The last few episodes of Season 5 were bleak as hell for its women characters, even by Game of Thrones standards: Sansa was duped into marrying the torture-frenzied, truly pathological rapist Ramsay Bolton, essentially locked away in a tower until she could bear him a son. Daenerys was forced to flee her queendom of Mereen after a deadly mutiny, only to be picked up by an unfriendly-looking Dothraki horde. Poor Arya was so desperate to gouge out homie’s eyes in that brothel that she forgot she was supposed to be “no one,” and the Many-Faced God has punished her with (temporary?) blindness.

Even Cersei’s demeaning, nude and tomato-pelted walk of shame at the hands of some seriously rude religious fanatics invoked pity for a person who doesn’t really inspire a lot of it. And Queen Margaery Tyrell is in prison. Myrcella Baratheon is dead. Ramsay’s lover Myranda sucked, but she’s also dead. Selyse Baratheon is dead. Shireen Baratheon, poor thing, is motherfucking dead.

But what do women do when we get knocked down? By god, we get up again. Though the Season 6 premiere was unfortunately lacking in boners (there was a total of four boobs, on a single person; we’ll talk about that later), it was invigoratingly full of KILLING, with a majority of that killing carried out by the multitudinous bad bitches of Westeros.

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Last season, I wasn’t really feeling Ellaria Sand; even with her grief at watching her lifelong lover Oberyn’s skull get popped like a damn grape, I thought it was a little excessive to poison as innocent a girl as Myrcella, particularly when she was betrothed to Ellaria’s own “nephew.”

Turns out, though, Ellaria had a grand plan, and that plan is, apparently, to transform Dorne into a poppin’ matriarchy, presumably with her and her poison-dagger-wielding daughters, the Sand Snakes, at the helm. Prince Doran Martell, nice but kind of a sucker, gets a knife to the heart, and Ellaria’s monologue to him while she’s murking his sorry ass shows that it’s not just about revenge for Oberyn: it’s that Doran was a shitty ruler, holed away in his palace and out of touch with his people. “Elia Martell raped and murdered and you did nothing,” she says, while he bleeds on the ground. “Oberyn Martell butchered, and you did nothing. You’re not a Dornishman. And you’re not our Prince.”

Damn son, you don’t look too good

So not only is it a women’s revolution, it’s a populist one, orchestrated by Ellaria with the long-game in mind, maybe even through her entire love affair with Oberyn. Sand Snakes rise up!

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Brute force and cunning wit is always a Game of Thrones theme, but it seemed a little like penance that so many of the women characters were allowed to use it so copiously in this first go. Brienne of Tarth (obviously) rescued a fleed Sansa from Bolton headhunters, and finally Sansa pledged to allow Brienne to become her protector (if you cried during this scene and felt dumb about it, you’re not alone). Daenerys’s speech about being Khal Drogo’s widow to some dirty Dothraki who wanted to rape her talked him out of it, but may have destined her for something worse, a hellish nursing home where Dothraki widows go to live with one another, proving that while the Dothraki are fine as hell, they still have some real wild ideas about things. That said, the Dothraki dialogue was HILARIOUS, with a Dave Chappelle style race joke-undertone. The quips about pink people in the sun and blue-eyed women being witches were classic in the pantheon.

Elsewhere: Cersei’s a broken woman after the death of Myrcella; we can surely anticipate tons of killing in the future. Arya, at present a scared and sad beggar girl, is definitely going to get her sight back, right? She’s just got to fight for it. Honestly, I don’t ever worry about Arya.

Nothing to see here, nah nah nah

What’s the deal with fucking Jon Snow, though? I still refuse to believe he’s truly dead, particularly because his corpse is still chilling on a table in Castle Black, and Melisandre is still in a room next door while Ser Davos and Jon’s loyal pals figure out what to do. As it turns out, Melisandre has been using fire magic to disguise the fact that this bih is like 150 years old.

You okay, fam?

Everybody knows, though, that a crone is the most powerful witch of all, and if she can use her magic to transform her Gollum ass into someone who looks like Jack White’s third supermodel ex-wife, she can DEFINITELY raise Jon Snow from the dead, total resurrection of white Jesus style. MELISANDRE, YOU ASSHOLE, YOU OWE THIS TO US.


Images via screenshot/HBO