind tries to hold things together. Hopefully they can avoid having their names added to the quickly growling list of characters killed in season six.
5. What’s the deal with Melisandre turning into the bathtub grandma from The Shining?
Ryan: Fans of the George R.R. Martin books have been debating for years as to whether there was a ghastly old crone hidden under Melisandre’s sexy youthful features. Watchers of the show have known her necklace has certain magical properties since season two where its power neutralized poison given to her by Stannis’ maester Cressen. And now it’s all but confirmed that her youth is a glamour generated or controlled by the jewelry’s gemstone.
THIS IS WHY MEN HAVE TRUST ISSUES!
Melisandre has probably picked the worst night to take her sexy red priestess costume off. If people see her like this, it’d probably affect her credibility worse than, say, wrongfully predicting Stannis was Azor Ahai, or burning a 10-year-old girl alive. But assuming she gets her necklace back on, her age could have other consequences. Does she have the vitality left in her dusty old bones to bring Jon Snow back to life?
Josh: First off, take it away, Anna Kendrick.
The dragons and Melisandre are the closest Game of Thrones gets to conventional “fantasy.” That’s probably a good thing; you don’t want too many fairies and unicorns flying around the screen. Witches work, though, because they’re deceiving and human. Melisandre’s magic is called a “glamor” in the books (take a shot for the first “in the books” mention of the season). In A Dance with Dragons, the Red Woman states, “The bones help. The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such things. A dead man’s boots, a hank of hair, a bag of finger bones. With whispered words and prayer, a man’s shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak.” Melisandre’s glamor is her necklace — it’s the source of her power, and why she looks so damn good, even though she’s somewhere between 100 and 400 years old. To answer your question, I hope she does. Otherwise, Jon Snow is dusty old bones (although at least he won’t have to see who he almost made out with — sorry, Anna Kendrick).
6. Was this the best season premiere yet?
Josh: Let’s put every Game of Thrones premiere in Friends terms.
Season 1: The One Where Jaime Shoves Bran Out a Window
Season 2: The One Where Robert’s Illegitimate Kids Are Murdered
Season 3: The One With Jon Snow Meeting Mance Rayder
Season 4: The One Where the Hound Eats a Chicken
Season 5: The One With the Flashback
This show, as great as it is, has struggled with season premieres. There’s always a lot of prior action to recap, and just as much to set up for the rest of the season; it’s impossible for much action. Even in last night’s episode, there’s little payoff. Jon is still a corpse, Daenerys is still smarter than the sexist dum-dums around her, and Ramsay is still the worst. But it was still great to watch, because it was great to watch. The budget is insane for this season, and it’s all up there on the screen. The establishing shots are detailed, the scenery is gorgeous, and Ghost looks more imposing than ever (needed more dragons, though). I’d put this premiere at number one.
Ryan: The early chatter from fans has many calling this episode “underwhelming,” but I think it set everything up quite nicely. Up at the Wall, we’ve got a battle over Jon Snow’s murder brewing, and a race to Castle Black between the Boltons and Team Sansa. Out east, we get to watch Tyrion and Varys try to keep Meereen from burning to the ground, while Daenerys deals with her former Dothraki vassals. And in the south, the Lannister twins are going to try and sink or swim without Tywin. Add in a surprising amount of death in Dorne, and how can you not put this episode in your top three?
Josh: This alone has it near the top.
That’s much more exciting than any Kings Beyond the Wall.